The Benson:Experiment in Terror 2.5(10)

By: Karina Halle

He goes for the handle and I’m right there at his side as he jangles it back and forth vigorously. It’s locked.

We dash for the next door and the same thing happens. Same with the last door after that. All doors locked. Nothing to explore.

“Now what?” I mumble, feeling a familiar wave of cold snake around my feet and ankles. I point the infrared down at it, but it doesn’t register anything out of the ordinary.

Dex doesn’t say anything for awhile so I look up at him. His eyes are focused above him, at a loose-looking vent on the ceiling.

“Perry,” he says slowly, carefully.

I shake my head. “You’ve got to be kidding.”

He looks back at me and shrugs. “What’s the harm? I’ll just boost you up there. If you crawl around for a bit, you’ll probably end up in one of the other rooms and then you can open the door from the inside.”

“I...don’t even know what to say to that.”

“No? You usually have some sort of witty one-liner.”

“You go up there, Dex. There’s no way in hell I’m going.”

“You can’t hold me up and it’s too far for me to jump. Short man syndrome, remember?”

“You can’t hold me up.”

“Perry, for the last time, stop acting like you weigh one million pounds. You don’t. You’re as light as a feather.”

I let out a laugh. I can’t help myself.

“I’m not…anyway, even if you could push me up there, do you think I’d fit?”

“Again, Perry– ”

“And if I do get up there, do you think that aging duct would hold me? I’d come crashing through like a bag of bricks.”

“Stop using your non-existent weight problem as an excuse, just because you’re too chickenshit,” he challenges.

My mouth drops slightly. I am not chickentshit. And my weight problem isn’t non-existent.

“Fine,” I say and walk toward him. “If you don’t think it’s an issue, then away I go.”

He steadies his gaze at me, sussing me out. I cross my arms and give him an impatient stare.

He nods quickly and lowers his hands joined together. I step on them unsteadily and before I can even question just what the hell I am doing, I’m boosted into the air, one hand on the camera, the other reaching for the vent.

Once Dex has me steadied and I can stand, albeit wobbly, on his hands, I climb to his shoulders and push the vent aside. It pops up and slides out to the side with an easy clatter that rattles down the hallway. Up close, it is big enough for me to fit through. But it’s also black and fathomless and hides a wealth of things that could frighten me to death. It’s a vent, for crying out loud. Since when did this show turn into Mission Impossible?

“You OK, kiddo?” he asks from beneath me, his voice shaking slightly, either from apprehension or from the strain.

“Not really. Have you ever been in a dark vent before?”

“Several times,” he answers seamlessly. “Once you get up in there, I’ll hand you the flashlight so you don’t have to be in the dark.”

“How thoughtful of you,” I mutter and reach for my hands into the vent. It’s cold and I fear it will be icky inside but the bottom of the duct feels mercifully dry.

“On the count of three,” he says and once we count down, he pushes me up further and I’m waist deep. I feel his hands slip away and with a groan I pull myself forward until everything except my calves are inside the dark air duct.

I’m scared as hell. The sides of the duct have me unable to turn around and I can’t see what’s in front of me. For all I know, there could be a giant rat in front of my face, ready to gnaw it off, starting with the little tip of my nose. I am starting to panic and an attack in this tight of a spot would be a dangerous thing indeed.

“Uh, Perry,” I hear Dex say. His voice is comforting but the tone isn’t.

“What?” I say as quietly as I can. My words reverberate around me.

“I guess you can’t turn around and reach for the flashlight…can you?”

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