You’re going to get us all killed! Sam could see that look of volatile fear and resentment in his friend’s eyes. He wanted to disenchant them of this, but he knew any attempt would be foolhardy. Their opinion of him had been formed from his inability to keep Kyle safe, and now, as they sat barricaded in the small dirty room which offered only the slimmest slivers of light and hope, he could not blame them for their rage.
“What are we going to do?” Sasha asked, her eyes as wide as a doe in headlights. She seemed unable to control her hands, endlessly fidgeting with the strings on her hoodie while she rocked softly, casting a strange and ghoulish shadow on the dank concrete wall behind her.
“We keep moving,” Sam announced, his shaggy blond hair had turned almost mud-brown with filth, his clothes were torn, as was his skin, he hurt and bled, but he couldn’t allow himself to be weak. Not then, not in-front of them.
His four remaining friends set their unflinching, accusatory gaze on him, “And just how do we do that?” Tye asked, almost baring his teeth, his anger penetrating every syllable.
“We go from room to room, taking cover until we find the exit,” Sam replied, swallowing his pain at the sight of the agony he had caused. He had suggested they go there; he had been the one who couldn’t get to Kyle in time. He had failed them.
The group was silent for a moment, and somewhere off in the hallway they could hear the sounds of metal scraping against cement, of hideous laughter, of heavy shoes slamming into the ground. They heard the sounds of their impending doom if they stayed in place, if they continued to be the dears in headlights.
“Do you have a better plan Tye?” Sam asked, sharper than he had wanted. Fear was pumping his blood faster than ever before, making him alert and honed. He couldn’t keep his feet from shifting as he lightly stood on the balls of his feet, like a cat ready to pounce. He had always thought fear would stiffen his muscles, instead they were loose, malleable, like he could slip through the crack in a glass if he needed to. “Well?”
“No, I don’t,” Tye admitted, before looking to the two girls in hopes maybe they had come up with a better solution.
Unfortunately, Sasha was too busy listening to the sounds outside to take notice of anything else. She looked like a prey creature, ears pricked, eyes alert, her body rocked into a position where she could move in any direction. She was no longer with the rest of them, no, Sasha was tuned into something primal.
And Cathy was hovering around her friend, her hands moving nervously in the air surrounding her. Cathy’s furrowed brows and stormy eyes betraying the internal battle raging within her on whether or not she should touch her traumatised friend.
“Get up Sash!” Tye snapped, grabbing her by the shoulders too quickly for her to get away. Instinctively she squirmed and kicked, but to Sam’s surprise she didn’t cry out. “Enough, we need to move, he’s getting closer.”
As if on cue, a door slammed open somewhere in an adjoining hallway, and they could hear the faint cackle, followed with the torturous squeals that made up his voice, “Come out and play with me!”
Tye looked to Sam, his arms full of the manic Sasha, as she wriggled and threw herself as much as she could. Cathy tried to calm her, pointlessly cooing and stroking her hair, getting bitten for her trouble.
“Fine, we go with your plan, but I don’t like it,” Tye said, his muscles tightening as he fought to hold his grip on Sasha, her dark and wavy hair had become a tangled mess as she thrashed. Every time Tye spoke, he got a mouthful.
I don’t like it either, but it’s all I can think of. And I would rather you be alive and hate my plan, hate me even, then be dead and love me. Sam thought as he moved towards the door, “OK, you two, can you keep Sash as subdued as possible? I will go out and find the next room.”
He waited to see a nod from both of them before slowly easing the heavy metal door out of its frame just enough to slip through.
In the hallway, lit by flickering bare bulbs, the smell of rancid copper hit Sam like a wall. He bit back the urge to heave as his stomach swelled and launched up his throat. No, he demanded of himself and started to move on uneasy feet down the hall, listening all the while for the slightest hint of danger.
“Hello,” the Smiling Man said, his face twisted in the strobing lights, his blade stretched out like an extension of his arm. He was everything the legend had made him out to be. His tall slender frame hunched down as if struggling to hold his own feeble weight, his eyes wild and watchful, his skin as pale as paper. He was grotesque and horrifying, and Sam had joked about him, dared his friends to go to his den. And they were going to pay for it with their lives.
No, no they won’t.
“Run!” Sam yelled with everything he had while lunging himself forward at the Smiling Man.
As the two of them tumbled to the ground, Sam could hear the erratic footsteps of his friends fleeing. While scrambling to subdue the thing, he caught a glimpse of Sasha, she must have broken free, and she was bolting faster than Sam thought possible, followed by Tye and Cathy, who were slowed only by the second they took to look back at him.
They will make it, at least there’s that. He thought as a hand wrapped around his wrist, yanking his arm back and up. The snap of the bone registered before the pain did. The sound of his screams were swallowed up by the second snap as a boot thudded down on his bent leg.
A light swallowed his vision, there was nothing, but the Smiling Man’s voice as he said, “You didn’t play fair.”
Sam barely registered the blade as it was driven into his stomach, his last thoughts were of his friends as he heard Cathy screaming from somewhere far too close. No, you shouldn’t have come back.