He knew he was alone. He had to be alone. There were no voices, no living breaths in this place. Only the echoing drumbeat of his footfalls to beat syncopated time to the dripping accompaniment of the steam pipes. But he was about to learn that even dead places have a kind of life, and a way of disliking strangers.
Behind the ragged arias of machinery, leather and stone the lyrics of the past were sung by every pock-mark mouth in the crumbling walls. Strikes of the cane, clatters of tin cups, shouted orders and screamed protests devilishly documented by the traumatized chroniclers of history. He knew what had been done here and what might still lurk in the places where light still feared to pierce. He felt insubstantial tentacles of dead thoughts writhing out of every cell to clutch, pick and paw at him: dark dendrites from the mind of this place, given life by the nightmare stories he’d read. They made memories take form here, compelling glances over his shoulder, fearful of unknown presences that followed him but always just beyond the corners of his vision.
The more he lingered in this decaying spot, the more he felt the cold wind of a passing form. Something was coming. Coming for him. And if he stayed here long enough, it would find him. He cast widened pupils toward the distant light of the entrance, near and yet not near enough. Did he have time to reach it?
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