The House - Echos in the Halls

Summary:
????: Four people find themselves stuck in a house… that doesn't seem to want to let them out.

The House

The House. It obeys no natural laws, or indeed any laws but it's own. It may not even properly exist in time. Who knows how many paths are tangled up inside, or what waits at the center.


Characters

NPCs
*


Mood Music:
[*]


For some, it had been a few minutes. For others, it had been a day. A turn of the doorknob, a step through a familiar arch-way, and suddenly… a person might find themselves standing in a place they'd never been before. New looking rooms done in Victorian-era floral prints. Hallways painted industrial building puce. Rooms where everything is all in white, or where there are nothing but fireplaces lining the walls.

Constantine had been here coming up on eighteen hours, with no luck in finding anything useful. None of the windows opened, and they often looked out onto radically different scenes- raining on a playground at one glance, a sunny green field out another on the same wall. He eases into a room with at least six doors, filled with Depression-era furniture, and just to be safe, leaves the door behind him open. He marks it front and back with a piece of chalk and jams his hands into his pocket, fishing for a fresh cigarette and lighting up with a plume.

"Room… one hundred… and fifty five," he mutters, cigarette bobbling. "Depression era jazz club." His eyes cast around the room. "…PS. Don't ever decorate a room like this," he adds, before flipping a little, well-worn notebook shut and tucking paper and pencil back into his breast pocket. He walks around the room in a clockwise circle, touching things with a little metal stick, examining the artwork and furniture curiously.

*

Fenris disapproves of… well a lot of things. To be sure he approves of a lot of things as well, but haunted houses are most certainly on the former list. Kind of. Normally he actually kind of doesn't care. He's not the kind of person to be in these sorts of things for the good of humanity at large. Or even the community at large. But when something like this happens in a place he considers his, then it becomes his business. He's been playing it subtle, knowing that places like this often have some riddle or puzzle that must be solved, usually some rhyme or reason. Also… this isn't the sort of place one can typically just bash or bite to death. He hasn't tried that yet, and after about four hours, he's getting ready to. Patience is not something he's known for.

*

Angelo diLucci has just gotten home, after an extended visit to an old friend, and while he's mellow from the time they spent with wine and food and good music, he's also somewhat tired. And he wants to be tired. He didn't sleep yesterday, because he got so overcharged with the Glow from his connection to that Light thing, that he ended up grabbing a bag of old crafts his Grandma left behind, and doing needlepoint. And he's never done needlepoint. It was terrible.

And he's just put his motorcycle away, and put down the helmet and is unzipping the driving suit as he walks through the door into his living room and what the?

"Dis AIN'T my room," he says in a less sophisticated tone than he uses for his patients. "Dafuq."

A frown creases his forehead. It's a long dark hallway. He holds up a hand and it starts to glow, with a pleasant yellow-white light. It's a VERY long hallway. Full of doors.

*

It felt like forever to Laura Kinney. But in actuality - it was little over three hours.

Three hours searching room after room to end up here. Where the other rooms had a variety of looks to them, this one felt more at home to Laura Kinney. It looked like it had been bombed out. Not bombed out enough to open a whole in any wall or ceiling, but the rafters hung from an attic-like room just above, and what was once a quaint room done in a British fashion lay in ruins.

It was atop one of the beams linking ceiling to floor that Laura crouched upon. Crouched, her leather jacket hanging loosely off of her shoulders, short skirt worn over shorts, military boots reaching mid-shin - and hair done like a shroud hanging around her features. Green eyes wide, she knew she was trapped. But by who? By what?

Another beat, and the young woman's nose crinkles. Sniff.

That was cigarette smoke.

*

Constantine considers the room he's in, pacing around, making little observations about it. He counts the number of chairs, the number of windows, and sits in one chair. Finding it not… something, he rises, moves to a different chair, then sits in it as well. He leaps back to his feet, frowning, and produces a ball of twine from his pocket.

By the time Laura follows the trail of cigarette smoke to Constantine, the entire room looks like it got attacked by a red string factory. Constantine sits in the middle, puffing up a storm of cigarette smoke, and plucking each little thread in turn, which has formed a complex web around him.

"Oye there," he says cheerily, spotting Laura peering out from around a doorway. "Didn't think I'd find anyone else in here. C'mon in, sit down. Mind the string," he suggests, rising to his feet. "I'm working on a theory, and it calls for lots of string and a good bit of cleverness on my part," he says, rubbing his hands together and looking around the room. "So I've the string up, and I'm just… waiting for the clever to strike."

*

One of the doors opens in a certain very long hallway and out steps a lean man in a long coat. He sighs and looks about. This is the twenty seventh time he's seen this particular hallway. At least he thinks it's the same one. The visual and olfactory cues are all the same. Except for the light to his left. Wait. Hrm? He turns and shields his eyes, recognizing the source, he thinks. Gotham, the day before. That irritating little imp-child of a Chaos Lord.

"You." He says in a deep and resonant voice. "What are you doing in here?" It could be one of the house's tricks of course, but he's fairly sure it gave up on playing those on him when he shredded the last one into tiny bits, along with the room it appeared it.

*

Of course, the place behind him where his door was? It isn't. Angelo sighs, patiently.

"If dis is a new game, it ain't funny."

Who's he talking to? He's not even sure himself. He opens a door, and closes it immediately. That was not EARTH out there. That was somewhere far too close to the center of the galaxy, where the jagged, twisted frames and a few shreds of some metal-rusted surface show that there used to be a room, with a view of the Big Black Cookie Monster In the Middle. It might not even be the same galaxy.

"NOT funny. Is dere a reason for bein' here or is it Ant Farm Fun times?"

Angelo looks up, and there's a Big Bad Wolf. And him without his dog-bopping stick.

"Hell if I know," Angelo answers. He doesn't look QUITE the same as yesterday, might not smell quite the same either. "I take it you didn't do this?"

*

Laura Kinney briefly glances down the hall - voices. Perhaps the other two were close. Perhaps they were far away.

"There are others," says Laura, her voice low - her green eyes level on Constantine. A pause, and a quirk of her head. "…at least two," she adds, frowning deeply. "…what is it that you are doing here?" she asks the man, suspicion evident on her gaze. She was not entering the room as of yet.

*

Constantine runs his fingers along a thread, eyeing the way it vibrates. "I've been thinking about this for a while, and I realized that the one thing I haven't run into is a main room," he explains to Laura, moving with furtive, careful motions. "You know, a, central room. Where people can sit and eat and drink, and wear hats, if that's the lifestyle they've chosen," he explains to Laura. "More importantly, that's a room that ought be connected to a front door. So, I started thinking, if there was a place that I wanted to go, but couldn't, it's because I'm being kept away from it. Further, I suppositioned that if there was someone else in here who couldn't get to where they needed to be- like the front door, for instance- I might be able to use some of that… oh, call it a mystical antigrav- to bring them to me." He beams and gestures broadly at the room.

"I call it my String Theory. You like?" He moves up to Laura, eyes intent on the woman's.

"Never, ever leave home without a ball of string," he advises her solemnly. "You never know when it'll come in handy."

*

'Jeremiah' has started to walk toward Angelo when he stops and listens. "A moment." He cants his head and half turns in the hall. "Do you hear voices? Mmmm. I do believe we are not the only ones in here."

The tall man regards Angelo with half lidded eyes. "What do you mean you don't know what you're doing here. Did you not enter this house of your own free will? Or… whilst conscious?" Motioning for the good doctor to follow he turns and begins to walk toward what he thinks are the other voices in the house.

*

"Something is distinctly weird through that door," Angelo notes, pointing to a door that has '51' painted on it, scratched out, and 13 hand-drawn in marker pencil. Voices come from beyond it.

"I was going from my garage to my living room but when I stepped through, I was here, not there. No decision involved. Consciousness, optional."
He opens the door. A parallel hallway greets them. Impossibly, it has doors that would be offset such that they would open into this one, but there's not a matching door. The voices are louder from there, but a bit echo-y.

*

There was a long, long moment, wherein the clone just narrows her eyes on Constantine. There might just be a dangerous vibe that suffused Laura - one that might only be increasing the more frustrated she got, and the more she bottled up said frustration. Pursing her lips tightly, she steps into the room proper, her eyes flickering down and towards a length of string.

Another pause, and she brings up a toe to pluck it.

Another pause, the woman kinda turning her side towards Constantine - a green eye, perhaps, locked on him through a shroud of hair. "They are coming," she says ominously - her response to Constantine's theories. A pause then, and her brow crinkles, the woman listening. "…I think."
"Have you tried to break through the wall?" she questions.

*

Constantine looks at Laura, rubbing his hands together, then looks at her some more. Then looks at a wall. Then looks at Laura some more, offsetting his jaw. "Er. Well," he hedges, considering a wall. "That is to say, I cannot imagine that one could simply… well. Cut their way through a wall in a place like this. Places like this are made up of rules and boundaries. Crazy, bizarre, abstract rules, but rules all the same, and one generally breaks those rules at great personal risk."

He eyes Laura, listening for the faint echo of approaching voices.

"You're going to try and cut through that wall, aren't you," he says, flatly.

*

Hrm. The voices aren't in this hallway. And opening any of the doors here is likely to result in frustration. Places like this operate by their own logic and part of that logic seems to be that intending to get a place will almost certainly not get there, whilst intending to avoid a place inexorably draws you. Sadly it's probably not as simple as pretending to not want to get to the voices. Places like this are rarely so easily fooled.

"Well… let's try an experiment then, shall we?" Fenris sighs aloud. Magic is not his forte. He knows some helpful tricks and has some useful artifacts, but it's not what his being is centered on. Even so, though, it's possible he may be able to circumvent this place's bizarre 'rules.' Lifting one hand and stretching it out before he focuses his will and tries to rend the space between him and his desired goal.

"Aparatum."

*

"Interesting light-show," Angelo says, watching the pretty colors ripple up and down the hall as the magic does whatever it is that it does. Or doesn't. He decides to just turn on the firehose to the Light, so he doesn't have to have glowfinger all night, and as his hair and eyes "catch light" like a newspaper "catches fire" he grins suddenly.

"Hey, I just thought of something. You just walk towards what you hear, while I wait here. Then I'll go towards it while you wait. It might get us there faster. Or reliably, at least."

*

Laura wasn't quite used to dealing with this metaphysical stuff.

That might be more or less evident in the tension present in her shoulders and form - the set of her jaw - the short young woman not even flicking her eyes towards Constantine as she flexes muscles in her forearm, twin blades snapping out into existence from each fist.

"Yeah," she says, her tone of voice likewise flat.

A step forward, and Laura tries to punch her fist into the wall - no doubt kicking free a string or two in the interim. If things went well, she would bury her fist up to the knuckle, and slice upwards, and to the side, perhaps freeing a triangular piece.
…or more likely make whatever was here mad at her.

*

Fenris and Laura are in for a bit of a disappointment. Fenris' attempt to open a portal merely results in… a portal that opens directly behind him. And by the time Laura finishes her third cut, a blink of the eye reveals the first cut in the wall is healed.

"I told you," Constantine says, impatiently. He moves to reassemble the strings, giving a handful a gentle strumming noise. "You can't just cut your way out of this," the Brit tells Laura. "We have to think our way our. Now, you say there are at least two others coming?" he asks the girl, his tone becoming more serious. "Then we need to wait for them to get here. Whoever they are, why ever they're here, it's because the four of us need to find one another. I wandered around for hours looking for someone else, and it wasn't until I started looking for the door that Someone Else popped up. So."

"I'm John, by the way," he tells Laura, after a fitful moment of silence. "They call me a paranormal detective. This is what I do. Magic. Things," he gestures, vaguely. "So trust me. The first step is to find whoever else is here, and work our way out as a team."

*

The god-wolf sighs and lowers his arm. "Very well." He addresses the house. "No shortcuts."

He nods, regarding Angelo for a moment. "Alright, Sent-From-Above. We shall try it your way. I do not hear them at the moment, likely the house is upset with me. Why don't you move, then, and I shall stay here until I do hear something."

*

"The name is Angelo, or Seraph if I'm in hero drag. I'm NOT an angel from heaven, either."

The Light-bearer moves forward about a thousand feet, still in the hall of doors. Though there's a Tee intersection ahead.

"I don't hear anything from here," he says. "Maybe they stopped talking?"

*

There was a moment, after the cut - of course Laura tries all three, but when she sees the cut heal up again - her expression twists to something more akin to frustration. Again she tries. Then again, striking the wall with more and more /violence/ with each time.

And finally, with a kick to the wall that jars her own spine, the claws snap back into her arms, and she snaps her attention back towards John - the frustrations far more evident on her face than they might have been a moment or three prior.

But they were tamed, for now. Eyes narrow on him when he says what he does.

"I… heard two voices," she says, her voice low. "But I… usually can tell how near or far they are. And right now… it is more… difficult," she says, quirking her head some, jaw clenching tight.

The man provides his name, and Laura just gives him a long look, the corners of her lips turning down a bit. Snapping her eyes back to the wall, she pauses a moment, and right when it might seem she wouldn't return the favor…

"Laura," she says simply. "…so we need to attract those voices. Should I go to the hall and call to them?"

*

"Yes, let's do that," Constantine says, nodding at Laura. "Try all six doors. It might take opening a door to actually get their hallway to link up. They might be linked up to all six doors at once. Or, all six doors link to the same hallway. Do try to not think of it as being… linear," he explains, making an adjustment to the rows of string, which look more and more like a complex series of spirals, if viewed from overhead. "This isn't stacking bricks next to bricks. This is bricks inside bricks, with invisible tunnels running through the bricks. We're several higher dimensions above what we are used to, here," he warns Laura. "So I wouldn't step through the door, if you don't want to end up lost somewhere."

*

"I do now. This way." Fenris walks past Angelo and takes a left turn.

"Really? The left handed path?" He's been having this running conversation with the house since he got in here. Mostly one sided, at least verbally.

"Not precisely earning high marks for originality are we?" He gets about a dozen yards or so down the intersection and then stops, sighing. "I've lost them again. This place certainly has a fey sense of humor."

*

When Fenris takes the turn, and says "originality" the voices - and their echoes - are suddenly coming from straight ahead.

"This way," Angelo says. "Come up to here."

He waits for the Apocalypse Wolf to reach him, then walks in the direction of the voices.

"There's some kind of an 'up' here, I think, because it feels like I'm going uphill."

*

Laura pauses a handful of moments, looking back towards Constantine.

Of all the things she had trained for - being caught in a… dimension or something where none of the normal rules applied at all was not something she was comfortable with. Another pause then. "Am I dreaming?" she asks, finally.

Pursing her lips tightly, she opens a door, calling out into the space beyond. "Hey. This way!"

Then she would try another. Then another.

*

Constantine shrugs at Laura. "Maybe. But, I might be dreaming, too. But I don't see thousands of naked women screaming my name and hurling little pickles at me, so, I'm going to assume this is a proper magical steaming mess I've stumbled into, and sally forth as best I am able. Meanwhile, if you see anyone, try to look friendly and give them a shout. I'm going to try and figure out why this string pentagram isn't working. It should have attracted someone by now…" he mutters, eyeing the mess of red threads.

*

Fenris changes course when he hears the woman's voice. It sounds, oddly, like it's coming from more than one direction, so he picks the one that sounds the loudest, which happens to be the one in which Angelo is headed. "I think you're on to something, Angelo." There's a pause and a sidelong look because, really, for someone claiming to not be an angel, wielding light and going by Angelo is not doing any favors in the credibility department.

*

It would be even more dubious if he told the Wolf his be-loath-ed middle name that he never uses. Raphael, angel of healing. But Angelo doesn't think about that, because he's looking down the hallway.

"We need to be four floors higher," Angelo says. "I think."

He tilts his head.

"OH! That's why. HEY! Just shout through ONE door please!!" he yells, and waits for the voice to come again.

*

Laura cocks her head, pausing after one of her shouting fits.

'Try to look friendly'. Laura casts a glance over her shoulder towards Constantine, features unsmiling. "This way! Please!" she calls through the same door. Even if she was just attracting some sort of interdimensional beast, she'd much rather have something solid that she could sink her claws into rather than this… metaphysical crap.

*

Constantine frowns and adjusts the strings again, looking upwards at the ceiling, then starts plucking them, making adjustments. "This should be working. They should be getting closer," he mutters. "What am I doing wrong? I don't understand," he frets. He fishes in his pockets, producing a roller skate and a snow globe. "Nope, that's not helpful," he grumbles, putting them both back where they came from.

"Maybe a bit of… ahhah, here we go," he says. He pulls a little baggie from a pocket and empties it into his palm. With a flourish he blows and gestures, and what looks like tiny, fine particles of dust fills the air, clinging to the strands in lazy swirls and eddies.

"There. Fey sand," he says, sounding satisfied. "That should help them zero in on us."

*

Fenris blinks and stops. "Hold up a second." He sniffs the air turning in slow circles. "This… wait… no… this way." He begins to walk, following both sound and scent. It's fortunate for him that those are two senses he possesses more keenly than others. After a solid two minutes of walking and seemingly random turns he pauses to point.

"That… if I am not mistaken, is an open door, is it not Angelo?"

*

As they move down the hall, Angelo starts singing at conversational level. It's not clear if he's doing it consciously or not; it doesn't seem to interfere with the sound of other voices, nor echo. There are weird rune-bits made of light flickering across his face, if Fenris looks. More evidence?

"Though nothing, will keep us together, we could steal time, just for one day. We can be Heroes for ever and ever, what d'you say?"

He knocks on one of the doors once, and the next door twice, but doesn't open them; they're providing the rhythm section. He sniffs.

"Do you smell that? Like the smell of that hunting dog yesterday."

He shakes his head, and looks in the direction Fenris indicated.

"So it is. Excellent." He steps towards the door, illuminating a corridor of light flickering strangely around the edges as though it were following a tight spiral.

*

"I don't think it's working," says Laura to Constantine, glancing over her shoulder towards him.

Another moment, and Laura kinda narrows her eyes. There was a scent through the door. Fire, sweat - and perhaps that of a city sewer. It was rank - but… it was the closest thing she had to smelling something connected to the real world.

"I think I smell… this way!" Laura says, throwing herself through a door and disappearing.

*

Constantine gets to his feet and moves towards one of the doors, peering through it, then waves at Laura. "I think I see them!" he says, excitedly. He takes just a half-step through the door…

And when he turns back, Laura is just… gone. The doorway and the hallway beyond, empty.

"Laura? Laura!" John shouts, running back into the room as the woman vanishes into God knows where.

*

Fenris turns, suddenly distracted. Footsteps? Sounded like… running. "Angelo go on ahead. I just heard something behind us."

Turning back he rounds a bend that probably wasn't there a few minutes ago and disappears from sight.

*

Angelo steps into the other side of the room John has just bopped in and out from. He looks around.

"Is this a shambles?? It's really complicated. Where's the living thing? You can't do a proper shambles without one," he says. Although… wasn't that just a story from the Tiffany Aching set? Fiction? It's hard to tell now.


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