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When the elevator doors closed loudly behind her, Bette turned quickly to look for the button that would take her to the eighth floor where Tina was.
Hurry her mind screamed, move NOW. Every nerve in her body, every cell, every molecule, every pint of blood coursing through her veins was charged, the hairs on her arm standing at attention.
Room 817. Or did Tasha say 718?
She paused, confused and the elevator started moving up on its own, a noisy clanking noise coming from above that scared her. She pressed floor 7 and 8, puzzled, her hand shaking a little. Floor 5 lit up instead and the doors opened to a sign that said 817 with a red arrow.
She stepped cautiously off the elevator, into the dim hallway to look around, get her bearings.
The rooms all had the same number, they were all 817. Every single one! All of them, she noticed as she spun around 817 817 817 817 817… a blur of numbers rushing past her as she turned and turned.
She ran down the hall, calling for Tina, where was she where was she where-was-she… she could feel her heart beating faster and faster, each beat thumping in her ears. She looked down and her shoes were gone, her bare feet pounding the carpet.
Every door looked the same, she tried one and the door wouldn’t open, same for the next and the next and the one after that.
They were all locked, TINAAAA she screamed…
Her panic growing, she felt overwhelming pressure to find Tina quickly. Quickly OR ELSE…
She passed Aaron laying on his stretcher, one shoe resting next to his foot as his wife turned to look at her then pointed soundlessly toward another hallway; one Bette did not know was there. And it was the way she pointed, the soundless way she pointed that caused dread to sink to the pit of Bette’s stomach, making her nauseous.
All the doors in this hallway were closed too, painted red except for the last one, directly ahead of her. The white door stood open at the end of the long, long hall. She ran that way, sprinting now, blood pounding in her ears … the hallway seeming to lengthen and pulsate as she ran, tripping over her feet to stumble but not fall.