Riley quickly scrambled as she used the crutches to propel herself forward. She was in the aisle and moving along it’s row of books.
Unfortunately for her, it was not in the direction of the front door. She looked briefly over her shoulder expecting to see Suzy following her but didn’t see her or the old man. However, she did see the light that shone from the front windows. Crap, she was running further in.
Riley couldn’t imagine that the old man had gotten Suzy. She was the faster of the two of them, so she had to believe that she had gotten away. Maybe she had gone another direction. Since she didn’t see the old man behind him, that left him to think that maybe the old man was hurrying up the other aisle to cut Riley off.
At the next break in the row, thankfully this one only had a break to her left and so she didn’t have to worry about the old man coming from at her from the right. She used the gap and dashed over another aisle.
It was clear of people. It was becoming obvious that no one ever frequented this book store as it seemed like it was increasingly devoid of people. That was good as Riley was currently trying to avoid people and get the hell out of there.
Now that she was in the other aisle, she turned to go towards the front door. Since she was now an aisle or so away from the old man, she slowed her pace and listened more than she ran. She didn’t hear anyone else running. She heard the bell from the front door which she had hoped was Suzy making her escape but otherwise the place was very quiet. It was like the library in the dead of night, no one to make any noise but the mouse who was working her way to escape.
Moving quietly wasn’t easy. Each clank of the clutch made moving in stealth impossible. She tried to not put as much weight in her movements, but there was still the thud each time the plastic pads on the bottom touched down to the floor and the metal popping sound that came when she shifted her weight to take the next step.
Who was she kidding. There was no way they couldn’t hear her, and if they weren’t running to chase after her, then they were moving around to trap her, listening as she made her progress. She had no way to win. She could only hope that Suzy had made her escape and wasn’t caught with her.
Riley stopped and listened to the quiet. She thought she could hear breathing in the row next to her that reminded her of the dragon when she had been in the dreamscape. That had to be her imagination as their was no way dragons could be there, but she couldn’t escape that feeling. Maybe it was just because she knew he was being hunted. That had to be it.
“Your friend got away. She left you behind.” The old man was near the front door when he called out. Riley heard as there was a click and knew then that the door was locked, blocking her escape. “You know you can’t get out this way. I’ve already called the police. Give up and we can wait for them.”
Riley didn’t like the sound of that. First, did the guy have time to call anyone. It had only been a minute since she had gotten away from him. Riley’s dad had called the police once, and it took nearly ten minutes to get through to a living person. Second, why had the man called the police? Why was he even chasing them? They hadn’t done anything wrong. Sure they had almost gone into a room they weren’t supposed too. Riley guessed that was trespassing, but they hadn’t stolen anything and hadn’t done anything more than just open the door.
It was Riley’s move. The old man was waiting for her by the door, she hadn’t heard him move and couldn’t imagine him stalking her. What would be the point. The only way out was through that door. He could wait there and eventually Riley would come to him. No, Riley had to find another way out. There had to be more emergency exits or even a way out the back.
Riley had seen the back of the store yet, she had turned around before she had reached it. They had to have cashiers somewhere as people did actually come there to buy books occasionally, or so Riley would assume.
Okay, she didn’t have all day to think about this. When she moved, she would have to do it fast and be sure of herself because any hesitation and the man would catch her. He would be faster than Riley on the crutches, and Riley would not be slowing to stay quiet. Once she did this, it was go-go-go, full speed ahead.
Riley prepped her stance and took off, now moving faster than she had ever done before on crutches. The brief chase before she had learned how to move in almost a run with the things. It was simple as long as you didn’t obsess over how easily it would be to fall and hurt yourself. She thrust the crutches out ahead of her, then pushed with her good leg and pole vaulted ahead of where she had spiked the crutches. Her good leg would come down onto the tile floor and then she would quickly stretch out the crutches again to redo the motion.
She was moving fast enough that she could feel the air blowing through her hair. Riley had to believe she was doing a good enough job to avoid having the old man quickly catch her, but she hear could hear him chasing her. It sounded like he was in the same aisle, running behind, but Riley didn’t dare look back.
“Hey kid, stop!” the man called after her. “Come on, this is pointless.”
Riley didn’t slow down and she emerged from the end of the aisle to realize that she was just to the side of the cashier counter, surprising the cashier who was standing there. Riley made her way around the counter, having to finally move with some trepidation as she couldn’t launch herself like she had been doing and make her way around the desk, but she was able to do so and pushed herself into the back area.
There wasn’t a door to block access, just a curtain to keep prying eyes from seeing what lie back there. That dang curtain, keeping her from seeing where she was going as she burst through and came to an abrupt stop as she tripped over a heavy box that someone had left on the floor. Her crutches went out from under her as well as her feet and she was barely able to reach out and keep herself from crashing face first into a pile of other boxes.
“Well, that was fun to watch.” Came a voice she vaguely remembered. It was a girl’s voice, one that she had heard, but not heard before. She had never heard it, but she had. Riley had heard that voice in a dream.
“Who is this girl? What’s she doing here?” The old man said through gasping in puffs of air.
Riley ached, but was able to turn herself to face them. She must have gotten lucky on the fall as her leg wasn’t hurting nearly as bad as she would have expected, but it pinged with pain now as she tried to twist from her spot in the pile of boxes.
She was able to look over her shoulder and saw someone she actually did recognized. Riley hadn’t been paying attention to the cashier as she had ran by, but now that she could see her, she realized she knew her.
“I don’t know,” Saber said as she uncrossed her arms and wiped the little smirk she had been giving Riley from her face.
“We don’t have time for this right now. Get him out of here, I’m closing the store.”
“What’s wrong?” Riley asked, noticing that they were on edge.
“It’s Bruce.” She said, the smirk disappearing to be replaced by concern. “He hasn’t woken up yet. He fell back into a dream and is stuck there. Something’s wrong as we can’t get to him.”