From tried to keep quiet about the room. Not out of fear of what people would say, but more out of what he thought was kindness—no one ought to experience that. Yet he was still tempted to go back, to revel in the silence for a little longer.
Wayside found the room the day after. The first thing he did was run out and tell someone else. They then told someone else, who told someone else.
So when From heard about it second hand, or fourteenth-hand, he could only sigh. There was little else he could do. He hoped no one else got tempted into staying there, into taking comfort in the room.
Many of the others were creeped out immediately upon entering it. Either because of the ominous nature of knowing they might have been watched the whole time, or that the one who watched was no longer there, or that the room was as silent as it was, or that it was so dark, so, so dark.
When Cometh entered, the first thing she did after noticing the screens was fiddling with the control panel below them. The others warned her, but she argued that they ought to know everything this place could do.
At first, the screens flickered to different parts of the facility, seeing even more cameras, that wasn’t visible at first. Soon, they were about thirty of them in there, all watching up at the large screens, all around the chair, standing two meters away from it as if it was made of fire. From didn’t even have to tell them—they all knew as well that the chair was not friendly.
Switching through more channels, they found rooms they almost couldn’t conceive to be here, atriums full of plants, trees, greenhouses with fruit and vegetables, stables with horses, zoos with animals scattered about in false habitats, all covered in the unnatural darkness of the Up Above, shimmering down at them like it always had.
They all struggled with the realizations as Cometh kept flipping through, finding more and more views, newer cameras to switch to, always something else, always something different, until she switched again and some of them turned dark. Then some more of them, then, after another press, some more. And they were all dark, all shimmering at them with the hollow spiteness of the Up Above.
At first they thought there really was cameras up there, contrary to From’s first impression. Yet, looking closer, they didn’t see any movement up there, which was unlikely if not impossible—almost always some of them were exploring up there now.
And then Cometh flicked again and there was a gasp, a breakthrough in the silence of the room they all seemed to adhere to as if by command:
The last camera on the feed showed a white landscape, a vast expanse beyond anything they had ever seen inside here, so vast it couldn’t possibly be with a roof—and it was bright, so bright, and so white that the Up Above couldn’t possibly begin to cover it.
They stared, enthralled.
This was outside. It was noisy and hard to see, white and with only a few shapes in the distance, contouring to be something else than what they knew. Yet, they all knew it as soon as seeing it, as if they had always known: There was an outside, and you could go there.
See the other days here.
If you enjoy this Christmas Calendar, please post a comment, let me know on Twitter, or follow the RSS.