The reason I’d fallen over, and so dramatically and unexpectedly, was because the ground was tilted at a different angle. It wasn’t just that I’d stepped from a flat floor to a sloping one – I’d stepped from one flat, horizontal surface to another flat, horizontal surface … and they hadn’t matched up.
Gravity was abruptly pulling me in a slightly different direction, and as a result I fell quite hard onto my three-quarter profile, and said “fuck”.
Then I pushed myself to my feet and looked around.
I was standing on pale, deep-baked desert hardpan, that seemed to extend away from me in every direction with only the occasional hump or skeletal bit of emerging deadlife breaking the razor-line of the horizon, where a bleached blue sky arched up overhead with nothing in it but a pitiless, pitiless sun. I was, as I’d suspected, in the Wasteland.
How deep into the Wasteland I was didn’t really matter, because it all rather depended on when deep in the Wasteland I was. And even that didn’t matter, because the door had rasped closed again and now there was almost certainly no way back.
I looked at the door. It was standing at an odd slant in the hardpan, sun-bleached and encrusted with salty grit. This was why I’d fallen – apparently cellar-horizontal was not the same as Wasteland-horizontal, purely because the door hadd subsided into the ground. It was also, I realised, the most likely reason my head had felt odd while I was looking at the light from the doorway. It had been coming in under one set of gravitational conditions, and then twisting into another before hitting my eyes.
Did that make a difference? I didn’t know. But it seemed right.
I climbed to my feet, dusted myself off, and walked around the door without much expectation. Sure enough, it was just a nailed-together bunch of planks with a peeling plastic veneer on it and a knob with a keyhole in the middle. The far side didn’t even have a knob, just a backing plate. I went back around and tried opening it, but it was either locked or jammed. I knew that if I kicked it, it would fall over or fly to pieces altogether and I would be no nearer to the cellar I’d departed a few seconds ago. I remembered the door that had fallen out of the wall in the larger space under the Prism, leaving nothing but dirt behind.
“Okay,” I said, and turned to squint back out across the Wasteland. “Trapdoors, then.”