My friends didn’t seem to understand the feeling of wariness I held at the sight of the old blown up factory. “Come on, Sarah,” they whined, tugging me along the decrepit path towards a cracked open door as I dug my heels into the ground. “We’re only going to run in and run out.”
Run in. Run out. Simple enough, right? So I let them lead me into the forbidding door. The stories surrounding the factory were enough to scare the pants off even a seasoned haunted house traveler. Producing ammunition for World War II, thousands of workers were present on the site when a spark from a dropped cigarette ignited a fire. The factory exploded in a shower of fire and brimstone, and every single person inside the building that day died.
Every single person.
Understandably, I felt a tad nervous to enter the scene of a mass death. But I seemed to be the only one apprehensive, so I followed them in. Stupid of me. “Hey, guys,” I whispered as they got ahead of me. “Isn’t there a guy who lives here and guards this place for the KKK or something?”
My friend Beth giggled, waving off my suspicion with a flick of her wrist. “That’s an old legend, Sarah. Geez.”
Our breaths echoed louder than our footsteps as we entered the abandoned building. Adrenaline burst through my body in spurts as I took in the scenery. The old machines sat where they’d been destroyed, forgotten by time and eaten by dust and the vermin that thrive in such festering conditions. A thick layer of filth sat on the cement floor, disturbed only by our footprints, and the moonlight filtered into broken windows, casting ominous shadows in dark corners.
“Okay,” I said with a nervous laugh. “We’re in. Now can we go?”
“What’s the matter?” taunted Justin from ahead of me. “Too chicken to come see the stairs to heaven?”
The stairs to heaven. When the explosion happened, half of the entire upper floor had been blown up, but that single stairwell remained, reaching into the skies like the hand of god.
“Yeah,” I replied. “I am.”
Beth sighed irritably and grabbed my hand, dragging me forward in spite of my suddenly heavy feet. The lack of breathable air didn’t seem to affect her, nor did she have the same feeling of being pulled in four different directions like I did.
We were halfway up the stairs to the second floor when we heard it. Heavy footsteps were barreling down on us from the first floor, streaking across the cement in a determined run, straight for us. Beth screamed and ran up the stairs, and like a fool I followed her.
The footsteps stopped as suddenly as they’d begun, and Justin peeked his head around the stairwell.
“Nobody there,” he whispered. Beth’s haggard breaths tickled my ear as she clung to my arm, as though I would offer any protection.
She giggled, believing the danger to be past us, and continued up the stairs. I turned to follow her, but the hairs on the back of my neck shot straight up and I felt eyes the color of the night boring into my back from the ominous shadows. One hand on the rusted railing, I looked over my shoulder.
A man stood right behind me, his mouth hanging open from a dislocated jaw. Pieces of flesh hung from his cheeks, and one of his eyes rolled in its maggot infested socket.
He reached a skeletal hand towards me as I stumbled back and fell onto the step with a silent scream that refused to erupt from my throat. I felt the blood drip from my cheek as his long, curved nail sank into the tender flesh. He drew his finger back as I watched, wide eyed, and dragged my blood across his tongue. His eye flashed, the pupil enlarging and shrinking, and then a roar began flowing from him. The ethereal sound built in force until I curled into a ball on the stair and covered my ears in an effort to stop it.
When a hand landed on my shoulder, I jolted away and tumbled down three steps onto the hard concrete floor below. Terrified, I stared at Justin and Beth as they watched me. The shadows behind me whispered and convulsed with mal intentions, and I could feel their probing eyes and invisible hands reaching for me.
The screams in my throat finally found their voice, and I shoved past my friends and ran down a long hallway, shrieking the entire way. Glass windows showed me the outside world, teasing my sights with the freedom I couldn’t quite reach. The sun was setting, and to my right, deep within the building, a light shone in a window.
My mind told me to turn back, to run towards my friends and the relative safety of their numbers. But my body deceived me, and my legs kept running towards the light. I rounded a corner and heard soft music playing just before a door down the hall opened and a man skidded into sight.
His shotgun was raised to his shoulder and I briefly registered the manic look in his eyes as I struggled to stop and turn around. But when I looked back, the skeletal man was reaching for me again, and I had no choice but to run towards the lesser of two evils.
When the shot rang out, I hardly felt the slug ripping into my heart and out the other side, leaving a spray of blood on the floor behind me just before my body hit. I felt a hand grab my hair and give me a hard tug and then I was staring at my body and the young man who’d shot me.
The shadows engulfed me and all light faded from my vision.
Run in. Run out. That was the plan.
The other great flashers:
Julie Hayes (m/m)
West Thornhill (m/m)
Heather Lin (m/f)
Lily Sawyer (m/m)
Victoria Blisse (m/f)
Ryssa Edwards (m/m)