You push the door open, squinting into the darkness.

 

You can't help but feel a little foolish, coming here. The entire place is an anachronism, a tiny slice of the dark ages that is still stubbornly resisting progress. Tarot cards, indeed the next thing you know, you'll be reading tea leaves, or howling at the moon.

You take a deep breath, and brace yourself. Placing a tentative foot upon the threshold, you feel a thick hush descend upon you like a fog. The bustle of life on the Outside is quelled, as if muffled by a blanket, and the air becomes eerily still. Try as you might, you cannot hear the blaring horns from the high street, the frenetic rhythm of daily life to which you're so addicted . You're not at all sure that you like it. Looking at your watch, you pause, incredulous. With a sour taste in your mouth, you lift it to your ear, and shake it; even your faithful watch has stuttered and stopped.

You feel uncannily as if you were Alice , stepping through a looking-glass. You only wish it weren't so goddamn dark.

Sniffing the air, you feel your nose scrunch in distaste. It smells, incongruously, like old books. Like parchment yellowing a little more each day, like ink darkening imperceptibly as entire generations slip away into dust.

It's all so painfully stereotypical. You roll your eyes, and grope along the rough wooden wall for a light switch. Even a building as perversely ancient as this one has to have electricity installed.

You fumble your way down the corridor, only once biting off a curse word as a splinter lodges itself in your palm. Suddenly, hearing a rustling from the distant shadows, you freeze. You strain to see, but cannot penetrate the blackness, or the veil of dust motes and cobwebs that blanket the hall.

 

Can you feel your heart quicken?

Clear your throat, as quietly as you can.

Whisper ...Is anybody there?