City Boy

The Broken City: Chapter One
City Boy

rating: +29+x

"Hey Max, get up." said a voice to Max. Max turned in bed, facing away from the noise, inaudibly muttering and groaning. "Max come on! Get your butt out of bed, we've got work to do today!" it said once again.

Max rolled around once more. "Give me 5 more minutes, let me just sleep in ple—"

He was interrupted mid-sentence. "MAX! WE HAVE WORK TO DO! GET UP, NOW!"

He got up suddenly, alarmed by the sudden change in the voice's tone. Wide-awake, he looked at the source of the voice: His roommate, partner in the M.E.G., and friend, Alex.

"Alright, fine." Max grumbled. He reached to the drawer beside his bed, searching for his glasses with his hand. He put them on as soon as he found them, his vision finally clearing up. He looked to his side as Alex opened a curtain to let in some light, causing the brightness of Level 11 to pour into the apartment. Nothing could beat a fresh ray of sunlight in the morning — or at least whatever caused the light within Level 11.

Alex threw Max his uniform, a black polo with the M.E.G. logo on the chest. "Get yourself ready to go. One of the Base leaders summoned us to his office today." Ordered Alex as he slipped his shirt on.

"Please don't tell me its Bill." Max sighed, still somewhat groggy from getting up.

"You guessed it." Alex sighed half-heartedly. Max rolled his eyes, letting out a long groan of annoyance. He walked into the bathroom, for once in his lifetime bothering to look presentable. He brushed his teeth, did his hair, and put on some cologne and deodorant. He then put on a pair of denim jeans, looked at the mirror on last time, and exited the bathroom.

Alex smiled towards his direction with a wry smile. "Wow, your hair isn't a curly mess for once." she said playfully.

"Don't get used to it." Max replied, chuckling at the taunt. He took a big bag which Alex handed to him, opening it up to find it was full of an assortment of weapons and supplies. He put the bag on his back, put on his shoes, and zipped up his jacket.

The pair walked to the front door, ready to start their day. Max looked back at the apartment once more, scanning a mental checklist to make sure he hadn't left anything behind.

He looked back towards Alex. "You done yet?" she asked him impatiently.

"I guess so. Do we have to go see Bill today? I really don't want to." Max whined.

Alex looked at him straight in the eye, a look of utter dread plastered on her face. "Unfortunately, yes."

"Can we at least get coffee first? I need the caffeine boost to put up with Bill." Max asked.

"If this goes well, then we can get coffee. How does that sound?" Alex replied.

"Deal." Max replied with renewed enthusiasm. They locked the door of their apartment behind them, and proceeded down the long hallway of the apartment building.

"What does Bill want us to do exactly? I heard you say it had something to do with The Snackrooms." Max asked.

"Dude, you're an M.E.G. agent, refer to levels by their numbers. And to answer your question, he said he would tell us there. I think it's something to do with making sure the B.N.T.G. trading outposts are doing well and not turning into capitalist hierarchies, et cetera et cetera… You know, the usual check-ups."

He let out a sigh. "Let's just get this over with."

Max and Alex began descending down the stairs. There was an elevator that they could've used, but they knew better not to use it — just in case. After reaching the bottom of the stairs, they greeted the Faceling receptionist, and exited the large apartment complex. Max loved basking in the sunlight of Level 11. He missed the real sun, and this was probably the closest he could get to it. As much as he appreciated how close it was to the real sun, something just never felt right about it.

They walked down the streets of the endless city, greeting wanderers and Facelings who walked by them as they made their way towards Base Beta. Base Beta was one of the largest skyscrapers within the general area, claimed by the M.E.G. as one of their most important bases. Certain floors were restricted to common folk, being only available to members with sufficient clearance. Soon enough, their journey was over, and they made it to the towering skyscraper. As they entered the building, they were greeted by a receptionist, who was also wearing the same black polo shirt as Max.

"Names?" the receptionist asked.

"Alexandra. Resident of Level 11, agent #08412" Alex responded in a serious tone.

"Alright, I'll just jot this down…" the receptionist said, typing her information into the computer. "And you?" he said, looking at Max.

"Uh… Max. Resident of Level 11, agent… uhh… hold on a 'sec…" Max mumbled as he searched his shirt pocket for the paper he kept of his agent number. Alex put her head in her hands and sighed. Max unfolded the paper and read it, adjusting his glasses. "Agent #41980" Max finished.

"Thank you. Let me just check you in." The receptionist responded. He typed a few things into the computer while Max and Alex waited patiently. "Alright, I can see you're here for an appointment with Base Leader Bill, right?"

"Yes. He summoned us to his office this morning." Alex responded. Max laughed internally at how official Alex acted during M.E.G. affairs. It always made him chuckle a bit.

"Alright, let me just do a Skin-Stealer test…" The receptionist responded, getting up from his seat. He took a small object and placed it over Max's finger. Max grunted as it pricked him, causing a droplet of blood to seep out of his finger. "Alright, you're good." He muttered. He proceeded to do the same to Alex. Seeing both of their blood drops were red, the receptionist nodded in satisfaction. "Alrighty, you're not Skin-Stealers. Walk through that metal detector, and you should be clear to proceed up the staircase. Go no further than floor 3, and hand the guard this badge to be let in."

The receptionist gave Max and Alex two visitor badges, one for each of them. They both nodded, heading for the doorway with the metal detectors and beginning to make their way to Bill's room. They made sure to leave their bags with the receptionist, since weapons were not allowed in the building. They walked up the staircase of the huge skyscraper until they reached floor 3, which was guarded by an M.E.G. operative.

"Please display your passes and reason of visiting." the guard ordered.

"We're here to visit Base Leader Bill. He summoned us to his office." Alex responded.

The guard nodded, letting them into the hallway. "Good luck." He chuckled. They walked down the hallway of the offices of all the Base Leaders. Base Leaders were nothing special: The only thing that separated them from a regular M.E.G. member was their ability to boss said members around within the divisions of levels that they commanded. After reaching the office labelled Base Leader Bill Reddinson, they paused in front of the door, knocking on it and waiting for a reply.

"Who's thewe?" A high pitched voice called from the other side of the room.

"Alex and Max, we're here because you asked us to come over yesterday." Alex replied, shouting to make herself heard.

"Ahh, Awex and Max, come on in." said the voice once more. Max walked into a familiar looking office, immediately stepping onto a plush, red carpet. The wallpapers were colored a mahogany brown, and they were adorned with framed pictures of several mementos of the owner's life. Several bookshelves stood poised near the walls, all a meager two shelves long, specifically made for the owner in question: A five year old boy, who was currently standing next to a small filing cabinet, organizing what looked to be highly important documents. He walked towards a large, leather office chair, and climbed onto it with some struggle. With some effort, he reached to the desk, turned on a small fan, and arranged a sign with his name on it in the front of his desk.

"Morning Bill. Seems like a busy day, eh?" Alex asked.

"Yes, it wooks wike it." He said, breathing in deeply after the tremendous task of getting onto his chair. "Awight, I have cawwed you two up here for a vewy impowtant task."

"What is the 'impowtant task' Bill?" Asked Max, who was holding back tears at this point. Alex lightly elbowed him.

"I want you to go to 6.1 and write a fowmal weport on the ten B.N.T.G. twading outposts to make sure they are up to standard, and that no shady deawings are going on." He ordered. He handed them both clipboards with multiple blank questionnaires on them, along with an attached pen. "Make sure you use pwofessional tone, descwibe it pwoperwy, and use wegible handwiting. I need to be able to wead it."

"I'm surprised you're old enough to read." Max muttered under his breath.

Bill glared at him. "I am 65 years owd, I'm pwetty sure I can wead. Can we pwease not bwing up da 'accident'? Show some wespect to yow supewiors." Bill ordered. Max nodded, holding back a snicker.

"Awight." Max mocked, purposely mispronouncing his r's and I's.

"Can you please take this seriously?" Alex grumbled quietly. Bill glared at him with a resentful gaze in his eye.

"Anyways, I won't keep you much wonger. I expect these weports back soon." Bill commanded. Alex nodded. Bill glared at Max. "This is a sewious assignment. No jokes, no insuwts about my cuwwent — hopefuwwy tempowary — appeawance, and no iwwewevant, half-baked weports."

"Yes sir. I'll make sure he abides by those orders." she replied, glancing at Max.

"Anyways, get to it. I have owganization tasks to take cawe wof."

"Promptly, sir." Alex grabbed Max and lead him out of the office, shutting the door behind her. As soon as they got within a far enough range from Bill's office that they could not be heard, Max let out all the laughter he had been bottling in.

"Can you please take things seriously for once? Is it that difficult?" Alex sighed.

"Yes ma'am." Max responded, completely mocking her with a highly exaggerated, serious voice. He gave a salute as a further jest. She rolled her eyes in response and beckoned him forward.

After getting their bags and exiting the skyscraper, they proceeded back down the infinite confines of the city. Many different shops, buildings, and group headquarters caught their eyes as they strolled down the streets.

"Alex, you really need to lighten up. " Max snickered.

"I'll 'lighten up' when you start taking M.E.G. affairs seriously and stop disrespecting the Base Leaders." Alex responded.

"Alex, he literally got turned into a five year old." Max chuckled. Alex cracked a smile.

"Alright, fine. It was a little funny."

"Is that, wait, emotion?!" Max taunted. She elbowed him in reply, still smiling.

Alex scrolled through her handheld tablet to get directions to the nearest 6.1 entrance point. In the meantime, Max skimmed through the questionnaire reports Bill had given them, staring at the paper with a dull, bored gaze, as if wishing it would just vanish right in front of him.

"How much farther is it? I wanna get this crap done quickly so we can go and actually enjoy our day."

"According to my tablet's directions, this restaurant further down the road should lead us straight into Level 6.1." Alex responded. She looked up from her tablet and pointed towards an Asian-looking restaurant.

"Alright, let's get this over with." Max sighed. The two entered the restaurant, immediately passing through the floor into Level 6.1. They fell through the ceiling, landing on the hard, concrete floor of Level 6.1 with a thud.

"I'm never going to get used to that." Max muttered, slightly disoriented.

"It's weird at first, but eventually you stop getting sick after every clip." Alex responded. They gazed upon the long, linear hallway of never-ending restaurants, all filled to the brim with wanderers. Several outposts of different people were scattered around, each trying to offer trades for their wares or show adverts to wanderers that roamed the long pathway, with restaurants on one side, and red concrete walls on the other.

"I asked if we could get coffee before we dealt with Bill, and we didn't get any whatsoever. We're gonna deal with the B.N.T.G. in a minute, so I definitely need that boost now. Can we actually get some this time?" Max said with a hopeful tone.

"Fine," Alex replied. "Let's just go into one of these restaurants near here. This one sound good to you?" She said, pointing at a small café only a few steps away from them.

"Oh, I could care less where we go, I just want coffee." Max sighed in relief, his stomach roaring like an angry lion. They walked into one of the restaurants labeled "The Scrambled Eggs Café" and seated themselves at a table. A Faceling walked up to them, handing them each a menu and a set of silverware. It pointed at its name tag, which read out 'Griselda FerrdenShmurr'. Max squinted at the name tag, figuring out how to pronounce it, confused why the Facelings always had such strange names.

"Morning Griselda!" Max smiled politely. The Faceling grunted happily in reply. It looked down at a small tablet and slowly typed something out.

"Hello. It is nice to meet you." A robotic, text-to-speech voice spoke out of the tablet. Max smiled at the scene, in awe at how cool it all seemed. The Faceling walked back to the kitchen as the two scoured the menus.

"Once we're done, we get straight back to work." Alex reminded him.

"I know." Max replied. "Let's not worry about that for now. So what are you having?"

A faint sound could be heard from far down the long hallway of Level 6.1. It sounded like a distressed scream, as if an animal was being killed, but with a hint of anger.

Two B.N.T.G. members stood at one of their trading outposts, quieting down upon hearing their screams. "What the heck is that?" said one of them to the other. "You're hearing that right?" The other shrugged at their companion. They kept listening for a while, the screaming continuously getting louder, until the one that spoke decided he'd investigate the source of the noise.

He stepped away from his station, and onto the long pathway of Level 6.1. Far down the path, the source of the noise could be made out, and it was approaching fast. His eyes widened when he realized the thing that was screaming wasn't a thing, but rather, a person.

He turned to his companion. "Mike, hand me the crossbow, we've got a situation."

Mike bent down, obeying the order, picking up the crossbow, and passing it to his friend. "Dude, what is that thing?"

The other agent, Terry, looked at the person running towards them, who was getting closer by the second. "I don't know what that thing is, but I've got a bad feeling about this…"

As the figure got closer, he saw that it was a woman. She had black, waist-long hair, with parts of it dyed with light blue streaks. She donned a grey sweater, and an equally grey pair of sweatpants, with white sneakers standing in contrast with her clothes. Perhaps the most peculiar thing about her was a dark, inky substance that was coming out of her mouth like a faucet. She carried a small pouch with her, which seemed to be full of various loose objects.

As she got within shooting distance, Terry steadied his crossbow, and shouted out a command.

"Excuse me lady," He boomed loudly and sternly, "I'm going to have to ask you to stop right there!"

The woman, still screaming like at the top of her lungs, ignored him, continuing her sprint towards the area. As she got closer, she reached into her bag and pulled out a small red crystal, tossing it towards the duo. As soon as it made contact with the ground, it exploded, blasting them both into the air. Terry hit the ground hard, his vision blurry as he struggled to get up. He looked one last time at the screaming woman as she continued her mad dash across the level, and then he blacked out.

Max's eating was interrupted by a sudden shockwave from somewhere nearby. He paused his chewing, looking at Alex as if to confirm what he had just heard. He then heard wild, rabid screaming coming from the vicinity.

"Is that screaming?" Alex asked him as she also paused her eating, looking up from her food.

"Should we… uh…"

"Yeah, we definitely should." Alex finished. She got up from her seat and began exiting the restaurant, Max following close behind. She looked towards Griselda's direction, calling out a quick "We'll be back soon!" before heading back out into the main path to investigate. The scene they saw before them was complete and utter bedlam.

Several different patrons from various different restaurants ran around, all running away from a wild-looking woman who was assaulting random wanderers with various different weapons. M.E.G. agents surrounded her, each one attempting to shoot her with a standard-issue crossbow, but they were unable to hit her, as she evaded each one of them with inhuman speed.

Reaching into the same pouch from which she got the crystal, she pulled out a small, black baton. She then proceeded to press a button on it, which extended it into a long, kendo-stick like weapon, which was almost as tall as her, and required the usage of both hands for her to hold. Blue bolts of electricity seemed to come out from it, their full force demonstrated as she hit an M.E.G. agent who was running towards her. When she whacked him with the stick, he fell to the ground unconscious, part of his hair singed.

"WHAT DID YOU DO?!" The woman screamed at the top of her lungs. She turned around, whacking yet another agent unconscious, and hitting him once again when he fell to the ground, burning a sizeable part of his skin. Another nearby agent ran up behind her, firing a taser at her with the hopes of stunning her. Unluckily for him, she managed to thwart the wires with the stick, proceeding to then hit him with it. She then quickly walked over to one of the fallen agents, picking up their crossbow, and firing it at the thigh of yet another agent. This caused them to fall to the ground and yelp in pain, which rendered them immobile.

"Woah woah woah woah!" Max called out. "What in the world is going on here?"

"Stay back, I'll handle this." Alex ordered, sticking her hand in front of Max. Sinclair fired an arrow at Alex, who proceeded to just narrowly avoid the arrow, the rush created by it blowing a small patch of her hair up. Alex reached into her bag, grabbing a small throwing star. She threw it at the woman, striking her in the arm, which caused the woman to drop her crossbow and yelp in pain, effectively stopping her screaming.

"What are you doing?!" Max called out, ignoring Alex's order. He approached the woman, who bled profusely out of her shoulder. She stared at the ground, her greasy, black hair covering her face. Her breathing was extremely heavy and labored.

"How…" she said through heavy, unrhythmic gasps for breaths. "could you…"

"Sorry, what did you say?" Max asked again.

"HOW COULD YOU?!" the woman screamed at the top of her lungs. She pushed past Alex, knocking her onto the floor, and leapt at Max. The full weight of her body knocked them both to the floor. The woman then put Max in a headlock, and pulled out a small dagger, putting the sharp side against his neck.

"Wait! Please!" Alex called out, her eyes widening in desperation. The woman cackled like a crazy person.

"Listen here lady. You tell me what you filthy meggies did to our church, and I don't slice up your boyfriend's neck!" She threatened, with a heavy amount of lunacy in her voice. Her greasy, black hair covered half of her face, the uncovered part showing the crazy woman's bloodlusted face in full-view.

"What are you talking about lady? We didn't do anything! And he is not my boyfriend!" Alex yelled, raising her voice.

"TELL ME!" The woman screamed at the top of her lungs. She poked the tip of the blade into Max's neck, causing a tiny drop of blood to pour out.

"Wait! Please!" Alex cried.

"You have ten seconds before I carve him up like a Thanksgiving turkey!" The woman growled.

"Please! We didn't do anything to you!" Alex screamed with desperation in her voice.

"Ten!" She snarled.

"Lady! We didn't do anything!" Max yelled angrily. He attempted to elbow her in the stomach, but it did nothing.

"Nine!" She screamed. Max kept struggling. Alex looked around, not sure what to do.

"Eight!" She yelled, her voice getting louder and crazier as the count got lower.

"Screw you lady!" Max exclaimed, struggling for his life, unable to break free.

"I'm bored, let's skip to the good part! ONE!" She howled.

"NO!" Alex screamed. The woman lifted her knife to pierce Max's neck, screaming with rage. She thrust her blade towards his neck, stopping abruptly a few inches away from it. She loosened her grip on Max, who got out of her loosening headlock, quickly crawling towards Alex. The woman reached behind her and pulled a small dart out of her arm.

"Aw come o—" The woman mumbled before collapsing to the floor unconscious. Alex watched as the agent who threw the dart approached the woman from behind.

"Tranquilizer darts, aren't they wonderful?" The agent snickered, laughing at his own joke. Max and Alex sighed in relief. They looked at the unconscious woman, black ink still oozing from her mouth.

Max turned towards Alex with a wry smile. "So you do care about me, huh?" he teased.

"I told you, I was handling it." Alex grumbled.

"Don't be all serious again, I see you holding back those tears." Max smiled. Alex cracked a small smile, and then elbowed him in the gut. She let one single tear escape her eyes, relieved that her friend was still alive and kicking. They got off the ground and inspected the woman.

"Who the heck is this lady anyways? What was she on about?" Alex asked.

"Sinclair Beckett; the most infamous Follower of Jerry." The agent responded.

"This is Sinclair?" Max asked with a tinge of disappointment in his voice. "I… kinda expected more to be honest…"

"I'm not sure what she was on about, but she's done stuff like this before. It's usually because she thinks we're responsible for some stuff that happened to their cult, I don't know. Anyways, I've got a med team coming from Level 11 to treat all the injured people. She nastied them up real good." The agent sighed.

"Max and I will deal with Sinclair. You go help the med team." Alex replied. The agent nodded, and went to go wake up the victims of the attack.

"I'll go ask for some take-out boxes." Max added, walking back into the restaurant.

Sinclair woke up in a dark room on a cold, metal chair. She attempted to stand up, but her arms were held down by metal cuffs. She started shaking violently, attempting to free herself of her restraints.

"Finally awake, huh?" Max said, somewhat condescendingly, sitting next to Alex on the other side of the dimly lit room. Sinclair calmed her struggling and glared at him.

"What happened to our little agreement?" Sinclair snarled, ink drooling from her mouth. Her long, messy hair covered half her face, alleviating Max from seeing the other half of her face, which had a hateful look plastered on it. "You don't bother us, and we don't bother you."

"Hypocrite! You came out of nowhere and assaulted multiple agents, causing a complete scene on 6.1!" Alex replied. He moved towards a pile of papers he had sitting on the table, picked them up, and began reading them out to her.

"Two B.N.T.G. agents have severe second degree burns, and one of them has a broken vertebrate. Nine M.E.G. agents have gotten blunt force trauma to their heads, and small burns from the electricity of the taser stick you assaulted them with. Another agent has a bad crossbow wound in their thigh, and the doctors aren't sure if she'll walk without a limp for the rest of her life. Four other agents are currently undergoing the effects of liquid pain due to those little needles you were throwing at them. Then, you almost killed me! These are serious allegations, some of these guys will be in the hospital for months, and the liquid pain victims will probably have to be euthanized! Are you aware of the weight of these atrocities?!" Max ranted. Sinclair chuckled, a slight hint of lunacy in her voice.

"You're lucky I couldn't do any more. After what you scumbag meggies did to our chur—"

"What are you on about?! We did nothing of the sort to any church!" Max exclaimed, slamming his hand on the table.

"LIAR!" Sinclair screamed, shaking violently in the chair, slamming her head against the back of the seat. After she ceased the gyrations, she stared at Max with inhuman rage in her eyes. "I walked back into our home, our place of worship, to see the end of it completely enveloped in black void. What did you do?" Sinclair asked through clenched teeth.

"Are you talking about Jerry's Room?" Alex asked.

"Is that what you people call it? What an original name." Sinclair snarled sarcastically.

"Wait… You're saying Jerry's room is being consumed by some sort of black void?" Alex asked, her eyes widened slightly.

"Oh! So you figured it out!" Sinclair snarked with an overly peppy voice. Alex opened her mouth as if to say something, but she closed it again, opting to remain silent for the time being.

"That's not good." Alex whispered under her breath. "Give me a minute, I gotta go make some calls." Alex stood up from her chair and pulled out a small cell phone from her bag. Before she exited the room completely, Max heard her dial up Bill, telling him that they'd have to postpone the report for a while. Then she closed the door, leaving just him and Sinclair alone in the same room.

Max stared at Sinclair, and she stared back at him, ink still oozing out of her mouth. He said nothing for as long as they maintained eye contact, but as he observed her, he couldn't help but feel slightly disgusted at the scene before him.

"Why don't you take a picture? It'll last longer." She remarked aggressively. Max didn't respond to her taunt.

A minute or two later, Alex walked back in. "Alright, I told Bill that Sinclair came and attacked a bunch of people, and that we need to bring her back to Jerry's room. I didn't talk about the void thing, because I don't want the overseers sticking their noses into this. We're just going to go figure out what the heck is going on, and see if there's any way to stop it."

"Wait, so we're going to Level 0?" Max asked.

"You got it. Pack your things, we're leaving as soon as the other agents arr- wait, nevermind, here they are, I guess." She said as three other agents walked into the room. "That was quick." She exclaimed.

"Hey, uh, what about Coocoo for Cocoa Puffs over there, is she coming with us?" One of the agents muttered.

"We've confiscated her bag of weapons so she doesn't pull anything funny. If she does, we can just stun her with a taser so she doesn't knock us all out again." Alex replied, glaring at Sinclair.

She approached Sinclair and looked down at her. "You try anything, and you get zapped out of your life." She threatened, showing off her taser. Alex bent down next to her handcuffs, releasing Sinclair from the restraints, freeing her from her imprisonment.

"Fine, I'll behave, but only because I want to know what's going on." She growled, standing up.

"I really do not want to go back to Level 0. The smell there is disgusting." Max complained.

"Trust me, Level 0 is much better than a place like Level 5 or 7." Alex replied.

"Why do you stupid meggies use numbers for levels? That's so weird. Just call it the Terror Hotel, or Thalassophobia." Sinclair scoffed condescendingly.

"It sounds more official to use the numbers. Now come on, we have lots of walking to do." Alex replied. "There's a room here that usually brings you to Level 0 if you successfully clip through the wall. We just have to all go through at the same time so we don't get separated."

The group of agents and Sinclair walked down a hallway of the large skyscraper, Alex leading the way. She peeked inside each room, looking for the entrance, whilst Sinclair walked next to Max, who had an angry vengeful look pointed towards him for the whole trip. After a few minutes, a faint buzzing noise could be heard down the hallway. They followed the noise until they finally made it to a room where the noise was much louder compared to the other rooms they'd been to.

"Is this it?" Max asked.

"Looks like it." Alex replied looking into the room. It was a dimly lit office room with no furniture inside of it, save for a singular, sad, buzzing fluorescent light, which buzzed much louder than it usually would.

"That stupid buzzing, I hate it." Max sighed, dreading the hours in its midst that he would soon have to endure.

"Alright, listen. We need to perform a controlled clip into Level 0 in a very strategic way so that we don't get separated millions of miles apart. If we all hold hands and successfully pass through the wall, we should hopefully all end up in the same place. Ready?" Alex asked.

"As much as I possibly can be knowing what awaits me, yeah." Max sighed. The whole crew grabbed hands, Sinclair included, as they prepared to pass through the wall. Alex pressed it with her hand a few times, before bumping her body into it. She repeated this a few times until her hand phased through the wall. She thrust her body into it, passing through it precisely as to not break the clip, all of them following suit behind in the same fashion as Alex.

For a while, it was entirely pitch black around Max. He felt as if he was floating through an empty void, his only connection to the world being the hands he was holding. The whole experience was extremely nauseating. Thankfully, it did not last long, as they quickly found themselves falling onto the nasty, damp carpets of Level 0. The noise of buzzing fluorescent lights overpowered any other sound in the whole place.

"Well, here we are. Good ol' Level 0." Max sighed.

"Cut it meggie, I live here!." Sinclair snarked. "Now stop all your stuffy commanding and ordering around, and let me lead the way. I know this place like the back of my hand."

"How is that even possible? All the rooms are identical!" Alex asked as they began to walk.

"I'm not talking about the layout, I'm talking about how to work this place. Watch and learn, princess." Sinclair taunted. She looked around the room, taking in the scene before her: The rotted yellow wallpaper, the disgusting carpet, and the overwhelming buzzing sound. She beckoned the group forward as she gazed around the room.

"What are you doing?" Alex asked impatiently.

"Shut it." Sinclair replied. She looked to her right. "Over here." She pointed at the wall. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary at first, until she pointed out a subtle difference from the other parts of the walls. "Slightly darker shade of yellow, carpet isn't nearly as wet. I wouldn't expect you to know about these things." Sinclair remarked, receiving a glare from Alex in return. Sinclair walked through the wall with ease, before sticking her head back though. "Coming?"

Alex sighed and passed through the wall, the others following behind. They proceeded to walk through room after room for a few hours, clipping through walls here and there to get to the fabled room of Jerry. After many long hours of repetitive rooms, they finally stumbled across a normal looking door, which was very out of place for Level 0.

"How did you find that in only a few hours? This would take regular people years to find!" Max exclaimed shockingly.

"I've been here for a while. You learn to figure things out." Sinclair replied. They stared at the door, which was very basic looking, even when compared to other doors in The Backrooms. Sinclair opened the door, which lead into a large lounge with couches, desks, dining rooms, and pictures of a blue parrot all around the room. A group of people relaxed on a number of the couches, each one in clad blue robes with golden markings on them.

"Sinclair! Why are you bringing lost ones into our church?" one of them exclaimed.

"Relax, they're here to check out the void. After some… forced negotiation, they came with me to inspect the area." Sinclair replied. She walked over to one of the minifridges and pulled out a small vial of black ink, consuming its contents immediately. The rest of the crew looked at her in disgust.

"Do you mind… uh… leading us to the 'void' thing?" Max asked. Sinclair licked her lips, completely ignoring Max as she called out to the other members.

"Yo Macy! You got someone who wants to see you!" Sinclair screamed down the corner of the wall. Max's heart dropped at the name.

"Wait…" He whispered to himself. "If that's who I think it is…" Three people stepped from around the corner. One was a man, his lower face masked by what looked like a plastic bird beak. His skin was entirely covered by a slightly ridiculous looking bird costume, which seemed to give his skin a blue tinge. Max couldn't verify that his skin was actually blue however, as most of it was covered by said costume. The second wore a robe similar to her other members, but it was colored a dazzling gold instead of blue. She was short, her face covered entirely by the hood. On the golden robed individual sat a blue bird — Jerry himself.

"Who did you bring this time, Sinclair?" Jerry squawked, to the surprise of Max and Alex. He sounded like a typical parrot, but the fact that he could string together whole sentences was slightly shocking.

"Meggies…" The masked man scoffed in disgust, looking at the group.

The golden-robed person was trembling. "Wait…" She whispered. She lowered her hood to reveal a short-haired, chubby cheeked woman. She was flabbergasted, seeming to be in utter shock and awe at the scene that stood before her. "Max?"

Max's heart dropped as he realized who it was. Through shaky breaths, he only managed to utter a singular word.


The Broken City will continue in Chapter 2

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