Power pistol in one hand, leaving his other hand free to open doors and such. As if being seemingly alone on this spooky derelict wasn’t bad enough, that the interference continued to keep him out of contact with Justin only made it worse. And if those random snatches of conversations and intermittent garbled voices weren’t unsettling enough from the outside looking in aboard the Maximum, in here it was almost enough to make him toss his headset. If not for the foreboding intuition that he might need it one last time if he was to have any chance of finding Max and getting out of here.
Between the fog, and most of the derelict’s window angles, he could see neither stem nor stern of the Maximum, and he found he had to increasingly take it on faith that the ship was even still out there. Just as it seemed like his friend was no longer in here.
At first he was frustrated at having no steps to retrace to catching up with Max, when it dawned on him that he did actually know his friend’s last whereabouts before all hell broke loose. The hold. Much to his dismay, he could not, for the life of him, recall any details, as his memory of that horrifying moment was dominated entirely by Justin’s panic-stricken warning to get off the ship. Now his frustration was quickly cooling into apprehension at the mere thought of going that deep into the heart of this dread vessel.
Of getting to the bottom of this, he now understood, as his resolve became an increasingly slippery thing to hang on to with each step. To resist the frantic urge to just turn back, to return to the ship. To quit pressing his luck against the Unknown and write Max off as another victim of the Twylight curse and just admit defeat.
Each step of the way, chagrined, ashamed, mortified at the thoughts he was thinking. As if he could face Justin, let alone Bandit, without Max, or at least some idea of what happened to him. Disgusted, he asked himself if he would chicken out this easily if it were John or Amy he was searching these haunted decks for. Reminding himself there was no guarantee he would get to see his old friends ever again, he could not banish the shame of even thinking about abandoning his new friend in a place like this. Never mind that Max had risked his own life to save his before, it was the principle of the thing.
At the steps leading down to the shadowy hold, he paused for a long moment, breathing deeply, pulling himself together. Steeling himself against the ordeal of the Unknown that he was so sure awaited him in those swaying, creaking depths below.
“Justin,” he said into his mic as he took the first step of his descent, “I’m going down to the hold to look for him.” The lack of a reply only served to confirm his suspicion that the interference was still on. “I’m coming, Max. Just hold on…”
With every step he took, he struggled against his own imagination trying to run wild at what he might find down here. In the midst of these ominous ruminations, a surprisingly mundane possibility occurred to him, one almost disarming in its simplicity. What if Max just got into an accident or something? After all, though he couldn’t be completely certain, but he was at least fairly sure he heard what sounded like a crash on his radio right as it started going on the fritz…
Sure enough, at the bottom of the stairs, the first thing his headlamp’s beam lit on was a stack of crates. It didn’t take much imagination to picture some of them coming loose and falling on Max. If he was unconscious, that would explain why he wasn’t responding, or even if his radio was somehow damaged in the accident…
Just when he was about to scold himself for cowering at his own shadow, when Max might be in need of more down-to-earth assistance, it dawned on him that if Max’s radio was all that was damaged, that failed to explain why he never made it back to the ship. As well as remembering that it also failed to explain why this interference was cutting him and Justin off from each other, as well, without any equipment damage. Let alone the weird noises that weren’t there before the incident.
Still, the idea that Max might be injured spurred him on as he prowled among the stacks of crates. Once upon a time, he would have considered being worried about Max getting hurt almost silly, since he seemed to be tough as nails in the survival department, but right now he was still recovering from a broken arm. That, and the fact that he had even injured his arm in the first place, as well as his wounded ankle from the Harken Building, only served to remind him that, yes, Max was tough, but by no means invincible.
Deciding that the Building was not the sort of thing he should be dwelling on right now, he continued his search for even the slightest clue to where Max was last, or where he may have gone. All the while wondering why he was so certain they were running out of time, fearing that when whatever was going to happen finally did, none of them would want to still be onboard if they wanted to have any hope of escaping this nightmare vessel.