Level 6.31 - "Pierce the Veil"

One thought pervaded my mind as I traipsed through the abyss: "Am I dead?" I had wandered the vantablack halls of the level for long enough I had simply accepted the fact that there was no going back and that my only fate would be succumbing to the decay. The walls ceased to exist, and when I tried to wander back from whence I came, there was nothing to be found. Is this how it felt to be swallowed? To become nothing? Well, that could not be; I still felt myself, and I was still real, and as long as I was real, I could carry on.

An inscrutable amount of time went by. All I had were my thoughts and myself, as even the floor seemed to turn into nothing after some time. I was walking on air, through nothing incarnate. My body was all that I could discern within this darkness, being the only way for me to tell that I was still alive. I could hear the blood pumping through my ears, my organs churning and squelching, and my joints and muscles crunching and clenching with each step I took. I tasted the aridity of my mouth and sinuses a vivid metallic, rusty flavour flooding shrivelled tastebuds once my skin started to flake and my nose started to bleed.

After what must have been days, maybe weeks, of wandering in a daze, I was snapped out of my trance by the trickle and splash of running water. I certainly could not see it that would be a miracle but I could hear it very close. I desperately stumbled my way over to the source of the sound, my leg muscles stiff and tight, ligaments prepared to snap, and joints popping with every little move. I took one more step closer, then felt a sensation run up my spine and through my entire nervous system, flooding me with shock. Tears weakly poured out of my withered tear ducts. I had stepped into a frigid, shallow puddle, which sent my isolated senses into a panic. I quickly stepped back, took a moment to collect myself, and then stepped forward once more, even closer to the source. It had gradually made its way from the sound of a lazy river to an unforgiving waterfall, and I could feel the water getting deeper, spraying at me as I approached. I allowed the water to soak me fully, kneeling down and cupping mouthfuls of it just next to the source where it was freshest. It tasted vaguely of almonds. I basked in the sensation who cared if it was freezing cold and came to realize that both the hoodie and sweatpants that I had never noticed I was wearing before were absolutely drenched.

I stood up after some time, hydrated and having earned my second wind, and decided to push through this stream. It was the only promising path onward, and so I endured the brutal beatings of the fluid as it pelted my back for a few seconds. Just then, I realized that the floor was dry here; however, there was a floor. It was smooth and slippery to my moist feet, and I became dizzy, and…







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I fell forward, but the ground was not what caught me. I fell at least 30 feet over a ledge onto a fabric of sorts, thick and durable enough to hold my weight, albeit with quite a bit of give. The fabric seemed to curve upward, which worried me since I would not be able to climb it with how smooth it was, how far I sunk into it despite my starved frame, even though I was soaking wet. And so I clawed; I clawed and clawed away, punching, kicking, jumping, biting anything I could think of to pierce through this unreasonably durable cloth. I huffed and puffed, and as I took a short rest, I came up with an idea. I began to bite off one of my toenails as sharply as I could, plunging it into the fabric as if it were a mighty blade. And then there was light. Even if just a miniscule beam of it, there was light. My eyes sizzled as they adjusted to the foreign sensation, but I wouldn't allow them to take their time. I desperately shoved on the opening, sticking a finger, then a few, then a hand, then my whole body through, out into the light.







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Level 6.31 - "Pierce the Veil"

SURVIVAL DIFFICULTY:

Class habitable

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Level 6.31 is a sprawling series of white-painted corridors made of smooth, solid limestone. The sublevel's decay-resistant resources and properties make it a sought-out destination for people from all walks of life in the Backrooms.

The sublevel itself is entirely enclosed, though the further that one wanders, the more open it becomes. A majority of the sublevel's population resides within a few kilometres of its entrance, hunkering down in rooms once the hallways turn into rooms turn into concourses. The further you travel, the more common it becomes to encounter oddities in the otherwise sensible architecture of the sublevel; haphazard sets of stairs that lead nowhere, sudden dead-ends, and other wholly illogical additions can be found frequently at about ten kilometres out, which is the farthest distance that anyone has travelled before returning to base.

Level 6.31 is completely devoid of any artificial or natural lighting, illuminated only by the native substance that coats its every nook and cranny, given the name "vantawhite". Juxtaposed to vantablack, vantawhite emits its own subtle glow, mitigating the need for any other light sources in the first place. Vantawhite serves the alternative purpose of resisting the decay by acting as an opposing force that prevents it from spreading to any surface that is coated with it. The substance is secreted incrementally from every stationary surface of the sublevel, including those brought in from the outside, possessing the texture of wet paint but drying much faster, making it quite difficult to efficiently harvest in large quantities. Another notable feature of vantawhite is its strict neutrality when it comes to interfering with anything other than decay, having no discernible effect on crops, chemicals, or objects.

Bases and Communities

Level 6.31 is home to a community of over three hundred people, with bases set up within a three-kilometre radius of the entry point. Appliances and beds are rather scarce, which is to be expected given how troublesome it is to reach the sublevel. Greenhouses have been assembled with whatever materials are available and are off-limits to untrusted individuals because of how crucial they are to survival on the sublevel. The entirety of the food supply rests in the hands of the botanists who manage these greenhouses.

The community itself is quite welcoming, accepting wanderers from all factions due to the dire situation of the decay. Run-ins with the Sons of Decay, however, have left some weary of newer folks, understandably so.

Entry and Egress

The only way to enter Level 6.31 is by wandering too far into vantablack. After some time, it will feel as though the floor has disappeared. You'll eventually hear trickling water, which is the only indicator of the entrance. It comes from a waterfall that you should walk through. Past the waterfall there will be an abrupt drop onto a thick fabric material. In order to enter the sublevel, you have to pierce the veil. It is not recommended to attempt entry to this sublevel unprepared, for the process can take up to weeks, all of which would be spent in almost complete sensory deprivation. It also comes with the risk of being consumed by the decay prevalent in Level 6.3.

Exiting the sublevel has yet to be attempted. The threat that the decay and distance pose leaves too many uncertainties.







I squinted apart the eyelids that I forgot I had, only to be met by a skull-piercing migraine. I emerged from the cloth and stepped a short distance down onto a blinding white, glowing floor, pulling the curtain over my head and discarding it behind me. I peered at the path ahead of me: a set of white arches. I crept forward as I slowly opened my eyes, the burn growing more bearable as time flowed. My bare, moist feet enjoyed the texture of the smooth floor as I wandered around. I wandered for a few minutes, a left turn here, a right turn there, all too enraptured by the return of my sense of sight to exhibit any caution. In the distance, boots clicked and echoed down the halls. I stopped dead in my tracks. Human interaction… It was not just in the void that I was deprived of it; I had gone weeks on end without ever speaking, since the decay split me apart from all the people that I had known. I took a breath, then continued pacing towards the clicking.

"He- hello?" I said hesitantly, yet loudly enough for the phrase to echo deep into the chasms of the realm.

"Hey! Are you new here? Your voice doesn't sound too familiar!" The man replied even louder than I had been, which made it obvious as to where he was.

I was quite sure that he was human. No entity that would reveal their location like that is capable of fluent speech. I hastily approached the location whence the voice came, almost forgetting to reply.

"Oh- um, yes, yes I am." I said in a more hushed tone.

As I met a four-way crossroad, the man turned the corner into the hallway just ahead of me, smiling reassuringly as he caught my gaze. He was a bearded man who adorned himself with a red and black plaid jacket and ripped blue jeans. He resembled the stereotypical lumberjack, with a kind, tight, and wrinkled face, weathered from too much smiling.

"Hello there! Oh, you look pretty thin. The way here must've been pretty rough, huh?" the man said.

I paused for a moment to think about how to reply. He took this as an opportunity to continue, "Name's Tim. Good to meetcha'."

"Yes, good to meet you too. I'm Earl. I've hardly eaten in the past… weeks? Days? I'm sorry, I'm not all too sure." I said.

"Oh, don't sweat the details bud. Time's impossible to track in that place. More importantly, let's get you nice and full." Tim replied.

Tim fished his hand into his pocket, withdrawing a shiny green apple and handing it to me. I accepted it graciously, scarfing it down with more heart than I knew I ever had. It was sour and juicy. If I had not just gone days (?) without food, I would confidently say that it was the best apple I had ever tasted. Tim continued as I chewed.

"Well, you're quite lucky to have made it here unscathed. As far as we know, this place is one of a kind when it comes to defending against the decay. The paint on the ground is the secret, y'see. Anyways, there's a bunch more of us set up in some of the bigger spaces further ahead." Tim said.

I nodded, swallowing the last bits of the apple, save for the core.

"Oh, and I'll take that off your hands. We're self-sustaining here; wouldn't want to waste them seeds, heheh!" Tim said.

I passed it to him, and he shoved it back into his pocket, turning his back to me and motioning for me to follow him back from whence he came.

The walk was silent. I definitely was not one for conversation, which might have been the only reason I had kept my bearings during my time in the void, but I had figured that Tim would have at least something to talk about. Regardless, we continued walking until the hallways turned into rooms, each separated by doorways of their own, which kept to the original size of the hallways from before. I could hear chatter in the rooms around us, and there were pieces of furniture that decorated rooms more thoroughly the closer we got to the voices.

"Alright, I'm gonna head off to get these seeds planted. If you're still hungry, you can ask around for the lunchroom. Good luck!" Tim said.

"Thank you", I said.

He walked off into another room, and I opted to follow the chatter. A few rooms ahead, I could make out some women on white sofas, laughing and shoving on each other. I looked to my right and saw a room where there were two men standing in its centre. The men seemed to be of more importance, so I made my way over. Their conversation paused as they noticed my approach.

"Hello there, can I help you?" said a man in a smooth grey suit.

"Yes. If possible, could you show me to the lunchroom? I'm new here." I responded.

"Ah, that makes sense. Sure, I'll have Clark here show you around- actually, Clark, would you mind briefing the young man on your assignment? I've been meaning to find someone to tag along, and this lad looks like he'd do just fine," the man said.

"Sure, I don't see why not." Clark replied, walking past the doorway toward me.

Clark wore a ragged black suit, visibly worn from various expeditions. A white button-up undershirt peeked out from behind his lapel, coupled with a bright red tie. From his appearance, it was quite obvious to me that he is or at least used to be a B.N.T.G. worker.

"And you are?" Clark asked, now just a few steps away.

"Earl. Now what was it that he said about an assignment? I'm more than willing to help out as long as it fills my stomach." I said.

"Alright, Earl, let's get you fed before I give you the details. The lunchroom is only a few rooms down; I don't see why Tim couldn't have shown you there himself." Clark said.

He walked past me into the room I was in before, turning right towards the room with the women, then left into a larger room with benches all around, the inviting aroma of stew flooding my deprived nose as I followed behind him. At the opposite end of the room was a row of cheap tables stocked with large pots. We made our way to the tables, which were about thirty paces away, and he waited for me to eat. The pots were mostly empty, since apparently lunch had passed hours ago, but the food was still warm enough. I located a half-full pot, scooping out the soup until I was satiated (this was not all too long since I ate with haste). As I set down the ladle, Clark immediately walked past the tables through another doorway. I stumbled behind him.

"Where are we off to now?" I asked.

"Well, we're headed to the outskirts of the sublevel. As you may have noticed, the rooms here get larger the further we travel, so our task is to see just how large they can get. You may notice some oddities here and there, but those seem to become standard the further you travel." Clark replied.

"Oddities? Such as?" I said.

Clark sighed. "You'll know it when you see it."

My legs were already so numb from all the walking I had done that I could no longer feel them. Clark had bags under his eyes, his expression never changing. "Is this how they train their workers at the B.N.T.G.?" I thought to myself.

After kilometres upon kilometres of travelling, the rooms were collosal. These rooms could house thousands of people at this point, each doorway growing further apart than the last. Upside-down staircases that led to nothing and nowhere dotted the ceilings and walls. Platforms, pillars, and segments of wall poked out here and there. "So this was what he meant," I thought to myself. We pressed on, Clark's stride never faltering or picking up at any point, much like his voice and demeanour; his step was monotonous. Rooms nay, spaces grew more and more spacious, to the point where it was difficult to see the walls.

"Ahem. Clark, where are we headed, exactly? Is there something we're looking for here, or"

"Not in particular, no. Our task is to walk as far as we safely can and return with whatever findings we have." Clark said sternly, turning back to face me.

Clark turned back to look where he was going, and in shock (I had not thought this possible) widened his eyes.

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"Is… that normal?" I asked.

He did not answer. He turned back, but there was no doorway. He saw no walls or ceiling, but only the structure that lay ahead of us. We continued walking.

It had been no more than a few hours now since I had entered the sublevel, and these architectural anomalies were everywhere. It seemed as though we had pushed past a threshold that we were not supposed to cross. Thick layers of fog condensed in my mind, my steps became unsteady, and my breath got weaker. My eyelids fluttered and my vision flickered; my legs gave out all at once, and my face was planted firmly onto the stone floor.

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The last frame that my retinas provided me.

It all faded to black as a sharp, throbbing pain filled my gut. As my lungs closed in on themselves, breathing became a pathetic struggle. I spattered up blood as Clark shoved me over onto my back. Even though I could not see his expression, something told me that he still carried his standard vacant look. My brain pulsated and stung. My heart pounded and gushed out blood from my internal wounds rapidly, coming to a sudden halt after not too long. Despite the soup I devoured beforehand, the taste of bitter almonds remained on the tip of my tongue, along with a hint of blood.

Clark stood up once he had confirmed I was deceased, staring up at the skyscraper in front of him. He sighed, then began his trek once more, off to complete his assignment.




We've been met with unfortunate news. As of a week ago, Clark and a newly arrived young man by the name of Earl have been reported missing. They were tasked with the exploration of the outskirts of the sublevel. Due to the nature of their disappearance, we have elected to steer clear of the sublevel's deeper chasms. Please do not travel further than our outposts' reach for your own safety. Do not attempt to pierce the veil of ignorance that we have been graced with; ignorance is bliss, after all. Thank you.



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