08 Sep Teenagers
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"Teenagers"Written by Ismael Zuniga
Estimated reading time — 16 minutes
As teenagers, we always looked for new and different things to do.
Years pass us by and we build up stories we can tell to our children, perhaps even grandchildren. We learn through various events and gain knowledge through tragedy. When I was younger I decided that when I’m nothing more but an old man, I will tell all of my stories and adventures to anyone who is willing to listen to them, in hopes that maybe they’ll learn something earlier than I did, or maybe to teach them that it’s okay to be wild every now and then.
Then again, there are those stories that stay in our heads. These stories are kept private, only belonging to those who have experienced them, and for the right reasons.
What I’m about to tell you is something that I’ve kept with myself for more than ten years. I was seventeen at the time when this happened. Twelve years later, here I am. I’m 29 now; I graduated from college, and got my house about a year ago. This story was never meant for the ears of others. Instead of a warning, my story may serve as a catalyst for thrill seekers. Please, if this story ends up to anyone else other than the investigators, don’t do anything stupid. By stupid I mean don’t do what we did. Don’t even tell others about it. What I’m about to write isn’t just some story to tell.
During the time this event happened, I lived in a place called Vallejo, near the border to another city called American Canyon. It wasn’t the best city to live in, but I met all of my best friends there and we always found things to do. The main attraction of our city was a Six Flags theme park, but you can only go to a theme park so many times until you’ve grown tired of it. Eventually, we explored various parts of our city and learned to love it.
During our junior year in high school (while I was the only one able to drive,) we decided to check out a place we’ve been hearing about. It was an old cement factory constructed around the late 1800s and early 1900s. It was quite active until it was shut down at around 1950. Since then it’s been rotting and crumbling. It was called the Standard Portland Cement Company, but to everyone else it was simply called “The Ruins.”
I volunteered to look for the location of The Ruins while my friends went on and asked their parents if they can go out late that night. To no surprise, most of their parents would not let them out, except for two people: Josh and Robert. Though most of my friends couldn’t go out, they insisted that we still go; they didn’t want to hold us back. A little bummed, but still excited, I drove to both of my friend’s houses to pick them up and went off to The Ruins.
It was about eleven at night when we got to our destination. We decided to go a little late because of the fact that The Ruins was on private property and no one was allowed to go in. I parked at a corner of a street a couple blocks away and told my friends some information I found out about the place. It had a pretty boring history to be honest. There was nothing exciting about its past; it was just a plain company. Not even a single rumor. We were sort of looking for a thrill, something to give us that ‘daring’ feel. Other than us trespassing, of course.
After telling them what I had read about the place, we continued with our adventure. We had to climb a fence and a couple of hills before we were able to see the old decaying company. The fence was about a quarter mile away from The Ruins, and nothing but plains surrounded the area. As we got close, I heard the low whistling of wind and the subtle sounds of tall grass rustling and brushing upon each other. During that time, I just couldn’t shake off the feeling that the sounds I was hearing from the grass felt forced and unnatural. I eventually came with the conclusion that it must’ve just been animals.
A few minutes later we were about one hundred feet away from The Ruins. A gravel path led us the rest of the way. We pulled out our flashlights from our jackets and examined the front. The Ruins looked nothing like it did long ago. I noticed that the number of buildings have decreased, as well as the size. There were huge, square shaped stones lying around everywhere. Tall, tan colored grass surrounded every building we could see. Piles of stone were placed against walls along with a few rusted wheelbarrows. Roofs were missing for every structure except for five: three silos, the rotunda, and another building near the rotunda. The building in front of us had a welcoming message spray painted into it – “Welcome to The Ruins.” Right under it, on the ground, were a bunch of beer cans, remnants of marijuana joints, and used condoms.
After about five minutes of exploring the front we decided to go on. We walked to our left and examined the first building we encountered – the rotunda. We pointed our flashlights to the walls of the building, searching for an entrance. We were met with graffiti tagged all around the structure and a closed garage-like door. We tried to open it, but the chain holding it down kept it locked. On the right side of this door there was a hole. It wasn’t big enough for an entrance, but it was big enough for our heads to fit through to take a look.
One by one, we peeked inside. When I poked mine in, I saw on the other end of the rotunda that there was a big mound of dirt that reached the top of the building and covered about a third of the ground. There were multiple holes both on the mound and roof, holes a little bit smaller than the one on the door. It kind of looked like an unfinished beehive. We wanted to go inside the rotunda, but it would have to be through the roof. Seeing that we had no way of getting up on the roof anyway, we quickly discarded the idea and went on with our exploration.
Next, we went into the nearest building (which also had a roof) that was about twenty feet away from the rotunda. This building is when things got a little creepy. Inside, hanging from the ceiling, was a rope similar to the ones used by executioners from long ago. Directly beneath it on the ground was a dark purple shade of residue and a knocked over stool. We were in silence for a few seconds, observing this unexpected scene. I walked up to it and took a closer look.
I picked up a branch on the floor and moved the residue around; it was sticky, and gave off a weird smell of something sweet, but rotten at the same time. As weird as it was, I couldn’t find any other way of explaining how it smelled like. I guess I should also say that even though it smelled horrible, something about it was alluring. I was getting dizzy, and felt compelled to actually taste it. For a moment, it became a craving. Right as the thought of putting it in my mouth crossed my mind, Josh bumped my shoulder with his fist with a slight smile. To us, this creepiness was exactly what we were looking for. That daring feeling we wanted from that night was being filled. So the rope and residue was really no big deal. If anything, we wanted more of it at the time. As for my thoughts of consuming the substance, it was never mentioned plainly because it seemed unnecessary to me for them to know at the time.
We examined the building a little more, but found nothing other than a large tube protruding upwards from the ground on the corner of the room. It was big enough for our bodies to fall through, so we were careful when we took a quick look. Josh pointed his flashlight down the tube while we observed the bottom of it. We saw several little critters run quickly from our vision. Then, we walked outside. To our right was the main building of The Ruins. Well, if you can even call it that. The only thing remaining of the main building was its walls. The roofs, doors, and windows were all absent; it was more of an outline of a building. Nonetheless, it was still intriguing to see what remained inside.
As we looked around, we saw a few structures still intact, but had no idea what some were used for. There were numerous blocks of stone lined up in the middle of each room, having a few feet of space in between each one. Some had metal bars poking out, which I’m guessing were used to support the roof. There were a couple of short tunnels with small canals of water on either side. It was pitch black inside the tunnels, but you were able to see the other end of it. As I passed by one of the tunnels, I could have sworn that I heard some noises coming from it. It only lasted for a second, but it sounded like there was someone snickering in the darkness. I was intrigued.
I called out to Josh and Robert, and told them I heard some weird sounds coming from the tunnel. Being the thrill seekers we were, and knowing that at least one of them would do it, I dared them to run through the dark tunnel. Without a word, Robert dashed right through. For the couple of seconds it took him to run through, we couldn’t see him. After he emerged on the other side, Josh gave it a shot. Robert and I watched in anticipation as he entered the tunnel. After a few seconds, Josh didn’t come out. We said his name a few times, which were all followed in silence.
Even though I was thinking that it was probably just a prank, I began feeling just a bit uneasy. My heart started to beat a little faster as I got closer and closer to the darkness to check on him. Inches away, something suddenly grabbed my ankle and I kicked away. A burst of laughter came afterwards as I saw Josh crawl out with his hand outreached towards me. We laughed about it for a while before proceeding.
We walked around some more. On the ground, I noticed multiple big square shaped holes scattered around the edges of the building. I’m guessing that they were at least twenty feet deep. They were filled with brown, murky water, and each had a large tube poking out from one of their walls. It was probably the company’s sewage system. The smell was foul, but I again smelled a hint of something sweet, something like the residue from the previous building.
Robert actually almost fell inside one of the holes. While Josh was looking around on the other side of the building, Robert was standing near one of them. I was a couple feet away from him taking pictures with my phone with my back facing him. I turned around and he commenced to lean forward, as if he wanted to fall in. Had I not quickly grabbed his arm and yelled at him, he would’ve definitely done so. Josh heard the commotion and ran to us. We asked him what happened, and he said that he had no clue, that he just blanked out.
After almost falling into the hole, Robert lost his motivation to explore; he just wanted to leave, but Josh and I wanted to look around a little more. After I checked the time and saw that it was almost 1 a.m., we kind of figured that we should be going soon anyways. We agreed with one another that we would quickly explore the other side of the building, where the silos were, then head back to my car. The silos were a little farther away from the building than the rotunda, standing near the edge of the hill the company was built on. We didn’t really know what to look for once we were there. We just kind of walked around it. Like the mound inside the rotunda, the silos had holes in them.
“I wonder what these were used for,” Josh asked.
“I’m not sure. Let me check it out,” I replied. I popped my head inside one of the silos. That was not a good idea. I was met with that same sweet, foul smell from the other building, but even stronger. The stench struck my sense of smell sharply. “Ugh! What the hell is inside here?”
“Here, let me use my flashlight while you look,” said Josh. He stuck his arm inside and turned on his flashlight. The silo was filled with the residue.
“Move your light around a bit, I want to see if there’s anything else. What is this stuff anyways?”
“Sure, and I have no clue.” Josh answered, and moved his flashlight from left to right, slowly. Then from bottom to top. Everything seemed okay, until I started to get dizzy again. I was mindlessly following the course of the light, and I felt my consciousness slowly slipping away. But, for some reason, I didn’t care. At this time, I wondered if this is what Robert felt when he was looking down one of the holes. The light reached the very top of the silo, and, for a split second, I saw something. Something looked at me, something like a face. I can’t remember how it looked like exactly. The only things I remember from that face were its hollowed eyes before I came to my senses and pulled my head out.
“What? You alright? What’d you see?” Josh asked.
“I think…I think I saw a face. I can’t really tell. I was getting dizzy from the smell, actually. Probably just something that was caused by it,” I claimed, trying to convince myself. “I’m sure that was it. Let’s go? I’ve had my share of adventure for tonight.”
“Yeah sure, lets. Yo, Robert, ready to go?” A few seconds of silence; no answer. “Robert?” Josh and I turned around and saw that he wasn’t there. We stood around for a while, wondering where he could’ve gone. We looked towards the main building and saw him walking quickly behind a wall. “There! Come on, Robert! We just saw you!” Josh yelled.
We ran to the main building to meet up with him, but once there he was nowhere to be found. “Where is this guy? Is he spooked?” I asked, “Stop messing around man! Let’s go!” At that moment, we heard the splashing sound of water. Quickly, we ran towards the room that the sound came from, fearing for the worst. It was the same room that Robert had his little incident. We looked inside the only hole in that room, and saw that the water was rippling.
We called his name out, hoping that he would emerge from the stench filled water, but to no avail. Then, we heard a muffled call for help from a familiar voice inside the tube. Josh and I gave each other a look; we had no idea how in the world he ended up in there. “Robert!” I yelled, “What the hell are you doing in there?”
“I…I don’t know. I don’t know how I got here. Guys! Please, help me,” Robert pleaded. I could hear the fear in his voice. Josh and I had no clue what to do. Even if only one of us jumped down to help him, the other would not be able to help them back up. Seeing that we had no other options, I decided that we needed to call the cops for help, even if we would get in trouble.
“Hey! Robert! Can you crawl to the edge of the tube? I’ll call the cops for help,” I asked.
“Do you have to? You guys can’t do anything?”
“What do you want us to do, man? We can’t do anything else right now. Just try to get to the edge, alright?”
“Alright, I’ll try. There’s barely any room in here,” he replied. As I pulled my phone out to call the cops, Robert’s hands were already visible. I saw them grab the edges of the tube, getting ready for the last pull before his head would be visible.
But they stayed there for a couple seconds, and the next thing I heard terrified me. “Guys…Something grabbed my leg,” and half a second after, he was pulled back in. His screaming quickly faded to nothingness.
Josh and I ran everywhere, hearing faint cries of help from the tubes all around The Ruins. The stench from the residue was all over the place now. After about a minute, we couldn’t hear him anymore. We heard nothing but our own heavy breathing. Then it came to me that there was one more tube we haven’t checked.
We ran to the building where the executioner’s rope was. As we entered, we stopped dead on our tracks and didn’t even bother checking the tube. The strength of the smell was ridiculously stronger here now compared to before, but that wasn’t what stopped us.
We looked up and stared at him with disbelief. Hanging by the neck on the rope was Robert, a dangling, lifeless body. An emotionless face with eyes wide open and popped out. He had tears and scratches all over his body, the results of him being dragged all over.
Confusion struck the both of us. Not more than two minutes ago, Robert was alive and breathing. I didn’t want to believe that he was dead. I didn’t want to believe this night even happened. I wanted to believe that he set all this up for a sick joke, but this was real. Josh went to the tube and started to throw up. “Who would do this?” I asked myself lowly.
“I don’t know, but we have to get out of here then call the cops. Let’s go, now!” yelled Josh, but I was still too busy staring in shock at my friend’s dead body. Then, I asked myself another question. Why did it seem like his body was getting skinnier and paler by the second? “Hey! Let’s go, we have to get out of here! The maniac who did this could be any-” Josh was then interrupted by a disturbing sight. Robert’s head moved, and looked directly at us. His mouth opened slightly, and spoke.
“Why didn’t you save me, guys?” he asked, but his lips didn’t move. “Oh, that’s right,” he continued to say, then gave us a smile, “you couldn’t, even if you tried.” This time, his voice was anything but his. It sounded as if it belonged to a young boy, backed by some otherworldly deep tone; something evil. “Don’t move, both of you are next.”
Robert opened up his mouth even more, and some sort of dark goo started to pour. It was then accompanied by multiple brown, hairy, disgusting tentacles. As this is happening, his body continued to shrivel, even faster, with his head completely unaffected and still staring at us. I’m not sure whether Josh and I were too scared to make a move, or if the stench was alluring us to stay, or if it was Robert’s command. Helpless, we watched in horror. My heart felt hot, my stomach felt sick, and my legs felt numb. I have no doubt that Josh was feeling the same. We watched Robert’s body until it was nothing more but fragile bones and dried skin, which then led to his head completely snapping off from his body.
Robert’s body and severed head fell to the ground, landing right on top of the residue from before. The body landed on its stomach, and attached to the back of his body were three hairy figures. They started to shake, almost simultaneously. They shook violently then lifted from the body, revealing the same tentacles that came from Robert’s mouth. They were heads. They were all heads moving without a body. Severed heads with hairy fucking brown tentacles.
I figured that these things were draining my friend’s body of nutrients. Then Robert’s head started to move again, being pushed up by the tentacles along with the others. Snapping out of my frightened state, I grabbed Josh’s arm and yelled at him to run before things got worse, though it didn’t take long.
We ran out of the building from where we entered. Those things followed not too soon after. Behind us, we could hear the quick, scurrying sounds of our pursuers. “Go, go, go!” No damn way these things are going to get us, I thought to myself. Until we passed by the rotunda, I didn’t think about looking back, but something bothered me when we did. The scurrying sounds seem to have multiplied. When I looked behind us I saw something that made my heart race even faster.
From the rotunda, jumping from the holes on the roof and door were countless other heads joining the chase. Like ants emerging from an ant hole. The heads, angled at about 45 degrees looking towards the ground, were mostly decayed, with the freshest one being my friend’s. Their tentacles held them a few inches off the ground, and left a trail of dark residue, leaving behind that now too familiar smell.
I turned my head back around and paid attention to where I was going, focusing on getting out of this godforsaken place. Josh was a few feet ahead of me, constantly cursing under his breath. I could hear them getting closer. “Come back!” pleaded another unfamiliar voice with a mocking tone, but I knew it was Robert. His voice changed again. Chills ran down spine during our run, goose bumps covered my entire body.
This is it, I thought. They’re going to get us. They’ll catch us soon; they’re faster than us. They got closer, and closer, and closer. I was able to feel the ground rumbling from the sheer number of those things chasing us. Just when I thought we would be done for, the noises stopped.
We ran for a few more seconds before I realized it. “Josh, wait.” We both stopped and turned around. We were faced with an unnerving sight. Behind us were hundreds of heads, scattered all around. Most were on the ground while some clanged on to walls. They all stared at us, giving us a terrifying look of hunger and murder, but refused to go on any further. It’s like they had a border they couldn’t cross for whatever reason. We surely didn’t care what reason they had for stopping either. Before running back to my car, I looked at Robert’s head one last time. He was at the front, being the one who led the chase. Though he had those damn tentacles sticking out of his mouth, he gave me the most frightening smile I’ve ever seen.
When we got back to my car, I drove a few blocks away before calling the cops. Within minutes, those flashing red and blue lights pulled up behind us. They asked us what happened, and we told them. They inspected The Ruins despite our warnings. They didn’t find anything. Everything was gone, even the smell that flooded the place! So, of course, they didn’t believe us. They thought we were just a couple of teenagers high off shrooms, let us off with a warning, and sent us home. As for Robert, I found out from his dad that he snuck out that night to spend some time with us. When word of him spread that he was gone, he was simply viewed as a teen that ran away from home, but Josh and I knew what really happened. It was hard for us not to say anything to our friends, and even harder for us to watch Robert’s family endlessly searching. From then on, we tried our best to go back to our normal lives, pretending nothing ever happened on that unforgettable trip.
I had nightmares almost every night after that day. Same with Josh. We both had the same nightmares and privately talked about them. We would relive that faithful day, but were powerless to change anything about it. After a few months it stopped, and we weren’t bothered in our dreams ever again.
We were able to live normally. We finished college and got jobs. He became a computer engineer, I became a teacher and started writing my own book. Everything seemed to be falling into place. After a while, that night was never brought up again.
Other than our first encounter with the police, we kept this experience to ourselves and never told another soul. I was never planning on telling this story, but decided to do so because of recent events. Yesterday, I found out that Josh’s body was found in his apartment with a missing head and shriveled body the day before. Given the condition of his body, it was said that he has been dead for months, which was impossible. I talked to him last week.
Fearing for myself, I wanted to call the cops. Before even given the chance to, the FBI called my cell phone yesterday, asking me if it would be possible for them to ask me questions about our past experience in person. I agreed, and planned to meet with them here at my home tomorrow.
Why am I telling my story on paper then? I have a feeling that I won’t make it until tomorrow. Actually, I know I won’t make it until tomorrow. This is most likely the last thing that I will ever write.
*Save document* *Print*
It’s raining outside. It’s raining hard. I can hear the peaceful sound of raindrops hitting the roof of my home and the loud cracks of thunder strike the night sky. I take my glasses off for a brief moment to rub my eyes and put them back on. I get up from my desk and head to my living room window to open my blinds. I look outside and see a couple of familiar faces with hunger filled eyes staring at me. They’ve been here for a few hours now, mere inches away from my window, being held up by those damn tentacles. I don’t know what’s stopping them. The fear I feel now is immeasurable, but this is a situation I can do nothing about, so I choose to face it.
Lightning strikes again, giving me a chance to have a glance of what lied ahead of me. Momentarily, the light revealed the other hundreds of pairs of eyes hungrily looking into mine.
All accompanied with the most frightening smiles I’ve ever seen.
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