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The Final Step

The young girl maneuvered through the never-ending hallway of blackness, at first at a deliberate stride but soon progressing into a panicked jog. She kept looking over her shoulder and the ruffles of her dress, as if she could - or wanted to - see something appear out of the nothingness behind her. Frantic footsteps echoed against the walls on either side of her, closing her in. The sounds were irregular, as if the pursuer were limping after her.

When would it end?

How?

Animal grunts and heaves escaped from whatever was chasing her and it only made her all the more hysterical. She had tried to keep her breathing inaudible but had dropped that goal long ago. Now she fought for breath, letting out little cries with each exhalation. Her running pace was hurting her now. She was sprinting, and her dress was nearly suffocating her. Every lunging step challenged her to keep her footing, and the difficulty kept increasing.

The toddler's Mary Jane hit a step and she finally tripped, immediately getting back up to find that she had reached the base of a very familiar staircase. The spiraling one, from her dead great grandmother's house. The girl knew the way, knew which steps creaked and moaned, knew how many there were before she reached the top. Her chaser was gaining on her, and she quickly descended the rungs, her feet light on the decaying wood. When she was halfway up, the stalker reached the foot of the stairs and stomped up the steps at a dizzying pace. The girl counted the steps - one, two, three, four, five, six seven - and an abrupt stop. This rattled her; the seventh step was the one that creaked. There were only six more steps, all of which were silent. Now there was no telling how much time the child had before the chaser's hands were around her ankles, before it sucked her back down the stairs, her head hitting hard with each last step.

Hurriedly, the girl thought back to what she had to do. She was at the top of the flight of stairs, and her options were either to turn left, to her great grandmother's bedroom; or right, to the bathroom. Broken light splayed onto the threshold of the bedroom, which three things dwelled within: a squeaky old bed, a flickering lamp, and an ancient bible that lay on the floor, splattered with blood. That's how the police had found the room - except now, there was one less body occupying the bed.

The little girl took off towards the bathroom, unnerved by the feeble incandescence that the lamp submitted. She slammed the door closed and locked it. The lock was rusting and the door was as old as her great grandmother had been; they weren't a very comforting duo. The girl hid herself underneath the sink and in the cupboard, knowing that this was her last stand.

One thought crossed her mind in the time between the unsteady footsteps down the hall and the bursting open of the door: what if her pursuer wasn't human?

What if it was?



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