This fills the “locked in” square in the Trope Bingo Card.
Names from Fourteen Minutes‘ generator.
“All right. This is looking bad.” Richan frowned at the door.
“Looking. Looking.“ Cathuyet shook her head. “I’m not sure looking bad is the phrase you’re looking for.”
“Would you shut up and let me work?”
“No. No, I won’t. And I’ll tell you why.” She pushed the lantern into her partner’s hands. “Because we have twenty-five minutes to get out of here. Failure is in no way an option.”
“I know, I know.” Richan paced around the room for what had to be the seventieth time. “There could be another way out.”
“There is most definitely another way out.” Cathuyet’s voice was level, but she wasn’t paying her partner much attention anymore; she had a small ball of light floating over the lock mechanism and was tapping at things with a tiny hammer. “I can think of at least four.”
“What?” Richan paused in the pacing to stare at Cathuyet’s back. “Then why- Oh. That hardly counts.”
“Well, they’re exits.”
“At least the first one would dump us into the lake. We’d almost certainly survive. Can you bring the lantern over here and look at the top left lock? I think we need to focus on that one and the bottom right one at the same time.”
“We might survive, but what about everyone else?” Richan obligingly hung the lantern on a hook in the ceiling and began examining the lock in question.
“Well, that’s why we’re not taking those routes.” Cathuyet peeked up. “Richan, do you hear that…”
“Grinding sound? Yeah. Yeah, that sounds… shit.”
Richan reached for the lantern. “That hook – damnit, rookie mistake.”
Cathuyet stopped Richan with a grab to the wrist. “No, leave it. Remember what happened back in the labyrinth.”
Richan froze, and then, very slowly, nodded. “Right. Once you’ve set something off, minimize other factors. Like in the lake trap. Blasted waters, I hope that Edmose got out all right.”
“It’s a lake. Right now, Edmose has as good a chance of survival as we do.” She tilted her head and leveled her breathing.
“I can’t believe…”
“Richan, stop beating yourself up – this place is made to cue mistakes like that – and act like the safecracker you are. Listen.“
The younger thief did as instructed; soon the only sounds in the room were very measured, quiet breathing and the creaking of the mechanisms. Creaking. Everything here was relatively new; nothing should be sounding that decrepit. That meant…
Richan jammed a stiletto into a hole just as it opened. The gear-creaking sound clicked, clicked again, pushed against the knife… and stopped. With no sound at all, a door slid open.
“Richan, you’re a genius.” Cathuyet used a mirror on a stick to check out the passageway ahead. “Clear in all directions. And so are we. With twelve minutes to spare.”
“Only if we get the idol and get out of the final chamber before the time tips over.” This entire set-up had been built on a balance board, with only the hour-timer keeping it from flopping sideways.
“Right.” She wiggled through the entranceway – and stopped.
Cathuyet was choking, soft laughter that shook her shoulders. “There’s another blasted door. We’re still locked in.”
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