Ch.11: Down The Rabbit Hole

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The world around them is deathly silent.

The sounds of her sharp, labored breathing and dragging breaks the quiet every few moments, but they're loud in her ears, encompassing. Her own heartbeat drums within her, the loudest sound of all.

Ray has never felt such a mixture of fear, desperation, and despair before.

Her hands are sore, but she pushes herself to keep moving. Her chest is tight, so tight, and she heaves with exhaustion— but she can't stop now.

Beneath her grasp, where her hands meet the dark, warm gray material, is a limp body. He's taller and much heavier than she can lift, and even trying to slide him along the floor by his shoulders is proving futile. She wishes he'd open his eyes, that he'd wake up, to show her some sign that he's alive; but the only thing she has to go on is the too-faint rise and fall of his chest.

It was like a nightmare, seeing Zack there. So peaceful and yet so eerie, leaned against the back of the elevator, unable to react to her frantic calling of his name. The blood, still oozing through his clothing, created a scene that she won't soon forget.

It took her moments to figure out what to do, to sort through the once-intelligent and coherent thoughts that had become so chaotic, but she knew she had to get him off the elevator.

Her weak, small body can barely inch him along, having to stop frequently to take a breath. Ray manages to get him out and into the hall before she nearly collapses. His scythe, which he'd had still gripped in one hand, has nearly been lost during their short journey.

The futility of her actions looms over her head, and she knows they can't continue on like this. Still, if she had to, she'd somehow force herself to bring him to the end of the floor, or even the next for that matter. Whatever it takes to get him out of here.

For the moment, she struggles to move his prone form up against the paneled wood wall, carefully placing him in such a way that, at first glance, he seems to have just dozed off. Fighting with his weapon, she places it by his side too, in case he wakes up.

Ray kneels by his feet, her ice blue eyes scanning him and searching his face for twitches or signs of activity. His usual smirk is nowhere to be seen, his bandaged face unable to portray anything reassuring. His dark eyelids are shut tight.

She has to ignore the urge to reach out, to touch his face, maybe do something he would do and slap him awake. Instead, she stares at him, her eyes darting away down the darkened hall and back warily.

"...Zack," she whispers, her voice crackling a little. She clears her throat quickly. "We've arrived at B2."

To her surprise, he coughs, and those bi-colored orbs peer open at her just a little, hazily focusing on her. His body wracks with the action, and she furrows her brows worriedly,

"Zack...!" Her voice wavers, but the relief is audible.

He blinks at her groggily, licking his dry lips and shifting a bit. "Huuh...?"

Her heartbeat subsides a little, and the gratefulness to see him alive is overwhelming. She lightly touches her chest, closing her eyes briefly.

"...Thank goodness..."

"...We there yet...?" comes his shaky reply, and she's horrified by how weak his voice has become, how frail-sounding.

Ray nods her head slowly, frowning. "Yes, but..."

"...Then, let's get movin'."

He starts to lift himself up, using his palms to push himself back to his feet, but she reaches out, pressing his shoulders reflexively back down. He doesn't fight back, an awful sign, especially by how easy it is to stop him.

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