Below is a Recollection–this is not a review, but rather a full spoiler walkthrough of the author’s experience in The Parallel/Heretic’s V A N II S H Part Three. This experience spanned three distinct nights and two separate DEATH experiences. As each experience is separate and distinct, they will be split into individual Recollections. Please read Part One, Part Two (Death), Part Four (Death), and Part Five to get the full narrative. In this experience, time is rewound as we learn the backstory of the girl who died in the hotel.
If we are to fully understand the events, the motivation, the horrors that occurred in that hotel room, then we need to go back to the night before the girl died.
I arrive at a university. The once bustling campus is now dark and quiet. I find the designated lot and park. The area is relatively empty, and there are no students around. The isolation envelops me and I feel uncomfortable. I roll the window down–the air is cold and the night is quiet.
My phone rings, startling me.
A voice on the phone asks me a question; simple, yet ominous. I make my choice and hang up. When my phone rings a second time, I get out of the car and follow a man in a black hoodie. He leads me around a brick building and then I notice her—it’s the dead girl from the bed, the girl the Australian man (and I) killed. She’s wearing a short black skirt and a collegiate looking sweater. She enters one of the classrooms, and the man I am following enters in turn.
The room is a massive lecture hall with rows and rows of desks, and aisles leading up both sides—but it is desolate. A large projector is playing a video of a woman walking down a dark dirt path flanked by trees and brambles. The voice instructs me to take a seat and place my belongings on the desk next to me. The girl emerges from the darkness and sits at a desk next to me.
“Do not look at my face, and do not speak. I think my husband suspects things. He’s become more violent in the past few days. I think he’s having people follow me—were you followed?”
I shake my head, and she grabs my leg, squeezing it. “Follow me.”
She leads me into a back room behind the projector screen. It is dark, almost black. She pushes me into a small alcove and tells me to wait. Metallic banging breaks the silence, and I dread whatever is making that noise. I hear her answer the phone, speaking lovingly to whoever is on the other line. She’s worried; her husband is suspicious; he’s violent; they need to be careful. He wants to meet her at a hotel room. He wants the truth. She wants the truth too. She has to go.
This woman is cheating on her husband, but was the Australian man her husband—is she his wife? It seems that way, but things are never that simple. As I ponder this, I am grabbed by the throat. A man in all black leans in, “Did you come with the girl?” I nod. He seems pleased and leaves. The girl finishes her call and removes me from the alcove. She takes out a flash light and illuminates a steep, metal staircase descending into the darkness. We climb down each step carefully, and reach a second set of stairs. We continue to climb down—her dim flashlight lighting the way.
I am now in a second lecture hall. This one is almost identical to the first, but much darker—and a few students in all black sit randomly throughout the lecture hall, scribbling furiously in notebooks. The same video of a man walking a dark path is playing on the projector, and a professor lectures from behind a podium, discussing what defines the self.
The girl leads me to a desk in the middle of the classroom and instructs me to sit, leaving me alone to listen to my lesson. I notice a pen and a notepad on the desk. On the front of the notepad is a symbol drawn repeatedly in pen—and one that I don’t recognize. I begin to flip through the other pages, but realize it is far too dark to read anything. But as the video plays, some frames are brighter than the others, providing just enough illumination for me to read the words: “I’m starting to suspect she’s not where she says she is.” Her husband’s suspicions? Or her own?
I look up a few times and notice some of the students are no longer seated—they are now standing and moving towards me. I try to continue looking through the notebook, but hands wrap around my throat. Squeezing tight, I am pulled from my chair. Hands grab at my mouth and nose. I struggle to breathe, but the hands don’t move. I am dragged back into the dark back room with the stairs, and run up the stairs while my tormentor chases me. I reach the top, but before I can make it through the door, I am grabbed forcibly by the throat. They are happy to catch their prey, but want more of a chase. I am pushed through the door, stumbling back into the first lecture hall.
“Get on the floor, and crawl!”
I drop to the floor, and crawl up the aisle. My knees sting as they hit the hard surface, but I keep crawling. A flash of black, and I am on my back. A second man on his knees jumps out from a row of desks, landing right on top of me, and he is now digging his thumb into a pressure point on my chest. The pain is excruciating. I curl up into the fetal position, and he ceases his torment. But more hands, a woman’s, grab my shirt and pull me down the aisle on my back. She stops, but drops down to her knees, pinching at my sides and scratching at my chest.
When she is finished, she rolls to the side under a row of desks and disappears. Someone yells to stand, so I do. I notice a new tormentor coming up from behind me, so I run the other way—right into the arms of another man in black. His arm wraps around my neck, but then he releases me. We continue to play cat and mouse, as tormentors block my path and I climb under desks to avoid them. When they grow tired of their devious game, they close in: the man grabbing my arms and the woman my legs, as they lift me. Hanging helpless in the air, I am carried to a desk in the front of the room and thrown on top of it. The man holds my arms at my sides, and the woman lifts my shirt to claw at my skin. A third tormentor puts his arm over my mouth and nose. I can’t breathe—I kick violently, and he releases. As I gasp for air, he takes a pen out and writes the letters “D E A T H” across my stomach. They lift me from the table.
“Left or right?”
I am disoriented, my head spinning. But I manage to stammer out a “left.”
“Then go!” I am shoved to the left, and take a few steps towards a tormentor waiting for me. I approach hesitantly, but instead of grabbing me—he yells, “Run!”
I don’t even have time to think. I start to run, up the aisle towards the back of the classroom. I hear someone in pursuit behind me, so I run as fast as I can. This is no longer an event for me; I am running for my life. I reach the back of the room and notice a side door. The woman grabs at my shirt, but I’m a second too fast and make it out the door. I jump down the stairs, back into the safety of the quiet night. I keep running, and I find an elevator. I get in.
The girl, the one who will die in the hotel, is inside. She pushes me against the wall. She pulls out paper and shoves it in my mouth. She spits in her other hand.
“You’ll like this.”
She slides her hand to the front of my pants, and begins to pantomime a hand-job, as she moans into my ear. I try to enjoy it, but it’s impossible as she shoves her fingers deeper and deeper into my throat.
“Now it’s my turn. Get on your knees.”
She shoves me to the ground and begins to thrust her hips into my face. She shoves the paper even deeper into my throat.
“I want to hear you gag.”
I do, and I gag again, and again. I feel vomit come up the back of my throat, so I grab her hand pulling it out and spit onto the floor. It’s then that I notice the paper she was shoving into my throat was a Death card—I died.
I stand and she shoves me from the elevator–out of breath, disoriented, and confused. I begin to walk back. A man in black follows me behind me and grabs me by the shoulders. I take a deep breath, trying to calm down. He holds a phone to my ear and begins to play a voicemail to me. It’s the Australian man. He seems genuinely worried. “Honey, I haven’t heard from you. Are you okay? Please call me back. I love you.” Where’s his wife? Was she taken by this group like the other girls? Is he lying?
Lies are confounding, memories are misremembered, stories are incorrect. I have learned more about the backstory of the dead girl in the hotel. She’s cheating on her husband, but I’m still not convinced that man is her husband. And how does this mysterious group play into the larger picture? The pieces still don’t yet fit together. Maybe in Death I will find more answers.