The lack of light was blinding, but soon, my eyes adjusted to the black. I could see the walls, if only barely, and my fingers traced the surfaces, hungrily searching for any difference. I mused that perhaps my fingers would become so used to the lack of texture, that if -when- I found a gap, I would not notice and pass it by.
However unchanging it was, I made myself vigilant. I walked and walked for what seemed forever. It must have been a few hours now, at least.
Feeling stupid, I remembered the pack slung over my shoulder. Inside: Notebook, pencil and pen, the book I was currently reading, chapstick, cell phone, and my MP3 player, among other junk.
I pulled out the cell phone, and knew before I tried to turn it on that it wouldn't work. It didn't. It didn't show any sign of ever working, even though it had, faithfully, for the several years that I'd had the hand-me-down thing. I pulled out the iPod, if only to see what time it was, and how long I'd been down here. Nothing. Just an object, with not even an electrical charge.
With an aggravated, but not in the least surprised sigh, I stuffed the devices back into the pack, and applied some balm to my dry lips. There must be some sort of electrical damper killing my attempts with the electronics.
This wasn't just some random place.
Man, my lips were dry! A strange thing for down here. I could feel the cool wash of air over my skin, drying them out. The air had to be coming from somewhere. A vent? I wet my finger on my tongue, and held it up to the air. It came from the direction I'd been heading.
A reassurance as to my decision in choosing this way.
I continued on.
The passageway narrowed a bit, which I took to be a good sign. With arms outstretched, I felt along both walls with each hand, and kept on, mindless.
Another mile, I was sure. Another. And another. It became narrower still. It started, ever so slightly, to descend at a slope. It was a barely perceptible change in angle, but I noticed. It seemed that after my fall, I was more aware of my senses, and such a small difference was acute to me. I noticed the lessening strain on my muscles, and the ease of each step. I was only slightly tiring, being in such a strangely fit condition as I was.
It narrowed sharply now, and after another half-mile, the hallway ended altogether. A boxy area only a yard across, a sort of vertical shaft that went on in either direction. I felt all around the opening. Minute horizontal gaps spanned each side at intervals. The cool air was coming up from the down the shaft.
Colonel Roche had said that we were going 57 levels down. It seemed like we weren't in the elevator long enough for that. There was still more levels to go. Hopefully, I was gauging correctly.
I knelt, and lowered myself down, and used the "handholds" littering the shaft to steady myself. I took a breath, reliving the day I fell. There was certainly a much longer drop to the bottom -if there was a bottom.
Slowly, I began my decent.
100 feet down, 200 feet down. 400, 600. All was going well. My feet met a gap at the next crevasse. Another hallway. I lowered myself into it, sighing, and hoping this was the way out. But before I could take ten steps from the shaft, a buzzing sounds made me whirl around.
There, having just emerged from the shaft, was a figure floating before me, its red eyes glaring. Its twisted, mechanical arms reached for me.