On the sixth floor, I paused momentarily to catch my breath. The adrenaline had just about worn off, and the gravity of the situation had begun to dawn upon me. The elevator was not working at all, and the only way in or out was the fire exit from which I had just come.
The staircase. I looked back to see if any of them had followed me up. I slowly began to creep backwards without taking my eyes off the doorway leading out. It seemed safe for the time being, but who knew when –
I froze in place. I had backed into something fleshy – the unmistakable, putrid scent let me know that my life was at its mercy. I turned around slowly and faced a giant of a man.
Something was amiss. I stared at him, waiting for him to tear me apart, but realised that the feet were not quite touching the office floor. I stole a glance upward, noting how the neck was bent at an awkward angle, and my eyes dwelled momentarily on the tongue lolling out of the man’s wretched mouth, then moved past the eyes set forever forward, devoid of the despair that had no doubt forced the act – devoid, in fact, of any recognisable emotion.
My own eyes stopped finally on the rope around his neck. My sigh of relief came automatically.
I began looking over him again to see if there was anything I could use to defend myself with. There was, of course, nothing in his hands, and although I briefly considered checking his pockets, I decided against it. I looked him in the eyes again.
Strange. He peered back at me.
Squinting, I leaned a bit closer. I could have sworn that he had not been looking at me before. It was like those paintings where –
The man’s eyes rolled before settling back on me. I stumbled backwards, yelping unnaturally. My legs seemed to disappear from under my body, and I broke my fall with my hands.
A low guttural sound came from the man’s ruined throat, and his hands came up to the noose. The man’s flesh, looking more like old rags, tightened as long-dead muscle began to work again.
I stared in stupefied fear, unable to stand. The man pulled at the rope with both hands, gurgling horribly with each tug. His arms seemed to gain more strength with every move that he made. I stood back up finally, eyes trained upon the gruesome spectacle before me.
All at once, part of the rope disintegrated and the man hit the ground with a thud. The bones in his legs cracked, suddenly having to support dead weight that had come to life again. The piece of rope still around his neck trailed behind him like a horrific leash, unable to hold back the creature it was supposed to control.
His jaws worked up and down almost automatically and his tongue was immediately severed by his teeth. It fell to the ground with a sickening sound, like fresh meat being put on to a butcher’s table. His eyes rolled wildly as he slowly began to advance upon me. The rotten odour suddenly hit me like a punch to the stomach, and I gagged as I backed towards the staircase.
The realisation struck me again – I could only escape higher into the building, and there was no way out of this Hell…