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“See?” said Lachlan. “No murder rectangles. Just a perfectly normal human woman. Hi, by the way.”


The woman grinned at him in a way that gave him an uneasy feeling in his chest. He pushed down his unease and spoke to her again, trying to sound relaxed so Sam didn’t think he’d won or something.

“So,” he said, “I assume you’re in the same boat as us. You got stuck here somehow too, and you’re trying to get out?”

She gave him an amused smirk, which made him a little more uneasy. What was so funny?

“You could say that. Couldn’t you, sisters?”

“You most certainly could, 254,” said a voice from behind the first woman.

The woman–254, apparently, although why her name seemed to be a number was anyone’s guess–moved over, making space for them to step into the room, and Lachlan could see two nearly identical women standing behind her, each with numbers on their sleeves–112 and 199.

199, the taller of the two waved, and he realized with a chill that her hands didn’t quite look human.

It didn’t have to mean anything. Just because her hands looked strange didn’t necessarily make her dangerous.

“Well?” said 199, her inhuman hand still raised. “What are you waiting for? Come in.”

Her voice had an eerie, echoing quality.

“No, thank you,” said Sam. “I think we’ll stay out here.”

“He’s scared,” said 254. “He’s scared of us.”

“No,” said Sam. “It’s not that. I’m… I’m cautious.”

“That one’s scared too.” 199 pointed to Lachlan. “Not as scared as he should be, but still scared. He’s just trying to hide it.”

“I’m not scared,” said Lachlan.

He realized as he spoke that he had blurted his words out too quickly, causing him to sound more nervous than he was.

“I’m not scared,” he said again, trying to keep his voice even. “Why would I be scared?”

254 stepped toward them into the room, and Lachlan took an instinctive step backward.

“He’s stepping away,” said the woman. “Now, why would he do that if he wasn’t scared?”

“I was making room for you,” said Lachlan. “I was getting out of the way so that you could walk into the room, like the considerate and polite man I am.”

“Wow.” 254 another step toward him. “What a gentleman. Don’t you think, sisters?”

Such a gentleman,” said 112.

She and 199 edged closer to the door.

“So…” Lachlan began.

The women looked at him, moving their heads in unison as the two in the other room continued walking toward him.

No, walking was too innocuous a word. They were stalking; it was the only way he could think to describe how they were advancing on him and Sam.

Ugh. He didn’t want Sam to be right about the people in the room being dangerous. This was partially because he, like most humans, had an instinctive drive to avoid things that could hurt him, but mostly because if Sam was right, it would mean he was wrong.

Even in his desire to be right, though, Lachlan had to admit these women were extremely creepy.

“So,” he began again, “I’m Lachlan, and the terminally uncool guy cowering beside me is called Sam.”

“I’m not cowering,” said Sam. “I’m just standing.”

“The terminally uncool guy standing beside me in a cowardly fashion is called Sam.”

Sam squinted and frowned at him.

“You’ll have to forgive him,” Lachlan continued. “He’s a massive nerd. I, on the other hand, am probably the most awesome man you’ll ever have the good fortune of encountering.”

“Such an honor.” 112 edged closer. “What brings such an awesome guy to our humble pit?”

“Someone kidnapped me and brought me here,” Lachlan said. “As for my unwanted companion, he was fucking around in some lab he wasn’t supposed to be in, like the genius he is–“

“I wasn’t… messing around, I was–“

“See? He’s such a nerd he can’t even say the fuck word.”

Annoyingly, Sam’s nervous expression became tinged with smug amusement rather than irritation.

“Feeble minds,” said Sam. “I wasn’t messing around. My coworker was calling for help, and I was looking for her. Some machine activated and I ended up here.”

“We’ve been trying to figure out where we are and how to get home,” said Lachlan.

“We’re trying to compile all available information about what we experienced and where we are,” said Sam. “If I figure out how this place works, I can figure out how to get us home.”

A rush of irritation spread through Lachlan.

“Excuse you, Samurai. I believe you mean that we can figure out how to get us home.”

“Unless the way home is through a giant oil fryer, I somehow doubt you’ll be much help.”

Lachlan’s fist clenched at his side.

“If that’s meant to be a comment about my place of employment, I’ll have you know that Chaz’s Chicken Hut mainly specializes in roast chicken.”

“Oh,” said Sam. “My apologies, then. If the way home involves a rotisserie, your skill set will prove extremely valuable.”

The women all stepped closer in unison, 112 and 199 walking together through the door.

“They’re arguing,” said 112.

“Arguing about which of them will be the one to find the way home,” said one of the other two. “They both want to be the hero.”

“Typical boys,” said whichever number the third one was.

Why are they numbered? This is extremely confusing.

The women walked around them, fanning out to surround Lachlan and Sam in the corner of the room, and Lachlan’s nerves grew tenser. While he had an inch and at least ten kilos on even the largest of the three women, being surrounded like this reminded him of the night before, of being ambushed behind the restaurant and stuck with some unknown drug.

“So, uh…” he began, suddenly painfully aware he’d started about three sentences with the word ‘so’ since encountering the women.

Why were they making him so nervous? Why were his instincts screaming at him to run away?

“So.” 112 moved closer.

“You, uh… you sound… American? Like Sam here? He was in Charlotte before he came here. North Carolina. Is that where you came from too?”

“In a past life,” said a woman. Lachlan wasn’t sure which one.

“O…kay? That’s… nice.” Lachlan shifted backward, away from the women. “Me? I’m from Brisbane. Do you know where that is? A lot of Americans don’t. Sam didn’t, despite his claims of brilliance and genius–“

“Why would I know some obscure town in Australia?” interrupted Sam.

“Obscure town? It’s a state capital. It has a population of two million. It’s lucky that you decided to pursue engineering and not geography.” Lachlan shook his head. “And to think, he insults my intelligence.”

The three women stepped forward, closing in on Lachlan and Sam. Lachlan stepped backward and his back hit the corner of the room.

“I’ve never heard of it, so it can’t be that major a city,” said Sam.

Why are Americans like this?

This may come as a shock to you, Samosa,” said Lachlan, “but the world does not revolve around you and the things of which you have and have not heard.”

“I never said it did, I only said–“

One of the women cut him off.

“Now, now. Stop it, both of you.”

“Yeah,” said another. “Stop it. You don’t want to die arguing, do you?”

Wait, what?

He should have probably been more afraid, but he was mainly annoyed. Fuck. Sam had been right. He really shouldn’t have knocked on the door, and now, assuming they escaped, Sam was going to rub it in his face.

Sam did look afraid, his eyes wide as he looked at the three women closing in on them.

“D-did… did you just say what I think you just said?”

The women answered his question with three chilling grins.

“I told you that you shouldn’t have knocked on that door!” said Sam.

Great. They were in immediate danger and he was already rubbing it in.

“Wait.” Lachlan held his hands up in front of him. “Wait, hold on. You’re going to kill us? Why?”

“We’re hungry,” said 112.

Sam’s eyes grew even wider.

“Y-you’re going to eat us?”

“Hold on, hold on,” said Lachlan. “So what is this? Some sort of Donner party situation? You’ve been stranded here so long that you’re resorting to cannibalism?”

” You don’t have to do this.” Sam backed into the wall beside Lachlan. “D-didn’t you hear me before? I’m going to get us out of here, and then… and then Lachlan here can fix you some nice roast chicken.”

“Yes,” said Lachlan. “Yes. I’ll cook you all the roast chicken you want. I’ll even throw in some corn cobs. Mash and gravy. Whatever you want. I can also do chicken nuggets, if that’s more your speed. Do you like nuggets? Nug-nugs? Chicken nuggos?”

Sam took a momentary break from his terrified expression to shoot Lachlan a derisive look.

“Nuggos? Seriously?”

“I’ve never had them,” said one of the women.

“They’re good,” said Sam. “Really good.”

“So good,” said Lachlan. “So much more appetizing than humans. I mean, look at Sam over there. He’s all scrawny and sad-looking–“


“I’m making a case for not eating you. You’re welcome,” said Lachlan. “Anyway, as I was saying, I’ll cook all the chicken your hearts desire. Do you like wings?”

“Of course you do!” Sam laughed nervously. “Everyone loves wings, right?”

“I can do buttermilk wings, spicy buttermilk wings, extreme spicy buttermilk wings. You name it,” said Lachlan. “Much better than eating us. We don’t even come with a little cup of barbecue sauce on the side.”

“Think about it logically,” said Sam. “If you eat us now, I won’t be able to help you get home.”

We won’t be able to help you get home,” corrected Lachlan.

“There are so many things you’ll be able to eat at home. Rotisserie chicken. Wings.”

“Nuggos,” added Lachlan.

112 smiled.

“There’s no way home. Not anymore, and especially not for you two.”

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