Welcome to the world of Vincent unedited. I had written this as a prompt for my writing group in 2019. One of the suggestions for a story was that it was National Laugh Day. I might have taken that direction a little wrong. Enjoy.

-Vincent

The hall carried the laugh in an eerie echo. Sweat was already dripping off his brow as he ran into another wall. The darkness played tricks on his mind. The high pitched chuckle made them worse. His eyes were open as he tried to escape.

Turning left and right as he thought it may help him to escape. The curve of a room or walkway throwing off his sense of direction even more. Fatigue had settled in well before this chase. His second wind was gone as well. His feet were somehow still moving.

    He dared not close his eyes as he wandered. The vision of that face still lingered even as they were wide open. The outline started to take form as his mind wandered to what would happen if he did stop. Details started to fill in as another round of laughs haunted him. He was saved by smacking headfirst into another wall. This one had finished what the others had started. He clung to consciousness as long as he could. The slow footsteps approached and were followed by another laugh.

    Awakened was not the word for what he had done. It was difficult to tell if this was a dream or reality. The pitch black surrounded him still. His body weight was there but it didn’t seem to be his. It took a moment to realize this was a living nightmare. His head smacked against the ground as his body was being dragged. Panic struck as quick as the realization had. The next feeling he got was exhaustion. Attempts to take control of his own muscles were denied.

    He remembered the steps. This path was familiar as it was the first step to the dream of freedom.  His captor giggled as they approached their destination. His head throbbed as it bounced on step after step compounding on his headache. The light started coming back into view. The taste of sweat in the air hit his tongue and he shut his eyes. Another laugh mixed with the sobbing and crying in the room as they arrived. He dared not count how many people were left. The voices he heard confirmed that there were still at least eight more people there. Tears formed in his closed eyes as he could not watch the horror who held them or the soon to be victims.

    The warmth got closer. There were two fires in the room. One was in the middle of the circular shaped area and provided light. The other came from what he had dubbed the furnace. It was across from the entrance and was where he had tried to escape from. This time there would be no escape.

    He remembered the details of the cartoonish horror as he felt the familiar heat getting close. Another chuckle as he was lifted by his torso. The freakishly strong frame held his body weight easy over one shoulder. The painted on smile and black eyes stared at him even with his eyes still closed. The laugh seemed to come from behind a mask. It was a mask that did not exist.

    The fire was close now. His back sweltered as he was at the entrance of the furnace. His arms did not have the strength to fight again. The high pitched laugh echoed once more in his head as he gave in. He could feel his body become weightless and then falling through to eternity.