She burst through the surface like a geyser, sucking in air into her desperately empty lungs. Even in her impaired state, Rosalinda did not miss the irony. The toxic air that was right now saving her life would soon ruthlessly snatch it away.
The sight that greeted her when she wiped the water from her eyes sent her reeling back into the inky depths. Her silent scream echoing through the blackness. Even behind closed eyelids, the vision of the poor soul that died in that room remained, seared in her mind. A gruesome reminder of her fate if she didn’t escape this hellhole.
All too aware of the short time span, she shook off the nausea, the paralysing fear and broke the surface once more. Rosalinda avoided looking at the body as she boosted herself out of the hole and into the shallow water that covered the floor in the corner of the room. This room was like the other one. One door per wall, none with handles or doorknobs,
Immediately she threw herself at the nearest door. Hitting it with all her strength, the door shuddered under the assault but still held firm. She traced the frame but again found no hidden latches. The other three doors received the same treatment until weakness and nausea overcame her.
Her head swam, vision blurring. The room tilted as she dropped to the floor, eyes burning with a mix of tears and the chemicals in the air and water. Her eyelids drooped, as the conditions overwhelmed her and precious moments drained away.
Her mind began to wander and she imagined a cool breeze brushing over her face. Seconds later Rosalinda realised it was not a hallucination.
There was fresh air.
Moving only her head, Rosalinda scanned the room. Two doors were submerged. One was flush against the steel floor. The only one she couldn’t see the bottom of was blocked by the body. Her sluggish mind processed the information, coming to the conclusion that the person must have been trying to breathe the fresh air coming in under the door.
New hope galvanised her into action. Dragging her leaden limbs, Rosalinda crawled to the door., stopping only when her stomach rebelled and retching overtook her. The seconds ticked away in her head, as if there were a giant grandfather clock taunting her, waiting to sound the chimes when her time, her life, ran out.
The air grew stronger as she approached. Using the last of her strength, Rosalinda shoved the corpse aside and dropped once more. Fresh air rushed over her face, relieving some of her pain, giving pause to the terror that had dogged her steps since she woke in this toxic funhouse.
Suddenly a bright white light blazed to life on the other side of the door, sending shards of pain through her sensitive eyes. Just as she was about to close them, two shadows blocked some of the brightness. Blinking rapidly her vision became clear again. They were not shadows, they were boots. Her heart clenched in her chest as they stepped to the side, then pounded when the light was blocked again. Her heart almost exploded when she realised she was staring directly into a single black eye.