The following story may contain depictions or descriptions of instances of: graphic violence, torture, brainwashing, BDSM, self-harm, non-consensual sexual situations, character death, bits, and bunnies.
This story was written for the personal enjoyment of the author; who does not own any character copy written or owned by the Disney Corporation. This story is not written for profit. It is a complete work of fiction, and any resemblance to person or people, living or dead, is strictly coincidental.
The author does not claim ownership to any of the songs, musical groups, or artists referenced in the following story.
Thank You for Your Support
Now that the disclaimers are out of the way; on with the story! As always, don't sue me. All you will get is my hat. And really, wouldn't it just be easier to go get your own nifty hat?
She stood on the house's doorstep and waited for an answer to her knock. The house itself was inviting; as if it was greeting her with the light that beamed softly down on her as she waited on the porch. It rested a little back from the street in a well-kept yard; although by looking around she could tell that the owner of this house appeared not to worry if his was the biggest or fanciest in the neighborhood. Like the house's owner, what mattered most was what was inside. It resembled most of the other houses that lined the quiet street, and she smiled to herself; wondering what the neighbors must be thinking of this particular late night visit. A moment later, the door opened to reveal a tall, older man with graying hair and glasses. His black polo shirt was slightly rumpled, as was his hair. A quick smile brightened his face as he greeted her.
"Hey, what are you doing here? I didn't think that you would get into town until tomorrow."
"Hello, Alan," she said with a smile. "I was lucky and got into town much earlier than I expected to; traffic was with me this time, I guess. I just wanted to stop by and let you know I was in town now; and to see if you know of a good motel in the area for the night. I didn't have a room reserved until tomorrow night, and the hotel I was going to use is booked full tonight."
"I've got something better than that," he told her with a small grin on his face. "If I didn't need to have a plumber come here first thing in the morning, I would just invite you to stay here tonight. However, I'm guessing that after your drive you would prefer the chance for a hot shower and a working toilet."
Can you follow me to someplace else that I know of?"
"That's not a problem," she said with a small laugh. "I'm sorry to hear that you're having plumbing problems, though."
Alan waved his hand dismissively, as if to push the thought aside as unimportant.
"It'll be dealt with tomorrow morning; I already have the visit scheduled. We'll get to spend more time catching up after the plumber leaves," he said. "Did you take a car, or are you on your bike?"
"I took the bike this time. Someone else from the shop is driving the stock van; so I shipped my things to the next site with them. I planned on travelling light so that I can visit friends and sight-see until the next job starts."
Twenty minutes later, a small gray sedan pulled up outside of a closed down arcade. It was followed closely by a slight figure on a motorcycle. A large neon sign hung dark above the door, spelling out for all to read…'Flynn's'.
The figure on the motorcycle dismounted and started walking towards Alan as he emerged from the driver's seat of his car. She removed her helmet to uncover dark auburn hair that was pinned up on her head. The dull yellow light from a nearby streetlamp glinted off of a silver ear cuff half-hidden by her hair as she tilted her head up to read the sign better. Hazel- green eyes met his as she spoke.
"I had no idea that you owned an arcade. Why call it 'Flynn's', though?"
Alan gave a chuckle and shook his head slightly.
"It's not mine," he told her. "It actually belongs to my godson, Sam. I'm just the care-taker for the property."
I was planning to introduce the two of you tomorrow night at dinner. I think that you would get along well together."
Her brows drew together slightly.
"Get along well together? Alan, please tell me that you aren't trying to play matchmaker," she asked in a faintly pained voice. "You know how I feel about people trying to set me up with some one."
He laughed at the look on her face.
"No, I don't think either of you would appreciate it if I set you up with some one. Although, you should be with somebody that makes you happy…" he said thoughtfully. "But no, I am not trying to set you two up…with anyone, much less each other. I really do think that the two of you would get along like a house on fire."
She gave him a suspicious look before asking, "So...do you mean that we would get along well… or that your neighbors are likely to end up calling the fire department and police station?"
Alan threw his head back and laughed out loud at her question. "The first one," he said, still chuckling as he answered her.
She relaxed at his words.
"That sounds fine, then. I tell you what; I'll fix dinner if you get the ingredients. We can all get to know each other better while it cooks," she offered.
There was a speculative gleam in Alan's eye as he asked her, "That roasted chicken, or pasta?"
She laughed at the question.
"I'll let you guys decide," she told him. "Although, I am a little surprised that you remembered."
"Can't help it," he said with a rueful grin. "The only other time I eat that well; is when its Lora's cooking. It's going to be hard to decide between the two meals."
She grinned as she spoke again.
"How about this?" she said. "No matter what you boys decide on for the meal; I'll cook the other dish for dinner the next night. Your choice who will come to dinner, then. I will say, for the record, I wouldn't mind meeting Zack—well, you know."
So, about this place you've brought me to. An arcade?"
"Yes, and no," Alan told her. "Sam's father had an apartment upstairs in the arcade. He lived there for years before he met Sam's mother. He was a good friend of mine; and he kept it as sort of a home away from home even after Sam was born."
Sam won't mind you staying here tonight." He groaned slightly and said, "Except I forgot to bring clean sheets and towels."
"Oh, don't worry about that. I always travel with a sleep-sak and a towel. If there's water and something resembling a bed, I'll be fine."
"Well, if you're sure that you will be OK, let's get you inside and settled for the night." With that said Alan unlocked the door to the arcade and led her into the building. Turning on a flashlight that he had brought with him, he turned to her and said, "I'll be right back. I just need to turn on the power again."
She stood in the dark doorway, waiting for Alan to return. Less than a minute later, his apparent efforts were rewarded by a cacophony of light and sound. All of the lights came on at once, and a song by Journey blared from the speakers overhead of the banks of now brightly lit up video games that lined the walls.
"Sorry about the noise," Alan said, striding back towards where she stood waiting in the doorway. "When they turned off the power inside the arcade at the breakers, they apparently left everything on. The switches for the downstairs lights and the sound system are upstairs in the apartment. I'll show them to you. That way you can at least turn them off so you can get some sleep."
Feel free to play any of the games here, by the way. There's always been a roll of quarters left upstairs for just that reason."
A short time later, Alan left to return to his home; after having showed her where everything was located, and how to turn off anything that she did not want to leave on. He also left her with a spare key to the arcade, so she could lock and unlock the doors.
The last thing that he had said before leaving was, "Come to the house tomorrow after you get yourself some breakfast. We'll spend some time visiting before Sam gets there, and can talk more."
He had given her a small smile at that point and said, "I'm glad that you came to visit."
As she locked the door after Alan left, she looked down at the roll of quarters in her hand that he had given to her earlier. She had never really gotten into video games. She wasn't very good at most of them; and, as a kid, had not had the money or the time to go to arcades and get any better. But tonight, there was no one who would laugh meanly or tell her to hurry up and get off the game. And she wasn't broke, even without Alan's roll of quarters. Why not play a game or two?
She looked around the arcade at the game consoles that stood in rows and up against the walls: Pac-Man, Galaga, Centipede, Donkey Kong… and Tron. There it was, in front of her. She had spent a lot of time watching other people play that game as a kid; and only once ever had the chance to play it herself. Now was the perfect time to beat her previous record…two minutes before getting killed.
Moving the plastic sheeting that covered it from the face of the machine, she reached down and dropped in a quarter.
It promptly dropped out onto the floor.
She bent down to pick it back up. As her fingers closed on the quarter, she noticed the semi-circular grooves in the floor leading out from the base of the machine. Grooves like you would get if you moved a heavy object over and over again in the same pattern.
"Huh," she said to the empty room. "What's up here?"
She stood and grasped the sides of the game. It moved easily away from the wall at her tug, revealing a door hidden behind it.
"What is this," she asked aloud. "Some sort of secret invitation to the bat cave? Because if it is, ISOlated Thinker, I'm taking you up on it." She pulled the door open, discovering a dark stairwell leading into what seemed to be a basement. She reached into the pocket of the biker jacket that she was wearing and pulled out the headphones for her MP3 player and a mini-LED flashlight.
"Might as well have exploring music to go with creeping into dark hallways with," she muttered to herself. "And if anyone has the idea of jumping out at me, I'll probably clock them upside their head," she added in a loud voice, leaning down into the stairway to do so.
Shining the light in front of her, she made her way down the stairs. No one jumped out at her when she reached the bottom of the stairs.
Instead, behind another door with keys still in its lock, she found a small, dust covered room. A desk with a touch screen terminal from what looked like the 80's stood against one wall, while bookcases filled with what she thought were various electronic equipment pieces and corkboards covered in notes took up most of the rest of the room. She stood in the open space near the middle of the room, shining her light around the room and into the corners. Taking a step back to get a better look at everything, she tripped when she hit the rolling desk chair with her foot. She dropped the light as she instinctively reached out blindly, trying to catch herself and avoid a fall. The last thing that her mind registered was her fingertips hitting the desk, followed by a bright flash of light.
What seemed like only a second later, she picked herself up of off the floor.
"Ow," she muttered under her breath. She looked around in surprise at what appeared to be the same dimly lit room, only bare of most of what had filled it just a moment before.
"Okay," she said to herself. "Obviously you hit your head harder than you thought. You must have knocked yourself out when you dropped the light and fell."
"And managed to knock your headphones out, as well," she grumbled to herself, noticing the silence, where earlier she had Poe's song 'Pretty Baby" playing in her ears. "Just great. Where did everything land?"
She knelt down, startled by the lack of dust on the floor. After a minute or two of fruitlessly searching by touch in the near-complete darkness, she gave up hunting for her things for the moment. Sighing, she stood up and headed back up the stairs. She would find the flashlight that Alan had left behind earlier that night, and would find her light and headphones later. After all, her MP3 player at least was still…not in her pocket, she realized ruefully, as her hand came out of the pocket empty. Well, all the more reason to find that light.
At the top of the stairs, she pushed open the door and blinked in surprise. The arcade was completely empty. Not a single game stood in the large, empty room before her.
What on earth is going on? She wondered as she looked around. The room seemed to stare back at her, strangely devoid of any color other than black and grey. There was no way that she would not have woken up if someone had been moving everything out. There was not even any dust. And not Alan's flashlight, either, she noted.
She headed out of the arcade's front door, intending to get the spare flashlight that she kept in the saddlebags of her motorcycle.
And stopped again in shock. Her bike was gone. Heck, the whole street was gone. At least, the street that she had seen when she entered the arcade was gone. She looked up and down what should have been a street lined with older buildings, some a little run-down, and mostly empty parking lots. Nothing looked familiar. The buildings here, while they looked empty, were new, brightly lit, and modern looking. The street stretched out before her; flat, black and gray with a very faint pattern to it, almost like a hex-grid in design. In the distance, something rose up, black against the gray sky. Well, she thought it was the sky. Everything seemed to have changed, and she could not help but feel a little unbalanced. She walked further down the street, trying to find some sort of even slightly familiar landmark.
A beam of light overhead caught her eye, causing her to look up.
"No way," she breathed, staring up at what was the distinct and oddly familiar red-lit glow of a Recognizer from the Tron game that she had planned on playing.
"Okay, so you must have hit your head harder than you thought. You're probably lying in a pile of dust bunnies in the basement floor right now, dreaming all of this," she said out loud to herself. She watched as the Recognizer came closer.
"On the other hand, even if this is a dream, those things were never a good sign for you in the game; so let's just be on our way shall we? Or, at least get out of its path before it sees you, girl," she said to herself, backing away from the beam of light that was moving ever closer to where she stood.
She turned to try to run back to the arcade. With a little luck, she would be able to hide there until the Recognizer was gone. If she was really lucky, she might even wake up before then.
Her luck had apparently ended with getting into town early. She had only taken a few steps back towards the arcade when the searchlight found her. She watched with a kind of fascinated horror as sections of the grid-like 'street' fell away; leaving her standing alone and exposed on a small, raised section of the ground. Her lack of good luck only seemed to continue as she saw a trio of what appeared to be some sort of soldier coming towards where she stood. They were dressed in what looked like a mix of motorcycle armor from a BMX race, and wetsuits. Even odder were the glowing red lights that highlighted each suit.
"Another stray program," one of them stated, approaching her. "You will come with us."
"I'm not going anywhere with you guys," she stated flatly, backing away from the group at the same time.
"You will come with us...NOW," said another, apparently the leader of the group. He motioned to the other two soldiers, and they moved to try to surround her.
She eyed him warily as she tried to watch the other two and back even further away at the same time. She was only able to take a few steps back before the two soldiers sent to flank her were close enough to on the small grid section to grab her by the arms.
"Let go of me!" she demanded. The leader of the soldiers came up to where they stood, holding her in place.
"You will come with us, program," he told her again.
She jammed her elbow into the stomach of the soldier holding her and wrenched her right arm free when his grip loosened. She punched the leader in front of her as hard as she could in the abdomen, trying to hit him in his less protected, unarmored side. Her efforts were rewarded with a grunt of what sounded like a pained noise from him, but were not enough to for her to get away. Before she could pull her other arm free, the first soldier had recovered himself and caught her arm again. The two soldiers held her between them as their leader looked back up at her. Without another word, he punched her as hard in the face; so that only the grip on her arms of the two soldiers holding her kept her upright 'Okay, not a dream,' she realized, blinking back tears. That had hurt.
"Get her on board," the guards' leader snapped at them, stalking off. The two soldiers half-led, half-dragged her to the Recognizer where was lined up with several other people; all standing with their feet locked into some sort of restraints. After locking her feet into the restraints as well, they left her standing there with the others.
A/N-This was posted once before...for less than a day. The file uploaded in a corrupted form, and I took down the story when I realized that. For those of you who TRIED to read it then, I am sorry you had to deal with it. I hope this helps.
One of my beloved and awesome beta's asked me,"What song is it that she is listening to?" So, now adding the song list at the end of the chapters when applicable.
'Hey, Pretty, by Poe'.