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Mitch, Bill and I knew this church well. We all grew up going to it. Now of course we had all ‘fallen away’ so to speak. It is not a hard church to get into. The second floor windows were never locked and there was no one in the neighborhood ignorant of how to get on the roof. We however were the only ones who knew about the windows. The only ones who would sneak in and hang out. This time however we decided to bring a 30 pack of beer and get drunk in it.
Bill carried the beer downstairs and set it down on one of the 3 large steps at the front of the stage. The auditorium did not fall into the standard of what people would imagine, where seats were permanently mounted to an inclined base. The floor was flat and carpeted, folded chairs stacked neatly against the wall. If you were facing the stage you could feel light filtering in at your right. That entire wall was windows save for a double door which marked the mouth of a hallway in the corner of the room. They opened to show a serving counter from the kitchen while the main door was down the hall. As Bill tossed me a brew I decided to see what the church fridge had to offer.
Down the hall I walked to the main kitchen door, releasing the musical crack and hiss of the beer in my hand. The kitchen was noticeably darker than the rest of the church. It was still plenty bright enough for me to see, although that may also be attributable to the fact that I already knew the kitchen. Someone who had not been there before might not have been able to get around so easily. I found the fridge quickly and it only took half a second to recognize that it was empty. The freezer however had a carton of ice cream ready for raiding. With a beer in one hand I grabbed 3 spoons and laced them in my fingers as my free hand grasped the loot.
“Look what I found!” Energy filled my voice. The pre-buzz excitement was exacerbated by the fact that we were drinking in a church that we had broken into.
“Ooooooh!” Bill and Mitch returned in college frat fashion. Their energy obviously matching mine.
The night continued with poor piano playing, jokes in poor taste and contests to see who could do the best tricks with a wheel chair. This joy turned to intense caution when we heard a noise from the hallway near the kitchen. All of us looked first to the wall of windows to make sure nobody was looking inside.
“I think someone is unlocking the door.” I whispered. Further down the hall way, passed kitchen door, was a door to the parking lot.
The three of us moved quickly to the hallway and looked down to see if a shadow was pushing into the hallway at the other end. No silhouette, just the clean cut of light laying on the floor by the exit. Bill began to walk forward wanting to get a closer look and make sure.
“I am going to go check the other door.” I declared.
There was a hallway on the other side of the stage that mirrored the hallway with the kitchen. I ran down and stared out through the glass of the other exit door. The parking lot remained well lit and empty. It felt like an eternity but in truth I only observed for about a minute. Turning to rejoin my friends by the kitchen, the church suddenly carried an eerie look about it. It was no longer familiar. Every shadow seemed darker than before, full of danger and though I did not see anyone outside, the distinct feeling that somebody was there now overloaded my mind.
I ran quickly but quietly, arriving at the mouth of the hall by the double doors slightly out of breath.
“Nobody there,” I reported quietly. That was what my eyes had told me but the odd feeling I had on the way back had generated doubt in my sense of vision.
Bill was still watching out the exit door at the end of the hall while Mitch stood just passed the door to the kitchen. The noise came again. This time it came from the Kitchen and again it sounded like somebody had come through a door. Of course that made no sense. There are three doors to the kitchen. The double doors leading out to the auditorium, which had a counter you had to climb over, the hallway door and a door leading outside. I was standing near the double doors at the mouth of the hall, Mitch by the main door halfway down the hall. The third door could be seen by Bill as he watched out the exit door at the end of the hall.
Now it was not a fear of people or being caught. It was a curiosity of what was getting us so rattled. Mitch turned and leaned into the kitchen. As Bill stood and walked over to him I opened up the double doors in the auditorium. I leaned over the serving counter scanning the kitchen. All was quiet, not a thing out of place. Clean, quiet and terrifying. Our curiosity was the driver now though. We had to see what it was that generated this fear.
Mitch walked into the kitchen and stood at its center. Bill followed him in but only a few steps. He stood still holding the door, obviously ready to turn and flee. The three of us scanned the kitchen over and over again. We looked for odd shapes, out of place shadows but failed to find anything unusual. With each search we gain back some level of comfort but never enough to let us relax our shoulders or blink.
Mitch turned with a smile and began to let out an uncomfortable chuckle. He was suddenly interrupted by the sound of smashing pots, pans and other metal kitchen objects. We all jerked our heads over to the sink at my right. It was clean and undisturbed. The smashing continued and I turned my head over to the opposite side of the kitchen. In my quick and frantic scan I did not see anything out of place. The counters were untouched and cupboards closed The source of our vociferous kitchen band remained hidden. By the time my head was fully turned I had seen Bill’s last step through the door and Mitch on his way out with matched fear.
I pushed myself back off the counter and fell over my own feet, frantically twisting to begin my run. My strides projected a demonstration of terror. Across the auditorium and down the other hall because there was no way in hell I would pick the closer door. I had to run alongside the kitchen to get to it and after I got out I would still have to run past the outside kitchen door. Bill and Mitch had the same thoughts choosing their escape route too.
It seemed like I wasn’t making space. Wherever this loud crashing came from it got more intense as I ran. Where others would scream poetic profanity I breathed heavy and pumped my arms with the powerful cadence of my feet. Louder and louder the evil symphony got. Bill hit the exit door hard without slowing down. Now the smashing was happening right next to my ears. I could have sworn people were hitting pots, pans and spoons together just on my shoulder. Then Mitch made it through the door with equal enthusiasm Bill’s exit. I saw the door swing wide and hard hitting the outside wall but I could not hear it. The noise of the kitchen was pulling ahead. Something I could not see was closing around me. My ears were so abused that my eyes began to hurt.
I have to get out. I cannot slow. If that door swung back around I would break it off the hinges. This crashing turbulence was tangible, surrounding me and tearing my ears a part. Until my shoulder drove through the door. The pots and pans stopped abruptly, replaced with a wicked and malicious laugh. I continued my pace, focused on staying with my friends. The laugh faded and the presence that had almost surrounded me was not in pursuit.
Once outside we of course did not stop. Who would? The three of us were both in good shape but this run would impress an olympian. Once we got away from the church the road was dark. All of us continued until the next well lit street.
Bill stopped directly under a street lamp, hands pushed down onto his knees as Mitch and I joined him. Our collective attention stared up the dark street we had come from, watching yes, but most of all listening. Heavy breathing was all that filled the darkness.
“What the fuck was that?” Mitch said. Keeping is voice low.
Bill and I did not answer.
Credit To – Mancub2489