And so we began up the stairs, long, strait and then coiling spirals of stairwells. Our feet were loud on the steel and we had to stop every few hundred steps to see if we heard the feet of our follower on the stairs behind us. They were still there, still following and still moving at the same pace. If we just kept going faster than that, we could outrun them. But to what end? We didn’t even know if there would be anything at the top.
She said we could get up there, we could probably find the way out. It looked like we were simply running a maze to me and I was dubious about the expectation of cheese at the end. The sound of the boots were growing louder behind us though and I had no intention of waiting around for them to catch up with us again.
We had come out into a workshop of some kind. All the machinery had ceased working long ago though, and none of it looked as though it could have been the source of the sounds we had heard before. It didn’t look like there was much of anything really. We moved through the workshop and found ourselves before another stairwell.
The voice demanded we play the organ, but she began to run instead. I watched as the sudden cast of colors burst in my eyes. I felt a hand on my shoulder, pressing me forward to play. She hadn’t let go though, and was tugging me back towards the stairs. When I broke eye contact, the spell was also broken and I followed here away. The foot falls behind us had grown closer, we had to keep moving.
There was something behind the nets, but I couldn’t quite see what. She was crying by now, and her skin had grown cold and waxen. She seemed to understand something terrible would happen when I looked on the object behind the nets.
I could still hear the boots behind us. I began to concentrate on the noise and found a metallic element in the sound. Hobnails. Someone out there had hobnail boots and was slowly, but inexorably, pursuing us. She was short of breath, and was unable to speak. She looked pale and her lip kept quivering no matter what I would do. There was nothing else to do but to descend, and so we did.
If we were going to get away, we would have to go down further to find the way out. She was reluctant, but I had to keep her moving and as such yanked her along. As we went down, we began to hear the sounds of boots on the stairs above us. They walked deliberately, neither rushing nor halting, but moving at the same steady rate no matter what we did.
No one, not at all. She began trembling, and I pulled her close so she could at least know I was there. I’m not sure it helped. The footfalls had faded away, and there was only she and I now. Even the sounds of the machine working had gone. We began to go the only way available to us, we began to descend.
Entirely empty. I was beginning to realize that the thing that was terrifying her was that we might not find any other people. She had been growing more hopeful as we approached this hall, but now that we were here she seemed crushed. She fell to her knees and put her hands over her face in despair. I helped her up and tried to keep her moving along, as it was the only thing I could think to do at this point.