In case it wasn’t very clear in the first part of “Trapped,” the characters CAN see color, it’s just not very common. The only color they have in their world that isn’t black, white, or grey is the color of the doors, fire, and Hope’s eyes. Even their blood is grey. Thus, they know what color is, but not the variety.
Hope slid down the edge of the wall, easing off the slope and dropping the steep drop to the ground. Landing on a pile of grey ashes, she stood up and brushed herself off, then stepped away and shook the ash off her old shoes.
“Ready?” Melody asked her brightly, brushing back her dark grey hair.
“Sure am.” Hope grinned at her older sister. “Where’s your boyfriend? Shouldn’t he be here?”
Melody shrugged. “Jay was moved to the afternoon patrol because he has to fill in for Kestrel.”
“Why, what happened to him?”
“He says he fell off a ledge into Second Lake, but he wouldn’t say why he was there. Probably trying to fish again.” Melody grinned. “Anyway, Angel forced him to stay in the Hole until he stopped shivering.”
Hope glanced back up at the series of ledges that led to the Hole In The Wall, where she and everyone else in the Colorless Echo Maze had decided to set up camp. They cared for each other there; everyone had the same goal, to leave the Echo, but until that happened, they were all lumped together, so they made the best use of it.
“So how’s your boyfriend doing?” Melody poked Hope teasingly.
Hope shrugged. “Sam’s doing fine. Why?”
“Just wondering. Let’s go.” Melody led the way, dashing down the long corridor and turning left. Hope followed close behind, not wanting to lose her even though she had the entire Echo memorized.
After a series of several turns, Melody skidded to a stop near the edge of a grey lake that lapped at the stone and stretched so far that Hope could barely see the wall on the other side. They skirted around the edge, gripping the stone, until they came to a series of soaked stepping-stones half concealed in the calm water. Balancing on them, they hopped across to a larger rock cluster in the middle of the lake just large enough for both of them to sit on.
Melody kicked off her shoes and sat down at the edge, her toes trailing in the grey water. She patted the space next to her, inviting Hope to sit with her. Hope did so, taking off her shoes and setting them neatly next to Melody’s before sitting carefully on the edge of the wet rock.
“So.” Melody leaned over the water, staring at her reflection. “Excited about your visit to the Hall of Fate?”
Hope sighed. “I don’t know,” she confessed. “I’m scared of what I’ll find.”
“I remember when I was about to go,” Melody recalled. “Three years ago now. I was so terrified. What if I was destined to die soon? What if I became a bad person, or fell prey to the Darkness? I was just as worried as you are now.
“When I went to see my Fate,” she continued, “I was just wishing for a good life. When I faced my file, I took a deep breath, and thought, This is it. I decided I shouldn’t be afraid to face my future.
“Of course, I don’t remember my Fate now, no one can after they see it, but I do know it turned out to be good, and that’s good enough for me.” She leaned back to look at Hope again. “You’re different, we can all see that. One of the few with the courage to go into the Concrete Plains, and the only one brave enough to spend the night there. Your eyes are that strange color, when everything around us is black or white or grey, even if the gate’s a different weird color. We all know you’re different, but it doesn’t have to be in a bad way if you don’t make it something bad. Don’t be afraid to face your future, Hope. It’ll come whether you like it or not.”
Hope sighed again, watching the grey water of First Lake lap at the rocks. “Thanks, Melody. It’s nice to know I’ll have your support.”
Melody put a hand on Hope’s shoulder. “Whatever happens, I’m still your sister.”
“And I’m still yours.” Hope smiled, standing up. “We should be heading back now.”
“Right.” Melody stood up too, and both of them slipped on their shoes. Melody led the way as they hopped over the stepping-stones and raced through the corridors back to the Hole.
Hope skidded to a stop as she came to a three-path fork. “Melody?” she called. “Where’d you go?”
She frowned. She hadn’t been paying attention to where they were going, so she had no way of knowing which fork in the Echo she was at. She contemplated climbing the walls, but she had left her rope with Sam. She remembered standing up, making sure to not disturb Sam, who was still under the blanket with her from the night before, then unbuckling her rope and some other tools from her belt to make it lighter. She now regretted it.
She chose a path at random, the right fork, and began to walk. Before long, she reasoned, I’ll find a wall-mark to go by.
That didn’t happen.
Where am I? she wondered, her hands trailing along the walls. It had gotten steadily darker, despite the fact that the lighting never changed in the Echo, and now she was ready to turn back, for she had never been here before.
She whirled around and began to run; Melody would no doubt be looking for her right now. Turn after turn, she darted through the monotonous grey corridors, skirting around corners, and finally skittering to a stop at the edge of Third Lake.
She fell to her knees at the edge of the water, gasping for breath. A dull pain pounded in her head, and she found she couldn’t even focus on the stones at the edge of the water. She splashed some of it on her face, trying to clear her head with the shock of the cold water, but nothing happened; if anything, everything blurred out even more.
A cold chill crept over her. Images began to flash before her eyes, so fast she almost couldn’t see them. She was running through the Concrete Plains where the statue had once stood, fleeing from an unseen evil. The image flickered and changed; she was looking up at the purple gates that marked the entrance to the Echo as they slowly creaked open. Then she was leaping into a fire-colored expanse that she couldn’t identify. The scene changed, one after another, until she began to forget them, just waiting for it to be over.
As she laid by the edge of the lake, hand trailing in the water, one image burned into her mind as she slipped out of consciousness: herself, floating in darkness, staring at a door of white light that she would never be able to open.
The stones on the bank flickered red, then turned black.