It didn’t take long before I was sick of stairs.
I must have been climbing for a few minutes when the staircase began to widen until the walls on either side became obscured from view in the dim lighting. There was still no discernable light source, and indeed, the ceiling was no longer visible when I looked up. I couldn’t see the top of the stairs, and a glance over my shoulder told me that I couldn’t see the bottom, either. The stairs simply went on in every direction until they faded into darkness.
My legs hurt, and I was out of breath, so I stopped for a rest. I sat down on the stairs and contemplated my predicament. I was now certain that regardless of what direction I went, I would never find an end to the stairs.
I would have to find another way.
I stood up, removed my right pinky finger, and retrieved my fire axe. It took a little while, but I managed to chop a man-sized hole in the wooden stairs. Inside the hole, it was unnaturally dark, and I was seized with a sudden apprehension.
Stowing my fire axe back in my right pinky finger, I got out the mysterious glowing orb that had been a gift from my great uncle. As its soft glow warmed my hands and face, I felt my fears subsiding. I let go of the orb and it floated slowly into the hole. In its light, I could make out what appeared to be a meadow.
The ground was not at an angle I would have expected, but it looked manageable. I crawled into the hole.
At once, I knew something was wrong. I felt an inexorable force seizing my upper body, and then I was being pulled at terrifying speed into endless darkness. I lost consciousness.