There really was no reason at all to feel afraid but that didn’t stop the chills shivering up her spine. Her neck felt cold and clammy and her palms were sweaty, and no matter how much she rationalised her surroundings in her head these feelings would not leave her.
Taking a couple of deep calming breaths and repeating the mantra “there is nothing to fear but fear itself”, she straightened her spine as much as she was able and opened the door. It should have creaked eerily, but it didn’t, it opened smoothly as if the hinges had been recently oiled. The thick carpet in the corridor muffled any noise from her shoes as she took a step forward. The length of the hallway seemed endless, she knew in reality that it wasn’t, but her mind was playing tricks on her and making suggestions that were pretty ridiculous. She’s never been bothered by these kind of feelings and thoughts on Halloween before, she really must pull herself together.
As she walked along the corridor she noticed that all the doors that opened onto it were numbered but they were not sequential, in fact they did not appear to form any kind of pattern at all, not prime or odd or anything she could think of, just random. The number that caught her attention was 78, that was a good number. She’d met James in 1978 and they had spent a wonderful year in love and a good part of it in bed, her one and only affair. She moved slowly on looking at each door…..three along from 78 was 64, the year she left school, left home, left the old life behind. The lights suddenly flickered and went off, she was in total darkness. Did she really breath that loudly?
She put her hands out in front of her and turned slightly so she could feel the wall and the doors as she slowly moved onwards along the hall. She thought she could hear a distant noise, like a…..like a drumbeat….perhaps someone was starting their Halloween celebrations….a party maybe? Well she was too old for parties now and once she found the exit she could head for home. Wait a minute. Home? Where was home? In fact why wasn’t she at home now? She didn’t remember going out and she wasn’t wearing a coat - what on earth was she doing here and how did she get here? Even worse - where was here?
She started to tremble and breath harder.
What was that? A noise. She held her breath and tried to still herself and stretch her ears to identify the sound. A pattering like rain maybe…was she close to the roof? There were no windows as there was no source of natural light. The lights flickered on and off, then on again briefly….the doors where still there but they had changed colour, she was sure they had all been white but now they were red and instead of numbers there were words printed on them……’Sorrow, Joy, Lust, Wishes’ what was going on? She pinched herself on her forearm as hard as she could and shut her eyes tight for a few seconds. When she opened them again, she was still in the corridor but the doors were back to being white and numbered. The pattering noise seemed louder and closer and so did the musical drum beat but she hadn’t moved for minutes and she couldn’t see anything other than the corridor and the doors…….
She rubbed her face in a tired and resigned way. There was only one thing to do, carry on along the corridor. The next door along was numbered 52 and it was just slightly ajar. Swallowing convulsively, as if it would give her courage, she pushed against the door lightly and called out “Hello”. The door swung open, bright light flashed, she felt sick and dizzy and as if she had been on a merry-go-round - her head was spinning. Her vision cleared, she had somehow moved into the room and the doorway was now just behind her. She gasped, the whole room was like being in a cinema. A scene opened up before her………..
(Copyright P Lainchbury 2012)