INHERITANCE VII

Ever since I found Castile’s last journal entry, I’ve been looking for his account of Hazel Lawley’s funeral. I can’t find it anywhere. This is what I mean when I say it feels like information is being deliberately hidden from me.

A few days ago, I felt like I was alone here. Empty, I think I said. I felt like I was disturbing a grave site. But since I found the servants’ corridors, that’s changed.

I mean, it might have something to do with finding an actual corpse, but I feel like I’m being watched all the time now. At this point, I know better than to chalk that up to mundane anxiety. I’m not seeing things - not exactly. You know the feeling you get when you enter an empty room and you know someone was just there? I keep thinking someone is standing right behind me. I turn around, and there’s nothing.

Am I just desperate for an easy answer to all this? I keep digging and digging because I’m telling myself, over and over, that there’s some kind of explanation buried in all these documents. A cure to this sickness. Something that will let me finally leave the estate and get out of here and never look back.

But what if there is no explanation? What if I’m just screwed?

I really like video games. Kind of a favorite hobby of mine. Before I got into urban exploration, I played a lot in my spare time and the thing about video games is that there’s always, always a way out. It’s bad game design if you can play yourself into a corner. I’ve seen people go to crazy lengths trying to softlock games, just to see if they can trap themselves at a point where they can’t advance or retreat. Trying to make themselves stuck. It’s hard to do.

One of the first things I learned when I started exploring buildings is that it’s way, way easier to do that in real life. A ceiling collapses and leaves you trapped. A piece of rubble falls and breaks your leg, and no one knows where you are. Or you fall through a weak floor. Or you get lost in a series of endless tunnels with no light and no cell reception. What happens then? You get lucky or you die. The world doesn’t build escape routes for you. Sometimes there isn’t an answer.

I know I’m going to die. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen him, wandering around, always moving away from me when I glance out the windows or step outside. Coughing up blood and white specks, falling to his knees, getting up again. That’s going to happen to me, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

I thought it was tied to the estate somehow, this premonition thing, but then Jackdaw wrote about it in his journal and as far as I can tell he didn’t have anything to do with this place. There has to be something connecting them, right? Some kind of common thread?

Why do I keep going back to this as if it’s a puzzle for me to solve? I guess it’s because the alternative is that I just lie down and wait for the end. Is that what I’m doing now? Playing a game? Solving a puzzle with no real point? I could just go home. See Quinn and Simon again before this sickness gets me.

But I won’t. I can’t. I don’t want to. Maybe there is a way out of this, and maybe it’s hidden here, and if I look hard enough maybe I can save myself. Deep breaths, Ben. I won’t let this happen to me. I won’t let this happen to me. I can fix this. I CAN FIX THIS. I can figure this out.

I barely made it back after my call with Quinn. My hands are still shaking. I’m still nauseous. It hasn’t ever lasted this long before, not while I’m at the estate. I didn’t tell her what was really going on. Maybe I should have. But I can’t shake this fear I have. This feeling that if I talk about it, I could spread it to her.

If I really am trapped here, I’m not going to trap her with me.