It didn’t take long, shuffling through the slightly-manky darkness, for me to realise that the L&E tower basement was quite a bit more spacious than I would have expected. I don’t actually know much about how skyscrapers work, because I’m not an architect or an engineer, but I always sort of assumed that they had a lot of concrete and steel girders and stuff in their foundations, because they have to bear a lot of weight. At the very least, I would have assumed their subterranean levels to be smaller, more solidly built, or to have a whole mess of load-bearing walls and pillars and stuff to help support them.
Even in a usually-fairly-dry city, without the risk of – for example – the sudden appearance of a salt-lake filled with decaying corpses, you’d want a good solid foundation. I don’t know, maybe the darkness was playing its usual trick, making an unknown space seem that much bigger. But when I finally did reach a wall, it was quite a long way away from the threads of light from the trapdoor. And it seemed to be made of wooden planks instead of concrete.
Now say what you like about my lack of expertise, but I firmly believe that wooden planks at least have no place in a skyscraper foundation.
I supposed, as I felt around blindly, that the planks could be some kind of fashionably rustic cladding on the concrete for the purposes of … I don’t know, I’m no more an expert on skyscraper interior design than I am on their architecture. Maybe the basement held some sort of Olden Times museum display of buildings and stuff that had been here back in the time of the Barnsley Prison Yard, with some replica houses and … I’m not sure why there were no lights and the only way into it was through a trapdoor in lost and found. Look, it was just a theory.
I felt my way along the planks, which were smooth and slightly slimy as befitted a poorly-irrigated cellar but – as I said – really didn’t befit a below-ground level of the L&E tower. Maybe, I thought in a very vague and uncertain way, this was a behind-the-scenes part of the historic L&E replica village of yesteryear, and the main – and fully-lit – entrance to the exhibit was from somewhere else in the building. I’d just wandered in through an almost-unused back way, that employees of the lost and found had been using as a secret route for generations, assuming of course that any employee of the lost and found actually succeeded in breeding.
My theory, I felt, was coming along really well, right up until the moment I found the outline of a door in the planks, and I opened it and fell through into Barnsley Prison Yard.
See, this is why there are theories, and then laws.