Bailey was running. She hadn’t run so hard in her entire life. Not even when she was training for a marathon. She couldn’t believe how fast her legs were moving; they were like a blur; or how cramped they were. But she had to keep going. She couldn’t let them catch her. She couldn’t let them catch her.
She bolted up the crowded escalator, knocking into the people who were just standing on it. Sliding to a halt across the shiny linoleum, Bailey glanced around her. She tried to catch her breath. There was a shout below, and Bailey knew she’d been spotted. She raced away from the shouts again. It was then that she realized that she had nowhere to go.
Bollocks, Bailey thought. Her hands clamped into fists at her side. How could she be so stupid?
She’d found herself at very top floor of the skyscraper. Bailey had scaled so many staircases, taken so many lifts. She had been so desperate to escape that she hadn’t noticed how the floor numbers just flew by her. She’d been so scared and full of adrenaline that she almost crashed through the twelve foot windows that were cleaned so well they resembled air.
Bailey put her back against the windows. There were hundreds of people around her, all milling about in the food court. None of them were looking at her. It was like she hadn’t just raced by them. She hadn’t just knocked over a few chairs and a table full of someone’s paperwork from their office. The shouts below continued but now they were nearing her. Bailey ran to her left, intending to run down the last set of escalators just when the people chasing her came up the one to her far right, but they’d thought of that first.
She skidded into the arms of a man in a completely black outfit. She struggled and shoved at him, was able to twist out of his grasp and run back the way she’d come. There was a bang. The hundreds of people in the food court froze. They all watched, eyes wide, as twenty or so men in black outfits, identical to the one that had almost captured Bailey, poured over the top of the escalator.
Bailey’s heart was hammering against her ribs. She couldn’t even remember why she was running. Who were those men? All she knew was that she couldn’t get captured. She had to run like hell and hope that she was smarter than them. So far, she’d been right. But now…
They spread out in a straight line, blocking any escape Bailey had previously hoped for down the escalators. There were small handguns clipped to their belts, but those straps across their chests were intimidating. Bailey planted her feet. Her limbs were shaking, her torso was quaking, her lips were trembling. But she stared down those men because what else was she supposed to do? There was nowhere else for her to go.
A scream shattered the silence around Bailey. She jerked around, looking out the huge windows. The building behind her, a much taller, more majestic vision than the building she was currently in, was under construction, way at the top. There were cranes sticking out from the tallest windows and leaning over the edges of the roof.
Bailey watched in terrified awe as one of the cranes began to sink over the edge of the precipice. It was crushing the metal support beams underneath it as though they weren’t steel. The crane tipped and tipped and tipped… yet it didn’t fall. Dust and debris rained down from the accident, onto the pavement below. Bailey wondered if anyone was running, just like she had been running. She wondered if anyone else was being chased. She wondered if anyone was hurt on the ground below her. She wondered if she was going to get out of this alive.
In the next instant, the huge expanse of glass separating the onlookers from a terrifying drop of thousands of feet shattered. Glass rained down upon the scene. Bailey ducked and covered her head with her arms, diving under a nearby table. She peeked through her eyelashes as glass continued to fall; the men that were chasing her had scattered, and barely half was left up on the landing. They must have fallen in the shock from the explosion. Bailey cautiously appeared from underneath the table.
Holy hell, what was that? Bailey thought. She could tell that many of the people around her were hurt. There were streaks of thick blood smeared in footprints and around bodies that were unconscious on the floor. The glass had made a glittering powder on the linoleum and when Bailey stood and walked over to the pane-less windows, the chill wind howling around her, she didn’t want to look down.
An arm wrapped itself around Bailey’s middle and she screamed. Her outcry was lost in the screaming wind, and she clung to the man dragging her away from the edge, hoping desperately that he wasn’t going to throw her off of it.
“Bailey, stop it, for God’s sake!’ the man yelled into her ear.
Bailey hadn’t stopped struggling against him, and now she struggled even more. “Get off me! Let me go!”
“I’m trying to help!”
“No, you’re not!” Bailey yelled back. “You’re with them! Let me go!” She was going to die. This was it. She was going to die.
The man spun her around so she could face him. He gripped her arms so tightly she could feel her pulse beneath his fingers. “We have to go!” he said. “Bailey, listen to me!”
The building underneath their feet shuddered tremendously. Both Bailey and the man fell to the floor. More screaming began. This time, though, it wasn’t because of a commotion outside. Not all of it was, anyway. Again Bailey clung to the man as the building rocked and wavered. She was thrown upwards and crashed back onto the floor, her body hitting the tile very hard; the breath was knocked out of her.
The high-rise next to their building was toppling in the same manner as their own. The cranes were tipping and sliding, edging closer to an imminent fall. The windows were breaking and glass was raining down upon those on the ground. Bailey cried out as another shock pulsed through the building. Her body was rattling with the force of it.
“What’s happening?” she wailed, struggling to crawl towards a table to hide under.
The man helped her stand and pushed her ahead of him. “Keep moving!” he yelled.
Bailey didn’t want to say what she was thinking, but as the building was rocked again and as she fell to the floor, she shouted, “We’ll never make it!”
“Yes, we will!” the man shouted. He slipped in a pool of blood that was rapidly flowing across the floor to the edge of the open window. “Don’t give up, Bailey! Go!”
Bailey grabbed hold of a table’s legs and used it as leverage to hoist herself up; the table rolled away from her and fell through the open window. We’re going to die, she thought. But she forced herself to keep moving towards the escalator even as the building’s shuddering began to slow.
“Don’t look, Bailey!” the man shouted suddenly. Of course Bailey wanted to know what was going on, but he suddenly held her face to his chest as he plowed closer to the escalators, tugging her along with him. “DON’T LOOK!”
Someone began to scream. It drifted away as fast as it had come and with a horrible jolt in her stomach that made bile rise to her throat, Bailey realized that the unconscious people on the floor were rolling to the open window and were falling. They were plunging thousands of feet to their deaths and they had awoken just in time to feel absolute terror.