He stretched his arms and back, still sitting in his office chair. He was not in an office, but rather in his room. He made his living from in here, and he just finished his gaming for today. He was one of the few people that actually could make a living from off of gaming and making videos.
Toby rose to his feet, and stretched his legs. His tired mind and body whined for him to get some rest; he was all too happy to oblige. He did not even bother to change into his pajamas before he fell face-first onto his comfortable bed. He barely had the energy to pull the blanket out from under his body and cover himself with it, but he managed to, and soon, as he snuggled himself down under the sheets, he fell into a trance-like sleep. He was even too tired to notice the strange change in the air about him; how everything seem to twist and bend, and suck him down into another dimension; at the time, he found it a comfort as it lulled him further to sleep…
Up further north of the United States, in Canada, there was a young woman, sitting awake at her computer. She was a fan of this Toby character, and enjoyed watching his videos. Quite honestly, that was the only way she could in a sense ‘play’ these video games; by watching him play them. Like many others, she found him to be funny and charming in his own way. Sadly she, also like many others, felt that she would never be able to meet him in person. It was saddening to her, but not in the least surprising.
For the past few months, she found that she could not sleep at night. She was not sure why exactly, but the fact that she could not find a job within the small town in which she dwelled did not help. She had taken to browsing videos on the internet, and had re-discovered Toby channel. She had been watching his videos for a while, but had stopped due to schooling and having, as she called it, a life. But after she graduated from high school, and she had found no job and had no funds nor desire to go onto college or university, she decided she no longer had much of a life. She had no friends to hang out with in ‘real life’, so she found great comfort in Toby’s videos. They kept her entertained, and she always looked forwards to more of his videos.
It was nearing midnight where she was. She had glanced at the time briefly before clicking on another one of Toby’s gaming videos. A few seconds in, the video suddenly froze. She frowned, and moved her hand to the mouse; a ringing abruptly sounded in her head. She shook her head, but the annoying din grew louder. Squeezing her eyes closed, she covered her ears and pushed her chair back. Though she moved no more, she could feel everything around her begin to shift and darken. Fearing that she was about to faint and possibly fall and hurt herself, she slid off the chair and purposely collapsed on the floor. She had not noticed that the lament flooring had turned to cold stone. She did notice, though, a strange sensation. She could not identify what it was exactly, but it was strongly discomforting.
After what felt like an eternity, the ringing stopped just as abruptly as it had started. She stayed still, though, in fear that it might start again. Something suddenly shifted, hitting her in the back. Chills jetted up her spine as her eyes flew open. She sat up and twirled about; gasping as she did so. She had seen the blanketed figure beside her, but that was not what gave her even stronger discomfort; it was the place they were in. Stone bricks made up the circle platform that she sat upon; the red sky above shifted angrily. This place seemed to be ancient ruins of some form; pillars surrounded them, most of them broken, and their upper halves lay across the steps which led down to more stone ground. Large hills of boulders filled in the gaps between the huge, towering buildings that surrounded the platforms; in total there seemed to be three. The air was chilled and slightly humid. She was quite glad to be wearing the thick blue hoodie that she was; also for the moccasin slippers on her feet.
She turned towards the blanketed figure.
“Hey.” she whispered, her voice cracking slightly.
The figure shifted only slightly.
“Hey. Wake up.” she dared to raise her voice a small amount, reaching out and shaking the figure’s shoulder. The figure groaned in complaint, but she ignored it as she continued to bug the person beneath the sheets.
“What?” asked an annoyed male voice, as the figure flipped over, pushing the blankets out of his face, looking at her through tired eyes. He frowned in a surprised confusion, as her eyes widened and her hand shot to her mouth.
“T-Toby?” she gasped lightly.
Toby raised an eyebrow, his face becoming a bit more awake. “Yes…Who are you? And…what are you doing here?”
“I’m Dawn… And,” she tittered. “I wish I knew.”
He began to speak, but then became aware of their surroundings. His eyes grew wider as he sat up, looking around in an alarmed fashion. “What the…” he mumbled, losing his voice.
Dawn shook her head. “I have no idea… I was just on the computer watching… well, your videos, when suddenly… I heard this ringing, and next thing I know…” she waved her arms through the air. “Here I am… and here you are. You… were sleeping I’m assuming?”
Toby nodded distantly, slowly turning his head back towards her. “Yeah; I had just fallen asleep… I’m really disoriented right now…” He ruffled his brown hair nervously as he glanced around again.
She nodded as she rose to her feet. “I know how you feel.” She gazed down upon the man still bound within his blankets; she could hardly believe that this was THE Toby whose videos she’d been watching non-stop; THE Toby that she had always been so certain that she would never meet… Of course, maybe she had actually passed out and was dreaming… But she decided that she would make like this was reality until she woke up. She then tore her gaze from him, and looked around again; excitement was replaced with disturbance as she did so.
“Do you have any idea where we are?” Dawn asked after several moments of silence.
Toby shook his head as he slowly got up to his feet. “I have no idea.” he admitted as he stretched to his full height. Dawn could not help but check him out in the corner of her eye, trying hard not to grin as she did so. He too glanced around; as his eyes landed on her, she acted as if she herself had just begun to turn her head to look at him. Luckily, she completed the move quite smoothly.
They stared at each other for a moment before he offered out his hand. “I’m sorry that I neglected my manners. Your name is?”
Dawn smirked as she accepted and shook his hand. “It’s quite alright; very understandable. I’m Dawn.”
He gave a small smile and nod as he took his hand back, continuing to look around.
“So… What do we do now?” he asked; seemingly to be directed partially to himself.
Dawn shrugged. “I’m not really sure… Look around maybe? Something might give us a hint of what to do or there might be a path to get out of here.”
Dawn nodded solidly, then turned and started down the steps of the platform, carefully. She noticed that some of the steps were broken or worn away; pieces of rock littered the ground as well. As she came off the steps, she looked over her shoulder and smirked; Toby followed behind her, and wore his blanket over his head and around himself. He made a face as he said, “What? I’m cold.”
She grinned and replied, “I didn’t say anything.”
“No, but your face did.”
She grinned harder as she turned away and continued to walk. “What you doin’; reading my face?” she asked in a goofy voice.
He made a ‘pfft’ sound before saying in a haughty voice, “Reading your face; that’s all I’m doin’.”
They both silently grinned as they moved towards the one pile of rocks that sat piled between two of the buildings. Dawn paused at the base of it; it was at least twenty feet high. Toby fell in beside her; she quickly glanced about to see if any of the other piles were smaller, but they all seemed to be about the same height.
“Well, might as well take a look-see.” Dawn sighed as she began climbing.
“Aw, man; does this mean I have to get out of my blanket?”
Dawn paused and looked back at him; he made a sad puppy-like face. She eyed his blanket and replied, “If you don’t want to risk slipping and smashing your face into the rocks, I would suggest it.”
He sighed and unraveled himself from the warmth of his blanket, leaving it at the base of the pile. He took suit and followed Dawn’s lead, climbing up the relatively steep pile. Some of the rocks shifted from their weight, causing the two to stumble a few times, but luckily they caught themselves. Toby managed to get to the top first; his face suddenly turned aghast as his jaw dropped. A light breeze blew back his messy hair dramatically.
“What is it?” she asked, as she pulled herself up to his side; her face became a mirror image of his own when she saw what was beyond the rocks.
Out beyond the rocks there was the red sky, and nothing else. There was no other side of the pile; it simply ended, and below and around was emptiness. In the far distance there seemed to be a sun-like object, but it seemed to be slowly fading into darkness; the two then realized that the entire place was slowly darkening. They looked at each other with worried expressions.
“Think it’s like this all the way around?” Dawn asked, though she felt certain that his answer would be the same as her thoughts.
“I have this bad feeling it might be.”
Dawn nodded, looking over towards the other two piles. “My gut says the same thing.”
“Should we check anyways…?” Toby asked, shaking his head slightly, narrowing his one eye.
Dawn hesitated before replying. “I suppose we could… I think we should look around first; see if there is anything that could help us figure out what the Hell is going on.”
Toby nodded in agreement as they carefully maneuvered their way back down. He scooped up his blanket and balled it up in his arms as they moved around the grounds, their eyes searching the ground around them, looking for something of use.
“Ooh, what ‘dat!?!” Toby said in a higher voice, darting off to their left. Dawn paused and looked after him for a moment before following after him. He reached out to the top of a broken pillar; it now stood only four feet tall; and said, “Gimmie!” as he snatched something from the jagged stone.
“What is it?” Dawn asked, coming to his side, looking at his hands.
“A key! That… light thing somehow reflected off this rusty thing and caught my attention.” Toby said proudly, as he opened his hand, revealing the old skeleton key.
The key was thick and though rusty, looked sturdy. The handle was large and held an intricate design. There was something unsettling about it; both Dawn and Toby felt it. But then again, there was nothing settling about this situation at all.
“Do you think it’s a master key or something?” Dawn asked, looking up and around towards the three buildings and their doors.
Toby shrugged. “I dunno. Maybe. Only one way to find out.”
Dawn nodded. “First, though, we should see what else we can find.”
Toby agreed and led them on around the circle. They managed to find a small paper box that held seven matches and an old kerosene lantern, whose red paint had mostly chipped off. It was surprisingly full of its oil; Dawn’s skin prickled. A thought had come to mind, but she decided to not share it. Not until she had to.
By the time they got back to their starting place, it was getting quite dark and hard to see anything. Toby started to yawn, but tried to hide it deep within his blankets still bundled in his arms.
“Tired?” Dawn asked, merely attempting to have conversation.
Toby nodded, his face still in the blankets. “I haven’t slept in…who knows how long, except for that short time frame before you woke me up.”
“Ah.” Dawn said, glancing about. “So I guess you’d rather sleep than seeing what that key opens?”
“Pretty much. Unless one of those buildings opens a place with a nice bed.”
Dawn’s skin crawled again. “I somehow strongly doubt it. In a place like this? I have a feeling there is nothing good behind any of those doors. If you want to sleep… I suggest you do it out here.”
Toby glanced around. “It wouldn’t be very comfortable.”
Distantly, Dawn replied, “Safety overrules comfort.”
Toby gave Dawn a curious glance. “I feel there is something behind that statement.”
Dawn looked over to Toby. “There is; my gut feeling. Over the years I have discovered that I should always listen to my gut; if I don’t, I always wind up regretting it. One way or another.”
Toby looked at her for a moment before breaking out into a grin. “Well, I suppose that it would be wise to trust your gut then. I have no idea what’s going on; I have no idea what we’re doing. Your gut at least gives us some sort of idea of what to do, or what not to do. Right?”
Dawn bobbed her head. “I agree with that statement. So yes; right.”
Toby looked around them, eyeing the area. “I suppose I could try sleeping on that platform; it at least is flat.” He looked back at Dawn, seeming to be asking for permission.
Dawn shook her head. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” She too looked around. She then spotted a large rectangle-shaped concave area located in the face of one of the buildings. “That looks like a good place,” she pointed at it. “It’s kinda small, but it’s above the ground out of reach of anything.”
“Including us…” Toby gave Dawn an amused look.
“Not if we work together.” She quickly moved towards it, Toby following behind her. Upon arriving just below it, she got down on one knee and overlapped her hands, palm up, on her raised knee. She jerked her head towards the space. “Get up.”
Toby gave a small smile and furrowed his brows. “How about you go up first; I’ll give you a boost.”
Dawn shook her head again. “That would result in me having to pull you up, and I know I’m not strong enough. You at least would be able to pull me up. This way I can get you up and I don’t have to support your weight for long.”
Toby opened his mouth to argue, but found none. He could tell by her expression that she was not going to let him win the argument anyway, so he simply said, “If you insist.” and placed the blanket beside her. Placing his hands upon the wall, he put his left foot in her hands. “Ready?” he asked.
Dawn nodded, saying “Ready.”
He boosted himself up, making a small grunt as he did so. His hands gripped the edge of the opening, and after securing his grip, he pulled his long body up to its safety. He turned himself about slightly; Dawn tossed the blanket up. He caught it, tucked it in one of the corners, then anchored himself by lying down, reaching his hand towards her. Dawn held the lamp’s handle betwixt her teeth as she tried to jump up to reach his hand. She failed. She had to take a running jump before she could reach his hand, but she made it, and he pulled her up. Once she could reach the ledge, she helped in getting her up on it. Though they were safely above the ground, Dawn’s face clearly showed that she was not at ease. She continued to search the area below with her eyes, as she removed the lamp and put it towards the back safely. Toby watched her for a moment before shifting to grab the blanket; Dawn jumped in startled of his movement; her wide eyes landed on him. After realizing that it was nothing to be concerned about, she sighed, and buried her face in her hand.
“Sorry; I’m a little bit on edge.”
“Literally.” Toby chirped.
Though her face was hidden by darkness and partially by her hand, he could see a smile creep onto her lips. She smirked and nodded. “Indeed.” She lowered her hand and grinned at him with an amused glance. She then looked back out to the area.
“Here,” Toby said, tossing one end of the blanket towards her. “Why don’t you try to sleep too? I have a feeling that we’ll be needing our rest.”
Dawn grinned. “Now how could I say no to that?” She slid as close to the back wall as she could, her legs on the other side of Toby, closer to the edge. She could not help but inwardly fan-girl at the fact that she was right next to this awesome man. Though it was neither the time nor the place to think about it, nor was she the kind of girl that would rub it in people’s faces, she knew so many girls would be jealous of her right now. Not only that, but it was partially his idea; he had given her some of his blanket. As she leaned against the wall, she found herself yawning. Toby did the same as he also leaned against the wall. Their eyes met and the connection did not break for a long while. Toby wore a small smile as his eyes shifted between her own; Dawn found herself smiling with a raised brow.
“What?” they asked each other in unison; they both laughed in response. They then broke their gaze briefly before looking at one another again.
“You seem like an interesting kind of person. Has anyone ever told you that you have a great smile?” Toby asked flirtatiously.
Dawn chuckled, blushing slightly as she looked down. “A few times,” she looked back up. “Thank you. You yourself definitely are an interesting person. I am quite honored to be in your presence; to have the chance to meet you. Mind you,” she glanced around. “I would much rather a different circumstance, but I suppose one can’t have everything.”
Toby chuckled. “I guess not.”
Dawn’s smile faded. She looked over to Toby with a serious face. “There is no way this is a dream is there?”
Toby’s face also became serious as he sighed, now looking out at the space below them. “I don’t think so. I don’t know…” He shook his head. “If this is a dream… I have never had a dream that felt quite like this.”
Dawn nodded. “My thoughts exactly. I’ve had realistic feeling dreams but… Nothing quite like this.”
Toby nodded. He then sighed and yawned. Dawn smiled.
“Have sweet dreams Toby; and sweeter awakenings.”
“Awe, that’s so sweet.” Toby said in a sugary voice. “Bless your face, girl.”
Dawn laughed quietly, snuggling into the wall, and thus slightly into Toby as well. He didn’t seem to mind as he too, snuggled towards the wall. Toby fell asleep quickly, but it took Dawn a little while longer. She had to try to shut down her system of thoughts before she could relax. She hoped and prayed that her suspicions would prove to be false; somehow in some way. With that, she too fell into slumber.