Genevieve spun around, her back pressed against the door. What had she gotten herself into? Fright had distilled all of the rage out of her, leaving her cold and shaky from the reaction. Dragged into watchfulness, she began to notice her surroundings in more detail. Instead of the street that she expected, she stood in the hallway. Bricks on the floor, arched walls to either side, nothing that she would’ve expected to find in a city.
There was a small amount of light, only enough to allow her to see her feet and the path on which she stood. The hallway felt like it was closing in on her, slowly getting narrower and narrower. The feeling of encroachment wasn’t improved at all by the tendrils of that same oily-looking fog that seemed to seep from crevices and cracks along the arched sides of the corridor.
Genevieve found her skin reacting to the thought of being touched by that fog. Some part of her, buried deep, rebelled at the very concept of the fog and she wanted nothing to do with it. The swirling movement screamed danger to her, and she glanced around wildly looking for a direction to escape.
No branching of the corridor was visible, and it was definitely getting narrower. The fog was building up on either side of where Genevieve stood trembling. Her tension increased with every inch that it crept closer.
The frightened and disoriented woman could see a light, a warm golden glow that shone from the end of the short corridor. Making an instinctual, swift decision, Genevieve set out at a fast walk toward that beacon. As she got closer to the light, she noticed that the glow was emitted by a fixture beside the door that was clean and polished. It had the look of a well-cared-for house or business, with a high-sheen mahogany color and graceful brass handle.
Driven by nervousness and gut-destroying fear, Genevieve found her steps coming faster. By the time she reached the closed door, she was traveling practically at a run. Taking a moment for a deep breath, she turned to look back at the rusty entry door and saw that the fog had chased her. Feeling the desperation of a mouse that is cornered by a cat, and driven by a soul-deep dread of being touched by the fog, Genevieve yanked the mahogany door open and rushed through. Totally oblivious to where she had arrived, she slammed the door shut and leaned against it, taking deep shuddering breaths.
Any scene that she would’ve listed on her expectations would have been inadequate to describe where she stood. This truly was the last place she thought she would ever stand. She felt the blood drain from her face as the shapes around her came into focus. She was in a bar, a tavern. A place where no well-bred woman would step. She tried to slow her panicked shallow breathing. No good would come of her fainting, she lectured herself.
Genevieve squared her shoulders and pressed her knees together to keep them from knocking. She was a modern woman, a respected widow. Her chin went up. If she decided to step into a bar, she would do so and dare anyone to shame her.
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