10:00am and Sarah awakens from her deep sleep. She had the fragments of dreams, but nothing that could tell her what they were about. She got out of bed with a groan and opened the curtains. Instead of the bright sunshine that accompanies most mornings, the sky is streaked with a perfectly white blank canvas, devoid of colour or features. A thick mist envelopes envelopes everything around it, the surrounding buildings and long abandoned cars hardly noticeable in the fog.
In the beginning, Sarah would have cursed and sighed with sadness at this sight every morning, but years of beholding everywhere day in, day out, it became the norm to her, sunlight and bright yellow and puffy white clouds where but a distant memory. Like someone’s first memory, it is distorted and broken like a smashed mirror.
Sarah turns from the window and takes a shower then dresses herself. The note she made of the Town Hall springs forward to the conscious part of her mind. She puts on her coat and leaves her apartment, double checking that her door is securely locked. She tiptoes again past her neighbours door and hurries on down the stairs. She averts her eyes as she passes Mrs Hopkins door and goes out into the garage to her car.
The sight of the Cadillac is always a pleasant sight, but even more pleasant in the mornings. The car seems the only thing anywhere that still bears life, unlike the dead and tired objects that litter the city. Even the few people in the city and their own personal items and cars appear dead and lifeless. Sarah feels slightly humbled by this thought.
She checks the gas meter, despite knowing that she filled it up herself last night. It is full to the top. She presses a button on the wall and the garage doors open with a low mechanical grinding sound. Forcing the gas pedal to the floor, the car speeds out into the silent streets.
The car speeds through the silent streets, carefully avoiding the torn clothes and piles of ashes strewn everywhere. Empty houses and office buildings rush by, merely a blur in the constant speed.
Sarah didn’t know exactly what she would find in the Town Hall. Either something would be there or it wouldn’t, but either way she had to know.
She wondered if this was a little adventure to her, something new and exciting to fill in the constant empty days she faced ahead of her. Perhaps it was, but was that so wrong? She always feared becoming the same as everyone else, gloomy and miserable and forcing themselves to endure each and every second that passed by them, their pathetic existences no more than that of a ghost wandering the city for no reason but that. She prided herself on being someone who could spur on, regardless of what happened. She could find humour in herself for some things and was proud of that.
Sarah neared the location of the Town Hall. The sky seemed to get a little darker here and the cold air seemed to get a little colder. The surrounding empty buildings once white with the fog and the colour of the sky, now seemed to get darker and ominous. Up until recently, they appeared dead and lifeless and nothing behind their misted windows. Now a kind of dark sentience seemed to grow in them, their windows now becoming black and evil eyes looking down at Sarah with an evil malevolence.
Sarah knew that this was stupid and was merely her imagination, yet the fear refused to dissipate, remaining with her like an invisible spirit on her back.
The car finally pulled up right outside the Town Hall, Sarah felt slightly relieved to finally be here. The large stone staircase that led up to the large main doors lay to the right of the car, Sarah again could feel the uncomfortable feeling that seemed to emanate from the building, a strong force that seemed to push her back. She could feel it seeping out like puss from a wound. She tried her best to ignore the feeling and stepped out of the car. The Hall seemed to posses a strange majesty over the other dark and silent buildings around it, as though it was the master of its kind. The strong breeze carried the thick fog across the stonework and architecture, as though imbuing it with some unknown power. A large sheet of newspaper drifted silently across the stone steps and was carried away into the darkness.
Sarah could feel a lump in her throat forming, her stomach tightened into a knot, her entire instincts told her with a loud voice to leave now, get away from here and don’t ever come back. She ignored this intense impulse and forced herself to continue. Something was going on here, something that wasn’t right. She had to know, it was her nature. She wasn’t someone who would simply kick back and ignore everything, she wanted to be involved in everything and didn’t hesitate when the moment came.
She spotted the giant, gothic doors at the top of the steps, they were open ajar and blowing slowly in the wind, a strong creak could be heard coming from them.
With a moment of courage and strong determination, she ran for the doors and went inside, quickly closing the heavy doors behind her.
The overpowering feeling of force and pressure was its strongest here. Sarah could feel it like hands on her chest, pushing her ribs against her heart and lungs. She struggled for breathe, drawing it into her body deeply with great strength to do so. After a few minutes, she recovered, suddenly feeling as though she had accumulated great strength to overcome whatever was pushing her away. She stood up to her full height and clenched her fists together.
Looking out into the great hallway she now stood, she saw only a thick canopy of darkness, as if someone had draped their hands over her eyes. She could smell the potent odour of ancient stone and the always present smell of rotting wood. She tried her hardest to hear something, anything, but heard only the still and deafening static of silence.
She forced her legs to submit to her will and they did, carrying her further into the endless darkness. Moving forward a few steps, she became aware of the presence of a door to the left of her. She turned her head, still seeing darkness, yet at the same time seeing the outline of the door. She lightly pushed it and it came open slowly with a creaking sound. The smell of dust and rotting wood that oozed from the room was overpowering, Sarah immediately covered her mouth to avoid any entering her lungs.
Their was light in the room that came from a poorly boarded window, the bare colourless white light drifted in shone on the pathetic contents of the room. What was probably once a large, thick wooden table with chairs to match was now a well-rotted heap of dust and dead wood, the dark varnished gloss that gave the furniture a life and a presence had now left it, leaving in its place a pale corpse-like appearance.
With a little cough, she turned from the room and continued along the ink black corridor.
After a long period of time groping around in the shadows and occasionally stumbling over other piles of rotted furniture, she spotted light ahead of her. The light still seemed like part of the darkness but at the same time, brighter. A pale light allowing her to see the basic outlines of other doorways. Dust blew slowly across the pale light, as if wanting to be seen. Thank god, I don’t wanna’ be groping around in the dark forever.
Sarah concentrated on the light in front of her, her careful walking now became a sprint as she came toward it closer and closer.
She reached the light, and in the blink of an eye, she saw only a strong bright light and nothing more. She drew in a quick lungful of air as she beheld it. Then, finally, her vision was replaced with an image. She slowly drew her head back, slowly gathering a great amount of air inside her. Her eyes widened as she gazed on the room in front of her.
The main hall was huge, reaching high into the pure white sky above with its gorgeous ceiling. The ceiling was a sphere and seemed like the inside of a dome. It was painted with a golden brass colour, flaked and faded over time, yet the astounding colour still remained as strong. A large, lavish painting on the ceiling showed a cloud-filled sky with a strong bright light forcing its way through the clouds. Angels and Cherubs in bright blue and red garments flew beautifully across the clouds and the light, all holding large golden pots with water seeping out.
The rest of the hall didn’t strike beauty or any kind of pleasant appearance as the domed ceiling. The surrounding walls were dull and grey and bore a great deal of flakes. Dust and decay had set in around the bottom of the walls and blew across the room with the large collection of dead leaves scattered around.
Sarah looked around and realised that the place was deserted. She decided that it was a waste of time being here and turned to leave. In that moment, she heard something in the slightest of a moment. A buzzing sound, similar to that of a bumblebee or some other flying insect. This was obviously her imagination; their wasn’t a single insect still living today. Yet, despite her reaction to the dull sound, she swore she could still hear it.
She looked around the room to find the source, her eyes scanning and scrutinising ever detail in the Main Hall. The buzzing seemed to get louder, so much so that she could almost feel it buzzing inside of her.
After intently studying every single detail of the Hall, her eyes finally found the source of the bizarre sound. She was forced to narrow her eyes to make out whatever it was she was looking at. She could just barely make out a small unusual object fixed onto the wall at the opposite end of where she stood. At this distance, she could only make out a square shaped frame that surrounded the object and what was probably a small clock fixed above the object.
Sarah looked around to ensure no one else was here, she didn’t want to be caught looking at something that she wasn’t meant to be looking at, though for what reason, she had no idea really.
She started to walk across the Hall, her footsteps echoing in the empty silence which seemed to make the sound deafening. The Hall seemed ominous and spooky in its present atmosphere. The breeze blew the dust of rotted wood and long dead corpses throughout every inch of the room, the breeze gathered up the thick blanket of dead leaves that littered the floor and transformed them almost into a shape as they gathered themselves up high into the air towards the ceiling. The angelic mural on the ceiling seemed ineffective against the disquiet ambience below.
Sarah looked toward the rapidly approaching strange object in front of her, suddenly, a deep shadow feel across the object, as if someone had draped the small empty windows high above with a large black cloth. The air seemed to go suddenly colder, Sarah covered herself immediately, protecting herself with her arms against the sudden bitter cold.
What the hell is going on here, what kind of crazy shit is this?
Sarah’s footsteps became awkward as she walked, as though unwilling to any further. A strong sense of dread came over her, her forehead began to sweat. She tightly gripped her body, protecting it from whatever was attacking her. Her head fell downwards as her muscles refused to obey her will to continue. Yet, with all this, Sarah was unwilling to leave. The increasing unbearable atmosphere only seemed to spur her on even further and faster.
You’re not gonna’ run out of here like a damn headless chicken. You’re gonna’ face this head on, you stupid fucking bitch!
After an exhaustible and completely alien experience on her body, she finally came to the weird object, which was undoubtedly where the weird influence was coming from. She forced her head to look up and tried to understand what exactly she was looking at.
In front of her was amalgamation of wires and tubing and strange small boxes with lights fixed into certain positions. Wherever the snake like congregated was wasn’t present, there was instead small white tiles with faint tracks of dirt. In the absolute dead centre of the object was a small white telephone, an old fashioned one by the look of it, more or less ancient now. The receiver however, didn’t appear to match the telephone, its features seemed like more in common with the surrounding wiring.
Sarah couldn’t understand what she saw in front of her. Other than the telephone, she didn’t have a clue what the rest of the thing was meant to be for. She couldn’t believe that this was what was giving off the overpowering influence that was tearing her body apart.
However, while she refused to believe that this was nothing more than a mess of technology and a frantic effort at it, a strange desire to pick up the receiver and hold it to her ear came over her. She tried to fight it, but her hand moved slowly toward it of its own volition. She gripped her arm and tried to pull it back.
What the hell’s going on here, give me my damn arm back!
But it was no use, the power of her arm alone seemed to surpass her every will as if it was nothing.
She picked up the receiver and held it to her ear. There was no sound, aside for a tiny hint of static. The static seemed to grow increasingly louder, at the same pace that a large looming shadow appeared on the wall in front of her cast by something standing behind her.
She quickly spun around and saw a tall menacing figure of a man, he gripped her by the shoulder tightly. Sarah screamed and dropped the receiver to the floor. Her whole body went limp as she fell into unconsciousness.