16 | Ashleys Asylum

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Ashley sat at the kitchen table while Elsie quickly filled a cooler bag with food from the cupboards. Though she couldn't see him, she could hear Michael moving briskly around the house, preparing for their sudden departure. He tossed another bag by the door in the hall before she heard him jog up the stairs.

Ashley pushed her hair back off of her face and leant her elbows upon the table. Was this really happening? Despite now having a life full of constant uncertainty she had always been unconsciously certain of Sam and Michael being in the picture. Now that was gone, it would just be her and Michael. Alone.

She jumped out of her skin at a loud thud followed by a series of violent bangs that was immediately identifiable as someone falling down the stairs. Both she and Elsie shared a panicked glance as they leapt towards the door.

Michael lay crumpled at the bottom of the stairs, lying still on his back. Ashley leant down and placed a hand over his mouth, she felt breath just as his body gave a violent twitch. He was unconscious. She turned her eyes up to see Sam standing above them on the stairs, he looked down at Michael coldly.

"He was right," Sam murmured huskily, stepping down onto the last stair. "I did choose."

Elsie let out a shriek and darted towards the kitchen door. Ashley fell on her back as Sam pushed passed her to apprehend the old woman. Ashley watched the one-sided fight from the floor in utter shock.

"I'll die before I let you have her!" Elsie bellowed furiously, punching and kicking out. "Ashley the door! The door!" she screeched. Tricksy the dog began to bark ferociously, jumping up against the back door, her teeth gnashing at the glass in response to her owners scream.

Sam picked the old woman up by the waist despite her struggles and carried her over to the door leading to the basement. Ashley staggered to her feet and without a second thought made for the back door.

Sam twisted around and freed a hand to grab Ashley's t-shirt. "No!"

Struggling to subdue them both, Elsie wiggled out of Sam's hold enough to yank the back door open. True chaos erupted. The vicious Rottweiler bolted into the kitchen, snarling and snapping straight for Ashley. She was pushed to the side as Sam rose his fists to take on the dog in her place. It lunged for his arms and forced him back into the living room.

Elsie was thrown to the floor as well, she recovered quickly for an elder woman and got to her feet despite some heavy breathing suggesting she was having some difficulty. "Come child" she wheezed, "The basement, we'll lock it from the inside."

Ashley revolted at the idea and scrambled to her feet a second time. "No!" she exclaimed, she wasn't sticking around! Elsie looked furious as she leant against the kitchen table to regain her balance.

"Your stupidity will see you dead just like your mother you stupid child!" She cried out before a sharp squeal from the living room interrupted them. Sam ran back into the kitchen holding the dog, coiling and snarling, by the scruff of the neck. Elsie screamed and shouted at him as he grabbed her by the wrist at the same time and threw the both of them out the back door. With shaking hands he slammed the door and turned the key, locking them both outside.

He turned and leant his back against the door, holding up a bloodied arm and clamping his hand tightly against the main wound. "Give me that towel," he said breathlessly.

Ashley hastily located the hand towel and threw it at him. He wrapped it around his arm before nodding towards the living room. "Let's go."

Ashley didn't move. This was the most real chance she had to escape. Michael was out cold and Sam was out of breath and the weakest she'd seen him.

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