The door slam echoed around him. Mitch froze. His lungs leaked air in a slow, steady wheeze until empty; his mouth worked the air like a fish pulled from the water. It was as though he'd forgotten how to breathe. A darkness--darker than closing his eyes or his bedroom in the dead of night--surrounded him and pressed in on him. Panic wrung the last of the oxygen from his lungs as his lips puckered in response.
Then, a hefty slap to his back caused Mitch to sputter and cough and finally, breathe.
"Here," hissed a voice next to his ear. Mitch felt something smooth and round being shoved into his hand and jumped. A shiver climbed his spine as the area around him began to glow. "A green orber. Hmmm..." the voice whispered again.
Mitch glanced behind him and saw a very tall and very thin man. His lanky looks didn't stop with his body and, in fact, were more pronounced in his face. With a chin and cheeks sharp enough to cut glass, Mitch wondered how his skin fit over his bones. Then, the thin man's mouth stretched into a grotesque smile revealing small childish teeth, all perfectly strain and abnormally white. Mitch stepped back, stepped away from this man--he wanted to run but had no where to run. He didn't even know where he was since he clearly was not in the cellar anymore. Or was he?
"Stop," Thin man said, the smile wiped from his face. His hand cut the air as he gestured behind Mitch, beyond the green glow. "Nevo is there. You don't want him to know you're here. He wouldn't like it."
"Who is Nevo? What are you doing in my cellar?"
"Shh. Nevo is the keeper and this isn't your cellar. But you already know that." The gruesome smile returned and he crooked his boney finger. "Come."
Mitch hesitated. He knew better than to go with strangers.
The thin man turned away. He walked with a see-saw motion towards the edge of the light. "You have nothing to return to, that is, if you could return." His hissing whisper turned into wheezing laughter.
Mitch held the orb in front of him and spun around in a slow careful circle. Nothing. As far as his eyes could see there was nothing but blackness. Sounds started emerging from around him--clicking, breathing and rustling.
Thin Man's disembodied head appeared in the ring of light. "You'd be better off with me than one of the others."
"Others?" Mitch asked, his voice timid and squeaky.
"Oh yes. They wait there for me to leave you." His hand came from the darkness and pointed behind Mitch. "Do you want me to leave you here then? Or will you come with me?"
He knew going with Thin Man was not a good idea but he was sure staying would be equally bad. The rustling and breathing around him had become louder almost drowning out the loud beating of Mitch's own racing heart.
He glanced around him one more time before walking into the darkness. Thin Man's raspy laughter echoed against the surroundings as the other noises settled into a hush. Mitch had made his choice. Now he had to live with it.