Before you start reading:
WARNING! This is a continuation from one of my previous post, Abandoned Storage Building. Please read that post first before reading this one! It will make so much more sense, I promise.
Also, this is another entry to a WordBound prompt. If you’re interested in prompts like these that can help you get back into the writing spirit after a long drought / battle with writer’s block, then check out the link to their website and see all the prompts they currently have posted. New prompts come every Wednesday ^_^ (clearly I’m very behind)
Wed Feb 22, 2017
A character realizes something as they look up at the night sky.
The elevator stopped at a slanted angle, preventing the monsters from climbing down into the open space between the door but also making it nearly impossible for them to escape. Their options were as follows: open the top latch and pray they could climb up onto the roof without any complications or crawl between the small opening in the elevator door then try climbing down to the second floor.
Either way could lead to death. One false move and it was all over.
“The monsters are definitely on top of the elevator,” Riley spoke with certainty. “A simple dip in the elevator isn’t going to be enough force to knock them off.” Using the top latch would only lead to them getting their throats scratched out, she was sure of it but the second option wasn’t much better. “How far would you say the elevator dropped?”
Jared inched closer to the half opened door, lifting his uninjured arm to trace the cement wall with his fingers. The coldness seeped into his fingertips and for a moment he wondered what it would feel like to rest his burned arm against it and have it sooth the pain.
“Jared.” Riley pulled him back from his thoughts.
“We’re just above the second floor.” He blurted out.
Hope welled up inside of Riley, warmness starting at the pit of her stomach before steadily ascending up into her chest where it clenched tightly at her heart. Her hope was quickly replaced by suspicion, one eyebrow quirking up as she looked at him closely. “How could you possibly know that?”
Jared flinched. He turned slowly to her, knowing he’d been found out. With all the commotion that happened during the elevator falling, he’d seen nothing that indicated where they stopped. However, believing they’d passed the entryway to the second floor and was hovering too far above the first floor to safely jump down was not an option for him. He didn’t want to die here. Motivation was the only thing that would prevent that from happening. “Positive thinking.”
Riley snorted, her eyes rolling around her head at least two times before narrowing on him. “Positive thinking never kept anyone alive.” Her tongue was sharp but beyond her words, he spotted the hurt in her eyes. She knew he had too, redirecting her attention to the opening rather than keeping them on him. “If you’re so positive it’s below us, you go first.”
Jared swallowed hard, doubt flooding into his head like water flooding into his hometown during the beginning stages of the outbreak. The fear that consumed him that day cost him his mother’s life. Too afraid of dying, he was frozen in place as his mother clung hopelessly to a piece of fallen debris before being swept under the current right before his very eyes.
He was right there, inches away from her, a hand stretched out offering to pull her to safety.
If only he had moved a little bit closer.
If only he hadn’t been so scared of losing his own life.
Jared clenched his fist against his side, lifting his injured arm a bit, testing it out before kneeling beside the opening. “Wait,” Riley rushed beside him, pulling him back by the shoulder. “You can’t be serious. We should wait a second and think of a better solution.” Her eyes wandered to his injured arm but he purposely tilted his body to keep her from seeing it clearly. “You’re still hurt. I’ll go first.”
Jared lifted his arm, blocking her advancements. Her stomach smacked into him before she stopped completely, kneeling along with him instead. “Let me do this.” His voice was low, his messy hair sticking to the sweat on his forehead, casting a dark shadow over his eyes. “I’ll let you know if it’s clear to come down.”
Riley opened her mouth to protest but no words came out. Enough people had died in front of her: her parents, her uncle, her best friend, and lastly her sister. Not that she’d ever openly admit it but Jared was the last person she wanted to see added to the body count.
She was stronger than him, faster, and she even had her special ability to fall back on if she was ever in a pinch. Yet she couldn’t bring herself to stop him. Something in the tone of his voice sounded all too familiar to her, a fake confidence mixed with the will to right the wrongs done in the past. She wouldn’t have wanted anyone to stop her if she was ready to embark on a personal mission, so who was she to stop him now?
Riley’s hand returned to Jared’s shoulder, squeezing tightly until his eyes fell back on her. “Don’t do anything stupid.” She managed to force out of her dry throat. He nodded then slipped between the small opening, pinning himself against the wall and using the ledge to balance while he glanced down the elevator shaft.
They were in luck.
Not even two feet below them was the entrance to the second floor. Best of all, he spotted no monsters dwelling down below.
“Looks clear.” Jared announced. He released his hold on the ledge and landed on the platform in front of the second floor entrance. Squeezing his fingers in between the closed doors, he started pulling them apart as he heard Riley land behind him.
Riley’s arms were beside him, halting his progress and leaving only a sliver of the doors opened. “Sure we should be so eager to open those?” Riley asked.
Jared hadn’t thought that far ahead. It was true, they had no idea what was on the other side of those doors but they couldn’t just stand there on that platform for the rest of their lives either.
He placed his palms flat against the metal doors, peeking between the opening. “Nothing.” He said, relief comforting his tense muscles. “The hallway looks empty.” He turned back to her but her worries still remained, face scrunched up as the gears in her head kept turning. “It should be safe.” He added.
“And if it’s not?” Her question was lost in the silence that followed. They both knew the answer to it. If they opened the doors and it actually was swarming with monsters, it was a good chance one, if not both, would not make it out alive.
Riley swallowed hard, her eyes shutting tight. She released a deep breath and stepped past him. “Let’s get this over with.” She didn’t wait for his response, her arms tore the doors apart until it completely revealed an empty hallway. With another deep breath, a smile threatened to take over her usual emotionless face. “It’s clear.”
Jared shook his head, stepping past her. “That’s what I said.” He squinted into the dark hallway, the only light source coming from the moonlight pouring in from the windows lining the wall. “Come on,” he urged her forward, “there has to be stairs somewhere.”
They walked forward, carefully stepping down the hallway side by side. Jared nearly tiptoed, trying to make as little sound as possible while Riley walked normally, her shoulders tensed up high and eyes darting through the darkness.
Unlike the room from the first floor, Jared noticed a few on the second floor were opened, the padlocks smash off of them and lying in shambles beside the entrance. With each passing moment, he wanted to know what was inside them. What treasures or secrets did they hold? Did they contain food or other valuable supplies the group needed? Yet, even with his rising curiosity, he reminded himself that these rooms could contain something dangerous. Rather than hiding fun mysteries or supplies, they could contain monsters.
A shiver hit him as they approached the stairwell. A shadow crossing the small window on the door sent them splitting in two, both pressing their backs against the wall on either side of the door to prevent from being seen. Their hearts were racing as they waited for some sort of clue as to what was on the other side of the door. The clue never came.
Somewhere beyond those doors, up on the fourth floor, was the room they needed. Also, beyond those doors was an unidentifiable threat.
Jared steadied his breathing, his back still plastered against the wall as his eyes trailed over to Riley. She looked less frightened than him but he spotted the heavy rise and fall of her chest right before she spun towards the door. “Wait!” His yell turned into a whisper, afraid to draw unwanted attention from whatever was on the other side of the door.
Riley ignored him, pulling the door open and pointing her fingers up and down the empty stairwell. For a moment she froze there, flames flickering from the tips of her fingers but her eyes were not playing tricks on her. Whatever caused that shadow from before was no longer there.
“Empty.” She sounded just as surprised as Jared felt when he joined her in the stairwell. His eyes traced the steps but with the flames from her fingertips flickering out, it was even darker there than it had been in the hallway. “Let’s not wait around to see where it went.”
They raced up the stairs. The sound of their pounding shoes on the concrete steps deafening to his ears yet their path remained clear. Jared dared to think the rest of their journey through the abandoned storage building could be a cakewalk but that thought vanished immediately when Riley swung the door open to the fourth floor.
Riley paused, her fingers itching to pull the door back and close it again, but it was far too late. The door ricocheted against the wall, the sound turning every head in the hallway towards them at awkward unnatural angles. Riley opened her mouth, perhaps to tell Jared to retreat back into the stairwell, but her words were cut off by the sickening screech from the monsters.
In the distance, the scrawny ones with flesh dripping from bone staggered down the hall, clawing at one another with their long yellowing fingernails as they fought over the chance to be the first to rip them to shreds. But they weren’t the ones Jared was worried about. They never were.
Where there were Bonies, there were always Giants.
His eyes searched for one and spotted it in the corner of the hallway. It stared at them with blood soaked fangs, hunchbacked with its claws dug into some unfortunate soul. Graying human-like hair stuck out randomly in patches across its wrinkly skin and even from this distance, Jared caught whiff of its signature scent of death.
It was hard to believe that once upon a time, these monsters were human. Once, they had a family. Friends. Once, they loved and were loved. They were even a productive part of society. However, now they were nothing more than deformed bloodthirsty creatures scouring the land and devouring anything human.
The Giant moved so fast, it towered over them before Jared could fully blink his eyes. Riley’s words caught in the back of her throat, turning into brittle gibberish as they stared into its bloodshot eyes.
Then Riley and Jared separated from one another, the monster’s ginormous claw malling the spot they once stood. Jared crashed into one of the locked storage gates, scuffling around on the ground just out of a Bonies’ reach before rising to his feet and running down the hall. Riley was already a few steps ahead of him, easily maneuvering through the slow moving Bonies with the Giant hot on her trail.
Jared picked up speed even though his legs burned in agony. His efforts were in vain. Riley and the Giant were much faster than him, the distance between them widening as he helplessly watched as the Giant swiped at Riley, barely missing her head as she rounded the corner.
Jared used his shoulder to knock a Bonie into another causing a domino effect of Bonies to fall to the ground. They didn’t seem to mind though, they just kept screeching and clawing at each other while he safely made it by them. Reaching into his pocket, Jared drew his pistol, aimed and fired. The bullet dug into the Giant’s shoulder, finally causing it to lose focus on Riley and redirect its fury to Jared.
“You idiot!” Riley shouted. He could barely make out her expression from behind the Giant’s massive figure but he didn’t need to see it to know she probably wanted to strangle him.
Jared could never tell if it was the pain of being shot or the sound of the bullet leaving the barrel that made the monsters mad with rage. Whatever it was, they all paused for a moment, even the ones clawing at one another on the ground, focusing their eyes on him.
Jared took a deep breath. How many bullets did he have left? He couldn’t remember. It didn’t matter though. While he exhaled, every monster in that hallway pounced at him. With the Giant leaping towards him, he could have sworn he spotted Riley covering her eyes. He wanted to too. Instead adrenaline kicked in, forcing his tired legs into motion. He ran full speed then slid under the Giant. The monster, mid leap, tried changing directions but instead crashed into a couple of Bonies before scampering back to its feet.
The stunned look on Riley’s face quickly vanished. She said nothing to him, only turned and continued running down the hallway. Jared followed, silently counting off the numbers on the rooms as they passed. They were running out of hallway but 419 should be to their left up ahead. This was confirmed when Riley slid under the half opened gate. She peeked from underneath, waving her arms at him. “Hurry it up!” she shouted.
A snarky remark bubbled up Jared’s throat but he was too out of breath to say it. Plus he didn’t have time to argue with her, not with the Giant on his heels and the Bonies right behind it. When he was close enough he copied Riley’s slide only he didn’t slide inside the room like she had, instead he slid into the wall. “Ow.” His hands instantly gripped the side of his ribs as pain stretched up his side.
“You kidding me!?” Riley snagged the edge of his hoodie and dragged him in seconds before the Giant’s claw smashed against the outside gate, the impact leaving a large dent. Jared stared, eyes so wide they felt as if they could pop out. All he could think of was how that could’ve been him.
Riley snapped her fingers. “Help me close this!” Her words forced Jared back into motion. They pulled the gate down together until it was completely shut. Whether or not it would actually hold was a question that stayed dried up in Jared’s throat.
Riley’s mouth shot open. “Are you crazy? You shot off a gun while surrounded by monsters! Did you really-” Silence. Her mouth slammed shut so hard he could hear her teeth clatter together. Her jaw locked as she turned away from him. “Forget it. If you have a death wish then so be it.” Her arms wrapped around herself, reminding Jared of a straitjacket, which to be honest, he doubted would have any effect at restraining her.
His eyes lingered on her for too long causing her to shift her weight from one leg to the other. “Let’s just find the asthma pump and get out of this dump.”
They were safe; for now at least. However, they were still surrounded, their only known exit swarming with monsters. Jared pushed those thoughts into the back of his head, giving the room a quick look over before looking through a nearby open suitcase.
The place looked recently scavenged through, clothes tossed carelessly onto the ground, boxes knocked over and spilling out useless items, and drawers from beaten up dressers left opened. He found nothing in the suitcase except worn out t-shirts and a bottle of painkillers. He placed the bottle in his pocket, losing his focus to the tiny window against the wall.
Standing on his tiptoes, he peered outside the window to see groups of monsters spread out around the building. Even if they made it past the monsters in the hallway, there was no way they’d make it past the herd down below. His eyes traveled up and for a moment he allowed himself to get lost in the starry sky above. Even with the full moon out, brightly lighting the streets below, he could see tons of stars in the sky, none of which he’d ever noticed back before the outbreak.
His attention shifted as a figure scurried across what looked like a wooden plank connecting their roof to a neighboring one’s. “Riley,” he called out, a light bulb going off in his head. If this makeshift bridge was sturdy enough to hold that person, then they could use it to escape.
He looked at the end of the neighboring building and noticed more wooden planks connecting other buildings together. “Riley–” He turned from the window and saw her silently staring at the asthma pump in her hand, the medicine removed from the pump. In the other hand, she held tightly to a piece of paper. “Is that it?”
Riley squinted, holding the medicine between her fingers. “Lilly,” she paused. Even saying her sister’s name out loud made her feel hollow inside. “She used to have asthma. She went through many different prescriptions before finding the right one.” Riley placed the canister in Jared’s hand, watching as he inspected it more closely too. “I’ve never seen one like this before. It doesn’t even have a proper label. And take a look at this.”
Riley unfolded the paper in her hand showing Jared a family portrait along with scribbled notes in smudged black ink. Jared lean forward, examining the photo but no matter how long he stared, he saw the asthmatic girl’s family but not her, instead another little girl stood in between the happy couple. “So they had another daughter?” Jared asked, his eyes fell back to the canister in his hand.
“Read the notes.” She grumbled but lowered the paper before he could. She plucked the canister out of his hand and shoved it back into the pump. “I don’t think she was their daughter and I don’t think this is medicine for asthma.” She glanced down at the paper again, lips pressed into a thin line until a sigh finally escaped from them. “I think she’s infected.”
“Infected with what?” Jared tilted his head to the side.
Riley rolled her eyes, shoving the sheet of jumbled notes into Jared’s chest. “What do you think?” Jared stared at her with a blank expression but finally took this chance to skim over the notes. Most of it was illegible but the words he could make out made his hands tense around the paper. “She’s a monster.” Riley announced, verbalizing his greatest fear. “This isn’t an asthma pump. I think it stalls the transformation.”
“Those people lied to us about her.” Riley cut in, finishing his sentence. “They knew what she really was and they covered it up with this asthma bs.”
“No.” He lowered his hands to his side, his fist tightening around the paper and crinkling it.
“No? Get a grip, Jared.” Riley snatched the paper from his hand, tearing it slightly down the middle. She held it up to his face, pointing to a section directly below the photograph. “The proof is right here. This isn’t some innocent little girl. She’s a monster. She will turn. And I’m sure if we look around long enough, we’ll find more notes on their weird experiments on her.” The word experiment made her tense, remembering her own experience with it. She was reminded of countless hours bound to chairs in blinding white rooms with doctors shoving needles into her arms. She remembered being left in dingy rat infested cells with her sister, all eyes on them as they watched, jotting down notes, to see if they’d transformed into one of those things.
“No,” he swallowed hard, swatting the paper away from his face, “it means the others are in trouble. And it’s all my fault.”
Honestly, I had fun with this one! It was a hard prompt for me at first, but once I knew how to incorporate it, it was sorta smooth sailing. I like to think I would’ve had this one posted ages ago but right around the time I was writing it, I had some health issues, which ultimately delayed me finishing this. But it’s here now! *distance cheers* Now time to work on the other ones (so, so, sooooo behind >_<)