Chapter 12

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The darkened world was incredibly disorientating. The thin lines made everything blend together. Since Zero-zero was more experienced with navigating, so he led us through the hallway. It hadn't taken the Masked nearly as long as we had hoped to completely overrun this floor. Many of the doors around us were open and the apartments emptied. The few that weren't had Masked lingering near them, knocking and waiting to be let in.

How had so many people gotten caught and turned so quickly? Were people here really that blatantly trusting of random people knocking at their doors? They must have known that the Masked were getting bolder. There was no way for us to safely search for anyone else or bring them with us, so we were left to find our way out.

Our first attempt to leave the floor was via the elevator. But once it had arrived we were surprised to find it crowded with Masked. The way they shifted against each other, I didn't seem like they knew what they were doing. A few of them stumbled out while others moved passed us and tried to push themselves inside the already cramped space. The ones near the buttons were aimlessly pushing them at random. Words and numbers weren't visible with the masks on, so they may not have known what they were doing. Either way, we had to take the stairwell.

Even as we carefully made our way down the steps, inching past each Masked we came across, Ninety-one still insisted on keeping his grip on my hand. We were the only ones with bags on so it wouldn't have been that easy to lose each other, and he wasn't nearly as concerned with keeping up with Zero-zero. Was he angry with him about having a mask? But then why isn't he as mad at me about it. Maybe he didn't trust me not to run off. If he thought I was influenced by the Masked then why did he agree to put the mask on?

When we came close to a door that led to another floor, it flew open hard enough to crash against the railing. A group of seven or so normal people came rushing out. They spotted us almost immediately. The two at the back turned to run back into the hallway but were blocked by a Masked. It grabbed onto one of the group members as the others fled down the stairs. The, now two, Masked chased after them.

We had no choice but to continue down after them. Two floors down we saw fours Masked pushing against the partially opened door to the floor. One of them had their arm around it and was grabbing at the people inside. Ninety-one looked away as we passed the struggle. We were only midway down to the next floor when we heard the door above slam open.

Eventually, we reached the bottom of the stairs. It ended with a large door that opened up to a short hallway that came from behind the main desk in the lobby. There weren't as many Masked down here as the floor above. The ones that were there were standing around, watching as a bright white fire consumed the curtains that covered the windows. It flickered oddly in the skewed darkness. Against the larger windows, a white fire spread over the curtains. There was a loud pop before high pitched screeching filled the air. A flickering light began just as something started raining down on us.

Waving us on, Zero-zero ushered out to the stairs that lead to the parking garage. The parking lot was a mess of white lines twisting over each other. Puddles, cracks, and holes all looked alike. The water raining down only made things worse. Midway through the garage, Hue attempted to fly off. I hadn't been too focused on walking straight to pay him any mind. So when he suddenly jerked at his leash, the force pulled me between two cars. My side bumped heavily against one of them. It was enough to not only rock it but also set off the alarm.

The rapidly flashing lights made seeing so much worse than before. I squeezed my eyes shut as I stumbled forward and pulled against Hue's leash. I felt his pulling relax to a gentle tug. I turned back to see where the other two were, but could hardly see anything. Picking out the colors of their masks was impossible with the rapidly flashing lights. I tried to shout over the echoing wail, but nothing came out. I couldn't speak with the mask on.

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