I could feel my heart beating loudly in my chest, my breath getting caught in my throat. I gathered myself and closing my eyes I sighed out with forced calm. In front of me was a door. I shoved it open with some force, catching the handle to prevent it from bouncing against the wall as it swung away from me. Before me lay a hallway, one you might find in a hospital or a particularly low budget office building. The lighting seemed strange as if it was seeping through the corner where the ceiling met the wall. Most of it coming from the far end and to my left. Behind me there was darkness. Despite its lack of brightness, there was plenty of light to see by. Plenty of light to see the people standing scattered throughout the hallway. They all stood perfectly still, their faces turned away from me. As if they had been caught walking towards the far end, but frozen in their tracks. Something told me that this was a mistake. That they wouldn't remain quite so still. But neither could I.
In the distance, I could hear church bells tolling faintly. They signaled something, I was sure, but I could not remember what. Just that I had to move, get to the other side of that hallway without disturbing the peace in it. Despite the terror I felt, I took a tentative step forward. My hand let go of the door handle and I started, quietly stepping my way. The first person stood to my left and I stepped quieter than an adulterous spouse returning to bed around her. Never in my life had my heart sounded so loud, my breath so ragged. I wasn't in bad shape by any means, but there was a stillness here that made every sound stand out by its contrast. I made my way around the woman closest to me without sparing a glance at her. I knew I shouldn't look at her. I knew if I did it would be a mistake. There would be something wrong with her, something so terribly wrong. And so I kept going, another step and another. I was just passing a second woman on my right when I heard the door behind me fall closed. The sound would have barely been registered in any normal active corridor, but here it sounded like the slamming an enormous gate. Just then, behind my right shoulder, I heard her sigh.