Author: Jason Arnett
Title: Reader (part 3 of 7)
Frequency: every Wednesday
The room was made entirely of stone and there was a curtain across the window that was heavy enough to block the light pouring through it. A hard breeze moved it restlessly, playing sunbeams and moon shadows one against another on the floor. “This is where I saw her when she was alive,” Brad said. “This is the room where she talked to me and told me it wasn’t going well, that so many were missing or gone or dead.”
Ray bent over double and retched. He dropped to his knees and vomited hard, splashing the stones with the remains of his dinner and the bourbon.
“God,” he said, coughing. “It’s like being on that boat and going over the falls again. I can hear Wilber laughing at me. Christ.” He wiped his mouth with his sleeve. Brad helped him to his feet.
“Yeah,” Ray said. “Why didn’t you throw up?”
“I’ve been looking for him,” Brad pointed at Frank, “for three years. I’ve puked plenty of times. I’m used to traveling like this, I guess.” Brad let go of Ray and turned around. “This is the place. We’re in the right place.”
“Which way?” Frank nodded to one door in the stone wall, then the other. “Any ideas?”
Brad made sure that Ray was okay and studied the two doors. He came to a decision. “The left one,” he said. “I think.”
“What happens if it’s the wrong door?” Frank looked over at Ray, who only looked a little pale now.
“We can’t afford to be timid,” Ray said. “I don’t know what’ll happen if that makes you feel any better.”
“Right. Here we go.” Brad took a deep breath then reached out to grasp the doorknob, stopped six inches from it. “Not this one,” he said. “Something’s wrong with this one.” He turned back to his two companions. “We need the other door.” He walked to it, twisted the doorknob and it opened outward onto a wide, darkened stairwell.
“Well, it’s all very Horace Walpole so far,” Frank said. “Isn’t it?”
“Very goth, yes,” Ray said. “That’s an odd reference for a former cop.”
“A cop who reads, Ray.” Frank clapped a hand on the writer’s shoulder and they all descended the winding stone stairs.