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Some people just don’t understand. What is right in front of you is almost never the whole picture. Behind every photo, every setting, every face, is an entire world yet to be discovered. My friends and I now know this to our disdain. We now understand why our parents always told us to stay away from the cranberry bogs on the west side. As a matter of fact, we now know why everybody avoided those bogs.
I never had a plan on my 21st birthday. I just figured I’d invite all my friends to my backyard, have some drinks by the fire, camp out, and wake up regretting the hangover. Only problem is, we all still had that teenaged yearning. Our youthful anxiousness for adventure fueled our minds with this reckless abandon.
It wasn’t even my idea to leave the confines of my quaint little yard. My friend Charlie had to point out how bored he was, even as we tipped back beers and debated over music genres with enjoyment. Charlie had a habit of zoning out, and he had a tendency of changing the course of every night we all spent together.
“So how about those cranberry bogs?” He chimed into our game of verbal pong.
We all turned to him, as I stopped mid comment. I opened my mouth to respond, but his impatience was a swift son of a gun.
“Come on guys, sitting around this fire just isn’t doing it for me. I don’t care whose birthday it is.”
“Charlie-” I started, to no avail.
“No. I was just sitting here thinking, we’re all 21 now. We’ve grown up hearing this story about those damned bogs being taboo – off limits. What do you say? Let’s throw our intoxicated caution to the wind. Let’s camp on the bogs for tonight!”
Charlie closed his suggestion with a smirk of buzzed hopefulness and mischief. I barely knew what to say. Looking around at the other’s faces, I didn’t find much more to go off of. Stacy and Henry kinda just stared at the fire, their eyes glossed over from shots and speechlessness. Jay sat to my right, gripping his beer and giving me half a glance with the corners of his eyes. The crackling of the fire seemed to pierce our silence with nothing but an awkward snap, that only background noise could administer. Jay finally stole the fire’s thunder, by interlining a response with throat clearance.
“Charles, my friend, didn’t you hear that story last week? The two young kids with the dog? Nobody has yet heard from them. That only adds to what our parents have always told us. There’s something wrong, something dark about the whole wooded area. Those bogs aren’t safe.”
“Why, Jay?” Charlie chuckled, while throwing his beer bottle into the fire. The glass broke with a muffled shatter, sending sparks up in front of our faces, revealing Charlie’s now sinister expression.
“Why what?” Jay shrugged.
“Why are the bogs so evil? Because a couple dumb kids had some careless parents? Because that old man turned up dead by the water? Because they found a girl murdered at midnight in the sand pit?”
“Unsolved mysteries, man.” Jay shook his head and grabbed another beer, not yet opening it.
Charlie lit up a smoke, and leaned forward to scan us all with his squinting eyes, beady and disgusted by our cautious rejection. He spoke slowly, and carefully now. His voice calm, but to the point.
“Jay, all I have to say is, shit happens. People die everyday, sometimes in one place more than others. The bogs are overgrown, dark, and the paths winding. It’s easy to get lost, but it’s also easy to hide. Anyone could be out there. Tonight, we’ll be anyone, celebrating our friend’s 21st year and having a good time.” He put out half a smoke, and tossed it into the fire pit.
He looked up at me, as if knowing that he had gotten through to someone. Maybe me? Maybe. He had a point. I spent 21 years in this part of town, and yet I never set foot on the mysterious roads of those bogs. How do I know my parents didn’t just do a good job of instilling fear into my mind to keep me safe? Stacy finally chimed in, standing up out of her chair slowly.
“Charlie’s right, why go to our graves never knowing what’s really out there? Who knows? It could be fun!”
Henry grabbed her hand sternly, shaking his head.
“Babe, you’re drunk. Sit down.”
“Shut up, Henry. I’ve only had a few shots. Drink your beer.”
She turned back to us and continued.
“It’s a time of celebration, guys. Let’s do something exciting. If you’re waiting for a vote, you have mine.”
Charlie smiled in satisfaction. His point has made its slow roundabout. Henry finally replied with an “okay, whatever”, and I just nodded and grinned nervously. Jay, on the other hand frowned with a stoic set of eyes, and wouldn’t give a yes or a no. His disagreement could have went on forever, but so could his silence.
As we all stood up to clean and begin our little walk down the street, I began to think about where we were going. I turned a mental eye to my nerves as they touched upon memory lane. I’ve heard a lot about the bogs. A lot.
For example, ten years ago. I was only eleven. Young, innocent, maybe a bit over anxious about life. Still, my mother was able to sit me down in the kitchen for something this serious.
I knew what murder meant, I just never had to be subjected to it. My neighbor used to stroll down by the river that ran behind the bogs. He would never set foot anywhere else near the bog land, he stayed on the other side of the water. That summer was different though.
Mr. Frasier was a nice man. My dad knew him on a first name basis, I remember him calling him ‘my friend Jim” a lot. Jim was a few decades older than my father, but they’d easily bonded over fishing, cars, and sports. Ol’ Jim would even buy us all gifts. He only lived near us for a couple years, but we felt like we knew him for much longer.
When my mother told me that he was found sprawled out by the inner edge of the river, I was confused. He used to talk to my parents all the time about how he would only stroll on the outside. He was educated about the mysterious land, even in the short time he lived here. What changed that day?
We hit the road around 8:00 PM. The uneasiness had finally let up, and we all started joking about how old we felt. My legs ached, and Stacy kept saying her lower back was a bit uncomfortable as Henry placed his hand there to comfort her.
“Henry, guess you gotta let her be on top more often. You’re killing her back.” Charlie snickered.
“Shut the hell up!” Henry sneered back.
“Hey hey, it’s my birthday guys. Let’s not tear each other’s throats out.”
We shared a laugh about it anyway.
We arrived at the bogs around 8:30. As we stepped up to the borders of the shifty land, I realized it looked different than I remembered. From what I could see at least.
The street lamps were off for some reason. Even though I’d driven by it many times before, noticing how lit up it was. Tonight, something was different. The bogs were all overgrown, tangled in a mess of leaves, vines, and weeds. The trees hung menacingly over the footpaths, like hungry bullies waiting for a payout.
Charlie faced away from us, pulled a cigarette out of his pack, and lit it up nonchalantly. He took a drag, and then smiled as he exhaled. His face was beaming with excitement.
“Okay!” He started. “Who wants to be the first one in?”
My stomach jumped. I’d almost forgotten we were actually going to step foot on the property.
Jay shook his head and begun mumbling about something incoherent.
“Jay my brave friend, how nice of you to volunteer!” Charlie flicked his unfinished butt across the street, and rubbed his hands together in anticipation.
Jay shook his head again, but spoke calmly.
“I think we should all line up and walk in together. We stay close, and keep as quiet as possible.”
Charlie’s smile turned instantly to an eye rolling sneer.
“Fine Jay, but you can lead the way.”
“Sure. Follow me, guys.”
Stacy and Henry scurried to the back of the line, holding hands and pressing close together. I stood next to Charlie, and let him pressure on to a position behind Jay.
Jay wasted no time entering the dark, shadowy mouth of the tree laden path. The sound of our feet shuffling behind him echoed ominously through the night. We were unsure, nervous, and not far from scared. We were buzzed, and looking for nothing but a good time. Well, all of us except for Jay.
I could tell at this point he had only taken charge to mediate the dangerous fun. He lead us through the trees, as the vines reached their inanimate fingers toward our feet, and we stepped and stomped our way to the sandy clearing.
We were suddenly out of clear sight. Civilization had been buried behind us through leaves and pine. I could hear the slight hum of traffic in the distance, but I knew now we had reached the belly of an unknown beast.
I took a look around us once we stopped moving. All of us lit up cigarettes, after we dropped our equipment on the ground. Henry and Stacy cracked a bottle of booze open, and Charlie made himself comfortable on a log.
I observed the bogs like an alien planet. The old cranberry plants were discolored. Pieces of machinery lay around a little watershed on the opposite side of the plot. Several old looking, run down cars were parked by a big warehouse ahead of us. I felt a chill in the air all of a sudden. I couldn’t tell if I was only cold from fear, but I wrapped my arms around myself a bit anyway.
“Welcome to the scariest place on Earth, my friends!” Charlie celebrated as he cracked open a beer.
“It’s not that bad. It’s just getting dark is all.” I pointed out.
“Who packed the flashlight?” Stacy wondered out loud.
We all looked at each other, all waiting for an answer.
Jay started to laugh a bit, “Are you kidding me?”
He reached into the tent bag and felt around a bit.
“Damn, nobody thought of it?”
Charlie snickered as well, “Wow. Oh well. We can start a fire. Utilize your surroundings, right?”
“Yeah, plus we can use my phone light until the battery dies.” Stacy offered.
“Oh – almost forgot! Take out your phones!” Charlie pulled out his phone and shut it off.
We all blinked at him for a moment.
Henry took out his phone and waited for a reason. The rest of us did not follow suit.
Charlie added in, “No phones tonight, ladies and gentlemen.”
Wide eyed and silent, I grabbed at my phone in my right pocket.
“Why? We need at least one, in case of emergency.” I left mine away, not complying.
“There won’t be an emergency. We’re grown adults with a survival instinct and we’re only five minutes from society. We’ll be okay.” Charlie was serious.
Jay surprisingly agreed and asked us to just turn them off. We could always turn them on if we really needed them after all.
We spent about a half hour just chatting it up by a nice warm fire, and telling quick little scary stories we’ve heard throughout the years. The thing was, nobody was uncomfortable anymore. We were having a pretty good time.
We all stopped talking.
Loud noises, distinct and nearby, echoed around us. Charlie went stoic.
“Were those branches?” he asked.
We shrugged at him, and stared at the trees.
Jay stood up next to Charlie, and looked down at him.
“Wanna go take a look, man?”
Charlie was starting to look less sure of himself. His shoulders held a defensive attention, and his neck showing signs of tenseness. He eased up after a minute of peace, and stood up at a ready.
“Yeah, we’re gonna go see what’s happening. Probably some coyotes or deer.”
“Giant ones.” Henry joked, half serious about it.
“Eat a giant one.” Charlie retorted.
We all laughed again, but Jay and Charlie were starting toward the trees.
Almost immediately, before they could get to the tree line, the brightest lights you could imagine popped on deep in the woods. Countless beams of sparkling luminescence careened and shot straight out between tree trunks. Jay and Charlie were so shocked that they couldn’t help but bounce back on their heels a bit.
“What the hell?!” Charlie exclaimed, shielding his eyes from the strange lights.
I stood in awe of the sight. Nothing but bewilderment occupied our faces. Henry spilled his booze and dropped his cup. Stacy drank her booze and started pouring another drink. I was never much of a drinker, but I suddenly needed a smoke and a drink myself.
“Where is that coming from?” I asked to nobody in particular.
“I don’t know.” Jay was confused, but he threw his hand across his forehead and peered through the trees, hoping to catch a glimpse of a rational answer. Nothing revealed itself, but lights and questions.
“Are we just gonna stand around and wonder about it? Let’s go check out the source!” Charlie demanded.
“No, Charlie.” Jay threw his arm out, stopping Charlie in his tracks.
“Ya know Jay, I’ve had enough of your rejection. I’m so sick of you trying to take charge, and acting like you know what’s best. I really don’t care anymore. If you, or none of you want to follow, that’s fine. Just have a tent set up for me when I find out what this light is.”
He grabbed Jay’s arm and flung it aside. Jay wasn’t phased a bit. He just watched as Charlie walked into a section of lit woods.
“We can’t just let him go wandering off alone!” Stacy insisted.
“Sure we can Stacy,” Jay was unmoved, “It’s his own choice. There’s no sense in the rest of us getting hurt with him. Because then, who would save us?”
Stacy looked drunk with disgust.
“Jay! He’s your friend! We should be saving him. It was our choice to come here, so we are responsible for what happens!”
Jay just shook his head. Funny thing is, even through her scolding, nobody, not even Stacy followed Charlie as he disappeared into the unknown. We were all simply too tired, or too buzzed.
Or too scared.
A half hour or so passed by with no event. Stacy had fallen asleep in a bliss-less drunken coma. Henry sat silently by her, and I chained smoked my last few cigarettes like never before, lighting each one with the cherry of the last. Finally, Jay spoke up.
“He did ask us to make the tent. Anybody wanna help me?” I volunteered and grabbed the bag.
“AAAAH!” A searing scream of agony ripped through the tree line. I jumped so much, that I accidentally smacked Jay in the face with one of the tent poles.
“SHIT!” Jay grabbed his face and glared at me.
“Sorry…” I mumbled.
Stacy woke up from her intoxicated cat nap, and Henry stirred to his feet.
“What? What’s going on?” Stacy yawned, clearly not shaken and maybe clueless to what we all heard.
“Did that sound like Charlie?” Henry asked.
Jay nodded in confirmation.
“He has to be messing with us. He’s probably on his way back.” I pointed out.
I wasn’t so sure though.
The sudden sound of a buzzing, electric pulse then shook me to my core. We all watched as a streak of colorless light, zig zagged it’s way through the forest.
“NO, AAAAH, PLEASE!!” Charlie screamed from somewhere deep inside the woods.
“J-Jay…” I stuttered, “What do we do?”
“I don’t know, but…what is that?” He pointed above the trees.
My jaw dropped. There, beyond his finger, above the trees and beneath the sky, was something I’d only ever seen in movies and books. A disc, larger than an airplane, hovered soundless in the air. It’s round characteristics weren’t too threatening, but out from underneath its bottom surface came a cylindrical beam of light, swirling with sparkling heat. I was in awe.
Frozen, and shocked.
Stacy and Henry came to our side, eyes widened and jaws lower than mine.
“Holy crap…is that what I think it is?” Henry asked, practically laughing in bewilderment.
Jay and I nodded.
It appeared to be alien. It didn’t look like any aircraft I had ever laid eyes on, at least not in real life. I wasn’t about to jump to conclusions, but it was shooting lights. I felt permitted to assume.
BZZZZT. The light clicked off.
We all jumped back, and didn’t have much time to react. The strange disc sped away into the night. My eyes and brain couldn’t explain.
One blink. Still didn’t know what happened.
Two blinks. I was more confused than ever before.
I scratched at my head, hoping somebody would speak up. They were as silent as the dark night before us.
“I don’t hear Charlie anymore.” Jay pointed out.
He was right. Not only did I not hear him, I didn’t feel like he was out there either. A wave of fearful emotion crawled into my veins. I didn’t want to feel the truth, anymore than I wanted to hear it.
“Is he dead?” Henry asked dumbfounded.
Jay shook his head.
“I don’t know, man.”
We all decided it was probably best to sit for a moment and collect ourselves. We gathered around our little fire, and half heartedly prodded at conversation, but nothing was interesting. I kept peeking at the trees, hoping to see Charlie. Jay kept twiddling his thumbs, and scratching his neck. He was a nervous wreck.
I couldn’t take the waiting anymore. I finally came to my senses.I stopped Stacy from pouring a shot, and spoke my mind shortly.
“We have to go look for him.”
Jay stood up, nodding in agreement.
“Yeah. I can’t handle this, guys. We can’t just sit here and hope.”
Henry and Stacy looked at each other. Stacy agreed with us as well, but Henry was clearly exhausted.
Henry is a great guy, don’t get me wrong. He would walk to the ends of the earth for his friends. He actually drove to Colorado to pick up Jay when his Uncle had kicked him out. He lent Charlie three hundred dollars when he missed a car payment last year as well. So his qualities in friendship are not in question when I tell you, he refused to help us find Charlie.
“I can’t even keep my eyes open, guys. I don’t think I can walk who knows how many miles, through trees and darkness. I’m drunk and tired.”
Stacy grabbed his arm, “Babe, me too, but that’s our friend out there. He could be hurt and scared.”
“It’s his fault. He wanted to come out here. Everybody warned him it wasn’t safe.”
“Yeah? Yeah? Well we came here with him too. You knew something weird could happen. Now, we face the consequences. Get your drunk ass up, and come with us!”
Henry stared, waited, and glared at her for a few moments. The gloss in his eyes reflected Stacy’s sassy smirk. They really loved each other; you could see it in their body language. So, not unwillingly, Henry took her hand with a ‘you’re right’ shrug. They stood up together, and faced Jay and I.
We were all in this together now, for sure.
Approaching the tree line this time was a bit more unnerving than when we originally entered the bogs. There was now a weathered fear involved, as well as a missing member. I couldn’t imagine what lay beyond the tangled webs of vines and creaking wood. After that disc in the sky, I now saw the landscape surrounding us as an actual alien land. I felt watched, observed, and weak. I was helpless and under dressed. I actually felt disarmed.
“Hey, you okay?” I felt Jay nudge me with concern.
I then realized I had been staring into the distance. My thoughts must have stopped me, cause Stacy and Henry were looking back at Jay and I beyond the trees. They had started walking already.
“Yeah, I uh, I was just making sure we had something to defend ourselves with. Jay, did you bring your knives?”
He reached into his hoodie pocket, and pulled out two of the blades he had bought at the mall last year.
“Are you good now?”
No, I thought to myself.
“Yes.” I lied.
We continued walking. The crunch of fallen leaves and spare gravel alerted me, and who knows what else, to the path we were following. My sense of sound was heightened by my lack of clear eyesight. Henry had clicked his phone back on to make use of his flashlight app, but all it did was give an eerie glow up ahead.
“Wait.” I stopped dead in my tracks.
Everyone else stopped ahead of me, noticing the absence of my crunching footsteps.
“What?” Stacy seethed back to me.
Up ahead of Henry and Stacy, through some bunches of trees, a strange ball of light flickered a bit. It didn’t sit still either. It seemed to be circling a possible clearing. I pointed to it. Once I did, it immediately caught Jay’s attention. He turned Stacy and Henry to it and stuck his finger out so they could see it too.
I put my finger to my lips and joined their party of confusion. I shushed their muffled muttering so they could hear what I was hearing.
That on and off zap of energy reminded me of the burst of electricity from earlier.
“You hear that?” I asked.
They nodded in unison. None of us were too certain on moving after that either, but we couldn’t stop now. Henry took the first steps toward it, Stacy close in tow. Jay now had his hand wrapped tight around a knife in his pocket. I scurried after them with hesitation.
I felt my heart pound against my chest the closer we got. I could see structures up ahead now. A garage type building sat behind a gate. Inside that gate, tall poles stood to the left and right. We were getting closer. A wire was strung up between the two poles, and it continued into the building through an opening. We were not even ten steps from the gate now.
BZZT. A surge shot through the wire. Sparks flew up around the pole, stopping us from nearing the gate any closer. I watched as a blue ball of light circulated on the outside of the wire and moved its way to the left, making a corner, and into the opening of the structure.
“What the hell is that?” Stacy whispered.
Nobody answered. None of us knew what we were looking at exactly. Some sort of electrical building? Where was the electricity coming from? Who was running the equipment? The chills in my body were starting to bug me more and more.
“This is unbelievable…” Jay muttered .
“Do we try and get inside?” I couldn’t believe I asked that one.
Everybody turned and looked at me, realizing I had asked a damned good question.
“Well,” Jay started, “we came all this way to look for Charlie. I think we should at least take a look.”
Still, we remained standing without further action. After all, what would we find behind those doors besides Charlie? All we’ve experienced from these bogs were unexplained phenomena. Things could potentially be dangerous. Or worse, deadly.
Jay observed that we should test the gate first. He had to make sure it wasn’t electrified. He picked up a stick from the ground, and gestured for us to stand back. He wrapped his fingers around the stick tensely, sighed, and tossed it at the gate. The stick bounced stiffly off of it, and fell to the ground. We looked at each other with confirmation, and approached the gate side by side.
Jay did not hesitate, reaching for the gate latch with confidence. He flipped it open, and pushed. It made a loud screeching sound, which scared me half to death. I peeked around, paranoid that we had alerted someone, or something to our presence. Gladly, there was still no sign of life besides us.
The next obstacle was easily cleared as well. The strange wire surrounding the front premises of the lot was high enough off the ground that we could step right beneath it safely. The ball of light hadn’t shown itself in recent moments either, so we weren’t concerned. However, the concerning issue was to soon arise.
We arrived at a small front door, shuffling into a close knit huddle behind our unspoken designated leader, Jay. At this point, he was subconsciously leading the way, with concentration masking a focused fear factor beneath. He peered carefully into the window through the door, to no avail. A thickly settled dust sat on the inside of the pane. Beyond that, the generic white shade dangled plainly, yet effectively concealing what lay on the other side. Jay turned to us, his eyes scanning our faces. Then, back to the window. He shook the doorknob to check and see if it was locked.
“I think it’s unlocked.” He stated breathlessly.
“Open it!” Henry seethed, squeezing Stacy’s hand and looking around us frantically, just praying nobody would notice us.
“No!” I intervened quietly, but with urgency.
“Why not?” Jay and Henry asked in unison.
“Because! What if whoever took Charlie is right behind the door?”
“Then chances are, we’ll be snuffed out on the spot. But we don’t really have time to come up with a break in plan, put it into action, and assume all of us are going to pull it off. No, let’s just take our chances with plan A; walk through the front door.” Jay grinned, and patted me on the shoulder. I knew he didn’t mean to be a jerk about it. But, even though his reassuring little shoulder tap was meant to relax me, I could just sense he was fuming with anxiety. His face was expressing an exhausted fear. His eyes were glossy, drooling tears of anxious terror. He too must be scanning his thoughts, remembering the strange disc and anomalous lights.
His hand gripped the doorknob so hard, I could hear a crack in his knuckles. He twisted it swiftly. The steel door scraped the cement beneath it, as Jay pushed it slowly open. I took a deep breath as it finally swung far enough for us to look inside.
I was surprised. There beyond the doorway lay an empty looking hallway, dimly lit by a single dusty bulb. My hands still shook with nervous adrenaline, though. Jay stepped inside for a second, before gesturing us to follow him.
“Jay, should I shut the door behind me?” I questioned quietly.
“No, keep it open in case we need to run.”
I gulped. I never thought of that. What if what we’re dealing with is that dangerous. Are we going to be running for our lives any time soon? The hairs on my neck were standing alert now, chills marching through my body bloodhounds on parade.
As we creeped Mystery Inc. style through the hall, I noticed to the right of the dim light was another door, this one solid grey with a black door knob. Stepping closer, I saw a white sign with red lettering to the left of the doorway.
Jay saw it too. He read aloud in a hushed voice:
WARNING! HIGH VOLTAGE PROCEED!
“What?” Stacy scoffed, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Proceed?” I said dumbly.
“I think it means nothing tonight is going to make sense.” Jay replied, already reaching for the black door knob.
“Wait!” I practically shouted.
Jay turned to me confused.
“Um, I don’t know. I’m just not sure if we’re ready for this.”
“I’m more ready now than I’ll be in five minutes, when I’ve had enough time to second guess it.” He swung the door open sharply.
CLANG. BANG. CLICK.
Suddenly, we were welcomed by an overwhelming pool of light. It washed through the room like nothing I’ve seen before. All four of us shielded our eyes with our arms and hands. Then, as quickly as it happened, it dimmed back to a tolerable level. We were at the brightness of a normal living room lamp now.
Cautiously, we all adjusted back to normal and began observing our surroundings. It was like a plain old hangar of some sort. Military like. Only difference was, it was empty. The walls and floor were bare. Except…
On the opposite side of the large garage, was a table. What I noticed from there, paralyzed me.
It wasn’t a table, it was a hospital bed. Strapped electric chair style to the arched bed was a figure that I recognized all to well.
“Ch-Charlie?” I whispered.
Jay, Stacy, and Henry breathed heavy sighs of relief when they brought their attention to him too.
“Charlie!” Stacy cried out in excitement.
Henry through his hand over her mouth urgently, looking around us as the echo of her voice surrounded the hangar.
“Babe, you can’t do that. Remember where we are.” Henry let go of Stacy, as she blushed and hung her head in embarrassment.
“Sorry…” She mumbled.
We walked slowly, but steadily toward Charlie, never breaking our close huddle. As we got closer to Charlie, I felt a sharp pain in my stomach. I looked to the right of Charlie’s bed. A box with wires circulated underneath the legs of the bed. Something was wrong, and I was soon to realize why my instincts were acting up.
Jay stepped up to Charlie first.
“Hey ,bud – it’s us. We came and found you.”
Charlie never spoke, never stirred. He looked alive, but unconscious as all hell.
“Charlie, we’re here. Wake up.” Jay continued.
A clang from an upper level inside the building startled us. Jay looked concerned, his eyes watering with impatience.
“Charlie, you idiot. Wake up. We have to get you out of here!”
Jay snapped, and pulled out a knife. He unsheathed it, sending Henry, Stacy, and I stumbling back.
“Whoa, Jay!” I gasped.
“What?” He asked, “I’m going to cut him free.”
I blinked a couple times., and sighed with relief. I thought he was just so mad that he was gonna put the knife in Charlie. I shook my head, as Jay began carefully cutting at the ties. To our surprise, Charlie’s eyes were starting to open.
“Charlie!” I whispered with a smile.
He blinked. He started to eye us a bit. I noticed his face was covered in dirt and his mouth seemed stressed as if he hadn’t used it in a while, or maybe his jaw was just tense from screaming for help. Suddenly, his eyes went wide. He moved his head from side to side.
“No Charlie, don’t move.” Jay ordered him, “I’m cutting your ties. I don’t wanna cut you.”
“Hmm, uggh” He grumbled, still shaking his head.
Finally, he started using real words.
“No, Jay!” he cried, clear as day, “My limbs are paralyzed. You can’t save me. You all need to leave.”
“Wh..what?” I stuttered.
Henry and Stacy grabbed each other tightly. Jay pulled his knife away.
“Dude, I’ll carry you. We’re not leaving you behind.”
“No, it’s not worth it. They’ve taken all of my strength already. I’m screwed. Just leave me here. Get home safely. Just go!”
“They – who’s they?” Stacy whimpered, startled by Charlie’s stubborn desperation.
“Those things. They have a leader. The town cops are all a part of it, or at least Officer Hendricks is. It’s all so screwed up. I couldn’t believe it.”
We all stood frozen in silence. Charlie continued.
“There’s…people here. Some not of Earth. Officer Hendricks has partnered up with them, for some…experiments on humans. He already killed a girl that was here today. She was young, with a bossy little attitude. Hendricks said she had some inner leadership aura, that if sapped out, would give him and the other things some sort of paranormal powers. I don’t know guys, but they’re doing the same thing to me. They already took my motor skills. I can’t even think as fast I used to.”
I was choked up with sadness and fear. I could tell my friends were too. We couldn’t believe it.
“Whatever,” Jay snorted, “I’m getting you out of here anyway.”
Jay started cutting away at the ties again.
“Jay, stop. Go before-”
Charlie’s desperate worry was cut off by the sound of a metal door opening to our right. I turned and looked. It was Officer Hendricks, in a long blue lab coat, and needle in hand.
“Well, well, well.” He sneered, “The neighborhood punks I pulled over all last summer, all in one room together. This is too perfect.”
“Hendricks…” Stacy stammered, “…wh-what are you doing here?”
“Sweetheart, this is my home. So, I’m going to ask you all – what are you doing on the bogs this late at night? I heard these woods can be murder.”
His words followed by a loud buzzing noise caused us all to jump.
“Oh my! It’s time!” Hendricks started stepping toward Charlie.
Jay threw himself in front of Charlie, denying passage to him.
“Don’t take another step, asshole. Get away from him.”
Hendricks chuckled a bit, clearly unmoved by Jay’s heroic efforts.
“Oh Jay Levox, so brave, so young. So-” He paused, “naive.”
We all just watched, as Hendricks pulled up a chair and sat down. Jay straightened out a bit, completely uncomfortable, and unnerved by the dirty cop’s nonchalant behavior.
“I suppose,” Hendricks trailed off a bit, “I suppose I should explain myself before we kill you all.”
Stacy burst into tears in Henry’s arms, emotional and hurt by the cold, cruel behavior of her Uncle. That’s right, this psycho is part of Stacy’s family. Until that night, none of us ever knew he was like this. He just seemed like a normal, douchebag cop.
“Stacy, it’s okay. Your father will get a much less bizarre answer when he asks what happened to you. I promise.”
“Why are you doing this!?” She sniffle and sobbed, glaring through teardrops.
“Well if you’d shut up for a moment, maybe I’ll get to that!” Hendricks slammed his hands on the arms of his chair, sending another loud echoing noise through the whole room. Stacy shut up abruptly.
“Now, who’s ready?”
“Yes Hendricks; tell us.” Jay demanded.
“Please, Jay. Call me Tim.”
“Bur your name is Hubert…” Stacy mumbled.
“Excuse me little missy, that was the name my dirt bag mother gave me. I changed it years later, and for good reason!” He slammed his hands on the chair again. I was getting tired of this by now.
“Please just tell us.” I sighed in annoyance.
He smiled and put the needle in his coat pocket. He rubbed is hands together, and adjusted his sleeves. This guy was a real nutcase.
“Okay,” He repeated, “Who believes in power?”
We all didn’t answer.
“Hello, anybody home? That’s okay, I know you’re all shaking in your boots at the sight of me. I’m too much, right?”
We remained silent.
“Power. It sits inside all of us, some more than others. My friends and I have developed a way to convert that power into an energy one can harness, and place inside a new host. Guess who that host is these days?”
He turned his thumbs on himself, and mouthed ‘This guy’. Again, nutcase.
“What friends?” Jay asked confidently.
“My wonderful, technologically advanced friends from out of town.” He laughed at his own awful sense of humor.
“Again, Tim, what friends?” Jay insisted.
“Have you not figured that out yet, really? God dammit, they’re aliens.”
Even though I had already silently confirmed this, it still chilled my bones again. To hear it from him was just a whole new monster in itself.
“Aliens aren’t real.” Jay stated plainly.
“Of course they are, I assure you. Only these ones have lived on this planet for longer than we have. They’ve been among us for centuries. Almighty master, bless them!” Tim clasped his hands together.
Almighty master? Centuries of aliens walking among us? I became flustered all of a sudden.
“Almighty master?” Jay shook his head.
“Never mind that, let’s get down to business.”
We gasped and spread ourselves out a bit.
“Business?” Henry gulped.
“Out of my way kids, I’m already late in taking care of this. Be quiet, and step aside.”
“No!” Jay lunged at Tim shoulder first.
The psychopathic cop grabbed Jay effortlessly, disarming him of motion and holding him in place.
“Hmm, poor Jay. You try so hard. You have leadership abilities, but it’s simply not backed up by any real strength to follow through with. Well, maybe a nap will get you back up to standards.” Tim pulled the needle out of his pocket, as Jay squirmed and we all screamed out loud. The needle entered Jay’s neck without further ado. Jay’s squirms rapidly turned into flailing, and then his eyes drooped and he fell limp. Tim then tossed him aside. He looked at us with a relaxed grin, no affection behind his cold eyes.
“Oh. I almost forgot you were all watching. No worries – it’s a safe new drug. It actually makes sure his brain has nice, calm dreams to keep his aura clean while he sleeps. It’s a very peaceful thing really.”
“You crazy mother-” Stacy started pulling away from Henry to get at Tim, but henry held her back firmly.
“Crazy? Ha, my beautiful, spunky niece. I’m not crazy, I’ve just been enlightened by a better race of beings. They know me and I know them. I know all. The power they’ve bestowed upon me, has made me the most powerful man in the world. I can do anything I want. My friends work for me and build for me. It’s flattering, actually.” He smirked again, and looked off into nothing, eyes smiling with the rest of his face.
“You’re a lunatic, just let us go!” I screamed.
“Oh. I almost forgot again!” He reached into his pocket, ignoring my desperate cries.
He pulled out another needle, and approached Charlie. All we could do was hopelessly watch as he approached him with a sinister look on his face. I was speechless now. The needle entered our friend’s neck, and he instantly closed his eyes. Poor Charlie couldn’t fight at all; he had lost too much strength already.
Tim Hendricks wasted no time, reaching down and pressing a button on the box below him. The wires around Charlie’s chair began glowing and vibrating.
“I’m so thankful for this knockout drug,” Tim stated, “I got so sick of him screaming for help. Such an annoying, desperate scream. For what? Nobody is going to save any of you.”
So cold, so unaffected by his surrounding peers. He’s in his own alien world. I turned to Henry and Stacy. They were looking at me, probably expecting me to get us out of this mess. I looked toward the door to the right of us that Hendricks had emerged from. No, that’s no way out. I turned to the door we had entered from. Maybe, if we ran fast enough, we’d be able to make it out in time. But what about Jay? There’s no telling how long it would take him to wake up.
I saw Henry sneakily check his phone for service. He looked at me, and lightly shook his head, confirming to me that we were truly alone out here. Surely, I was feeling helpless.
“So!” Tim called out excitedly, “Who’s going to be next?”
I thought quickly, then I surprised myself.
“Nobody.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone, and tossed it at Tim’s head with great force. It hit him between the eyes with a thud.”
“AAAAH, owwww! Fuck! You little shit!” He screamed with his hand over the spot of impact.
During this free moment, I gestured to Henry and Stacy to run. They obliged with a quick start, hand in hand. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it to the door. A burst of light shot from the ceiling over head. It illuminated the room all around, and sparks shot from Charlie’s bed. Wait, no…they shot from Charlie’s body!
“Noooo!” I strained out a cry of denial, shielding my eyes from the light as I watched the hairs burn off of Charlie. His skin began to droop practically off his body. I now noticed that Charlie had wires going under his clothes. As his skin shriveled, I saw that they were under his skin too. I puked abruptly, all over the floor in front of me.
Henry and Stacy had stopped and saw this too. They were both crying. Then, just as quickly as it had started, the lights disappeared and the sparks ceased. Tim clicked the box off next to Charlie, still holding his forehead. Blood dripped around his fingers and down his face. He looked up at us, frowning but eyes gleaming with satisfaction.
“Well, that one is fried.”
I puked again. Tim scoffed down at me with disgust.
“Gross,” He said, “All over my living room floor.”
I sat up and started crawling back away from him.
“You…you bastard. You killed him!” I started sobbing.
“I didn’t kill him. You don’t understand. None of you do. Don’t get me wrong, he is very dead. Still, I can’t get over the feeling that I’m actually saving you all. I’m saving you from your pointless existence. None of you will amount to anything. You will never be as great as me. So, why live?” He snickered and smiled again.
“You’re sick Hendricks, very sick.”
“Yes, I’m just throwing up power everywhere I go.”
Suddenly, the door to the left swung open with a banging abruptness. We all turned to see who had entered.
There, in front of Stacy and Henry, stood a man, about 6 feet tall. It was a man, but of a different kind. He lacked a nose or ears. He wore a blue lab coat and high brown boots. His limbs were skinny. Most strange of all? His hair was made of wires. I gasped, voice trapped deep within my body. I could never find the words to speak in front of this unusual being.
“Doctor!” Tim perked up when he realized who had entered the hangar.
“Hello, Tim. I just wanted to let you know…”
The creature stopped speaking when he saw Charlie’s charred, drooping corpse. It’s eyes went wide, and then squinty with fury. He turned to Hendricks.
“I thought I asked you not to go too far with this one!”
“I’m sorry Doctor, I just can’t help myself. I hunger for the rush, the resulting energy, and the power!”
Hendricks shoulders dropped, like he was punished. I think this ‘Doctor’ might be Hendricks’ superior…
“Mr. Tim, I understand. Still, we need the specimens for research. I’ll cut your funding if you keep it up.”
It turned toward me with beady, cold, emotionless eyes. He observed me on the floor, and Stacy and Henry as if he just noticed that we were there.
“Oh Doctor, these three just crawled in from the woods. I have good plans for them. You won’t be disappointed again.”
Hendricks smiled faintly. He seemed worried that he would be harmed in some way. If not by the doctor’s words, by some use of force.
“You’re using my equipment. If you abuse your position…well, let’s just say I know how to use these machines better than you do. Dispose of that body in the pit, and I better not see another one any time soon!”
With that, he flipped his coat with a turning start, and stormed out the door without another comment. He slammed the door with a crashing clang. Everyone was silent for a good minute, but Hendricks couldn’t hold his tongue.
“One of you rats are gonna have to cooperate for me. Production is slow, I need results!”
“That’s your own damned fault, asshole!” I screamed, “You got yourself into this mess. Let us go before it gets any worse!”
“You don’t understand. You really don’t.”
I shook my head, as I watched Tim begin unhooking Charlie’s remains from the bed. I couldn’t keep my eyes on him though, as I felt choked up and helpless. Instead, I looked at Jay’s motionless body on the floor and started brainstorming a way out of the building. All I could think of was the hallway, from where we entered the hangar. Jay started to stir. My eyes widened. I couldn’t believe it. That was quick.
“Psst…” Stacy directed at me.
I turned to her. She pointed at Jay. I nodded, confirming that I was aware of his awakening. I eyed him, as he slowly began regaining consciousness. I had to think fast.
Hendricks began tucking Charlie’s corpse into his arms, and I wondered where he would go with it. To my dismay, he started carrying him toward the hallway I was planning on dipping out of. He carefully opened the door, and shuffled on out, leaving the door clanging shut.
“Jay!” I seethed to my friend.
He looked up at me, eyes still glossed over from the drug in his blood.
“Wha-what happened?” He stammered.
We all got up and approached him on the floor. Henry and Stacy helped him to his feet. I was not going to begin explaining what had just happened.
“We’ll tell you everything when we get the hell out of here, Jay.”
“How are we going to do that?” He asked me, dusting himself off from his time out on the floor.
“I don’t know. That psychopath just left out of the hallway we came in. I don’t wanna chance a close quarters encounter that way.”
I looked around some more. The upper levels of the room lead to a steel bridge with a doorway at the end. I didn’t want to be fearful, but I wanted to take a guess. The only thing holding me back was not wanting to lead my friends into danger. I couldn’t handle the thought of anyone else ending up like Charlie…
“Hey, snap out of it!” Stacy snapped her fingers in my face.
I came to, realizing I had spaced out yet again, trapped in tantalizing thoughts.
“I’m sorry, I…”
“It’s okay,” Jay placed his hand on my shoulder, I think to reassure me, “I understand. This is not an ideal situation. I’m feeling weak in the mind right now, but… I also know we have to get out of here.”
I stared at him, eyes wide and scanning his face. He didn’t need to say anymore. I’ve been designated to make the next choice, to get us out of this mess. To save my friends.
“What if I make a choice, and it’s the wrong one? I’ll feel like a murderer if I lead you all to your deaths…”
“I’m telling you now, none of us will blame you.” Jay was serious, and final with his words. It was time to move…
Stacy and Henry took each other’s hand, and Jay and stood shoulder to shoulder with them as I began walking to the staircase. We were going to take the upper level. The clanging of the steps stresses me out, but Jay’s words rang through me head. It kept me pressing on. I was leading the way, ready to find us a way out.
We got to the top faster than expected. We must have rushed our way up, but it didn’t matter. Nothing was stopping us.
The central bridge was approaching. We turned onto it and followed it all the way to the end. Ahead of us now stood a double door way. It was rusty, but I could tell it used to be a deep gray color. A rectangular outline on the left door made me think there probably used to be a sign on it, but it was clearly gone now.
“Think this is our shot?” Henry whispered to me.
“I don’t know.” I couldn’t lie. I felt nothing more than fearful adrenaline. I was blindly pressing on.
I reached for the handles of the doors and wrapped my fingers tightly on them. I didn’t want to hesitate. I don’t want to wait at all. I yanked them open.
We blinked. There was a wall. A flat, gray wall.
“No.” I said dumbly.
I began to feel around, hoping to find a seam, or button or anything at all to get through it. It was no use. My heart began racing. The blood poured angrily through my veins, frustrated that I had failed to find an exit. Instead, I’ve lead my best friends to a dead end. A cold, dead, gray end.
“Pretty funny, huh?” A voice sneered from behind us.
My jaw dropped and we all swung around. There, looking mischievous as always, stood Tim Hendricks. His arms were covered in dirt, and blood. His eyes were glossy, black, and beady, staring at us with a smirk of malevolence.
“Hendricks, um uh….” I stuttered.
I was stupefied. If there was any ounce of leadership in my bones, it was now dormant. I had no idea what to do.
“Kids, I think we all know how this is going to end. If you would give up and come with me quietly, it would be much appreciated.” He gave a little muttered laugh.
There was an awkward moment of silence. We all stood and stared at each other.
“Come on!” Tim shouted.
Without thinking, all four us ran shoulder first at the corrupt cop, knocking him flat on his back. We piled past him, shoes squeaking and clanging across the steel beneath us. My eyes were frantically darting for another way out now, scanning each direction the upper level could take.
There. To the right. I didn’t notice it before, but there was a balcony within jumping distance. Behind it lay a door. It was our only real chance besides going back the way we came. Which way was the right way?
“Guys, right or down?!” I yelled.
Without waiting for a response, I turned right. To my surprise, they kept running.
“Guys?!” I shouted again.
Jay stopped and turned.
“I don’t wanna leave the decision on you this time, we’re all running for our lives. Just follow or go!” He turned and continued back down the staircase.
I looked to my right, as Hendricks foot steps began to clang behind me. That’s it I thought, no more chances. I’m sticking to my friends. I darted after them, Hendricks in tow.
I caught up to them as they slowed to a jog. The door we had entered through lay just ahead, practically gleaming like a light at the end of a dark tunnel. Hopefully.
BANG! The door slammed open, just as Henry was reaching for it.
“OW!” He cried out, stumbling to the side and grabbing his wrist.
“Henry!” Stacy ran to his side.
Jay and I had no time to react. What stood in front of us, sent a shock right through our bodies.
It was the doctor – the very creature who had scolded Hendricks earlier. Behind him, crowding the hall, stood many other smaller humanoid beings. Some stood normal adult height, others looked like normal humans. They pushed into the room, surrounding us.
“Hello, young folks.” said the doctor in a calm voice.
We did not respond. Jay and I looked around us. I could not believe my eyes. Some of these people were familiar.
“Mrs. Carter?” Jay gasped. It was our old English teacher from sophomore year, standing directly across from us.
“Hi, kids!” She said smiling.
“This is screwed up Jay, we have to find a way out of here.” I tried shaking myself awake, but this was no nightmare. It was a living hell.
Stacy and Henry were motionless behind the circle of people, looking at Jay and I with horrified expressions. After a strange momentary silence from everyone, the doctor spoke.
“Well, this has gone on long enough.”
Hendricks approached from behind us.
“You’ve met my friends,” he snickered, “They’ve been watching our chase from the control room. You see, you’re never safe. This was always meant to end in my favor.”
“ENOUGH!” The doctor boomed, causing my heart to skip a beat.
“Sorry sir, how should we take care of these four now?”
“I don’t care. Just get me their energy. Route it right to my father’s chambers. I’m sure he’ll be very pleased.”
My face must have twisted to another deep level of fear, because the doctor looked right at me and spoke again.
“Oh child, don’t bother being scared. Your existence will no longer matter in the following moments. This is the end of the road for you and your friends.”
The circle of people began to close in. That’s when I noticed them. There, in the furthest end of the crowd were my parents.
“Hey, sweetie.” My mom did not smile. She merely cracked a smirk that I knew as her bored expression.
The circle opened to reveal them to me some more. They were in their normal day attire, hair and faces neat and prim.
“What the fuck is going on here?!”
My tear ducts were damned, causing my face to twitch as it held back the waterworks – a mix of anger, sadness, and fear that had all built up through the night. Jay, Stacy, and Henry were all speechless. Their parents were not present, but all eyes were on me as I took in the confusing situation.
My dad stepped forward.
“I’m so sorry. We wanted you to stay away from here. We didn’t want you or your friends to end up in this…awkward position.”
“Awkward? Fucking awkward? Charlie is dead! These people want the rest of us dead too. You’re going to let this happen?”
“Listen. It’s nothing personal.” My mom stated coldly.
“You’re our blood. The Almighty Master may share your energy with us this time.”
Nothing personal. Almighty Master.
“Mom…Dad…I’m your son!”
Suddenly, my arms and hands were apprehended by some aliens from the crowd. Stacy, Henry, and Jay were all grabbed as well. They were screaming for help, but my eyes would not peel away from my parents.
“I’m your son!” I screamed again. No response.
I couldn’t help it. I pulled one of my kidnappers’ hands up to my face, and sank my teeth down into their palm.
“AAAH!” The being screeched aloud.
“Stop that one!” Hendricks seethed.
I was already headed up the stairs to the upper level. The sounds of my shoes clanging against the steel practically muffled the cries of my friends beneath me, screaming for help. Maybe from me, or maybe to no one in particular, but I couldn’t stop. Some unknown fear inside me compelled me to get away. I knew we would all end up spread out at some point. I was just leading the way, right? They would soon follow, right?
I could see it again, the balcony in jumping distance. It had to be a way out. It had to be.
I grasped the railing from where I was, and swung myself across. My body cracked against the double doors and I stumbled backwards, but I kept my footing. I wasted no time as I opened the doors in front of me.
A long winding corridor stretched out beyond me. Again, it was dimly lit, this time by many bulbs along the length of the ceiling. As I followed the walls without hesitation, taking each turn with barely a cautionary stall, I began panting.
I never realized it, but I was becoming very tired. My muscles ached and pulsated like the throats of frogs, swelling and deflating over and over. Only thing is, I didn’t plan on croaking anytime soon.
My frantic running slowed to a jog. How long was the damned hallway?
I was answered by a doorway up ahead. This one was a glistening chrome surface, smooth and twinkling as if it were freshly scrubbed, waxed, and shined.
Again, without thinking twice about it, I swung the door open.
“What…?!” I gasped as a gust of wind, accompanied by a furiously bright light, smacked me with a wave of surprise. I shielded my eyes quickly. It was so bright, I could feel it through my eyelids.
I waited for what felt like minutes on end to reopen my eyes, and then I finally did. The light had ceased gladly, but I kept one hand close to my face just incase. Then, I began looking around the room. Wait a second. No, not a room. I was outside! I was standing on a rooftop. My heart began to race. That means I had made it out! But, hold on…I was not alone.
“Shit!” I whispered aloud.
The large disc-like craft from earlier sat quietly whirring ahead of me. The same shiny gloss from the door behind me made up the entire surface of the alien ship. It had multiple circle windows around the top part and a few lights unlit around the bottom half.
“Unbelievable…” I mumbled.
There had to be somebody on board. It was running. It sounded like a car sitting idle. This was no earthly, personal vehicle though.
I looked around and noticed a large wooden crate off to the left of me. That would be my cover until I figure out what to do from here I thought. I quietly tip toed over and ducked down behind it. I couldn’t believe the situation at this point. Here I was, hiding behind a crate on a rooftop, of a building occupied by alien creatures, and crazy people. Officer Hendricks, my parents, my old teacher. I mean, what the hell was going on? I wondered what my friends were doing. Had they gotten away? Would I find them when I get out of this mess?
BANG! The shiny chrome colored door flew open. My heart skipped a beat. Who was it?
I could hear two voices, male and female. They were talking frantically back and forth. I had to sneak a peek, and figure out who had followed in my tracks to this alien landing zone. I took a deep breath, and stuck my head out just a bit.
“Stacy! Henry!” I whispered loudly, my voice rasping, straining to still keep quiet.
They turned to look at me, eyes widening with smiling surprise.
“There you are!” Stacy cried out, also straining her voice with a hushed hoarseness.
Her and Henry shuffled over hurriedly, stooping down to join me.
“I ran as far as I could to escape those things, but I don’t know where to go from here.” I explained.
“I don’t know either, but I’ve had it up to here with this bullshit.” Henry shook his head and put his hand on his forehead, displaying stress and discomfort.
“Well, there has to be a way off this roof. We’re gonna find out. Where’s Jay?” I looked at them both, as their faces fell to a solemn lowness.
“Oh…” Stacy turned away a bit, “I’m sorry he…”
“They got him.” I said. It was a statement, not a question.
They both nodded.
“No…no.” I stood up, hands and head shaking, “No! Shit, it’s my fault!”
“No it’s not!” Stacy shouted, “Don’t say that! And sit down, they’re gonna find us.”
“I should’ve been there, I should’ve…” My voice trailed off.
My devastation finally took its toll. The waterworks were brewing like a pot of bad coffee. My body was rejecting my own feelings. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I was bitter – toward myself.
“Stop crying, it’s not gonna help matters. Not to degrade him post-mortem…but this was Charlie’s idea.” Henry tried sounding final, but I wouldn’t take it.
“Henry, we all decided to follow…”
Stacy cut me off, “Then it’s everybody’s fault. Get over yourself!”
My jaw dropped. She was probably right. I was taking it to heart. Jay and Charlie were gone. This isn’t about me. It was about everybody. I kneeled back down.
“You guys are right. I’m sorry. Let’s just get out of here.”
“How?” Henry asked.
I looked around us. Besides the giant craft, the crate, and us, this roof was empty. I turned my attention to the edge of the roof. There wasn’t a lip on the edge; the roof was flat on every side and every corner. It was concrete. But what was over the edge?
I stood up and walked to the edge and looked down. Below me was a forest floor. Trees surrounded us but they were too far to reach from the rooftop. Along the walls there wasn’t a ladder or anything else to climb down with. We were at least two stories off the ground.
“What do you see?” Stacy asked.
“Nothing. I don’t know what we’re going to do.”
Just then, the idle whirring from before became louder. It startled me and I turned around.
“Holy shit, the hatch is opening!” Henry yelled to me.
No way, I thought. I kneeled back down behind the crate. We all watched in astonishment as the large hatch door began to open up on the bottom surface of the alien ship.
“Oh my God, what’s gonna come outta there?!” Stacy wondered out loud.
With a loud hissing sound the hatch came down. There were no stairs or anything, no slope, so I didn’t expect anything to come walking down. Maybe it would come floating out.
Then came the vacuum sound. A loud rushing windy noise, with a suction effect like that of a vacuum cleaner. I watched as leaves, dust, and dirt began to recede up into the ship.
“You’re kidding me!” I gasped.
“What?!” Stacy and Henry said at the same time.
“Guys…grab onto something. Now!”
But, there wasn’t anything. The rooftop was bare except for the crate and The crate sat loosely atop the roof.
We latched onto the crate, and I hoped it was heavy enough not to move.
“What’s going on?!” Henry screamed.
“Don’t let go!” I shouted.
BZZT! There was a flash of light and electricity as the suction sound got louder. I could feel it now. I tightened my grip, but I could the feel the crate moving.
“It’s trying to take us in!” Stacy cried out, scared shitless.
Henry and I were just as frightened. I felt the crate sliding inches at a time, us with it.
“Hold on guys, we’re going into the craft with it. We can’t get out of this one.”
“Fuck that!” Henry rejected my advice as he let go of the crate, but he had no time to run. I watched in horror as his feet were swept out from under him, and he was dragged through the air toward the ship.
“Henry! No!” Stacy screamed in desperation.
There was no use. We watched as he was sucked straight up underneath.
“No!” Stacy’s voiced cracked as she shouted and plead for Henry.
“It’s too late. We’re gonna end up in there too Stacy, I’m sorry. This could be it. I’m so sorry I…”
With a pop, the suction got even stronger.
“Shit…” I thought out loud.
Suddenly, Stacy, the crate, and I were all viciously dragged across the roof and into the ship.
“AAAAAH!” We screamed the whole way.
Smack! My head cracked off the side of the hatch. I didn’t even see it coming. I blacked out.
I don’t know how long it was before I came to, but I woke up before my eyes opened. I heard a loud bickering from somewhere close by.
“No master, I don’t know. Three did get away, but we may have enough energy already. This planet will be all yours!”
A deep, booming, gravely voice came next.
“You weak, weak scum. There is no explaining your way out of this one. You’ve failed me again. First you killed the old man and those children before you could bring them to me. Then you nearly destroyed the equipment with that teenaged waste of space…”
“His energy level was enough to finish this…” the voice stammered.
“Do you understand me Hubert!? I am not satisfied!”
“I…I…I’m sorry master.”
“You’re no longer of use to me.”
“Please, it won’t happen again!”
There was a loud crunch, and a squishing sound. It continued into a rushing of drips and splashes. Then, there was silence.
I couldn’t see a thing. Wherever I was, only feet away from that horrendous conversation I just witnessed, it was pitch black. I reached my arms out to feel where I was. It felt like a box of some sort. A box big enough to give me room to move, but a claustrophobic space nonetheless. My head was pounding too. It took me a moment to remember I had smacked my head off the ship as it had aggressively pulled me in. I grabbed at my forehead and groaned. Yep, it was painful. I shifted myself uncomfortably.
CLANG! I jumped.
The “master” was moving around now. I wondered what was going to happen next. Was I going to die? I really didn’t know. What was he doing out there?
“It’s okay young one, keep quiet.”
“No no, please. Please! No!” Stacy begged, and cried.
Shit, he had Stacy out there!
“Stop! You useless little girl!”
SMACK! I heard the sound of a hand across a soft cheek.
“Uggh, ow!” Stacy screamed even louder.
“You’re useless to me. Weak, weak, WEAK!”
“No…” I covered my mouth.
The dripping and pouring I now recognized as blood followed the clear crunch of bones. This was it. Hendricks, and Stacy were both dead. If Henry wasn’t already dead…
This “master”, who or whatever he is, clearly finds us weak. What he seemingly does to us weaklings…I couldn’t even think about it. My stomach was turning.
I can still hear him out there. He clicked buttons, opened drawers, mumbles to himself and paces back and forth. I’ve managed to write this to you all on my phone, from inside this box. I don’t know where I am, or even if I am still on that space ship out in the woods. Last I knew, I had escaped the inside of a crazy, alien run warehouse of some sort in the middle of the woods in Wareham, MA. Don’t come find me. Don’t even go out into the bogs here. I would even suggest to you, avoid Wareham altogether.
Shit. My phone is dying.
“Are you moving in there, child?”
He heard me shift inside here. This is it. I’m about to die. Well, my parents won’t miss me. My friends are dead. So I guess I don’t care that this is it. This is the end.
The box lock clattered and clanged, I could feel the air in my lungs swirling like fire ants marching inside me. My eyes began to water. Then, click.
The box swung open.
Credit: Mike Maxim