I have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever of how I wound up here. As a matter of fact, I have no idea of where "here" is. No idea at all.
When I came to myself, I was just standing in this place. Didn't remember how I got there, or where I was previously. Not a clue.
In front of me, just a plain, bare wall. I turned around, only to see I was in a relatively small passageway of what looked like a shopping mall. Only, all stores appeared to be closed, as could be testified by the iron curtains draping their façades as if in mourning. Must be night, I thought, all stores shut 'till morning.
So, how did I get inside ? Did I fall asleep or got drunk, and take to my senses at night, leaving all the security staff unaware ? And was there any guardian now ? From what I could see, that seemed improbable at best.
The lightning was odd,in this place. You'd think the people owning or running a place like this could afford proper lightning. If they could, then they didn't put it up at night. But I realised it wasn't even the case : it wasn't just that some lights were off for the night, they were just plain missing. And the bulbs were no modern neons strategically disposed for better enhancing of the merchandise, but just stupid lightbulbs hanging preposterously from used wires, without any of the supposedly regular safety devices. It even looked kind of insanitary, with some naked wires, lights flashing on and out, water dripping from places, all kind of dangerous for this type of installation. Except of course if nobody came here anymore. But then, why not cut the current ?
It was as if this place had been left over to die by itself.
All of these details I could see because they were, of course, at the source of the illumination, but all the rest was, to say the least, approximative, some spots being deprived of light altogether, others being lighted by the ghost of what would once have been a live lightbulb. The light was barely enough at first to guide my way without bumping into walls. Then my sight adapted to the semi-darkness, and I wandered about, trying to find an exit.
But there was none. No apparent way out. No window liable to give way to the outside world if not for the dreaded iron curtains. No nothing. For as long as I could tell by walking in the same direction for a mighty long while, it didn't even look like this level had an end, horizontal-wise.
So I began to look for a hint of an elevator, a stairway, a plan, anything that could help in telling me how to get the hell out of here.
That's how I found the Panel.
It was old, rusted, smear-ridden. I didn't even want to try to guess at what origins these stains could possibly have. Anyway, I used my trenchcoat's sleeve to wipe it off, hoping it didn't bear anything contagious. And, progressively, the text of the panel revealed itself to me, like some occult scribbling suddenly giving its esoteric code away. Only, it just raised more mystery.
Level 366, it read. Great. Now, I really knew where I was...