After finding myself getting lost in Walmart for the 37th time and attempting to find my mom by yelling "Marco' hoping she would respond with 'Polo', I had the idea to turn it into a one shot. Good for me!
(I still haven't found my mother. So, Mom, if you're out there please come find me. I'm still at Walmart)
Brynn's footsteps pounded on the linoleum floor as she raced through the hallways of her school. She blindly ran through the building, passing open and closed classroom doors that she dare not stop to enter for fear that the slightest pause would allow her pursuer to catch up with her. Her beating heart thrummed in her ears as it matched the rhythm of her hurried steps.
Hurry, hurry, hurry!
The words echoed relentlessly around her head.
Brynn thought she could hear someone behind her, but she didn't glance back. Not for a heartbeat. She ran on.
Ran past the rooms that advertised learning and new experiences. Past the doors that told her she could be anything she wanted when she grew up. She ran.
A stitch had started in her side and tears formed in her eyes.
She had to get out of here.
She whirled around a corner. An exit. She needed to find an exit. Her mind raced along with her feet and heartbeat. Where were the doors? Her eyes searched the familiar layout, trying to find a way out. But it all looked so different at night. The walls felt like they were closing in, the windows glared from their perches, and the banners and papered announcements taunted her.
Were those footsteps she heard behind her? Or were they her own?
Panic laced her veins as she sped on.
She turned another corner. Relief poured through her as she say her escape. The large doors of the schools entryway seemed to wave at her, welcoming Brynn outside. She almost laughed with glee. She was going to make it.
But the sudden burst of relief was quickly replaced with fear as she saw what, or who, stood in the way of those blessed doors.
A tall figure cloaked in grey and black. A top hat sat atop his head. His white gloves covering his hands. His inhuman golden-yellow eyes grinning at her.
She skidded to a halt. She and the figure stared at each other in silence. Brynn froze in fear. No! Not when she was so close to fleeing. To being safe.
The figure took one step toward her and she took one back.
A dark chuckle flew from his throat and he smiled at her. The smile did nothing to comfort her.
Despair replaced the giddiness she had felt only seconds before.
The figure cocked his head, eyes gleaming. "Marco," he whispered.
The word ran out of Brynn's mouth before she even knew what she was saying. "Polo."
The dark shadow's grin widened as he slithered closer to her.
Brynn's instincts kicked in. Without a second thought, she spun around and dashed away. Away from the monster. She raced through the school once more. Stairs appeared in her vision and she ran up them.
The only thing clear in her mind was to get away.
She could hear the figure following her at a leisurely pace. She pushed herself to go faster.
His laugh wrapped around her ears and she jolted, almost tripping over her feet. She caught herself, only stumbling a small bit and kept running.
"Marco." His word spun through her mind, lacing themselves into her heart and soul. Without hesitation, she answered back, "Polo."
She winced as she replayed that word. For whatever reason, whenever he said Marco she felt inclined to say Polo. Like she had no choice. She just felt like she had to say it. She hated it.
She ran up the stairs and down another hall, her mind screaming at her to move, move, move!
Her feet flew down hallway, after hallway. She spun around another corner and found, to her dismay, the end of the hall. A wall towered before her. She stopped and turned around, to go another way, only to see that her tormentor was right behind her.
His yellow eyes glowed with anticipation.
In a flurry of panic, Brynn flung herself into an open classroom, slamming the door behind her and locking it. She backed away from it slowly. His footsteps padded toward it and he knocked politely. She didn't answer him, her throat closing up.
"Marco," he uttered.
Brynn pursed her lips as tightly as she could, attempting to stop herself from saying the word. But it was no use. No matter how hard she tried to keep her mouth shut, the word fell from her. "Polo."
Tears escaped her eyes as the door handle tried to turn. But the lock held true. The man in grey grunted as he tried to open it. He jiggled the knob, but it didn't budge.
Brynn was never more grateful for a locked door in her life.
She continued to back away from the door and half turned to assess the room.
It was a small classroom, with a whiteboard at the front and desks facing it. Two windows shone at the other end of the room. Brynn thought for a brief moment if she could break one but she knew it would be useless to try. These windows were too thick to break, and besides, even if she did manage to crash the glass, she was two stories up. She'd be lucky if she broke her leg from the fall.
The young girl glanced around the room in a panic as the madman continued to try and open the door.
Her eyes landed on a closet at the back of the room. Big enough to squeeze through. Brynn raced towards it and shut herself inside, leaving the door open just a crack.
The door handle stopped jiggling instantly. And all the noises on the outside of the door stopped. It became eerily quiet. Brynn held her breath, afraid that the figure could hear her.
The sounds of footsteps retreating caused Brynn to purse her lips together. She dared not go out and see if he really left. He was probably trying to trick her in coming out. Well, she wasn't about to fall for that old trick. She was smarter than that.
She waited there, in that small closet for what seemed like ages. She scarcely breathed.
Maybe it was safe to come out.
As if on cue there was a loud crash outside the door. Followed by the sound of a metal ball falling to the floor. No. not a metal ball… a metal doorknob.
The dark figure must have broken the knob off somehow.
The door creaked open slowly, revealing the man with the yellow eyes.
Brynn shut the closet door and held the handle with all of her might.
No! This couldn't be happening!
The man's footsteps started to make their way toward her, slowly, as if savoring the moment. She held her breath as they stopped right in front of her.
"Marco." The word sent a chill crawling up her spine.
Brynn desperately fought the urge to say the next word. She closed her eyes tightly and pursed her lips together in a thin line. She tried so hard to think of other things to distract her mind. She thought of her science quiz. She imagined her sixteenth birthday that was just a few days away. She even conjured up her little brother, Danny, even though he was a pain in the ass.
But it didn't work. She found herself repeating the dreaded phrase. "Polo."
She heard the man clasp the other handle and felt him give the door a playful tug, teasing her. She held on to her handle and kept it pulled towards her. She was not going to let this devil get her.
He tugged harder. She yanked it back to her.
They continued to play this deadly game of tug-a-war, Brynn's heart doing backflips.
Finally, the man seemed to grow bored of the game and, with strength that wasn't even humanly possible, jerked the door open. Brynn and the man stared at each other. His eyes bored into hers, seeming to dig into her soul. She sat there, frozen to the spot, too afraid to move.
"Marco," he whispered. His smile widening.
"Polo," she softly said back, dread filling the pit of her stomach. Her heart beat faster and faster. She didn't want it to end this way. It pounded in her veins.
"Marco," he said again.
"Polo," she whispered as her heart raced. It beat once more, then never again.