Max makes a low moan and shakes his head. I start to step forward but Colin grabs my arm.
“What? We have to help him,” I say, trying to pull out of his grasp, but he just tightens his grip.
“And both of us get killed.”
I pause. And then I look back. “It doesn’t matter. I have to help.”
Colin shakes my arm and brings his head close to mine. He stares at me and his eyes are those of a shark, flat and dead. “You are not endangering me. I won’t let you.”
I give one more tug on my arm but Colin tightens his grip. It is painful and I can’t help but cry out in pain. In front of us Max turns. His eyes widen and he bangs on the glass.
“Let her go!”
Colin ignores him and I see his face split into a sneer.
“Why? You were going to kill us.”
Max falls silent. I have sunk to my knees trying to escape the crushing pain in my arm. I don’t scream but I am panting to breathe. Max is looking at me and he is hitting the glass, as if it will suddenly open. It doesn’t.
Through pain-edged sight I see the thing behind him. It is moving slowly and carefully. It doesn’t seem hurt, instead it appears wary of Max. Or maybe of the light. Max is standing in shadow but next to him is a bright spot. The creature is wary of this shard of sunlight, although it isn’t as bright as outside. It is moving around it, but it is far too close.
“Max,” I pant. “The creature.”
Max looks at me and I see the apology in his eyes. He turns and faces the thing that is stalking him. And it truly is stalking him, almost cat-like with a fluid grace I’ve only ever seen in the ballet. Yet the creature moves toward him hesitantly, as if not certain whether Max is dangerous. I glance between the two. Max is a big man, with a well-defined body so he is a little intimidating. I’m still surprised that the creature isn’t rushing him.
I shift trying to get up but Colin twists his hand a little and the pain shoots up my arm. Involuntarily I let out a whimper and I see Max flinch.
“Colin,” he calls through the door, his back still to us. “If I survive I will hurt you.”
“It is for her own good,” Colin says. “We would die helping you.”
Max shrugs. “Just don’t hurt her anymore.”
Colin looks down at me and I swear I can see my reflection in his black flat eyes. “If you stay still I won’t hurt you.”
I thought he was nice. Especially after Max said he was involved, but I don’t know. All I want to do is run from them both. And the thing.
It is chalk-white and dressed in a hospital gown. Its hair is blonde-white and waving in the breeze. Not that I suppose there is any breeze in the hospital, but still it moves. It reminds me of hair underwater, the way it moves. The thing’s eyes are the palest of blues and its mouth is open revealing sharp white teeth. In fact the creature looks remarkably like the child. I wonder what the chances are of seeing two looking so much alike. Maybe before they became the things they were related.
The creature is moving forward again and Max is turning his head. I guess he must be searching for a weapon. All I can see is a fire extinguisher. I’m about to tell him when he spots it and starts to move toward it. The creature pauses and watches his progress, hissing at his movement. Max stops and the creature starts to move forward again.
Max lunges for the extinguisher and the creature rushes forward. It is as if it had been held back by tension and Max moving has released it. The creature lets out a mewling scream as it rushes forward with arms outstretched and hands hooked into claws. Max reaches the extinguisher and rips it from the wall. He doesn’t try to use it but instead swings it like a club. It connects with the creature and it flies to the wall hitting it with a bone numbing crunch.
The doors start to open between us and Max and the creature falls through the gap very close to Colin.
Colin lets go of my arm and turns to the door to the outside, banging the glass.