For a second there Rachel had thought she had lost her phone but it turned up after a quick search of her slim silver purse. Brushing aside a few strands of blond hair she sent a message to her boss letting him know that the clients had signed the deal. The negotiations had been concluded over an expensive meal and several bottles of champagne but it all went down on company expenses, so not to worry. Maybe it was having one too many drinks or just thought of the five figure bonus that would soon be lining her account but Rachel was feeling exhilarated.
The night air did little to stun her high as she left the clients in the hands of her assistant. Rachel might be a corporate shark willing to do a lot to get to the top but she had limits and one place she drew the line at was accompanying a group of sweaty old men to a strip club. Let them get their rocks off and throw their money away. As long as they showed up to the meeting tomorrow with the exec committee she didn’t care. And what was the point of having an assistant if you could farm the crap jobs off on him.
Even though it was late Rachel wasn’t feeling the least bit concerned. The sky train station was just a block away it would only take five minutes if she cut through the side street. If things did get dangerous she had a compressed bottle of acid in her purse that would do serious damage to any mugger or other threat. And if that didn’t work there was the collapsible carbon nanotube baton as well. Self-defence wasn’t just a suggestion in this city it was a way of life.
Turning the corner Rachel made her way quickly between the buildings. There was enough light spillage from the nearby streets and the security lights to ensure this wasn’t some dark alleyway. But after a less than a minute she found her way blocked by a large dumpster. Frustrated and not willing to get filthy climbing over it Rachel detoured down a narrow alley between two older looking buildings.
The space was narrow but wide enough for her to get through without a problem but instead of opening up into another well-lit side street as she expected. Rachel found herself in a dark poorly lit intersection of alleys. She recognized a few name plates beside thick looking doors from popular neighboured restaurants but no obvious exit other than to head straight on.
“So Rachel, this where your favourite restaurants dispose of their trash, not exactly the most glamorous of spots to finish a night at” She said to herself.
Heading straight on Rachel found herself at a brick wall and beside a pile of extremely unpleasant smelling garbage. It might of have been rotting meat or fish but either way it had been sitting out far too long and Rachel quickly walked back the way she came. Turning round a sharp corner she slowed looking confused. Had she had that much to drink? It had been a straight path when she had come this way only a minute before hadn’t it? The colourful intersection of restaurants seemed the same but she felt rattled and started to jog instead of walk as she headed down a different path.
Each time Rachel turned a corner she became less sure and more panicked. This was a well-travelled area in a neighbourhood filled with bars and restaurants, so where was everyone? Why was it so quiet out? It seemed that with each passing minute that the sounds of life in the city grew fainter. Why couldn’t she find her way back to a main street? Nothing was looking familiar anymore.
Rachel turned one last corner and found herself sprinting back into the intersection of restaurant backsides. Which didn’t make sense at all. How could she have become so turned around and disoriented that she would wind up back here again. Not pausing to think about anything else she hammered on the door of the nearest restaurant. She struck the metal door and yelled at the top of her lungs for almost five minutes to avail. Again and again she repeated it trying every door she came across to with no success. They couldn’t be all closed it wasn’t that late at night. Even now people must be dining inside and kitchen staff should be working so why wasn’t anyone answering?
It had almost slipped her mind in her state of panic and agitation but her phone was just in her purse. Nothing seemed to happen though when she touched the screen. It remained a black mirror, the battery apparently dead. That made even less sense she had charged the phone before leaving the office and only made one call it couldn’t have run out over power already. Even as the thought came to her mind the lights began to darken. The security lights were growing dim and beginning to flicker casting long shadows across the increasingly disturbing looking intersection.
Each time the lights flicked out a wave of terror unlike anything she had ever experienced washed over Rachel. She felt trapped, confined, and for the first time in her life helpless. Back the way she came that was it! She finally recognized the gap she had squeezed through. It was a straight stretch and then a short run to street. From there she could get a taxi home and who cares about the expense.
Scrambling towards the gap Rachel slipped losing a shoe in the process but pressing forward without hesitating for even a second. She squeezed forward but the gap seemed so much smaller this time. It had been wide enough to walk through last time but now she could be barely fit through. This had to be the way. This had to have been the way she came. Why was it so different? Why wasn’t anything making sense.
Her hands scrapped the walls, her hair was a mess and she clutched on to her purse like a lifeline. Desperately she pushed forward trying force her way along the narrow space between the brick walls. Squeezing and contorting as best she could but the struggled proved futile. Somehow she had wedged herself in the tiny alley and could no longer move. Unable to go forward or back, unable to even turn her head. Tears ran down Rachel’s face as she called out, screaming at the top of her lungs until her voice was hoarse. The last of the flicking lights died out descending the world into darkness. The last conscious thought Rachel could comprehend was a foul rotting odour drawing closer.