Fanfic: Derelict - Chapter 2 - A Very Quiet Mental Breakdown
Fandom: Steam Powered Science (SPG/Portal)
Previous Chapter: 1
Next Chapter: 3
Characters: So far, Steve.
Summary: This was not fun.
Trigger Warnings for this chapter: Blood, dead bodies
This was not fun.
The first step after the knot had been dragging the desk over to the right spot against the ceiling and turning it over on its side, a process which served to remind him that he had in fact recently fallen a not inconsiderable distance and his limbs and muscles hadn’t exactly appreciated the experience.
He stacked the chair on top of the desk and told himself he was lucky he hadn’t broken his nose.
He rolled the blanket up and tied it around his waist, and then clambered carefully up onto the desk and remained in a crouch, holding as still as possible until he was sure everything wasn’t about to go crashing down. Then he stood, keeping his eyes on the desk and his feet and definitely not the ground as he stepped up onto the chair and removed the blanket from around his waist. He adjusted the knot and looked up, trying to calculate the distance to the lamp. Then he took a deep breath, drew his arm back, and threw.
It caught. The end hung just below eye level.
Apparently lassoing was one of the things he was good at.
He hoped climbing the rope in PE had been another one.
After taking a brief moment to reflect on the fact that, while he could recall no specifics whatsoever about his own schooling, he did know gym class traditionally involved a rope, he tugged on the end of the blanket to test its strength. Nothing tore and the lamp didn’t budge.
He reached up higher, gripping the blanket with both hands, and jumped.
The chair clattered to the floor, and he closed his eyes briefly and reminded himself that he’d fallen from much higher up than this earlier while he was sleeping and it had barely even hurt.
Then he started to climb. Hand over hand, clutching the blanket tightly and focusing on the lamp up ahead.
It wasn’t that far.
He reached his destination and swung one leg up over it, using the blanket to hoist himself the rest of the way.
The lamp was round and relatively small, which made standing a problem. He knelt on one knee, his other leg dangling over the side, and leaned as close to the surface of the ceiling as he could as he inspected the track that ran from the lamp to the door.
There were small bars inside it at intervals of a few inches, set back not quite far enough to be unreachable. He could barely fit his hands inside to grab them, but it was better than nothing.
He stood, slowly and cautiously, and took hold of the highest bar he could reach.
It was better than nothing, but only just barely, and it was also extremely painful and annoying.
The bars were tiny and the sides of the track were sharp. He was about halfway to the door now, but he’d sliced both of his hands, and everything was getting far too blood-slicked to hold on to. He gritted his teeth and let go with his right hand so he could wipe it on the jumpsuit, smearing blood across the bright orange. His left arm twinged in protest at suddenly being forced to bear all of his weight. He ignored it and repeated the process with his left hand before continuing on.
The part where the track changed direction to circumvent the closet actually wasn’t as bad as he’d thought it was going to be. It jutted out from the ceiling just far enough to at least give him something to stand on for a moment while he wiped his hands off more effectively and eyed the door, wondering for the first time how he was going to actually open it.
At this point, brute force was probably his only option.
He shrugged and pulled himself up once again.
This half of the climb was much shorter, and he found to his surprise that the door was apparently automatic, because it sprang open when he was about two feet away from it.
Inward, so it was good that he hadn’t been any closer.
The track continued out the door, and he made short work of hauling himself up and through. He collapsed on the surface outside and heaved a sigh of relief as he flexed his aching hands. He gave himself a moment to be pleased with his efforts and then stood up and looked around.
He was in a hallway. There were hundreds of identical doors running in both directions.
He raised an eyebrow. “Wish I had a coin to flip. Okay, which way, Scarecrow? …The hell. I don’t know my own name, but I know about the Wizard of freaking Oz?”
Growling under his breath, he turned and started moving to the left, figuring that there was no wrong way to go at this point.
He reached another door and paused, a realization freezing its way up his spine.
There were other people here.
He dropped into a crouch and rapped his knuckles on the door, hoping to trigger it into opening like his had. It didn’t budge.
He stood up and kicked it – and it gave so easily that he nearly fell in.
He lay down on his stomach and peered inside. “Uh. Hello?”
No one answered. Maybe the room’s occupant had been injured in their fall. He lowered himself down farther and scanned what he could see of the floor.
Desk, chair, picture frame, nightstand –
He blinked. Several times. Shook his head. Lowered himself as far through the door as he dared and looked closer.
Definitely a skeleton. Wearing an orange jumpsuit.
He jerked back up into the hallway and backed away from the door, wishing it opened outward so he could slam it shut.
The next room also held a skeleton.
So did the room after that. And the next five after that one.
He backed up against the floor and stared at the ceiling, breathing hard, eyes wide.
I am in a building full of dead people.
Dead people wearing the same clothes he was wearing, in rooms nearly identical to the one he had been trapped in. The fall obviously hadn’t killed them, unless there was something in the air that caused bodies to decompose very quickly, and he was pretty sure something like that would have been eating at his flesh by this point. Those people had been dead for a long time.
He rubbed his hands together and realized that they were no longer sending shockwaves of pain up through his arms every few seconds. And the bleeding had slowed.
No. The bleeding had stopped.
He stared at his hands. They were healed. The numerous gashes, deep enough to have left scars, had completely vanished.
He was in a building full of decomposed dead people and his hands had just magically healed themselves.
The temptation to sink down the floor to the wall and have a mental breakdown was strong, but he shook his head and pushed off.
He moved on to the next door.
There was no harm in trying – just in case. He took a moment to steel himself for the sight of yet another skeleton lying on the floor in a heap.
He did not see yet another skeleton lying on the floor in a heap. He saw something far worse. Something that took a moment to register, and when it did, it left him swallowing bile and scrambling away from the door.
He backed up against the floor, sank down it to the wall, and had a very short, very quiet mental breakdown.
Then he took a deep breath and pressed his hands (his magically healed hands what the hell) against his eyes, trying to stave off a headache. “Come on, Steve,” he muttered. “Get it together.”
He stood up.
He took five steps.
Steve didn’t try any more of the doors.