From an office in Ohio, three ordinary people step into an alternate world of magic and nonstop danger.
***Excerpt from Chapter 12: "The cubicle robots!"***
Without speaking further, they began walking back in the other direction, their hands trailing along the railing. Hugh looked over the edge. Although the bottom of the chasm was shrouded in darkness, a small bit of light penetrated. He caught a quick glimpse of movement, and what sounded like a snort.
Hugh was already beginning to develop his own pet theories about the nature of Lakeview Towers. But these were thoughts that he needed to put on a shelf for the time being. They could be explored at leisure later on, after he had put significant distance between himself and this office complex that wasn't quite an office complex. He now accepted the fact that some unusual phenomena were occurring here; and they couldn't be explained away by any reasonable factors of causation. There was no technology that allowed doors to simply disappear into walls. And if such cutting-edge technology did exist, there was certainly no reason for it to be employed in an office building. More troublesome, though, were the creatures that had been with them in the storage room--and the creatures that were apparently below them in that pit.
"Do either of you see anything?" Evan asked. There was darkness in the distance ahead of them, darkness to the right beyond the railing, and rows and rows of cubicles immediately on their left.
"I don't see anything yet," Hugh said. "Nothing that we haven't all seen already."
But suddenly they all heard something. It was like the sound of a large copy machine or a piece of industrial equipment coming to life. They stopped in their tracks, and turned in the direction of the sound.
In one of the adjacent cubicles, partially hidden by the enclosure's front wall, stood a snow-white humanoid shape that could only be described as a robot. Its features were rough and blocky; but the contours of a head, torso, and arms were clearly distinguishable. The robot's legs and hands were hidden behind the cubicle.
The face of the robot was a simple screen, like a small computer display. A red light flickered behind the screen. The robot had likely been there when they'd walked past this spot a few minutes ago, traveling in the opposite direction. But the machine had been dormant then. They had woken it up with their talking and movement, perhaps.
Before any of them could formulate a reaction to the shock of this new complication, they heard multiple repetitions of the same noise: This wasn't the only robot in the room. There were others, and they were all coming to life, alerted by the three human intruders. Scattered throughout the cubicles ahead of them, numerous red lights appeared about six feet off the ground.
"What the--" Evan began, but he was silenced by the shock of what came next. There was a pneumatic hiss, and the robot in the cubicle nearest them raised its arms from behind the partition. Both upper limbs were equipped not with the mechanical hands that would have been expected, but with large, metallic shears that glinted in the weak ambient light. The shears were disproportionately long. Either set could have severed a human limb--or a human neck, for that matter.
Evan, Hugh, and Amanda all began to back up; it was obvious that they couldn't continue forward, as that would mean moving toward the awakening robots. The single one closest to them was threatening enough. With a jerky start, it made a lurching movement in their direction, easily toppling the cubicle partition in the process. Now the lower half of the robot came into view: In lieu of legs, the robot was equipped with a wheeled platform. The wheels rolled over the fallen cubicle partition without slowing down.
The robot was rolling toward them now at a steady speed that approximated the brisk walking pace of a fit person. Its shears-bearing arms were outstretched, vaguely reminding Hugh of a large, metallic crab. Even more alarming was the fact that the other robots in the room--all similarly armed, by the look of them--were beginning to close in on them as well.
The robots were driving them backward, toward the wall. Had there been no cubicles, they could have outflanked their attackers. But the endless rows of cubicles boxed them in. They would eventually be driven into a corner between the wall and the railing, where they would be forced either to jump into the abyss, or to face perhaps a dozen of those rolling, clearly hostile machines....