This is a contuation of the story that began in Beer Run. Let’s just jump right into it.
The staircase fell away from them like a set of impossibly clean, crooked teeth. There were no railings to guide them, only darkness that fell away to nothing. Both men stepped carefully as they descended, arms held out a ways from their sides to provide a balance. They walked for several minutes; a look back showed the freezer door growing distant while the block of light at the base of the stairs came only marginally closer.
“You’re sure this isn’t your basement?” Clarence asked. There was a tremor in his voice, but it could have been attributed to a loss of breath as well as it could fear.
“No, it’s not our – what kind of basement is this far below ground? We don’t even have a basement.” Brandyn paused and looked back over his shoulder. “Do you want to go back?”
Clarence hesitated, considering. He shook his head. “No, let’s keep going. If anything, I just wish we had grabbed a drink before coming down.”
“Yeah, me too. Just one, though. Last thing I need is to stagger down these steps.” Brandyn looked off the edge of the staircase, continued to see nothing. Both men laughed nervously and continued on.
It felt like a half an hour had passed before they reached the block of orange light and stopped again. It was shaped like a door, but only darkness surrounded it. There was nothing that resembled a structure supporting it and though the glow wasn’t bright enough to be blinding, it obscured whatever may lay beyond. Brandyn reached out with the tips of his right index and middle finger; the passage was warm and pleasing to touch.
“What are you thinking?” Brandyn asked.
“That this is fucking crazy. Can you put your foot through? Feel for something solid?”
“What if something bites it off?”
Clarence’s eyes grew. “Do you think that’s a possibility?” he asked incredulously.
“I don’t know. Maybe. Hold on to my arm just in case. Move so if you have to fall back, you fall on the stairs.”
Clarence muttered something unintelligable and shuffled his feet to the side. He took a firm grip on Brandyn’s bicep and held tight as the other man stretched his foot out experimentally. He disappeared through the orange up to his ankle.
Brandyn leaned forward slightly, putting his weight on his outstretched limp. He felt resistance. Solid, like concrete. Certainly not carpeted and definitely not a substanceless void.
“There’s ground. Or something. It’s not giving way, anyway. I’m going through.”
“Right behind you, buddy,” Clarence said tightly through clenched teeth. He didn’t let go of Brandyn’s arm.
Nothing builds a friendship like weird shit.
Together they stepped through the passageway and into a large, open room. Almost everything was the same white as the stairs they had come from, immaculately carved from what looked like ivory. Massive pillars lined all four walls, sculpted like arms holding up the ceiling with seven-fingered hands. Two golden doors were set in the back wall, one to the far left and one to the right. They had no doorknobs, but the hinges – also gold – seemed to indicate they swung in and out.
These doors were not the first thing they noticed.
In the exact center of the room was a long dining table. The cloth that covered it reached down to the floor and was the bloodiest red either man had ever seen. Golden dishes, chalices and silverware were set at up in front of seven spots. The chairs, like the tablecloth, were a deep crimson. Everything was empty, save for an untouched roast of unknown origin in the middle, next to a golden flagon of what they assumed to be wine.
The dinner set-up was not the first thing they noticed.
On either side of the table sat two men, four total, dressed in white robes. Their arms rested on the table, palms down. Their backs were straight. Their eyes, all blue, were the only things that moved and they rolled as hard as they could in the direction of the newcomers with a silent plea contained within. Silent, because these frozen men had only a stretch of skin where mouths should have been. They looked to the two empty chairs nearest to the newcomers and the indication was clear for them to sit.
The diners and their invitation were not the first thing they noticed.
As Brandyn and Clarence walked through the doorway of light into the room, their eyes were drawn to the last seat, the one at the head of the table, the one facing them directly.
A man-like creature sat there with perfect poise. His alabaster skin matched the room he sat in. The large, shark-like black eyes matched the charcoal suit he wore. Black, ridged horns like that of a goat started at the edge of his brow and crested backwards and down. He held a fork and knife in his hands and smiled through paper-thin lips. His teeth were as needles.
“Welcome,” the thing said, its voice like polluted air. “Feel free to join us for dinner.”
Brandyn had never whimpered before, so the one he swallowed down felt strange. Behind him, Clarence groaned softly.
“I should have just told my wife she was right.”