‘Run for the parking garage!‘, the voice said in her ear, ‘they won’t let you go after that little gimmick you pulled.’
‘I only meant it as a joke!’
‘How many times? If you want to hurt someone, hurt them. Don’t fool around.’
‘I don’t want to hurt anybody,’ she hissed in her phone, ‘I just want them to leave me alone…and that they don’t steal my money!’
‘Then I have the solution, let me deal with them.’
Esther immediately shook her head. ‘No, that would be…wrong.’
She was pushing her way through the crowd again, a glance over her shoulder assured her of being pursued.
‘I know you want to beat them up, you hate them.’
‘They hate me! And you wouldn’t beat them up…’
The voice sounded amused. ‘I wouldn’t?’
Esther jumped a little bench, making a kid drop his strawberry ice cream. As it screamed Shana leaped and cleared it cleaner than Esther had done, she was gaining on her.
‘You would want to scare them!’ Esther said, feeling a chill.
‘Just a little,’ the voice whispered eagerly. ‘I hate it when they want to hurt you. You’re mine.’
Esther shook her head, always with the jokes and the flattery, this one.
Then she realized she was heading for the stairs. I really am going to the garage, she thought.
Yes, you are, the voice thought right back at her. She felt it grin in anticipation.
‘Where is she going!’ the boy yelled. His name was Marcus and he was getting tired. His fall from earlier already made his ribs hurt.
‘The basement!’, the blond girl yelled, as the followed Shana. Shana had a healthy tan and was more athletic than the two of them. She had a kind of grudge to settle.
‘Why are we doing this?’ Marcus asked while they watched a mother comforting a screaming toddler. They jogged past the fountain, an ornamental swan that puked water with four identical siblings.
‘You remember how much she had on her last time?,’ the blonde asked him with a painful gasp, ‘that’s why.’
‘Come on!’ Shana yelled at them. She was standing at the top of a staircase. They could hear Esther running down them. ‘There’s way too many places to hide down there!’ Shana exclaimed as she motioned them to follow her.
The three of them bounded down the concrete steps. Since there where elevators, the place was ugly and deserted. They rounded a corner and Marcus felt dizzy, three more rows of stairs. They went down in a steep spiral, with little platforms between them. But he didn’t dare let Shana think he couldn’t take it. That remark from Esther earlier still stung, more than his ribs and sides did even.
Shana was enjoying the hunt. ‘There!’ she pointed as they ran, ‘I saw her go in!’ And she was right. Esther had bounded for the first door into the parking deck. Pulling the heavy door open took her a moment and they gained on her further. When she darting in they where on the same platform.
‘She’ll be trying to hide,’ Shana yelled, ‘hurry!’ She grabbed the door before it could close and they streamed in.
Shana didn’t know why he’d felt like hesitating before going in until they were already through the door. The lights where out. It took only a second for the motion detection to be activated and there where glaring light blinking on. Shielding there eyes ,they stepped forward, disoriented for a moment and blinking to see.
‘Esther!’, Shana yelled teasingly, ‘we know you’re here and if you move I’ll hear you! Just make this easy and hand over your money!’
‘Yeah,’ the blonde yelled, her name was Tess. ‘Hand it over!’ There where cars everywhere, parked in absolute silence with no-one in sight. It was perfect.
‘Esther!’ Shana yelled impatiently.
‘There!’ Tess pointed. Esther had come out. She’d crept from behind a car a little ahead of them. Now she walked into sight and came to a standstill in the middle of the road. Her head sunken and shoulders sagging in defeat. Tess laughed and started forward. Shana felt uneasy. Why did this feel like some kind of trap? Marcus looked back at her questioning. Are you coming? Or are you chicken? He’d probably wanted to buy something to eat later.
Fine, Shana though and moved out after them. I’m no coward. This is only Esther the little freak, the weakest link.
‘Interesting fact,’ Esther suddenly said as they where getting closer. ‘Did you guys know that the parking garage is closed off?’
‘Yeah,’ Marcus said unimpressed, ‘all the better for beating you up.’
Esther nodded, still looking down at the floor, ‘You’d think that, you’d think that. It’s such a hassle for all those people, having to park somewhere else.’
‘Are you stupid and blind?’ Tess laughed, ‘there’s loads of cars here!’
Esther sighed regretfully. ‘Yes I know, but they won’t be going anywhere anymore….like the three of you.’ Then she looked up, Shana wondered who was screaming so terribly and had to clamp a hand over her mouth to stop.
‘Where did she go!’ Tess screamed. Marcus was having trouble breathing he pointed at one of the cars nearby. There was something in it. A mangled, white things slapped a broken hand against the window. Suddenly the whole parking lot was filled with the sounds of things trying to get out. ‘They’re dead!’ Tess screamed, ‘dead!’
The moment Shana looked over her shoulder for the door the lights went out. All there was, was a black shadow that stood in the last light of the hallway. It was inhuman, skin over long bones. Hips and elongated legs tuned to them and a thin, skeletal hand with only four fingers, waved sadly. Then it was gone and the door was falling shut. Shana felt sweat on her whole body, she’d never been this electrified with terror. It made her muscles jangle with tension.
‘Run!’, she screamed with a tensed up jaw that threaded to bite her tongue off.
A car door opened and they heard a moan.
‘No! Nooo!’ Tess pleaded and Shana was already dragging them with her. Marcus was a surprise, Marcus could fly. He was pulling them as more doors opened and they’re exit was closing. The air was filled with a strange hotness and they could smell burning rubber that stuck to their tongues and in their noses. There was a shuffling sound behind them, dry and somehow…quick.
A train went by in the distance, they could hear it clanking by. The light was so small now, barely a ribbon. Shana reached for it as something behind them reached for her. Then the door fell shut and they where falling.
Not yet, someone pulled the door open before it could click shut and they where suddenly pulled forwards. Shivering, crying, they formed a pathetic heap on the floor. Someone looked down on them and ordered another to check the surroundings. “Try to catch it before it slips away!”
Shana lifted her head, she felt sick, a fever was blurring her mind. Shocking blue eyes, she couldn’t see anything else. The man that had saved them shook his head. ‘Rest,’ he said, and she did.
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