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On February 18th in 2020 a small group of high school students finally had their classes lined up perfectly for one day. One day for them to all get the opportunity to see each other. They had spent a little while trying to figure out what it is they would do one this glorious day. Would they get lunch, see a movie, throw a party where everyone could show up? No, they finally settled on one thing. An escape room. They figured they were smart enough to get out of it and they had never tried one before.
So on February 18th 2020 at 12:05pm the five of them embarked on an “adventure” they believed would be a blast. They all piled into Andy’s van. The other four saw Andy as almost a leader. He was outgoing, kind, and always knew what to say to make someone smile. He seemed like a perfect child, someone who every parent dreamed their own would turn out like. Teddy was an introvert who was lucky enough to have found his way to Andy and the others. Geoff was a young man who struggled with anxiety and depression but when he was with the four of his best friends the world was a little bit brighter. Thomas rolled up the ramp into the van on his wheelchair. Finally the last member of their party Nikky, a young woman who had dwarfism, made her way to her seat.
“Can someone type in the address to this place?” Andy requested.
“I’ll take care of it,” replied Geoff, typing the address into the GPS.
“I got the heat on you can take off your scarf if you’d like.”
“Nah it’s fine thanks.”
Geoff wore that scarf 24/7. The group couldn’t remember a single moment he wasn’t wearing it. They just assumed it was important to him and never thought to ask.
“Alrighty if you say so.”
After they reached the place they piled out like clowns in a clown car. Putting their jackets back on in the freezing weather. Teddy pressed the little buzzer in the door. It opened with nobody behind it.
“Spooky,” he said.
“Well I guess that’s to be expected,” replied Nikky as she confidently walked right on in.
Thomas looked at the email he received from the people behind the escape room and read the room number aloud. They searched and found the room, 642. As they opened the door they found a table with six chairs in a completely white room. The door closed automatically behind them.
“Isn’t there supposed to be furniture or something where they hide keys?” asked Nikky.
“Maybe stuff will appear in a few minutes,” said Andy.
“What’s up with the tv?”
Just as she said that words popped up on the screen. When they read these words all their faces became a mix of surprise and confusion. The screen said, “Welcome, before we begin I would like to let you know that this is not like your typical escape room experience.”
“Exciting,” Nikky chuckled.
When the next words that popped up on the screen Nikky’s excitement changed to confusion as her head tilted like a confused dog.
“Instead of all of you finding keys and getting out only one of you will make it out of here. You have no supplies because you need nothing other than your words. The five of you will debate to see who it is that will make it out. To see which one of you is superior to the other, who is the least flawed.”
“What’s up with this?” asked Geoff.
“It’s probably just the theme. Don’t worry about it,” responded Andy.
A few minutes passed by and nothing had changed. The five of them believed that Andy was right. It was just some theme. However nothing happened. The room was the same. No supplies had popped up. Nothing under the table or chairs. That’s when they started to worry. Frantically trying to find something that would ease their suspicion, but there was nothing. Nothing but the whiteness of the room.
“This can’t be legit,” Teddy said with a look of slight worry.
He walked over to the door and tried to open it but it was locked. He tried turning the handle again and again but it stayed shut. Starting to break out in a sweat he began throwing his body against the door. Nothing. The door was fixed shut and it was going to stay that way.
“Well?” read the screen, “who’s gonna make it out?”
The five of them all looked at Andy. He would normally have something reassuring to say at a time like this. But Andy was also sweating, speechless, and shaking. That above everything else frightened them the most. They always viewed Andy as a rock but not this time. This time even he was terrified and had no idea what to do.
“Come on… I’m starting to get a little bored here.”
The silence continued. The only thing they could hear was each other’s shaky breaths.
“I mean... one of us is less messed up than the rest.”
The group was knocked out of their trance by those words. It was the first thing spoken in minutes and by Teddy of all people, the one who speaks the least.
“Well that’s true I guess,” responded Geoff clutching the scarf around his neck. “But I don’t like to think of it that way. We got our issues for sure but that doesn't mean we aren’t equal.”
“Well my legs don’t work so I’m gonna have to disagree with you on that one,” Thomas said trying to unsuccessfully lighten the mood. Everyone stayed stationary and silent until one person said the unspeakable.
“I guess that rules you out then.”
The voice they heard was one they knew well but sounded like another person in that context. They all looked towards Andy, the person they thought was the kindest person on the planet. The group was in pure shock to have heard it come from him.
“What’s wrong with you dude, you can’t say stuff like that!” yelled Geoff.
“If what the words we’ve read are true then it doesn’t look like I have a choice but so say it.”
“No, that’s unacceptable!”
Geoff and Thomas were very close. They felt that they could relate to each other both having their own hindrances placed on them. Thomas sat there speechless, unable to get a single word out. What could he do? He knew Andy was right. He didn’t even have the ability to use his legs. Thomas looked down and rolled over to the corner of the room accepting that he just won’t end up leaving. Silence fell over the room again. Nobody knew what to say. All they could do is just wait. Just then the ceiling opened slightly and down came a needle and a pocket knife.
“I guess you need a little push,” read the screen,”One of you is hiding something very horrific. A secret that might be a deal breaker.”
Just then four of them heard sniffling. They turned to find Geoff crying. All of them looked at him in confusion until it finally clicked.
“You’re a junky…”said Andy softly,“But that doesn’t explain the knife.”
Geoff looked at everyone’s faces. They had the feeling of shock, confusion, and betrayal written all over them. He unwrapped his scarf from his neck to reveal a massive scar. The group realized that this was why he never once took off his scarf in front of them.
“Before I met all of you I wasn’t in a very good place. My family was constantly fighting, I was having trouble sleeping, my grades were slipping, and my anxiety was at an all time high. I didn’t have many friends at the time, and the people who were my friends were only in it for the highs. I felt completely isolated and unable to confide in anyone. I thought that it wasn’t worth trying anymore so I gave up and tried to take my own life. I wasn’t able to do it clearly, but that moment never left me. It’s a constant reminder of the mistakes I’ve made. Andy you were only partly right. I was a junky but not anymore. Through rehab and therapy I was able to overcome my addiction. I do still take pills to help with my anxiety and depression but not in a bad way. I’m sorry I never told you but the looks on your faces right now is the thing I feared the most.”
With tears streaming down his face and his body shaking, he realized there was nothing he could do but wait to see who comes out on top. There were two down and only three left. Teddy and Nikky stood there shocked and staring at the man they once idealized, now only able to see him as a monster.
“So what’s our issue dude?” asked Nikky.
Andy laughing looks at her and says, “I think you know micro maidan.”
Teddy was speechless at the boldness of his statement. He just stared wide-eyed at Nikky to see what she’d fire back with. She had a look of what seemed like disappointment.
“Is that the best name you could come up with? I’ve heard way better just walking down the street. Try better next time.”
“Whatchu you mean next time? You’re not making it out.”
“And why do you think that?”
“Well you can’t reach the middle shelf in the grocery store. So go on and sit down while Teddy and I finish this.”
Nikky knowing she couldn’t beat him gave up and watched to see who would win.
“Just so you know I hope Teddy makes it.”
Once again words popped up on the screen. “That was quite entertaining. If I was a betting man, I'd say we all know who’s gonna get out of here but go ahead debate anyway.”
Andy stared down Teddy like a lion hunting a gazelle. Teddy tried his hardest to get the words out of his mouth but he couldn’t. Watching the fall of one of his closest friends was too much. All he could do was let the tears run down his face. His legs were shaking in fear. What could he do? He could barely speak to his own friends. He never felt comfortable leaving his home and across from him stood a guy who could do almost anything. A guy who just argued his way out of death with three people in a row. He barely had to say anything before all of them gave up. He fell to his knees and continued to sob. Andy looked down upon him, knowing he had successfully made his way out of room 642.
“Well that was pretty easy,” he said, “I can’t believe all it took was a few words and your wills are broken. This is just sad to watch.”
More words popped up on the screen. “Congratulations. You beat them all.” there was a pause. “You must be thirsty, have some water.” Just then the wall opened up a small hole and a glass of water came out. Andy picked up the glass and chugged the water. Just then his mouth started foaming and he fell to the ground. The four others stood there in complete bewilderment. They had no idea what would come next.
“I thought he won,”said Thomas,”why isn’t he leaving.”
“I lied,” said the screen, “as you can see he was two-faced and never treated any of you with genuine care.”
Realizing that this entire experience was someone trying to fulfill their own twisted sense of justice they just sat there frozen. The door opened signalling them to leave. Geoff took the keys to the car from Andy’s pocket and they all vigilantly walked out and saw the door close behind them.