The Broken City: Chapter Two

rating: +23+x

Much earlier…

Max sat in the driver's seat of his police car, looking out of the windshield: another boring night of speed management. He watched the warm, orange sunset as the cars zoomed down the road one by one, slouching a bit on the grey leather seats and resting his eyes for a little as he reveled in the symphony of white noise which the car’s functions created. The rush of the air conditioner, the hum of the engine; all was bliss, until his drifting off was interrupted by a voice coming from his right.

"Yo Max, we got a speeder!" the person next to Max perked, shaking him to emphasize the urgency. He opened his eyes and looked at the speeding radar, opening his mouth as he saw a staggering 60MPH flash on the screen.

“Eugh, I really didn’t want to have to do this again…” he sighed, putting his face into his hands and slowly sliding them down. “Rules are rules though, so we’ve got to pull them over. Let’s get going.” Max looked once more towards his right before beginning the chase, nodding at his recently appointed police deputy and good friend, Macy. The pair has an inseparable bond, which was why Max decided to request her to become his deputy after he was promoted to sheriff. She was a short, dark-skinned woman of African-American descent, whose black hair was extremely short and shaven on the sides, trimmed shortly on top. Her eyes shined blue, and she always wore a smile on her well-rounded face. She was slightly chubby, but not extremely overweight.

She muted the radar so it would stop beeping and turned on the car’s built-in siren. Max put on his seatbelt, hit the gas pedal, and swerved out onto the road from their hiding place in a chaotic flurry of movements. The sirens of the car screamed doom for the driver of the red Subaru in front of them as they got closer and closer to the vehicle.

Max ordered Macy to begin jotting down their plate numbers as they tailed behind them at roughly the same speed they were traveling at. She leaned over at the dashboard, squinting at the numbers as she wrote them down untidily on a notepad. As soon as she finished, the car began to slow down, eventually halting its movements and pulling over to the side of the road. Max too stopped his car, pulling up right behind the Subaru.

“Should I go up there, or?” asked an inquisitive Macy.

Max adjusted his glasses as he prepared to get himself out of the car. “No worries, I’ll do it myself. Doesn’t seem to be a big issue since there’s… well, only one guy in there. I’ll be back in a minute.”

He got out of the car, and began to walk towards the car slowly. As he got to it, he wrung his hands tentatively and peered into the vehicle, scanning it for the presence of a weapon. He saw none, so he lowered himself to be leveled with the driver. He knocked on the window, signaling them to roll it down, revealing a flustered, young teenager who was nervously clutching the driver’s wheel as he faced an indifferent Max.

"Hey man, do you know why I pulled you over?" Max asked, still unsure of how old the kid was.

"Look s-sir, I'm so sorry. I-I had no id-idea how fast I was going, I… I slept in, and I'm going to b-be late to work, this just keeps getting worse, I-I… Please don't give me a ticket, oh man, m-my parents are gonna ground me for months!" the teen pleaded. Max nodded sympathetically, knowing the feeling of his situation all too well.

"You were going 60 on a 45," Max replied. The kid put his head in his hands, further bubbling the guilt in Max’s consciousness. "Hey man, it's alright though, we all have our moments. If you hand me your license and registration, I'll get this thing done quickly and let you off with less of a consequence."

"Alright, h-here's my license." The kid stuttered between shallow breaths. He reached into his glove box, sifting through multiple heaps of different papers and junk to find it. After he found the papers and license he was looking for, he handed them to Max, who thanked him before making his way back to the car. He sat back onto the seats, letting out a fresh sigh of relief that it was just a trigger-happy teen, and not a raging drunkard.

"That was quick,” Macy said, as surprised as he was. “Who was it?”

"Some kid who got a bit too happy with the gas. He seemed genuine to me, I’ll probably just let him off with a warning; I can’t bring myself to give a ticket to someone in a situation I’ve been in myself countless times," Max replied, logging the kid’s information into the system. As he was doing so, Macy’s police radio beeped loudly, signaling an incoming transmission from their peers.

"Hey, sheriff? Sheriff, you there? Over," a crackly voice called, sounding slightly distressed.

"This is Deputy Ross speaking; Sheriff Blackfield is busy at the current moment. What do you all need? Over," Macy replied.

"Yeah, uh, you two need to get over here immediately. Someone called for a welfare check, and… the guy’s uh… missing. Over." The police radio beeped once more as Macy’s eyes widened slightly at what was uttered.

"Max, get this done quickly, we need to get going, pronto," she exclaimed to Max, also distressed now. Max nodded finishing the last of his routine tasks.

“Kid’s good, let me just let him off, I’ll be back soon. In the meantime, get this guy’s address and input it onto the GPS so we can get going ASAP,” Max ordered. He got back out of the car, and hurriedly walked towards the distressed teen, placing the documents back into his shaky hands.

"Alright kid, we’ve got to scram now, so luckily for you, I’m just gonna let you off with a warning. Is that understood?”

"Oh, thank you so much, sir. I'll be sure to be more wary about my speed next time," he sighed in relief. “Thank you so much once again!”

“No problem, kid. Stay safe, and have a nice night.” Max replied abruptly, hastily running back to the car, and practically jumping inside of it. He briefly glanced at the GPS before putting the car into gear, putting in all the required effort he could to get there as soon as possible. It was not long before they arrived in the neighborhood in which the house was located.

“So, what exactly happened? Did the dude just…” Max made a ‘poof’ sound, throwing one of his hands to the side as he briefly looked towards Macy for an answer. She shrugged at him as they pulled into the driveway of a dirty, decrepit-looking yellow house, which looked as if it hadn’t been pressure washed in the last few months. Max got out of his car, putting one foot onto the cracked pavement, and then the other, as he and Macy dashed to the house’s front door — which was flung wide open.

"Hey, is anyone home?" Max called out as he walked into the house with Macy following suit. He heard a muffled voice shouting down from the what he presumed to be the basement, so they quickly ran down the stairs to find the source of it. They reached the bottom, looking around the dark environment which now surrounded them. It was entirely silent, save only for the very annoying buzzing of a set of fluorescent lights which were plastered on the ceiling. Their only purpose seemed to be annoying him, for they were so dim that they served no practical use other than creating white noise. The wallpaper was old and tacky, and it had mold growing on several parts of it. Several piles of cluttered junk were scattered throughout the floor, which made it borderline impossible to navigate the place.

Suddenly, the duo heard footsteps dashing towards them. Max pulled out his baton, readying himself for what was to come, only to find out it was one of his co-workers, Aaron, who looked to be flustered and panicked until he saw Max. He was very short and scrawny, looking to be no more than 150 pounds. He had long, red, curly hair and glasses. His eyes were dark green, and his face was nothing but skin and bone. Max was always perplexed at how he made it past initial police training.

“Oh, you’ve finally arrived, sheriff!” he said, putting away a baton which was identical to Max’s. “Excuse the, err, hostility. I always try to be prepared for any situations that may arise…” he paused for a moment, catching his breath. He shook himself out of the brief trance and continued. “I did hear your voice though, so this may just have been a force of habit, heh.”

“Never mind that, Aaron, what the heck is going on here?” asked Max, raising one of his eyebrows at his co-worker.

"I was called up here for a welfare check, but when I came in, I saw that the entire house was just… empty. I had no clue on what I was supposed to do when I saw that, so I called you two on the police radio,” Aaron rambled, pausing to catch his breath several times mid-sentence, seemingly forgetting to breathe.

“Yeah, that’s odd to say the least,” replied Max, readjusting his glasses. “Let’s do another sweep of the place before we head back; I’d rather not go through the circus of a missing person report.”

Macy and Aaron nodded, splitting up to cover more ground efficiently. It was not long before they lost each other in the piles of junk, all desperately moving around the magnitude of objects that were in the basement, in the ludicrous hope of possibly finding the man in his own mess.

Macy was the one searching the most frantically for him. She knew not the reason of why she was doing so, but she persisted with vigor to try and find the man, determined to find him no matter what it took. Eventually she got agitated at the fact that she was simply not able to find him, taking her anger out on the basement itself.

The design here is atrocious, and this deadbeat can’t be bothered to at least clean the place up a bit. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s been gone a whole year now… my gosh, why are these lights here, they should be in a school or office. And why are they so… loud? I can’t… I can’t…

“I can’t take this anymore! Gah!” she shouted in frustration, finally voicing her thoughts out loud, quickly clasping her hands onto her mouth at the revelation of her sudden outburst. Now that she stood there, she noticed that she hadn’t heard from Max in a while now. She decided to call for him to see if he’d made any progress on the search.

"Yo, Max!" she called out. “Did you find anything worth noting down?”

No response. She walked towards the area where she saw him searching last. No noises other than the buzzing could be heard, which got continuously louder as time went on. She was fully concerned now; how could someone get lost in a basement?

"Max!" she called out once more, her voice quavering. “Stop messing around, this isn’t funny. Cut it out!”

A distant laugh erupted from Max, barely audible over the buzzing of the lights. He was saying something, but she couldn’t fathom what it was over the sound of the lights.

“I don’t understand what you’re saying, can’t we just turn the lights off so I can understand you better?” Macy yelled out in confusion. This time, not even that distant mumbling could be heard. “Max?!” she called out once more, even more worried than before.

She searched more frantically now, this time for Max, and not the fool who’d gotten her into this situation in the first place. Her search was fruitless however: Max was nowhere to be seen. On the verge of tears, she called out even louder and more passionately than before, her heart beating rapidly as she felt faint from the stress of the situation. He couldn’t have gotten buried under the junk, right? Even for a klutz like him it was unlikely to happen… but if that was the case, where was he?

"MAX!" she cried out, louder than ever before. “WHERE ARE YOU?!” she screamed as a tear cascaded onto her cheek. No response once again, much to her dismay. The buzzing began to overload her ears, replacing all sounds around her with the dreadful white noise she had gotten accustomed to as of late. She hyperventilated as she frantically looked around the room in search of Max, her mind already presuming the worst possibilities as fact.

The noise was silenced when she felt a touch to her shoulders, jolting her out of the moment as she turned around to face a worried Aaron. She was about to speak, when the fluorescent light above them suddenly went out with a small bang and the sound of glass shattering.

“Woah, what on Earth was that?!” Aaron exclaimed, shook from what had just happened. He cringed in slight pain as a shard of glass sliced open a part of his arm. He couldn’t tell if Macy was injured due to the darkness in the room and her current hysteria. He turned on his flashlight, illuminating her sobbing mess of a face, as they stood there in silence, both breathing heavily in shock.

“A-Aaron,” Macy whispered through shaky breaths, “I-I…”

“What’s going on? You were screaming like crazy for Ma- I mean, Sheriff Blackfield. Speaking of him, where is he?”

Macy did not have the energy to reply to him. She began to cry when she realized that, just like the prior inhabitant of the house, her friend had suddenly disappeared. She began irrationally sifting through all the junk in the basement in an irregular fit of rage, still clinging onto the slight possibility that Max was simply buried under all of it. With adrenaline rushing through her veins, she threw various objects behind her with near inhuman strength, frantically looking for Max with feverish determination in her eyes. And yet, even after practically removing the entire room’s junk, she could not find him. She cried even harder at this revelation.

"Wait, wait, did… did he disappear too?”" Aaron asked, his voice quavering just like hers did earlier. Macy looked at him, half-heartedly nodding at him and continuing to cry.

“How could… how could this happen?” Macy asked to no one in particular. “I-I walked around a bit in this stupid basement to search for th-them a-and the next thing I know he-he’s gone, just like that!

Aaron looked at her, suddenly opening his eyes widely as if he had made a startling revelation. “Wait, try to call him, maybe you can find him with that!”

As soon as he finished speaking, she ran up the stairs, almost falling multiple times as she made her way to the car which her phone was in. She opened the door, grabbing her phone from the seat on which she’d left it on, and punched Max’s number into it. The phone began to ring.

"Hello?" Max's voice spoke loud and clear through the phone.

"Max!" Macy screamed. "Where are yo-"

"Ha! Just kidding! This is a voicemail. I’m really sorry I missed your call. Just leave me a message, and I'll try to get back to you as soon as I can," the voice said, cutting Macy off. Aaron walked out of the front door as well, catching up to the sobbing police deputy, who was slumped over in her car with her head on the dashboard. Aaron walked up to her, his brow furrowed.

"Macy, I—"

“I know he’s there somewhere!” she cried. “People don’t just… disappear like that, th-they have to go somewhere, right?”

She leapt out of her seat, shoving Aaron to the ground as she darted back into the house, running full speed into the basement. She went back to the place where she’d last heard Max, digging again through the heaps of garbage, tears streaming down her face.

"Macy!" Aaron called out to her, walking back down into the basement as well.

Macy didn't know why she was crying so much. She wasn’t thinking straight — how could she? The buzzing of the lights grew louder in her ears once more as she continued to sift through the piles of junk. Louder and louder it got, disorienting her as the room began to twist and spin around her, causing her to get lost in her own dizziness. The buzzing got all the more louder, continuing to—

Hold on, she thought to herself. Didn’t the lights…

She lost her balance, disrupting the thought as she fell down. She tried to lean on the wall beside her for support, but found that instead, her hand had somehow… phased through the nasty wall entirely. She gasped as she realized what had just happened, halting her crying immediately as all the noise in the room defaulted to the overwhelming buzzing once more. She tried to pull her hand out of the wall in a panicked rush, growing more distressed by the second. She began to hyperventilate as her senses began to get overwhelmed; Her ears began getting overpowered by the roaring hum-buzz of the lights, her eyes began to get blurry as the room spun in circles, her nose got tingly from a sudden horrible smell, her tongue felt numb by the taste of the same odor, and her hand was stuck inside of a wall. The walls of the room began to close in on her as the room grew smaller and smaller, and the buzzing grew louder and louder, almost deafening her.

As the walls closed in on her fully, her last thought was of Max, and how she may have just found out what had happened to him… She closed her eyes, bracing herself for whatever lied beyond the wall.

Macy heard nothing but the overpowering buzzing of the lights she had been in the presence of for so long. She looked around her, observing nothing but a dark void in every single area around her. Flashes of blue began to spark like bolts of lightning around her. She felt a sickening feeling of reminiscence coursing through her body, as if she remembered this place but couldn't put her finger on it. She was unsure what was happening to her: Had she died? Had she arrived into the great beyond? Was this what awaited her after death?

These thoughts were interrupted as she suddenly found herself on an ancient carpet, which looked like it was several decades past its last cleaning. She got up, groaning in disgust as she felt the moisture of the carpet on her skin. She blinked a few times as she got used to the new environment around her, still slightly disoriented from her previous experience. She could make out a large, empty office room, which had mono-yellow wallpaper plastered all over it. There were also perfectly symmetrical rows of those same obnoxious fluorescent lights on the ceiling, which were not dissimilar to the ones from the basement. Disgusting, tacky, ugly; in combo with the equally nasty carpet and those dang lights, it did not help the room's first impression on her.

"What the…" she whispered to herself, squinting at the sudden change in lighting. She began to chuckle slightly in relief. She wasn't dead after all; it was just some secret room in the basement which she had found herself in. She stood up and turned around the corner, half-expecting Max to be there waiting for her with the missing man right next to him.

Her optimism faded instantly when she found that the room did not end as she made her way around the corner, rather, the room simply led into another identical one. The wet carpet, tacky walls, noisy lights: It was entirely the same, save for the layout itself. She rushed to the other end of the room, panicked at what other discoveries she would make. To her horror, she found out that even this wasn't the only duplicate room, no, several rooms awaited her through what now made itself clear to be a maze, each one the same as the last.

"Where… am I?" she muttered, suddenly feeling the gravity of her situation hit her. "Hello?" she said a bit more loudly than before, hearing her voice reverberate around the halls.

Howling, coming from a few rooms down. Her eyes widened in shock, as the realization that she was probably not alone dawned on her. She bolted away from the howling, running through room after room as she tried to search for an exit from the increasingly terrifying place. The moist carpet squelched beneath her feet with every rushed step that she took, barely audible over the hum-buzz of the fluorescent lights. Eventually, she could run no more, so she decided to lay down on the ground as she huffed and panted. Her senses were entirely overloaded: Her eyes could not handle the light, her ears could not handle the buzzing, her nose could not handle the rancid smell…

She truly couldn't rest in this place as it seemed.

She pulled out her phone, checking if she had any form of a signal which she could use to call for help. Her reception was completely blank, not much to her surp-

A notification popped up at the top of her screen, alerting her that there was an open Wi-Fi network which she could connect to. Astonished, she tapped on it, and was taken to the Wi-Fi settings option where she could connect to the signal in question. The name of the Wi-Fi was completely random; a mess of letters and numbers jumbled up together with no form or semblance of any word she knew. She tapped on it, hands quivering, and was relieved to find that there was no password which she had to input to connect with it.

Now that she had a stable connection, she immediately began to work away at establishing where she was. She opened google maps to find that, much to her confusion, she was located several miles away from good old Florida; right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. She didn't even have the time to act confused about it either, as the Wi-Fi signal cut out shortly after she made this revelation, rendering the app unusable.

"Seriously?" she mumbled to herself. "What the heck is going on with this signal…"

She checked for it once more, and found that it was entirely gone. She turned the phone on and off again, and found it back at four bars not long after. Mere seconds later, it fluctuated down to two bars, jumping from bar to bar faster than a ping pong ball in the middle of a heated game of table tennis.

She decided it was better than nothing, and used the opportunity to call for help. She opened her contacts list, pressing Aaron’s name. She put the phone to her ear as the call attempted to connect, waiting to hear the ring. She perked up in excitement after hearing a noise from the other end.

“I’m sorry, but unfortunately your call could not be completed at this time. If this problem persists, please call your service provider at-”

She sighed ended the call, knowing that attempting to call anyone was useless without a stable signal. She gave up on the infuriatingly fickle Wi-Fi, putting her phone back in her pocket. She’d never seen her internet connection fluctuate that quickly, but it wasn't the strangest thing she'd encountered so far.

She decided to just further explore the new environment she was in for now, attempting to figure out where exactly she actually was. She walked through the rooms for hours on end, documenting all of her findings on her phone's notes app, whilst also trying to maintain her phone's battery as best as she could. It was not long before she began to consider giving up, as the repetitiveness of the rooms had begun to get to her, when suddenly she found a room that was different from the ones she'd come across before.

The room had the same washed decor as the other rooms, save for the fact that on one side of the room, a regular-looking door stood proudly amidst the endless sea of mono-yellow. Normally, she wouldn't give it much attention; it was a regular door, why would she? Except, this regular door was something truly extraordinary in the circumstances she found herself in. She put her ear to the door, hearing nothing but ominous silence on the other side. Was it just a new gateway to another set of rooms?

She decided to open it nonetheless, a final bout of hesitation hitting her just before she turned the knob. What if it's not just rooms beyond this door? What if there's… worse places to be trapped in than here?

Eventually however, curiosity killed the cat. If she was going to die, so be it; she was tired of the monotonous rooms anyways. She turned the knob, slowly opening the door and poking her head in, surprised to find that there was a… comfortable looking lounge inside of it? Was she hallucinating?

The walls were painted a startling shade of titanium white, and several pieces of blue furniture was strewn about the room: Couches, tables; even a blue TV. The carpets were a shade of dark grey, which was a vast improvement over the carpets in the other rooms. There were also pictures, canvases, and murals hung on the walls of the lounge, all depicting a blue parrot. The room itself was also something to behold: it was gargantuan, with several other corridors and doors present in it, which she supposed lead to other rooms. Odd was the only word she could use to describe the place.

She walked in silently, closing the door behind her and creating a small echo in the room. She cautiously made her way around the room, exploring several areas of it in search of possible supplies. Her eyes widened as she saw a mini-fridge in one part of the room, and she quickly ran to it as silently as she could, throwing open the door in ravenous hunger. Her stomach did double-flips as she saw that it was filled to the brim with delicacies and supplies, and her mouth began to water at the sight of her favourite food: Cheese.

She took out the plate of cheese and began to devour it like a rabid dog, not even allowing the food to touch her taste buds as she satisfied all of her hunger. After she was done with the cheese, she turned once more to the fridge in search of something to drink. Her eyes moved towards a set of thermoses at the end of the fridge, which she opened to find that they were filled with water. She put her lips onto the brim of the thermos, taking in its odd vanilla scent, and brought it up, guzzling the precious liquid into he-

"BLEUGH, what on Earth?!" she said as she spat out the water, an utterly disgusted look plastered on her face. She gagged at the taste, which was reminiscent of almonds. She hated almonds, but despite that fact, she still felt satisfied with the drink, fulfilled by it. She logged this observation along with the entire lounge area with the rest of her notes.

Mid-way through logging said notes, she heard the doorknob of the door jiggle from the other side of it. She dived behind one of the couches in one swift motion, hiding from whoever — or whatever — was coming from the other side. She watched as the door opened, and a crowd of people clad in blue robes made their way into the lounge.

"Imma telling you, I walk back in here to get a snack, and like, boom, nothin's left of the wall, s'all just a big black void," a female voice ranted in anger.

Macy watched as a woman, who wore loose grey leggings and a grey jacket, walked into the room. Her hair was extremely long and greasy, and her skin looked particularly oily and disgusting. She had hazel eyes with freckles all over her face. It was obvious she didn’t take much pride in her appearance or sanitation. A black, inky substance was leaking from her mouth, dripping onto the floor in giant dollops, staining the gray carpet. The sight of this caused Macy to feel a bit sick to her stomach. She seemed to be the only one of the bunch that wasn't wearing a blue robe.

"Sinclair, this better not be one of your manic overreactions," a parrot-like voice — no, a bird cawed? Macy stared in shock as a bird like the one depicted in the paintings flew into the room alongside the woman. It perched on the woman's — who she presumed was Sinclair — shoulder, as the last members of the group made their way into the room, shutting the door behind them.

"It isn't, I promise. Check it out, it's right over there, see?" she replied, pointing towards the end of one of the hallways.

"Sinclair, it's probably just a wall some moron painted black. That ink you insist on drinking is probably just getting to your head," a strange man said. His voice sounded fragile, feeble, old, pretty similar to what she imagined a mummy would sound like. Macy tried to get a better look at his face, but she couldn't make out any of its details. Instead, she focused on the more esoteric features of the man; mainly his downright bizarre clothes.

Just like the rest of his companions, he wore a blue cloak, but unlike them, he wore a goofy mask that was similar to the beak of the parrot she had seen earlier. Its beak opened and closed with each movement of his mouth. He also had a comically large blade strapped onto his back, which was blue like the rest of his clothing, and it looked extremely sharp, which she found concerning. He wore feather-covered gloves, the only parts of his body which she could actually see due to the cloak which he wore. As he took steps across the room, she saw flashes of his feet, which looked like…

"Bird… talons?"

She snickered at the man's ridiculous costume, but immediately clasped her mouth as she realised the mistake she'd just made. A fatal mistake, she thought to herself as the man stopped dead in his tracks.

"Everyone, halt." He glared at the crowd to convey his seriousness. The chatter amongst the group stopped immediately, all eyes turning towards the man.

"What is it, Father Bluebird?" the blue parrot squawked in reply. The man remained silent for a moment, holding his index finger up.

"We are not alone in the lounge. There is a foreign presence with us here," he replied. Tension filled the room as he uttered the last of these words, as silence overcame all of those in the group. Macy slowed her breathing to further her chances of staying hidden, which was an ironic contrast to her heart, which was beating with the same ferocity of a hummingbird's wings.

For a while, she thought that she had outsmarted them, and that she had actually not been caught whatsoever. However, no news is certainly not always good news; just a few seconds after the thought had passed through her head, she saw the masked man's head appear over the couch, peering down at her with contempt as she panicked anew.

"Wait, please! I can ex-" Macy stammered before being cut off by him.

"I knew it! Someone was here all along!" the old man interrupted, suddenly bursting into maniacal laughter which escaped through his wrinkled lips. His expression turned sour as quickly as he had burst into laughter, and he hastily pulled her up opposite to him. His face was entirely covered by the mask at the bottom, but nothing covered the cold, dark eyes that pierced through the fibre of her being, sending shivers down her spine. He reached for his blade, drawing it from his back with unnatural, inhuman swiftness; truly, a sight to behold.

The four foot long blade, now unrestrained by the narrow case which held it, glinted under the dazzling lights of the room. The coloration of it was shockingly blue, and it was encrusted with several intricately crafted gold markings, which lined the edges of the blade's finely forged metal.

Father Bluebird lunged towards her, putting the forte of the blade right up to her neck, effectively trapping her where she stood. Macy tried to speak, but as soon as she opened her mouth to do so, he put the sword closer to her neck as if to tell her to stop speaking if she valued her life.

"Jerry," he said as he looked at the bird, venom lacing his voice. "Do I have your permission to kill this intruder?"

No. She was not going to let it all end like this. She kicked him in the calf, causing the old man to lose his balance and collapse, dropping the blade from his grasp. Macy, now loose from the trap, punched the man in his gut. Contrary to what she thought would happen, he sprang up from the ground, lunging at her anew. She attempted to punch him once more, but he was prepared this time, catching her first with his feathery hand in midair. Macy tried to use her other hand to knock him out, but it was futile, as it underwent the same fate as her other hand.

He pushed Macy until her back was plastered to a wall, ramming her with his head in the process like a bull would've. He then flipped her over his head, and slammed her onto the carpeted ground, knocking the wind straight out of her and leaving her gasping for air. He swooped to the ground to grab his blade once more, and held the pointy tip to her neck.

"How- how did yo-" gasped Macy in shock, barely able to utter the words.

"I will ask once more, hopefully for the last time: do I have the permission to end this pathetic worm's life?" the old man snarled through clenched teeth, this time not taking his eyes off of Macy. The bird flew off of Sinclair's shoulder, perching on Macy's chest and maintaining eye contact with her.

"What is your name, young one?" the bird cawed quietly, its voice sounding all too similar to what a stereotypical pirate parrot would’ve. The man moved his blade away as the bird sat on the chest, retracting it meekly as if scared that he had hurt — or offended — the bird in some way.

"Hey, can I ask just one teensy tiny question: What in the ever-loving heck is going on here?!" yelled Macy, ignoring the question. She flicked the bird off of her chest, causing it to lose its balance and be pushed back. The cloaked people began muttering in shock and disapproval. Some showed immediate hostility to her in the form of jeers and boos as she stood up from her position on the ground, backing away from the armed man.

"How dare you!" screamed Father Bluebird in a fervent display of loyalty to the bird.

"No! None of this nonsense! I have questions I want answered, and you better be able to answer them!" Macy threatened, revealing her taser and aiming it at the old man. The crowd of people gasped at her boldness, the murmurs getting louder.

"What is this blasphemy?" the old man growled.

"I wake up in an utterly disgusting room, and then I get out of it to see there's more of it, and even more the further I explored. Did one of you maniacs actually go through the trouble of filling each one of them with those sickening walls, or those revolting carpets, or- or- or those STUPID BLOODY LIGHTS!"

Her screaming silenced all the murmurs that had been circulating amongst the group. "I walk around for hours and hours on end, to end up here with you weirdos. She's got ink gushing out of her mouth like a waterfall, this guy's waving a giant sword at me and threatening to kill me, and I don't even want to get started on your obsession with this talking bird, who, seems to be the most normal out of you all!" she breathed in deeply, and exhaled it out slowly, calming herself down. "What in Pete’s sake is going on here? And where's Max?"

No answers. This only made her more frustrated, but she kept it inside this time.

"I'll ask you once more, hopefully for the last time. What is your name?" the bird cawed calmly.

"Macy." she replied, breathing heavily from her outburst. The bird flapped its wings, flying into the air and landing on a nearby bird perch.

"So you're new to The Backrooms, huh?" it squawked.

"What on earth are you talking about?" Macy asked through clenched teeth, still holding her taser at the armed man.

"Congratulations then, you've made it outside of reality itself. I'm Jerry, or as some refer to me, Entity 7. Although, I do prefer the former, so I'd rather you not refer to me as Entity 7." Jerry replied, bowing its little body as it spoke. Macy blinked a few times in confusion.

"Hold on, there's- there's seven?!" she exclaimed in surprise.

"Oh, yes, the Meggies refer to those of us which are native to this realm as 'entities', and they've logged hundreds of us in their silly database. I've always abhorred how they group me in with the rest of the creatures here, as if I'm anything like them! Bah, regardless of that, all you need to know for now is that you've escaped the bounds of reality, and you've now entered what are known as The Backrooms. Not many people are on my good side, but I like you." Jerry cooed, a mischievous grin on its face.

"I… need a minute. To process all this- this… you know…" Macy said, lowering her taser and throwing her hands around the room. She fell backward onto one of the sofas, a look of shock and confusion all over her face.

"Oookayyy, now that we're done with that little production, can I request that you all just, follow me around so I can show you what I was talking about?" yelled Sinclair, ink still dripping from her mouth.

"Fine Sinclair. You may lead the way." Jerry squawked, turning to Macy.

"Why don't you come with us?" it said, jumping onto her shoulders and bobbing its head forward, beckoning her to move forward with the rest of the group without giving her a chance to refuse or accept its offer. She tensed a little, still shook by her experience, but obeyed anyways as she walked after the crowd of people which was lead by Sinclair. Father Bluebird occasionally glared at her throughout the whole procession, which solidified her feeling that she'd already made an enemy in this place.

They walked down the corridors, turning through several hallways of rooms which the people probably lived in. They reached the end of the hallway which Sinclair wanted to show them, where one of the white walls was painted an eigengrau shade of grey. Sinclair smirked as the group looked in confusion at the sight before them, still confused as to why Sinclair was making such a fuss about it.

"Sinclair, you idiot," Father Bluebird grumbled. He walked through the crowd, purposefully bumping Macy with his shoulder on his path towards the front of the group. "You've been here for how long now? And you still have no clue how this place works?"

"What are you talking about?" Sinclair asked, slightly angry at his sarcasm. "Don't give me that sass you bag of dust; I know how this place works as much as you do."

"Do I need to spell it out to you?!" the old man replied at this, raising his voice. "You see, in The Backrooms, you can go through walls sometimes. Walls go dark sometimes, meaning you can clip through them. Is that not truly wonderful?" he said in a condescending tone, making several gestures with his hand to exaggerate his point.

"No! They don't just up and decide one day that they're gonna turn into the void, clippable walls look different than this!" Sinclair stammered.

Father Bluebird rolled his eyes. "Watch." he grumbled.

He approached the darkness, and proceeded to stick his feathery hand into it, looking back at Sinclair with a smug look barely inferable on his covered face.


"Sinclair, my hand has just clipped through the wall. You see? This isn't anyth-" Father Bluebird stopped his sarcastic comments as he pulled his arm out of the wall, only to find that it was gone; cut right off where his hand had not entered the void. The tip of his arm was gone now, replaced by a flat, clean cut, which showed his bones and muscles in full display. He screamed as blood began to spray out of the now exposed wound on his arm like a fountain, drenching the members and staining the walls with the spurts of crimson liquid. The group was lit ablaze with distress.

"Oh my gosh, we need to help him!" Macy cried, her police instincts instantly kicking in. She threw her vest and top off, which left her in nothing but her sleeveless undershirt. She quickly grabbed the man's bleeding arm and tied her shirt around it, tightening it as much as she physically could. The blue shirt was immediately covered in scarlet red stains, which combined with the color of the shirt to turn it a deep shade of purple. She squeezed his forearm with her left hand to apply further pressure, holding the shirt tight with the right.

"What are you doing?" Father Bluebird yelled through pained screams. He tried to escape her grasp, fighting against her grip.

"Helping you, moron! Quit struggling!" Macy exclaimed in distress. "Is there like, a hospital or something in this place?"

"Nay," cried Jerry. "The only medical assistance you can get here is from the Meggies. Hurry up now, stop the bleeding!"

“Why can’t we just ask them, then?” Macy replied in confusion.

“Well, my dear, we aren’t on very good terms with them. I predict Father Bluebird’s very presence among them would cause them to all run in fear, if not attempt to detain him.” Jerry sighed, looking slightly concerned at what this meant for his most devoted follower’s future.

"Darn it!" Macy sighed, frustrated by the revelation. She put Father Bluebird on one of the nearby couches, squeezing his arm to apply the pressure needed to aid in the halting of the bleeding.

"So, like, what is this thing?" Sinclair asked, looking at the void. She reached into her jacket pocket, and pulled out a small flashlight. She shined it at the void, but the patch was not illuminated, retaining its dark form despite the fact that light was being shined directly onto it. Sinclair, still seemingly confused by this, grabbed a pillow from a nearby couch and threw it at the void. It was immediately swallowed up, with no sign of returning any time soon. She stood there, as if expecting something else to happen, but just like Father Bluebird's hand, it was gone. This confused her greatly.

She turned back to face Macy and Father Bluebird, who was currently writhing on the couch in agony. The bleeding had slowed down, but the pain was still extreme, and he had lost his color, turning a ghostly shade of white.

"Sinclair," The bird commanded. "Watch over Father Bluebird. I need to speak with Macy." Jerry cawed. Sinclair immediately followed the order, sitting down onto the couch next to the old man, comforting him and applying pressure like Macy had been doing earlier. In the meantime, Macy followed an airborne Jerry back into the main room, who stood on a closed box in a corner when they arrived there.

"There is something about you which I find most endearing." Jerry said, intrigue in its voice as it flashed her a cunning glance. Macy itched her bare shoulder, looking at Jerry as if being a talking parrot wasn't the craziest thing it’d done today.

"What do you mean?" Macy asked.

"There's a reason I have not put you under my control yet," Jerry cawed. "The reason they all follow me with such vehement dedication is not due to their own vocation, but rather… one of my powers. I can persuade people into doing what I want, manipulate them into becoming but pawns on my chessboard, and if someone gets close to me… let's just say that they'll be a part of my group for a long, long, time: Permanently, and irreversibly."

Macy gulped as soon as Jerry finished its monologue. She felt less and less safe around the bird as the minutes went by. Jerry seemed to notice her fear, and it was relishing every ounce of it.

"Do not look so scared; the power is not necessarily constant among all my followers — I have spared you from it after all. In all actuality… I have an offer for you, my child." Jerry squeezed its talons on the handle of the box, and flew into the air, opening it. Macy craned her neck forward to see what was inside, and found in it a beautiful golden robe, not dissimilar to the other members' robes in make, but all the much different in the aura which it gave off. Macy looked up at Jerry, who now flapped onto its perch next to her ear.

"There is a prophecy; one that foretells that a newcomer to The Backrooms shall become my right hand upon arriving to me and making their first impressions on me. The criteria which you fit is beyond you — I cannot begin to explain my thought process in the first place — but, you will do great with me, we shall bring an end to pain and suffering in The Backrooms, and perhaps some day, find an exit, bring salvation to the people here. Perhaps you will consider my methods inhumane at first, but you will understand in due time that my ideals are for the greater good."

The bird stared at Macy, who was now even more confused than she was before. "But… why me? I know that you said that your criteria is a secret, but why did you not choose someone like Father Bluebird instead of me?"

"Oh no, trust me; I have considered Father Bluebird before, they are my most dedicated follower by far. However, Father Bluebird is simply not the right one. There is something about you in particular which drives me to believe that you are the correct choice. I have no reason to support this belief other than my own instincts, but… I think I have finally made my choice, after all these centuries of waiting for you, dear chosen one, to come to me.

"Wait, are you saying…" Macy muttered, perplexed by Jerry's monologue.

"Yes dear, you are now the Chosen One, the new highest member of the group." Jerry smiled, its black beak rising to its cheeks. Macy's breath began to get shaky as she stared at the bird, any shred of belief that the bird was not a megalomaniac shattering right in front of her.

"But… what if I refuse? What if I don't want to be a part of this?"

Jerry turned its head sideways, looking at her intently as its expression turned sour. "The option for me to make you just like them is still on the table, you know?"

Macy remembered what it had told her it could do just a few minutes ago. She did not want to be made a puppet of, but she also did not want to have to be a part of the bird's followers. She considered turning around and running straight to the exit, but she had no idea how far Jerry's powers could reach. Further pondering brought her to the conclusion that even if she did escape, she'd just end up back where she started, in the endless labyrinth of yellow rooms which she'd escaped from out of sheer luck. Who knows how long it would take her to find someone else, if ever?

She concluded that it would be best to stay with Jerry. Maniacal and utterly despicable, but also safe and secure. Macy bent down and reached into the box, unfolding the cloak and watching it shimmer in the light as if it was actually made of gold. White markings lined it along the sleeves, edges, and seams. It was beautiful.

"Go ahead, try it on." Jerry squawked. Macy raised the bottom of the cloak over her head, and slipped it down her body. She reached her arms into the sleeves, adjusted it over her body, and looked towards Jerry for a form of approval. It fit her perfectly, as if it was specifically tailored just for her. Maybe the bird was actually right.

"Wow, this is… glamorous. It's wonderful!" Macy smiled half-heartedly. She couldn't deny that the cloak looked amazing, it was just that… the circumstances leading up to her getting it were worrying, to say the least.

"Welcome to your new family, Chosen One. Welcome to the Followers of Jerry!"

Macy smiled at it, this time a bit wider in hopes of appearing more genuine. She had already begun to doubt if this was the right course of action for her to have taken.

Weeks later…

A few weeks had passed since Macy was inaugurated as the Chosen One. At the present moment, she lay on her bed in her specially made room, utterly exhausted due to the hectic weeks that had just passed. Being the co-leader of an otherworldly cult, just as she had presumed, was as chaotic as a cult could possibly get.

Just yesterday, Sinclair had stormed out of the room, ranting about some conspiracy related to the "Meggies" which she had yet to meet, claiming that the void that she had now obsessed with was their doing. She had even made a stereotypical conspiracy board in her room, which Macy found both concerning and absurd. Macy didn't fret however. She had been told multiple times that Sinclair was prone to doing these things, and that she would be back in due time. What was up with that nutjob anyways?

Her rest was cut short when she suddenly heard commotion in the lounge. She woke up and pressed her ears to the door, waiting in suspense for what was to happen.

"Sinclair! Why are you bringing lost ones into our chuch?" a voice exclaimed from the lobby. Macy recognized it as the voice of one of her fellow followers, Kira. She quickly retracted from the door and went to her wardrobe, in which she had her only robe hanging, miraculously having stayed clean despite its weeks without a proper washing. She put it on quickly, not caring if she looked tidy or not, and lifted her hood up as she exited the room to see what exactly all the commotion was about.

She was beginning to feel a tiny tinge of recognition from the voice that was now speaking in the lounge, the origin of it coming very close to her fingertips before her train of thought was interrupted by a grumpy looking Father Bluebird, who was coming from the other side of the hallway.

"Quite rude of them to come in and make such a racket, what is going on in there?" he said to her.

"I'm not entirely sure, it's probably just one of Sinclair's antic-"

"Yo, Macy!" she heard Sinclair yell from the main room, interrupting her sentence mid-way through. "You got someone who wants to see you!"

From nowhere in particular, Jerry flew onto Macy's shoulder, encouraging her to continue forward. She obeyed its commands, walking into the main room with Jerry on her right shoulder as her flowery robe glittered in the rays of light cast by the lounge's overhead lights. Father Bluebird followed close behind, emerging into the room mere seconds after she did. They all looked at Sinclair, as she and the other followers bowed in Jerry's presence. The trio truly made a scene of the place.

"Who did you bring this time, Sinclair?" Jerry squawked from atop her shoulder. Macy looked up at the people it was referring to; a group of people all clad in black polo shirts with an eagle crest on it. One of them was a tall, scrawny-looking man with glasses who's hair was blonde and curly, beautiful in its own way despite the fact it was messy and unkempt. Her eyes widened as she began to recognize the man that stood before her, tuning out all others in the room.

Could it actually be him? she thought to herself.

"Meggies…" Father Bluebird grumbled as Macy continued to stare at the man before her agape. He seemed to be just as surprised as her, which meant only one thing.

She lowered her hood to get a better look at him, confirming to him that his suspicions had been true. For a while, everything was silent, before the man whispered one shaky word, barely able to keep his surprise intact.

"Macy?" he said.


The Broken City will continue in Chapter 3

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