“Welcome to the Abyss,” Clyde chimed. “Care to make a donation?”
The young woman blinked several times, eyes adjusting to the lighting of the sparsely furnished lobby. “You . . . have to pay?” she said at last.
Clyde gestured to a jar labelled Tips. It was empty “Never hurts to ask. You ready?”
“I guess so?”
An unusually insouciant response. “Right,” Clyde said, hoisting himself up. “Through here.” He opened the door at the back of the room and gestured for the visitor to enter.
She stepped into the large empty room, saw the Abyss at its center. “This is it?”
Clyde nodded. “Enjoy,” he said, letting the door shut behind her.”
He returned to the desk shaking his head. Maybe he should have tried to warn the kid what she was in for. Maybe a decade ago, he would have. But no one who came to the Abyss was really prepared. There was a reason repeat visitors were so rare. Sometimes it was better just to let people have the experience.
The girl emerged ten minutes later wearing an expression Clyde knew well. Trembling, eyes wide, she crossed to the desk and dropped a handful of bills into the tip jar.
* * *
Story by Gregory M. Fox