He threw open the door and gasped at the evening air like a drowning man, only to find it disappointingly muggy. The heat of the day had not quite evaporated, and the stagnant air hung thickly over the streets, like the putrid exhalation of corpses. Mr. Todd stuffed his hands into his pockets and drifted out into the night's stifling embrace, not really caring where he was going. All he knew was that he had to keep moving, forward forward forward or his thoughts would catch up with him and squeeze his brain until it shattered.

He wanted to close his eyes, but he didn't dare because of the ghostly images that flickered just behind the eyelids; images of yellow hair and pounding gavels and stretches of hot horrible land without a single tree. He needed to forget he needed to forget he needed to forget... He had a savage, reckless impulse to take a razor to his own skull. He would saw a bright, clean line around his forehead and it would swing open like a hinged box, and all the evil thoughts would fly away, leaving him pure and as immaculately empty as a newborn. Anything, he would do anything just to clear his mind, just for a moment, anything for sweet sweet Oblivion.

He was nearly five streets away when he found her, standing in an alleyway, darkly silhouetted against the hazy light of the moon.

" 'Ello, dearie," she slurred prettily. "You look like you've seen a nightmare. That wots keepin' you awake? Ghosts, ghosts, ghosts." She spoke in a sing-song voice as she stroked his cheek with one long, gritty fingernail. "Nothin' like a lady t'help chase 'em away, eh, love?" Her hands were grubby and coarse, but her touch was gentle, and he was so tired--

"I just want to forget. Everything..." He handed her a coin and fell into her arms. He couldn't look at her face. He just wanted this to be over quickly.

The release was brief. In several minutes the act was done, and his consciousness stitched itself back together. It was like waking up, and he didn't like where he found himself- pressed against a damp, cold wall, the stones slick with fungus and soot. The harlot hung heavily his arms, polluting the air with her smell of blood and dirt and sweat. He wanted to be sick. He suddenly hated this woman- hated her for making him feel filthy, for not being his wife, for tainting her memory with her dirty fingernails and whore's-breath. There was a silver flash, and he was rewarded with the familiar gush of crimson. She gave a sort of sighing sound- "oh"- and then collapsed into a stinking heap on the ground.

After that he felt hollow. Empty at last! He left her body lying there, crumpled over the gutter. People were too wrapped up in their own lives to notice one more streetwalker come to a bad end.

Even if they did notice, they wouldn't care. She was only an old beggar woman after all.

(A/N: Just a clarification... the beggar woman was also a prostitute. This was pretty obvious from the play but I realized the whole premise of this story would be confusing to someone who had only seen the movie.)