You've got nowhere to run.
Screams, cries and a loud crash of doors slamming shut echoed behind her. Death was on her heels and she wasn't about to stop and ask questions. Everything around Lisa kept changing. Rooms were gone, friends had vanished and hallways were longer than before. No matter where she turned, she couldn’t get out. She had been dropped into a labyrinth that didn’t end.
“There’s got to be a way out!” she cried.
Not stopping to listen, she kept going, running further and further down the hall. Her feet were going as fast as possible, but it didn’t feel like enough. She was moving in slow motion or so it felt, stuck in a movie that was drawing to a close. Lisa slammed her fist against the nearest wall. She wanted out.
A sharp turn to the left, and she found another long hallway sprawled out ahead of her. This wasn’t right. She had been running for hours but hadn’t made any progress. She had been careful to not run in circles, but the place had morphed into a maze that didn’t end. Every turn she made led into another, none of them leading anywhere useful. Stopping to catch her breath, she tried to calm her mind.
“Where did we end up?” Thunder cracked from outside, the walls shuddering in response. The place had turned into a warped version of a fun house. “House of horrors is more like it,” she muttered.
You won’t get out.
The voice continued to haunt her, its bone-chilling monotone ripping straight through to her soul. The voice wasn’t coming from around her; of that much she was sure. No, it was sent directly into her mind. People would say she was going crazy. Right now, she would prefer that than the hell she now found herself in. If this thing hunting her wanted to drive her over the edge, it was doing one hell of a good job.
Stop and accept your fate.
"Go away!" Lisa shouted, her breath coming in gasps. "Leave me alone! I’ve done nothing wrong."
Her cries fell on deaf ears. Over and over the voice kept hounding her. She wanted to scream, to give in and make it go away, but she couldn’t. Deep down she knew she had to find a way home. Stubbornness ran thick in her blood, and she wasn't about to stop now. Adrenaline pushed through her body in response. She had survived this long; she would find a way out.
Biting the inside of her lip, Lisa drew a deep breath. "No, I won't let you win," she cried out. "You can't have me."
Her eyes raked left and right, looking for her tormentor, searching for something she might have missed. The hallway was vacant, except for her. At least, that's what it wanted her to think. She had learned quickly that nothing was as it seemed in this place. In the distance she heard a growl, the same sound that had hunted her for the last twenty-four hours. Every time she looked for the source she found nothing. Now, in the distance, she sensed movement that hadn’t been there before. Shadows began to crouch closer but never more than that.
"Go away," she whispered. “Let me go home.”
Silence was her only reply. She was beginning to hate the quiet creek of the old place. She had come with her traveling companions, now they were missing. The screams she had heard over the last few hours had been more than enough to make her want to get out. Getting out had proved to be much more difficult than she had first expected. This place was determined to keep her put.
Another growl made her turn. She felt a cold wind rush across her and shuddered at the touch.
"It's not real," Lisa called out. "It can’t be."
Many doors led from the hall but none had helped her. Her body pressed against one after another. None budged.
"Come on, please," she begged, every part of her body feeling weak. "You can't all be locked." One of them had to be unlocked. Still each one held fast, the thick wood rebuffing her. As she came to the end of the hall, a window faced her with one door on either side. It was like a mirror image of the rest of place. She peered through the dusty glass only to find the same view as all the rest. As with the other windows, shutters were secured against the window pane. From the small slits, she caught sight of faint grey fog outside. It was all she could see through the tiny cracks.
"Dammit." It was the same thing she had seen since coming to this place. "I swear I never want to see fog again."
Another stomp and she turned to find something approaching from the far end of the hallway. Darkness and shadows cowered in the corners. She tried to focus on what was approaching but found she couldn’t. Her stomach knotted at the small glimpses she caught. It wasn't possible, it couldn't be real.
Deep growls filled the air, louder than before. If she screamed she wasn't certain. Her heart pounded in time with the knocking of the wind outside. She had to find somewhere to hide and quickly. The thing that faced her wasn’t something she could fight and win. Given the chance, it would rip the flesh from her skin if she remained; that was a death she didn't want.
Her arms pushed against one of the doors. It didn't budge. Turning, she held her breath as she pressed with all her remaining strength against the opposite one, the wood softly creaking beneath her weight. She felt hope spring within her. "Please God, let it open."
It would give, she knew it, she had to believe it or else all was lost. Another push or two and it creaked even more. Backing up a step, she closed her eyes and kicked out with her leg with every bit of strength she had left. The door gave just enough for her pry it open and squeeze through the crack. Rushing inside, she could still hear the sounds of hell approaching. Slamming the door behind her, she bolted the lock and placed a chair in front of it, leaning her body against the dark wood.
“Thank God!” she exclaimed. A hard slam against the door made her jump. Whatever had followed her wasn't happy. She prayed with everything in her that it would go away.
"Hey there, what are you hiding from?"
A deep voice startled her. Turning she found her guide, Drax, staring back.
"What are you doing here?" From what she had heard, he had been one of the first that had gone missing. Her head felt clouded the closer he got - a buzzing that had come and gone many times before that she had learned to ignore. "Where were you hiding?"
His face held no emotions. "I'm fine. Can't you see that? I just took off for a bit." He moved closer. "You seem scared. Relax. Everything is going to be fine. Here, come with me. I've found a great place to hide. Nothing can get us there." He motioned to her to follow. Part of her wanted to run, but the pounding on the wood was a stark reminder of what waited for her outside the door. Glancing about the room, she tried to find another alternative but there was none. Two doors were available. One in the direction that lead away from this room, the other back the way she had come. The latter wasn't an option. She turned back. “Fine then,” she whispered. “Lead the way.”
He was gone as soon as she spoke. How he had moved so fast was unsettling. Nevertheless, she could still hear him in the adjacent room. She could hear him speaking, but she couldn't understand his words. From what she could tell, the area he had gone into looked brighter than the rest of the rooms she had been in. Torn as to whether to follow or not, she found her feet taking her forward of their own accord. Lisa tried to stop but found she couldn't. There was a compulsion she couldn't find the strength to resist.
As she entered the room, she looked up to find Drax facing her. "You're fine, now come on." His hand reached out to her, but she hesitated. "Why are you afraid of me?"
"You seem different," she answered without thought.
"Now stop it. Everything will be fine. I promise." His thick accent hadn’t lessened since she had met him before the tour.
"How can you be sure?" she asked.
His smile faded. "I know more than you know. You are right where you need to be."
"What do you mean, right where I need to be?"
"Trust me. The answers are perfect."
Curiosity as well as concern pushed her forward. She didn't stop, didn't try to this time. He might have the answers to where everyone had gone. She was tired of trying to find out for herself.
"Hey," she began, "do you know where the rest went?"
"They are where they need to be as well," he answered, not once turning to face her. "Now let's go."
Through the doorway and into another room, she could feel her skin grow cold even with the warmth that the room appeared to hold. Turning to look back into the room she had just left, her body shook. Darkness crouched and waited for her. Never in her life had the shadows taken on a life of their own as they had in this place. A flicker of something in the darkness caught Lisa’s eye. There was a familiarity to it she couldn’t place.
"There is something very wrong with this place,” she whispered. “Why were we brought here? It doesn’t make sense." Confusion filled her mind with unanswered questions. More than that, she just wanted to go home. Gwen would make sense of it all, she always could.
Turning, Lisa found Drax was back in front of her. She noticed that his skin was torn around his neck, stretched with strange patterns. Biting her lip, she was too scared to ask what they were. As she tried to recall where she had seen it, he drew his arms around her and pulled her close. The coldness of his skin felt odd in the warmth of the room. Nothing seemed right, but she couldn't pull away; his embrace was too strong. Leaning back to ask him a question, her words died before they were formed.
Soulless eyes stared back at her, his skin no longer a healthy tone but pale blue and lifeless. The spark of humanity she had seen previously had been replaced by something else, a vision more sinister that now held her in its grips. She tried to turn away, to get out, but found she couldn't. His strength was greater than hers. In the seconds that followed, the cold and darkness began to wrap around her, sucking the life from her soul.
“Your turn has come.” She recognized the monotone voice she had been hearing in the hallway. “All comes in time.”
The memory of all that had happened before came rushing back. How had she forgotten?
Drax had killed himself, or so they had thought. Hung from the rafters from what the others had said. Why hadn't she remembered? Around her, the room began to darken, shadows taking what remained of the flickering light.
Reap what you sow.
“Oh God, Gwen, I’m so sorry.” Her whimpers barely escaped the darkness. “Forgive me.”
The doors opened and slammed back shut, her screams lifted high into the air only to be silenced by the wind.
Hope you all enjoyed it. You can find this novel at all your usual online outlets for only $2.99:
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/When-Darkness-Falls-ebook/dp/B006KRYMM4
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/When-Darkness-Falls-ebook/dp/B006KRYMM4