She must have dozed off, sitting on the floor, lost in her memories, because the next thing she knew was her neck hurt and her left foot had gone to sleep. She raised her head and blinked slowly. No change. Still in a corridor, noises still present. She shook her head to try and clear the cobwebs that sleep had built in her mind but no clear thoughts or explanations presented themselves to her.
Slowly she stood up. The lights seemed to be flickering constantly now, as if all the bulbs were about to blow at once. Her mind was fighting itself, one second resigned, the next angry, the following bewildered and afraid. She had no choice it seemed, no-one had found her, there was still no sign of an exit, so she had to keep moving forward…..or…… what about back the way she’d come? She’d entered the hallway through a door - an entrance which most likely was also an exit! She turned on her heel and walked briskly back the way she’d come. The first door she’d really noticed had been number 78, all she had to do was go back there and surely just on from that would be where she’d entered. She increased her pace, feeling more energised, she couldn’t run but she wanted out of here as quickly as she could damn well manage it.
The numbers were still in an odd order - but where was 78? She been walking for quite a few minutes at a good pace she should have reached it by now, for that matter she hadn’t yet seen the door numbered 64 either. She stopped, put her hands on her hips and spun round to the look the way she’d come, over her shoulder the door was numbered 52, it was as if she hadn’t moved at all. The most ridiculous thought she’d ever had entered her mind and she mentally scoffed at her self for being so stupid as she thought it “it is as if the corridor would not let her move in any direction but forward”. She shook her head again, mentally chastising herself for thinking such things.
Well if she couldn’t move back then forward it was then.
She wondered just how long she’d been here. She wasn’t wearing a watch and she had no idea of the time of day. If she didn’t remember even coming here or where here was then there was no way at all to measure how long she’d been walking in this corridor. The flickering of the lights had started to hurt her eyes and she could feel the beginnings of a headache in her temples. She looked to her left and to her surprise there was another door that was ajar but this one had no number on it at all.
“Oh well’ she thought “in for a penny, in for a pound.” She didn’t bother calling out, she just pushed the door open and stepped through. Another blinding flash of light, the same dizzying dip and swirl and then………
She was in a room about 8ft by 8ft, it felt warm and claustrophobic. There was a damp musty smell and apart from a pile of rags in the corner it was empty. The pile of rags shifted slightly, a coughing sound emerged from them followed by a face. A male face, gaunt and painfully thin, the skin looked liked paper, the eyes were red and rheumy, the whites yellowed the pupils were the smallest of pinpricks. The hacking cough continued for a while then stopped suddenly. The eyes focused straight on her, a grimy veined hand with blackened nails was drawn out from the rags and reached out toward her….he spoke with a voice that sounded cracked as if he had not spoken for years “Ay it’s our Alice, sure it is, after all this time, you found yer old Dad.” She stepped back in alarm. “Nay lass don’t be a feared, you don’t recognise me then? But you was not much more than a bairn when I left were you?” She moved again, her back was against the wall, she had nowhere else to go, for the life of her she couldn’t seem to see the door, she felt trapped.
The ragged figured tried to rise and managed to make it to his knees, his face implored her to reach out to him, his hand stretch further forward, she shrank back almost willing the wall the absorb her. This could not be, she would not allow it to be, her Father would have been dead for years by now. “Oh Alice’ he almost croaked more than spoke, “But what are doing here? Did you not grow up to be a good girl? You shouldn’t be here, at least not now.” She looked more closely at him, almost peering through gloom, he seemed shadowy to her eyes, almost as if he was fading in and out. “My girl” he muttered “My wee girl. You must get out of here. You must flee as if the hounds of hell were on your heels cos if you don’t they may well be so.” He lowered his hand, and almost shrank back into the rags, his eyes closing. She started forward, reaching out, but the pile of rags started to shrink before her eyes and then to smoulder. The stench was acrid and her eyes started to water. Everything shifted, she almost vomited into her mouth, she couldn’t breath at all, then with a shudder a door appeared open before her and she felt herself being violently sucked towards it.
The room had spat her out back into the corridor, still with that strange beat and the pattering noises, which now sounded as if they were all around her. The lights still flickered and the doors stretched away on the either side of her. She felt stunned by what she had experienced, was that real? Could the grimy pile of human rags really have been her Father? Tears were not far away, she felt overwrought and very emotional. Why was this happening to her?
(Copyright P Lainchbury 2012)