Matilda tosses and turns in her sleep, her brow dripping with sweat. Her bed is tucked into a corner of a room otherwise covered with half-finished projects and parts mechanical and electric. As she twitches fitfully, her boot – she’s collapsed into bed fully dressed late into the night as usual – kicks a gear-and-chain assembly to the floor, but Matilda doesn’t wake.
In her dream, she’s walking down a hallway. The walls are brick and the floor is concrete stained with oil and grease. At the end of the hall is a wooden door, the red paint well-worn and flaking. Behind the door, the dreamer can hear the rhythmic hissing and thumping of a machine.
If Matilda opens the door, turn to page 30
If Matilda tries to wake herself from the dream, turn to page 34
Matilda’s player chooses page 30.
In the dream, Matilda’s steps click in time with the thumping rhythm of the unseen machinery as she approaches the door. Greasy hand-prints surround the doorknob; she reaches out and opens the door.
The room beyond is dark, yet she can see that the walls are covered with pistons, dials, and thousands of interlocked gears.
Between the gears are a hundred human arms, crushed and sucked in between the teeth farther with each pulse. Though there is no sound beyond the thump of the machinery, she can feel them scream in pain. The arms flail, their fingers spasming with pain.
Except for one. One arm reaches for her.
If Matilda goes away from the arm, turn to page 60
If Matilda goes towards the arm, turn to page 34
Matilda’s player chooses page 34. Brave!
As Matilda approaches, the rest of the room fades away, leaving only the single arm, reaching, desperate. Without knowing why, she begins running, reaching. The arm is receding; Matilda’s fingers brush against the outstretched hand. Both are grasping, desperate to connect, but the blood slicking the arm prevents a good hold. Finally, the arm is pulled away and sucked between the gnashing gears.
Matilda falls to her knees, sobbing uncontrollably, though she doesn’t know why. Tears drip from her face onto her bloodstreaked hanwake up, Matilda, wake up. Matilda, you have to wake up. Turn to page ض
End of interstitial! Short but hopefully creepy. And full of meaning, of course.