My breath whispered along the passage in shuddering ripples, bouncing off the too solid walls and floors. I needed to get out.
The night gown clawed at my ankles, clinging and sticking to my skin in the damp, but I pretended I didn’t feel it, holding the knife out before me in shaky fingers. Cold light echoed from thin slivered bulbs. There was no going back. I took another breath and stepped past the third laboratory door.
It seemed selfish leaving the others, but I couldn’t risk it.
I remembered the haggard face of the old man and blinked for longer than I could afford. It was him that I needed to escape more than any other. They’d brought him in to see me, telling me that he was a test of my powers.
He wasn’t a test. He was just another ghost that wanted me to do things, terrible things, to avenge him. They delighted in bullying and terrifying. What else was left to do in the afterlife between the living and the dead?
“You’re going the right way… Hurry up, though… They’ll find you if you’re not fast…”
The voice reverberated around the lonely corridor, but only I could hear it. A pale figure beckoned me on and then faded into the gloom. She was the only kind phantom in that place.
Footsteps resounded, pricking my ears with a thousand jolts of panic. I moved faster. My bare feet padded along the cold floor urging me towards the door at the end. It was locked. The only way out was to know the code.
I tried to breathe deeply and calm myself as my mother had told me, but it didn’t work. My breath merely hung in a crystalline orb before my face, taunting me with the presence of ghouls in the air. My eyes screwed tightly shut. I had to remember the code. I had to.
Something bleeped. My lashes parted only quick enough to see the phantom as she faded again.
The mechanism inside the door clunked. A moment of hesitant disbelief almost lost me my escape, grabbing at the handle a second before the lock tried to jar. The foyer beyond was dark. Starlight glittered in across the smooth flooring, making my heart glad.
But I overjoyed too soon.
Harsh lights crashed on, alarms screaming into the night and people clattering towards me. I scrambled for the glass doors, but they wouldn’t open. Security guards swarmed in, picking me up and wrestling the knife from me as I kicked and screamed in their faces. I saw my escape slipping away between their heavyset shoulders.
The doctor injected me again with that heavy-lidded formula designed to lull me to sleep. I heard their coarse laughter as my senses deadened. They were discussing a test. This test.
They’d told her to help me. They’d told her to get me to trust her so they could get a hold on me and control me. But they didn’t know I was listening or that I’d memorised the code to the doors.
Next time I would escape on my own…
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