Reluctantly, she decided to go along with his plans. She didn’t really have much of a choice, especially as he took her by the hands and led her out. There would be no stopping him now. That was Danny, getting an idea in his head and having to carry it out at all costs. He was extremely impulsive and that was a trait she couldn’t stand about him. He always did things without thinking them through. She was the complete opposite, thinking carefully about her every move before she went through with it. She watched carefully as he attempted to pick the lock. It turned out the door was already open, and she had to stifle a mocking laugh.
“Alright, so maybe I’m not an expert, but I get the job done.”
“If there’s one statement that describes your entire existence, that’s the one,” she said dryly.
“The best part about this place is that even if someone catches you, the worst they can do is shoo you away or try to beat you up. There’s no law and order here. If they try to beat you up, you run. If you can’t run, you take it like a man.”
She frowned. She had to wonder how many times Danny had been beat up in this process for him to know that that was exactly what would happen. Carnival justice, it seemed. There was no one to enforce laws in such a lawless, remote place. She wondered if anyone had ever even tried to take charge of the anarchistic establishment and rule the people within the Inn.
“That’s certainly dark, McQueen,” she commented.
He seemed to know exactly what to take and not to take. He left just enough that it would be hard to figure out that things were missing until later. She had to admit, she was a little impressed. He seemed to know what he was doing, at least to an extent. He must have done this so many times before since he’d been gone for a full year. Stealing food was probably no big deal to him anymore. Perhaps he never even felt guilty for it.
“We did it! No snags, no hang-ups. I’m actually quite proud.”
“Were you expecting something to go wrong?” Mandy asked.
“Anything can go wrong at any time,” he replied simply. With goods in tow, he made his way back to his room. He dropped everything on the counter, and began sorting it. “Usually if things can go wrong, they do go wrong. At least that’s usually how it is around here. If there’s a possibility that things could fall apart, they’ll likely fall apart. That’s why I was so impressed that nothing went wrong that time. My entire life has been full of folly since I got here.” He stocked everything in his cabinets and then locked them tight. “You don’t know the countless number of times I’ve got in trouble and nearly died.”
He gestured for her to come over and sit on the couch, and he sat down as well. “That was a good lesson, did you learn anything?” he asked. “I guess I didn’t really show you that much but you get the gist of it. Sneak in, grab the right amount of food, sneak out.” He made little gestures with his hands as he spoke. He looked into Mandy’s eyes which seemed alight with amusement at his antics. He sighed and mumbled something about her never taking him seriously and hoped she hadn’t heard him. “So, I know you must be exhausted. Would you like some tea?” he asked.
Without waiting for a reply, he went to the cabinet to get some tea bags and started boiling some hot water. Even if she didn’t want tea, he wanted it, and he would have it. He took a moment to press the teabag to his nose and smell the minty scent. He smiled to himself and watched the water boil, and when it reached the right temperature he dropped in the tea bags. He didn’t exactly know the proper way of making tea or if there was a proper way of making tea. Usually when he went to tea parties, someone else made the tea, and Mandy used to make the tea when they lived together. Nevertheless, he succeeding in making tea and brought one cup over for Mandy and poured another cup for himself.
“Oh don’t worry! I will!” She called out to him as she dressed. Skye wouldn’t dress heavily — she figured if this would be an adventure, she’d need to dress lightly and wear something that would allow her to move anyway she wished. The girl was glad that spring was finally here — what she loved the most was the blossoms and she’d finally see them again. “I suppose so! But I like the cold.. I like the rain more..” She muttered and rose a brow at his comment. “What? I look horrid! But thank you.. This makes me smile.” she smiled and kissed him once more as she looked down at the kitten.
“Is it just me or does Luna seem a little sad? I’m sorry precious, but it’s too dangerous for you! You’re my baby and I need to keep you safe.” She kissed the kitten’s forehead once more and sat her down. The kitten seemed determined to follow and the cat was not of this world — not that they knew it yet. Petting the cat once more, Skye turned to Danny and nodded. “Good! I think I’ll take the shovel.. It’ll be effective and easier to wield.” She remembered how the other weighed her down a bit. Hugging Danny once more, she smiled as he bowed to her. “You’re the sweetest.. Let’s get the shovel and be on our way.” One last kiss and she left her room and the kitten in. The retrieval of the shovel was quick and she tested it out a few times to be sure.
“Yeah.. This is perfect. Where were we going to be heading? I just thought I’d ask.. Do you think this will lead us to the way out?” She hoped so — she hated being here and she missed her family so much, but the thought of finally being free was.. Frightening. “If this is the way out.. Just promise me we’ll be together still.. Please.” She took a deep breath and tried not to seem so nervous and did with ease. Gripping the shovel tightly, she blew her bangs out of her eyes. “Anyway — let begin!”
“She does seem a little down, poor thing, she probably has separation anxiety,” he said, looking at the small cat with pity. He smiled at Skye as she went to go fetch the shovel. It could come in handy, not only as a weapon but as a tool. Just in case they had to do any digging. Of course Danny had attempted to dig many a tunnel to the outside, but it never worked. Either it would fill itself back up or he would hit solid material and be unable to go any further. It didn’t stop him from trying many, many times, however. His desperation led him to do anything to get out of the inn.
“We’re going into the wilds, the forest,” he told her. “I was out there with Jared a little while ago and we found some… interesting… things. Though nothing that led to the outside, but some things I will want to check out again. But another day.” He moved up next to her and put his arm around her. “Right now I want to go a little further into the woods and see what’s really far out there. I know this property extends pretty far, I just don’t know how far, but for all we know there could be a way out just through the trees.”
He looked at her softly when she asked him to promise they’d still be together. “Of course we will,” he said. “I’m going to travel the world with you.” Danny smiled warmly. “Alright, onward!” He marched out the door, down the hallways, down the stairs (albeit very carefully), and to the outside. He could see the forest in the distance and put his hand up to shield his eyes from the sun. “This is going to be quite an adventure,” he said. “We’ll have to be cautious, but not too cautious. If we’re too careful we’ll never take the risks necessary to get out of here.” When they reached the treeline he took a deep breath. “Alright. Good. Here we go.” He stepped over into the woods and looked back at Skye to make sure she was alright.
“If you had just let me rob that apartment, we would have plenty of food by now. That’s how I get by around here, through stealing things. New people come in, they bring their groceries, and when they least expect it I take it all away from them. Terrible, I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures and I am a very… desperate… man.”
As though that weren’t obvious enough. She knew how desperate Danny was and how desperate he could get. After all he did come from a criminal background, perhaps all his life as far as she knew. One would have to be desperate to resort to such behavior. She had not yet reached that level of desperation, still reeling from the shock of being trapped in a building by an unknown force. Easily, the whole sordid affair was enough to drive a person insane.
“I take care of my allies, Mandy, and I consider you to be a good friend. You may drive me out of my mind at times but you’re a friend nonetheless.”
It made her wonder what other allies he had. Perhaps the serial killer and the prostitute or whoever they were, she’d forgotten anything he said about them already. It had all become very confused and distorted in her mind, for she hadn’t been focusing on what he’d said in the first place.
“I thank you kindly, McQueen, but there’s got to be some explanation and a way out of here,” she said to him. “This could be some - a - a secret social experiment, from the government.” It sounded silly but also plausible at the same time, at least from her perspective.
“That being said, rest assured that I’ll do my best to take care of you until you learn to take care of yourself. You taught me everything I needed to know about manners and class, so it’s time for me to teach you everything you need to know about being a low-down dirty crook.”
“That really isn’t necessary, but fine, you can show me a few things about how you’ve managed to live here this long,” she sighed. “I mean, you must know at least a little about what you’re doing if you’ve survived this long.”
“Time for first lesson, we’re going to break into that apartment.”
She looked at him with apprehension. She didn’t really want to be responsible for depriving someone of food for her own sake, but at the same time she had survival instincts in the back of her mind telling her to go for it.
“Are you sure about this, McQueen?” Mandy asked, thinking she could weasel out of it for now. “I’ll probably only slow you down.”
“I’m sure,” he said, trying to counter her doubts. “You won’t slow me down, you’re not the first person I’ve had to teach about how to get on in here.” He got up from the couch and pulled her up along with him, gently as he could for she was delicate. “Have a little faith in yourself, Mandy. Before you know it you’ll be a regular cat burglar.” The thought of it in his head seemed preposterous, as Mandy was perhaps the most prim and proper woman he’d ever known. To think of her as ever being a decent thief seemed silly, but she would have to at least learn small things like how to pick locks and get around unnoticed. Danny wasn’t about to do everything for her, after all.
Checking periodically to see that she was still following, he made his way down the hallways and back to the apartment he was going to raid. Luckily the owners still weren’t back from whatever lark they’d gone on and he was free to pick the lock and let himself inside. He motioned for Mandy to look closer as he fiddled with the doorknob. “It’s really quite simple, getting these open,” he said. “You just…” The door turned out to be unlocked and he leaned forward, putting too much pressure on it and tumbled inside the apartment. The door made a loud sound when it hit the wall and he cringed. “Alright, so maybe I’m not an expert, but I get the job done.”
He made his way to the kitchen. “The best part about this place,” he said, “is that even if someone catches you, the worst they can do is shoo you away or try to beat you up. There’s no law and order here. If they try to beat you up, you run. If you can’t run, you take it like a man.” He started going through the cabinets, noticing that there were very few provisions so he’s have to be careful to only take certain things that would go without notice. He grabbed enough for one day’s worth of meals and quickly scuttled out of the room, hoping Mandy would follow and shut the door behind her. “We did it!” he announced. “No snags, no hang-ups. I’m actually quite proud.”
The woman heard voices in the distance, echoing around in her mind and whispering in her ears. For a moment she wondered if she was dying. Then she was hit with a splash of cold water and her eyes shot open. There was Danny McQueen, standing over her looking concerned and holding an empty glass. The contents of the glass had been poured out all over her. Her mouth hung open and she shook water off her hands. She was in complete shock. He had the gall to dump icy water all over her and ruin her good blouse.
“I - McQueen!” she growled. “Look at me, I’m a mess!”
Disgruntled, she glared at him. In her heart she knew he was only trying to help but he was such an idiot that she could barely believe it. He never did have any intelligence aside from street smarts. He was a pseudo-intellectual of the highest caliber. She wanted to call him all kinds of nasty names and insult his intelligence further, but she was a proper lady and that wasn’t proper behavior.
She took a deep breath. “Get me a towel,” she commanded.
When she took a look around she realized that she was in his apartment. He had been valiant after all, trying to take care of her by making her comfortable. She realized he must have desperately wanted to wake her to prevent her from slipping into a coma. So maybe he did have a little, tiny hint of medical knowledge. At least he tried, and she decided she couldn’t fault him for that. She would just have to forgive him for dumping water on her and move on, after all it was sort of sweet what he’d done.
“And… thank you, McQueen,” Mandy sighed. “You acted quite heroically, I suppose.”
She unbuttoned her blouse and took it off. She laid it down on the coffee table and sighed, adjusting her bra. She was very comfortable with her body and thus didn’t have a problem with just taking her shirt off and letting it dry. She was also very comfortable around Danny, having known him for as long as she’d known him.
Her mood suddenly plummeted when she remembered the reason she’d fainted in the first place. She was actually trapped in this building. Danny had been right about everything, or maybe almost everything. She still wasn’t completely on board with the ghosts and monsters but she’d seen the fact that they were trapped with her own eyes.
“What are we going to do for food?” she asked quietly. “We’re going to starve to death, aren’t we?”
Danny recoiled a little at Mandy’s shrill reprimand. “I was only trying to help,” he mumbled. He rushed off to the bathroom to get her a towel. He found one on the floor, so he picked it up, brushed it off and took it to her. At that point she was simultaneously taking her shirt off while thanking him and he started to wonder what kind of thank you she had in mind, but it proved to be innocuous. I’m way, way over her anyway, he thought to himself. “Well, you’re welcome. I just thought you were going to die so I did what any decent person would do to keep you from going into a coma,” he said.
Now she was starting to worry about food, and he almost had to roll his eyes. “If you had just let me rob that apartment, we would have plenty of food by now. That’s how I get by around here, through stealing things,” he said. “New people come in, they bring their groceries, and when they least expect it I take it all away from them. Terrible, I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures and I am a very… desperate… man.” His blue eyes were burning with a determined fire. He sat down on the couch next to Mandy and took her porcelain hand and kissed it lightly. “I take care of my allies, Mandy, and I consider you to be a good friend. You may drive me out of my mind at times but you’re a friend nonetheless.”
“That being said, rest assured that I’ll do my best to take care of you until you learn to take care of yourself,” he said, patting her hand. “You taught me everything I needed to know about manners and class, so it’s time for me to teach you everything you need to know about being a low-down dirty crook.” He grinned crookedly at her, face alight with mischief. It was probably very low of him but he figured he would take this as a chance to get revenge on her for all her vigorous and sometimes humiliating training. The tables would be turned on the control freak for once. The wheels in Danny’s mind turned with possibilities but he kept a cool outward appearance. “Time for first lesson, we’re going to break into that apartment.”
Unfortunately, my computer has died. :( Sorry guys. Ill try and get it fixed ASAP.
Oh dear! I hope to see you back soon!
“It’s just like I said, we’re trapped here. This is no joke, I haven’t drugged you, I was just telling the truth the entire time and you didn’t believe me. Stop looking for ways to continue to not believe me. You can run through that gate a hundred times and you’ll end up right back here. That’s just how it works…”
All his words said so saccharine seemed to jumble together and echo. She could only stare at him as he wriggled from her grasp and turned to leave. She jumped forward and put a hand on the back of his shoulder to stop him from going. She needed to have someone by her side as she processed this entirely new information. There had to be some other explanation for it but she searched her mind and couldn’t come up with one. Perhaps Danny was in the same boat and he only came up with the stories of ghosts to explain the phenomenon.
“Wait, McQueen, please don’t go,” she said with a quivering voice. “I - I need you. I need a friend. You’re my only friend. Please, I’m genuinely frightened. We’re trapped here. We’re completely trapped.”
She instantly felt bad about how she’d treated him. How she called him delusional and all the nasty thoughts she thought about him. He wasn’t just constantly up to no good because he was a convict, he was trying to survive. He was doing what any other person would do when faced with a dire situation. She put a hand over her mouth and took deep breaths. She reached into her purse for her tin of pain killers, poured out a handful of them and took half of it. It was probably too much but she just wanted relief.
“I - I am so sorry I doubted you, McQueen - Danny - Danny, I am so sorry, I promise you. You were right. We’re like animals in a cage in this place. I made you eat all your food, I promised we could get more, oh, I’m dreadful.”
She fretted and frenzied over the turn of events. Never in her life would she have expected Danny’s delusions to have been true. She continued to breathe heavily, trying desperately to regain composure before she fainted or something equally as embarrassing. When the pills hit her stomach she felt like she was going to vomit. Hyperventilation was setting in and she began to feel dizzy. She put one hand over her forehead and fell to the floor.
Danny could barely believe what he was hearing. Mandy was actually begging him to stay with her, and she was fearful. She knew the terror that he experienced every single day, or at least a piece of it. A part of him wanted to shove it in her face and gloat about being right, but he knew that would be both wrong and immature. Besides, he could sympathize with her, remembering how scared he was when he first found out that no one could leave. It struck him how she used his first name, something she did rarely. “Right, we’re friends,” he said. “As your friend, I propose you stop taking so many pills. You’re going to overdose and die. There’s no emergency room to help you, and I — Mandy?”
She had collapsed, and he looked at her, stunned and concerned. “Mandy?” He guessed she’d fainted from the shock and excitement. He hoped it had nothing to do with all the pain killers she’d swallowed, he hadn’t seen how many she’d taken but he knew it was more than what she normally took. He knelt down by her side and checked her pulse to make sure she was still alive. Her heart was still beating, but she was out like a light. “Oh, Mandy,” he sighed. He knew he had to get her out of the hallway and to somewhere comfortable. He needed to get her to drink some water to dilute the pills she’d swallowed and lessen their effects on her body.
Mandy was a very lightweight lady, so Danny had no trouble picking her up and carrying her over to the elevator. As much as he couldn’t stand her sometimes, he didn’t want to see her get hurt or die. She was his last remaining contact from the outside world, and the only person in the Inn that he’d known before he got there. “There there, Mandy, I’m going to take care of you. You’re not going to die on my watch,” he said, soothingly, although he figured she couldn’t hear him. With her in his arms, he took the elevator to the fourth floor and carried her into his apartment. He placed her carefully on the couch and stepped back. He needed to get her to wake up somehow in case she was in danger of slipping into a coma due to overdose. He shook her shoulders and tapped her face a little. When that didn’t work, he grabbed a glass of cold water and spilled it on her.
“Good! Let’s go somewhere then! Finally, I’ll be able to put your doubts to rest and prove to you that there’s no getting out of here. This is an excellent idea.”
“We’ll see who proves whom right,” she said, eyeing him.
She was very confident in the fact that she’d prove to him that he could leave the grounds. She didn’t know whether or not to expect people with guns forcing them to go back inside or to expect a hellhound guarding the gate viciously based on what he’d told her. To be frank, she didn’t really count on either of his stories being true. Then something he said made her stop dead in her tracks.
“Wait, you would honestly hitchhike? You, Miss Mandy Perfect-pants, would degrade yourself by doing something illegal? Oh, this is adorable.”
“Hush, McQueen, I —” She opened her mouth to defend herself but he interrupted her.
“Although I suppose your abuse of pain killers isn’t entire legal, now is it?” He had ice in his voice. “Of course, I’m one to talk, being the ex-convict. It’s simply the pot calling the kettle black. Well, let’s get this over with so I can get back before they return to their room.”
In another unprecedented fit of fury, she lost her temper all at once and struck him across the face again. It seemed to catch him off guard and he ended up on the floor with her staring down at him. There was fire in her eyes. One could practically see the burning, seething rage she had at the fact that he dared to point out her opiate addiction and use it as an underhanded slam against her character.
“How dare you speak to me that way!” she roared. “How dare you stoop so low? You’re an idiot, McQueen. You’re trying my patience further than it’s been tried and I believe I’ve reached my breaking point. That is it, we’re going back to New York City immediately. I don’t care about your friends, I don’t care about your possessions, we’re leaving right now.” The final two words were said with strong emphasis.
She jerked him up off the floor and kept a firm grip on his thin wrist. They got to the outdoors and she walked, or more stomped towards the gate with him in tow. She opened the gate and stepped out, blinking at the exact instant and when her eyes opened she found herself and Danny back inside the building.
She rushed out the front door and went through the gate again only to return to where she was before and by now she was trembling like a leaf. She whirled around and gripped her ex-boyfriend by his shoulders and dug her fake nails into them.
“Tell me what is happening,” she demanded of him, right up in his face. “You tell me this is a joke or that you laced my food with drugs. You tell me what you did to make your impossible little story come to life.”
In all honesty he was fully expecting her to smack him again. He wasn’t at all surprised to feel the scratch of her acrylic nails across his cheek. “Ow, this is borderline abuse,” he said, indignantly sprawled on the floor. ”I’ve never hit you, how come you get to hit me?” He rubbed his sore cheek and saw a little bit of blood on his fingers. “You’re ruining my pretty face like this, you know.” She pulled him back up, ranting and yelling all the way about how he was a moron and how they were going back to New York. It was all just random chatter to him. “I am not an idiot,” he refuted.
He started to laugh when she dragged him down towards the gate and continued to laugh as they were displaced back to where they started from, right inside the building. Mandy went frantic, let go out of him and ran out by herself only to end up back inside again. She looked wild-eyed and crazed by this turn of events. He just couldn’t stop laughing, even when she grabbed his shoulders and looked him deep in the eyes. He just kept cackling like a maniac until he finally regained his composure.
“It’s just like I said, we’re trapped here,” he said cheerily. “This is no joke, I haven’t drugged you, I was just telling the truth the entire time and you didn’t believe me. Stop looking for ways to continue to not believe me. You can run through that gate a hundred times and you’ll end up right back here. That’s just how it works. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to rob someone!” He squirmed his way out of her grip and turned to leave.
Penny stood there wide-eyed and breathless. Her small pale hands trembling by her sides. Her pink lips parted to speak, out came stuttered and fumbled words. “I - I - ah - um” she stopped herself trying to form at least one sentence. “A-A-A m-monster?” She asked, her brows furrowing, the afraid girl turned cross and annoyed. Penny crossed her arms over her chest, looking hard at the man. “That’s not funny.” She blurted, without a single stutter. She stood there with a cross look on her face, disapproving of the nonsense Danny was trying to feed her. Her eyes didn’t leave the man as he breathlessly introduced himself. Her bottom lip was almost pouted, she stared at his shaking hand as he lifted it to greet her. Hesitantly she took his hand, shaking it briefly before folding her arm back across her chest. “I-I-I don’t think y-you should b-be here, sir.” Penny spoke once more, the courage in her voice disappearing before her. She felt small and weak again. Here in her room was a strange man who spoke of ghosts and goblins, but who was she to believe in children stories. It was nonsense, utter nonsense. Right?
Danny looked indignant when she insinuated that he was just making it up. “Of course it’s not funny,” he huffed, hands on his hips. “It’s very real danger! I don’t just go around trying to frighten young girls, for fuck’s sake I’m not that weird.” He side-eyed her until he realized how immature he must seem. He took his hands off his hips and let them rest down by his sides. “Anyway, I really did just come for a visit. I like to know my neighbors.” He tried to make himself seem less peculiar by relaxing completely and changing the look in his eyes to something a little softer. He still retained some basic acting skills from when he was art films.
“All unpleasantness regarding monsters and whether or not they exist aside, how are you getting along here?” he asked. “You’re much younger than I expected you to be. That isn’t a good thing. You’ve got to be less than eighteen. How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking? High school student?” He tilted his head curiously. “Proves this place doesn’t care about age when it comes to victims, I suppose. It is really only a matter of time before you go insane or die. Or both.” He realized how matter-of-fact he sounded and backtracked. “No, no, you’re probably not in any danger of that…” He laughed nervously.
“Come in, Danny! The door’s opened!” Skye called from the other side and wrapped her robe tightly around her, just having gotten out of the bath. Once the man stepped in, she ran to hug him tightly as a brow quirked. “An adventure?” Her lips pursed and she nodded. “Of course. Let me get ready.” Pressing her lips gently to his, Skye soon ran off to dress. She dressed sensibly in something that was easy to move in, but not long enough to catch onto anything. After pulled on her shorts and shirt, she sat on the bed to put on her boots.
This would be exciting considering they haven’t been on an adventure since they first got together and this would be a nice way to continue their relationship. Smiling a bit to herself, she got a small backpack and slung it onto her back. It might not have been practical to have a small one, but she figured if they found any key items it would be easy to have them in there so they wouldn’t get lost. Jogging into the bathroom to get a few things that would be important, she walked back into the sitting room. “Sorry for the wait, I’m ready.” She smiled and soon heard a meow from behind as Luna came up to them. “No, Luna.. You have to stay here. It’ll be too dangerous for a little kitten!” She’s grown a lot in the past few months and she wasn’t so much a kitten anymore, but she’d always be her kitten. “Stay here and we’ll be back, okay?” Kissing the kitten on the head, she straightened and went to Danny.
“We need to get weapons.. Unless you have some already.” She rose a brow and smirked, pressing her lips to his gently. “I’m thinking my axe again.. Or a shovel.. Let’s go see what we can find?”
Danny was very pleased to be greeted so warmly by her and he bit his lip as she pulled away from him in order to go get ready. “Don’t dress too heavily, it’s a nice day out today, finally getting to be spring,” he said. “And it’s about damn time too, winter lasted far too long. I suppose that’s expected for Maine, though.” He waited for her until she finally arrived, looking stunning despite being dressed simply in shorts and a shirt. She had on a backpack as well, showing off her preparedness that he admired. “Ah, you’re so gorgeous,” he commented, hardly able to believe his luck having a relationship with such a lovely girl.
He waved to the kitten. “Hello, Luna!” he laughed. “Sorry you can’t come along, silly kitty. You’ve got to save those nine lives of yours for later.” He was glad that the kitten seemed normal enough, albeit a little smarter than the average feline. A present from a demon, he would usually consider it to be dangerous, but so far everything was good. Perhaps the demon who gave the gift wasn’t all bad. Then again, it could be waiting for just the right moment to strike. Nevertheless, Danny trusted Luna for the most part, and she was a good companion for Skye.
“I’ve got my Bowie knife and switchblade,” he said. “You can take one or the other if you need or you can bring your axe along. Whichever is more comfortable for you, my dear.” He bowed to her grandly, and grinned with crooked teeth.