No Running From the Dead Emma didn’t want to go back to the dreaded room that she had been

imprisoned in. She quickly decided that she’d use this as an opportunity to search for a way to escape. Her head was clearing immensely and her strength seemed to be slowly returning. Whatever it was that had been making her dizzy and weak was wearing off. She had a feeling that the little bit of food and water she had been ingesting over the week had been drugged. But she would become so thirsty and so hungry that she didn’t have much of a choice unless she wished to starve to death. When Emma first realized the possibility that Reynoldo was drugging her food and water, she began taking in very little. She only consumed small amounts to keep herself from dying of starvation and thirst. Emma took slow quiet steps toward Reynoldo as he stood waiting for her at the top of the stairs. That was when she realized the castle was eerily quiet. She wondered if maybe the reason she had seen no one else was because there was no one else. Maybe they were the only ones there. Was the castle deserted? When Emma reached Reynoldo, he held his arm out for her to take. Against her will, she linked her arm through his. In a feat of triumph, Reynoldo turned and smiled at her exposing a full set of brown rotten teeth. Emma winced in disgust. The smell of his putrid breath turned her stomach. “See my dear Inanna,” Reynoldo grinned, “living with me isn’t so bad. You will learn to enjoy the pleasures I have to offer you.” Reynoldo leaned in and pushed his cold ashen colored lips against Emma’s in a kiss. Emma struggled against him with repulsion. With both hands, she pushed against his chest with all her strength. She herself staggered backwards. Quickly she grabbed hold of the banister so she would not fall. She watched as Reynoldo’s feet slipped. As if in slow motion, he fell back. His arms reached for the banister, but missed. He toppled backwards, headfi rst and landed on his neck. Emma could hear the crunching of his vertebrae as his neck twisted and broke. His lifeless body continued to fall, head over heels, while fl opping down the stairs. Finally his broken body rolled limply down the last few steps until it crumpled in a mass on the black marble fl oor at the bottom of the staircase. For a fraction of a second, Emma stood in silence at the top of the staircase. She wondered again if there was anyone else in the castle. And if there were would they come running to help Reynoldo? She waited in fear while holding her breath. But no one came. Emma’s heart was pounding rapidly in her chest. She quietly tiptoed down the stairs. When she came to the last step, she lifted her golden sandaled foot gently over the body that was crumpled on the fl oor. To her surprise, from what she could see, the castle was vacant. She was alone. “You sir,” she addressed the body in a harsh whisper, “have gotten what you deserve. But I was surely hoping you would suffer a more painful and slow death for the sins you have caused. But I am sure you will pay in hell because I know you are not to be admitted to heaven. And by the way, my name is Emma. It is not Inanna. I want you to remember the name of the woman who sent you to your torment.” Emma turned to look around her. Her mother’s death has now been avenged by the death of her murderer and at this moment she needed to escape the castle. She wondered which direction would lead her from the castle unnoticed. She had a hard time believing that there was

no one else around. For as far as she realized guards could be standing outside the castle doors waiting for her to try and escape. Then . . . unexpectedly . . . something cold, gripped Emma’s ankle. A shrill high-pitched scream escaped her lips. Reynoldo let go of Emma’s ankle as she backed away. She now stood motionless. Her terror overwhelmed her, leaving her completely paralyzed. She could do nothing but stand, wide-eyed and watch in horror. Reynoldo sat up on the fl oor at the bottom of the stairs. His hands reached up and clutched his head. With a loud crunching noise, he turned his broken neck until his head was no longer turned the wrong way. He then grabbed hold of one of his legs and twisted it until his knee was back in place. He pulled himself up into a standing position. “You see my dear Inanna. I am already in hell. There is no escaping me.” Reynoldo reached out one of his hands to touch her. His cold fingers grazed her cheek. Emma closed her eyes and winced against his icy touch. Reynoldo glanced at his hand. His fi ngers were bent and broken in a jumbled mess. With his other hand, he grabbed the fingers, yanking them one by one, until they popped into place. With her senses returning, Emma jerked away from him. She began running across the slick black marble tile. Her sandaled feet wanted to slide out from beneath her. Reynoldo laughed out loud. He continued to laugh as he stood at the bottom of the stairs. His voice echoed throughout the castle. “Oh Inanna,” his voice boomed with amusement. “There is no hiding from the dead. You cannot run from me.” Suddenly the only source of light in the castle, the flickering torches that lined the walls, went out with a sizzle. Emma ran in the darkness searching for a way out or a place to hide as Reynoldo’s laughter continued to echo eerily all around her.

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