Sarah’s Cadillac ripped through the empty and deserted streets as she made her way toward the Town Hall. The slowly encroaching dawn covered the dissipating canopy of blackness that had shrouded the city in intense blackness. The large and ancient trees that had served as pedestals for bright and chirpy singing birds, celebrating the arrival of a new day were now disappointedly absent of such things. Their endlessly growing branches of claws and talons slowly reached into the air with an alien malevolence.
Sarah’s mind reeled with many thoughts and fears over what she should do. She wondered whether going to the scientists would actually help her, they might just use her as part of their experiment and to hell with anything else. This thing she had might tear her apart, even if they helped her. She could guess this wasn’t something they were familiar with. A large overwhelming and particularly appealing thought came to her. She could smash the Telephone device that gave her this hell, take a sledgehammer to the thing and smash it into the junk it was before. Even if it didn’t help, it would make her feel better. But, with all of this going on, she couldn’t ignore the fact that this allowed to find her father. The first vision she had, she could smell him as strongly as she could when he was alive. True, there was no indication that he was actually there, but she had to try.
What the hell did he say? ‘The scholar is beyond the darkness.’ Wait!
Sarah’s eyes flashed open as a sudden realisation popped in her head. She forced her foot on the brake pedal and the car came to a screeching halt, almost grinding up the road as it did.
That’s gotta’ be it, of course. ‘The scholar is beyond the darkness.’ The smell of the leather, the presence. He’s beyond all of this, he’s there right beyond all of this crap that’s going on.
She clenched her fists together tightly, congratulating herself. Yet, immediately after, she sank down into her seat, cringing in fear.
If her father really was somewhere in this hell that she had to search through, she would still have to go through hell to get there. She would have to endure god knows what that the world beyond had on offer, attacking her mind constantly while she had no defence against it.
She could ignore all of this that was circling around her, say goodbye to it all and go back home, back to the life she had, the same she had lived for so long. But, it would always be with her, no matter how much she tried to ignore it, no matter how hard she would try to block it out while she slept, it would always be there right with her, burrowing down into her flesh like a disease or foreign organism.
She suddenly felt so small and insignificant. Like a small child lost in a busy street, alone and terrified with an infinity of the unknown surrounding it.
Even if it was extremely dangerous, what else would she do. She had nothing but an empty and unchanging life with no chance of freedom. Her father was the only thing she ever cared about, the only thing that mattered to her, and even if there was just a fraction of a chance that she would see his face for one moment, she had to try. She didn’t care if the path that led to it was dangerous, she would find her father no matter what. And the scientists in the Town Hall would help her, maybe.
She contained herself and sat upright in her seat, her head high, ready to face anything that came her way. She gritted her teeth together and put her foot on the accelerator. The car sped on up the road again at a safe and reasonable speed.
The milky whiteness of the dawn had almost arrived when she pulled up outside the immense front doors of the Town Hall. The mist had started to surround all in a thick cold blanket. She wrapped herself in her arms as she felt the cold, it seemed to penetrate her clothes and her skin and go right to the bones and her nerves. The feeling was very similar to when someone walked over your grave. She shuddered at the dark irony of it.
She walked slowly and tentatively up the echoey stone steps to the front doors. They were locked as always, and no sound or anything hinted at the scientists being in there, but she had to try. She could see how important this thing was to all of them, and they wouldn’t let a silly thing like sleep stop them from working.
She placed her hands lightly and open palmed on the doors, instantly drawing them back as she felt a freezing and uncomfortable cold emanating from the doors. Like the entrance to a tomb. She shuddered with fear and anxiety, refusing to go any further.
Come on, you bitch, she demanded in her mind. Get in there. You want to see this through to the end? Get in there instead of hovering out here.
Drawing in a large breath of courage, she pushed open the door, trying her best to ignore the intense cold coming from them.
The cold breeze from outside wafted in to the long corridor inside, the dust that had long settled in great piles, along with the corpses of furniture and old clothes blew around silently and hauntingly. Sarah ignored all of this and pushed forward to the main hall, the dust and torn clothing brushed past her bare legs as she walked, like a cold hand touching her. She kept her gaze fixed firmly on the end of the corridor.
As she approached closer, she heard the sound of footsteps up ahead. She listened hard to them. They sounded as though they were coming from one of the rooms next to the corridor. Her head jerked around as the footsteps entered the corridor. Out of instinct, she dove for cover inside of the empty rooms near her. She did her best to camouflage her steps and peeked into the corridor. A door further down the corridor opened wide with a loud creak. From out of the room stepped the scientists holding clipboards and taking down notes. Sarah quickly studied each of their faces as she looked for William, but saw only the unfazed expressions of the others.
Ahead of the scientists, she spotted the one who she guessed was the head of their experiment. He had lost a lot of his grey hair, his whole body was thin, his fingers seemed like those of a spider. His expression was one of anger and resentment, almost like hatred. His lips were held tight together, his eyes narrowed. She recognised him as the man who she had seen before, he was talking to William about something and William had looked at him as though he wanted to kill him.
Sarah’s eyes widened as she spotted William walking behind the others. His walking seemed a pathetic shuffling, his head was lowered. He looked as though he was saddened about something.
The grey haired man at the front suddenly stopped, holding his rigid fists by his sides. He faced the other end of the corridor, his back to Sarah and the other scientists.
“Go on,” he said in a quietly irritated voice. “Go on ahead, I wish to talk to Mr Blake.”
William looked unfazed by this, his head never moving, his feet stopping only when he saw that the others in front of him had stopped. The other scientists looked at each for a quick moment, their mouths were partly open. They continued writing down their notes and carried on down the corridor. William stayed in his defeated posture. The grey haired man clenched his fists tighter and slowly began to turn around.
His breathing was intense, his face contorted into an expression of disgust and hatred. Sarah guessed what he would do next. She wanted to help William, but she couldn’t compromise herself by running out into the corridor. In a hurried pace, he went up to William and struck him hard on the face, knocking him to the ground. William grunted with pain and held the striking point with his hand. The grey haired man looked down at him with intense disgust.
“You should know better than to betray me, like that, small man.” His voice was low, yet had the feel of a sharpened knife. “How dare you take our equipment and give it to some animal from outside. Did you really think I wouldn’t notice that half our records were gone?”
Sarah knew what this was about. William had given the tapes and tape machines to her hoping that he wouldn’t be found out. She felt guilty. She had so proud of herself before of tricking him, but now seeing the result of what she had done in front of her, it made her stomach grind up with pain.
The grey haired man continued with his intense display of contempt over William. “How dare you betray me and give our records to that bitch. Get out of here, out of this experiment and this building. And if I see you or that bitch here again, I swear that you’ll be the next subjects for the experiment.”
He kicked William hard in the head, he crashed down hard to the floor with a loud thud. The grey haired man turned round and headed further up the corridor to the Main Hall.
Sarah was not often afraid of people, but this one made her feel terrified. While she couldn’t believe it, she could almost feel his anger and the danger of being around him. She almost felt more afraid of him than the things she had seen and experienced. Her body shuddered as she shook off the feeling.
She hurried over to William and held his head in her arms. “Hey, William, wake up.” She said, gently shaking him. She hoped that he wouldn’t take this as a benevolent act. Sure, she didn’t hate him or have any disregard for him, but he was the only one of the scientists that she could trust to help her.
After a few attempts of waking him, he slowly began to open his eyes. He opened them wide and immediately sat bolt upright, he grunted in pain and reached for his face again. He realised that Sarah was beside him. He quickly took hold of her arms, obviously forgetting about his pain.
“What the hell are you doing here?” He asked in a quiet whisper. “You can’t be in here, if he finds us, he’ll kill us. Get out of here, now”
Sarah had no room for doubt over that. From what she saw of what he said to him, it was frighteningly clear.
“I need your help,” she said, following the suit of whispering. “Since I used that weird Telephone thing, I’ve been seeing things, scary and crazy things. My apartment doesn’t feel safe anymore, it feels as though its being invaded by something.”
William tried his best to listen to her while constantly looking behind him, his face contorted into panic, his body shook. He looked at Sarah with a terrified face.
“Please, get out of here, now. I don’t care what he does to me, but I don’t want him to kill you. I’ll listen to what you have to say, but not here. Go, wait for me outside, I’ll meet you there.”
The two of them quickly stood up, William’s body was still shaking. Sarah wanted quickly to tell him what had happened, but she could see that he was in no state to help her at the moment. She knew she had to listen to him.
“Okay,” she said, in a voice to calm him. “I’ll wait just outside, make sure you come, I need your help.”
William calmed down, a wash of relief filled his face. He managed a weak smile. Then, just as quickly as it appeared, his smile dissipated as he saw Sarah’s face change into silent panic. Her eyes were opened wide and staring behind him. William quickly turned round and for a brief moment saw the large piece of wood hit him hard on the head before he fell unconscious.