Adelaide, Francis, Lydia, Alexis and the Knight did so. The Source vaulted the steps in three great bounds and gave chase.
Throwing herself to the left, Adelaide dashed down an aisle, the sounds of the others’ footsteps pounding behind her. There was a smashing sound behind them and a growl of irritation. The shelves on either side of Adelaide rocked dangerously as behind her the Source struggled to push its now considerable bulk between them.
Reaching the end of the aisle, Adelaide stopped. Damn, damn, damn, damn. Dead end. She couldn’t squeeze between the gaps between the shelves and the wall. Making a snap decision she grasped a shelf to her right and started to climb up its sheer face. It rocked violently as she did so and she scrabbled to maintain her footing. Glancing to the right she saw the others had followed suit. At the end of the aisle the Source was still trying to shove its frame between the shelves, its huge shoulders preventing it from making any progress.
Reaching the top of the shelf Adelaide vaulted over it and fell to the other side. Francis, Lydia and Alexis dropped down next to her. The Knight followed suit. Holding up her hand she gestured that they should remain where they were. Alexis started to hyperventilate.
“Can you get him to shut up?” Adelaide hissed to Lydia. She nodded and turned to Alexis. Grabbing him by the face she kissed him. About ten seconds passed before Lydia pulled away. She looked back at Adelaide.
“What?” She whispered, seeing Adelaide’s expression, “he’s not making any more noise.”
There was a growl of annoyance and the shelf behind them shifted dangerously. The Knight grunted, nodded to them and ran back down towards the end of the aisle. Francis was the first to follow, with Adelaide, Lydia and Alexis quick on his heels.
Turning right, the Knight ran past the Source’s back as it continued to push itself down the aisle. Hearing her footsteps it snarled and started to try and turn around. Jumping down the steps the Knight dropped into a crouch. Her eyes widened as Francis, jumping through her, mistimed his landing and fell through her. Rolling he leapt to his feet and turned. Adelaide, Lydia and Alexis hit the floor and joined the Knight at the bottom of the steps.
“We’re back where we started,” Adelaide said, her breathing heavy, “fleeing was a dumb idea. Besides, someone’s going to have to deal with that thing.”
“You can’t stop it.” All eyes turned to where, behind them, Amadeus was getting to his feet. He was bleeding from various cuts and he had a limp and a broken arm. He grinned. “Can’t you see? You’ve unleashed blessed perfection.”
“Please,” Adelaide said, “shut up.” She hit him with her cricket bat and he keeled over.
“Much as I hate to say it,” Francis gulped, “I think he’s right. We’ve created a problem worse than the solution. Any minute now that thing’s going to untangle itself. When it does, we’re toast.”
“Can’t you calm it down,” Adelaide looked over at him, “it likes you, right? Maybe it’s because you gave it your blood.”
“I don’t know,” Francis visibly paled.
“Well try,” the Knight said. There was a roar of fury and a resounding crash as the shelves at the top of the stairs toppled over. Shaking debris and dust out of its fur the Source raised its head and howled. Catching sight of its prey, it leapt towards them, smashing into the ground at the foot of the stairs and sending fragments of tile ricocheting into the air.
“Maybe running is still a good idea,” breathed Lydia.
With a single step the Source crossed the distance between them. Lashing out with one great arm, it hit Francis in the chest. He flew threw the air with a shriek and went somersaulting away to land in a heap on top of a rack of shoes.
The Knight raised a pistol and unloaded it into the Source’s head. Blood showered everywhere in a rain. The Source shook its head wildly, the bullets popping out of the bleeding holes and clattering to the floor as the wounds closed over.
Adelaide ran forward and hit the Source in the face with her cricket bat. It turned its eyes to her. Turning, she tried to flee but a huge clawed hand grasped her and pulled her up into the air, her scream muffled by the Source’s thick fur.
The Source roared and stamped its foot. Its whole form seemed to ripple and shift as it opened its mouth wider than should have been possible. Alexis and Lydia, staring up at its monstrous bulk, turned and ran. The Knight stared after them.
“Traitorous sub-human!” She yelled at Lydia.
“Can you just shut up with your prejudice for one moment!” shouted Francis. He had heaved himself to his feet and was leaning heavily on the side of the rack he’d fallen onto. “Get over here. My leg’s broken I think.”
“You want help running?” The Knight yelled, “You coward.”
“I want help saving your sister!” Francis howled back.
The Knight paused. She looked back at the Source. It had lifted up Adelaide so that she dangled above its colossal mouth. She was staring down into its abyssal maw, wide eyed. The Knight’s eyes narrowed. Then she nodded to herself.
Firing another shot at the Source she didn’t wait to see if it hit home. Running full pelt into Francis she swept him up in her arms and slung his body around into a piggy back. Turning they confronted the Source, which bore down on them, eyes burning with a searing white light. Adelaide was still clutched in a huge clawed hand.
“The plan?” The Knight hissed.
“I need to get on its back,” Francis said.
“Very well,” the Knight nodded. Diving clumsily out of the way of a swiping claw, she waved at the Source.
“Come on then big guy!” She shouted, “How fast can you run?”