Together We Stand – Episode 39

Tanni followed Madeleine through the maze of rooms and offices above the tearooms. The footsteps behind them followed, quietly and stealthily, keeping pace but without hurrying.

“They must have guessed there is no other way out,” Tanni whispered as they reached the higher floors. “They know we’re trapped.”

Madeleine peered around in the darkness. They had reached the top floor, with doors leading off either side of a narrow corridor, and a spiralling staircase that led up to the old servants’ rooms in the attics.

The two exchanged glances. The footsteps on the stairs behind them had stopped. Their pursuer was listening, waiting to see in which of the rooms they would hide.

“There must be a place we can lock ourselves in,” Madeleine whispered.

Her voice was drowned out by a shot, its crack echoing round the dusty rooms.

The footsteps were moving towards them again. Tanni felt a bullet fly past her, burying itself into the plaster of the far wall.

“Quickly!” she hissed, racing to the end of the corridor and up the stairs into the attic, Madeleine close behind her.

There were two doors on either side at the top. They tried one, then the other, but both were locked.

At the far end, a door warped with age and hanging off its hinges loomed out of the half-light of a distant window, leading to rooms further along.

“They might lead to the next building along,” Madeleine said desperately.

“It must be the Harpers, next door on this side. They’d help us if we can find a way through.”

Tanni pulled the remains of the broken door just wide enough for them to squeeze through. The attic loomed dark and vast in front of them.

“If only we had a candle,” Tanni muttered. “Whoever is behind us could have a lamp, then we won’t stand a chance.”

“There’s more than one following us,” Madeleine whispered, as behind them a rush of footsteps joined the first, followed by a low murmur of voices.

“But there is one other way out.” She swept Tanni into one of the attic rooms, bolting the door behind them.

“At least that should hold them for a while. I helped Mrs Humphries when they were clearing up here. I’m sure the windows opened.”

“The window?” Tanni glanced at her, horrified.

“It’s the only way out.”

The footsteps had reached the attic. There was the sound of a shot, echoing into the darkness.

Madeleine pushed open the window, which led on to the roof. The street below looked horribly small.

Tanni glanced back. The room was bare of furniture, with nowhere to hide.

As she watched, the handle of the door rattled, followed by a banging as their pursuer pushed at the door.

The lock wasn’t strong and already it was giving way.

She met Madeleine’s eyes. On the other side of the door lay an unknown enemy with a weapon, and a clear desire to see them silenced.

“This way we stand a chance.” Tanni eased herself through the window, clambering on to the roof, followed by Madeleine.

They pulled the window closed behind them as firmly as they could.

A sea breeze caught them, sending them off balance, but at least the rain had stopped and the evening sun had dried the tiles.

Trying not to look down, they set off across the roof as fast as they dared.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.