"Ayaka!" Kiku half shouted half whispered, "There's someone else here." she tugged on my sleeve as we quietly stepped forward and down the hall, trailing after the voices.
"There's more than one, Kiku." I repplied, removing her hand from my sleeve and clutching it with my own instead.
The sound of our footsteps echoed down the hall, making me bite my lip, What if they hear us? They may think we are a danger to them. Stalkers or something.
"Shh..." one of the voices whispered, and the whole atmosphere went silent, "Do you hear something? Keep close to me."
There was no response. That is, until Kiku sniffed loudly, for a speck of dust from one of the frames of a painting wafted up her nose. Her eyes widened as she threw her head back and sneezed, her head thrown forward, releasing a deafening noise.
"Bless me!" she smiled, rubbing her nose, "That's better."
That's when I heard the footsteps ahead of us quicken and get quieter.
"Kiku..." I sighed, rolling my eyes and taking her hand once more, "We may not have been alone, if you'd had not made that horrific noise."
"Sorry, Ayaka..." Kiku looked at the ground. Then she gasped and looked up, grinning again, "Let's go catch them!" she suggested, running down the hallway, leaving me behind.
"No, no!" I shouted, right on her tail, but unfortunately, Kiku was a fast runner for her age, and she disappeared. The hallway cut off into different directions and they all led to the same thing. Darkness, "Kiku!" I shouted out, but I couldn't hear her footsteps of giggling any more.
Which way, which way...I muttered, flicking my head from left to right, trying to think which direction I should go. A lot of paintings were hung up along the eternal hallway, and they loomed above me, as if mocking.
Suddenly I heard a 'Hyeek!' coming from the left. It echoed, along with the sound of a large thud. The voice was too deep to be Kiku's, but by the sound of the exclamation, it didn't sound too threatening. But you never know when you are here...
"Kiku!" I called out again, running down the hallway, completely unaware of where I was going, or where I would end up.
"You are silly!" I heard Kiku giggle, "I'm not a painting!"
Wait...there ARE others? I thoughts as I continued to run. My question was answered when I felt my toe stub something, and I tripped over the mass, flipping head over heels and collapsing on the floor with a loud grunt and slam.
"Ayaka!" Kiku jumped on top of my back, "I found them!"
I sighed, "Found who?" I muttered, climbing back to my feet and dusting myself down.
Kiku pointed at a shadow behind us, and then down at the floor just a little behind where I fell. The shadow was a small girl...wait...that's the girl Kiku ran into earlier! The girl with brown hair and red eyes. She had the same stoic expression she had back at the gallery.
"H..hello." I stuttered to the girl, as Kiku skipped to her side and linked arms with the girl/
"She's my new friend!" Kiku grinned, pulling the girl closer.
I raised an eyebrow, "Do you even know her name?"
"Uh..." Kiku hummed, "What is your name?"
"Ib." the girl replied in a single syllable.
"IB!" Kiku cried out, "That's her name. My name is Kiku!"
"We know..." a male voice from behind me muttered.
I turned around cautiously to see a tall, purple haired man climb to his feet. His hair was fairly long and freely fell over his face, covering one of his eyes. He wore a long, blue, worn looking coat over a plain green shirt and brown trousers. He looked around my age.
"Are you what I tripped over?!" I exclaimed, glaring up at him.
The man nodded once, "I do apologise." he lowered his head.
I snorted, "Don't lie down in dark corridors from now on." I closed my eyes and turned around.
"Wha...?" he uttered, looking at me wide eyed
"Why were you lying on the ground?" I then asked, "Who are you?"
"I...I..." he scratched his neck, "Your sister spooked me...and I tripped over my own feet. And my name is Garry." he held out his hand for me to shake.
I looked cautiously at him before shaking his hand, "How do I know you aren't a...a sculpture or something? Either of you for that matter."
"W...well..." Garry stuttered again, then he narrowed his eyes, "And we could say the same to you." he then reached into his pocket.
I grinned, "Easy..." I reached into my pocket.
And simultaneously we pulled out our roses.
"Oh...Ok, you pass the test." I sneered, waving my rose side to side, "I suppose I can trust you..."
"Same goes to you." Garry muttered, "So, now I know you are from the gallery, I think it would be a good idea if we stick together, so that we can find a way out of here."
"Yes!" Kiku grabbed ahold of one of Ib's hands with both of hers and jumped up and down excitedly, "Ib can be my best friend, and Ayaka can be Garry's best friend!" her eyes sparkled at me and Garry hopefully.
We looked at each other, before looking away just as quickly.
"S-shall we press on?" Garry suggested, smiling down at Ib and Kiku.
"Hey! I'm here too!" I flailed my arms in the air to try and get some attention.
Ib and Kiku nodded, and they started to walk down the empty hall again, me and Garry behind them, not quite as friendly as those two were.
I know I can trust them and all, but, it's really hard, considering all I have encountered down here were moving sculptures and paintings.
"So, Ayaka, were you and Kiku the only ones down here, asides me and Ib?" Garry asked, breaking the silence.
I shrugged and nodded, "I haven't met anyone else down here yet. We were on our own getting chased by sculptures. We both got hurt but we're fine now."
"You poor things." Garry looked at me in sympathy, "No girl should have to put up with such horrors."
I was shocked by the soft words, and I looked up to see his soft eyes looking at me in concern, Is he really this nice? I've never met a guy like this before.
I then looked at the rose in my hand, "A petal has fallen off of each of our roses, when we got hurt. We have one less than we started off with. I'm just worried what would happen if we reach zero."
"That's not going to happen." Garry said, as he showed me his own rose, "Would you believe me if I said if it wasn't for Ib, my rose would have had no petals left on it?"
"Uh, no." I replied. His rose had many thriving petals on it, so how could the stalk not have petals on it?
"There are, peculiarly, vases of water scattered around this place. If you put your rose in the vase, then the rose will thrive again." Garry explained, picking slightly at the petals of his rose, "When we find another one, you can fix your wounds then."
I sighed, "Wish I could say the same for my jeans..." there was a gash in the leg of my jeans, where the monstrous...thing...snagged me. You could clearly see the cut from within, but I was getting used to the annoying sting.
Looking down at Kiku's ankle I was glad she had no tights or socks on, so none of her clothes were damaged. She goes through enough tights as it is...
But I couldn't help smiling at how close she and Ib have become already. They were both talking (well, Ib mainly just answering Kiku's bucket load of questions) and their arms were linked together in a really cute way.
"I must say I am glad to have you run into us." Garry spoke up again, "Now we can find the exit together and nobody gets left behind."
I nodded in agreement, "Let's just hope there is no one else down here, or if there is we find them quickly." I shuddered at the thought of other people wandering around here alone, "I'm just glad I had Kiku with me, otherwise I might have gone mad."
"How did you get down here?"
"Well, when the lights went out, we looked everywhere to see if we could find anyone else. It was really odd, it's as if everyone evacuated the building without us even knowing. We tried the windows and doors but there was nothing. That's when the walls parted on the second floor. It revealed a staircase leading us down here. It was a big mistake, but we thought it might have been a way out. Boy was I wrong..."
Garry sighed, "We'll find a way out of here. Eventually."
We continued walking.