As I asked them, quite ironically and in a rethoric manner, how the hell we were supposed to get out of this place, one thing clearly appeared to me, by the looked on their faces : they KNEW the answer !
Well, maybe they didn't exactly know the quickest way out, or else they wouldn't be hereat all, but at least they knew what to do in order to progress through this weird maze of a mall.
What I'm going to report here was told me later on, but as I put the pieces together it seems better to me, for global understanding, yours whoever you might be and, first and foremost, mine, that I should cite these words right here and now :
"You see, Adam, said Simon, this place is made of a yet undefined number of floors. Or levels, as they say. Each one has its own characteristics, although they all have some obvious things in common, like the global floor design of a mall, for instance. But otherwise, they can differ very much from one to the other : we have, amongst others, been in a level that reproduced to near perfection an artificial jungle, only filled with shoe-selling anthropophagi - cannibals, if you will - eager to strangle us with Reebok(TM) shoelaces before feasting on our inners ; on another level, or should I say plane, we were pursued by mannequins dressed in satin red underwears who were performing a strange parody of a religious celebration, in which we were to be the main attractions, in ways I will leave to your imagination to describe ; and, last but not least, I will cite the time when, long before meeting our dear Sharon, I met face to face, if I dare say so, with a living incarnation of a giant cash-register machine, whose obsession was to ask enigmas in a twisted way that only a capitalism-ridden Sphynx with the sick mind of a dollar-obsessed H.A.L. could ever dream of. But sometimes, my friend, nothing happens. Nothing at all. We just go through an empty Level, ressembling on all counts a regular, if abandonned, shopping mall. And that is usually when we meet each other, as we did you on Level 366.But sometimes, they're just resting places, between bad and worse. And God knows we need them."
"But then, I asked, how do we get out of there ?"
"Why must you always ask the obvious ?" interfered Sharon. "You should know it, by now. We find the hidden pathways, the gates to other Levels, and we go down. They are usually quite well hidden, but we're getting used to Their methods by now, as should you. So we just spot them, open, them, and go down."
"Only down is not really down, right ?" said I. "The farther down we go, the closer we get to Level One, eventually ? And then to the Exit ? The Closer to God ? Or to the Devil ?"
As always, Simon was the one to provide no answer at all.
"We don't know that for sure yet, my friend. But one thing we do know : down we must go, if we intend to find out what lies behind all of this. The staircases lead down, and Ground Zero must hold the answers we're looking for - not to mention the much expected for Exit. But this, as you witnessed, is no promenade..."
"Yeah, said Sharon, this sure as hell ain't no Stairway to Heaven."
So, as we did many times, we found the way out of this Level - 357, I believe it was at the time, - and down we went.
And, as often, much too often for my taste, Sharon was right : this sure as Hell was no Stairway to Heaven.
NEXT... NO EXIT.