The brunette slows us down. So she stops and hikes the bottom of the towel above her knees to allow herself longer strides. We run again. As we round a corner at one end of the passage I hear Lyle shout out from the other end.
I do not need to look back. A moment’s hesitation, then the brunette and I run up a flight of stairs. On the next storey, we sprint along another passage. Then down two flights of stairs. More passages. More stairs. Until I am lost.
“Stop,” the brunette says.
My legs burn. I choke for air. The blood pumps in my brain with a hum so loud I cannot hear. I hold my breath to instil silence. My head spins.
The brunette, next to me, is also intent. Only, she is far more poised.
“Where are they? They could be anywhere. How many are there?” she whispers.
“Two. The carpets. They make. Quiet.”
We stay where we are, undecided.
“Who are they?” the brunette asks.
“Bad people. I think,” I say.
“What do they want?”
The question rattles me. Who is this brunette? What is Paul’s relationship to her? Can I trust her?
“Me,” I say.
“Yeah, but why?”
“I don’t know.”
Someone is coming up the stairs.
The brunette zips open her handbag and sinks a hand into it. She puts a finger to her lips. I should be quiet. And pulls out a large handgun.
“Shit,” I squeak.
The brunette walks to the railing of the stairs, peers over. She turns back and shrugs her shoulders at me. I realise she does not know what Lyle or the squat guy look like. I edge to the railing and peek. A figure three storeys down climbs the stairs.
“Is it one of them?” the brunette asks.
“I don’t know.”
I look at the figure. My brain malfunctions. Is that one of them? What were they wearing? What do they look like?
“Paul. Damnit, Paul,” the brunette says and aims the gun at the figure.
The phone in my pocket rings. Merciless elevator music. The figure on the stairs looks up at us.
Sweat on my back turns to icicles.
“Down, down, down,” Lyle’s voice yells from somewhere above.