The stairwell was empty, but he could see sparks coming off of the steps. The landing, at least, seemed safe. Keeping a cautious distance from the top step, he went through the door and let it close behind him. Immediately the sparks vanished, and the electric hum became obvious because of its sudden absence. Electrifying the stairs was obviously meant to try to keep people from escaping this way, but he couldn’t help wondering how any of the people who used the facility could safely use the stairs. Was it just in case of a fire or something? Was there some mechanism, such as the fire alarm, that shut off the flow of electricity? He wished he had some way of starting a fire, but he didn’t. And it would probably just lead someone to him.
He would have to risk the stairs. There were three flights until the ground floor. If anyone opened one of the doors and restarted the electricity, he probably wouldn’t live long enough to hit the floor. There were landings half way between each floor, but he didn’t think he could make it by jumping.
Taking a moment to work up the resolve, he began his descent. It was the only way out. Going as fast as he dared, he jumped to the landing as soon as he was close enough. He paused to listen for the sound of a doorknob turning before starting down again.
He reached the third floor, and then the second, hurrying as much as possible. One more floor to go, and he would be free of this place. No alarms had sounded, and no doors had opened. This time, he would make it.
But halfway to the landing between the first and second floors, he heard the distinct sound of the second floor door opening. He braced himself for the shock…
“Hey, John. Going to lunch?”
He looked up. “Oh, hi, Sam. Yeah. You want to come?”
“Sure. Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask you, why do you always take the stairs? I mean, I’m just on 2, but with your office being on 4, I figured the elevator would be more convenient.”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess I think the stairs are more fun.” He looked back up the stairs and determined tomorrow he would make it all the way down.