The Winding Hallways (pt. 2)

Pt. 2: The Winding Hallways

The building, although it seemed considerably humble in size based on the exterior, was a sprawling maze of rooms and hallways throughout the inside, extending underneath the very Earth in some places. Corridor after corridor lined the desolate interior of the facility, which the Assistant noticed became most difficult to navigate during dark, starless nights such as this one. The overhead lights were dim and barely managed to illuminate the gray, featureless hallways, which caused the girl to bump into an invisible wall here and there, despite knowing the path quite well. She awkwardly balanced the tray in one hand as she walked, and quickly pulled out her phone to confirm how much time she had left. The sudden bright flash of light made her wince, but as her eyes began to adjust to the turquoise background and soft-lavender hearts of the screen, her heart sank.

“11:54”

The bold, white numbers hung at the top of her screen, mocking her. The Assistant had always done her best to arrive at the lab not a minute later than midnight, as she knew how irate the Scientist could become if he was thrown off schedule, even if it was for something as small as an evening cup of coffee. Hence as she read those dreaded numbers, her heart began to race. Knowing that she still had more than half of the facility to cross, the girl clutched the tray tighter and decided to quicken her pace, speeding up to just short of a jog as she made her way deeper and deeper into the bowels of the facility.

After traversing what felt like miles of vacant hallway, the Assistant finally arrived at the northernmost section of the building where the Scientist would often perform his most crucial experiments. Carefully setting down the tray, she leaned against the wall to catch her breath, and nervously pulled out her phone yet again to check the time.

“11:59”

A wave of relief cascaded over the girl, and she let out a suppressed sigh. “Hah… Not today…” she thought triumphantly to herself as she picked the tray off of the ground and began to reach for the polished, silver doorknob in front of her. As her hand grazed the ice-cold metal, however, she flinched. Like a bullet, something shot through her mind which caused her to back away from the large, gray door. Something about the frigid steel of the doorknob reminded her of a certain cold stare, one which she recognized better than her own reflection but still barely understood. One which she had seen time and time again, yet for some reason now dreaded to encounter. The Assistant remembered how his gaze would pierce her soul, penetrating the most secret corners of her heart, and how he would question with the hardest of logic what exactly she meant to him.

Do.. Do I mean anything to him..?”

The thought made her shudder, as she had promised to keep such things out of her mind. Despite this, the seeds of doubt had already planted themselves within her mind, growing and enveloping her consciousness like a vile worm. It ceaselessly tormented the girl, poking and prodding at her insecurities until she could take it no longer. She stubbornly shook her head, as if trying to somehow force the dread from her mind, and looked down at the tray which was now gripped between her white-knuckled hands. Her reflection swirled in the black coffee, which mirrored the vortex of self-doubt crashing through her mind. The Assistant could stomach it no more. What about the Scientist had made her constantly feel so, incomplete? She tried aimlessly to answer this question, searching through memory after spiteful memory until she finally found it. The moment which would be rooted in her mind for as long as she lived. The day she met the Scientist.