The Hundredth Floor
Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : J.S. Frankel
Word Count :58698
Publication Date :2021-01-15
Series : #
Heat Level :
- Product Code: 978-1-4874-2886-0
Sometimes, the greatest horrors aren’t physical ones.
Kyle Toombs, seventeen, is about to walk the race of his life. Suffering from the mental and physical aftereffects of a terrible accident that almost took his life, bullied at school, he enters a contest in order to show that he’s capable of doing the impossible.
The contest is at a local hotel, and the rules are simple—walk up to the fifty-ninth floor and then down again.
Rule number two is that he must have a partner, and his partner comes in the form of Marina Ohanian, another student who has secrets and scars of her own.
Along the way, things go from the mundane to the unsettling to the truly horrifying, as a demon named Ankrus makes an appearance, toying with their minds as well as the reality they are in.
Various scenarios, some that are amusing in a grotesque way, and some that are simply grotesque, beset the duo, and they offer challenges to the mind and spirit.
It’s up to Kyle and Marina to concentrate on the task at hand—finishing the race—before Ankrus can accomplish his own task, one that is too terrifying to contemplate.
“You’re up, Toombs!”
The gym teacher’s voice rang out, loud and clear, startling me from dreams of a stress-free summer. Three PM, last class of the day. Summer vacation would start next week, and man-oh-man, was I looking forward to it.
Say goodbye to my second year of high school, and in three-something months, say hello to my third turn around at this institute of higher learning. I’d missed a lot of school due to an accident I’d had. Now, I had to make up for it by climbing this stupid rope and putting up with insults about my failure as a human being.
The other kids had been climbing ropes for the past ten minutes. Up and down they went like pistons, unceasing, untiring, and mechanical. They had strength and endurance.
Not me. I’d tried, but getting my fat butt up the rope more than a few feet was impossible. Try as I might, it was a no-go.
What made it worse was that our gym teacher had divided us up into two teams. No time limit, but we had to reach a certain level on the rope. It had been marked with white tape, and we had to touch it in order for it to count.
“C’mon, fat-ass, move it!”
That came from Rod Morton, our so-called team captain. He was a combination class jock, bully, and all-around maggot who seemingly hated all humanity.
His hatred of humanity included me—especially me—although I’d never understood why. We’d known each other since grade school, and he took delight in either verbally or physically abusing me—and others—whenever possible.
“Leave him alone, man,” Erik North said. Short and stocky, he was another member on our team. “Guy’s got a ruptured back. He can’t do it.”
Rod, red-headed, tall, and rangy, he gave credence to the concept that all redheads had terrible tempers. He had a hair-trigger one.
Being a jerk was bad enough, but he also happened to be the star athlete on the baseball and track team. Unfortunately, he had the mind of a gutter rat. He sniffed the air as if something had died and the authorities had forgotten to take the body away. With a look of impatience combined with meanness, he faced Erik down.
“Hey, we’re supposed to climb, so he climbs. What’s your problem, anyway? This is a team effort, and you act like it’s a bromance. Is that what you’ve got with fat-boy or what?”
Reactionary, angry, bullying—that was Rod in a nutshell, always asserting his dominance. Erik stared at him. “What’s your problem, man?”
“I don’t like him,” Rod countered as he returned the stare. “He’s a wuss, and he’s gonna screw up our team. I don’t like losing. Period. Got a problem with that?”
Even though Roy was a jerk supreme, he was right about my back being busted. An accident that had almost killed me a number of months ago was responsible. I could walk, but stiffly, sort of like Frankenstein’s monster taking its first steps.
Being fat didn’t help much, either. I’d once seen a movie where one victim had been chained to a chair and force-fed junk food for six months. He’d gained an incredible amount of weight. In my case, I wasn’t force fed, as the hospital food was lousy.
However, my mother always visited, and she’d slipped me extra food. Soon, the bed was groaning from the extra tonnage it had to support. After I’d gotten out, my mother had put me on a diet. “You used to be so slender,” she said.
Yeah, and who’d given me all those chocolate donuts and pizza slices and other goodies? But, she was right. What was that old saying…Old Man Usta? Oh, yeah, Old Man Usta died.
In my case, slender had once been my middle name, but no longer. Even after the diet kicked in, even after I’d dropped about twenty pounds, a lot of flab remained. Rod knew it, he delighted in pointing it out, and I hated every moment of it.
Mr. Collins, our gym teacher, a towering giant of muscle, bellowed my name. “One last try. Get going.”
One last try. I gripped the rope more tightly than ever and started up. I wrapped my withered legs around the rope and pushed and pulled myself up inch by inch. Sweat popped from my brow and ran down my face, my heart hammered, and my muscles swelled in concert. A foot up—two—three…
Then the chant broke out from my teammates. Erik started it off. “Toombs—Toombs—Toombs.”
Everyone save Rod took up the chant, even the other team. My name rose to the ceiling in a low incantation. Slowly and laboriously, I made my way up. Sweat popped out on my face, ran from my forehead to my double chin, and more sweat coated my torso.
There it was, that white strip of athletic tape a few inches from my hands. My goal was just shy of the ceiling. It was in reach. A cramp began in my fingers and soon spread to both hands. More, I thought…a little more…
The chanting grew louder and more high-pitched with every inch I climbed. My back seized up, my biceps muscles burned, and then the cramp spread from my hands to my forearms.
My muscular system almost gave out, but adrenaline and something else—willpower, maybe—compelled me to reach for the mark. I pushed with my withered legs that were wound around the rope, and…
Yes, I made it!
Reaching the mark meant not only passing the class, but also having our team win. Coach Collins had designed this test as a handicap kind of deal, and even though no one wanted me on their side, for a change, I’d proven myself.