Estimated reading time — 10 minutes
Please consider reading Funland, by the same author, before proceeding with this story. Thank you!
I live in a small town in Massachusetts where nothing big ever seems to happen. However, a few years ago, my older brother was in a pretty bad car accident that seemed to leave him more mentally damaged, as opposed to physically. Our parents ended up putting him into the local psychiatric facility, Tewksbury State Hospital. My family has never really talked about it much. I was too young to understand what exactly was going on at the time. All I knew was one day my brother was perfectly fine and then the next day, he was up at that creepy, rundown place they call a hospital. I didn’t even know it existed until then, and I’ve lived here my whole life.
The incident happened when I was a freshman. It had been raining out and my brother was driving on Main Street. He hit a pole in front of our local Domino’s Pizza. But from what I’ve heard here and there, from whispered conversations between my mom and dad, and stories from upperclassmen, the accident had something to do with this abandoned park right next to the Domino’s, across the street from the Country Club. It used to be a mini-golf course called Funland. I never even glanced at the place more than once or twice. All I ever saw were trees and a fence. But recently I noticed some of the trees had been cut down and I could actually see into the park for the first time. What could be in there that did so much damage to my brother? I needed to find out.
My friend Matt knows more about the park than anyone else I know. He’s really into creepy, abandoned places. His girlfriend Jenny has been taking pictures since her first art class. She likes going to these random places and taking photos. The old Funland park has been on their list of places to explore for awhile now. They came to me a few weeks ago and asked if I wanted to check it out with them. Matt is the only one of my friends that knows what happened to my brother, or at least all I know about it. My parents have forbidden me to talk about it to anyone. I’m not even allowed to ask them questions. It’s something that’s been gnawing at me for the past few years. I want to know what happened to him. I want to know what’s inside that decrepit old park.
We finally went there about a week ago now. Matt insisted we go about half an hour before sunset, that way Jenny could take some pictures in the daylight and he could scope out the park for safety purposes.
“You can never be too careful in places like these,” he told me. “You never know what could be there.”
According to him, some local kids have been getting over the fence from the back left side, behind what used to be batting cages. It was a good thing we went during the dry season. That whole area is prone to flooding. Heck, the whole town is. Who’s bright idea was it to build on swamp land?
When we got to the fence, we could tell where and how people have been getting into the park. There were several spots where the fence was actually crushed down or raised up, allowing us the option to jump over or crawl under. We picked the first option, using a convenient pile of boards to boost ourselves up. Matt dropped down first, making sure the area was clear before he helped Jenny over.
Once we were all officially in the park, I sort of just stayed back and let Matt and Jenny do their thing while I looked around. Jenny was off taking pictures of the old batting cages. It was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. There were even baseballs left in the automated pitching machines, but they were rotted and brown with decades of exposure. When I looked over at her, she was beaming from ear to ear, her camera snapping away at one of the machines. It’s coat of green paint was faded, but you could still see the number 6 written on the side. Matt was standing in the central area, just outside the cages themselves. It looked like someone had set up a makeshift skate park. There was even a go-kart sitting there, still intact.
“Let’s go around the golf course first. It looks like it’s still going to be hard maneuvering in there, even with most of the trees gone.” Jenny and I nodded in agreement as we followed Matt further into the park.
The course was even more run-down than the batting cages. The fake green turf at each hole was muddy and covered with old leaves. The first structure we saw was what we assumed, at first, was a shed. It turned out to be a doll house that was even taller than me. It even had a balcony. There were bits of glass from the windows that were scattered around, smashed and cracked, either from decay or vandalism. I was actually pretty impressed that there wasn’t more vandalism. It’s one thing if you want to appreciate an old place by just looking at it and taking pictures, but it’s another thing to break stuff or spray paint over everything. That’s just not right.
If there had been anything in the fake house before, it was all gone now. Moving forward, we saw a little wishing well. The roof was red with real slating and the foundation was brick. We found a huge, white rocket ship that sat at the center of the course with the word ‘Funland’ written on either side of it.
“What’s that over there?” Jenny asked, pointing in the direction of a smallish white building at the entrance.
“I think it was an arcade,” Matt replied. “And that little one in front of it looks like where you get the golf balls and putters, you know?”
“Yeah,” I replied, scanning the area. Then something caught my eye. “What’s that thing over there?”
It looked like a weird little wooden shack with a sort of transparent door. The turf area was inclined and went under the door.
“The 18th hole,” said Jenny, snapping another picture. “It says so right there.”
“Yeah, but what’s it supposed to be?” I asked.
“It sort of looks like an outhouse,” Matt pointed out.
“Oh, I see it now. Weird.”
“‘Ring Bell For A Free Game With A Hole In One.'” Jenny read. “Hey, what’s this?” She bent forward, brushing some of the leaves out of the way of what she was seeing.
“What is it?”
“It’s a cell phone,” she said, turning it over in her hand. The thing looked ancient and caked in dirt. “There’s no use trying to get it to work. At least I can get a picture,” she said, placing it back down on the ground to do just that.
“It looks like something should be inside here,” I pointed out, stepping onto the turf mound as I peered through the transparent door.
“We’re losing sun,” said Matt, gesturing for Jenny and I to follow him as he turned back to where we came from. “I want to take a look at this storage shack.” Jenny and I followed after him.
When we reached the rectangular white building, Matt and I both searched for some way to peek in while Jenny took her last few photos in the twilight. There was a large metal door on one side, but it was clearly padlocked. On the opposite side, hidden behind some brush and one of the batting cage nets was a normal size door. It was also metal but it was a bit rusted and it didn’t have a noticeable lock, just a metal bar that read, ‘PUSH’.
“Are we going in?” I asked.
Matt looked around carefully before deciding. “If we can,” he said, pushing down on the metal bar. The slightly rusted door moved about an inch, if that, but with a few good kicks, it slammed open with a echoing thud.
“So much for being quiet.”
“Let’s go,” Matt said, turning his flashlight on as he stepped inside the building. Jenny followed him, her eyes scanning every corner for a photo op. I took my own flashlight and causally looked around.
There was stuff everywhere; clubs, bats, golf balls, baseballs, some go-kart parts, and random pieces of wood and metal. But besides all of that junk, there were plaster and wooden figures, and other pieces from the mini-golf course. A huge gray elephant looked like it had been tossed in a corner, and a giant giraffe with weird, alien-like eyes was shoved on top. They looked so strange just laying there, as if they were dead.
I almost turned back, feeling a little creeped out, to be honest. Then something else caught my eye. To me, it looked like an old mascot costume of some sort, but then I noticed the wires coming out of it, as well as the glint of metal limbs. I stepped close and shined my flashlight right on it. I couldn’t even tell what animal it was supposed to be, the fake fur was just too ratty. The wiring and metal that made the arms and legs were exposed here and there where the fur had ripped away. The head of the thing was sitting oddly on it’s shoulders, somehow making it seem more alert than the figures around it. I still couldn’t tell what the thing was supposed to be, so I knelt down in front of it and shined my flashlight in it’s face. It was a dog; a big, goofy dog in overalls. One of it’s eyes was completely gone, with just wires pouring out of the socket and down it’s face. The other eye was in better condition than I would have guessed; the black dot that was the pupil looked as fresh as the day it was painted. Shining the light around, I could see the entire metal structure of the head. Only the fur on the side with the good eye remained intact.
“Guys, come look at this,” I called out. “I found some kind of animatronic thing.” I reached towards it, wanting to lift the good section of brown material up to see the whole face, I figured Jenny would love to take a picture of it.
Suddenly, the eye moved. I cannot stress this enough, I saw the eye move. I let out a sharp word or two and fell backwards onto the ground, dropping my flashlight in the process. I watched it roll just out of my reach before I turned back to the animatronic. My eyes widened. It was standing up. The weight of it’s head looked like it would fall to it’s chest if it had to look down, but it could see me perfectly with the head cocked like that, I could feel it. I watched it’s jaw creak open as if it were about to speak, but the whole thing snapped down with a clang, dropping a few inches down, barely being held up by the wires in the dog’s face.
Without of any sort of man-made sound from a voice box or anything, the dog spoke. It’s words were chillingly smooth, as if a person were standing before me instead of a hunk of rust and wires. It was angry.
“What do you think you’re doing?” It asked, taking a shaky, clanking step closer.
I was too afraid to move. I was frozen, staring up at the dog in terror.
“Get out,” it whispered, the angry tone still noticeable in it’s voice. “Get out of here. Now.” The ‘now’ was significantly deeper, almost demonic.
“Where are you?” I heard Matt call. “You’re supposed to keep your flashlight on.
I turned my head to call out to him, but no words formed. I heard the animatronic’s eye move in the same direction, before it once again peered down at me, regaining my attention. We stared soundlessly at one another until Matt spoke again.
“I found your flashlight,” he said, having picked it up from the ground just a few feet away, scanning one side of the room with it while passing his back to Jenny. Then I was blinded as one of the beams of light was turned right at the animatronic. It looked even more terrifying standing up.
Then I heard Jenny scream. “Wh-What is that? Why-How did it just move?” I heard the shudder of her camera and watched the flash light up the dog’s face even more. She gasped and the camera fell to the ground with a thud. “Matt! We have to go. Now!”
“C-Come on!” shouted Matt. “Get out! Both of you! Let’s get out of here!”
I clamored to my feet at his voice, only to be stopped just before I turned to leave. One of the arms of the animatronic shot out, the cold metal hand wrapped around my throat in a vice-like grip. I couldn’t breathe. I stared astoundingly into the one good eye of the thing, trying to pry the sharp, metal fingers off. I winced, feeling them pierce into my flesh. Growing weak from the pain and the lack of oxygen, I hung limp in the dog’s clutches. My eyes never left his, until I felt myself fly across the room and smash against the wall, before everything went black.
When I finally gained consciousness, I was lying on my back in the parking lot beside Matt’s car.
“You’re awake!” Jenny said, tearfully. Looking into her face, I could tell she had been crying.
“Get in the car! Get in the car!” I could hear Matt yelling.
Jenny tried to help me up, but she couldn’t muster the strength and I couldn’t manage to move; I’m not sure if it was from the pain or the shock. Matt shooed Jenny away and pulled me into his backseat. He and Jenny got in soon after and we peeled out of there as soon as Matt’s foot hit the peddle.
They took me to the hospital and said that I fell while skateboarding and rolled down a hill. It was totally plausible; I skateboard at the park almost once a week and the hill they were referring to was a man-made rocky hill. Both the hospital and my parents believed the story, so the three of us could at least feel some relief.
After that, the three of us became very withdrawn, at school and at home. I want someone to talk to about this so badly, that’s why I’m writing this. Maybe in some weird way it will actually help. But I have to be quiet about it. I can’t tell anyone what happened in there. None of us can. If we do, our parents will just put us away like they did my brother. Jenny wants to go back so she can find her camera, but Matt keeps telling her to just let it go.
I’ve been having these nightmares every night since. I’m running through the park and the dog is right on my heels. I’ll never forget that clanging sound. I still hear it. If we could get our hands on that camera, maybe people would believe us. Then they’d have to let my brother out. He isn’t crazy. None of us are. I saw it! I saw that dog. …I still see him, standing in the corner of my room. He doesn’t say anything, he just stands there, staring at me with his one good eye. I’ve considered trying to take his picture one more time, but he won’t let me. I can fight him off eventually, I know I can. I’m stronger now. I can get my brother out of that place. I’ll find the proof. I just…I just need to get away from this dog.
I should never have set foot in that old park…
Credit: Daron Silvers