You wake up with a pounding headache. Your vision is blurry, and there is a bitter
taste in your mouth. With a grimace, you rub at your eyes, bringing your surroundings
What happened? You wonder, still groggy. The last thing you can remember is
leaving the library that morning. After returning your books, you had walked home.
You made it up to Mariana Lane- you can remember the sign, with it’s distinctive
graffitied swirls- and then…nothing. What has happened? More importantly: where are
A quick scan of the room reveals nothing of interest. Dark wooden walls, a huge
double-door, and a single chest. You see no other furniture. Slowly, you get to your feet,
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If something dangerous
comes out, you will be ready. Everything is quiet.
You hesitate a few seconds, then walk around the trunk to peer at its contents.
Inside is a bronze alarm clock and a pile of keys. The alarm clock is counting down. You
reach into the box, remove the clock, and inspect it. It’s set to go off in four minutes.
Don’t let the time slip away. The words echo in your head menacingly. You grab
one of the keys, straighten, and return to the doors. Sure enough, there is a keyhole
under the knob on the left. You slide the key in, and turn it sharply. Unsure whether it
has worked, you push at the door. It doesn’t budge. What now? You wonder.
To give up and wait for the timer to run out, continue on the next page.
To keep trying the keys, continue on page 5.
You take a deep breath. This is ridiculous. You will not be pulled into this-
whatever it is. Accident, prank, demented psychological study, you will not be made to
look like an idiot.
With an air of determined finality, you lean against the wall by the trunk, arms
crossed. The quiet falls over you like a thick fog. In the overbearing silence, without a
whirlwind of thought to distract you, the soft metronome of the clock becomes audible.
It works its way into your head, fraying your nerves.
The time is slipping away… you can’t help but think. With a hard shake of your
head, you dismiss the words, but the feeling of foreboding lingers.
Mouth suddenly dry, you begin to hum. Your lips buzz slightly as you rock back
and forth on the balls of your feet. You lose yourself in the rhythm of movement.
The clattering, obnoxious ringing of the alarm snaps you back into full alertness.
The sound reminds you of a blaring fire alarm- a warning. Danger. Danger. Danger.
Just as suddenly as it began, the ringing stops. You survey the room. The doors
have not opened- but the wall has. A shadowy gap has appeared in one of the walls.
So that is what happens when the timer reaches the end of its countdown! You’re
free to go! You almost laugh as you make your way over to the opening. It’s really that
Thoroughly ready to put all of this behind you, you step through the opening,
reaching out your foot to find- empty space.
With a sharp gasp, you topple forward into the darkness. Your screams are
swallowed by the abyss. You will never know what happened- and they will never find
You return to the chest, and kneel in front of it. The first key may not have
worked, but it fit. You lift key after key out of the trunk, comparing their size and shape to
About two minutes later, you are left with five keys that seem to be the right size
and shape. A silver key without a hole for a chain, a second rusted bronze with the
numbers 225 embossed on it, another gold with an ornate bow, one heavy steel with
painfully sharp teeth, and a wooden key with a large crack down the blade.
You walk to the...