094: The Spiral Hall

{The main body of an email — Ed.}

Hey again. I hope you don’t mind me emailing you, but I need yours and Eilidh‘s help more than ever. I know you might not want to get into something like this after what happened to Dominic, but I need you to come round to Cumbernauld, and soon. There’s something not right here, and I need someone to help me before the spiral hall manifests.

You know Cumbernauld’s dead at the best of times. The place reeks of depression and desperation, and it’s starting to really get to me. The town was built in the 50s as a kind of residential overspill zone for Glasgow, and since every aspect of it was planned by the government, it doesn’t have any kind of pulse. When you stand on Buchanan Street , listening to the swarms of people chatting around you, sensing the vibration of the traffic and the subway trains under your feet, and feeling the wind and rain lashing and blasting through the alleyways and avenues, you can tell Glasgow’s alive, breathing and shouting and screaming; in Cumbernauld, all you can hear is a death rattle. If there’s such thing as a “spirit of the city”, ours was stillborn.

Dead things rot, Alexander, and there’s a rot that’s settled in the town center. You know how all the residential areas are built around the Shopping Center, that massive eyesore? That’s basically Cumbernauld’s version of Buchanan Street – the dead heart of the city. The whole thing looks like it was built inside-out, the bones and bowels everted: all the things that are normally obscured and hidden away from the public – like service areas, ugly brick facades and aged décor – are thrown right to the forefront for everyone to see. The building itself doesn’t even look like a shopping center – it looks like an angular, austere 70s municipal building, with the people around it consigned to despair.

You know how you get those shoppers who just seem to traipse and amble along, without ever seeming like they’re really conscious of where they are or where they’re going? They’re not junkies – well, not always – they’re like the walking dead. Well, I was in the shopping center one night – it was practically empty – and I was walking down a long, straight corridor behind one of those people when they suddenly stopped about two meters in front of me, and then she turned to her right, just staring over to the wall – except the wall was completely gone.

Instead, there was what I can only describe as being a hallway spiral – it was like looking down a stairwell that vertically grown from where the wall used to be into a colossal architectural ammonite, an Escher corridor stretching and circling, endlessly orbiting and eventually terminating in some nauseating singularity. I felt ill looking at it – and worse, I could feel something looking back at me from the other end of that spiral. It was a rotten, festering wound in the dead body of the city, and it was infested with something.

The person in front of me shuffled towards the corridor-spiral in that addled, slow way, and I never even tried to stop them. God knows I thought about it, but I wanted to see what happened. I wanted to see how the spiral worked, how someone could possibly navigate that thing – and she did it. She shuffled over to the corridor, and within seconds, she was on it, turning down that impossible gyrating insanity, being devoured by its incongruent geometry. I saw her just keep trundling along, her limbs beginning to warp and twist, her neck elongating and her skin splaying out at odd angles all the way down the hallway. I couldn’t take my eyes away from it – not until the last moment, when something rose from the bottom of the corridor, announced by a far-off vibration – a maddened, hysterical scream of sheer panicked delight, the sound of fragile sanity finally cracking and echoing over eternal, endless walls. The sense of movement from the inevitable terminus of that hellish spiral was enough to throw me into a sense of bile-inducing horror – I couldn’t bear to look at the thing that was coming screaming up from the depths of that hallway, tearing its way up the spiral and violating the distorted, mangled frame of that lost woman in a way I couldn’t even describe, before rushing up the hallway towards me. I had to run, Alexander. Out of the hallway, out of the town center, and all the way back to my flat.

I’m sorry I dumped all this on you, but I’m fucking terrified. The hallway in my flat has started to twist -the floor in my bedroom doesn’t match up with the hall anymore, and when I’m in there, I can hear something from far away, screaming and laughing at me. Please help. Please, please help. I don’t know what to do.

– Alan Strachan


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