The Roof

I stand outside the lift to my flat, my hands dug deep into my jumper pockets to abate the evening chill. I exhale deeply and the oxygen spirals from my lips in a frosty stream. I stamp my feet to keep the blood circulating in my toes. The panel at the top of the lift is still stuck on the number three and I jab the button impatiently, growing tired of waiting. A noise behind me makes me start and I spin round to investigate. It is pitch black on the other side of the road. The only lamp post stationed there is still out of order. I squint into the thick wall of darkness and feel the hairs on the nape of my neck prickle. Underneath the lamp post I can just discern the outline of a tall figure. I swallow hard and turn back to the face the lift. As if mocking me the lift remains stuck on the third floor, adamantly refusing to come down. I stab the button repeatedly, willing the metal machine to respond. Over my shoulder I can hear the sound of footsteps on gravel and realize with a sense of impending doom that the shrouded figure is crossing the road towards me. I bang on the heavy metal doors, pleading for it’s consent but the lift remains unresponsive. The footsteps are getting steadily nearer, the crunch of gravel amplified. The realization that the lift has abandoned me to my fate hits me suddenly and I dash to the left, making a run for the stairs.

I bound up the concrete stairs two at a time, like a startled hare. I can hear the dreaded presence behind, it’s footsteps slapping hastily after me. By the time I reach the fourth floor my lungs are straining with the effort and my legs are screaming out in angry protest. But I push on, far more afraid of the cloaked terror hot on my heels. Two levels later I finally reach my floor and dart along the balcony to my door. As I frantically produce my keys I can hear the loud footfalls and heavy breaths of my pursuer gaining on me. In my frenzied haste I fumble my keys in my shaking hands and they fall to the ground with a loud jingle. I don’t have enough time for a second attempt so instead I dart to the other end of the balcony and mount the opposite stairwell. I hear the keys clanking as the night demon’s boot knocks them aside and force myself onwards.

By the time I reach the final level, my lungs are about to burst and my legs feel like jelly. A door at the top of the step leads to the roof and I let out a yell and charge at it, fearing it to be locked. Luckily it isn’t and I stumble out the door onto the wide, empty rooftop. Cold air hits me hard in the face, knocking what little breath out of my lungs. The sense of tightness and claustrophobia that had descended upon me in the stairwell has momentarily been lifted but I soon feel the panic grip my chest again as the predator’s footsteps echo up the stairwell. I walk backwards from the door, unable to tear my gaze away from the rusted door and what ever waits behind it. My heel catches on something and I nearly topple back. I hold out my arms, managing to steady myself. I slowly swivel round and take a sharp intake of breath. I am standing at the edge of the rooftop. The roof’s lip had been the only thing stopping me from walking right off the building. My stomach flips as I glance down at the sheer drop. A strong wind whips up and I feel myself sway as it buffets against me. The footsteps behind me have died out and a tremendous fear takes hold of me, as I know the terrible creature is standing right behind me. I force myself to turn and face the nightmare. My mouth falls open in astonishment as I discover that I am staring at myself. I go to speak but no words escape my lips, my mouth opening and closing silently. The other me smiles and shoves me hard in the chest. I fall back from the ledge and plummet to the ground. The wind rushes past me, and as I hit the concrete ground I stare into my eyes, staring coldly from the roof. They are the last thing I see.

© [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales], [2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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