Whatever’s happening here, I thought as I climbed down the ladder-stairs and let the trapdoor close above me, it had better begin making sense soon because this is just stupid.
I descended into the darkness, stood at the foot of the stairs for a stretch of time while my eyes adjusted, and waited to see whether Colonel McOldentimes was curious enough to get up, cross the floor and check out the trapdoor that had apparently been in his office since it was built. After a couple of minutes I guessed that he hadn’t bothered to check it out before now, so he wasn’t likely to start being curious any time soon.
I wondered if his curiosity was piqued by the fact that I’d been down here for a couple of minutes now, a civilian in the middle of a prison camp. And whether, when I didn’t come back up, he might eventually begin to wonder what exactly was going on.
Maybe he’d just go back to his creepy e-puffing.
I struck out for the nearest wall, and found it easily. I groped my way along, past a door, then encountered a corner and followed the adjacent wall. After a few shuffling seconds and three more in-turning corners, I found myself at what I had to assume was the same door again. So. A standard little-underground-box style of time-cellar, then.
I pulled the door open – this door, unlike the administration cupboard door and probably a couple of the others, seemed to open inwards instead of outwards but I really hadn’t been very scientific about any of my observations – and blinked in the watery fan of light that filtered in from the other side. Light coming into a cellar – that was slightly new, at least insofar as I thought it might have happened a bit once before but wasn’t really certain. I looked around, but the light didn’t illuminate anything else in the room. If anything, it seemed darker than before, because the relative glare ruined my night-vision. It also gave me a mild queasy feeling like I was about to get a headache, as though there was something wrong with the light and it was making my retinas strain to correct the signals they were receiving.
Well, there was no other door so there was really no other choice. I could either take it, or I could go back upstairs and see if there were any other trapdoors I could try.
That would mean more climbing, and I really wasn’t in the mood at that moment.
I stepped through the doorway, and fell over really quite hard.