The gaslights flicker and create a shadow that allows me to recede from view. I step back and feel the cold, damp walls and shiver. Someone is drawing closer and I realize that it was only the echoing in the tunnels that made it sound like whispers. I can make out vague words, “…further…lock…12th…mad hatter…” They are close to where I stand and I’m hoping they will continue past and not turn in this direction. They stop and I hear the woman’s voice, “wait.” Seconds pass as I once again hold my breath. “There’s someone here,” she says. Her voice is familiar. The librarian. Her companion says, “Stella, not now, we must be on time.” I do not recognize the gentleman’s voice.
They continue on and the sounds of their steps recede. I emerge from my place in the shadows. I will follow, but I look down and see something lying on the ground. As I reach to pick the item up I hear a loud creaking, then something heavy being lifted and slammed. I stand quietly for a moment. I now hold in my hands a tiny, leather journal. The edges are worn. It’s no bigger then the palm of my hand. The lighting is poor, but I can feel lettering or perhaps an imprint. I open it carefully and see writing and other notations. Is that a date? I will examine this more closely later. I place this with the rest of my discoveries.
I step tentatively. I feel nervous; anticipation is building, for I do not know what is ahead. Something has always stopped me from venturing this far into the tunnels. Fear and rumors. As I walk along I examine the walls for any trace of clues. I see an illustration of three gears. As I take the next step my foot hits something hard. I step up and I hear a latch lift, a creaking sound and what sounds like a door opening. Standing there for a moment, listening, I feel something brush past me and faintly I hear, “hurry, we must be on time.”