The Key – Part 10

The Key

Robin stumbled through the darkness. It seemed to be an apartment building but all of the hall lights were out. She had tried to open the door she had entered but there was no handle on the inside. She had bruised her shoulder trying to bust it open by force. Now she was walking down the hallway, desperately trying to get back out so she could find R. She tried to use wall to her left as a guide as she walked. She jerked her hand away as the wall felt strangely crusted with grime. Why couldn’t things just be normal? Who had brought her there?

All of the doors looked the same. In the dim light from her upraised lighter, all of the doors looked gray with odd wooden doorknobs she had never seen before. The walls of the hallway were gray too whether from paint or grime or both. There were no numbers on the doors either. Robin had no idea how long she had been walking. Her eyes were drowsy and her legs were starting to ache. No matter which hallway she turned, everything looked the same.

The whole thing was making Robin angry but it felt like trying to start a campfire in a rainstorm. No matter how angry she got, she felt even more tired. She thought about just lying down on the floor and starting again in morning. That idea made her extra angry. How ridiculous was this building if she couldn’t get out of it? There had to be more bullshit magic at work here. She felt a surge of fear and anger at that thought. The really weird stuff found her when she was alone. Her lighter went out.

A light flickered to life over a doorway ahead. Robin walked down the hall to approach it and basked in the light for a moment. She was a nightowl but near absolute darkness had a away of making anyone love the light. Well, at least for a moment. She balled her right hand into a fist and hammered on the door hard. The sound echoed down the hallway in a way that Robin just didn’t like. She looked down the hallway to see if the sound had roused anything. Not one door stirred in the darkness.

However, the door directly in front of her opened up and a middle-aged, attractive woman stepped into the light. She was wearing pink lingerie or maybe red lingerie that had faded. She had make up on for a night out but obviously no plans on going anywhere.

“Can we help you?” The woman asked in a reedy yet seductive voice.

“Only if you know the way out.” Robin answered as she backed up a half step.

“Of course we know the way out. How else would we go into the world?” The woman replied with a sickening grin. Robin had a sinking feeling in her gut.

“Can you” Robin started before changing her mind “No. Will you lead me out of here?”

“We can and we will not. Please go away from our door.”

“You keep saying ‘we’ and ‘us’ and ‘our’. Is there somebody in there with you?” Robin asked. She leaned to the side to try to look past the woman and into her apartment. She had no success.

“Of course there is.” The woman said and smiled. The skin near her right eye started to throb and something black appeared in the corner of her eye. Then tiny appendages sprouted and stretched that little black object. Suddenly a small spider had pulled itself free from the woman’s eye and crawled across her cheek and into her hair. “There’s lots of us in here.”

Robin did not wait for anything else and instead turned and ran. Immediately she found herself falling down a set of stairs she swore wasn’t there before the door opened. She reached out and caught hold of the railing and stopped her descent. She stood and realized she was at the bottom of the stairway. Ahead of her was a long, long set of steep stairs. She looked back up the stairs she had fallen down and saw the woman approaching at a brisk pace. Robin turned again and climbed the steps as fast and hard as she could, trying to get away.

About halfway up, Robin chanced a look back over her shoulder and saw the woman was far too close for comfort. She tried to move faster but a couple of steps later she felt the woman slam into her back and she fell forward. Instead of hitting the steps, Robin felt like they were both tumbling through the darkness for a long time. The landing was sharp and Robin was no longer expecting when it happened. Impossibly, they were at the bottom of another stairwell and Robin was in water.

“Time for us to kill you.” The woman said and this time the sound was both raspy and reedy and terrifying. The woman grabbed Robin’s neck and used the grip to push Robin’s head under the water. Robin barely caught her breath and tried to hold onto it as the woman squeezed her neck under the water. It felt like ages that she was under as she struggled against the iron grip of the woman’s fingers. Eventually, she was pulled from the water roughly. Robin felt that now familiar otherworldly energy welling up deep inside. “Why won’t you die?”

Robin grunted and sputtered but glared at the woman. “Just give it to me already. Just give it to me. I want it!” She yelled the last as if it had been an incantation. The woman wretched and gagged above her and a giant spider emerged from the woman’s throat and through her open mouth. She leaned down and Robin tried to shake her head, to get loose but it was no use. The spider crawled down and into Robin’s mouth and she gagged herself but it went all the way down. There was intense burning deep inside of Robin and she shook and trembled as the woman let her neck go.

The burning sensation started to surface toward Robin’s shoulder and Robin tore at her shirt to expose the skin. She looked down and saw the spider there in tattoo form but it was moving as if it was struggling to get free. Robin touched it and it shied away from her fingers or at least it tried to. She focused on the thing and very slowly it stopped moving. She looked at the woman, slumped against the wall and saw something of stunned relief in the woman’s eyes. A black mist spewed from every pore and again the mist or smoke screamed with an otherworldly voice.

Robin looked around, feeling a little dizzy. She realized she was sitting in the middle of an alleyway and the woman wasn’t moving in front of her. Nervously she reached to check the woman’s pulse and it wasn’t there. The woman wasn’t breathing either. Robin was way too tired now. She found herself drifting off as she leaned on the wall across from the woman.

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