I placed my palm to the worn brass plate, pushing the door open. A wave of warm, smothering, smoky air washed over me. People brushed past me on the narrow pavement, but I ignored their impatient rudeness, concentrating on what was waiting for me within. I took a deep breath, feeling my stomach begin to knot with fear, and stepped inside.
I was plunged into a gloom that made the wintery day outside seem like the height of summer. I could barely make out anything distinct; the acres of dark, heavy wood and scarcity of lighting saw to that. A long bar stretched away into the murk, the few lights in the place reflected in mirrors that peeked out from behind the ornately-carved shelves lining the walls.
“We’re closed.” Low and threatening, the voice drifted across the room. My first response was to run and, by God, I wish I had. But I had to know and that meant…
“I’m here to see Albert,” I said, firmly. A hoarse coughing came from the darkness and I realised, with sudden sickness, that he was laughing at me.