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You are alone.
You look to the left, and to the right. The fluorescent lighting above your head details white-painted cinderblock walls and glints off puddles on the floor. You are in a dimly-lit hallway that turns sharply and disappears into darkness in either direction,
[[and you are alone.]]You walk to the right, because you are right handed. Unless you are left handed, in which case you go right anyway. You reach the corner and step into a less well-lit hallway, which is saying something.
It is darker, the standing water is more extensive,
[[and you are still alone.]]You can hear tinny, nonaggressive music being played somewhere in the distance, and you walk toward it. You spare a glance for the doors on either side of you. Their windows are dark, and you walk a little faster.
You step into the room at the end of the hallway, which is lit. And it is brightly lit. Rows of ancient computer banks whirr quietly. The music, simple and inoffensive, comes from a small radio resting on a desk next to a monitor. You turn it off. In the music's absence, you realize
[[you are alone.]]On the other side of the room is a projector set up on a table, facing a large white screen, ready to go. The lid next to the carousel of slides is labeled "THE EARLY YEARS."
You pick up one of the slides and hold it up to the light. It shows two people standing a few feet where you are now, smiling and looking at a large sheet of paper. Their smiles seem cruel, or possibly uncomfortable. You toss the slide onto the table and try the door behind the screen. It is old, with a window blocked by a checkered yellow curtain on the other side of the glass. It is locked.
After a moment's consideration, you remember that
[[you are alone]]and you punch a hole in the glass. The door opens into a kitchen. The room is dark, besides the light that seeps in through the yellowing venetian blinds.
A jar of tomato paste stands on the counter next to the Frigidaire. The Frigidaire itself is empty, save for a mysterious brown stain on the bottom. You open drawers until you find a can opener and a plastic spoon. You open the can of tomato paste and begin to eat it. As you eat your tomato paste, you wander over to the window. You open the blinds.
[[You're alone.]]The light flickers again and you come back to yourself. You hurry forward in the dark with the fingers of one hand dancing along the wall and the other hand—your dominant hand—stretched out in front of you. The light goes on, and you see an emergency exit door in front of you. The red exit light has gone out.
You press on the crossbar, and an alarm does not sound. Light spills into the hallway like honey. You stare at the world for a moment, not sure if you're ready to take this step. You could go back into the building and forage for more tomato paste.
On second thought, you are definitely ready to take this step.
[[You are alone in this world.]]You let the blinds fall closed and sit down at one of the tables. You finish eating the tomato paste.
When there is no more tomato paste, you leave the can on the table and stand up. A glance around the room reveals a second door, next to the Frigidaire. This door is not locked. You open it a crack and sneak a peak around the doorframe. Another hallway stretches off into the darkness. A fluorescent light flickers on, and then winks out. You open the door all the way and take a step into the darkness.
The door shuts automatically, and you try the handle again. Now it is locked. As you stand in the dark and the silence, the possibly infinite dark silence, it sinks in for the first time:
[[You really are alone.]][[Start over?]]