Upon inputting "heap" into the machine, I was once again greeted by the loud beep and the opening of the box. Relieved by my rest, I almost-tearfully bid the bed goodbye (I hope I see one again shortly - they are such wonderful things!), I placed the key into the lock, and turned it. Upon stepping out of the room, I found myself in an alleyway, with another door a short distance away.
However, perched on a outcropping of rock, I bore witness to a being who's presence felt far too familiar for my liking. A single word from their mouth gave me reason to recall their identity.
"Hello, my dear Paragon," they said, with a smile that almost seemed sincere, and far too much like the jaws of a shark.
"A." No comma on that sentence, there's a full blown damn period on it. I knew who it was, and instantly felt as if I wanted to turn around and run.
"Aw, why so hostile?" The smile remained, although they thankfully closed their lips. "I only wanted to give you some friendly advice, and a charming comment from... well, let's call them observers."
"Shut up. I don't want your advice," although I had some mild curiosity. Mostly as to why A hadn't already thrown me against a wall and began punching me.
The seemingly sexless figure dropped from their outcropping, and walked next to me, before placing a casual arm around my neck, and leaning against me, with a leg raised off the ground. To use an uncharitable metaphor (and why should I use a charitable one?), it was much like a flamingo with arms. "Honestly, it's in your best interests."
"... fine." I couldn't run now; I should've made a break for it already. "Go on; tell me what you want to tell me."
"Listen to this, could you?" From some unseen pocket, they produced what looked like a mobile phone of some sort. Upon seeing my quizzical expression, they laughed (a fouler-smelling breath I've never smelled!) and shook it. "This, my dear, is a dictating machine. If you don't know what that is, tough. Now, this is a comment that I heard someone make regarding the little task I gave you to solve: you know, the first one? Tell me what you think when you hear it..."
After pressing a button on the so-called dictating machine, there was a few moments of silence, before a deep, masculine voice came out of it. "A caesar cipher and a riddle that answers easily as SOS, I'm honestly a little disappointed..."
There was a beat, and then A's voice spoke. "I'm afraid that the answer is useless unless the right person has it in their possession."
Another few moments of silence, before the deep voice came once more. "I'm more interested in seeing him figure it out on his own." And then the machine clicked, stopped and was returned to it's pocket.
My immediate reaction: "... who was that?" Who on Earth would be so callously malicious?
"A human being, my dear Paragon," A said; they detached themselves from me, and begin walking down the alleyway, their feet skidding over the cobblestones. The worn brickwork piled up far over their head, soaring into the sky, at least from where I was standing. "A human being, just like any other. A being who could help, but does not lift a finger out of some dark spite that lingers in their heart." They turned to me, a grim smile over their face. No longer smug, as if now confessing before preacher. "These are dark days indeed, when you do not need any mythical monsters, for it is so simple to create the most monstrous of beasts from the common human, isn't it?" A grim chuckle. "That's the way things are, though."
They turned back, and walked up to me, and placed a kind hand on my shoulder. "I would say that I'm sorry..." I had been looking down, turning their words over in my head. Why? I had another thing to turn in my head, as I felt a sudden pain in my gut, as A's kneecap promptly imprinted itself in there. I instantly felt winded, and stumbled backwards. "But I'm not. I'm just the bearer of bad news. You can't trust anyone, you know; why, you'd be so much better off alone..."
I didn't see them go. I was too busy fighting back the pain.
When I could stand again, I stumbled over to the second door, pushed it open. I suddenly felt as if my head had been given a large dose of clarity; parity reigned in my mind, purifying my pain and turning it into a sort of patient anticipation. Waiting for an occurrence. Beyond the door, I looked around; I was atop a building, looking around at a city around me. Skyscrapers soared over my head; roads run beyond the building, weaving between pillars of concrete and glass. I took a step; the support in my leg did not give way, and I walked forwards. If I was to observe the artwork that was the architectural planning that had gone into the city in which I found myself (which looked, somehow, newer then the streets and rooms I had been traversing thus far), I would have gone to the edge.
But another thing caught my interest; a statue, composed of myself and of A.
I'm not even kidding. It looked as if it could have been the scene of not even five minutes ago, with A's arm wrapped around my neck, as if we were the best of friends. The material was of darkened stone; I am, I admit, not a student of geology, and thus the type somewhat passed me by. It was a work of art, though; the creases of the clothings looked as if it had been a photograph of the reality.
I looked around; there was another statue some distance behind, which I had missed, due to the other statue having been in the way. I walked from the first to the other, only to be greeted by a most curious site. It was another statue of myself.
The stony-faced being was lying on the floor, as if they'd fallen into a deep sleep; the eyes stared forward into oblivion (or they would, if they were anything but stone); grasped loosely in one hand, a revolver. And in the side of the being's head, a head torn asunder and within it, a skull shattered..
Upon looking at it and realising it for what it was, the parity and clarity that had infected my mind dissipated as the night before the sun; the pain clenched my stomach as it had done before. My vision blurred and worsened, and I awkwardly stumbled back to the door from which I'd entered the rooftop plaza from; I angrily pushed against it, and found myself back in one of the "safe rooms". If there is a riddle to be found, I have not found it yet; I've no plans to find it at present, either.