Cupcakes and Fingernails – Part Twenty Three
Horror Fiction Stories
She did. Jennifer dropped the gun and flung the door open. She sprinted from the room toward the stairs, but felt a heavy blow slam into the back of her head. She tumbled forward and flipped over the railing, nearly forty feet above the concrete floor. Jennifer panicked in freefall, flailing her arms to find some handhold as the ground came to meet her. As if by a miracle, she managed to grab onto the bottom of one of the lower walkways with her right arm. The momentum snapped her around and she slammed against the underside of the platform. She lost her grip and fell, but only hit the ground from ten feet instead of higher.
She gasped as the air rushed from her lungs. She was unable to move her right arm or even feel her hand. Jennifer gripped her shoulder and curled into a ball as she grit her teeth. The lump underneath her touch told her that it could be fractured.
In a moment, the lich stood over her with black flames licking the bottom of his robe. He reached toward her, but Jennifer kicked her feet against the ground and quickly rolled to her feet. Gripping her arm to her side, she set off in a run as fast as her clumsy feet would let her in the dark. The sky outside had turned to dusk. Even at best, she could only make out the outlines of objects in her path. More than often, she was forced to leap over the corpses of Alex’s experiments, evidently left powerless by their creator’s death.
At the other end of the factory floor, she spied a pair of open double-doors leading into a dark hallway. Jennifer had long past the point of caution, so she sprinted immediately across the threshold.
The lich stood poised in the dark before her, hands outstretched. Unable to turn around quick enough to escape, Jennifer made a sharp turn and dove underneath his reach. One of his cold fingers brushed lightly against her ear as she ran. Jennifer let out her first, real shout of the night as she continued to stumble forward. Letting go of her deadened arm, she ran her fingers over burning ear and found it to be hard and brittle, as if made of ash.
She rounded another corner to find the lich at the other end of it, far enough away so she could turn around and take another route. At the end of another hallway, he stood, a bit closer. In a doorway, he waited. Around every corner, in every room, through every doorway, the lich followed her with his blue eye piercing the dark as black flames spread across his robes.
At the end of one long hallway, Jennifer saw the last burning embers of the day through a pair of two glass doors. Too tired to sprint, she jogged sluggishly as her dead arm bumped against her side. Her hair band had long fallen away, so her sweaty hair dangled in strings over her face. She hadn’t lost enough blood to be in danger, but she had lost enough to be dizzy. Her throat rubbed dryly against itself as she fought to remember what water tasted like.
The lich stepped out from between tricks of the light and stood quietly, a hellish tumor on the world’s face. Instead of stopping, Jennifer felt her pace quicken. Her feet picked up speed into a barreling run. She felt nearly parallel to the floor as she sped forward, a feral growl building in the back of her throat. If it was hopeless, if she were truly to die that night, Jennifer would make sure it was the messiest suicide Alex had ever seen.
An instant before impact, the lich blinked away. Jennifer instead ran full-tilt into the empty door frames and slammed them open, sending what little glass was left tinkling to the ground. She stumbled at least ten more feet from inertia alone before falling to the ground like a plane crash.
more by WILL HEMLEPP
photograph by Martin Wessely