BRAIN: For. The third. Time. It's. Night.


Charlotte walks down the hallway and sees that she is on the top floor of said mall. She decides to look for an escalator down. Or up. Either one is fine, since they're both probably off; she can't hear the faint drone of shifting metal stairs anywhere.

NARRATOR: Charlotte took the time to look up once more at the ceiling as she paced – "It's night right now, right?" – and noted that the glass was actually a mirror; this was particularly strange because this was something she certainly hadn't noticed before. She had looked up at the ceiling before, right?
Head still to the ceiling, she watched herself walk, watched the worn Converses tap against the cracked tiles, watched her suddenly visible footprints fall on the ashen linoleum, fall red and dark and wet-

Charlotte's head spun like a gear in the direction of the floor behind her and saw nothing.

And now you're hallucinating.

"I'm not."

What was that then?

Charlotte ran, ignoring the prophetic ceiling.



Tired and now we're seeing things. Alright, so what? Just a little dreaming while you're awake; it's happened before and it's happened to lots of people, so it's nooo big deal.

The main body of the mall, which had reminded her much of the huge form of a whale, had been reached; Charlotte was busy running towards one of the ends, for where there are ends, there are escalators. People go to the end when they want to go down.
The ceiling refused to shut up. Charlotte glanced skyward for the second time at one point and the footprints she was somehow leaving behind were busy growing in size and warping in shape to the point of resembling splattered puddles.

Your foot is cut. Somethin' down there's cut; you must've stepped on something sharp or fallen on it or something, and you're tired, Charlotte, you're very tired. You're not seeing things clearly. Correctly. This place is poorly lit anyway; that's why you don't see any blood behind you. Just keep calm and keep moving and get to the exit. Get to the escalators and if they're moving, good, and if they're off, you can just walk down them, and if they've been ripped out of the concrete that they're supposed to be resting in and laying like broken, dead fish two floors below like they are right now, I can't help you.




Charlotte, baby, calm down. There's an explanation for this – JESUS you're sweating like a pig. Calm down. I'm telling you, there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. Maybe the mall was bombed while you were back in that room. That could be why there aren't any escalators anymore and why everyone's gone…what – look I don't know why the stores are all closed up. Alright, alright, if people were running away from something, they wouldn't stop to close the stores up – well what if the stores were already closed when this place was bombed? That'd make perfect sense. Maybe the mall was even empty by then. Alright? Better? See, there's nothing to worry about I don't KNOW where we are CALM DOWN. Christ. We can just ask someone outside where we are once we get out of here. No, nobody kidnapped you. No, nothing happened to you in that room back there. Uhg…look, your panties still on? Yes they are, Charlotte, go feel for yourself. Now, got any strange tastes in your mouth? That's because your breath stinks, genius; you know what I mean. Don't look at me like that, just answer the question. No? I thought so. See? You're fine. Shut up, you're fine.


It's night, idiot.

No it's not.

Oh shut up, it's nigh-

Don't tell me to shut up! Look up yourself and see!

Charlotte did so, curious as to if the time of day was really night – her thoughts were racing – and as her pretty face faced the ceiOH MY GOD
And just as quickly as the words left her dry lips, wet white light burst through the rips in the black sky that shouldn't have even been able to even exist – ripped like tissue paper, ripped open exactly like tissue paper – and swallowed up everything, spilled forth like diluted blood from a freshly cut tumor and flooded the blackness, swept further down so quickly that it touched the slick glass top of the mall Charlotte was so busy gaping from and, without pausing for a moment, swallowed up the whole building into its sick, watery mouth

and it was just like looking into a light bulb, wasn't it.

Charlotte felt her feet let go of anything solid, felt the empty space just behind her attempt to catch her like the ghost of a long lost loved one trying to keep her from falling to her death. The fingers were too airy, the form was just not thick enough, and the girl felt her stomach drop, trying to stay in one place, as she fell backwards. She saw up as she went, and just as she noticed that the ceiling was indeed a mirror, she felt herself falling slowly, almost feather-like, like Alice down her dreamland rabbit hole-


Charlotte landed hard on twisted, dirty metal and a pane of cracked glass, sensed her limbs flop upwards like a rag doll, saw the glass sticking in the tips of her fingers, felt the metal kissing her sides with its sharp, rusted lips. Her head bounced once and came to rest on a tiled floor that was no cleaner than the metal.

She lay there quietly for a minute, wondering where the air in her lungs went, before slowly sitting up, coughing once, and rising to her feet like an old man. She winced while picking the shards out of her skin, checked her waist and examined how bad the cuts were, took off her right shoe and shook a piece of glass out. The back of her head wasn't bleeding and seemed fine, somehow, and Charlotte was about to turn and check to see if she could get the mall doors open and go home when she heard a noise.

Shuffling. Like feet being dragged across the floor by a lazy walker.

Charlotte paused. The shuffling continued from its unknown source.


The shuffling froze.

As did Charlotte. She felt her entire body stiffen up; even the trails of blood from her hands seemed to slow slightly.
Something was wrong. Any other human being in this situation would be pretty relieved to hear another human voice in this place. Why did this thing stop.

Charlotte tried again.


Silence for a few moments.

Then, the shuffling began once more.
It was like a tired child walking. The footsteps were light, and as they slowly, slowly got closer, they didn't even sound like footsteps anymore; it was as if something was being dragged along across the floor by an invisible assailant.
Charlotte felt sweat start to seep down her flesh. Something was wrong. The sounds were getting louder, echoing off the dead sides of the building like screams, and all the while the noises were getting closer and closer and so much louder than they should have been Charlotte took one single baby step backwards and something turned a corner
PERSON this was a man, a tall, long-limbed man with fingers as long as her legs and as thin as her toes in an off-white, blood-stained robe, a bishop's hat on its bald head and no eyes in the sockets, yet somehow it saw her anyway, saw her anyway, saw her anyway, and giant, thick iron cords rose from its back and shoulders and extended up to the ceiling until they were completely out of sight it turned the corner, its misshapen bandaged feet scraping against the floor as it was pulled along like a marionette it turned the corner and saw her with its dead empty empty empty eye sockets and smiled a big fat bleeding Chelsea smile

and Charlotte screamed, collapsed back, back, backwards on her shaking knees and screamed like a cornered animal.
There was a noise, but Charlotte barely heard it, her head was down and her hands clamped over her ears, her eyes snapped shut and locked and her throat exploding-
There was a gunshot.

Her eyes slid open and she slowly looked up, her trembling hands lowering themselves from the sides of her head.

The thing lay not but a yard or two away from where she sat. The wires had snapped from their place on the ceiling somewhere and it lay lifeless on the cold tiles, a hole in the left side of its head, red pooling around it and a gray, shriveled mass lying in sticky pieces a few feet away.

A minute passed.

A minute passed with Charlotte just looking at this bizarre, dead thing that only slightly resembled a normal man. She quickly flipped her head and sight to her right, where the shot must have come from, and saw no one. She immediately thought of calling out to them, then remembered the thing before her and its mutilated, grinning mouth, and thought better of it.

She looked to the other side at a pile of rubble. Walking shakily over and seeing nothing else but a dusty brick, she lifted it from it spot on the floor.

Brick dust stuck to the still wet cuts on her fingers as she looked at the Bishop once more.

"What's happening to me?"