Earl Grey at the End of the World

A very strange thing I am writing. A short story which I estimate will end up being half an hour-ish in length.

Just a heads up, in chapter three, the double dashes are the closest I could get to those super long dashes you see in books when people's speech is interrupted. If anyone knows how to get those, please let me know.


4. 4

   "Is that a light?" said Michael some time later. "Some time" was all that Jane knew had passed; it could have been minutes, but it might just have easily been a few weeks. Michael squinted towards the end of the dingy corridor. "I think it is," he said. "Yeah, look."

     Jane peered cautiously at him, then in the direction in which his finger pointed; she couldn't see anything, but ahead of her Michael had quickened his pace, his strides lengthening as he walked purposefully down the corridor.

"Are you sure it isn't just more of the candles?" she asked him tentatively.

     "Positive," he said, jabbing his finger once again. "See there?" he asked; and this time she did see. In the distance, if she squinted, she could just pick out a square of yellow-white light which was  a little too large and too pale for a candle flame. If she focused, she thought she could detect a smell that went with it - was it coffee? Or cinnamon? Ginger? Cloves? Which mixed with the dry mustiness of the corridor.

     "It's the way out, has to be," said Michael, shielding his eyes from the candlelight so he could see it a little better. "It looks about right for a door don't you think?" Jane gave a small shrug.

     "How far do you think?" she asked.

     "Can't be more than a couple of minutes" he called back jubilantly over his shoulder, his movements becoming so hasty that she was forced to break into a run just to keep pace. "Come on" he added, "I want to get out of here."

     For all the lack of light in that narrow corridor it seemed strange that they should so misjudge the distance, yet half an hour later the doorway seemed maddeningly elusive - a little closer to be sure, but nevertheless appearing to be receding backwards as they progressed. Around them the corridor remained unnervingly the same - not one stone was out of place, not one bracket on the wall was crooked and strangest of all, the candles were all of identical height and the yellow-gold flames that licked at the wicks appeared to leave them unburned. It was like the place had been reconstructed from a photograph by someone who had never visited anywhere like it before.      

Michael and Jane scarcely talked and when they did they found themselves communicating in the hushed, furtive whispers of people in the full expectation of their conversation being overheard.

     "Pinch me would you?" asked Michael once. There was a moment's silence and then "Bloody hell I said pinch not bruise!"

     "Sorry" Jane muttered quietly.

     "Do you think the door's getting bigger?" she queried tentatively perhaps a quarter of an hour later.

     "Don't get your hopes up" Michael responded glumly, but it was not long before he acknowledged that yes, it did seem to be getting larger. By an unspoken consensus the pair broke into a run in the sudden, desperate hope of catching the doorway before it fell back into the distance. Jane could feel her heart beating double time to the rhythm of her echoing footsteps.       

As they neared the doorway they began to see the brighter light streaming into the dim passageway, small motes of dust dancing waltzes in its pale shafts. Jane was gasping now, the flow of air to her lungs was a halting stream that was just barely enough. At her side, Michael's gasping was equally ragged; but they kept on running until they burst wide-eyed and scarlet-faced into the new light.      

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