There was a church in the woods that my friends and I would go to. I suppose it’s probably still there though I haven’t seen it in years. Over the course of our childhoods, the chapel's grounds were pretty much our own little hideout. We spent nearly every summer going there and goofing around.
Nothing ever felt off with the place, it felt comfortable.
So when high school graduation was coming up, we naturally needed a place to have our last senior hoorah, and, as you can guess, my friends Kelly, Sam and I recommended the church. Not to our surprise, no one even knew it existed. Regardless, they thought it’d be perfect.
Flash forward some weeks later and we were prepping up the place for that night's party. We moved the heavy wooden pews as best we could up against the walls to try and open up the place. We knew upwards of 100 people were planning on attending, and although the place was large, it still wouldn’t be enough.
As I was thinking of what else we could do to free up some room I heard Sam speak up.
“Hey, Jesse, look at this. It looks like a little kid.” Sam chuckled once under his breath before he bent down and inspected the floor in front of the podium. Kelly and I walked over and peered at what he was talking about.
Sure enough, right in front of the podium was a child sized stain. It looked dark, old, and burned into the wood.
“What do you think made it? I really can’t remember it being here,” Kelly said, looking over her shoulder towards me, I shrugged in response.
“We probably didn’t see it because of the pews. It must’ve been hiding under one of them,” I replied. Sam and Kelly looked at each other and gave a slight nod of acceptance. I continued, “anyway, let’s get ready for tonight. We’ll head home and meet back up here for the party.”
We all agreed and left the blackened stain on the floor.
The walk home that afternoon was nothing out of the ordinary. We kept on the thin little dirt trail that had existed well before we were ever born. That trail led us straight to the old Father's abandoned house. He had passed away a few years before I could rightfully remember, but apparently I was the last to be baptized by him before he passed. No one else bothered to move into that old place. Hell, most people would comment about it and say ‘no matter what, it’ll always be the Fathers.’
We never much knew about the old Priest who used to live in that home, but we were thankful for him leaving us such a great, secret, party place off in the woods.
Needless to say that once we hit the streets we all split up and went off in our different directions towards our own individual homes.
With the few hours I had to kill I did some chores, prepped some breakfast and got myself cleaned up. My parents were almost always out of town so I always had to take care of myself, I can’t say I minded it but it definitely made the nights I had like this that much more special. During these days I could shrug off the weight of the world and have some fun. When you have to take care of yourself, you sometimes forget what being a kid really means.
With all my busy body activities, night fell before I knew it.
I thought about how there was around 100 kids sneaking off towards Kelly, Sam and I’s formerly secret hangout.
It was a surreal thought.
100 people. 100 living, breathing souls were all heading to the one place I always thought of as mine. But they were all going there to have fun together and I helped make it a possibility.
I did my best to wipe the grin off of my face before I heard the doorbell ring. I raised an eyebrow and walked towards my door. Opening it I saw Kelly.
Now, there’s something I have to say. When people explain getting some feelings is like a switch being flipped on and off in their brains, it’s true. Kelly and I had always been friends, since we were children. We had our fair share of arguments, grudges and hateful speeches but for whatever reason, seeing her here under my porch light sent a reaction through me. Instantly every grudge match we ever had stopped existing.
I wanted to be with her.
“Hey, I thought we could walk together. I figured the guys might try to be dickheads and bother the girls walking alone.” Her voice didn’t have that dull, grey tone anymore, that kind of tone old friends seem to have. The kind of tone that’s more of an extension of yourself than that of some else’s; it had its own life, uniqueness. Maybe I’m just babbling on at this point but I want you to understand something in the air was different that night.
“Yeah, good idea. I was about to head out anyway.” I shook off those sudden feelings and walked out my door, shutting it behind me. She smiled and I swear I saw a certain sparkle in her eye that told me she was experiencing the same thing I was.
The chilly summer night's air caressed my body, exhilarating my system with that all too real feeling of current nostalgia. The type of feeling that you know will be burned into your memories for the rest of your life.
We walked down my street together, I had just about worked up the courage to reach for her hand before I heard her speak.
“Is that Sarah and Chris? When did they hook up?” I diverted my gaze from the ground to see the two of them wrapped up in each other's arms.
“Huh, I don’t know. I thought they hated each other?” Kelly turned to face me and let loose a sweet looking smile.
“I guess tonight's special for everyone.”
We walked near the old Fathers house and crept onto the property. I looked up into one of the windows and could have sworn I had seen someone looking down at us. I kept my eyes on the figure until we made it to the backyard. Strangely It wasn’t the first time I felt watched around here, it was just something I got used to.
After we passed by the window, my attention was on the trail that I had walked over so many times with my friends. The trail leading off into the forest now had been altered. It was larger now, with all the recent foot traffic. It made me feel a little upset knowing that this trail was no longer just the three of ours but now the whole senior classes.
Together we pressed on, occasionally passing a few spare couples that couldn’t wait to get to the church to party with each other.
The closer we got the more the air felt different. And sure, part of it might have sprouted from the smell of alcohol that now permeated from the sweat of nearly everyone we passed, but there was also something else. It was almost like smelling helium, it felt lighter than normal oxygen going up into my lungs. I knew I wasn’t going crazy either, a few people we passed made comments of feeling light headed and seeing a red mist.
When I heard that, I kept my eyes open. There certainly was a reddish haze on that dark night, but I couldn’t quite see something as thick as a mist.
Before too long we reached the old holy grounds. The entrance looked like it was overflowing with people, but fortunately the music from inside managed to fly through the open air with a fury allowing people to extend the party under the night’s sky.
Several people outside must’ve started a bonfire a few minutes before we got there. In the large clearing, students were dancing around the blaze with their shadows exploding and violating the grounds around them. I’m not sure if it was my dazed state, but they looked surreal, their shadows seemed to move of their own volition around the fire.
I felt a tug on my shirt, separating my eyes from the dancers, I turned them onto Kelly as her eyes lit up and she started to jog forward. I squinted my eyes, the red haze stronger now, to wherever she was running.
I saw Sam with Kelly’s best friend, Riley. I shook my head clear with a smile parting my lips.
Sam had spent middle school through senior year with the biggest crush on that girl and he finally got her to take a shot with him. I followed just behind Kelly as she stepped up next to Sam.
“Oh, hey guys, look who I’ve got here.” He nudged Kelly’s friend with his elbow before wrapping his arm around the back of her waist.
“Finally gave in?” Kelly said smugly to her friend before she pulled her away from Sam to gossip with her.
“Looks like you’re having a good time.” I said while turning my head to spy on the girls.
“Yeah. Tonight's something else, you know?” I turned back to look at Sam. He had a sincere smile planted on his lips.
When I think of him, that’s how I like to imagine him. Happy and comfortable.
My thoughts were interrupted by a cheer coming from inside the chapel. As the line outside grew thinner, I looked over at Sam who returned my confusion. There would be no way this many people could fit inside. My buddy and myself headed forwards, pushing passed the commotion around us. We managed to wiggle our way into the building.
On the opposite side of the Church was a door I had never seen before, just beyond the podium. False wooden paneling had been torn down exposing this new space.
“What the actual hell.” Sam muttered next to me. I felt something inside of me start to get angry, a type of jealousy from these random kids finding something me and my friends couldn’t find our whole lives. I blew passed Sam and went straight for a blue-eyed, white haired kid on the podium.
“Hey, how the hell did you guys find that door?” I yelled out over the music. He looked down at me and pointed down to the floor. His teeth shined through his lips in a smug manner. I looked over and saw the stain from earlier, except now it had an arm extended, pointing to the newly discovered entrance.
Something about the stain didn’t sit right with me either. It seemed larger, less like a child and more like a thin, taut man in a robe. I waved for Sam to come over and he waded his way through people. I pointed at the floor.
“Jesus,” he called out while scrunching up his face. “Should we see where that door goes?”
I shook my head. I wanted to wait for Kelly, after all this was her childhood home just like the rest of us. Exploring without her would feel like cheating.
A few minutes passed before we saw her stumble inside with Riley. We herded them over to us, waving like maniacs to get their attention. Once they were close enough we showed them the image of the pointing man burnt into the floor and the newly revealed room. Kelly was adamant we explore together.
With most of the traffic equalized in the room, finding a way to push passed everyone was easy enough. It turned out the next room over was no bigger than the first floor of a small steeple, the only thing of note was the stairs leading downwards in the center of the room.
Our little group made our way over to them and peered down, on the walls lay destroyed stained glass images and paintings, they spiraled down along with the stairs.
With one foot in front of the other we all headed down.
We each took our time and walked down every step in a single file line with Sam and I in the front, followed by Kelly and Riley. Each step made the air around us seem hotter, heavier. A certain type of manic dread followed with it, the sort of feeling of adrenaline, anger and depression all compressed together.
I found myself continuously looking backwards at Kelly. It felt like those urges I had earlier were becoming amplified. The only thing that shook them off was the sounds we began to hear.
We were close to the bottom when they started being audible. They sounded like moans and gasps, all very sensual in nature. At this point I wanted to turn away. My mind was already cluttered with thoughts about Kelly, and whatever was down there wasn’t going to help. That’s when I felt Sam's hand rest on my back, coaching me downward
I pushed the thoughts of leaving out of my head and entered the opening at the bottom of the steps. A large stone door was propped open, exposing the large, cavernous room.
Directly across from us on the far wall was another stone door, thick red mist billowed underneath the door, suffocating out all the oxygen around us. What replaced the air was the same helium type of gas from outside, but amplified to an overbearing level.
I managed to snap out of my trance to looked around. To my horror I saw things, shadows of people, reaching out towards lifeless skin suits of students who were stapled against the walls. The Shadows used their lengthy fingers to caress the teens bodies. In response the skin suits flinched and spasmed, akin to getting hot grease splashed onto their bodies.
“We need to get out of here now.” Kelly whispered, her tone begging for support.
I heard laughing coming from Sam and Riley. I glanced towards them and froze.
Their mouths gaped open, Sam behind me and Riley behind Kelly. The black voids inside of their mouths revealed a second pair of teeth, grinning behind the lifeless mouths of my friends. Several shadowy fingers ripped their way through the skin on their hands. Chunks of meat fell to the floor. Sam’s eyes were glazed over in erotic euphoria. I wanted to run, but with Sam directly behind me I knew that was scarcely possible. Kelly must’ve felt the same way as we were both forced into the room that lay in our path.
Sam reached his gangly arm upward, mouth still hanging agape, he was pointing towards the door across from us. Kelly was shoved next to me and she yelped from Riley’s touch against her back. My head turned away from her towards the door. When my eyes focused on the stone I noticed another burn mark start to appear. The shadow of a tall, thin man with an elongated head peered back towards me. His arms were outstretched towards the handle, begging us to open it.
My head became more than just a fog at this point. I could feel a sense of desire welling up inside me, I wanted that door to be open. Somehow that door being open would give me some sort of pleasure beyond my imagination.
“We should open it.”
I tore my eyes away and looked at Kelly.
She no longer looked like the girl under my porch light just hours ago. She no longer looked like my friend. Her right eye bulged slightly out of its socket, her skin was stretched and pulled tight. I could see the indentation of a gnarled hand traveling underneath the skin on her arm, locking itself into place.
I looked behind her to see one of those things, those voids of entities, tearing and stuffing its way halfway inside her back.
I felt a burning in my throat. I wanted to vomit, to give up, to cry and break down, but I kept going. I didn’t give in.
“Jesse, remarkable, you’re the only one here who can open up that door. We’ve waited so long for another to come down here.” A voice rang out, echoing amongst the walls.
When my eyes turned back to the door I expected to see the burns in the door, but the burns were gone. Replacing them was the charred image brought to life. Tall, lanky, impossibly good posture, all of this and more couldn't truly describe him. He looked like a man made of stretch putty that was at its limits. His head maintained its unnatural proportions from the burn marks. Its bottom jaw jutted out with a fury, extending to his collarbone while his cheeks sunk in around his eyes and mouth. His face was as thin as a skull, yet brought a sense of authority and power I had never experienced before.
Before I knew it I was standing before the door, my hand outstretched around the stone handle. I could feel tears stinging my face, the heat evaporating them before they fell to the floor.
I was going to do it, I was going to open the door.
I was going to do the first terrible thing I’ve ever done.
Then I wasn’t.
I can’t explain what came over me, it was a sense of strength I couldn’t see. I envisioned that man in the old Fathers house, how he peered down at me as if he knew something about who I was, who I truly was.
I dropped the handle of the door and turned around.
The Shadows paced back and forth in the room panting with such a strong desire.
I ran past them. They screamed and reached out but none of them stopped me.
I kept running up the stairs, then passed the party. I ran so far that before I knew it, I was in the arms of an Officer. Someone apparently made a call to them anonymously. They told them kids were getting kidnapped like what happened 30 years ago.
I don’t know what that meant, but I was happy. I didn’t have to fight alone anymore, I had help.
They ended up clearing out the whole party, no one was missing. Sam, Kelly and Riley were all just fine.
But I knew they weren’t. Every once in awhile I’d catch them glaring at me, or I’d see a spasm just beneath their skin. That church became my nightmare.
A few weeks later, I got a gift. It was sent to my college dorm room days away from that town, but I recognized the address. It was that old abandoned house. Inside was a simple bible and a note,
‘I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you in person.’
Credited to StrangeAccounts