They all stepped closer to the door and stared into the hallway, their eyes wide open in shock. Whatever they had expected when the elevator had broken down, this was not it. If they still had the hope that it was only the elevator that was affected, and that the rest of the building would still be fine, that hope left them completely now.
"H… How could this have happened?" Frank was the first one to speak up.
The others looked at him for a moment, before returning their attention to the surreal sight before them. In the dim lights of their cell phones, they could see that the already small hallway had crumpled. The ceiling was only barely there anymore, rubble was lying on the earlier perfectly white floor. The wall to their left was still mostly intact; cracked, probably, but at least it was still standing up straight.
The other wall, though, was no more. The several shops' glass windows had not been able to carry the weight of whatever fell on top of them and had buckled under the pressure, leaving the hallway with huge chunks of brick and rubble, parts of ceiling and wall and just about anything that wasn't there normally.
It was like a warzone, what you would imagine to see when a bomb exploded.
It was not something you would expect to see in a mall. Not something you would expect to be caught up in in real life.
Everyone was waken up from their daze again by a thud on the floor, perceived extra loudly because of the complete silence in the ruins, causing all of them to quickly look around.
One of the girls that had earlier helped Quinn to take care of the wounded had slumped down and started crying now.
"How are we ever getting out of here now? Everything's destroyed! All the people that were in there…"
At that the group's heads went back to the hallway. Before they went into the elevator, there were still a few people out there. The clerks in the now inexistent shops? Those few late shoppers?
"Oh my god…" The teens started shaking heavily and crying as well. Nobody in the small space could fathom the idea that people they had seen only a little while before could have died… That they could have died as well, if they hadn't stepped into the elevator.
Frank tried to be positive about that. "Well… Eh… At least… At least we've survived so far, right? Look on the bright side, we're still al-"
"BUT FOR HOW LONG?" The friend of the girl crying on the floor cried out, tears streaming down her face. "We're stuck down here! The elevator isn't working, we're in the basement of a building that can come down upon our heads any second now, and our phones don't even work so that we can know we're still alive! We're screwed! We may live now, fine, but what if we run out of oxygen, huh? Two of us are in serious pain-" she pointed at two of the earlier hurt ones that were standing up, but leaning hard against the wall for support. "- and are bleeding like hell. We'll never get out of here!" With that, she went to her friend and hugged her for dear life, crying her eyes out.
The others began panicking at this as well. They started screaming again, Frank tried to be in some way positive but did more damage than good, Bill and his wife and the two teens had gotten to the floor as well, hugging and crying.
Quinn just stood there in a trance. I'm never getting out of here. Rach, Britt,… I'll never see them again… I'll never see anyone again!
She started crying as well and wanted to just fall down, to never stand up again. But when her legs let out, she was once more caught by slender, tan arms.
Santana stabilized the girl and pulled her back up straight, forcing her to look into her eyes.
When it looked like Quinn wouldn't fall down again, Santana quickly cupped her cheek and wiped away some tears with her thumb. She whispered to the blonde. "Just trust me, okay. You'll live, and get out of here. I'll make sure you do." With that, she flashed her a quick smile, and the blonde couldn't help but sigh and nod. This raven-haired girl would be her only hope in this freaking cave.
At this, Santana turned her attention to the frenzied group and stepped up a bit.
"EVERYONE! That's enough…"
They all stopped shouting for a bit at her voice, but they didn't keep their silence for very long.
"What the hell do you think you have to say, huh, little girl?" Bill's wife Mary was going into an angry panic-rant. "We are stuck here in this hell-hole, pretty much left to die, and none of your silly ideas can get us out of here! Give it up, girl! You're no freaking superwoman!"
The others looked up at Santana expectantly, and when she didn't answer right away, most of them went back to a more silent sobbing, some mumbling to themselves with fear in their eyes.
"You're right…" Santana's whisper might not have been heard very clearly, but everyone looked up again at the sound of her voice.
Quinn looked at the Latina. She had let her head fall down after that woman, Mary or something, told her off, but after her quiet whisper, she could see her clasp her hands into fists and lift her head up sharply, looking everyone else straight in the eye.
"You're right", Santana said again, this time louder. "I'm no freaking superwoman. Well, congratulations on noticing that. What gave it away, the fact that I don't have a freaking costume and mask?"
She glared at the group, making them uncomfortable under her gaze.
"So. Friggin'. What." She crossed her arms, the others watched her every move.
"So what, people? I know I'm no superwoman or whatever. But that doesn't mean I want to rot away in a place like this! You all want to get out of here, right?" She waited for the nods, some slowly, some very eager. "Then we're at least gonna try getting out of here. I mean, seriously, who the hell waits for death to come and get them? This place is not the end of the line? Do you really think that the only way for us to go up right now is through an elevator? Get real! This may be the 21st century, but that doesn't mean technology is all we are!"
The group looked at her, mostly unbelieving, but still with a little hope in her eyes. Quinn already trusted her with everything she had anyways, and decided to support her in this as the others fell silent.
"I agree with Santana. There have to be some staircase left, right?" She looked pleadingly into the girls eyes, and Santana nodded. She was a bit surprised by the help she was getting from Quinn, but she would definitely take it… In this situation.
"Yeah…", Santana said a bit more huskily than she normally would have. "Yeah, that's right."
She unlocked her eyes from Quinn's and diverted her focus back to the other people, regaining a bit of her earlier anger.
"Listen up, you all. Right now, is where you choose to love or die. And I think it's safe to say you all choose to live." She didn't even wait for nods at this one.
"So here's what we're gonna do: there are two staircases in the basement. One at the direct end of this hallway, another one for staff and security in a corridor to the left. One goes up into the building, the second leads outside directly. At least one of them should be open. Maybe they won't go up completely, but they may give us a bigger chance than to stay here like trapped mice."
She stepped a bit closer to the group, letting go of her anger, but still making stern eye contact with all of them.
"So stop the crying, and stand the hell up. Or I will go all Lima Heights Adjacent on yo' asses, and you all don't wants that, do ya?"
All of them nodded that they didn't and made to stand up. Most of the people weren't all that hurt, but there were two very doubtful cases. Santana went over to them were they were still laying on the floor. Frank joined her pretty soon. She was going to ask them something, when Frank shot in.
"Yeah, I don't think you two should come, okay?"
Santana opened and closed her mouth once, not believing what he had said. The two women cowered on the floor and obviously wanted to cry again. It pissed Santana off.
She quickly pushed Frank against the wall, surprising him, and put her arm against his neck. Shifty, fearful blue eyes made eye contact with furious brown ones.
"Now listen here, asswipe. There is no fucking reason for us not to bring these people along. They're in the same situation as the rest of us, off even worse I might add, and they're coming with us, m'entiendes?"
She turned her attention back to the two women on the floor, keeping Frank in check at the same time.
"What are your names? And tell me your injuries while you're at it."
"I'm Jill, the blonde girl – ehm – Quinn, said I probably dislocated my shoulder. She put it back for me already. It still hurt, but I'll be fine to walk, I think."
Santana nodded and turned her head toward the two friends that had nursed the wounded earlier. "You two: help her up, please, and stay close to her as we walk, 'kay?"
The girls nodded and shot up to help Jill. After that, Santana turned to the other one.
"And you are?"
The woman was shaking in fear, even when Santana had dropped her angry glare for a bit and tried an encouraging smile.
"I… I'm Fran, but I… I'm afraid I… My leg… it's broken."
She started sobbing hard, looking at Frank. Quinn and Santana both understood what she was so afraid of, and Quinn went to the woman to comfort her. Santana smiled at this, and then turned her attention back to Frank.
"Listen up, loser, I'm gonna make this very simple on you. You have two options." She let go of him for a bit, shaking her right hand around as she did. Shit, that fucking hurt. I was hoping it would have bettered by now. Fuck it, it doesn't matter, on with the show.
She stepped back and crossed her arms, her eyes never leaving Frank's.
"Option one: you are going to help this woman throughout the way. You will carry her on your back the whole time, and you will do everything in your power to make sure she doesn't cry again, entiendes?"
Frank was starting to feel a bit more cocky again now that the girl had let go of him. He straightened his vest and pulled up his tie again. "And, eh… What is I refuse?"
Santana smirked at this remark and slowly started walking closer to him, her voice a barely audible whisper that only Frank (and Quinn) could understand.
"Then you take option two: I'll actually go all Lima Heights Adjacent on your ass, I'll use your own fancy tie and vest to tie you up to this freaking thing, and we'll leave you here to die. But of course, not before I break one of your legs, and maybe one of your nuts as well. Left or right, that's your choice."
She backed up again, pleased to see the look of complete fear in his eyes.
"So, what's it gonna be, boy-o?"
He was shocked out is his daze at her words, and immediately went over to Frank, lifting her up on his back.
"See, that wasn't that hard, now, was it?"
Santana looked around her for a bit. Everyone was standing up straight in the elevator, as ready as they'd ever be. She went up to were they had opened the doors. There was a small height difference between the fallen elevator and the hallway, so she had to push herself up on the basement floor. She flinched as she put pressure on her right hand, but she was pretty sure no one had seen the pain on her face as she pulled herself up.
Quinn, however, had been watching her closely as she went up, and even though she couldn't see the pain on Santana's face, she did see the way her right arm almost collapsed from underneath her, and how her back muscles tensed all at once. She can't be… Why the hell hasn't she taken care of herself? Maybe it's just a sprain, but still! She wanted to say something about it, but at that time Santana had already turned around, towering above the others.
"Okay guys, we're leaving now. Try walking as lightly as possible. Crying is forbidden – like completely. And remember the cell phone thing: as soon as you have any type of connection, send the sos-message. We clear?"
Everybody nodded. They were so ready to get out of this elevator.
Santana smirked and cocked her head to the side.
"Let's get the hell going then!"