“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I whispered under my breath as I stared down the dark, cramped, underground hallway. I looked over to Scrap who was too busy tinkering with the mechanics of the secret door to care that I’d suddenly become quite nervous. I’d been sent here by Frey, a man from Midgar who’d happened to have contact with a witch coven whom could likely provide me work of a magical nature. I’d been politely informed of the address and shown a symbol that would appear only in the astral realm to mark the hidden entry point.
I’d been certain that simply finding the door would be the hard part, but oh boy was I wrong. Unfortunately for me, Frey had neglected to mention the compact hallway required to get there. For anyone else, I suppose, the darkness would be unsettling without a light source. However, as a kid I was diagnosed with claustrophobia; The irrational fear of confined spaces.
It wasn’t always as bad as it was now, but having failed to respond to therapy and other psychological treatment, my condition eventually spiraled into what my doctor had told me was the worst case he’d ever seen in his extensive career. As bad as it might sound, I do okay with my fear for the most part. I quietly avoid seat-belts, subway transport, or any other everyday thing that tends to send my mind racing into a suffocating panic.
Most people don’t quite understand how little control I have in this situations, so I tend to keep it as quiet as possible. Naturally, I was relieved that Scrap seemed completely oblivious to what exactly I was going through as I stood at the entrance trying to muster the courage to go forward. But that wasn’t going to last forever, I needed to move.
Without a word, I headed into the hallway and did my best to act like nothing was wrong. My heart pounded in my chest, and my mind screamed at me to flee from the seemingly fatal threat around me. Every time I have to tough something like this out, I get that overwhelming sense of urgency like diving just a bit too deep in a river for the first time; When it starts getting dark and really cold, soon follows that sick feeling inside you get even though you know you’re alright.
“This had better be worth it,” I thought to myself.
Of course, I would find myself disappointed. In the end, the witches I’d sought for work insulted me with a request to contact my friend so they could hire her instead and I was once again left at square one for reliable income. Just as I’d thought things had gotten as miserable as possible, I was mortified to find myself unable to venture back into the hallway from which I’d come. I looked down into the darkness, and back at the witches who gave me a puzzled look, wondering why I’d yet to leave.
Sensing my fear of the hallway, the lead witch infused me with the mental strength to press forward. I immediately departed, taking with me what little of my bleeding pride I had remaining after two successive blows. I’d have almost taken one of their hexes over their brutal rejection.