37: Lost


Image: Stair, by Yves Lecoq

He remembered turning left into the Dining Room, so he turned right and headed down the hallway. After a short walk he was presented with another choice; turn left or go straight ahead? Edmund wracked his brains, trying to remember how Ung had brought him to the Dining Room. He decided to turn left. Choice by choice, he tried to remember exactly where he had been before and how to get back to his room.

He passed by tall tapestries and thick potted plants. He looked at every bust and painting he passed, hoping in vain that they would serve as landmarks. He stared down hallways for minutes, searching for some familiar shape or sound, but to no avail.

Eventually he stopped, and tried to backtrack to the Dining Room to start again.

After the third corridor he realized he was completely lost.

It was impossible. The doors, the hallways, the tapestries, the statues, they were all blending together into a horrifying nightmare of dimly lit confusion. Unfamiliar shapes, lines, and colors all seemed bent on tormenting Edmund, keeping him from finding his way.

Feeling the panicking humours building in him Edmund began to walk faster, hoping that he might cover more ground and end up finding his room sooner. After a few minutes he broke into a run, twisting and turning randomly through the hallways, desperately looking for something — anything — that looked familiar.

Eventually, he came upon a large twisting staircase with marble steps and ivory banisters. He could vaguely remember ascending and descending stairs on the way to dinner, but he couldn’t remember how tall the staircases were, or whether they twisted around like spirals or folded over themselves like paper dolls. Pausing only a moment, he leapt for the stairs and ran up to the second floor. He continued running until he found another staircase and ran back down to the first floor. He wasn’t even bothering to try and remember where he was going now, he was just running.

He had completely lost track of how far he had run when he stumbled and fell, his head almost colliding with the nearby wall. He stopped a moment, gasping for breath as he lay on his hands and knees, squeezing back the tears of fear and frustration that were beginning to peek over his eyelids.

When he collected himself a bit, he realized that the loud thumping he was hearing was not just the blood pounding in his ears. A heavy thudding was tickling his ears from nearby, far too slowly and steadily to be Edmund’s heart. Looking up, he saw a large archway a short distance down the hall that looked vaguely familiar. It seemed the rhythmic sound was coming from there. He picked himself up, still panting heavily, and moved to the large archway to cautiously peek around the corner.

It was the Foyer. The repetitive sound was the large clock, its ticks echoing both in the massive cathedral-like room, and in Edmund’s ears


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