I wake up on a dusty, ash-covered floor, breathing in the old smell of a fire long gone. The air is thick and hot, and it smells like ashes and cigarette smoke. I stand up, slowly and stiffly, brushing off the grit and trying to wake up. I feel vaguely anxious, but I can't remember why. It's the kind of morning feeling you have when you wake up after going to bed after a long bad day, and when you wake up a shadow of the previous night's despair still hangs over you. I keep brushing myself off, and I realize that I'm wearing a suit. It's a dark brown tweed suit, with a soft blue linen shirt, and a woolen tie to match the suit. My feet are bare; I'm not wearing any shoes. The ash sticks to my feet. I look around, slowly. I'm in what looks like a hotel room. The curtains are drawn over the window, and there's a fierce orange glow coming through the curtains, bathing the room with a dull sunset shade. The room is small and sparsely furnished, with a cracked mirror on the wall to the right of the window, a desk below the mirror, a bed opposite, and an elegant sofa on the far end of the room, the kind you associate with Victorian tearooms and psychoanalytic therapy. Next to the head of the sofa there's a sizable terrarium, set up on top of a table. In the terrarium there's some sand, some rocks and cacti, and a large rattlesnake. I don't know where I am. The thought pumps ice into my veins. Looking past the sofa, I notice the door is open. I have a sudden need to escape this room. I walk out into a long, dimly lit hall, lined with doors similar to mine. Through the doors I hear awful sounds. Moaning, howling, laughing, screaming, crying, they are the sounds of caged animals trapped in the bodies of men and women. I turn to the right and start walking down the hall. I feel instinctively that this is where I am to go. After what feels like ages, I've suddenly reached what looks like the hotel lobby. I've already forgotten how I got here. Did I take the stairs or the elevator? The lobby is as dusty and ashen as the hotel room. I look down at the floor and see footprints lurching across the dust on the floor. Their panicked patterns cause me to shiver, despite the heat. I look across the room and see a pair of glass doors, and I walk towards them, excited and relieved to finally be out of this hotel. I walk outside into a hot dry breeze and blowing sand. Squinting against the grit, I look around and see that the hotel is inside an enormous cavern. The rock walls are a smooth Martian red, reaching high up and disappearing into inky blackness. The wind sounds hauntingly through the caves, along with the empty, hollow echo I always associated with subway tunnels, and the occasional scream from somewhere far away. Behind me, the door opens and a woman in a light grey suit steps out next to me. She lights a cigarette and sighs happily, stepping out into the crimson gloom and whistling carelessly while she softly pads away across the stone with her bare feet. There's charm in her step, the way she lopes across the cavern like a coyote on desert rock. She stops and turns around, slowly. "You coming?" she calls. There's mischief in her voice. I suddenly remember my school days spent in detention with my best friends, when we would run wild through the empty school halls with reckless abandon, the fact that we were supposedly being punished making every adventure so much more thrilling. All the fear and anxiety I had about this new place suddenly melts away. I step onto the scarlet stone and run with her into the shadows.