09 May I Lived To Tell The Tale
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"I Lived To Tell The Tale"Written by
Estimated reading time — 9 minutes
Okay, I need to calm down for a second. I just burst in my front door not long after the most terrifying night of my life. I decided to write this out to help understand what happened and maybe even get some help along the way. But, after what I did, there’s a chance no one will want to help me. I mean, I wouldn’t blame you for actions if you were in my shoes, but I can’t help feeling like I may have condemned the people I left behind. You must be wondering what I mean by that? Well, I’ll start right from the beginning.
It was about a week ago that I received the email. It was addressed from one of my old high school friends. Back then, and even now, I didn’t have many people that I could call ‘friends’. So it was a surprise that someone I’d known, but hadn’t spoken to in over three years, would be messaging me out of the blue. The email itself had the title “EPIC PARTY FRIDAY NIGHT!” I would have deleted it then and there if I hadn’t have noticed the sender’s name. I really wish I’d just deleted it as was my first impulse. Checking now, I actually still have it. Just reading it again sent shivers down my spine, but I’ll copy and paste it here to save me explaining the situation.
TO: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org… [more]
SUBJECT: EPIC PARTY FRIDAY NIGHT!
Hey guuys! I hope yall down for a wild night!! One of me mates knows the guy who runs that secret party hub in the run down factory on the edge of town. Guess whos got an invite with instructions that say: “Any of your friends are welcome to come along.” THIS GUY! Now lemme tell ya, this is THE party that’s been the word on the street for a few weeks now! I’ve heard that some people get so drunk and fuked up they never come back – so this is defs not for the faint of heart XD
Party starts at 9 this friday night, you know where, but heres the catch if you dont know already, no byo, if your caught with any drinks on ya, youll be turned away. But I dont know why youd do that anyway because they supply FREE BEER! If thats not enough to get you to come, then I can say no more.
Hope to see u there!
Look, despite what you’re thinking, he’s not the most illiterate person on the planet. This was much worse than I’d ever seen from him; I would have thought he’d been hacked if it weren’t for his old signoff “-J.”. I can’t tell you what possessed me to go that Friday. I’ll tell you right now, it wasn’t the free beer, since I hate the watery, bitter taste of it. In fact, I hate going out. I’m the most anti-social person you’ll ever meet and yet, it just felt like the right thing to do. Maybe I was feeling a bit guilty over having lost touch with my old friends. I had noted that this email was sent through to not only me, but to a large number of people from strangers to old friends and acquaintances. By this point, I’d subconsciously made the decision to attend this ‘party’. It wouldn’t hurt to catch up with some people and maybe even have a little fun, something my life had been lacking lately.
Fast-forward to Friday afternoon. I was in my room getting ready. It was a bit early, but as my week had dragged on, it seemed that I was actually looking forward to this reprieve. The email had explained that the party was held in the old factory at the edge of town. I don’t know what used to go on there, but they had a big bust up by the police a few years back over some undisclosed safety misconduct which resulted in many worker’s deaths and disappearances and the place was shut down immediately afterwards. I honestly don’t know the specifics; I didn’t pay attention to the news back then and it wasn’t any of my concern. Although I found it strange that the history of the place had been cleared from the net. I think I might have a good idea of why it’s been covered up now, but I’ll save my theories for another time.
It was a long drive to the factory. I was feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness and I could hear my heart thumping in the silence of my car. I was thinking that it was a little sad at the time, I usually avoid going out, and so I was getting anxious. As I was making my approach from the forest trail outside of town, I saw the tall spires of the two chimneys looming in the distance. The grey hulking mass was quite ominous at night. Not long after, I pulled into the old parking lot and checked the dash. The time read about 8:15pm. I was early, but I’d made extra time in case I got lost. Oddly enough, as I looked around the lot, there were only a few other cars besides mine. I’d expected there to be more of a reception, although, I was early.
I decided to go inside by myself. I passed through the old gates which were entirely rusted over and bent in places. There were grooves in the earth tracing a path to where they had been forced open. I stepped through and approached the front entrance. Whilst walking, I took in my surroundings. The building itself was a lurking figure of concrete, brick, mortar and stone slabs. The age of the materials could be seen in the erosion and plant growth. The windows were all smashed in, although they were barred on the outside and boarded up on the inside. I reached the door and grasped the handle firmly. With a tug, I dragged it open and peeked inside. To my surprise, my eyes were met with a warm golden light. It wasn’t necessarily bright, but it was better than the eerie moonlight.
I slipped inside and made my way towards what looked like a makeshift bar and stage within the huge space. It was a rudimental setup; a few planks of timber appeared to form a long table upon which sat a few huge barrels. Not far from this was an elevated platform which had been transformed into a tiki hut of sorts with straw and whatever else had been left lying around. This served as the main stage where small speakers had been placed around. From my first impressions, I was feeling a little let down. Surely this couldn’t be the same ‘epic party’ that was mentioned in the email.
All of a sudden, I felt my shoulder clamped beneath a heavy hand and I let out a weak yelp. I spun quickly, tearing from the grasp of whatever had a hold of me. His gaze caught mine and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. It was my old friend, John, the one who’d invited me here. He was wearing a bright blue Hawaiian shirt with khaki shorts. Not the best combination, but he was known for his spontaneity. We embraced and caught up together for a while. The conversation flowed freely as we moved to the bar. It was as if I’d only seen him yesterday.
“I just wanted to say, thanks for inviting me John. I’m glad you remembered me, even after all this time.”
John shot me a confused glance. “Invited you? Me? What are you talking about?” He scrunched his eyebrows as I looked on wide eyed.
“I got your email, remember? The one about the ‘epic party’ tonight?” Hesitation was evident in my voice.
“Nah man, no way that was me. For one, I don’t use my email anymore, and for two, I was invited here too. But only me, no plus ones.” He looked into my eyes to find the hint that this was just a joke. But this was no joke. “Look, whatever man, you’re here now and you know the deal, free beer on tap all night!” John shrugged and grinned at me as he began to fill himself a glass.
“I’ll be alright. Beer’s not really my thing, you know? I’m just here for some fun.”
“No trouble, all the more for me!” He laughed as the glass filled. Looking inside, the beer didn’t appear to have the same ‘golden’ glow that regular beer has, it was dull and seemed to have a thick consistency. At the time, I thought it might have just been the lack of proper lighting or the glass being dirty, so I didn’t say anything. John’s cries of pleasure voided any doubt I’d had.
After talking a while longer, I suddenly realised that many more people had arrived and I was so engrossed in my conversation with John that I hadn’t noticed. Looking around, I tried to spot other people I knew. So far, of the thirty or so people that had made it, I didn’t know any of them. I turned back to John at the bar, but he was gone. Probably went to go chat up some people, I thought to myself. I naturally moved to a more secluded spot as waves of people began flocking towards the bar ready to get the night started.
The night progressed slowly, but the entertainment certainly didn’t. By about 10:00pm the dilapidated factory floor was full of laughter and merriment. Two people had already drunk enough to black out on the dance floor. I wasn’t sure where they’d been moved to, but I assumed they were dragged to the side by less intoxicated people to save from being crushed. I’d been talking to some old friends before they moved into the swells of the growing crowd. I was sitting by myself, deep in thought about life and work when I felt that someone had appeared in front of me. I looked up quickly to see a girl around my age wavering before me. She looked familiar. Maybe she was another acquaintance from high school?
“Hey! Nathan! Do you remember me?” The girl called out. She had short brown hair folded into pig tails. “It’s me, Gina, don’t tell me you forgot?” She slurred out seductively. She must have noticed the recognition on my face as she gave me a wink. “Mind if I sit?” She pointed to the space beside me. Mouth hanging open, I nodded slowly, dumbfounded. Gina was my biggest crush that I’d had all throughout high school, however, I’d never acted on my feelings and I’d let her slip away as we went to separate colleges. Time flew by as we sat and talked. Every now and then, she’d excuse herself to go and grab another drink before slowly floating back. It was becoming apparent that not only herself, but all of the people were reaching their consumption limits. Unsteady footwork and drowsy eyes seemed to be the key signifier of this. Mid-conversation, Gina suddenly stood up, excused herself and then headed towards the bar amidst the crowd.
I waited for her to return for a while, but during this time, I had developed a rather strong urge to go to the bathroom. This is the point where I almost hesitate to continue. I pushed my way slowly through the group. It seemed like people must have been headed home since the large throng of people had died down at some point. I followed the small hand-drawn signs directing me to the bathroom. They led off towards one corner of the room and into a small hallway. As soon as I reached the entrance to the hallway, I nearly passed out on the spot. The stench emanating from the bathroom was horrendous. It was like someone had died in there, I shuddered at the thought. The hallway branched off two ways from here. The toilet sign pointed to the right, where I could see a faint light in a doorway down the hall. To the left, the hallway carried on down into a darkness that my eyesight couldn’t penetrate. I gulped down a lung-full of air and quickly strode towards the light.
The bathroom was about as primitive as I’d expected from an abandoned building. I took a deep breath as I entered the only stall in the cramped space. I immediately regretted that decision. My eyes were wide with the horror that I would, at any moment, register the source of the foul smell from the hall entrance. But it never came. Testing the waters, I began to breathe normally. It was as if no one had used the toilet yet. Besides the musty smell of disuse, there was nothing else. My body forced me to remember the reason for coming here and I quickly relieved myself.
Now with my mind off of that, I suddenly took in my surroundings. The walls were all uneven and chipped. Tile hung from the sides and concrete cracked completely around. Completely covering the ground, barely visible, there was a layer of rust coloured water. I was getting a bit creeped out by this place, so I hurried back down the corridor to leave. As I pushed on, the smell came lingering back. By the time I reached the doorway, it was back to full strength. The smell wasn’t coming from the bathroom, but from whatever was down the other direction. I wish I’d never gone down that path. In the end, my curiosity won out against my better judgement. What could possibly cause such a disgusting smell? I slowly trudged my way into the blackness. It didn’t take long for my eyes to adjust since the place was pretty dark, despite what light there was to offer.
As I pushed on down the hall, I reached another doorway similar to the one for the bathroom. Although in this room, I couldn’t see anything, it was as if anything beyond the door was just a black void in space. It was then that I remembered I had my phone on me. I quickly pulled it out and switched it on, facing it towards the room. I really wish I hadn’t. Illuminated through the dull light of my phone screen, I saw the source of the smell. The entire room was covered in blood. It was splattered across the walls, dripping from the ceiling and pooling on the ground. But that wasn’t the worst of it. In this room, lay dozens upon dozens of bodies in a pile. None of them were moving. I wasn’t sure if they were dead or not, but my fight or flight instincts were two frozen legs away from kicking in. Situated at the base of the heap, was one familiar face.
As if responding to my presence, her eyes fluttered and focused on me. She mouthed a single word to me: ‘help’. I couldn’t move, but I knew I was shaking my head. From somewhere deep within the room, far behind the bodies of people who were once my friends, I heard something. I’m not quite sure how to describe it past a wet, gurgling sound. That was all the warning I needed to get the hell out of there.
The rest is self-explanatory. I ran from that place as fast as I could. I was tearing my way through the mass of intoxicated people. Noting that even now, there were less people than when I’d entered the bathroom for the first time. When John tried to drunkenly ask me for a ride home, I shouldered him out of the way without a second thought.
I can’t tell you what was going on in that place. I’m never going back there. I’m sorry that I’m a heartless coward, but at least I lived to tell the tale, right?
Credit To – Natenator77