Author's note: I hope to publish this someday, so, please, give honest and thorough opinions.
The muscles in Amelia’s legs sing in agony as she pounds up the stairs, each step echoing chaotically throughout the empty hallways. A thin blanket of sweat glues her clothes to her skin, and beads of perspiration snake down her spine. The temperature of the jailhouse’s interior is stark in contrast to that of her own body; sunlight has already faded from the small windows high on the dirty brick walls, and all of the bulbs in the place are long since burned out, dusty and dull from years of sitting unchanged in the jail’s abandoned halls.
The peak of the stairwell finally approaches her. She lunges for it, her exhausted body collapsing on the grimy floor. The rafters of the third floor creak and groan like old women, seeming painfully loud in the silence. Cells flank her on either side, extending forward in a long, straight corridor that almost immediately is impermeable in the thick and unyielding darkness.
In the almost peaceful quiet of the top floor, she dares to allow herself to think.
She wasn’t always alone. There were four of them, four restless friends desperately addicted to trouble, and trouble resides in the old jailhouse. It’s the ghoul hotspot in this one-horse town, a haunted temptation that beckons irresistibly to anyone seeking a thrill.
Of course, no one thought the place was legitimately haunted. It was all in their heads.
Those were the people who left before the sun had yet to rise.
Amelia had come with her two friends, Riley and Kristopher, and her boyfriend, Zane. Their noses were filled with the tangy, pungent odor of marijuana that was wafting from their stuffed pockets. They had gotten into the jail easily; the rusted locks had been broken a long time ago. Noon was upon them at that time, and the building was filled with a bright daytime glow that seemed out of place in the sinister hallways.
In the jail’s lobby they had rolled up, lit up, and submerged themselves into a cloud of weed-induced high spirits.
Riley was the first to disappear; her tiny, anorexic body vanished into the darkness behind her without a sound. No screams. Not even a whimper. Of course, none of the others thought too much of it—they were much too buzzed on the illegal things they brought to keep them company. Later, though, as they staggered down each sprawling hallway, high out of their wits, booming laughter and whoops of delight immediately ceased when they stumbled upon a ripped patch of black leather, on top of it a small mound of piercings, each one stained scarlet with blood that had yet to dry.
It had been Amelia and Zane who discovered Riley’s repulsive remains. Their good mood was quickly diminished, and they rushed back to warn Kristopher—he had stayed behind to finish his joint—like helpless lab rats in a maze.
Finally they arrived in the lobby, greeted by silence and the still-smoking butt of his cigarette.
Amelia and Zane had then ran with terrified and blind steps down the main corridor, the hollow pounds of their steps disorienting as they bounced against an approaching dead end.
They stuttered to a stop upon meeting an out of place brick wall.
Defiled and smudged, the wall hulked in the shadows, adorned with the etchings of past inmates who undoubtedly sat hunched under the light of the moon and scratched meaningless words into the grout.
Shallow pants seizing their chests, Amelia and Zane had turned—only to face bars. Cold iron bars wearing a coat of rust, locking them in tight like sentinels standing on rigid guard.
With terror resounding in his voice, Zane had whispered, “We’re in a cell.”
Those were the last words Amelia ever heard him say. When Zane went, there was no noise, no disappearances. His heavy body collapsed right on top of hers, eyes rolling back until they were white, one soft, strangled whimper escaping his lips. Before she could crawl out from underneath his bulky, limp form, it was dragged away, into a dark corner of the cell, pulled by no force that Amelia could see. A single ribbon of blood drooled out of his mouth as he went, mixing with the dirt on the floor to create a river of ruddy mud.
She could never muster up the courage to explore the shadowed corner.
Amelia had gotten out of the cell, but she doesn’t know how. The unyielding bars had suddenly melted away into an open walkway, identical to the path that she and her boyfriend had run down before.
Something was terribly wrong.
With hammer-like pulses throbbing in her temples, she had stood in the mouth of a caliginous corridor, one more minute morsel about to be swallowed hole.
And she ran.
She has no idea where she was headed. Up and down rickety metal stairs and through the web-like hallways, fueled by the unremitting sensation that she was being stalked. Steamy puffs of breath—whether real or simply an offspring of the terror in her mind—crept down her neck when she slowed down to ease the anguish in her failing muscles; fingers caressed the skin of her arm in a revolting sort of embrace. Every corner she turned they were right there, their putrid breath wheezing in her face.
She was alone.
A mouse pinned helplessly underneath the paws of a huge, maniacal cat. For four hours she’d been running, taking blind steps that always ended up with her slamming into an out-of-place dead end.
The darkness was a thick blanket pulled over her eyes. A chilled wind, too sharp and polar to be natural in the usual mild Georgia weather, had shot through the air and refused to leave. She could no longer feel her fingers. She squinted at them; they were blue. Each of her trembling exhales escaped her in white clouds.
When lunatic, hyena-like laughter and inhuman whoops of amusement began to reverberate around her, Amelia slowly pulls herself to her feet; her joints crack painfully from sitting curled up in the cold for too long. With one last wistful glance to the nighttime sky twinkling merrily outside of the window, she turned from the wall…
Bars in front of her, caging her in.
The cell. The cell is back.