Comic 32 - Chapter 5 - 3

4th Feb 2021, 8:30 AM in Chapter 5: Then fall together

When he woke up anew, he was held upright against a wall, arms above his head. His eyes slowly focused on a large underground room with a grid of tall partitions in the middle. A single floodlight opposite from him was just enough to walk by. That is, if he could walk.

Anton looked up. His hands were tied to a meat hook, with a length of cord. Didn't they know he could fly? He tried to lift in the air, and had a moment of panic when that failed. But then it worked, and his hands easily came free. He stuffed the cord in his pocket and padded around the bare concrete walls. The floor was covered in little lumps of black gunk that stuck to his feet, and the partitions turned out to contain empty market stalls. Not that he expected the Afterlife to make much sense at this point.

The double doors were locked from outside, but the chain and padlock left enough wiggle room to put a finger through. Anton seeped into a wide corridor with columns and recesses at irregular intervals. He used them a couple of times to avoid burly workers pushing around carts, until he remembered to make himself unnoticeable. He could only do that while holding his breath, but it lasted while he went around a bend, then another.

There was a staircase, bathed in neon light that stung his eyes, and he ran up four flights of stairs before daylight filtering through translucent wall panels lured him into a corridor with varnished walls and beige paint on doors labeled only with numbers. It was too late to hide when he heard high heels clacking on the polished cement floor, but the woman just stared at him with blank eyes before shuffling listlessly along in her bland skirt suit, toting an armful of papers.

Several more clerks passed him by indifferently, while he took a turn along another corridor, and another, deeper into the building. Then, to his dismay, he reached a dead end.

The neon tubes were off here, the semiobscurity underscoring the deep silence, but several doors were half open. Instinct told him to follow the distant natural light, through a storage room, then a deserted office stinking of disinfectant, and a short narrow corridor lined with metallic shelves heavy with yellowing ring binders, where blew a chilling draft.

Anton burst into another office, this time well lit by large windows facing a street. A few clerks where working at their desks, and some of them looked up, so he dashed into the next room along the outer wall. This time the occupants did look at him, with hope and apprehension, and the boy realized it was a waiting room of some sort. Of the two doors in front of him, one had a shiny plate affixed, with tiny writing on it, and ample empty floor around. As for the other...

He raced out into a lobby, over a turnstile and out a revolving door, while furious shouts chased after him.

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