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Carmen pounded on the grimy glass doors. "No! No!" She screamed, drowning herself out with the banging. Trying to quickly think of a plan, she ran behind the reception desk to pick up the swivel chair. She glanced at the guestbook again to see her father signed his name. Was he still trapped inside the hotel? Julian and the Mayor didn't sign their names.

She looked at the elevator. She saw that it had reached the floor she pressed the button for, floor 9, but it was starting to descend back down to the ground floor. Grabbing the back of the chair, she wheeled it over to the front of the entrance hall. She picked it up and threw it at the glass. It bounced back, not strong enough to shatter it. That surprised Carmen as the glass appeared like the rest of the hotel – old and ready to break.

Looking at the dial above the elevator, she could see it was getting dangerously close to the ground floor. It just passed the second floor when Carmen scarpered to the staircase. She sprinted like an athlete, hearing the ping of the doors once her foot touched the first step.

The elevator doors opened just as Carmen turned up and out of sight. Clarice and her children looked around the ground floor, at first not realising where their newest guest had ran to.

Carmen tried to keep her footsteps light as she ascended, using the banister again to support her. Her hands felt sticky, repulsing her. She climbed and climbed as far as her body would allow. Her speed was slowing and her panting grew louder. She reached the seventh floor before expiring. She fell to the floor and leaned against a wall on the floor.

She took out her mobile phone and dialled Tremaine again. The phone rang and rang but this time, she didn't answer the phone. Carmen's heart sank. She tried again but again she didn't pick up. A third time was cut short when her phone became out of service.

Carmen hoped the reason Tremaine wasn't picking up was that she was saving Tiffany's life. Her phone wouldn't allow her to ring anybody else due to the poor reception. She realised she had to get out of the hallway when she could hear Clarice and her children climbing the stairs.

It took a huge strain on Carmen's body to pull herself up but she managed, realising that her life could be at stake if she remained in her comfortable spot. She tried the handles of each of the doors on the seventh floor but none of them would open. She made it three quarters of the way down the hall when a door granted her access.

The door was different to the others with a rectangular window inlaid down the centre. It wasn't a guest room as Carmen quickly found out. It led into the upper floor of a gymnasium. The room was too dark to see, but directly in front of her was the railing for the balcony that overlooked the gymnasium hall.

The balcony should have circled the entire upper room but it only made it halfway around before it halted. A section of the balcony had caved in, the only way across was the top of an apparatus that was covered by a black sheet.

She could hear the footsteps of Clarice and the children now. She didn't know how they knew to go down the hallway, finding it bizarre that they didn't just climb further up the hotel, unless they could somehow track her scent like wild dogs.

Carmen wanted to turn the light on to see better but didn't want to fully give her location away. She ran around the upper balcony to the part that had caved in and stood there for some time. Her mind envisioned climbing over, and every single scenario ended with her falling to the gymnasium below.

The apparatus didn't look steady either, spreading over the entire space from each end of the room. It would grant her access to the door on the other side – the only exit to her safety. The black sheet that covered the apparatus prevented her from seeing the bars, so she pulled it towards her.

Ashes of the Innocent (Abyssal Sanctuary #2)Read this story for FREE!