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As she walked through the door her heart sank. She knew exactly where she was. She knew the faded, dingy wallpaper: the outdated furniture: the dirty curtains. She knew the layout like the back of her hand – after all, she had spent so much time here, they even gave her her own room, number 419. Oh yes. This was Hell.
The women she’d arrived with sat around the table. She addressed them: “Ladies, do you know where you are?” Most of them shook their heads, but Pam, an older lady with blondish hair in waves, said “Oh yes, we’re in hell!” This obviously came as a shock to most of them, in fact the youngest screamed and ran towards the exit. “Don’t stop her” Chris said. “There is only one way out, and that’s The Abyss. All there is there is you – and The Abyss. You fall for lifetimes, and then you stop and then – nothing. Well last time I landed on my head and I’m not doing that again! I’m sure there’s another way out. Pam, are you with me? Look, I’m going to find this other way, but Pam I want you to get that phone off the wall and dial 419 and invite whoever answers to join us.”
Chris grabbed her red bag and walked in the opposite direction to the Exit sign, while Pam got the ancient wallphone and dialled. Chris could see the huge glass wall, through which you could see clouds and blue sky, but just at the side of it was a tiny wooden door. That was the one. So she went back to the ladies. There were fewer of them than she’d left, but Pam was still there.
A few minutes later they were joined by a man with thinning blonde hair, piercing blue eyes and a troubled expression. “Hello I’m Allan” he said. Now this was not what Chris was expecting, so she said to Pam “Did you ring 419?” “Oh no I think it was 418”. Chris sighed and turned to Allan, muttering “I suppose he’ll do then”. “Do you know where you are?” she asked. “Oh yes I’m in Hell” he said. “Are you up for finding the other way out?” “Well yes” he said. She addressed them all. “Now look everyone I’ve found the Other Way out. You’re quite welcome to stay here, to use the Exit if you want, or you can follow me. But I’m going through the Other Door.”
With that, she picked up her red bag and walked towards the tiny door, which was growing larger by the second. She looked round and saw only Pam was with her, the others were still sitting in stunned silence. Allan was holding the door open for her. She walked through the door, into the light…
… and looked around. She was on Ball Hill in Coventry. Allan was standing in front of her, his wings clearly visible. “Well done! You made it out of Hell. But there is a payment you must make. Your payment, Chris, is to enable other people to escape from Hell too. It doesn’t matter whether it is for 10 minutes or a lifetime – but you must do it.” And with that, he touched the roller shutter marked “Amethyst Centre” and opened the door. Chris saw a staircase going upwards into golden light. “Good luck” said Allan. And upwards she went.