In Undertow
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"He had a history of audiovisual hallucinations and vivid…" Adileh's voice trails off, and she mutters something darkly under her breath. "Of course. Delusions. They're what's maintaining this place."

"So, what's the plan?" Hikari folds her arms. "We somehow make it to the center of this hellhole and you, what, psychotherapy Bryce into calling off the shoggoth he's got running around the school?"

"It's not a shoggoth, it's a slasher."

Hikari blinks. "What?"

"You're thinking in the wrong genre. He needs some kind of rationalisation to sustain this kind of effect: a story, if you will. And if there's any particular genre this last hour reminds me of?"

"…" Hikari regards Adileh with a flat look. "You're saying we're stuck in a horror movie."

"That's my working hypothesis." Adileh massages her temples. "So to get out, we have to come up with a better story than the one it's telling right now. The only reason it hasn't already declared The End is because it needs survivors to function, but it's going to get sick of us eventually. So start thinking."

The closest thing Hikari's done to creative writing was about six months ago, when she had to describe how one of her patients got his arm tied into a balloon animal. Between her inexperience and the increasingly literal deadline, her brain feels like it's crystallising under the pressure. Every time she tries to string together a serious plotline, the absurdity of their situation just tears it in two.

So eventually she just gives up on serious thoughts altogether. Which is when she's struck with exactly the kind of story they need to tell right now.

"Adileh," she mutters.


"I've got an idea, but I'm not sure you're going to like it."

"I've got nothing, and I'm not fussy. We've got five minutes. Talk."

So Hikari talks. Suffice it to say, Adileh doesn't like it.