The scream rang out, piercing the reverberating air. He had been caught. She had seen him just moments ago, but he had been caught. As the claws descended from the darkened sky, she knew that there was only one more. One final partner to depend on, or so she hoped. She continued carefully wrapping the bandages around her punctured waist, blood oozing through each layer as she tried to stem the flow. It was as hopeless a task, she thought, as that which stood in the way of her escape. The gates were still closed and, last she had checked, there was still not enough power to open them.
She knew there was still one more. She felt his presence burning into her vision as if he were right there. He was working, trying to quietly evade the encroaching terror that threatened them both. Not long ago, they had been planning to rescue the others. A fruitless task, that ended in despair. Regardless, he was capable, focused, and aware. Perhaps they would get out of here after all.
The enchanting, unholy, unsettling melody flooded her mind. As she crept towards the broken machine, she did everything she could to focus on her task. Connect a wire here, pull that lever there. It was an easy task, and yet here, it took effort just to breathe. The heartbeat started again. Not hers, but another’s. Abandoning her task and creeping away, she knew hiding was the only safe thing to do. Her desperation to escape needed to be tempered with purposeful caution.
A hatchet flew through the air, close enough for her to hear the whistle of the blade as it sliced the sky. Had she been seen? She had been so careful, after all. No, it must have been an attempt to bait her into action. She would hold still until the terror had passed. It worked. The heartbeat faded, then the song. It was safe to return to work.
Safe for her, at least, as she suddenly sensed, through the fog and the oppressive buildings standing amongst them, that he had been hurt. A cry rang out. She tried her best to ignore it and continue working, but it was still disquieting. Somewhere, he was being hunted. The adrenaline would pump, feet would run, both hearts pounding in a vile rhythm. But there was no scream. No sounds of struggle and no horrid feeling that something wicked had happened.
And then, that sound. The warm, shrill blare of a siren, announcing their work was complete. It was time to down tools and head home, after a hard day’s work. She knew where to go. She could see her partner heading there. But she could hear the melody. It crept up on them, as her ally began to open the gate, tearing down that final barrier to freedom. She was feeling stronger, and he had managed to patch his wounds for the moment. But the song grew louder. They were almost out of time. The heartbeat started again, growing loud, more ominous, more disturbing. The horror had arrived. The loud clanging of metal heralded the opening of the escape.
But it was too late. As the gate came to a rest, she looked down at her stomach. A hatchet, rusty and jagged, was lodged in her side. She hadn’t even had time to react, and she fell to the ground, writhing in pain. Her partner hadn’t been seen; he was hiding behind a wall nearby. She was hoisted from the ground, and in the midst of this movement, she saw him peek round from his safe place, a brief glance as she was draped over the horror’s shoulders. This wasn’t the end, there was still a chance. As she was lifted high, she couldn’t help but hold her breath as she was hung, hopelessly and gruesomely, on the hook, which had been blackened by countless drops of blood over time.
She saw her saviour emerge from his hiding spot. Her eyes grew wide, and a smile almost crossed her face as he began to move towards her. He stopped. Why had he stopped? She could still be saved and he was the only one that would be able to do it. And then, all hope vanished. He had turned away. Turned his back on her, and ran. He ran away. He ran away from her. The pit of her stomach lurched and her head became light. This was it. He had left her. He wasn’t her partner, he was her deserter.
Moans of anguish.
The agonising pain of betrayal.