I ran fast and hard, Abigail dragged behind me as we sprinted through the labyrinthine hallways of the Baron’s gothic mansion. How quickly things had turned for the worst, as the mysterious figure had appeared atop his magnificent staircase and explained to us – a random collection of five strangers – that we were to be subjects in a terrifying scientific experiment.
One of us had already been lost, a young man named Hugh, needlessly taken by some nameless creature in the dark. So now we ran, desperate to avoid the same fate.
‘What’s the plan?’ Abigail asked breathlessly between pounding steps. ‘I vote that we go back and push that damned lunatic over the side of his glass balustrade – let him deal with his pack of monsters!’
I all but skidded to a halt on the marble floor, Abigail crashing into my torso.
‘That’s it!’ I said, eyes widening as a plan began to take shape in my mind.
‘Really?’ she frowned, nervously glancing behind us. ‘I was just—’
‘He looked confident,’ I explained. ‘That they would not come for him, that he would be safe on top of his glass staircase – glass is the key!’
She didn’t look convinced. ‘That seems like a stretch,’ she said.
‘Look around,’ I said, pointing. ‘There’s almost no glass in this mansion at all. Doesn’t that strike you as strange?’
‘I have no idea how rich lunatics decorate their houses,’ she said, frown deepening.
‘Well, I do,’ I told her. ‘I told you, I used to work with glass repair near Melbourne – I spent most of my life going into homes just like this and fixing broken windows and balustrades. Most people have more than this.’
‘That seems flimsy,’ she said, nervously glancing behind us again. To hear myself saying it out loud, I had to agree.
‘We have nothing else,’ I said, firmly. ‘We need to head back… back to that glass staircase. Back to the Baron.’
She hesitated, breath catching slightly. Her grip around my hand – unnoticed by either of us up until now – tightened slowly.
‘Okay,’ she whispered. ‘Let’s go back.’
As we turned around, a deep, low growl slowly resonated down the hallway towards us.