Horror Science Fiction Thriller

The evening’s amber light trickled through Greywood 13D’s front door, thick and viscous.

The light bounces through and glints off the broken glass like golden fragments.

Chelsea Harding walked in, a large cardboard box held in front of her. Various knick-knacks and miscellany poked out of the top. An old football trophy. A couple of dog-eared paperbacks. A lamp, shade skewed to the side like a drunken man’s hat. A small houseplant, its fronds dangled over the sides. The words ‘Randumb Stuff’ scrawled across the side in black ink.

Chelsea runs through the shattered door. Her feet crunch against the shards, crisp and hungry. Blood dots the front of her blouse. A gore-slaked penknife — the one-inch blade stuck out — clenched in her grip. Her breaths rush in and out, a white-rapid waterfall.

She waltzed into the sepia-tinted foyer, her face a rictus of wonder. Her mouth hung agape in an ‘O’. The expression soon melted into a grin, and the young woman laughed. Chelsea pirouetted as she took in the sights. She all but danced her way through the entrance.

She runs through the foyer, her face the very embodiment of terror. Chelsea clenched her jaw tight, teeth bared like a wild animal. The tendons and muscles pulled taught in her face. The young woman threw a glance over her shoulder at her pursuers, too many to count.

“I love it!” she said to the man who’d held the door open for her. He stepped in behind her and let the door thunk to a close. “There’s so much light! It’s such a warm place.” Chelsea stopped at the wall of post boxes and turned to face him. A bar of light half-illuminated her face. “I know we’re going to be so happy here, Peter.”

“Oh god, no!” she gasps between breaths. She locks eyes with one of the infected, their face bloodied, their eyes filled with rage. Chelsea bangs into the wall of post boxes and slaps a bloodied handprint. Beneath the crimson smear, the names Harding, Chelsea and Middleton, Peter remain visible. “I don’t want to die here!”

Peter said nothing in response and grinned a toothy smile. A bright glint in his eyes told her that he felt the same way. He laughed and followed her into 13D. “I hope so, I already signed the lease.” He raised his hand and dangled a set of keys. “But before you gush too much, perhaps you ought to see the actual apartment, huh?”

Peter says nothing in response and bares his teeth. Bits of gristle and meat stuck between those half-decayed chompers. A hungry gleam in his eyes tells her that he’d do everything in his power to ensure that happens. He moans and follows her into the ruins of 13D, his cannibalistic posse close on his tail. He reaches for her with an outstretched hand. Skin stained maroon, most of the fingernails torn away.

Chelsea grinned. “If it’s anything like this entrance, it’s gonna be wonderful. And I’m gonna love it.”

Chelsea screams and puts her head down. She forces her tired body into overdrive, the notion of safety close by. The threat of death by shredding even closer. She sprints past the dead elevator and heads for the stairs. The power’s been out for almost a week by now.

Peter pointed to the closed elevator doors. “Take the lift?” He spun the keys around on his index finger.

Peter shrieks and slams into the closed elevator doors. He leaves a dark black smear in his wake, a stain upon the stainless steel. His claws grasp the space where Chelsea has been.

She shook her head. Her bangs swayed side to side, caramel brown. The creases at the sides of her eyes deepened. “No, let’s walk.”

Her feet slide against the tiles — struggle for traction. Her eyes widen and the creases at the sides of her face disappear. The whites of her sclera the bright hue of cocaine.

“Up to the fifth floor? Really?” He raised his eyebrows. “With that box?”

Peter snatches the air and misses her by inches. His snarl intensifies, the noises from his throat animalistic.

“Hey, I’m stronger than I look!” Chelsea nodded and leaned in as if to share conspiracy. “Plus, the box is much lighter than it looks.” She bounced it in her hands to prove her point. The contents shifted and danced around.

Chelsea flinches away and leans into her run as if she were a sprinter reaching for the finish line. She slashes the feeble knife around behind her to scare off her attackers. Or, at the very least, to give them a reason to hesitate. But that’s the thing with dead people. They lose their fear of death.

Peter nodded and glanced to the stairwell. “Fifth floor, though?” A cocky grin on his face asked if she was sure.

Peter scrambles after her all the same. A mad-tooth grin on his face asks if she thinks she can scare him off with such ease.

Chelsea smiled. “Fifth floor. I want to get the whole vibe of the place. We take the stairs. Let’s soak in everything Greywood has to offer.” She inhaled and held it, then let it out in a sigh. Fresh-baked cookies lingered in the air, chocolate and vanilla. “It just feels so… chill, y’know?”

Chelsea squeals and dashes for the stairs. Every adrenaline-filled moment, every panic-fuelled snapshot. It’s all seared into her mind’s eye. Every useless detail. From the discarded shopping back crumpled on the bottom step. From the absent edge-of-the-step covering that management promised to fix. To the scent of rotten flesh, which lingers in the air. Mildewed. Decayed. Wrong.

Peter bowed and gestured to the stairs. “Then let’s soak it in.” He gave her the side-eye. “But don’t complain to me when we get to the third floor and you’re short of breath.”

Peter stumbles and claws for the stairs. He hits the ground with an awful crunch, but he doesn’t stop. In one faltered heartbeat, as the microseconds tick-tick-tick away, their eyes lock. His red and twisted, filled with hate. Hers wide and petrified, like a deer in headlights. Frozen.

Chelsea sprang up the first few steps and chuckled. “Try to keep up.”

Chelsea leaps up for the first few steps and screams. “Stay away from me!”

Chelsea and Peter disappeared up the staircase.

Chelsea and Peter — and all Peter’s friends — disappear up the staircase.

March 16, 2021 15:27

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RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

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