What I failed to notice the entire time the boat headed for land was that the mountain ahead of us rose so high I could not see its peak. There were no clouds and the land sloped up gradually, I should’ve been able to see something beyond the foothills.
The boat settled alongside the dock and the engines abruptly shut down. The sudden silence surprised me. I’d not given too much thought to the sounds the boat made while running.
Both of us tied the boat to the dock. I felt we’d not return to use it again and for a moment felt some regret. It was a known unknown that I gradually accepted as my reality and safety.
Margaret went below and returned with my backpack, which held both of our possession and clothing. She also carried, or dragged up a sack filled with edibles, the first aid kits. She had insisted it was her obligation to help that way, and rather than argue I had agreed.
Now we stood side by side and strode slowly to the end of the dock. Once there we discovered the only place to go was into a tunnel wide enough for two people to walk and not much more. Lights turned on as we entered. They were strips along the bottom of the tunnel walls and another in the center of the ceiling. As we progressed, they went on ahead of us and off behind us. So what felt like an hour later, when I turned to look back the way we entered, I saw nothing but darkness.
I grew weary hours later. We hadn’t been speaking much once we discussed the tunnel, lighting and where it might lead. I was several paces ahead of her and stopped when I saw a door on the right side.
“I’m glad you stopped,” she said. “I’m about to pass out.”
“Sorry,” I said. “I wasn’t really thinking about anything other then getting out of this tunnel.”
“Have you noticed how quiet it is? I couldn’t hear our footsteps or anything.”
“I did,” I agreed and reached out placed my hand on the door lever, pushed down and jumped inwardly to the sound of air moving into whatever lay beyond the door.
“That was creepy,” Margaret, said softly as if afraid she might be overheard.
I swung the door out and lights beyond lit a space that appeared to be a small rest area.
“Damn does this mean what I think it means?” I asked.
“What? That we might be in the tunnel for days?”
“You were thinking that too?” I glanced over.
“Great,” I said and entered the room.
Once we made ourselves as comfortable as an alien looking space allowed, I sat in a chair that appeared stiff and rejecting. When it moved beneath me I nearly jumped, but forced myself to relax and learned that the chair was molding itself to me. Not like it would to hold me prisoner, but like it was preprogrammed to afford maximum comfort.
I listened as Margaret settled in the seat alongside me. She sounded the way she did when she experienced serious pleasure.
“At least this place isn’t dangerous,” she said quietly almost like a moan.
No yet, I thought but felt saying that out loud would be inappropriate. Instead I took a few moments to examine our surroundings and discovered we were in a room with two chairs and one unremarkable table that honestly looked like it had been plastic poured into a single mold, cooled and dropped in the room’s center.
My backpack and Margaret’s bag looked shabby and filthy and extremely out of place.
When both chairs finished, a low humming from all around us filled the air. Margaret’s eyes widened as she glanced at me. Before either of us could speak, the floor and walls contorted and twisted. Not in a way that seemed sinister, but definitely beyond weird.
We watched the floor rise in several locations and furniture appeared as if crafted from the floor’s material. The walls opened into alcoves and within two of them bedroom furniture seemed to ooze out of both the walls and floors. A third alcove formed a kitchen, and a fourth was a fully equipped bathroom.
No more than five minutes passed and the sounds and movement ended. We were then within a small but very comfortable apartment. And I was so awestruck speech proved impossible.