The duct was just as horrible as I had imagined it would be. I was actually grateful that it was as dark as it was in there because I knew I would lose what was left of my mind if I saw a spider. Of course, now that I was thinking of spiders, every tickle, every itch, every unexpected sensation was going to be an arachnid invader.
I was beginning to think that my brain was out to get me. It didn’t matter what I thought about, it became the worst case scenario immediately.
I was beginning to feel very claustrophobic by the time a puff of less stale air brushed my face. I had been just about to give up and take my chances with whatever it was back there coming through the vent after me when I felt it. I must be above a guest room.
Saying a prayer of thanks to anything that would listen, I began the unpleasant task of getting the cover off and out of the vent. In movies, it always looked so easy. One good push and the grate would pop off and the hero would slither out as if he had been born without limbs.
Snakes. Great another unpleasant think to think about.
As it was, the vent was barely big enough for me to wriggle through and getting my arms away from my sides and over to the vent proved to be far more challenging than I had ever imagined.
After much straining, grunting and swearing, I managed to get a hand free enough that I could begin to apply pressure to the room vent. Luckily, it was not attached as firmly as the one in the office and I soon found himself hanging precariously over a queen size bed.
I was stuck. Vents were not made for grown men to crawl through. My belt buckle had caught and was not going to turn loose. I was going to have to take them off.
Getting out of the offending pants was no easier than getting the vent cover off, but finally I found myself falling face first in an ungraceful tangle of limbs onto the bed. I was grateful it was there though, since a face plant on the floor would have been less comfortable.
My pants followed me on their own, sliding down to land on my back like a blanket 3 sizes too small.
I tried to untangle my limbs from the awkward landing and sort out how to get my slacks back on without making any more noise than I already had. I half considered laying here in the bed for a few more minutes. I was so tired, but I knew I had been noisy enough that I couldn’t stay in this room too long.
A wet breathy sound and the scrape of nails on metal shook me out of my lethargic state. The dog was following me through the vent. From the sound of it, it was close.
I rolled off of the bed and frantically looked for anything I could use to defend myself against a giant skinless dog creature.
Not that I dared to pick anything up, I had no idea how long the visions were lasting but the wind screamed and wailed against the windows now with the force of tropical storm. If the creature were to find me while I was stuck like bird hypnotized by a snake, I was going to have no chance at all.
Hoping to buy himself some time, I shut the door to the little bathroom and clicked the flimsy lock. It had obviously not worked with the office door, but at least this one had less of a gap at the bottom for the thing to get leverage.
Frantically I tried to think of a way out. Nothing presented itself. The bathroom was admirably clean. If I had not been so desperate, I would have congratulated the staff for doing such a thorough job.
I caught another glimpse of myself in the mirror. My eyes were hollow and haunted, not too surprising, my hair too was a mess, but this was not what gotten my attention. In the bright clean light, I could plainly see the muscles moving under my skin. It was almost as if my flesh was becoming transparent.
Hoping it was a trick of the light or even the mirror I pulled up the sleeve of my shirt only to find the same thing on my arms and hands. It looked like my skin was fading away. I looked in the mirror again. My normally dark hair looked almost black now, but my eyes were the disturbing part. Normally my eyes were an icy blue, but in here, they looked amber as a cat’s.
Horrified, I turned from the mirror, determined not to look any longer, certain that this was just another sign that I had broken with reality. How would my skin be transparent or my eyes change color? It was almost as if I was beginning to look like those devilish dog-like creatures that now pursued me.
Despair gripped my heart. Is that what was happening? Had I been infected by them? Was it a form of rabies? Would I begin to foam at the mouth, or would I just drop dead?
I could think of no reason to continue to fight the madness. If I was just going to die either of some strange illness or become some unnatural beast, there was no reason to try to stay alive any longer.
Miserably, I looked to the door, as if I expected the snarling beast to burst through at any moment. The white particle board barrier stayed in place, but I did see the answer to my problems. A neck tie.
Almost giddy at the prospect of ending my life before the monster in the bedroom did, I reached for the tie, planning on throwing it over the shower curtain rod. Of course, I felt the prickly, electric shock move up my fingers as soon as the silk touched my fingertips.
There was no way to stop it. The world tilted and the sterile white light of the bathroom became