In the middle of a city lays a dark secret; the secret was closed down, boarded up, and forgotten. But late at night, there are those who like to walk the halls, spend the night as a dare, drink, take drugs, and try to scare one another. Then there are those who have the desire to know, armed with strange equipment and the hope to see something that will give them answers.
Three people walked down a road aimed at the center of the city, led by one, they strode the streets at night with confidence. Arriving at the secret, their feet stopped, and they stood on the opposite side of the road, staring it down, without knowing what they were really looking at.
“Damn, this place is creepy as fuck; I bet heaps of ghosts live here. I can’t believe I have never come here before.”
“Shut up, Charlie, it is an abandoned building, it really is not that creepy, and ghosts don’t just live in creepy buildings anyway.”
The taller of the three individuals turned to the shorter, stouter one.
“The whole point of coming here was to prove that ghosts exist, Alex. We have all seen the news; there have been so many weird things happening recently. The ghost world is waking up.”
“Kit, come on, you know I am a believer; why do they always have to be in creepy places? It seems a little cliché.”
Kit turned back to the building and smiled.
“It is not creepy that they need it; it is forgotten. They need their space to grow, to be able to appear without the interference of humans, but it needs to be somewhere people have been so they can tether themselves to the mortal plane. Or, at least, that is the theory.”
Kit trailed off as they held their backpack tightly and sniffed in the cold air.
“Come on, guys.” Kit said, looking back to the others. “Let’s go find some ghosts.”
The three individuals walked across the road to where the old building stood; it had large stone walls surrounding it, with metal spikes across the top, and the old metal gate had warped, and rusted with neglect and abuse, allowing the three of them to squeeze through into the unkempt grounds.
“What was this place before it was shut down?” Alex asked as they struggled to fit through the gate with their satchel.
“It was an orphanage.” Kit answered.
“Oh, proper creepy. What the fuck happened here?” Charlie added.
“Well, no one really knows, if you look to your right, that building over there is a church, and apparently, they had something to do with it. But in typical church fashion, they told no one.”
“What do you mean no one knows? You can’t just shut down an orphanage; what happened to the kids?” Alex asked, throwing their hands up in confusion.
“Well, that is the interesting part; the church says they were re-homed within their wider community, but there were no official records given, so there is no paper trail to finding them, so either they hid it, or those kids had a different ending than what has been said.” Kit said as they pulled out a flashlight from their bag. “Come on, I want to go inside; I need to test out my new equipment.”
The group approached the front of the building, the large double doors were boarded shut, but the bottom of the door was charred black and kicked in, leaving a small hole that was easy to crawl through.
“Gross, my clothes are going to need to be cleaned after this. Shouldn’t we be concerned about the burning here, like structural integrity?”
“Oh, I actually know this one, some kids came here one night as a dare to one another, and apparently they were here most of the night, but before sunrise, people noticed smoke coming from the building and called the fire people. The kids were crazy fucked up, and they actually deemed the building unsafe for habitation. After that, there was a sign on the main gate we passed through warning people to stay out.” Charlie said as they dusted off the soot from their knees.
“So the building is structurally unsafe, then why are we here?”
“I don’t believe it, that is why.”
“Kit, you are going to have to explain more than that if you want me to stay, let alone go to the second story.”
“Firstly, there are technically four stories. Secondly, it was never logged officially with the council, despite all the signs being addressed by the council. I have looked up every record I could find on this building, and every aspect of it is weird. Like very weird, look, come here.”
Kit walked over to the reception desk and brushed as much of the dust and soot aside as they dumped their bag onto it and started to pull out large rolls of paper. The other two gathered around to have a look.
“You do know that technology exists, right? We don’t have to use big fuck off pieces of paper anymore.” Charlie stated as they flourished the paper. “It is literally already getting ruined by the damp and the burn of this place.”
“Shut up; I want to hear what Kit has to say; I am all for finding dirty secrets of the church.”
“Alright, check this out. Here are the schematics for the building before the church was built next door; memorize that as well as you can. Now this is the schematics after the church was established.”
Alex and Charlie looked over both the schematics, studying them carefully.
“Oh shit, the basement is missing.”
“And the attic.” Alex added.
“Not only that but if you look more carefully, there are whole rooms that have been left off this schematic. Not only that but the longer the church was there, the simpler the schematics got with each update. Fortunately, this is all public record, so we are going to be going off the original schematics; I have marked which doors have been removed in the later updates.”
“Why the colors? Some of these doors are marked with green, yellow, red, and black.”
“So the colors are telling us in what update they were removed in; these colors are acting as a timeline.”
Charlie looked around; pulling out their own torch, they shone it around.
“It is a shame this place has been trashed; it is a fucking fancy building, all those crazy ass wooden carved handrails, and whatever is left of that chandelier. It’s a damn shame.”
“Yeah, I wonder why they shut the building down; this place would have sold for a mint; it could have been a fancy hotel.” Alex added as they looked over the schematics, spying on the enormous kitchen.
“Instead, it has become a point of interest to me, and that is much cooler than a hotel or a fancy house for some rich pons. But hey, that is just my opinion.”
The three of them laughed together, their hushed tones getting louder as their bodies started to relax more; Kit their body remained tense with anticipation. They looked at their map and browsed the entranceway, counting doors and pacing out the room as the other two sifted through the trash that had been left from everyone who had managed to sneak into the building before them.
“How long do you think it will take before Kit starts ripping down the walls to find these hidden doors?”
Alex and Charlie looked at one another, then over to where they could hear Kit rummaging around; they watched as Kit tapped rapidly against a wall until they heard a difference in the knock.
“Uh ha!” They screamed as, almost appearing from thin, Kit had a crowbar in their hand and had started to knock chunks out of a wall.
“I would say that long. But for the sake of their body, please go do the heavy hitting; I don’t want their body giving out on them again.”
Charlie gave a little salute to Alex and jogged over to Kit.
“Hey Kit, give me that. Your weak noodle arms won’t do enough damage to paper, let alone a door.”
Alex watched as Kit handed over the crowbar, already out of breath from the few swings that they took. Charlie took over and started to swing as Alex looked around. The floor was covered with loose dirt that lifted with each step made through it, and the base of the walls seemed to collect all the paper and cardboard trash that had been brought inside. Alex’s eyes tracked a series of large slashes through the wallpaper above the wooden bottom of the walls. But even as Charlie continued to assault the wall in the background, Alex became oblivious as their attention was drawn to a series of scratches at the base of an outward-facing corner. They knelt down and got close to them.
Two sets of four, thin scratches into the wood which ended at the corner; they looked up, and the large slash through the wallpaper ended at the wooden paneling at the bottom of the wall, but not before it had taken a sizeable chunk out of the wood. Alex took a step back and mimed dragging someone, then stopped and mimed the slashing of a single-handed-bladed weapon. When they looked up, they saw the others laughing.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Charlie asked as they leaned on the crowbar with one arm as if it were a cane.
“Look at this and tell me you don’t see the same thing. It looks like someone was dragged, then cut down with like a machete or something.”
Charlie and Kit walked over and looked over the markings like Alex before them. Kit pulled out their camera and started to film the marks.
“If you look here, there is a set of what looks like fingernail scratches in the wood, then this massive slash as if someone brought down a big machete into the person being dragged, and judging by the damage to this thick wooden panel, they were someone with a fair bit of strength.” They put away their camera, then grinned at Alex. “Come on, Charlie got the door open; this is amazing.”
The three of them stepped to the hidden door and looked at how it swung gently in its frame.
“In the future, please bring a grinder with a cutting wheel because peeling those wooden panels was a fucking bitch.” Charlie said, still a little out of breath.
“Noted.” Kit said as they smiled. “Who wants to go first?”
Alex and Charlie looked at one another with the same look.
“Obviously you.” Alex said as they grabbed the door. “Come on, get your camera out.”
“Oh right.” Kit said as they rushed to get their camera out, nearly dropping it in the process.
“Okay, so we have just peeled back the fake wall and revealed this hidden door at the old burnt orphanage.”
“I Peeled back the wall; credit where credit is due, please.” Charlie said jokingly, flexing as Kit aimed the camera at them.
“Yes, Charlie peeled back the false wall, but now we are going in. Alex, if you don’t mind.”
Alex obliged and pulled the door open, stopping after a few inches as the door got stuck, having to pull the door several times, jerking it open enough to walk through.
“Elegance!” Charlie yelled.
The other two laughed as Kit walked forward into the dark room.
“Light.” Kit called out.
The other two pulled out their torches and aimed them into the room, and all three of them stopped moving.
“Are your torches dying?” Kit asked as they watched the light only reach a meter in before failing to pierce the dark.
Charlie aimed their torch into the main hall and watched as it illuminated a shadow on the far side of the room, then aimed it back to the room where the light faltered after only a meter.
“Okay, this is weird right?” Alex said as they moved their torch to see if they could illuminate anything in the room.
“There is a light switch on the wall just there.” Kit said as they looked into the room.
The others focused on it, watching as Kit stepped forward with a hand reaching out to flick the switch. Alex put a hand on their arm and stopped them.
“Do we think that is a good idea? Maybe we just leave?”
Kit turned to Alex, and their eyes widened; pushing Alex to the side, they lowered the camera to the base of the door.
“Look at this; without a doubt, these are fingernail scratches. Oh damn, there are even nails still in this.”
He angled the camera around so it could see the nails lodged in the door, along with the faint red stains around them.
“Shit man, that is kid height.” Charlie added. “Look how small those nails are, like a third the size of mine.” He said as he held up his hand for comparison.
“Okay, this is police territory; we need to leave and take this to the cops.” Alex said, backing away.
“Are you kidding? There is no way the cops will deal with this.” Kit said, standing up to face Alex.
“Handle it? It is their job to handle it; this is clearly a case of child abuse. We need to hand over the schematics and get them to sort this out. Maybe have some justice for these kids, so let’s not disrupt the crime scene and just get out of here.”
“And what about the darkness that consumes light?” Charlie said as they aimed their light into the black of the room.
“Look, there is something happening there, but darkness does not consume light; the cops can handle it.”
Charlie looked at Alex, then without seeing where he tossed his torch inside the room. Alex and Kit watched as it sailed through the air before disappearing as if it had turned itself off. Charlie did not look until he frowned and stared into the room suddenly.
“Did anyone hear that hit the ground?” Charlie asked.
The three of them looked into the room with nothing but Alex’s torchlight illuminating the entrance. They all stared as a scratching sound started to emerge, then shortly after, the torch rolled back out of the room, still on, still barely able to pierce the impossible darkness of the room.
“Nope, fuck this.” Alex said and promptly walked back towards the entrance of the building.
“Do we join them?” Charlie asked.
“I am not leaving now.” Kit replied.
Charlie looked over their shoulder and watched as they walked past the front desk briskly.
“Do we stop them?”
“Of course not; this isn’t us staying in a scary house. We have seen paranormal. I don’t blame them, but I won’t be intimidated from my first proof.”
Charlie watched as Alex disappeared through the hole they all crawled through with the light of their phone illuminating their face. Charlie grabbed Kit by the shoulders and looked at them intently.
“How much do you want this?”
“More than anything ever. How many of these ghost hunts have been us getting spooked by possums hiding in abandoned buildings? I am not giving up on an all too real chance to know.”
“Are you willing to die for this?”
“Because whatever is happening here is so beyond us that the fucking church just fucking sealed it up and abandoned it, and you know how crazy those people get with the power of god conquering all.”
Kit looked down at their feet, and they locked their face in deep thought before looking back to Charlie.
“You don’t have to stay, but I am not leaving. I am only living a half-life with all this body bullshit; I really am not afraid of dying because I am in so much pain all the time, even through the medication. Not to mention the fatigue.”
Charlie stepped back and outstretched his fist to Kit, he smacked it with him, and Charlie grinned, grabbing his torch from the ground.
“We got to be quick because I have no doubt that Alex is not on the phone with the police right now.”
“So you are coming in with me?”
“Fuck no!” Charlie laughed. “But neither are you.”
“You are not…”
“No, I am not stopping you; I am saying that we open more doors. In there.” Charlie pointed into the black room. “pretty good chance some fucked up shit is going to happen, and we may not be able to film; I mean, cameras handle the dark worse than our eyes. I vote we peel back as many doors as we can and see what we find before the cops come.”
“How are your arms feeling, tough guy?”
Charlie grabbed the crowbar firmly and grinned from ear to ear. “Strong enough to peel every single panel off this haunted as fuck house.”
Kit aimed the camera down at his map and ran to the next section of the wall, and pointed.
But even before he could finish the word, Charlie was in the wall with the crowbar, ripping panels and paper from the wall as if it were just taped on. He moved with haste, grunting at every action he made; breathing heavily through his mouth, he made short work of the wall. Revealing another door, they pulled it open, and once again, there was nothing but darkness.
Charlie looked at Kit with sweat beading on his brow.
“The plot thickens. Next door friend.”
The two of them ran around the house prying doors open on both floors of the building, each one the same swirling darkness as the first. From outside, they could see the red and blue police lights coming through the slats in the building.
“Time is up.” Charlie said as he looked at the light with disappointment.
“Wait, no, there is a basement and an attic.” Kit said, staring at Charlie with a passion.
Charlie looked around, sweat running down his face and staining his clothes, the sound of chatter outside getting closer.
“Fuck it, we are second story; where is the attic?”
They ran to a wide hall, and Kit stopped; looking down the long hall, they looked confused.
“I don’t understand; it is supposed to be here.”
They turned to see Charlie holding a stone in his full grip, grunting. He launched it into the ceiling and peeled back the plaster, revealing the latch of a ceiling pull-down staircase. The rock slammed into the ground, followed by an unfamiliar voice.
“Hey kids, your friend told us about what was happening; please don’t be scared; you are not in trouble; we just want to see what you found.”
“Kids? We are mid-twenties.” Kit said confused
“Dude, Alex looks like they are twelve.”
Charlie grabbed a large wooden cabinet and struggled to slide it under the latch.
“Come on, guys, we don’t want to make this an issue.”
“One moment, caller.” Charlie screamed back as he climbed on top of the wooden cabinet and started slamming the crowbar into the ceiling, covering him in plaster dust.
“Up here, sir.” Kit yelled.
“Stop mucking around, guys; these guys are here to do their job.” Alex called out.
“Then come up here; we are going into the attic.” Kit shouted back.
Charlie finished clearing the roof latch and had to scrap the plaster that had turned to a paste from his sweat from his face. Grabbing the handle for the stairs, he yanked on it, and the stairs came crashing down, knocking Charlie to the ground, slamming his head into the wooden floor.
All they could hear was fast-paced footsteps; they looked up just as the face of an officer filled his vision.
“Are you okay?”
Charlie brushed him away and rolled over.
“I am fine.” He said, standing up to face the officer.
The cop looked up into the ceiling and shone his torch, illuminating all the way through.
“My name is Officer Watson; Alex here told us about how you three have discovered some hidden rooms that have some horrific things inside. So if you show them to me, I can make a call if we need to make this a scene.”
“Well, I mean, we just cracked this one, hidden behind a layer of plaster, which is currently ninety percent sticking to my sweat. No idea what is up here. The other rooms are all the same, dark, covered in fingernail scratches, blood, and fingernails.”
Officer Watson’s eyes suddenly darted up to the attic, and he squinted.
“Is there another friend of yours up there?”
“No, just us three.” Alex said nervously.
“Hello?” The officer called out, placing one hand on his radio. “Officer Swit, call back up, then come in here.”
Officer Watson locked his eyes up the ceiling hatch and spoke to the others.
“We are getting you three out, and Swit and I will take care of this.”
Before Officer Watson had time to lay out his plan, the laughter of a child could be heard coming from the attic, followed by the rapid footsteps that only a child could make.
The three friends and the officer all froze as everyone looked up at the attic.
“You have to break this ladder free from behind a plaster coat, correct?” Watson asked. They swallowed hard.
“Yeah, that is why I look like a snowman right now.” Charlie replied, keeping their eyes on the ladder.
“I think that maybe we head out and wait for my backup. Come on, kids, let’s get you out of here.”
Alex backed away with Watson, and Kit walked to the base of the ladder, catching Charlie’s eye. Charlie stopped walking once the other two turned around; they then took the camera from Kit and ran up the ladder; Kit followed behind with haste.
“Hey, kids, stop.” Officer Watson called out.
He ran to the ladder, but just as Kit reached the top, the ladder pulled itself up behind them.
Charlie turned around and looked at the now folded ladder.
“Did you pull that?” Charlie asked as they handed over the camera.
Kit grinned uncontrollably. “I did not.”
The laughter started again; Kit and Charlie looked around the attic, trying to figure out where it was coming from; Charlie held the crowbar so tight his knuckles were white. From below they could hear the cop and Alex calling out to them, the fold up ladder shook as they pulled on the underside with no success.
The laughter suddenly stopped, and Charlie felt a wave of chill roll over him; he slowly spun on the spot while Kit looked determined. They peered into the darkness with their camera, illuminating what they could with their torch, their eyes focused like a hawk. They didn’t miss a thing. Charlie started to walk around slowly, heading towards a pile of boxes. They stopped suddenly.
“Be careful where you stand.” Kit turned to Charlie, confused. “Because my foot just went through the floor a little here.” Kit looked down to see the rotten boards that Charlie was pulling their foot out of.
“Got it. I will, I…” Kit stumbled over their words as they looked past Charlie. “There.” They said, pointing with the torch.
Charlie turned to see two little hands resting on the top of a nearby box, then slowly, a small child’s face emerged; with wispy blonde hair and scared eyes, the face only peeked over high enough to see. Kit walked in front of Charlie with the camera.
“Hey, little kid, what are you doing here.”
The child’s eyes darted between Charlie and Kit rapidly before suddenly stopping.
“Scared.” The child said.
“What are you scared of?” Kit asked.
The child shook their head softly, then pointed to Charlie.
Kit looked back to Charlie, who was standing with the crowbar in a death grip; despite their facial expression appearing calm, Kit could see the tears rolling down their cheeks. Kit touched their arm and turned back to the child.
“We are both scared. There is nothing wrong with that.”
The child shook their head again.
“You are not scared, not yet.” The child stepped back slightly, their face being covered by shadow, allowing their eyes to glow like that of a cat. Despite Kit shining their torch at them, the shadow still covered the child’s face.
“I think it is time we leave, Kit.”
“Wait, I need to know.”
“Know what? This is clearly supernatural; we need to step out.”
Kit ignored Charlie and kept their attention on the child, then Charlie stared as the child began to rise.
The child had no mouth or neck; they were a head on a fleshy tube, and their hands were attached to two smaller tubes that seemed to move independently from one another. They shifted like a snake in the sand; a slow and slimy scraping noise went with the motion as the child moved from side to side. Charlie was trying to focus, but dust kept falling at a slow pace on their face, they looked up, and their eyes widened with horror at what they saw.
Charlie did not ask a second time, nor did they think they had enough time to make it back to the ladder. So they grabbed Kit by the waist and jumped up, leaning back. Charlie felt their back land over the hole their foot went into, then they felt the floor give way to the sudden weight of them both. Kit was forced to look up at the creature above them, a cobra-like neck and back frill made out of some kind of slimy flesh; its head looked like several children’s heads stitched haphazardly together.
Down below, the officer and Alex watched as Charlie and Kit came crashing through the ceiling back first. Charlie made sure to breathe out as they fell so they would not be winded when they hit the floor. With a crashing thunder, they hit the wooden boards below, and the boards bowed to the force that they came down with. Despite the pain, Charlie still managed to roll both themselves and Kit to the side right as the head slammed into the floorboards where they initially landed. The creature shattered the wood it collided with, its head getting stuck.
“Everyone get the fuck out.” Charlie screamed as they scrambled to their feet, dragging Kit up with them.
The creature let out a horrible cry that sounded like a group of children laughing as their tails thrashed around in the attic, as its head was through the floor.
The four of them sprinted as fast as they could back to the front of the building; Watson’s radio was going off as Swit heard the commotion.
“Watson, are you okay? Do you need me in there? Watson responds.”
“Start the fucking car, open the doors. Don’t ask; just do it.” They screamed through panicked lungs.
Watson was the first to reach the entrance; he turned to Alex and ushered them through the hole they had climbed in through.
“Come on, kids, hurry up.”
Alex scrambled through, and the officer looked back to finally see the cobra’s head with clarity; his skin instantly paled, and he felt himself feel lightheaded as the children’s laughter got louder.
Charlie pushed Kit through the hole and then dove through himself; the officer watched as the cobra started to lung down the stairs but quickly climbed through the hole and began running from the grounds.
They left the property to the sounds of slamming against the front door, and where there was once child laughter, it changed to a shrill scream that quickly silenced.