A/N: This story was originally written between Solitary and Death Sentence. Some minor details have been changed or exaggerated to suit our purposes. Also, the characters are EXTREMELY out of character. Please don't smite us.

Disclaimer: We do not own the Escape From Furnace series, or any of the characters (sadly). They all belong to the genius author, Alexander Gordon Smith.

I scooted myself underneath my bunk, hoping against hope that the creature had finally gone away. No such luck. I could feel its presence in the room, like an awkward silence waiting to break. I held my breath and tensed every muscle in my body. Ok, so now I would have to improvise. I was good at improvising, was I not?

I carefully peered out from under the bunk. The creature was only a black outline-I couldn't make out any features other than an elongated head and torso. It looked like the result of a man being caught in a taffy-pulling machine. At first, it was silent and still, like a painting. Then, as I was creeping back farther into my hiding place, it dropped to the floor and came after me.

I yelped and fell backwards, banging my head against the metal underside of the bunk. Bright colors exploded across my vision, and I slumped onto the floor. Pain reverberated inside my skull and spread like waves throughout the rest of my body.

After a few seconds, I gathered my wits about me enough to peek open an eye. The creature had disappeared again, leaving no trace behind. The cell was completely empty. I gave an inward sigh of relief and closed the eye again. If anything, I had chosen a comfy place as my hiding spot. If the creature came again, I could be ready. And if it didn't…well, there was no harm in taking a nap.

The sound of approaching footsteps pulled me out of my stupor. I opened my eyes and turned my head to look at the front of the cell. It was probably Donovan wondering why I missed trough time, or maybe a Skull coming to beat me to a pulp. Either one would have been fine by me-I wasn't particularly fussy about company.

The footsteps stopped once they reached the outside corner of my cell. Two seconds later, they picked up again and faded away into the opposite direction. It struck me as weird. Why would someone stop right outside my cell and then head back? Unless they were from the cell, next to mine...or they were looking for someone.

I pulled myself out from under the bunk and stumbled drunkenly to the cell door. My head throbbed with every step, and my muscles whined for me to lie back down, but I couldn't curb my curiosity. It was always one (the only one) of my major flaws.

I poked my head out and looked to the left. Nothing-the entire level was deserted. The only sounds were those that drifted up from the courtyard below. Huh. Maybe whoever it was just went back down. I shrugged and glanced to the right, making sure no one had snuck past me without me knowing. Nothing. Oh well. I turned and shuffled back into my cell.

The creature stood against the far wall, arms spread out as if it was trying not to fall. It was transparent, or mostly so, and it dyed the rock behind it a few shades darker.I could feel it glaring at me with an air of disgust.

"What?" I asked it, raising an arm to steady myself against the wall. "What do you want?"

The creature mimicked my movement, raising an arm.

It was then the realization hit me.

I waved at the creature, and it waved back at the same exact time.

...Well, that's embarrassing.

I sighed and plopped down onto my mattress. I had very likely just given myself a concussion over my own shadow. If that wasn't the epitome of stupid, I don't know what is.

Footsteps. Again.

I glanced up, right in time to catch a flash of long blonde hair. The sight didn't even compute in my mind until I was halfway out of my cell following. Wait, long hair? A lot of guys here had long hair, but they usually kept it rolled up in bandanas or something. And the few that let it hang loose looked like the spawn of Cousin It. This hair was different. It was styled.

I followed the footsteps in the direction of the staircase. Maybe Oli had gotten a few more tools to work with other than that shank, but I doubted it. Grooming wasn't exactly a priority in Furnace.

Whoever it was was going up to the Seventh Level. Again, a few possibilities crossed my mind. Maybe they were looking for a good place to jump. Maybe they wanted some peace and quiet. Or, maybe they wanted to explore. All seemed perfectly plausible.

I climbed up the steps, wincing every now and then. I still had one hell of a headache, and my muscles were already sore from chipping earlier today. My burning curiosity was the only thing that made me bother to go on.

I stepped onto the Seventh Level and looked around, half-expecting to see nothing again. I've been hallucinating all day, so I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't.

Empty cells extended in both directions, their interiors dark and eerie. I shuddered a bit. It was creepy being up there-like the ghosts of the inmates who had leapt to their deaths were watching your every move, silently egging you on to follow their lead. Maybe I would one day…

Something slammed into my back, sending me sprawling on the floor. I managed to let out only a choked yelp before a hand clamped down around my mouth.