The Spiral Staircase

Image of Kyler Burke

Kyler Burke

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It seemed endless, climbing towards the star-lit sky. Hundreds of thousands of them, crumbling, covered in moss. Erosion rounded the stone, made it softer. Rainwater pooled in the carved-out spaces, the ones where earth and human had worn them down. Repetitive footsteps made imprints on each of the steps, weathered by the weight of so many.
She was running, sprinting, away. She was being chased up these stairs, the endless snake-like coil of them swirling towards the sky. The flashlight clenched in her hand was flickering, tired, as she pumped her fists harder. Her breath was a cloud in front of her, frigid in the budding night. Darkness was eating away at any light, devouring it whole with its ravenous, carnivorous teeth.
As the air got thinner, oxygen seemed to evade her. Breath was stolen from her in small increments until she was huffing, her sides cramping from the effort to keep her legs moving. Whatever was behind her was insatiable, the hunger palpable and reaching. Rain started to dribble as if the sky was crying, and the tears soaked her clothing through. Her palms were clammy and slick, and little half-moons carved themselves into her pale skin from the pressure of her nails.
Her shoes squelched with each step and her hair clung to her face in stringy wet clumps. She fell to her knees, and for a second, she could feel its hot, damp breath on her skin. The roar of her blood was rushing through her ears and her heartbeat erratically in time to her thin, reedy breathing. Her eyes were watering with each cold slap of rain that overtook her.
She wished for the light of the moon, the faint gleam of the stars in the sky. Gray clouds snuffed any brightness, and her flashlight finally gave its last exhausted belch of artificial sunlight, making everything around her turn black. Still, she climbed the stairs, even though her fear was overpowering. Her legs were shaking with exertion and one foot slipped, making her fall to her knee. She threw the flashlight into the darkness behind her, hoping that it would slow whatever was behind her down.
A broken sob escaped her, pain seeping into her bones. She got up, trying to regain some courage and strength. Her chin wobbled, and after one labored step, she was able to continue. She hobbled along, feeling the shooting pain in her knee. Biting her bottom lip, feeling like she was close to being caught, she blundered on.
Step after step made her feet sore and raw. Her eyes were wide open, surveying what she could in the ink blot of night around her. Ragged breath, the struggling breath before the onslaught of a panic attack, decided to wrap its knobby fingers around her throat. She choked, feeling the clot of saliva in the recesses of her esophagus.
For the second time she fell to the ground, but it wasn't because of her exhaustion. A talon-like grip took hold on her ankles, dragging her down. Her chin split against the hard stone of the steps and blood flowed, angry and red, onto her shirt. Backing away as much as possible, she held her arms up, trying to ward off whatever was coming for her. Eyes closed, she tried not to let out a frightened shriek when its cold hands gripped her wrists, wrenching them away from her face.
It did not speak in those moments. The now low, quiet rasping of her breathing and the simple puffs of air coming from its mouth were the only things she could hear other than the soft patter of rain. She turned around, hoping to avoid its grotesque face. Her eyes happened upon the top of the steps, where a pedestal stood, the only part of the stairs that wasn't collapsing with decay. Hands gripped the sides of her face, harsh and unforgiving. Her eyes were forced to swivel, her neck straining. She screamed when she saw it.
For the gaze staring at her was none other than her own.

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Image of Abigail Haworth
Abigail Haworth · ago
Oooh neat ending