The pathways got narrower the next level up – not that the stairway itself, individual treads held up by nearly-invisible cables, wasn’t a nightmare in and of itself – and shakier, and then they had one more stairway to go up, the ceiling looking like a pincushion of cables above them.
The last stairway was right next to a series of bodies, hung by the neck and looking like halloween decorations more than people. One of them was wearing Abby’s favorite shirt, but it wasn’t her. Couldn’t be her. She was right here. She held a Liv’s hand and swallowed around bile.
The body closest to the stairs moved. Not the Abby, a stranger, a hand reaching out towards Liv.
Liv darted away, retching. “It was dead,” she whispered to herself. “It’s dead.”
Another one of the bodies stretched out a hand, its fingers brushing Abby’s arm. She jumped and the stair under her swung wildly.
“Easy, Abs.” Liv squeezed her hand. “We’re almost up. Come on. You can do this.”
When had Liv started pep-talking her? She let herself be coaxed up the stairs anyway, because it was that or start crying, and she was pretty sure if she started, she wouldn’t stop. The fingers kept reaching, grabbing for them, getting closer and closer. One of them, one of the bodies, it had to be a body, croaked out a dry and miserable “Abby…”
The fingers wrapped around her arm. Abby screamed and lurched forward. Liv caught her, barely avoiding sliding into another body herself. The other Liv yelped and grabbed at both of them as the stairs started swinging wildly. Abby’s foot slipped, and then her leg, and she was halfway down between two stairs before something caught her.
Not “something,” she realized. No. “Something” would have been good. no, the corpse was holding her. There was a hanging corpse saving her life – and pulling her back upwards.
Both Livs were eying the corpse as they got their own footing. One of them pulled a very long blade – it looked like a Klingon replica; of course you could find something like that somewhere in a mall – out of her bag and braced herself. “Tell me, Abs,” she murmured, “the moment your feet are steady.”
Abby nodded. The second she could grab at the cable “railing,” she did. The second she could get her feet on the stair, she murmured “now.”
The blade flashed; the corpse screamed; Abby stumbled forward. There was a door right there, so close. “Livs” she croaked. She stumbled forward, crawling more than climbing. Fingers brushed against her, grabbed at her clothes. She kept going.
She landed on her knees at the doorway. “Livs.” She made sure she was holding a flesh and blood living hand in her left hand. She made sure the hand on her belt was another flesh and blood hand. She thought safety and dove forward through the door.Want more?