Estimated reading time — 41 minutes
It was stupid and immature. I’ll be the first to admit that. But it’s not like I killed anyone. And if you want to try to understand things from my perspective, there was really no way that I could not do it.
First, because his name was Mr. Hillrow. Second, because he acted like a dick, always calling on you the one day you didn’t do the reading, and then dragging out the torture in front of the whole class. Third, he sort of looked like a dick, with his ring of puffy hair surrounding the bald top of his head.
It was like I had to do it. I got Billy’s older brother (a previous student of Mr. Hillrow) to get me the dildo. Then, before class started, I stood it up on Mr. Hillrow’s desk. I taped a pair of tiny glasses to the head, wrapped a tiny necktie around the shaft, and propped up a little name tag that read “Mr. Dilldow.”
At first, everyone laughed. Then Mr. Hillrow got pissed and started yelling in a scary way, demanding to know who had done it. The class got real quiet. Nobody ratted me out. I gave myself away. I took another look at Mr. Dilldow and started cracking up again.
So that’s how I ended up in detention. But it was only supposed to be for three afternoons. Not three years.
* * * * * *
The school is different at night. It didn’t take long at all for me to find that out.
The first afternoon of my detention went about like you’d expect. I had to sit there and read Moby Dick. It took everything I had not to make another dick joke, because Mr. Hillrow was sitting at his desk, just angrily glaring at me the whole time.
At 4:00 on the nose, Mr. Hillrow stood up. I grabbed my backpack, ready to get the hell out of there.
“Your actions are unspeakably vulgar,” said Mr. Hillrow.
I thought about Mr. Dilldow again and almost died from the effort of not cracking up.
Mr. Hillrow went on. “You will stay here through the night, and reflect upon the proper manner in which to conduct yourself while enrolled in this educational institution.”
Then he flicked off the light switch and left the room.
That threw me for a loop, but I shrugged it off, stood up, and went to get out of there.
The door was locked.
“Okay Mr. Hillrow!” I shouted through the door. I looked through the little window at the top and saw the back of his half-bald mushroom head as he walked down the hall. “You got me! Gotta hand it to you, that’s a good one! I’ve definitely learned my lesson!”
Mr. Hillrow disappeared around the corner.
I stood staring out of that little window for about fifteen minutes before it started to dawn on me that the bastard really meant to keep me locked in that room all night.
I wasn’t even mad at him. He’d got me. When I pulled out my phone to call my parents, it wasn’t to rat him out, it was because I had no intention of staying in that damn room all night.
I hadn’t told my parents about detention, but knowing them, I figured they’d put the pieces together soon enough. They’d start calling my friends, who did know about detention. I just hoped my friends wouldn’t feel like they were ratting me out by telling my parents where I was.
I walked over to the exterior window and held my phone up to it. Still no reception. I tried to open the window, but it was jammed shut. I looked down to the parking lot below. People were leaving for the day. I thought about breaking the window and jumping for it, but I was on the second floor and it was too far down onto the pavement. Plus, I knew I’d get in a bunch of shit for breaking school property.
I tried to flick on the light switch, but the light didn’t come on. Then, for the next hour, I did something that I’ll never forgive myself for. I burned through my phone’s battery playing some dumbass game, I don’t even remember what.
As my phone died, I looked up and noticed that the room was dark. The light coming through the window was getting dimmer and dimmer. It started to feel really eerie.
I banged on the door for a while, trying to get someone’s attention. No one came.
As the last bit of light faded away, I took one last look outside, through the window. The parking lot was now empty.
Now the room was very dark. I started to panic. I did not want to spend the night in that room, but it was looking like I didn’t have a choice.
After a bit of mindless pacing, I heard a click and the door to the classroom slowly swung open to the hallway, seemingly of its own accord.
“Hello?” I asked into the darkness. “Mr. Hillrow? Look, I’ve learned my lesson. Really, I have. I am truly sorry for setting up that dildo on your desk.”
It was dead quiet, and I didn’t see anybody there. That creeped me out, but I was happy to get out of the room at least.
I walked down the hall, which was now lit up by a few dim lights up at the top of the wall. I knew where I was headed first: the bathroom.
I’d had to piss for like an hour, and it was killing me. I had thought about whipping it out and going all over Mr. Hillrow’s desk, but figured that would only get me in more trouble.
I was walking past a long row of lockers when I heard it. It started as a slight rattle, coming from one of lockers. I tried to play it off as just the building settling or something, but then another locker door started to rattle. Then another, and another, and soon the whole row was rattling.
When I heard a scraping sound, like something sharp being dragged against the metal of the locker doors, followed by what sounded like a low growl, that’s when my urge to piss was suddenly relieved, right down my leg. It’s also when I started running like hell.
As I ran down the hall, the rattling turned into banging. Now I could see the locker doors shaking, straining against the hinges and latches. Whatever terrible things were inside were on the verge of breaking free.
All at once, the horrible sounds coming from the lockers stopped, just as I came to the end of the hall. I didn’t slow down though. I booked it down the stairs and only felt the slightest bit of relief when I saw the entrance to (and more importantly, the exit from) the school in front of me.
I ran full speed towards the door, putting my hand in front of me to push it open. Thunk. My wrist twisted painfully as it impacted the unmoving door.
Of course it’s locked you idiot, it’s night.
I tried to find a deadbolt latch or something, but there wasn’t one. Just a keyhole.
Why the hell do all these doors lock from the outside?! I wondered, as I slumped down to the ground in pain, fear, and what was beginning to look like utter defeat.
I pulled my phone out of my pocket. Now that I was by the front entrance, I might get reception. If I hadn’t been a goddamn idiot and used up the battery.
I held the power button for a full five minutes straight before I gave up and put the useless thing back in my pocket.
I felt like crying. It was bad enough just being locked in there. Being locked in there with a bunch of locker monsters and who knows what else was much, much worse.
* * * * * *
I decided to stick by the front entrance and wait it out. I sat there in my pissy pants for hours. I would start to get bored and even a little sleepy, and then I’d hear a noise from somewhere in the school and I’d jolt into full alertness. Sometimes it was a soft rustling sound that I wasn’t quite sure I was actually hearing, and sometimes it was a loud, unmistakable bang. Once, I was sure that I heard someone laughing.
Finally, it got to the point where I couldn’t ignore how hungry I was. The cafeteria was right by the entrance, so I figured I could risk it. I didn’t have any money for the vending machine, but I thought I might be able to get into the kitchen and scrounge up some food. I’d always wondered what the hell went on in there anyway.
I turned the corner and was surprised to see that the cafeteria was brightly lit. I could smell something delicious wafting out from there.
I took a cautious step in and was shocked to see Miss Hadley, aka The Lunch Lady, standing there behind the counter in her hairnet.
“Young man!” she said when she saw me. “You’re just in time!”
“Miss Hadley… what are you doing here?” I asked. “It’s the middle of the night.”
The Lunch Lady laughed. “Oh, sometimes when I can’t sleep, I come down here and try out a new recipe. And tonight… ho boy! I’ve come up with something out of this world! I think the children will love it!”
Something clicked in my addled mind. “So you have a key?” I asked. “You can let me out of here?”
“Of course I have a key, silly! But before you go, won’t you try my newest dish? You look hungry!”
She was right about that. I mean, I was ready to get the hell out of there, but at least now I knew that I could get out of there. I didn’t see the harm in chowing down first, especially since it smelled so good.
I grabbed a tray and held it out to her. Behind the counter, she scooped some mashed potatoes onto a plate, and then put a cut of juicy steak on there too. She put the plate on my tray.
“Thanks!” I said.
“Let me know what you think!” she said, smiling.
I sat down and dug into the mashed potatoes. Damn, they were good. Just the right balance between fluffy and creamy, and a hint of garlic to top it off. Then I cut off a chunk of steak and put it in my mouth.
It was wonderful, but it didn’t taste like any steak I’d ever had before.
“Mmm,” I said. “This is great. What is it?”
“Meat,” said The Lunch Lady.
“Yeah, I figured. What I meant was… what kind of…”
A scream coming from back in the kitchen cut me off.
“Uh… Miss Hadley, can I go now?”
“You don’t like your meat, young man?” asked Ms. Hadley frowning.
“Oh, no, it’s great. It’s just, my parents are probably worried sick about me. I’ve been stuck here all night. Mr. Hillrow locked me in…”
“What’s that screaming?” I asked.
“Oh, that’ll be Lilly, my assistant,” said Miss Hadley. “She’s forever burning herself, or if not that, it’s a slip of the knife. Clumsy girl, but has a great instinct for cooking.”
“Miss Hadley? Can I please go?”
“Very well, young man. I’ll see you to the door.”
Just what I wanted to hear! A way out of the nightmare. When I got home, I’d hug my parents, then get in bed where it was nice and safe and there were no weird sounds, or locker monsters, or mystery meats.
When we turned the corner and the entrance came into view, my heart first sank and then started beating like crazy.
Standing in front of the door, with his arms crossed, was The Janitor. Except, he didn’t look like he looked during the day. During the day, he didn’t have a bunch of spikes coming out of his head, for starters, and he also didn’t have empty white holes where his eyes should be. He didn’t have long claws during the day, either… at least none that I had ever noticed.
“Let the boy pass, Bob,” said Miss Hadley.
When Bob the Janitor spoke, the sound didn’t come out his mouth. I was standing there facing him, and I heard his voice whispering behind me:
“‘Fraid I can’t do that, Miss Hadley. The boy shall not pass! Direct orders from You-Know-Who.”
Everything started to spin, and I felt woozy. “Come on dude,” I groaned. “I gotta get home. I’m sorry about the dildo, if that’s what this is about. I’ll never do anything like that again, I promise.”
I looked past the janitor monster and saw that it was starting to get light out. Even if I didn’t make it out right then, it would only be a few more hours until school opened.
Then I heard a hiss and looked up in horror to see some kind of gas coming out of the air vents in the ceiling. Then I was out cold.
* * * * * *
So much crazy shit has gone down in this crazy-ass school building over the past three years. If I ever make it out of here, I’ll tell the full story, but dawn is approaching, and I don’t have much time left. I’ll give you the basics.
Every day around dawn, the gas pours in through the vents and knocks me out. There’s no way to stop it… I’ve tried. Next, I wake up in a dark room, which is actually a sort of sub-basement dug into the basement floor and covered with a hidden hatch door during the day. At night, the hatch opens, and I am free to wander the halls of the school, if I choose.
I never want to, but I have needs. I need to eat, and use the bathroom. I need to shower in the locker room. I need to wash my clothes. I need to try to find a way out of this nightmare, even as it looks more and more like there is no way out. Plus, as bad as it out in the school, it’s miserable in my dark little hole, too. If I stay there too long, I start to lose it.
I have some theories about what’s going on, but I won’t get into them. A bit of light is coming in through the windows now. It’s almost time for my lights to go out for the day.
I’m at the computer lab now. I have very limited access to the internet, and it seems pretty random what sites I can and can’t visit. I can’t read any news, so I don’t even know if anyone’s out looking for me, or if my entire existence has been forgotten since I got trapped in this hell.
Lately, I’ve come across this forum. This is, for some reason, the only subreddit that I can read. I don’t even know if I can post, but it’s worth a shot. You guys seem like you’ve dealt with a lot of weird shit, so maybe you’ll take this seriously.
Please help me. My name is Emmett Emerson. I am at CAHS in Clairmont, Maine, USA. During the day, I am in the sub-basement, if you can find it. During the night, if you can somehow get in and make it past The Janitor, I am usually somewhere running away from monsters.
When I woke up that second night, I had no idea where I was. I was groggy from the gas, and it was pitch dark. I started shouting for help. My voice died as soon as it left my mouth, sucked in by the walls of the room I was in. I mean, I could hear myself, but there was absolutely no reverb… it was like the darkness was swallowing up the sound. I knew, in my gut, that nobody could hear me.
After a few minutes, the memories of the previous night started to trickle in, and I felt the terror all over again. One second I was looking at The Janitor, with those horrible crooked spikes growing out of his skull, and the next I was here.
I kept shouting, even though I knew it was useless, because it was all that I could do.
After a few minutes, I heard a loud creak and a hatch door above my head slowly opened up. I wasted no time in clawing my way the hell out of that hole.
I found myself in what I guessed was the basement of the school. It was dark in there, but I could see the boiler in the corner, with a bunch of little neon lights, buzzing away. I looked around in the darkness a bit for something useful, but it seemed like mostly junk.
Then I saw it, pressed up against the wall. I wetted myself for the second time in two nights.
I could see the dark outline of massive claws, and several insect-like legs. I took a step back and almost had a heart attack when I bumped into an old desk.
Where are the stairs? I wondered, not idly.
Then the room was suddenly flooded with lights and I almost laughed.
It was an old dusty Louie the Lobster costume. Louie was our school mascot. Just this ridiculous, lumbering, fuzzy red thing.
I turned around and saw the stairs. I was halfway there when I heard the snap.
I whipped my head around. There was nothing there. Just a bunch of old, useless bullshit.
I’m starting to lose it, I told myself. Understandably so. I gotta get out of this school!
I kept walking to the stairs, and this time, I heard two snaps and a skittering noise. Now, when I turned around, I saw Louie the Lobster crawling towards me. His pinchers were going wild, opening and closing, hungry. I watched in a mixture of disbelief and horror as he crushed the desk I had just bumped into between his mighty claws. The desk splintered into thousands of pieces.
I ran, taking the stairs two at a time.
I heard a crunch and felt the railing wobble. When I looked back, I saw that Louie had begun pulling himself up the railing, digging in with his claws and pushing off with his many legs. And he was moving fast.
I made it to the door just in time. I could feel the air rushing behind my ass as the snap of Louie’s claws was silenced by the closing door.
I kept running, down the hall, and back towards the entrance. I’d break that goddamn door down if I had to.
When I got to the door, I almost added some solid waste to go along with all the piss in my pants.
The Janitor was there, mopping the floor, whistling away. His back was to me, and I was at least relieved to see that there were no spikes coming out of his head. But when he turned to look at me, I saw those same two empty white holes where eyes should be.
“Can’t walk here, bub,” he said, in that crazy whisper that didn’t actually come from his mouth. “Wet floor. Not safe.”
I didn’t need any more convincing. No way was I prepared to take on The Janitor. At least not then.
I backed away, my mind whirling. The Lunch Lady, I thought. Sure, she had fed me a cut of what was almost certainly human flesh… but at least she had seemed willing to help me out of there.
I ran to the cafeteria. The lights were on, but I didn’t see anybody there.
No answer. I looked around and saw a tray of steaming food on one of the tables. There was a note next to it. I walked over and read it:
A growing boy needs his strength. Eat up, my dear. This is my best creation yet!
On the tray was a big plate of some more of those awesome mashed potatoes, some beans… and some kind of soup. The soup was green. Something was floating on top. I didn’t look closely enough to determine if it was a baby carrot, or a human finger.
I picked up the bowl of soup and put it on a different table. Then I sat down and dug into the mashed potatoes and beans. It was all so delicious. I wolfed it all down.
Now what? I wondered.
The previous evening, I had been too chickenshit to jump out of a second story window when Mr. Hillrow locked me into one of the classrooms. But way back then, I thought that I’d just be here for a few hours. If I’d known I was facing three years at least, I would have dove out head first, letting the glass shards tear my flesh to shreds, and letting my bones break upon impact.
Now, I was ready to get the hell out. And I was on the first floor, so I wouldn’t even have to worry about broken bones.
I finished up the Lunch Lady’s Special, or at least everything except the green soup, and took my tray to the trash can.
I decided on Room 108. I had Algebra there, and I knew that there was a big, tall window in that room. I crept down the hall, trying to sneak past The Janitor, who was still pretending to mop that same spot on the floor.
“The boy shall not pass,” he said, from behind me. Thanks, dick.
I made it to Room 108 and tried the door. It was unlocked. As soon as I entered, the lights turned on. The first thing that I saw was the chalkboard. There was a piece of goddamn chalk just floating in the air, writing out a message. It said:
A is for Atrocity. B is for Because. C is for Child. D is for Dared. E is for Escape. F is for… Fucked.
I tried my best to pretend that I hadn’t just seen that and turned to the window. What I saw there made the whole chalkboard thing look like a stroll in the park.
Standing in front of the window was a hideous creature, with gray and scaly skin, standing about as tall as an adult person. But it wasn’t a person. It had maybe a dozen arms, like tentacles almost, like a cross between tentacles and arms, just writhing away, feeling around. The thing had no eyes, but it had a nose… or rather two flat oblong holes where the nose should be… and a mouth. A red tongue wiggled over crooked and sharp-looking fangs, like a worm dancing on knives.
When I saw that first Wrangler (at least that’s what I call them), I pissed myself for the second time that night, third time altogether.
I booked it out of Room 108, my mind screaming for some kind of way out.
A phone, I thought. There’s got to be a phone. I know there is! In the office!
Getting into the office meant that I’d have to pass by The Janitor again. But his job just seemed to be to cockblock the front door, so I thought I had a chance.
At the school, there is a reception desk, out in the open, right by the main entrance. Just behind it is the main office, where they do the announcements. I figured there had to be a phone there. I mean, you call the school, somebody’s got to answer, right?
I kicked myself for not thinking it through the night before. I’d wasted hours just sitting by the front entrance, waiting for school to open again. It doesn’t matter, I told myself. You’ve figured it out now and that’s all that counts!
I snuck past The Janitor, and made it to the door of the front office. There was a little window in the door, the same as most of the other doors in the school. I looked in, and couldn’t see anything. It was dark in there. My brain screamed: too dark.
Just as my hand was on the doorknob, I noticed a pinprick of light coming from inside the room. That’s when it hit me. It wasn’t dark inside the room at all. The door was just covered in spiders. Thousands of pure black spiders, so dense that they looked like darkness itself.
I released the door handle and took a step back.
I’ve always been terrified of spiders. In Maine, most spiders are harmless to humans… but these ones looked particularly nasty, and given all of the other horrors in the school, I figured they’d probably paralyze me with one bite and then slowly eat me alive while I watched helplessly.
Still, I had to see if there was a phone in there. I grabbed the door and opened it just enough to have a look inside.
There was a phone in there all right… crawling with spiders, just like every other inch of the room. The walls, the ceiling, the floor. Spiders everywhere. On the floor, they were probably about a foot deep, crawling over each other, just this undulating black mass of massive, hungry spiders.
Nope. I gently closed the door and walked away. There has to be another way.
I wandered around the school in a terrified state. As I looked around, I saw a Wrangler standing in front of each window, their sickening appendages doing a slow dance, reaching and feeling for prey.
Windows were out, unless I felt up to challenging one of those things. Front door was out unless I felt like taking on The Janitor. The phone was out, unless I found a giant can of bug spray somewhere. But there had to be another way.
What is this nightmare? I wondered. Is this all really because I dressed up a dildo and put it on Mr. Hillrow’s desk?
Eventually, I found myself in the gym. I heard the echoing slap of a basketball repeatedly hitting the court, but I couldn’t see anything. Ghost basketball? The hairs on my neck shot up and I hurried through… to the locker room.
By then, I was pretty ripe with piss and sweat and whatnot. I needed to clean up. I walked warily past the row of lockers, remembering the locker monsters from the night before. Each one gave a gentle rattle as I walked past, letting me know they were in there, but not coming for me… for the moment.
There was an aluminum baseball bat propped up in the corner. I grabbed it, and headed for the showers. I got naked and washed myself with one hand, while I held the bat in the other, keeping my eyes peeled the whole time. Then I washed my clothes.
When I was done, I dried myself off with a towel and dried my clothes off under the hot air blower meant to dry your hands. It took forever, but by the time I was dressed again, I felt refreshed, and ready to take on the goddamn school and get out of there.
That’s when the gas came in through the vent.
* * * * * *
So that was night two out of, what, a thousand plus?
I realize there’s not much here to build grand theories on, I just wanted to give you guys more of a sense of what I’m up against here. This school does not want me to leave.
As to who are what is behind all of this… I’m not 100% sure. Maybe next time I’ll jump ahead a couple years and tell you about my time with Jason. That’s when a few things started to click together for me, and maybe you guys can help me solve the puzzle.
Meanwhile, please keep thinking of ways to help get me out. It really sucks in here.
On that note, I better get moving again. I’m going to try out “Later for Reddit” so that this can post during the day. I hope it works. And I hope that whatever’s clack-ing its way down the hall towards the computer lab right now doesn’t catch me and do something like tear the eyeballs out of my head.
It was never good news when the second hatch opened.
The first time it happened, Robin Phillips emerged, still looking beautiful despite being covered in sweat and (I guessed) piss. She threw a crazed look around the dark basement.
“Come on,” I said. “We better get moving.”
“Who the fuck are you?” she shrieked, cowering away from me.
I sighed. I’d had a huge crush on Robin for three years, and now my worst fear was confirmed: she didn’t even know I existed.
“Emmett Emerson,” I said. “I’m really sorry that this is happening to you, but we have to get out of this basement. There are bad things down here. There are bad things everywhere, but these ones are particularly aggressive.”
Robin started screaming. “Stay away from me!”
The overhead lights turned on. “We have to go right now!” I said.
Robin started sobbing. “What’s happening?”
“I’ll explain later. Right now, we have to go.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement. A red fuzzy flurry of movement. I grabbed Robin’s arm. She bit my hand.
“Don’t touch me!” she said.
And that was the last thing she ever said, as Louie the Lobster’s massive claw closed around her waist and sliced her neatly in half.
* * * * * *
Then there was the kid who refused to come out of his hole. I did what I could for him. I brought him food and water. I told him lies, like that everything was going to be okay. I did what I could, but it wasn’t enough. One night, I woke up and looked in his hole and he was dead.
There have been a few others. Darren Flemming, for example, who thought he could take on The Janitor. He couldn’t. Darren emptied the fire extinguisher in The Janitor’s face, and then swung the empty canister against the beast’s head. None of it did anything, and one headbutt from that spiked head was enough to end Darren.
Or not exactly. Darren is still here. So is Robin, and the handful of other kids unlucky enough to end up in this hellhole. They wander the halls as ghosts, moaning in despair.
Even in death, there is no escape from this place.
Talk about a shit sandwich.
Though I’ve eaten things here worse even than that.
* * * * * *
When I saw that second hatch open again, over two years into this nightmare, I thought it was going to be another insta-goner. I was at the point where I couldn’t allow myself to hope anymore, and it was a terrible feeling knowing that whoever came out of that hole was going to die very soon.
I reached down to give him a hand up. Even in the dark, I recognized him. Jason Porter. He’d been a freshman when I first got locked in here, which would make him a junior now. We’d talked a few times, and he’d seemed cool.
“Listen, Jason,” I said. “We have to get the fuck out of the basement, stat.”
“Sounds good,” said Jason.
I had it down to where I could already have my hand around the basement door by the time the lights flicked on, and Louie the Lobster became animated. Jason slowed me down a little, but we made it out with time to spare.
“Mind telling me what the fuck is going on?” asked Jason, as I closed the basement door behind him. “Like, for starters, who are you and how do you know my name?”
“You don’t remember me?” I asked, disappointed. “I thought we vibed. That was a couple years ago though.”
“Never seen you in my life, dude,” said Jason.
That’s when it finally occurred to me. Even if he (or the others) didn’t remember me personally, they had to have heard about my disappearance, right? Clairmont, Maine is a small ass town, after all.
“My name is Emmett Emerson,” I said. “You haven’t heard anything about me? I was a year ahead of you. We talked a couple times. More than that, I disappeared from the face of the Earth a little over two years ago. Ring any bells?”
Jason shook his head. “Wait,” he said. “Let me guess. Detention, right? You got detention with Ms. Falloway, and then woke up here. Christ, you’ve been in here for over two years?”
“Not Ms. Falloway,” I said, “Mr. Hillrow. I dressed up a dildo to look like him and named it ‘Mr. Dilldow.’ Other than that, yeah. Detention, then the monsters, then the gas. Two years of that shit.”
Jason was cracking up. “Mr. Dilldow? Holy shit, that’s hilarious! That guy is a dick! For me, it was just a harmless fart. Okay, I farted on somebody, but he thought it was funny too. Wasn’t a big deal, but Ms. Falloway lost it. Then she gave me some kind of speech during detention, locked me in the room, and… sounds like you know the rest. But if you’ve been here two years…. Jesus.”
I nodded. The kid seemed to grasp the severity of the situation at least. “You hungry?” I asked. “Let’s hit up the cafeteria and I’ll fill you in.”
Jason opened his mouth to respond, but no words came out. I saw the color drain out of his face, and then he finally spoke in a whisper. “Is that… a monster?” he asked pointing.
I tensed up and turned to look. Then I relaxed. “No,” I said, “that’s just Lilly.”
Lilly came hobbling down the hall, dragging the foot that was missing all of its toes behind her, a tray of food balanced dangerously on her one hand.
“Cafeteria closed again?” I asked.
“I’m afraid so, Emmett,” said Lilly, handing off the tray to me.
“Fire?” I asked. “Or rats?”
“Little from column A, little from column B,” said Lilly.
I looked Lilly over carefully. I didn’t notice any new body parts missing. Which, combined with what she’d just told me, meant that the burgers on the tray were probably rat meat.
You get used to it.
“Thanks, Lilly,” I said. “Give our regards to Miss Hadley.”
Lilly hobbled away and we sat down on a bench and caught up while we ate.
“Cell phone?” asked Jason, taking a big bite of ratburger.
“Mine’s dead,” I said. “Yours?”
“Ms. Falloway took it during detention and then walked off with it. How about landlines? Like in the main office?”
“Spiders,” I said. “Maybe a million of them. I’ve raided the chemistry room and thrown everything I could find at them. I think they’ve only gotten bigger.”
“Internet?” asked Jason. “At the computer lab?”
“Very limited,” I said. “It’s a crap shoot on which sites work, and I haven’t found one yet where you can actually communicate with people.”
“Never the windows,” I said. “Windows are out of the question. Stay away from the windows.”
“Fire alarms?” asked Jason.
“Don’t do a thing this time of night.”
“The gas… it comes out of the vents every morning?” said Jason.
“That’s right. And I’ve tried every trick in the book. Training myself to hold my breath. I got up to four minutes, but it wasn’t enough.”
“Have you tried leaving notes?” asked Jason. “Like in the lockers?”
“You haven’t seen the locker monsters yet?” I said.
“Oh,” said Jason. “Right.”
“I haven’t tried it myself, but I saw one girl do it. That was the only glimpse of an actual locker monster that I’ve gotten. The girl went to slip the note in the little vents there, and the door swung open. This tiny green arm shot out of the darkness and pulled her in, slamming the door behind her. I heard her screaming in there… even tried to open the locker, but it was closed tight. The screaming didn’t last long.”
“Oh,” said Jason, shoveling in a spoonful of mashed potatoes. “What about a note somewhere else? Somewhere that’s not obvious.”
“I’ve tried it all,” I said. “I carved a message into a desk. The next night, I saw that desk down in the basement, and a different one was in its place upstairs. I wrote on the walls in Sharpie. Next night, it’s gone. The Janitor goes around and cleans everything up. I did write one message that’s still there. But it’s on the underside of Mr. Hillrow’s desk. I took out all of the drawers and wrote it there. It worked, sure, but who the hell is ever going to see that?”
Jason finished his burger and burped. “Well shit,” he said. “How’s the library looking?”
“Not good,” I said. “I’ve only been there a couple times. I’ll just say this. You don’t want those bookworms crawling inside you. What they do when they get in… it’s not right… and where they come out of once they’re ready to leave… ug.”
Jason frowned. “What kind of grades were you pulling, before you got locked up here?”
“Cs, pretty much,” I admitted.
“Same here. We need that library. We’re not smart enough to do this on our own.”
“But the bookworms,” I said.
“Well, sounds like we got a couple different infestations around here,” said Jason. “We got the monsters and we got the spiders. Don’t see anything we can do about that right now that you haven’t already tried. Then we got the bookworms. And the rats. What if we catch the rats, and set them out as bait for the bookworms?”
I had to admit, it was a brilliant plan. I mean, he didn’t know that the rats were our main source of protein, with Lilly being a distant second, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him just then. So it was a brilliant plan, and I was glad to have somebody in it with me, who was eager to get the hell out of it with me. But in a smart way. Or as smart a way as we could muster between us.
“Let’s do it,” I said.
* * * * * *
We caught hundreds of rats in a big trashcan and set them loose in the library, peeking through the window in the door over the course of the week.
The rat trick worked. Soon, the hundred of rats were covered in millions of worms. That was our chance to grab a shitload of worm-free books.
We didn’t know what we were looking for. We’d been so reliant on the internet our whole lives, if we ever wanted to know anything, we’d just Google it. Now, we didn’t even know what we wanted to know. We just grabbed a bunch of books that looked like they might be useful.
We got books about spiders, books about the paranormal, books about the local history of our town, books on construction, science books, and so on.
While I was there, I found a copy of the yearbook from my freshman year. I wasn’t in there. I showed it to Jason, who found a copy of the yearbook from his freshman year. Neither of us was in it.
We collected dozens of books, and in a mad dash past Louie the Lobster, dumped half of them down into my hole, and half of them into his hole, so that we would have them there with us.
After that, we read. We read and we wandered the school and we talked.
* * * * * *
Jason had ended up with the local history bits. “You know,” he said one day, as we passed by the moaning ghost of poor Robin Phillips, “I’ve noticed something really weird. This book I’m reading. Keeps mentioning this one family as sort of starting this town, and sort of running things for hundreds of years. The Haldros.”
“Yeah?” I asked, making sure to walk in the exact center of the hallway, the maximum distance allowable from the locker monsters on either side of us. “Haldro. Doesn’t ring any bells.”
“Well here’s the weird thing. There’s a lot of sketches of the husband and wife who founded the town. Then there’s photographs of their decedents. And you know who they all kinda look like?”
I had an idea, but I didn’t say it. “Who’s that?”
“Mr. Hillrow, and Ms. Falloway,” said Jason.
I shuddered. “Okay. So?”
“Well, if you take Hillrow, Falloway, and dildo, and sort of smash them together, it would be kind of like Haldro, right?”
“Okay,” I said, “I understand, but I still don’t see where you’re going with this. How did you even come up with this shit?”
“Well, there’s something else,” said Jason. “The book is really weird. Most of the time, it stays the same. But at exactly midnight, one of the pages… changes. It’s the one about the way back history, the one with the sketch of the founders of Clairmont. Suddenly, the sketch becomes clear, not like a photograph, but almost. And it’s Mr. Hillrow and Ms. Falloway there, sure as shit, both looking pissed off. And then… the words change.”
Jason swallowed hard and went on. “It’s not about setting up a shipping route or whatever anymore. Now, it’s this weird religious shit. Talking about how God is disappointed in our perversions, and is establishing Clairmont as the last refuge for the holy or whatever. The violators of God’s holy word will be punished for their sins. And to do that… the Haldros are willing to strike a deal with the devil.”
We pressed up against a wall as we passed a Wrangler, and Jason finished up: “I mean, it’s not just the words that change… the whole thing is now written out by hand, in this crazy old-time talk. I’ve had to read it a bunch over the past three midnights. First, to make sure it’s real, and second, to sort of translate what’s being said.”
I felt dizzy. “Okay,” I said, after a while. “So, what, Mr. Hillrow and Ms. Falloway are really Mr. and Mrs. Haldro? And they’re, what, immortal beings who’ve been around hundreds of years? And this whole bullshit school is their way of punishing people who fart in class? Is this what you’re telling me? Seems a little extreme.”
Jason shrugged. “The page talks about somebody else too. Not the devil, and not a Haldro. ‘You-know-who,’ this person is called. Apparently, they’re the one running the whole thing, whatever it is.”
I thought back to my first night there. The Janitor had said: “The boy shall not pass. Direct orders from You-know-who.” I shuddered again.
“Good work, man,” I said. “I’ve been reading some shit too. This construction book’s got me thinking. Maybe we’re taking the wrong approach here. Hoping for an open window, or an open door. Maybe what we do is just smash through this motherfucker. All it is is drywall, insulation, maybe some wires in there, and then brick on the outside. Pretty simple, actually. Can’t believe I didn’t think of it before. Maybe because I knew that something would try to stop me. But if there’s two of us… I think we could do it.”
“Sounds good, man,” said Jason. “Let’s do it.”
* * * * * *
Over the next week, we planned it out. We found the perfect spot, far away from any windows, any lockers, and the front door. Far away from where the usual monsters lurked. We figured that would give us a head start, and, with any luck, we’d smash through to fresh air before they came for us.
There were always random monsters roaming around, like The Hall Monitor, which was a skeleton with two huge swords that would start running after you as soon as it saw you, to name one. But we couldn’t control for that. We had a good plan, but we needed luck too.
Our plan, after all that time, was really simple. We’d each grab two baseball bats from the locker room, go to our designated spot, and start smashing away.
I still think it could have worked. With the two of us.
Everything is so much harder when you’re alone.
But that night, I didn’t start out alone. I went to the locker room with Jason, and grabbed two bats. I was scared as Hell, and was running on pure adrenaline, trying not to think at all. I was on my way out when Jason stopped me.
“I’ve been saving this for a special occasion,” he said. He reached behind the lockers, where there was a gap between the wall and the back of the lockers, and pulled out a bottle of Captain Morgan’s. “Figure we need a little courage tonight.”
I had only drank a couple of times. I knew that it would give us courage, but also make us clumsy. “I don’t know, man,” I said. “Don’t you think we should be sharp?”
“Sure,” said Jason, unscrewing the cap. “But not too sharp. What if it comes down to a split second? A monster’s coming, and we’ve got just one more brick to smash. If we get scared, we die. This is all or nothing, man. This is it. We’ve got to be loose for it, you know?”
I didn’t know if I agreed or not, but after he finished taking a long drink, I had a nip. It burned the back of my throat, and the warmth spread out inside my body. I had another nip and then handed the bottle back.
“Okay,” I said, feeling the rush. “Let’s do this shit!”
“Hold on,” said Jason. “One more.” He tilted the bottle back and took two long swallows. “Okay,” he said. “Let’s do it!”
I led the way, my heart pounding in my chest. This is it, I thought. I’m either going to get out of here, or I’ll die.
I heard one of Jason’s bats tap against the floor, and I turned around. He was weaving slightly as he walked. “Shh!” I said. “Come on man. Got to be quiet.”
We passed a row of lockers, and I was relieved to see that the locker monsters were no more agitated than usual.
I saw the big hall window up ahead. Once we got past that, we were past the stationary monsters.
But we never made it past that window. Not the two of us, anyway.
I heard Jason scream as one of his bats clattered to the ground. I clutched both of my bats and turned to look at what I already knew what happening.
The Wrangler had a tentacle-arm around each of Jason’s legs, and each of his arms, dragging him closer to its hideous eyeless face. I made a step towards them and swung wildly. The Wrangler caught my bat in one of its tentacle-arms and pulled it away from me.
There was nothing that I could do.
The Wrangler lifted Jason into the air, upside down, so that their faces were inches apart. It sniffed Jason through its two ungodly nostril holes, then stuck out its red worm-tongue and licked him.
The Wrangler pulled Jason even closer, and I took a swing with my remaining bat. My weapon was pulled easily from my hands.
The Wrangler opened its maw and sunk its fangs into Jason’s cheek. I watched helplessly, with tears streaming down my own face, as Jason’s face was devoured bite by bite.
Then I was alone again.
* * * * * *
After Jason died, I stayed in my hole for two days, sick with grief. For Jason, and for myself.
We could have done it together. I can’t do it alone. I’ve worked it through a thousand times in my head.
I can’t do any of it alone anymore. That’s why I’m so grateful for you all out there, reading these posts, offering suggestions. Like I said, I’ve tried most of them, but, going through the comments, I do see a few ideas that I haven’t tried yet. Maybe I’ll give them a shot tomorrow night.
Meanwhile, writing this has been rough. I think I’m going to go to the locker room and find the rest of that Captain Morgan’s. Pour one out for my dude.
I’m gonna get out of this nightmare, buddy. Then I’m gonna track down You-know-who and shut this place down.
I farted into the bag.
Then I sat down in the seat where it all started. My seat in Mr. Hillrow’s class, where I had gotten detention for dressing up a dildo to look like him.
I took a deep breath from the air around me and held it. I watched the second hand move around the clock. One minute. No problem. Two minutes. Not breaking a sweat yet. Three minutes*.* There’s the strain. I knew I could make it to four minutes most of the time. At 3 minutes and 50 seconds, I opened the bag and inhaled the fart….
When I woke up on the floor, I knew that it wasn’t going to work. Apparently, farts don’t contain as much oxygen as I had hoped. Well, that sucked, but good to know. It’s why I was practicing in the first place.
I pulled the paper out of my pocket. I had written down one of the comments from my second post here, because it seemed really smart and fairly safe and was something that I hadn’t tried yet.
/u/ribnag suggested that I find — or actually create — oxygen, put in a bag, and breathe that in when the poison gas inevitably pours out the vents at dawn. That way, I could stay conscious, and try to escape during the day, when the school wasn’t full of monsters. Here is the full comment.
It was great thinking, but I couldn’t make ribnag’s suggestions work. For starters, we didn’t have a shop class. I actually remember my freshman year when Mr. Hillrow led a campaign to end it, claiming that the point of school was to build minds, not turn students into blue collar scum. By the way, that’s how I first came to know of him as a dick, because by all accounts, shop class was fun and easy.
Anyway, I couldn’t just grab an oxygen tank from a welding rig in shop class. As far as creating a reaction in the chemistry lab went, I just didn’t have the stuff. Every so often, I’d go around throwing various liquids and powders from there on various lesser monsters like the million spiders in the main office, and hope that they’d explode or shrivel up or something. They never did. So I ran through the stock, and it always took awhile for the school or The Janitor or whoever to replenish it.
The third suggestion was to create oxygen with water and a DC power source. All I’ll say about that is that I electrocuted myself seven times trying it, and didn’t get any oxygen as far as I know.
But the creativity of all of the comments, plus the specific premise of that one, inspired me to come up with my own idea. If I couldn’t find oxygen anywhere else, I’d just fart into a bag and use that.
As you can tell, it didn’t work.
But after all of the support and encouragement that you all have given me, I wasn’t about to give up. I racked my brain to make the general idea work. And then I had it.
I found a basketball in the locker room and stabbed it with a pen. I put my finger over the hole and held my breath. Then, when I couldn’t hold it any longer, I put my mouth to the hole and inhaled.
This time, it worked. At first, during the practice run, and then later, when the gas came. I stayed awake.
* * * * * *
I opened one eye a sliver and looked down to see the unmistakable work boots of The Janitor. I was slung over his shoulder. So that’s how I get down to the sub-basement every morning, I thought. That mean bastard carries me himself.
In my hand, I held the wad of old chewing gum that I had tediously scraped from under a whole lot of desks. I heard a door open, and then we were going downstairs. Into the basement.
I heard the creak of my hatch door open. As The Janitor was lowering me in, I opened my eyes another hair and took my shot. I stuck the wad of gum into the latch of the hatch door. Then I was on the floor and the door was closing.
I waited. I had spent three hellish years in that hellhole, but this felt like the longest wait yet. In reality, it was only a couple of hours, but it felt like forever. Finally, I reached up and tried the hatch door. It was heavy, but it opened. My trick had worked. The gum had prevented the latch from catching.
I crawled out of my hole into the familiar basement that I had seen so many times. There, as always, was Louie the Lobster, pressed up against the wall.
Out of habit, I started running to the stairs. But something stopped me. It should be morning now. The school should be full of people. The monsters should be gone.
I walked over to Louie the Lobster and poked him. I almost laughed. During the day, he was just a dumb costume. But then I thought about when Louie had cut my crush, Robin Philips, in half with his claws, and it wasn’t so funny anymore.
I grabbed a fuzzy red leg and tore it off. “Take that, you motherfucker!” I said as quietly as my adrenaline would allow. I tore off another leg. “You crustaceous asshole!” Then I went for the claws, tearing one of them at the joint, like Louise was a lobster dinner. “See you in Hell, Louie. Again, I guess.”
I felt good until I got to the top of the stairs. Now what? What if Mr. Hillrow saw me out there? Or somebody else who was in on it? Was the janitor in on it? During the day, I remembered, he just looked like a regular person. It was only at night when he turned into a crazy demon thing… The Janitor. Or so I thought.
I needed a distraction. I knew that there was a fire alarm right next to the basement door. I opened the door up, reached over, and pulled it.
As the alarm blared, and the lights flashed, I hurried down the hall.
Sunlight was pouring in through the windows. There wasn’t a Wrangler to be seen.
After all that time, I walked right out the front door.
* * * * * *
My car keys were in my backpack, which had been eaten by a giant electric blob in the pool room a year or so back. I had to hoof it.
I stayed off the main roads, and stuck to the woods. I got scraped up by branches and whatnot, but I didn’t even feel it. All I felt was the joy of finally getting out of that school, tempered only by the creeping feeling that it wasn’t real. They’d find me. They’d hunt me down and drag me back.
But they didn’t. At least not before I emerged from the woods at the clearing where my house stood. Man, that was a good sight.
There weren’t any cars in the driveway, which meant my parents probably weren’t home, but that was okay. They’d be back, I figured. I lifted the rock on the porch and sure enough, the spare key was still there. I stuck it in the door and opened on up.
As I went in, I got the sense that something was… off. It took a while to hit me, but I finally got it. All of the pictures of me were gone from the walls. I hurried up the stairs, swung open the door to my room… and it wasn’t my room anymore. There was a desk there, and a bunch of bookcases overflowing with books.
I sat down in the office chair, my head spinning. Okay, I thought. I should have expected it. After all, Jason hadn’t remembered me, and neither had any of the other kids. Even if they didn’t know me by sight from school, they should have at least heard of my disappearance. So I should have expected my existence to have been somehow erased from the outside world. I had no idea how or why, but I knew that it had been.
I stood up on weak knees and started pacing the room, trying to figure out what to do. If my parents didn’t remember me… then what? But they had to remember me, right? Christ, I’d lived with them for 16 years!
As I was pacing, I saw it, on a bookshelf, on top of a row of books. It was the name, written in black Sharpie, that caught my eye: EMMETT. I ran over and grabbed it. It was one of those single burnable CD/DVD cases from back when people used to burn discs. There was a disc in it, with the same thing written on the surface as was written on the spine of the case: EMMETT.
I walked it over and popped it into the computer on the desk. The screen lit up and asked me for a password. Fuck it, I thought, and typed out: EMMETT.
It worked, and the video started playing.
It was a video of me. First, I was cracking up at my “Mr. Dilldow” bit. Then Mr. Hillrow was giving me detention. Then I was in detention. Then I was in Hell.
The cameras followed me down every hall, and into every room. They recorded my entire first night trapped in that school.
Then there was something else. It was daytime again. Mr. Hillrow wheeled a TV into the classroom. “Today for class, we will be watching a video.”
The camera panned across the class. All the kids looked relieved. Video days, as rare as they were, always ruled.
I heard a hiss and watched as the camera pointed up to the vents, where a green gas rolled in like fog. This was different than the gas that knocked me out every night. That was white.
Now the camera was pointing at the TV screen. Mr. Hillrow was standing next to it, wearing what looked like a military-grade gas mask. He turned the screen on.
A man in an awful red mask appeared on the TV. The mask was like a horribly distorted human face, with no eyeholes. The eyes were meant to look like they had melted shut, with one down near a cheek, and the other up by the forehead. There was an unsettling, ear-to-ear grin, and the ears themselves were bad too: one was only half an ear, and the other was pointed, like an imp’s ear.
At least, I thought it was a mask. When the low, gravelly voice issued forth, I wasn’t so sure.
“Emmett Emerson does not exist,” said the demonic voice on the screen in Mr. Hillrow’s class. “You have never met him. All memories of him are false. Destroy those memories, for he has never existed. There is no such person as Emmett Emerson. He is not your classmate, and never was.”
The camera panned back to the students. Their eyes were open wide, and glazed over. As one voice, they repeated:
“Emmett Emerson does not exist.”
Then the video ended.
I was freaked right the hell out. At least now I knew why nobody from school remembered me… but what about my parents? And what was this video doing in their house?
I tore through what used to be my clothes closet looking for… something, anything that could help me get a grasp on what was going on. That’s where I found the mask. The same mask from the video.
Just as something important was starting to click into place in my mind, I heard a voice behind me.
“You must understand, son, you were never to be harmed. Only kept locked in.”
I spun around to see my dad, and all at once it hit me, like I somehow knew it all along. He was “You-know-who.” I felt dizzy and sick, and then puked all over the rug.
“Dad? You kept me locked up in that fucking school? Why?”
My dad sighed. “I had to. The prophecy was too close to fulfillment, and I couldn’t let that happen. You were only meant to be captive until the portal fully opened, which should actually be any day now. Then you would take your place by my side. You were never to be harmed, and I insisted that you have free reign at night. Mr. Haldro… you know him as Mr. Hillrow… wanted to keep you in the sub-basement all this time, but I wouldn’t allow it. Not my son. Not my Emmett.”
My dad gave a nice fatherly smile while my mind spun like crazy. Prophecy? Portal? My place by his side? What the fuck?
Still, there was one thing that I knew for sure. That school had killed. It had killed my buddy Jason, and who knows how many others. “Why did anybody have to die in that place?” I asked. “You killed them, didn’t you dad? Or you knew that they would die.”
My dad sighed again. “The school must be fed, son. At least until the portal is fully opened.”
“What portal?” I asked.
“It will all be clear soon, son. Until then… I am very sorry. It breaks my heart. But I must bring you back to school and you must stay in the sub basement. Not for long. But it’s what must happen.”
I couldn’t believe it or process it. My knees were weak and I felt on the verge of passing out. That’s when I saw him, come up behind my father. It was The Janitor, there, in my house, with his spiked head and the white absence of eyes.
“C’mon now bub,” said The Janitor, reaching out to me. “Time to be getting back.”
So that was it. I was going to live the rest of my life in that goddamned high school. I closed my eyes and felt that familiar warmth spread out across my crotch once again.
Then I heard a bang that made my ear rings. I thought I heard a thunk, but I wasn’t sure. I slowly opened one eye and looked down to see The Janitor lying face down on the floor, with a hole oozing black blood from the back of his head. I watched in amazement as his body shriveled up and then blinked out into nothingness over the course of a few seconds.
I looked up… and saw my mom standing there, pointing a gun at my dad, who had his hands up in the air.
“Now, now, Faye. Take it easy,” said my dad.
Faye, my mom, cocked the gun.
“Wait!” I shouted. I didn’t know at the moment whether I wanted my dad dead or not. I didn’t know much of anything at the moment. “Please tell me what the hell is going on, mom!”
My mom lifted the gun up and brought the butt down on my dad’s head. He slumped to the ground.
“Come on,” she said. “Help me tie him up and get him to the car. We have to hurry. It’ll be dark soon.”
* * * * * *
I still don’t know everything, and can’t tell you everything that I do know, at least not right now. But I’ll try to sum up what my mom told me as we drove around town like crazy, gathering up supplies, while my dad sat unconscious and tied up in the back seat. I’ll fill that in with a few things I’ve learned since.
A couple hundred years ago, my parents were on the run from the law. They hid out in the woods in the place that would later become Clairmont, Maine, and built their cabin near the spot that would later become CAHS.
One night, while they were outside cooking dinner over the fire, they saw a strange glow coming out from under a rock. They rolled the rock aside, and all of a sudden, they heard voices in their heads, telling them things.
They had found the portal. At the time, it was tiny, like the size of a quarter. I don’t know if it was a portal to a different universe, or just some place far away in our own universe. I do know that it was a portal to some place horrible, full of horrible things trying to make their way to our world.
The voices in my parents’ head told them that if they helped nurture the portal, and eventually open it fully, they would be granted immortal life and unimaginable powers.
The voices said that my parents must build a structure around the portal to house the creatures that, one by one, would come through it every night. Those creatures must occasionally be fed with human life. If they did this, over the course of hundreds of years, the portal would become larger and larger, until one day it would finally open wide and the barrier between worlds would dissolve completely, in an instant.
That is, unless the prophecy came true. That was me. I was the prophecy. The firstborn son would place The Object into the portal, closing it permanently.
At some point, the Haldros came wandering through the woods. My dad was wearing that creepy red mask doing some kind of ritual when the Haldros found him. They were on some kind of crazy missionary work, looking to set up a school of God’s Highest Word and Devotion. My dad pretended to be the devil and duped them into building and maintaining the school for him. They were all too happy to help, believing that they were doing the Lord’s work, and getting immortality too.
That’s how it started. For hundreds of years, my parents avoided having any kids, in order to prevent the prophecy from coming true. Then they got a little drunk one night, and whoops, here comes Emmett. That’s me.
The voices told my parents to kill me right away. Obviously, they didn’t listen, instead deciding to watch me carefully. Then, one day, they knew that there was no longer any avoiding the truth. The prophecy would come true, unless they did something.
My mom begged my dad to do nothing. To let the prophecy come true, and close the portal. As she begged him, blood poured from her nose, as the voices inside her head raged. She pushed them down.
My dad thought there was a way to have it all. All he had to do was keep me locked away until the portal opened fully. But my mom was resolved. She wouldn’t let him do that. So my dad did to her what he did to everyone else in that town: he erased all memory of me from her mind. He went around the house and removed all evidence that I’d ever been there.
And it worked. Until she took one look at me, standing there in my old room, and it all came flooding back to her. That’s when she shot The Janitor.
* * * * * *
We pulled up in front of the school. It was dark out, but I hoped that the monsters weren’t out yet. I hoped that they were still on the other side of the portal. If they were out, we were fucked.
We took the keys from my dad’s unconscious body and headed in. I couldn’t believe that I was going back in there, after just getting out, but it had to be done. We walked slowly through the building, checking for monsters. We lucked it. They weren’t out yet.
Then we were in front of The Janitor’s closet. In the three years I’d been locked up there, that was the one door that I never opened. It was always locked, and there was always this green light coming from the crack under the door.
That’s where the portal was.
“Are you ready, honey?” asked my mom, pointing the gun at the door. I nodded, stuck the key in, and swung it open.
We were too late. A big hole of crackling green energy was suspended in the closet, getting larger by the second. A Wrangler was just crawling out of it, reaching its horrible tentacle arms, feeling for prey. My mom fired, but missed the head, and then the Wrangler had her, wrapping around her neck and her arms and her legs.
“MOM!” I shouted.
“Do it Emmett!” she gasped. “Quickly!”
I turned to do it, but there was already another Wrangler there, and before I could think, it had me.
We were going to die. We were going to get our faces eaten off like Jason.
I felt the Wrangler squeeze me in a dozen different places, pulling me closer, and I closed my eyes. “I love you, mom,” I said.
“I… love you…” my mom whispered with what sounded like her last breath.
Then I felt the Wrangler’s grip loosen, and I opened my eyes. Standing there, with a huge butcher’s knife in each hand was Miss Hadley, aka The Lunch Lady. Right behind her was Lilly, but she only had one knife because she only had one arm. They were hacking away at the Wrangler that had been getting ready to kill me.
“Nasty old things,” said Miss Hadley, “aren’t they Lilly?”
“Yes ma’am,” said Lilly. “Reckon they’d make a fine stew though.”
I had one chance. I pulled The Object from my pocket.
Formally, in the prophecy, it was called “The Phallic Effigy.” But I still called it “Mr. Dilldow.”
I shoved the dildo (dressed in its tiny glasses and tiny necktie) into the crackling green hole.
There was a terrible shriek, unlike anything I’d ever heard. The portal grew massive and bright for a second, and then shrunk away into nothingness. It was gone. I looked over to my mom, and saw the Wrangler shrivel up and disappear. She was in rough shape, but alive.
I slumped to the ground in relief. We had done it. We had closed the portal for good.
* * * * * *
I wish I could call that The End, but it’s not. There are portals like this all over the world.
Once the portal at the high school closed, the voices in my dad’s head lost most of their power. He can’t believe that he locked me in that school. But it wasn’t him, and it took a lot of willpower just to keep from killing me.
The voices are still there, whispering, echoes from other portals. We’re going to find them and close them all. But now that the strongest voices are gone, my parents have also lost their immortality.
I really shouldn’t be posting this at all, but I couldn’t leave you all hanging, thinking that I’d died inside of that hellhole. After this, I do have to go on the DL for a while, so this will be my final update, at least for the foreseeable future.
I do have one more thing to tell you. We’re on our way to meet up with another team. There’s a kid there. You might know him as Calvin Dunlop. He posted his story a few months back. Apparently, the cults that he’s been fighting have become deep in this whole thing too. So we’re teaming up.
Calvin wants you to know that he’s doing just fine. He wishes he could update you, but it’s too dangerous. I know it’s dangerous, but like I said, I had to get this last one out to you.
Calvin says that you guys are the best. I agree. You guys gave me the courage and hope and creativity I needed to get out of that nightmare. And if I hadn’t, and that portal had fully opened… well, that probably would have meant the end of the world.
So you guys literally saved the world.
Check out Nathaniel Lewis’ dark horror comedy, The Electric Boner, now available on Amazon.com.
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