Don't worry people, we're not going to leave this unfinished. It just takes time. Please review and tell us what you think. See you on the next chapter. Till then ;)
LK


Kelly fought back the nausea rising from her gut for the hundredth time. She just could not afford that weakness right now. Far too much was at stake. Hell, their lives, all of them, were at stake! And what about the little girl? Come on, come on Kelly please, try to keep it together! She gulped down the oppressive fear which was also threatening her sanity, and held an ear to the door. Helen had returned to make some phone calls and seemingly neglected to recall that she had a prisoner locked away not too many feet away from her desk. Kelly had overheard some extremely disturbing information from Helens part of her conversations. Kelly now at least... had something to go on. What the hell this place was all about... some kind of notion as to what this hell hole was all about. She breathed in and out quietly, trying to keep calm as she listened intently for any further information. But it seemed that Helen was, for the moment, done with making phone calls. She heard the chair scrape back and Helens soft footfalls crossed the room.

"Emily? Emily, where are you, my darling?!" Kelly heard Helen mutter to herself.

Well with any luck, Kelly crossed her fingers at the thought, she's away from you and looking for the good guy!

Then she heard the sounds of a door opening and thought that Helen was leaving. She held her breath. But no wait... the sounds of this door were too close... Kelly realised then that this door was not the office door but yet a door leading to another room adjoining the office. Emily's room? Emily's - what? Play room? Kelly's line of thought took her back to when she first realised the little girls presence and how she had come to appear in the office like that. Now more and more things were beginning to slide into place. This awful, desperate woman! And... oh God... with... with Sabrina's own child! Kelly closed her eyes in the dark against the tragic truth that was constantly needling her mind like some B movie sci-fi laser scalpel.

"Emily? Emily!" Helen was now calling out in worried tones, unable to find the precious child. Then, as Kelly fought against her own acutely paralysing and fear wrought emotions, she also became aware of the fear now echoed in Helens own voice as she sought out, and was unable to find, the little girl Emily. Kelly's breathing became more and more rapid as she heard Helen cross the room again and open another door. And this time, Helens footsteps passed away from Kelly and then the door closed. A faint echo of receding footsteps followed...and then all was still.

In that instant, Kelly was aware of at least two possibly positive things. One... Emily was hopefully bumping into Jason somewhere and two... Helen had, for the moment, completely forgotten all about Kelly being shut in the cupboard. These two positives sat well with Kelly right now, even though her breathing told her otherwise.

He could feel his breath come in and out of his lungs, forced from the intense effort to run up the stairs. The scared child in his arms had now stopped crying and was leaning on his shoulder. As his footsteps echoed and were consumed by the damp silence he finally was there.

He was very self conscious of the note in his pocket. It burdened him like a rock. He always knew something was unbearably wrong. But he had no idea until now. Something deep inside him made him trust Kelly more than his own boss. And that was because he had so many things to tell her, but not just yet. They would have time later.

After all it wasn't hard to guess that Miss Chambers was not in the best of her mind.

He knocked the door and as he took no response her kicked it open. He bent down and left a sleeping Emily on the floor. As he looked around he noticed the bookcase described in Kelly's note. He grabbed it and pushed it aside. The muscles in his hands trembled and the bookcase fell on its side. He stood still a bit and scratched his chin, wondering if there had been an easier way to get it out of the way.

In his years there he had seen many people hurt, he had seen and caused pain countless times, but now, something in him screamed as he saw Kelly lying motionless. He clenched and unclenched his fists as he knelt next to her.

He was afraid to touch her but she stirred on her own and opened her eyes. Her hand touched her forehead and she let out a small sigh. Her vision was blurred and she could tell she might have a minor concussion.

He wrapped his hands around her waist and slowly supported her to her feet.

''Can you please tell me what is going on here?'' he asked in a low voice, looking around for Helen.

''Not... not now... Jason...'' she shielded her eyes from the light. ''Where is Emily?''

Jason turned his head back. ''She... she was there a moment ago...''

As Kris listened, the incoherent mutterings from Tiff seemed to die down and finally, thankfully, she became silent apart from some heavy sighs. She had tried to talk to Tiff as she sat next to Sabrina, holding her hand, but Tiffany had completely ignored anything Kris had said. Or not even heard her. Kris decided it was likely to be the latter. So she waited it out. Now it seemed a good idea to try again.

"Tiff? Tiffany?" There was a sudden flurry of movement from Tiff, and Kris jumped herself, startled. Now Tiffany was gasping... in fright?

"Hey Tiff... please... Tiffany?" Kris softened her voice.

"It's me - it's Kris... it's okay huh? Listen to me... there's nothing to be scared of, " Kris tried to assure her seemingly badly frightened colleague, "listen to my voice... it's just me - okay?"

Kris then laid Sabrina's hand back to her stomach and was about to get up to see to Tifffany but Sabrina caught her arm.

"Wait..." A hoarse whisper also caught Kris's attention. "Tiffany... she's... not...she's been... " Sabrina tried to find the words to describe Tiff's current condition.

"...I'm ... I... where... am ...I..." a frail voice interrupted Sabrina's indecision.

"Ah jeez Tiff... ? Oh my God... Kris...?" Sabrina let go of Kris's arm and then Kris was up and at Tiffany's side in a moment. Tiffany had her face in her hands and her shoulders were trembling. Kris realised with a twist to her stomach that Tiffany was weeping, almost silently, save for tiny giveaway sounds.

"Oh my God, Tiffany... what the hell..." She pulled Tiffany to her and embraced her ... hoping she wasn't worsening any injury, yet wanting to hug her so tightly.

"Shhh, Tiff, it's going to be alright, we're going to get out of here...oh my God what happened to you huh...?" Kris held Tiffany close, stroking her hair, feeling the clamminess of her skin... her dishevelled hair and clothing... and then without warning ... a flashback. Another prison, another time, another terrorised inmate...only that time it was... it was...

Kris shuddered as memories flashed up. She mentally shook them away though. Now was not the time for reminiscing over the good old days! Then she felt Tiffany's shoulders begin to relax a little and the weeping was now, she realised, dissolving into emotion fuelled gasps and heaving sighs.

Sabrina cursed into the relentless gloom of the darkness she almost without hope, gave herself up to. But now she had two colleagues to hold on to. One of whom...she knew without doubt...she could trust with her life. The other...she suspected...in time...she could do the same.

"Hey...!" She moaned out more loudly, badly needing to attract Kris's attention at least.

"Bri!" Kris called back over her shoulder. Kris manoeuvred herself so that she could support Tiffany yet, allow her voice to travel back towards her struggling former colleague whom, she now understood, was without doubt, in desperate need of medical attention. Kris then checked herself.

Hell. Weren't they all, for Heavens sake?

"Sabrina... Bri..." Kris called back again. "Can you move at all?"

A low chuckle...which almost presented itself as a low growl... echoed across from Sabrina's location.

"Don't ... make me ...laugh..."

Kris knew Sabrina's serious tones. And immediately recognised her sarcasm as such.

"Okay okay...Bri...just hang tight there okay?" Kris now switched her attention back to Tiffany. How the hell was she going to cope with this now? Kris swallowed a lump of fear... and snapped her mind to the most pressing concern.

Tiffany could hardly even recognise the face that loomed right in front of her. Yet for some reason, she understood that this person at least, harboured no threat towards her. She still felt ... defenceless and ... yes...somewhat threatened. But not by the person who now was trying to talk to her. Tiff tried with all her might to focus her attention on what the woman was now saying to her. Yet, even as she held her gaze, Tiff felt more hot tears prick behind her eyes. No! She needed to try and concentrate! She shook her head to try and clear it. Oh God, everything was just still so... dark! She raised her eyes again to Kris... wanting so much to connect with her and...see a connection in the eyes of an ally.

Kris had Tiffany by the shoulders. She stepped up close to be only inches from Tiffany's face. She needed to find ...something..some kind of light... some kind of recognition...in her friends eyes now. The low lighting from the corridor was only of minimal value, yet... it thankfully was enough to see by.

"Tiffany... Tiff! C'mon... I need you ... here...now! Please?"

Kris implored, staring deep into Tiffany's eyes, she thought she saw something then. A tiny dance of something apart from the dull and lifeless eyes of... the lost?

"Oh c'mon Tiff...you can do it! It's me... Kris! I'm here! Come on... shake a leg, huh?!"

Kris aimed a light humorous poke. Would it hit the mark?

Again... a flicker of something? Tiffany then blinked rapidly and attempted to shuffle backwards a little, but Kris held on. Even squeezed her shoulders a little.

"Hey, don't back away Tiff... come on, look at me! I'm right here! I'm not going to leave you okay? We're getting out of here, all of us... are you listening?" She lightly shook Tiffany then, and was immensely relieved to see Tiffany raise her head and look as though she was making every effort to shake herself back to reality.

"K-Kris?" Tiffany finally whispered. The incredulity in her voice was unmistakable. So was the fear.

"Yes! Yes it's me! Now Come on Tiff can you support yourself? I really need you now." Kris attempted to divert Tiff's attention away from herself, for now, so that maybe, just maybe, they could all get out this stinking place. And to do that, she desperately needed Tiffany with some wits about her.

"Ugh.. I - I think so..." Tiffany muttered, totally unsure of anything at all right then. But she heard the urgency in Kris's voice and raised herself from the slouch she had succumbed to. Kris looked up as Tiff, with a groan, pushed herself up to her full height, and she felt a little warm spear of pride wing through her heart.

"Attagirl! Now, over here, help me with Bri!" Kris stepped away towards Sabrina, who had been listening approvingly from the floor. She hoped to God Tiff had enough will power and resilience now, to keep going, to give herself and Bri the support they both acutely needed.

She reached Sabrina, purposefully not looking back over her shoulder to Tiff until she had crouched down. Then she looked back and was again relieved to see a determined Tiff crouching down beside her and looking like she was definitely more in control. She just hoped to God it would last...long enough.

"Sabrina..." Kris put a hand on Bri's shoulder. "We... we got Tiff back!" She smiled. Sabrina arched one eyebrow.

"I can see that. Now what?" Although Sabrina knew exactly ..."now what". She allowed Kris to take charge though, because she had neither the energy or the wherewith all.

"I'm sorry Bri... I know...you know this is going to hurt worse than hell - but..."

"...Yeah I know - we gotta move." Sabrina knew to the n-th degree how much her stiffened limbs and torso were going to shriek with incredible agony at the onslaught of strenuous movement. Yet - what choice did she have? She took a deep breath and let it out with difficulty.

"So let's get this cronk to the scrapyard huh?!"

Tiffany stood and stepped to the other side and positioned herself, ready to take as much of Sabrina's weight as possible, on the lift. She decided to keep quiet for now. In all honesty, she didn't really trust the babbling that might spring forth from her tornado'd mind. It was all she could do right now to focus every single part of herself - to force every single part of herself - to cling on to the here and now, and help them all out of this.

"Okay Bri - Tiff - on three." Kris looked over to check they were set. Tiff nodded grimly.

"Okay...one - two..."

Kris and Tiffany grappled an apparently unthankful Sabrina to her feet on the shout of three.

"Keep moving!" Kris gasped, and propelled her load forward. "Move move MOVE! Go go! We're getting OUT!"

They all moved with some considerable momentum across the floor, Sabrina cursing a blue streak all the way. In fact, Kris faintly acknowledged to herself as they passed through the cell doorway, she didn't think she had heard Bri swear so badly since that day they both lost Kelly in a pub parking lot after they were hired by that country singer to find her husband... the memory flickered in her dazed mind briefly... Almost a hundred years ago now, it seemed. She then felt Sabrina begin to buckle, beside her.

"NO! Goddam it Bri! You have to keep moving!" She yelled, not caring now about guards. Paradoxically, the threat of guards were only secondary to the need to keep Sabrina on her feet. Kris made a mental note to self: See a shrink when this is all over.

"Kris!" Tiffany finally found some reason. "Where the hell are we going?!"

"Just - keep moving - towards - the upper levels!" Kris felt her own muscles begin to tremble now. Sabrina was a lightweight for sure - but she was tall. And Kris herself was beginning to feel the strain.

"Tiff!" Kris barked, knowing her emotions were cracking now. "For Gods sake, take some of the load! I can't do this on my own!"

"What do you THINK I'm doing?!" Tifffany retaliated, but then immediately hoisted more of Bri's weight her way. They progressed as quickly as they could down the dimly lit corridor, now sweating despite the damp atmosphere. They turned a corner only to be confronted with another gloomy long corridor, yet this one was devoid of cell doors. A good sign? Kris hoped with all her might. She felt the sweat trickle easily down her spine, her overly loose prison shirt doing nothing to absorb it, as she and Tiff pulled her friend onwards. But she knew she could not keep this pace up. Oh boy, why did she have to be this... petite?! She clenched her jaw and gritted her teeth even more, as they all stumbled towards the end of the featureless corridor, Sabrina's cursing finally dying down, to be replaced by a more normal focus on breathing.

The change of pace was actually having a positive effect on her, Sabrina realised, even as the pain continually proceeded to shock and batter her nerves, it also managed to heighten her senses. And right now, she sensed Kris was on her last legs. Once again, from somewhere deep inside herself, Bri rediscovered that core of energy which - she never thought she would find or tap into again. She began to breathe more steadily and took some of her weight away from Kris, bringing her arm around Kris's waist, and off from over her smaller colleagues' shoulder.

Kris, her own breathing now audibly coming in short sharp gasps, glanced up to see Sabrina looking pained and hurting in the extreme, but seeming more alert. Sabrina looked over at Kris as they reached the end of the corridor, and attempted a smile.

"It's okay - lanky here's, got me!" She inclined her head to her left, to Tiffany, who had an iron-like grip of support on Sabrina. And and iron-like expression to match, Kris decided, with some trepidation. But for now, she went with the flow. Whatever works... She gladly accepted and relished Sabrina's own little show of support... for now.

Helen felt her pulse throb in her head to the crazed rhythm of her leaps.

Her heart raced, faster that it ever had during the last year. For the first time, something she wanted - no, loved - was at stake.

Emily.

Where was she?

Now, thinking clearer, she realised the last time she saw her was after she locked this intruder in the hidden room behind her bookcase. After that, she now remembered she left her there, in her room, occupied with some plastic toys. Then, step by step as she recalled, she had turned back, closed the door and left a small crack from where she had watched her play happily for a few minutes. Then, pleased, she had shut the door quietly and left the office, heading to the laboratories.

Rose's body had been removed the day before, and had been buried by a couple of Helen's cohorts.

What nobody knew was that when a prisoner went inside this building they automatically became erased from the outside world. And soon their death was announced as an accident to the papers. They were faceless, nameless, nothing but a number jotted down on Helen's notepad, with her neat and tidy handwriting. Their only identity was their numbers, embroidered with stark, matter-of-fact letters.

Yet for Helen, they were nothing else but numbers. Each one of them was a number, a percentage closer to a cure. A cure that, as she chose to see, was not only her cure but the worlds too. An incurable and fatal disease, a degenerative neurological disorder that makes the brain tissue take on a sponge-like texture.

Helen had read pretty much all there was to read regarding her condition. Some scientific points still sat in her memory like undigested food: Due to Prion protein, misfolded, which replicates by converting its properly folded counterparts...

To her the first symptoms were temporary memory loss and the mild hallucinations.

She had tried to push the thought away, blame it on sleep deprivation, on bad diet, but the evidence was still there, and she was a doctor. She would not ignore it.

She stopped to breathe as her legs wouldn't keep up with her anymore. Her left knee jerked up causing her to stumble.

Oh my God not now. Not spasms now... no no she had to find Emily first... no!

She paused to bend and comfort herself from a coughing crisis. Stress only made things worse. She allowed some time to pass and allow her heart to stop beating crazily.

She had started this hopeless research some years ago with no help from the government, when she found Rose, a medical student willing to work with her, thirsty for knowledge as much as she was. A person who shared her passion for truth and believed the medium to reach it - was truth.

Working late hours, sometimes until dawn they had made some progress until someone found out they were using the hospital lab for their research, and ontop of that, they were using live subjects.

Leaving everything behind, Helen was again back at square zero. Rose was the one who kept her going ,the one who eased every crisis, the one who pushed her on, helped her along the way. But of course she too found the prison idea insane. And even more, she found the idea, oh my God she found it evil.

And now she was dead.

Maybe it was evil. Maybe she herself was evil, Helen thought.

She pushed herself back to her feet. Nothing mattered now, she just had to find her little girl. She had to find Emily. Was this a child's voice she heard? There in the dark unwelcome corridor? Was it Emily trapped in the monstrous building Helen had modified to keep people in?

And people out, she thought.

It had to be her.

Kris was the first to hear it. A faint sound of light footsteps somewhere up ahead. She strained her hearing over the noise herself, Bri and Tiff were making as they stumbled along towards - hopefully towards freedom.

She wanted to bring the group to a halt, to ascertain any threat, but decided against it. If She stopped Sabrina and Tiffany now, it was highly unlikely they would be able to pick themselves up again. So she decided that forward momentum was the best choice right now. And the footsteps - running footsteps, she could discern now, were getting closer. It was all or nothing. Kris readied herself for whatever came next.

She wanted to bring the group to a halt, to ascertain any threat, but decided against it. If She stopped Sabrina and Tiffany now, it was highly unlikely they would be able to pick themselves up again. So she decided that forward momentum was the best choice right now. And the footsteps - running footsteps, she could discern now, were getting closer. It was all or nothing. Kris readied herself for whatever came next.

But in the next moment, the patter stopped abruptly. Kris again strained her hearing and this time, Sabrina noticed.

"What?!" She panted, next to Kris. "Kris, what is it?"

"Shh! I'm trying to listen...!" Kris tried to keep her voice level next to Sabrina. But the effort was too much. It came out almost in a shout.

"Okay, stop!" Sabrina herself tried to halt their progress, but Kris spurred them all on.

"No dammit! Keep going! We - have to - keep going!" Kris dragged at Sabrina's arm, but it was no good. Sabrina had now stopped to listen to what had spooked Kris, and Tiffany, at the far side of Sabrina, had stopped also. But with no comment whatsoever.

Then all three women gasped as Emily immerged from the shadows ahead, her face glistening with tears, wisps of hair sticking around her pale cheeks.

"Oh my God...! What the ...?" She remembered her speech in front of the little girl, just in time. Quite obviously the same little girl she had glimpsed from the cell a while back. Just what the freakin' Hell else was going on in this... this God awful place, for a little CHILD to be running around loose down here?! Nightmares within nightmares within nightmares... Kris shook her head, as if to try and shake away the image of the girl. But nope - there she still was...

Emily herself, stood stock still, her eyes going wide on seeing the three bedraggled women blocking her way. Kris slowly let go of Sabrina and began to crouch to the floor. She was dumbfounded . Oh my God, oh my God... she repeated to herself.

"Hey, sweetheart!" Kris then called softly and held out her arm in a friendly gesture... she hoped. sweet Jeez...

Emily's eyes widened even more. Mommy wasn't here... she just... wasn't anywhere! No-one was going to be her friend now... She backed away from the group, back to where she had just come from.

Suddenly Sabrina sunk to her knees beside Kris. Tiffany remained upright, allowing Sabrina to slide from her grasp, now unable to hold on to whatever tangible familiarity she could.

Kris, once more aware of Sabrina, now snagged Bri's arm, feeling that she maybe was about to tip forward in exhaustion. But when she grasped her forearm, she found bunched and trembling muscles there. She glanced at her friend. And once again was shocked at Bri's countenance. Now what the hell? In that swift glance, she read more than just the reaction of the moment Kris herself had felt. She knew it. But - whatever emotions were now playing across Sabrina's face - she could not - almost did not - want to determine. Instead, Kris returned her attention back to the little girl. Who was by now almost engulfed again by the shadows.

"Hey... hey!" Kris called out, once more.

"It's all right! We're not going to hurt you!" She was just about to stand and take a small step towards the girl when more footsteps were heard. This time, they were hurried, loud, staccato. And they were coming fast. She stood anyway. Sabrina remained kneeling, her whole being, it seemed, focussed on the girl who was shrinking away from them.

Kris could feel panic rising, felt her heart begin to race. Not for the first time this day.. she thought, with some familiar dread.

Oh please please, someone just give us all a break here, please! She begged within herself. But she knew instinctively, as the harsh sounding clacking of heels became all too clearer, louder, that a break was definitely not coming their way right now. Only more hellish damn crap was about to hit their fan right now. She watched, her hand gripping tight on Sabrina's shoulder, as someone strode almost into full view, then stopped short, right behind the girl.

"Emily!" She heard the figure call out the girls name in a tone of some relief. And in that same instant, Sabrina was off her knees like an athlete from the starting line, just as if a gun had actually been fired in that moment, hurtling her way towards the figure, before Kris could even acknowledge the empty space under her hand.

"Bri!" Kris yelled in full alarm , hearing Bri's howl of pain at the same time. She shot forward herself and almost recoiled in horror as she saw Sabrina had stormed the woman against a wall and, with her hands gripped around her throat, was trying literally to squeeze the life from her. Kris leapt into action and barrelled herself at her friend, intending to knock her off her feet and away from her victim.

"For Gods sake..." She yelled, as she barged full force into Sabrina "... STOP IT!" She shrieked in terror. She succeeded in knocking Bri away from the now gagging and falling figure.

"STOP IT! - Just stop it Bri! - Quit it right - NOW! PLEASE!" Kris pushed a weakened yet still crazed Bri backwards, every push punctuated with her shouted words. Then Emily, who had been rooted to the spot in abject terror at seeing her mommy attacked, suddenly could hold her own fright back no longer. A terrible shrill scream hit everyone's ears simultaneously and quite suddenly, everyone in the corridor was stunned into silence, and became still. Almost like shadows themselves, captured still-life, in some kind of silhouette of madness.

Then the moment was past. Kris threw a nerve-wrecked glance over her shoulder at Tiffany, as Emily screamed, wondering if she could expect any help from her. But that glance gave her all the information she needed. The mess that was now Tiffany was going to need all the help she could get... Kris stood her ground over Sabrina, breathing hard, wanting to scream herself, to let herself lose her tenuous grip, as Emily's screams persisted and echoed incessantly, shrieking inside her own head.