Paul emerged from the tunnel, reaching for a dim light and falling through the exit. He landed with a soft “oomph!” and held his side. He ignored it. For a moment, he felt so proud of himself. He had conquered a filthy, cobweb-and-spore-infested tunnel and would live to tell the tale - whilst reliving the vision of Benjamin Robertson running for his life from speeding bullets and flashing swords. The smile on Paul's lips threatened to break his face in two, even though his hip ached from the rough landing.
Paul Miller: 1 - 0 :Tunnel/Insanity.
But then Paul looked around the tunnel. His smile flipped all the way around and his shoulders sagged.
“You have got to be kidding me,” he muttered, exasperated as he realised that what he had dropped into was not the room that the voice in his head was talking about - but an interval in the tunnel. There was another hole in the opposing wall.
Another creepy, disgusting, filthy, claustrophobia-prodding tunnel!
“Adjacent room, my backside,” Paul said bitterly, kicked a stray pebble, and sat down.
He sighed and rubbed his perspiring forehead with back of his hand. His clothes were grimy and, oddly enough, sooty, and he smelt vaguely of damp and rat piss. Paul took his glasses from his pocket and slipped them on.
“Wow...” he gasped.
The caverns walls were lined with gigantic twinkling stones of varying colours. It was impossible. There was no way that Britain could harbour these - in the excruciatingly long wall of a pub called the Flying Shoe, of all places!
He refused to believe it.
And what Paul Miller didn't believe, he didn't trust.
The stones made him curious, however, and though he vowed not to touch any, he peered into one - hoping to see his reflection.
But Hope is a sad thing.
Again he saw nothing but a flicker, and then the reflection turn to something else - it showed a very lavish bedroom, one that might belong to a rich lord or lady or businessman in some bygone era. And he stood there - in his grubby post-modern clothes - with that other face instead of his own. Ben's face, he realised.
“You should rest,” said Ben's voice in Paul's head, “And you were right not to touch those stones. Some of us were not so cautious.”
“Who are you?” Paul said, remaining calm, “Why are you doing this to me? To my family?”
“You will learn, Paul,” said the voice, “In time, you will learn. Rest, for now. And then continue through the tunnel.”
“What will I eat?”
The voice snorted and scoffed, “A single night of hunger will not kill you.”
Paul furrowed his brows crossly, “Do you want me to find this room or not?”
“Do you want to break your family curse or not?” Ben countered.
“I don't believe in curses.”
“I don't believe you have a choice.”
“Of course I have a choice.”
“Fear has robbed you of one.”
“No. I don't believe in curses.”
“Then feel free to leave.”
Paul looked back at the way he came and hesitated, “Well, I've come this far...” he said.
No response came.
Paul Miller: 0 - 1 :Benjamin Robertson.
Paul dragged his feet as he placed himself in a comfy nook, well away from the tempting glimmer of precious stones, and rest his head against the hard, cold stone walls. He was about to put his glasses away, when he spied some caught on a jagged stone. Paul bent forward and picked at it. A torn piece of fabric. He held the swatch between finger and thumb, examining it. It had an expensive, velvety quality and smelt of something... wrong, but something human.
Not blood. Not sweat.
But something in between.