Shelley ran: I ran too. By the time I was halfway down the corridor she had already reached the bottom of the stairs and I found myself thinking, wow, she's fast. But there was no time to think, no time to consider. I had to keep running, to focus only on the movement of my feet. One, two, one, two. They hit the floor and kept going.
Our flight attracted attention. Nurses stopped in their work to watch us with open mouths. Patients peered out through their windows and peeked from behind closed doors. We couldn't stop -- we just had to keep going, and I needed to catch up with Shelley. She was too far ahead.
"Michelle!" I called quietly. She turned her head, saw me, and carried on running. Obviously, I was going to have to speed up if I ever wanted to reach her. "Wait for me!"
"I can't," she replied, her voice weak from the exertion of running. "It's me they're after, not you. If they catch you they're not going to make you their freaking queen!"
But there was anger in her voice as well. I guessed she still hadn't forgiven me for keeping a secret from her for six years. After all, I'd never mentioned the Management. But the Voices, well, I genuinely hadn't known of their existence, and I'd been lying when I said that I had. Did Shelley know that? I hoped so.
Glancing back behind me I could see that they were following. The Management weren't, for which I was grateful. I guess they didn't want to scare the other patients. It would blow their cover. But the Voices ... they were slower than I was expecting, and though more of them appeared every minute I was certain we could outrun them if we tried.
"Shelley?" I said, as she rounded a corner that I hadn't even known existed. Which was pathetic, because I'd been here longer than her, and I was actually allowed out unsupervised. She was a patient; one doctor or one nurse was required at all times in case they wandered off and ended up getting hurt. "Where are we going?"
"Away," she replied, helpfully. "Just follow me. I know what I'm doing."
"I don't doubt that," I replied. "It's just that I haven't ever been around here before and I didn't know it existed."
"It didn't, before," she said. "But it does now. And that anomaly should hopefully help the Voices following us. At least, that's the idea." Her face, flushed with heat from running but somehow elated, scared me. She was too confident.
But I would follow her anywhere.