Lydia cried out as she struck the ground. She should have fallen five stories, but she and the police officer had only been tumbling for a second before she found herself smacking into stone.
And it was stone, not concrete.
As she opened her eyes she could see the uneven roughness of it heading off in two directions. Around her, two great walls rose up towering high into the sky.
Very little light made it down to where she'd landed. The sky above her was a black void.
When she stood she realized her left hand, the one she'd landed on, was probably broken. Pain, like a red hot poker, jabbed up her arm any time she tried to move her fingers.
In her right hand she found the gun she had taken from the police officer. Her fingers were so tight around it that she had to press them against her thigh to straighten them.
She didn't have any pockets, so she was forced to hold onto the gun.
The cop was nowhere to be seen, but Lydia was still afraid he was nearby. She'd known that the police would come for her eventually. Jessica had probably given up her address. The bitch.
She'd known not to trust her, but she'd known a lot of things, and done them anyway.
The stone road ran to Lyida's left and right far off into the distance beyond her sight.
The walls seemed to be hundreds of feet tall and Lydia didn't feel particularly keen to try climbing anything at the moment. So she turned to her left and headed off.
After about an hour of walking she found a cross way, an opening in the walls to her left and her right.
The one to the right continued on straight as far as she could see, but the one to her left, made an immediate turn to the right, and then looked to turn to the left.
It was the first corner Lydia had seen here so far. For a while there she had thought this place just went on, with no ends or changes.
Lydia took the left, gun held out in front of her, and followed the turns of the passage.
Unlike in the long way she had been on, here she found the stone of the ground clad in patches of thick moss.
At first they were sporadic, mostly grown from the dark corners, but as she proceeded through the snaking way, the patches grew until the ground was covered.
Here every few feet she encountered another turn that took her to the left or right.
It reminded Lydia of the corn mazes she'd explored as a child, but in this place she couldn't sit on her dad's shoulders and cheat her way out.
It struck her that this place was very like a maze, except so far she hadn't run in to any dead ends.
Just as she was contemplating this fact the way she was on turned sharply and suddenly and a new area opened up in front of her.
The chamber was large. The walls that had been so constricting in the narrow mossy passage now contained a square courtyard of some hundreds of feet.
The moss here was even thicker than it had been, and it sloped down from the opening she walked through.
The entire floor was slanted and it ended, presumably, at the bottom of the opposite wall which was shrouded in darkness.
By the angle of the slanting floor she could guess how deep that long pit was, but it seemed to contain depths she could not fathom.
Just above the opposite wall, Lydia could make out, in the starless sky, her friend the yellow moon.
Its pregnant roundness balanced on the very edge of the wall as if it was sitting and watching her struggles.
She attempted to throw a rude gesture its way, but then remembered her hand was broken. Ow!
In the darkness under the wall far below, Lydia could make out the movements of flickering orange light.
People! Lydia didn't know where she was, but it felt good that at least someone else was here with her. She stepped out and started walking down toward the dark valley.
Then she stopped, holding the gun. What if the officer was down there? He had to be pretty angry that she'd taken his gun. And slammed his hand in a door. And threw him off her building. Hmm.
Maybe she needed to think this through a bit.
Unfortunately, she didn't get the opportunity to do this, because just then a group of scurrying figures came up out of a particularly bushy mound of moss off to her left.
They held long wooden spears with stone tips like cavemen carried in movies. But it was not this fact that caught her attention. It was more the fact that they were rats.
Rats the size of, well, people.
They ran toward her shouting and brandishing their spears. Whatever language they were speaking, Lydia wasn't familiar with it, but they didn't look like they were offering introductions.
Before she knew what she was doing Lydia fired off a round in their general direction.
In that place the resounding boom that came from the gun echoed and amplified, carrying from the high end of the courtyard, which had multiple ways leading out of it,
including the one Lydia had just come from, all the way down into the darkness of flickering lights that she had been heading for.
The rat people fell back from this unexpected attack, one of them literally falling to the ground and rolling, down toward the dark end, before they screeched and continued their attack.
When they were five feet away, Lydia planted her feet and fired into the mass of them, then they carried her down to the mossy ground.
The coppery stench of blood filled the air, before it was overpowered by the reeking wet dog smell of the rat people.
They clawed the gun away from her, and one of them sent a spear through the upper muscles of her right arm. She screamed, and her vision began to flicker out.
The last thing she saw was the clacking yellow teeth of a rat.