They were halfway down the first flight of stairs when Aiden started to groan. Teri grabbed Max’s phone and shone light in Aiden’s eyes. It was easier than pulling her own out of her pocket. Aiden’s eyelids fluttered as the light hit them. They wouldn’t stay open.
“He’s starting to come out of it, I think.”
“Good,” Max said. “Cause he weighs a ton.”
“It’s hard to get a good grip on him,” Morgan said. “He’s so much taller than me.”
“Let’s keep going.”
Teri led the way down the stairs. She was so focused on not tripping over Aiden’s dangling legs that she wasn’t looking too far ahead. When she did glance up, she almost knocked everyone over trying to back away. At the bottom of the stairs where the first floor should be, there was only swirling darkness. Thick tendrils of shadow reached out towards them.
“Holy crap,” Morgan yelled. She started pulling all four of them back up the stairs. “Not that way. Not that way.”
Teri grabbed one of Aiden’s feet. Lifting and pushing, she went up the stairs as fast as she could. Morgan was in overdrive, she was picking up the top half of Aiden like it was nothing. Even with Max grabbing his other leg, Teri’s back was still hurting.
They got back up to the second floor. The classroom door was still free of shadows, but when Teri peaked her head out, she saw them bubbling towards them from either end of the hall.
“It’s here too,” she said.
“We have to keep going up,” Morgan said.
“There’s no way out up there,” Max said.
“It wants us up there,” Teri said. “It’s driving us to the third floor.”
“We don’t really have a choice,” Morgan said. “Maybe we can get around it by going down another stairwell.”
Morgan dragged them along by their grips on Aiden’s legs. Teri didn’t want to go up to the third floor. The girl’s bathroom where she’d first seem the ghost was right around the corner. Her heart hammered and her breathing got even faster. She was winded from lifting Aiden, but this was different. Fear made her lungs raw. They filled up but they couldn’t get any oxygen.
“Back up, back up,” Morgan said. She’s just stuck her head out onto the third floor.
Teri looked over the railing at the second floor landing. Shadows were oozing out of the second floor and lapping up against the stairs like some nightmarish cross between air and liquid.
“We need to keep going,” she said. “It’s coming up behind us.”
“Okay, follow me,” Morgan said. “And keep right.”
Teri didn’t know why she was surprised. The girl’s bathroom was on the right. She could see what was happening so clearly it was like she’d gone into the future and come back. Morgan shrieked as the darkness spilled around the corner in front of them. It was rising out of the stairwell, so retreat wasn’t an option. Morgan and Max dropped Aiden, leaving Teri holding one leg.
They pulled on door handles, hoping to find one unlocked. Teri’s spine shivered as the bathroom door opened at Morgan’s touch.