Sunday, 7 November 2010

Chapter 2 -2.

Jo fell to the floor, her arms flailing in front of her trying to cushion the impact.  To her surprise she found herself falling largely onto the same item that had tripped her.  Her waist and chest cushioned with her right arm and shoulder taking the brunt of the impact on the floor.  A small groan escaped her lips but otherwise her fall was essentially quiet. 

Swiftly she tried to rise to her feet, her foot stepping again on something that weakly moved under her before she rose.  She could hear the door starting to close to the front of the building and she frantically searched around her, her heart attempting to force it's way out her her chest while her eyes adapted to the new environment.  She found herself in a room roughly the size of that one which formed the store itself, it appeared to be composed entirely of shadows with a staircase leading up on the far side.  There was just one large window in the room, heavily curtained, a light shining down the stairs from upstairs being the only illumination, if such a word could be used to describe light that only created shadows and did light to display. 

She could see what appeared to be a small sofa, facing a TV hung on the wall, a desk alongside the doorway she had entered from, two furthers doorways could be made out in the gloom, one to her right and one across from her sitting under the stairs, the latter being slightly ajar.  With a sense of foreboding her eyes lowered to gaze upon her feet, slowly rising to view that which had caused her fall.  Her right hand flew to her mouth, stifling the scream that sought to escape, her left reached out to the wall to steady her as she saw the unmistakable outline of a still human being, the darkness not allowing her to make out details being small comfort.  Her left hand, thrust out, to her dismay landed not upon firm brick, but rather upon cold glass, and her terror renewed as she felt the painting she was pushing upon make a low groan as it slid along the wall.  Her hand frantically pulling back a low scrape sounded again as it swung back into place. 

The footsteps that had started to sound in the front room froze, and once again the wind and rain became the only sounds to be heard.  Jo stood quietly, her ears straining to hear anything other than the thudding of her heart, and sure enough after a long deathly pause she heard the low scuff of a footstep through the doorway.  The sound impelled her into action, moving as silently as she could she across the room, making her way towards the stairs, in four large steps she stood at the base, but there she stopped, the light shining at the summit filled her with fear of discovery, and she hesitated but a second before taking a step to the left and entering the doorway under the stairs.  Pulling the door wider open she closed it behind her with a sharp click.  Her hands frantically explored the handle and to her dismay found no form of lock.  She could hear the door to the store front opening, and as in her case she could hear the door start to push against something on the floor.  She chose to ignore the image that played out in her head. 

She found herself in total darkness, her groping hands tracing the outline of the doorframe, her fingers brushing against a small switch set flush to the wall alongside the right side of the frame, to the left a round metal bar stood out horizontally from the wall at waist height.  For a moment her fear of the dark tempted her to flick the switch, but another small noise from the front room caused her to draw her hand back, to take an instinctive step backwards into thin air.  Frantically she grabbed at the metal bar, regaining her balance before she fell into the darkness.  Probing with her outstretched foot she felt a second step a few inches below the ledge she stood upon, with a mere two feet of landing before the descent began.  Hearing a small grunt and the sound of rummaging from outside the doorway Jo turned and fled down the stairs, one, two, three...  She counted the stairs as she fell, the stairs descending in a slow spiral into the dowels of the earth, at 35 she stumbled, her outstretched foot impacting upon the floor unexpectedly, the force throwing her to her knees.  A sharp pain ran up her leg as her ankle twisted beneath her, almost immediately followed by a thud as her knee thudded into the concrete floor with an audible crack. 

Tears of pain streaming from her eyes Jo forced herself back upright, for a moment her ankle gave way she feared a sprain, but a second tentative attempt allowed it to take her weight, albeit weakly, Nevertheless she put her arms out to the left and right, finding herself at the base of the stairs in what felt like a rough hewn tunnel.  Over her beating heart she could hear only echoing silence, her senses screaming at her to flee. 

Suddenly light blossomed painfully in her eyes, causing her to raise her hands, the sharpness after the darkness lancing like spears into her brain.  Between her fingers she could see a naked bulb had bloomed above her, her pain out of proportion to the weak light it shed.  Blinking away tears Jo removed her hands, finding herself in, as she suspected a tunnel, carved out of what appeared to be a mixture of clay, mud and bedrock, stairs rose behind her and in front of her the tunnel opened out into a wide passage way, the sound of steps on the stairs behind her propelled her into the larger tunnel. 

This larger tunnel was maybe twenty feet wide, lit dully by a row of cheap naked bulbs wired into the low ceiling.  What appeared to be bunk beds lined one wall, a metal container sitting at the base of each, with a long desk forming the second tunnel wall.  The tunnel ended abruptly 15 feet to the left from where Jo had entered large, rusting filing cabinets, and some open displaying faded yellow documents that had long ago given their secrets to the rats who had made their bedding out of them.  The tunnel continued in the other direction, curving gently to the left, and 50 feet away the lights flickered out, leaving an illusion of infinity.   Her foot aching Jo dragged herself into the centre of the room, the sight astounding her.    Slowly her eyes adjusted to the light, to her fascination she could clearly make out stencilled letters on the wall in faded shades of pale that barely stood out from the background rock, despite the years of grime and soot she could clearly make out "MOD."

Too late she heard the sound of a near silent footstep behind her, even as she started to turn a sharp click sounded, and she turned to find herself staring into the barrel of a revolver.  Silhouetted against the light a tall man in a wide brimmed hat in a low growl said "You have ten seconds to explain yourself..."

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