Ashford Vignette #10 (2019)

Gavin McCray leaned against the rough stone wall, panting.

He was well and truly lost now.  He’d been in denial for hours, but had to admit it.  He had no clue where he was, or even what floor he was on.

When Lakhmi had asked him about getting caught on the fourth floor of Ashford, “Risks must be taken in the pursuit of knowledge” had seemed so profound and convincing.  That had been twelve, maybe fourteen, hours ago, in the comfortable, well-lit, secure corridors of the third floor.

Now, in the eternal twilight, with no idea of his location, or even if he was still on the fourth floor, or even in Ashford, the words and assurance rang hollow.

Everything had been going well.  The rough map he’d bought off one of the Black Rose had been surprisingly accurate.  Visions of a triumphant return and rising in the ranks of the Solar Society, the minor cabal that valued knowledge, played in his mind’s eye.

Then something had jumped him in the dark.

He had run, toward what he had thought were stairs back up to the safety of the third floor.  The stairs appeared to have gone down, though, below the fourth.

Since then, map useless, Gavin had spent his time fruitlessly searching for a way back up.  Even a door outside to some part of Earth.  If he could find that, he could find a way to Dublin or another city that opened to Ashford.

Before the couple glo-stones he had left failed, or the things that lived in the corridors caught him.

That was one thing Gavin had learned quickly.

The rumors that there were residents on the fourth floor, or lower, were unfortunately true.

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