The red light slowly grew, eventually turning into an open doorway. Well, the frame of one. I didn't see any door, and it was slightly tilted to the right, cutting off my view of inside. I paused, just outside of the light, and still shielded by the darkness of the hallway. I was now scared of what I would find. It took a moment, but fear of the dark trumped fear of the light, and with baited breath, I entered.
Larger than the former room, a rough-hewn chamber spread out before me. More ascending walls of loose stone blocks, a floor of packed dirt, and a roof that disappeared into the shadowy depths above. Hundreds of candles lined the bottoms of the walls, flowing up and down as they rose up over jutting blocks of stone, and then descended back down again into the dirt. Short mounds of debris, broken stone and pieces of mortar, rose up in a labyrinthine of tiny hills and valleys between them and the wall. I couldn't feel a breeze, but their flames flickered, casting trembling strips of light across the room. Centering the far side of the room, was what looked like a stone alter. The sides were smooth, and drew in as they ascended, crowning with a flat top adorned by curved spires at each edge. As I approached it, I could make out what looked like an old, leather-bound book atop. It was open, and the thick yellowed pages were covered in brownish scrawlings.
I rounded the pedestal and looked at it more closely, trying to make sense of the strange script. It didn't look like English, but there were illustrations. I picked up the edge, and flipped the page. More illustrations, and again that same script, written in neat cursive rows by what looked like a quill pen. The drawings looked like some madman had scrawled them out amid fevered dreams. Roundish disks with what looked like latticed windows. Giant mutated bugs that resembled beetles but walked upright. I flipped through a few more pages. Shorter, stocky humanoid looking things, but with fewer fingers, beady eyes, holes for a nose, and sharper teeth. And yet another creature, limbs thick and stump-like, the feet like an elephants, three fingers per hand that were long and ended in talons, and a weirdly stretched out face that ended with a huge mouth full of long, needle-like fangs. The drawings were crude, but the eyes appeared slitted, like a reptiles. Is this some crude form of fairy tale? On closer examination, the The next page the brownish ink looked to be more a deep crimson. I flipped to the next page, the textured yellow paper creaking with the effort. Sprawled out across both pages was a drawing that looked like some kind of landscape map. A tiny square was marked with an X, lines indicating some kind of drop or elevation beside it, all surrounded by rolling hills and valleys. There appeared to be a lake not far from the small box as well. I recognized the shape of the lake. It looked like the brochure pictures of Loch Ness! There was even a series of little squares next to one edge, where that ruin of a castle would be. Maybe the X was the building I was in? If so, this could help me find my way back! The thought of civilization again, of seeing something normal like the people of that tourist shop down on the loch. The bright, freshly scrubbed looking faces. The pleasant smiles. Normality. Just the thought calmed me! A little. I closed the book gently. It was bigger than it looked open, like a large, thick photo album. The cover was a dark, mottled brown, and strangely fuzzy, with a metal band that served as the spine running the length. I delved my fingers under, and pulled it towards me. Fuck, it was heavy! Heaving it to my left side, I walked towards the door, already straining a little with the wait.
As I reached the door frame, I paused, leaned my head forward, and peered left and right in the blackness. I couldn't see anything. The low light of the chamber didn't help. I came from the left, so that only left the right. I was feeling a little less tense. Possibly having a map, at least something that placed me, was a step forward. I wonder what it was doing up in this strange place. And the events down at the loch...I was going to spook myself again. I dove out the door, and strutted anxiously down the corridor. The walkway curved, a detail I only noticed when my most forward foot smacked into a wall of stone, and I continued off to the left.
The book felt like it grew heavier by the moment, and I was sweating profusely. I started breathing a little harder, and my thighs had a hot itch to them, like when I would start running again after taking too much time off. Suddenly, I noticed that I could see more clearly! Just a little, but the environs were coming out of the shadows. A faint illumination was penetrating the depths, bringing out the contours of the stone walls.
The light grew, and within a few feet, I could see it was an exit. A door-less arch that opened into a brilliant sky. I couldn't make out any features, the light pouring down out of it was too intense, but there was a way out! I could smell fresh air. A cool draft was rushing in, turning my sweat to ice.
A few more feet and I stopped. I was at the edge, peering down a mountainside. A sandy path, steep but navigable, twisted down the slope. Packed dirt turned into flat strips of rock at spots, but it was obviously man made. Fields of grass swooped in on both sides, dropping down the steep hills in a blanket of green. A strong gust of wind hit me, the unexpected force almost knocking me over, and I realized I must be pretty high up. That's why there were no trees up here! Just patches of heather and the hardy coat of grass. I wandered down, stumbling a little with the weight of the book. Cross winds buffeted me, punching through my leather coat and slowing my movement, but I was so glad to be free of that dark place. I glanced back up. It was now a small, receding black hole. It looked like a cave in the rock. The edges were a little too straight to be natural, but the surrounding cliff side was an ageless wall of rugged granite. I wonder how much effort it took to carve through that? I turned back and kept walking.