Alice stifled a cough. No; she must not cough or sneeze or do anything idiotic. Why, oh, why, was she here? The dank dusty smell of the chamber beneath the library rankled and rotted.
Alice felt along the wall. Anything to get out, but not too soon. Not before she had heard everything. Her hand encountered something smooth and round that at first felt like a block of ice. She recoiled, her hand burned on the hot water pipe.
As she drew her hand away a cloud of dust blew up, and Alice had to smother her tickling throat with her sleeve, which she thrust, choking, into her gagging mouth. It worked, anyhow, if her throat was dry and sore by the time the dust had subsided.
Goodness, what a loud sound she made every time she moved. A waterproof jacket was not the quietest, most practical or most cooling of garments, she thought as she sweated inside it, trying not to move lest she should betray her presence. Why was she wearing it anyway? It wasn't exactly raining. And she hadn't gone outside since yesterday. Why was she wearing a waterproof, then? She shifted her weight onto her other foot.
The murmuring stopped. Had they heard her? No; thank goodness. They were going. Where were they going? Had they gone? There was no noise at all save for the slight rustling of her jacket and an annoying buzzing sound in Alice's ears. They had not gone through the door into the library, for no crack of light had appeared. Alice had never been fearless enough to venture into the deep black of the passages; she was guarding the entrance to the labyrinth now. There must be more to this secret chamber.
Alice shivered, making an even louder sound. She suddenly had the uncontrollable urge to escape to somewhere she could cough in peace, and not be haunted with the strange feeling that something or someone was creeping up behind her...
She turned quickly, but she was too late, as strong hands held her forcibly, a gag tightened around her mouth and her arms were fastened firmly to her sides.
And yet the only things she could see moving were the black shadows.