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Sure enough, Chelsea stood in the living room, along with two other girls. A short blonde girl Lachlan didn’t recognize stood beside Chelsea, while a familiar-looking girl with chin-length brown hair lounged on the couch, her legs dangling over the arm. It took Lachlan a moment to realize who the brunette girl was.

“Angelina? I… what? How the motherfuck are you here?”

Before Angelina could answer, the blonde girl let out a shriek, running toward Sam and nearly knocking him over with a hug.

“Sammy-wammy! You’re alive!”

Sammy-wammy? Lachlan would have to remember to give Sam a hard time about that.

“Jen?” Sam looked startled. “What are you doing here?”

So this was Sam’s girlfriend? She was pretty good-looking, Lachlan guessed, but something about her bothered him.

“I was looking for you because you disappeared, and then there was this girl looking for Chelsea, and then this other lady tried to kill her but I saved her life! Then the other lady was like–“

“That’s enough,” said the woman with the axes. “I can sum it up for you. Jen was looking for you after you went missing. She ran into Chelsea’s friend Naomi, who was looking for Chelsea–“

“Wait, is Naomi here too?” said Lachlan.

“Don’t interrupt me,” said the woman. “Jen and Naomi ran into an… old friend of mine who was working for CPSI. She trapped them here, along with a biotechnologically engineered human calling himself Falcon. They were attacked by a creature and Jen became separated from the group. The end. There. I just saved us all about twenty minutes of listening to Jen chatter on. You’re welcome.”

“I still have some questions,” said Sam.

“So Falcon and Naomi are here?” said Lachlan. “We have to find them.”

“Falcon’s one of the Stanley fabrications, correct?” said the woman.

“I… think so?” Jen looked up, still latched onto Sam like an overly chipper, blonde vice.

“If so, he’ll probably be fine, at least for the time being. He’ll have plenty of allies here,” said the woman. “If I were you, I’d be more concerned about this Naomi you mentioned.”

“Can we like, take a time-out for a second?” said Jen, finally untangling herself from Sam and facing the group. “I think some of us should probably introduce ourselves, because I have no clue who Sam’s hot friend is, and he looks super confused too.”

Hot friend, huh? Lachlan revised his initial impression of Jen. Maybe she wasn’t so bad. At the very least, she had good taste in men.

“Fine,” said the woman.

“Why don’t we go around in a circle and say our name, how we ended up in the Pit, and one fun fact about ourselves?” said Jen.

“No,” said the woman.

“I’ll go first. Hey, y’all, I’m Jen Washer, and I was stranded here by a crazy lady while looking for my boyfriend–hi, Sammy! My fun fact is that I have a black belt in Taekwando.”

“We’re not doing this,” said the woman.

“I’ll go next!” said Angelina. “My name is Angelina–that’s long for ‘Angela’–and I ended up here after I went to Borgo San Severino to look for clues about what happened to my friend Chelsea. My fun fact is that I am the president and founder of the official Italian street team of the greatest band in the whole entire universe–The Goldfish Technique!”

“It’s not a real street team,” said Lachlan. “It’s you and your twelve-year-old sister.”

“Does this mean you’re going next, friend of Sam’s?” said Jen.

Lachlan shrugged. “If I must. I’m Lachlan Newton, I was ambushed outside of my work by what I now assume were CPSI goons, shoved into a van, and thrown into this delightful place. My fun fact about myself is that I’m a much bigger fan of The Goldfish Technique than Angelina is–Oi!” He dodged as Angelina hurled a small, round object at his head. It bounced off the wall behind him and rolled to his feet, and he saw it was a grape.

Angelina was so weird.

“Don’t throw grapes at me!” he said. “What’s the matter with you?”

Angelina stuck out her tongue.

“Oh, that’s very mature,” he said.

“Your butt is mature,” she retorted.

The woman with the axes sighed, rubbing her temples.

“I’ll go next,” said Chelsea. “I’m Chelsea Brown, I was caught by a woman named Sarah and put in here, and my fun fact is that I collect odd things.”

“What constitutes an ‘odd thing’?” said Sam.

“I know it when I see it,” said Chelsea. “Um, I have medical antiques, a Victorian locket with someone’s hair in it, a toad skeleton encased in resin… You know. Odd things. I find them at antique stores and stuff.”

Lachlan gestured at Angelina, who was clinging to Chelsea’s side, draped over her arm like a coat.

“Is she part of your collection?” he said.

Angelina made a face at him.

Jen threw an arm around Sam, squeezing his shoulders.

“Your turn, Sammy!” she said.

“Okay, then,” said Sam. “My name is Sam, a machine sent me here while I was trying to save Chelsea, and my fun fact is that when I was a kid, my family moved out of our house because my dad thought it was haunted. And… I guess that means it’s her turn.” He looked at the woman with the axes.

“Fine,” said the woman. “My name is Mrs. Sharma, I was sent here because I was a CPSI employee who no longer served their interests, and my ‘fun fact’ is that I need an aspirin.”

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