When will it end?
Struggling to catch my breath, I stop for a moment, hands on my knees. The door to my left is shut, I haven’t been in there yet. Could that be a way out?
It always changes.
“Daadddeee…” My daughter’s voice echoes through the halls, distant and menacing. “Where are you?” She giggles, and my skin crawls. The voice is my daughter’s but the words are not her own.
They belong to the Sinister.
Bursting through the door, it quickly becomes obvious that I’ve misjudged. It’s not the exit but another classroom. Like the others I’ve seen, the desks are overturned, strewn about. The floor’s covered with debris. Even in the dark, I can see the walls are splattered and smeared with gore.
I thought I knew my way around her school after months of dropping her off every morning. For fuck’s sake, the building is essentially one giant corridor with rooms branching off it; how hard could this be?
“Daadddeee… I’m going to find you!”
She’s closer…its closer.
I thought I’d put enough distance between us to buy time. Creeping back to the door I peer out. The corridor is lit only by the flicker of flames burning sporadically within the building. Screams erupt from somewhere mixing with childish laughter.
I dash out into the corridor, avoiding a lick of the flame, continuing my search for the way out.
My daughter said… the Sinister said… there’s a way out, and if I find it, it’ll let us leave.
I slow my pace as the corridor begins to quake.
Oh god, it’s happening again.
Walls crack and splinter while steel beams groan as they rip from their foundation. The ceiling and floor shifts position, altering the layout like a Rubik’s Cube. The horror is indescribable; the confusion maddening.
The Sinister said we can leave; but I doubt it will let us.
I jog toward one of the freshly formed corners and my feet slide out from under me; I slip on the entrails of what looks like one of the school’s administrators. Hitting the floor beside the lifeless torso, I see eyes frozen open in terror, they stare blankly at the ceiling. The lower half is nowhere to be seen.
“Daadddeee… you can’t hide forever!”
Holy fuck she’s…it’s close.
Scrambling back to my feet I continue down the unfamiliar hallway. I don’t know how long it’s been since the nightmare began; the Sinister gave me a head start what seems like ages ago. Here and there I’ve seen other parents as desperate as I am to find their children and make it out.
I’ve also seen some that didn’t make it. What of their kids?
Then all other thoughts are eradicated: I see it.
Barely visible, in the orange dancing glow of the flames, is an Exit sign above a heavy door.
Oh my god, a way out. My heart races.
With a new sense of urgency, I use every ounce of strength to propel myself toward the door.
Almost there…the ceiling shatters above me.
In a deafening crack, ceiling tiles, duct work and dust rain down on me, along with my daughter. I collapse under her and the debris, hitting the floor just a few feet from the exit.
“I found you, Daddy,” she says.
Gripping me with inhuman strength, she flips me onto my back and my heart breaks.
Her arms are gone, ripped out of their sockets and replaced by greyish-pink appendages with six oversize claws protruding from stumpy, inhuman hands. She still has her own legs but has sprouted elongated talons that tear through her tiny Mary Jane’s. Her face is still that of my little girl, but her mouth is permanently etched into an unrelenting grin.
Worst of all; her eyes. Her beautiful blue eyes have been torn out leaving empty sockets.
“Baby girl,” my voice cracks with emotion. “The exit is right here.”
“You almost made it, Daddy,” she says and her voice softens. “…almost…”
“It’s right here, honey. Let’s leave… me and you…” Even I don’t believe my words.
The Sinister creeps back into her voice. “But then the fun would end. You don’t want the fun to end, do you, Daddy?”
“What the hell happened here?”
She giggles, digging her talons deep into my chest. I feel them scrape between my ribs.
“Oh, my dear Daddy,” she squats, pressing her full weight into my chest. “You just answered your own question: Hell happened here.” She twists her talons deeper, nearly piercing one of my lungs. “Besides, how can you leave something that’s already everywhere?”
Tossing her head back, she erupts into a shrieking laugh.
∼ Jon Olson
© Copyright Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved.