Professor James Ellery, Adam, Molly, and Jim left the lecture hall and entered a hallway. It seemed oddly incongruous with the door they had just left, and extended out further than expected. Molly looked around, confused, and picked a door at random to go in. Adam shouted after her “Wait! I don’t think-” but she was through the door and into the other room already. Adam hurried after her. When Professor Ellery took a different turn, Jim started to follow him, then turned around and started to follow Adam and Molly, then turned around again. “Wait! I don’t think she would split up. Something weird is… where did you guys all go?” he shouted, to no response. He turned back in the direction Molly and Adam had gone. A door down the hall that way was swinging in place. Jim hobbled that way and opened the door and passed through.
The portal device had been scanning the skies for a full day at this point. To do this, it had opened a series of small portals, looked through them, shut them down - or at least, it was supposed to - readjusted itself, and repeated the process, each time narrowing in on its target. In the process, the local geometry of the normal, every day world of matter near the portal device, had grown warped. Things had rearranged themselves. Doors led to places they hadn’t before, and it was only through the merciful inability of the human mind to directly observe the world as it is - our senses filter out an enormous amount of information that we could not deal with if we were forced to process it all - that this had not been immediately obvious. The picture painted on the mind by the brain-eye team was one of a building with incongruous rooms, a patchwork collection of places picked up and dropped together from various parts of the local geography - all throughout the University. This was just the closest-to-sane approximation that the human brain could come up with. The truth was something far worse, and utterly incomprehensible. The degree that they did not comprehend it, the wandering students did not suffer.
Adam was beginning to panic. He was increasingly certain that this was not any building he had seen on campus before, and he had started to recognize individual rooms as he ran heedlessly through the maze, searching for Molly. His prized willpower and determination were the only things keeping him from a full panic, and he was uncertain what he would do if he found an exit before he found Molly. He moved headlong through hallway after hallway, a storage room, a student lounge, a room containing fossils, seemingly lifted from the museum, a wing of the library, and then into a corridor containing busts of all the Deans of previous years. He stopped to catch his breath and see if he could recognize anything around him, when lightning struck perilously close by. He jumped in fright, bumped into one of the pedestals carrying a bust, set it to wobbling, and started a chain reaction. The pillars fell, knocking each over like dominoes. He ran around the room, trying to catch them, and when the last one teetered on top of the tallest pedestal behind him, he did not see it, and when it fell, the granite model of the current Dean’s head colliding with his own, it hit him harder than any football player had. His knees buckled and he blinked away stars, trying to retain consciousness.
Molly opened the dark wooden door into a lush greenhouse. Small animals she couldn’t quite see rustled in the undergrowth and the branches overhead. She strode through the garden. She’d known that Miskatonic had a greenhouse, but she hadn’t ever been inside it before. She hadn’t even been sure where it was. The more she thought about it, the more she realized that its location didn’t make much sense, architecturally. The great glass wall seemed like it butted up against where another room was, if she remembered the layout of the hall correctly. Either that or there was a door in the hall which didn’t lead anywhere. But whatever, she wasn’t going to question it, she was just enjoying the warmth and foliage. And if she got to play with the squirrels she could hear moving about, then all the better. She loved small, dumb animals - she joked that was why she liked Adam so much. She spent some time admiring the trees before realizing that she was alone in the room. “Adam? Jim? Professor Ellery? Er, sorry, James?” she called out, but got no response. Just then, a thunderous crack of lightning flashed down, just outside the great glass window. She was facing away when it hit, and the light from it poured into all of the nooks and crannies that before had been barely lit by the heat lamps used to keep the greenhouse warm in the winter. She saw, in stark relief, that there were no squirrels in the room, and the things that were there had iridescent, rectangular pupils, and far too many teeth.
Adam woke up with Molly standing over him, her hands on her hips. He had a not unpleasant view of her from this angle, and he was glad she wasn’t quite so “forward thinking” as to wear skirts. “Come on, up you get, dumbo,” she said, reaching down and grabbing his hand. He looked down at the rubble in the hallway and let her help him up. “You’ll have to pay for what you did here,” she said. He was looking down and away from her face while he was standing up, but as she said that, he looked up and into a horribly deformed slab of flesh barely recognizable as a face. The mouth was more vertical than horizontal, perpetually drooling, only one eye was visible, and the nose was very nearly a smear. It tried to smile at him.
Jim opened the door and found himself in a professor’s office. He recognized it as the office of Professor Warren Rice, his professor of classical languages. He had been in this office many times before, when trying to get help understanding Greek. This wasn’t how he normally got there, though. That hallway didn’t normally lead to this room. Jim wished desperately for a sense of normalcy, and it was perhaps that impulse which made him pick up the copy of T. E. Lawrence’s translation of the Odyssey from the cluttered desk. Underneath it, he saw a scrap of parchment, with a familiar five pointed sigil on it, and a number of handwritten notes. Not picking it up, Jim walked around the table and sat down in the desk. He spread the papers out from around it, and brought his face closer to it to examine it it - it was written primarily in Arabic, but there were notes in Greek surrounding it. The Arabic he had no chance at understanding, but the Greek he could at least try to struggle his way through. “Something about… a barrier? A stopper?” he asked the air, speaking to himself. “A stopper, not quite like a bathtub stopper, that’s βούλωμα, and this is σταματών, it specifically stops… motion through a πύλη, what does that mean, um, a door? No, that’s πόρτα, this is… a gate? A crossing? It’s like a pylon, at the front of an Egyptian temple. Wait, I think it means a porta-” his words were cut short by the thunderous bolt of lightning behind him. It was unfortunate that he was on that side of the desk and couldn’t use it as shelter, but fortunate that his back was turned and he was sitting in Professor Rice’s large, solid backed chair, because the large plate glass window exploded at the force of the lightning bolt. Imploded, really, sending huge shards of razor sharp glass flying into the room. Blades of nearly invisible silicon embedded themselves in the chair behind him, and sliced at his arms, the top of his head, and ears. Everything that wasn’t in the shadow of the chair was in danger. He was frozen by shock and stood stock still for a long moment after the blast, as his sight returned to him - even facing away from it, the room had been blindingly illuminated - and he got a sense of the injuries that had befallen him. His left ear was sliced nearly in two. His arms had mostly superficial cuts on them. His hair had small chunks of glass embedded through them and into his scalp, and he could tell he was bleeding from there. His good leg was untouched, by some miracle that he immediately said a silent “danken G-t!” for, but his bad leg had a number of small cuts on it and a single, large piece of glass embedded an inch deep into his calf. He sat back into the chair gingerly, making sure not to sit in any glass, and reached down and grabbed the sliver of glass. His leg felt oddly numb. He could see the Achilles’ Tendon standing out against his atrophied muscles. The glass had barely missed it. If he wasn’t careful pulling it out, he would permanently injure himself. “Oh no,” he said out loud, sardonically, “If I mess this up, I might not ever walk normally again!” With that, he pulled the piece of glass out in one quick motion and threw it across the room. His leg muscle relaxed; his tendon was fine. He grabbed Professor Rice’s scarf from off the hat stand in the corner, shook it and ran his fingers over it to ensure it wasn’t full of pieces of broken glass (it had a few, which he removed), and wrapped it around his leg as tightly as it could. It made a poor, porous impromptu bandage, but it was better than nothing. He got to one foot, grabbed his cane (which was covered in nicks, but still fully functional, and hobbled out of the room, taking great care that his stock feet not get cut on the shards of glass littering the room. “I understand, you thought I was taking it for granted, I was having too easy of a time walking and so you just wanted to make sure I appreciated it, is that it?” he asked the heavens in a mocking tone.
Adam woke up with Molly standing over him, her hands on her hips. He had a not unpleasant view of her from this angle, and he was glad she wasn’t quite so “forward thinking” as to wear skirts. “Come on, up you get, dork,” she said, reaching down and grabbing his hand. He looked down at the rubble in the hallway and let her help him up. “You’ll have to pay for what you did here,” she said. He was looking down and away from her face while he was standing up, but as she said that, he looked up and into something like the exploded innards of a clock, gears horribly gnashing against each other, springs taught beyond their ability to hold tension, all grinding, grinding incessantly, drawing him in towards it, like it wanted to kiss him.