NaNoWriMo: Nightmare At The Museum
Posted by BigWords on November 10, 2009
Alison Torrance was sat at her desk filling out forms, checking the information streams and waiting for the security teams to give the all-clear to close off the museum’s entrances for the night. The museum was quiet after hours, and she relished the opportunity to set to the work which had accumulated during the day. The soft whine which breathed lightly through the PA system, a holdover from the previous administration, cut off before she had the opportunity to activate the shutdown sequence. Alison looked at the vent above the door, wondering why it would switch to a sleep sequence before time.
Her comm crackled, then fell silent in synch with the lighting system failing. Plunged into darkness, the museum suddenly felt much quieter than it had ever been, a graveyard of artifacts.
Silence and darkness answered her command.
The computer system ignored her, devoid of power.
“Damn it, this place is a-“
She hushed herself before the word ‘museum’ could emerge, but the thought of how antiquated a museum’s security and power system could be was humorous nevertheless. Walking through the backrooms uncovered a lack of staff, though they were, she assumed, busy trying to get some of the power restored by way of the emergency generator. It still felt strange, and too quiet.
Something moved in the darkness in front of her, and she cursed the lack of a flashlight amongst her emergency supplies.
The bouncing creature came into view as it paused in front of one of the large windows which dotted the corridor. A small pink rabbit glared at her, blinked twice, then vanished back into the darkness again.
“Ryu, what are you doing back here. Hey. I’m talking to you mister.”
The quirky nature of the robot’s behavioral system had been annoying, but somehow the cuteness factor which radiated from Ryu prevented the critter being reprogrammed. Alison regretted not having the software checked out when she had the opportunity.
Feeling her way in the darkness, Alison soon found the doors to the basement.
“Are you guys down there?”
Silence and darkness were becoming a recurring theme. Alison sighed.
“So not funny. You want to tell me how things are going down there…”
Still no answer. Alison began imagining strange things in the darkness, and faced having to either force herself to continue down into the dark or find help somewhere. The latter became the clear winner when strange noises from the bowels of the building reached her.
Moving through the corridors, Alison reassured herself. “It was the building cooling down for the night. It was some stupid robot lost in the basement. It was a loose wire slipping from the wall. It was-” A noise ahead, beyond the doors leading into the main foyer, broke her train of thought. A surge of adrenaline shot through her.
“Hello.” She whispered.
Muffled movement and more darkness. Alison pushed forward through the darkness, determined to exorcise any fear of the half-visible world which she now found herself in. Hushing down the worried thoughts threatening to take her over, she opened the door to the foyer. The Tyrannosaurus rex which greeted visitors to the museum stood before her, head lowered, apparently lost in deep thought. Ridiculous notions flooded Alison’s mind.
“What are you doing all the way over here.” Trying to stay calm wasn’t helping.
“Welcome to the Kitzmiller Museum.”
“Rex, it’s me. Miss Torrance. What are you doing?”
“This is the museum. I am welcoming you to the museum.”
“Yes. I get that. Why don’t you go back to your post now, I’ll get the lights working as soon as I can, okay? There is nothing to worry about.”
As the dinosaur moved off Alison wondered about the response. Okay? Since when does an artificial respond with something so… Human. The small pink motion of Ryu rushed across the foyer, vanishing into one of the galleries at the other end of the large hall.
“He went thataway.” Alison mouthed.
From the direction Ryu disappeared to came a scratching sound. Alison carefully made her way through the foyer, determined to locate her staff and get to the bottom of the problem besetting the museum.