They looked like normal people. If we followed them, we could find the way home. We might get lost in the crowd, our follower would latch on to some other poor soul. We could be part of this movement and escape.
I cannot say that these were the most reassuring things I had ever seen, but the power lines at the very least gave some kind of path we could follow. If I went in that direction, surely I would find someone, or something. The sounds of the feet were still behind us though, and she was already starting to run in their direction.
After what felt like hours, I could see the end of the stairs, and thought we were almost out. The footfalls echoed behind us, the hoobnail boots making a distinct sound on the metal steps of the stairs. She didn’t look back at me, simply began to run up the spiral. After what felt like an eternity on the stairs, we finally came out into the open.
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.