Companions- Episode 2: Tedious Progress
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Infinity looked around Level 2, seeing they'd entered a grey concrete tunnel. The wall was covered in pipes with steam leaking out of a few of them and there was a vent near the ceiling leaking black goo. It reminded her of a closet across the hallway from her bedroom that the boiler for the house could be found in. She looked around in silence until Ara tugged her sleeve.

"Snap out of it. We're not here to sight see."

"It just brings back memories is all."

"The Levels all do that to some length, get used to it. You know the creatures that tried to kill you? There's even more waiting to kill you here. Humans are the favored food of these creatures and as you are a human, you are in especial danger. Stay by me, and do not slow down."

"Rude." Infinity said, looking at Ara crossly as they walked down the hall.

"Believe me, I can be a lot nastier."

"What the hell is wrong with you?"

"I'm trying to keep you from getting killed, you dimwit."

"Well, could you be less of an asshole about it? I've got to put up with the fact I'll probably never see anyone I love again. I don't need you making this more miserable."

"Uh-huh. Just please shut up."

"Not until you tell me why you're being a total bitch."

"You're the human here."

"YOU FUCKING SAY THAT AGAIN." Infinity picks up Ara and slams her against a wall. She was just about done listening to what Ara was saying. Why did she have to put up with this?

"Why not? You're the one getting violent."

"Because you're treating me like a fucking pest!"

"For the time being, that is how I will see you. Now put me down."

"Not until you change your attitude towards me, you big book of superstitious nonsense!"

"Make me change my attitude."

"Are the others of your…species this racist?"

"No, they actually love humans. I got exiled for clashing with that system they tout so proudly."

"Really? Did you go as far as to murder someone over it?"



Ara shook her head and then went silent. Ara began thinking back to the night before her wedding was supposed to happen all those centuries ago.

469 AD. Karl Erik (a bucket), her fiance had returned from Flat 10. He carried the fur of a Skinstealer which was quite the catch at the time. He proved to be a truly amazing hunter and soldier. Her father highly approved of him as did his father of her.

He entered her room, knelt, and kissed her hand, hoping to lift her spirits upon seeing the melancholy frown on her face.

"Glad to see you, my lovely wife to be. Shall you bless me with your attention, dear?"

"Indeed, speak yourself forth."

"Well, I am having your wedding dress be made from this Skinstealer fur."


"Indeed. You have said you always wished for it."


"Very enjoyable of a dream."

"Yes. A longstanding dream of mine."

"Indeed. How is Edgar?"

"…" Ara sat on her bed in ashamed silence. A few seconds stretched into minutes. She began to cry. She knew exactly what happened. She beat him with a wooden sword he was playing with for knocking down some vase she bought from someone selling Roman style pottery. It played over and over in her mind and she couldn't get it out. Her last memory of her brother was him begging for mercy. Karl could tell something tragic had happened. He did not know exactly what, but he worried about what it might be as he sat next to her.

"What happened, dear?" he asked, a troubled soft frown showing on his face.

"She killed him, Erik! She killed him! My younger brother killed by his mother!" She shouted, tears streaming down her face as she turned to Erik, hugged him, and clung tightly.

Erik gasped, his face dropped and he hugged her back. "I am so sorry for your loss. Your brother's death will be greatly mourned by all who knew him."

"I… am a failure of a sister."

"Truly not. You could not have known that wretch would have murdered your brother in such cold blood. This was not your fault. Indeed, none would have believed that woman was a murderer."

"I could have stopped it…"

"You couldn't have. She'd have tried to get you in trouble with your father if you had."

"I saw it happen, Erik. I'll never get to talk to Edgar again."

"He is in a better place."

"I should hope so."

"Have you reported it to the law-house?"

"Yes. They're looking into it. The murderer won't slink her way out of this."


"My life is ruined."

"I understand this is soul crushing. But it won't ruin your life. Mourn as we must, we'll be here for each-other. Your father will be as well. There are still people who love you. I love you. Your father loves you." Erik said as he held her in his embrace, secure and stable. She sobbed in his embrace profusely for another few minutes until she could calm herself enough to sit up straight. She wiped her face with the blanket and sighed.

"I'm sorry. I'm in a dark place. I'm going to sleep early. Good night, dear."

"All right. Good sleep, my love." Erik kissed Ara and she kissed him back. He left and she was now alone in the dark. Lights always fluctuated in brightness according to the time of day it would be in some world, and it was essentially 8 PM now. She remembered back to times she and Edgar would go over to some friend's dwelling and play hide and seek. So much fun back then. His cheerful smile, his strangely abundant energy and positivity. All of it was now gone forever. She laid in completely miserable and ashamed silence until she fell asleep that night. The memory always stung in its vividity.

Ara was jolted back to reality when she dropped to the floor with a thud and heard a scream from Infinity.

She looked up and saw a child-sized humanoid creature with no face had sneaked up behind Infinity and put a knife around her neck. Ara attacked the freakish monster, pulling it off of Infinity and breaking the arm that held the weapon.

She took the knife and stabbed the creature, drawing blood. She then broke it's legs so as to prevent it from getting back up and pursuing them. She stood up, looking at Infinity before speaking in an embarrassed tone.

"Sorry, I was lost in thought."

"Great time for that, but why doesn't it have a face?!"

"Those are Facelings. That one was a Child Faceling. They're the most violent ones." Ara caught her breath before looking around.

"What are you looking around for?" Infinity asked.

"They usually come in twains or threes."

And indeed another one was coming. Another one attacked Ara, but Ara quickly overpowered them. She stabbed them, and forced them down too. She took the knife of the other one and looked around once more before sighing in relief.

"Those two are the last we'll see. Now, follow me, and do hold onto this knife."

"All right." Infinity took the knife and tied some of her hair around it, so as to hold it with the knot. She then pulled out her phone and pulled up her Instagram. Her friends were offline. Not a surprise. She checked Taylor's profile. The only profile she cared enough to check individually. She wasn't online either. She cursed under her breath, turned off her phone, and put it in her pocket. After walking for over an hour, they stopped and took a break. The machinery was getting really loud at that point, and the area was getting extremely hot.

"Wow. Its way hotter than I'd expect for a universe stuck inside. My little brother Jim would ask if the air conditioning was broken here." Infinity said with a chuckle as she wiped the sweat off of her forehead. She thought back to it, now missing him. She cared about her younger brother. She was just way too busy to do anything with him. But now she was overcome with guilt and shame. This was a world which she might never come back from and she didn't even get to say goodbye.

Ara nodded, not really paying attention. She was walking ahead staring into space for a few moments then was jolted back to reality when she bumped into a door and fell over backwards. She got up, shook her hands, and looked around. The door they were looking for was right here- and she had walked right into it.

"Are you ok?" Infinity asked.

"Yes. In fact, we have made it to our entrance to Flat 3."

"Oh, that's good. Is Flat 3 any safer than this one?"

"Nope. The trip will be worth it nonetheless." Ara opened the door and they walked through, on to the next leg of their journey.


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