panicked octaves. Bridget could feel him slinking back against the wall. “What the hell is that? Is that a person?”
Bridget’s eyes moved to where his shaking hand pointed, focusing on the object of his fear and squinting hard.
Suddenly, everything happened at once. An ear-splitting scream erupted from the Volkswagen-driving debutante cowering behind the techie nerd, and, as the techie nerd grunted and cursed once, the small woman nearly plowing him down in a fright-induced tumble searching for the stairwell. As she tried to run past Bridget, her foot caught in the cheap carpet, and she tumbled forward, her outstretched hands catching Bridget in the chest and forcing her back against the wall and against Ty, whose own feet tangled with Bridget’s. The three tumbled to the floor in a cacophony of bodies and curses and flailing limbs.
As they fell, she heard Cam’s startled exclamation.
“What the hell …? Is that …?”
Then, the quickening steps of the scrawny man as he leapt over the tangled bodies and toward the stairs. She heard him stumble once before disappearing down the wide stairs.
Bridget thrashed underneath the pile as Beverly screamed again, panicked now more than ever as she imagined the form across the room bearing down on them. Beverly’s eyes were wild and her brain was racing as she pushed herself off the pile and sprinted down the hallway between the cubicles and the wall, right hand staying in contact with the wall, left held anxiously in front of her. She heard the movement of the others behind her, and an urgent whisper—just short of an actual yell—came from Bridget. Ignoring them, she pressed forward, eager to find the stairwell.
She should never have come upstairs. It was foolish, really. Just an attempt at impressing Ty, and convincing him to finally make their relationship public. Tossing her short hair in irritation, she wiped a tear from her face, knowing that as she did so, she was streaking her makeup. The bastard, she though, suppressing a sniffle and squinting into the dark—the stairwell should be here somewhere—he thought he could screw her and ignore her. Four times in the utility closet, and he thought he was a fucking god. She got more excited and angry as she thought about it, her breath starting to slow as she focused on Ty.
Suddenly, she stopped moving, freezing in place. One hand rested on a fire extinguisher fastened to the wall on her right side; the other hovered in mid-air next to her.
Something was moving in front of her.
Beverly looked around frantically, searching for the stairs in frustration. She should have reached them by now. They weren’t that far away! Her hand clenched on the red metal and she shivered, listening for sounds of approach.
Wait, she thought. Her right hand was on the wall.
She had run the wrong way.
In her confusion, she had run toward the sound, not away. The stairs were behind her.
Merely feet away, a long scraping sound—as if a chair had been dragged on a linoleum floor.
Her eyes scanned the murky darkness. The red lights provided enough illumination to outline shapes but too much to allow night vision to adapt. Everything was blurry and tinged in red from the slowly dying security lights. Their dull gleam was slowly fading as their batteries were depleted, never having been intended for prolonged use.
She started to shake in fear as she slowly stepped back, still unable to focus on any shapes or sounds.
The unwelcome sound broke the silence again, this time closer.
She stumbled briefly as her foot caught against the wall, her shoe catching on the thick rubber of a cord protector that ran between the wall and a cubicle. The rubber jerked, pulling the cord inside slightly—but enough to jiggle a small lamp on the adjoining desk.
The sound sped up, and an amorphous shape, backlit by a weakened emergency light against the far wall, took form as a head emerged suddenly from the cubicle on her left side, like a
Kay Stewart, Chris Bullock