Five people were supposed to go to the abandoned building on Leona Street. It was me, my best friend Claire, her sister and boyfriend, and the school heartthrob Ian O'Rielley. Why he was invited, I have no idea, but something told me it was Claire's handy work. She could handle her sister being third wheel, but one was enough. Besides, she has been hounding me all summer about getting with something, and for some unknown reason, Ian seemed to fit the bill.
Anyway, there was supposed to be five, but when I had arrived--and I was almost fifteen minutes late--there was only two other people: Claire and Ian.
Well, I thought, jumping out of my beat-up Honda. This is going to be interesting.
"Hey, Anya!" Claire exclaimed, hopping off the curb and throwing herself into my scrawny frame. When her firm volleyball arms crushed me, I thought I heard a rib crack. "You came, thank God."
I caught a glance of Ian, leaning firmly against a electrical pole, and raised a brow. "Where's the rest of the gang?"
"Carla got sick," Claire wiggled her arm through mine and huddled up to me. "And Jason has a physics test he has to study for."
I frowned. "Oh, so your boyfriend can get off for a physics test, but I can't catch a break for an English paper? You're cruel."
Though I intended to catch another glance of Ian, my eyes happened to wander upon the isolated building that stood before us. The parking lot we were in was huge and completely desolate, strewn with a million crooked electrical poles, their wires either tangled midair or displayed against the icy gray concrete, which was cracked and faded under the light of a pale blue moon.
Normally, I wouldn't agree to do anything as stupid as breaking into an abandoned apartment building. Yet there was a story behind this lonesome structure, and it's history soaked into it's crevices like rotted blood, consuming the thing into a separate realm of darkness. Not even the moon could break it's barrier, each broken and shattered window seeming like holes of infinite shadow. The only light was the front doors, where an automatic red light bathed the front steps in crimson.
Once my stomach had enough, I turned to Ian. "Yo."
He grinned, then gave a sharp nod. He and Claire had grown up as neighbors, so this adventure wouldn't be too awkward. If anything, I'd just end up being the inevitable third wheel.
I took a good look at each of us and smiled to myself. It was certainly an odd pairing, that's for sure: Claire, a tall, fit, African-American woman layered in cozy sports wear; Ian, a disheveled Irishman draped in all black, whose face could be slapped in a Calvin Klein add; and of course me, Anya, the scrawny kid in black skinny jeans and leather jacket, with long honey-blonde hair and little to no desire to go into an empty, 50 year old building.
As Ian followed after Claire towards the front doors, I fell behind and scanned the premises. No police. No guards. No anything. I fumbled into my pocket and pulled out my phone as Claire began to open the thick, unlocked doors.
"No reception." I said, trying to catch my whimsical buddy's attention.
"We're fine, Anya." she replied, followed by a long croak of rusty hinges. "People do this all the time around here."
I sighed, then after a final glance into the distance, I turned to the building and slipped in after Ian, gently easing it closed behind us.
"CLAIRE?!" I screamed, keeping my hand pressed against the wall beside me. Once my phone dropped after that shrill, ear piecing cry of terror echoed down the third floor hall, the whole place had gone completely dark.
My skin went numb with fear. Seven hours ago, everything was fine. Seven hours ago, I had walked into the building and kicked around some rubble, cursing the place under my breath. I would give anything to have those seven hours back, anything at all.
I shivered, feeling a chill run up my spine. I was on the verge of either throwing up or crying, perhaps even both. Claire and I had lost Ian when we first saw Them. We had bolted up the stairs and locked ourselves in one of the bathrooms. After a half hour or so, Claire had gotten unnecessarily brave, and had the two of us split up and head in different directions in order to find him.
Now she was gone, too.
Feeling vulnerable, I quickly dropped to my knees and started frantically searching for my phone. I flinched each time my palms caught something sharp, yet bit my lip to prevent any wincing. I was scared to even breathe without any light to give me the comfort of sight.
Each second I didn't feel the frame of my familiar cellphone, the more panicked I felt. It was as if They were watching me, waiting to just the right moment to leap forward and devour my soul. They liked to watch me panic, watch me squirm like an unearthed worm as they waited for the right moment to pluck me away.
Finally, I felt something cool and flat against my clammy hands, and with a sigh of relief I anxiously typed in my pass-code and turned on my flash.
"CLAIRE?!" I shouted again, feeling soothed by the fluorescent white light that stretched down the hallway.
I moved onward with a lump in my throat. The scream just had to be her. They couldn't scream like that...could They?
After passing a few closed doors, I came upon one that was slightly ajar, and instantly stopped dead in my tracks. There was noise coming from inside. What first sounded like scratching turned into...sniffling? A small, faint wail sounded from within, then the sniffles continued. Was someone crying? Could it be Claire?
I decided not to try and call for her, and simply poked my head in and shined my light inside. The flash had it's limits, and my view could only reach halfway into the room. If I wanted a better look, I would need to step inside. Sweat rolled down my neck, yet my skin was frozen cold, each and every hair on my arms standing on end. There was someone, something in there, and whatever it was, it knew that I was here. It saw me.
My legs were paralyzed, and like a deer in headlight, I turned into solid stone, listening to the sniffles contort into giggles. This voice was sinister, and danced at the very edge of my light, as if teasing me. Whatever was in there, it wasn't Claire. Yet as terribly as I wanted to start running away, my legs stood their ground, and my heart ran the miles I couldn't run myself.
Suddenly, the giggles stopped, and a hot hand slammed down on my mouth. The shock of it made me drop my phone once more, and now whatever had me in it's grasp now also had me shrouded in unbreakable, inviolable, death-like shadow.