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Desolation

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Darkness. Cold. Cramps in my lower, middle, upper, and entire back, shoulders, and every muscle in existence. Not knowing where I am, and not really caring, I rise from my sleep, unaware of the events that got me in this position, blissfully unaware, but obeying instincts as a child would obey directions from an adult. I subconsciously assumed I was awakening from a hard party or something of the nature, and was recovering from a long night, during which I fell asleep either naturally or chemically, and was finally just rising from that spot. After about 2 seconds of my eyes being opened and my back sitting up straight, I knew, both from the sight, and from the disrupting shiver that wrung throughout my spine and at the pit of my heart that it was indeed not a friends house I awoke in, but that cold, cave-like, dark, practically abandoned arcade from my childhood. Why was I there? And how in God’s Holy Name did I get there? Always when one would walk in it, either alone or with company, one could never ever shake the feeling that the place held many dark secrets, was the house of absolute horrors for countless souls, and was always slightly askew. Dust piled high on the 80’s era games, while, in spots, insolation hung from the jet-black attic, a place that no man would ever dare to venture. I remember the place when at least three fourths of the games out of order, lined up in row after row, and me being the only living soul there except for the bored high school student employee who took more interest in car magazines than his actual job. The place had a dull and depressing dark grayish carpet, false ceiling, was about forty to fifty yards long and about twenty yards wide, with the coral, and beyond, the ominous ball pits and indoor jungle gym.

Only now, instead of the games being in rows, they were in a huge circle around me, and I was in the middle. Words simply cannot describe the feeling of that wretched place, the body would tighten in the stomach, you would breathe extremely slowly, your heart would race, and you would have a distant feeling of absolute and inevitable destruction, injury, kidnaping, or death if you did not immediately leave that God-forgotten place. All of these feelings took hold of my person at the end of those 2 seconds it took me to realize where I was. I hadn’t seen that place since I was 12. I am now 16, and I thought I would never have to see this horrid place for the rest of my life. What was that arcade called? Scandia. I would never have forgotten that name. Look it up on Google images. I bet its there. And if it is, those pictures are from before it even opened, before it was even done being built. And if it has pictures of it during business, that is not a picture of the same one I went to as a kid in northern California. The one I went to is probably not even going to be recognized on any GPS or navigation system in existence. I remember it being so hidden and out of reach surrounded by tall trees with mountains in the background.

I stood up and stumbled about for a little while, looking around myself. No games worked, of course. The lights were very dim and blinking around every 10 seconds. The only thing that worked extremely well and never stopped working was the freezing air conditioning. I made my way, constantly looking over my back, to the coral. It was an area meant especially for small children with games for them, and was enclosed in a half circle built of wood. Not a sound was heard. I could not for the life of me figure out why I was there and how I got there. Just then, I sprinted to the front doors, but they were locked. A lump the size of a cannon ball dropped into my stomach and stayed there as I stared at those doors for a couple seconds. My ears almost felt as if they would ring. I felt nauseous. What was I going to do? How would I get out? I came to the conclusion that the only thing I could do was explore further, although I would rather die of starvation where I stood, on account of the sheer horror and darkness I would feel exploring that place. I then turned around and saw not doors, but door frames or just door shaped holes in the wall opposite the front doors. There were 2 doors about 25 yards from each other. I had a choice to make. My palms and face sweating horribly, I had to choose a door! I knew deep down that which ever one I picked, someone would be lurking in there, wearing a rabbit or bear costume, ready to capture me and subject me to unspeakable and unthinkable atrocities and horrors.

I then shook myself and told myself to be a man and to “gather what little courage you have and choose a goddamned door you coward!” With cement shoes I inched towards the door on the left. I had remembered that the door on the right went to the kitchen or workroom or something, and the one on the left was a back door that exited to the go-cart track. A short, 15 foot hall led without lights from the opening arch to the door itself, which I could see as I approached the arch. I dared not look back now. It would mean certain death, or at least I feared it too much. Even if someone were there, they wouldn’t kill or capture me without me walking into it. They would like me to see it coming. I walked, my eyes locked on the door, as I passed complete blackness on both sides of me. I reached the door, and it was locked.

This door, however, was glass. It was a double door with a push bar. The glass was very dark and fogged, but I could barely make out some light and trees on the other side. I was terrified to turn around, but I had to find something to break the glass with. I turned and left the hall. I looked around the arcade, and after about a 5-minute search, came back with a ball from a skeeball machine. It felt heavy and hard enough to break this glass, but I was again nervous about making such noise. It could wake up that hidden person lurking in the dark cold place, if they weren’t already awake and watching me. But I had to do it. As hard as I could, I threw the ball at the glass. It was especially thick for a door like this. About twice as thick as a window. The glass cracked a little, but not close to enough. I threw the ball about 12 more times until it finally shattered, and I bolted out the opening, taking enormous breaths and feeling extremely relieved.

But as I looked around, the sky was unusually grey. Not a grey as it would be had it been about to rain, but just a dismal, lonely, eternal grey. It felt as if time did not exist in this place, nor did anything good. It was at least warmer outside. I was looking at the go-cart track. It now looked completely abandoned. Rusted railing, over turned orange cones, trash, and even the rusted shell of a go-cart sitting without its tires. I circled the building with an old but working blue razor scooter and came to the front to see the big sign dilapidated and the “N” and “A” were gone from “SCANDIA.” I was not in a forest, but on a concrete plot about the size of 2 football fields in the middle of what appeared to be a completely isolated field with golden grain growing all around with a single, two-lane road cutting across it.

I made my way to the road and even walked on it for 5 minutes in each direction to see if I could see any town or car, but I saw none. I came back and noticed another building. It was a white hospital. No red cross or words appeared. Just a white building about six stories high and four rooms wide. I was too perplexed. I rode up to it and looking in the front glass doors, was astounded and even shocked to see a woman, about in her mid 50’s, sitting at the lobby desk writing or reading something. I put the scooter down and cautiously opened the door. She didn’t look up at me or even acknowledge my presence until I got right in front of her and had to speak to her and ask her “Ma’am, where in the hell am I?” She replied in an irritated and somewhat impatient voice, “In a hospital.” I grew very impatient very quickly and asked her what town I was in and if she had a phone. She looked at me with her pointed glasses and, talking to me like I was 4, told me “I don’t like your tone.” She talked in a Southern accent, so I guessed I was somewhere in Dixie. She reminded me of the mean slug lady from a childhood move, Monsters Inc.

I then asked her if she had any patients in the building. “One, but he don’t like no visitors.” I told her “Please, I’m completely lost and desperately need a phone. I will do anything just please let me call someone.” She replied simply, “We ain’t got no phone.” Apparently we were too far out in the country to have any type of phone service. “Don’t you have a car?” “Don’t need no car. Just sleep in one of them empty beds.”

“You live here?!”

“Yep, have for the past 14 years.”

“What about the guy? The sick guy? Can I see him?”

“He don’t like no visitors. You shouldn’t try to find him. He’s in room 23 on the 4th floor. He won’t let you in and you’ll probly get lost.”

“I don’t care.” I turned, looking for an elevator, but saw only a flight of stairs. I didn’t really care, and just ran up them. When I got to what I felt was the 4th floor, I went through the stairwell door and entered the hallway. It was well lit, but endlessly confusing and seemed to be never ending. I walked for a good 30 minutes, but never found his room. There would be, for example, room 16, and then 20 storage closets or surgery rooms, or what have you, and then room 12. The hall twisted and turned and I was completely lost and only wanted to get back to the lobby. I turned around and walked the way I came. It was 35-40 minutes until I was in a cold sweat panicking that I would never find it. There were no windows and all the doors were the same. I finally came to the stairwell and rested on the steps for a moment, exhausted. I then made my way down, and found the woman in the same place talking with an elderly man.

“Is that the guy?” He turned to me, his eyes bulging, his face red, holding a 7 or 8 inch curved knife, he looked at me straight into my eyes. The woman held a pair of pliers.

“I told you he don’t like no visitors.” They both got up and sprinted towards me. She screamed,

“I’ll pull those damn teeth out o’ your head fer that!” He said nothing, he just sprinted. He seemed like he longed, thirsted, and yearned to kill. As if he had before and had fantasized about doing it again for the past 14 years. I turned and fled as fast as my nervous legs would tolerate, leaving the scooter on the ground. But as I pushed the door open, the woman grabbed the bridge of muscle between my neck and shoulder with her pliers. I swung my hand back and recklessly tore them out, skin and all. The man’s knife just then fell and struck my left arm. As they both prepared for another attack, I ran. Blood pouring, I jumped head first into the broken door and turned a hard left and hid in the hallway of the kitchen door. Their eyes were still adjusting in the doorway, and the cautiously and slowly looked about.

I could hear them walking, and could have sworn they heard my blood dripping on the carpet, but apparently, it was too quiet. I decided it would be safest to hide in the shadows, so I made my way down that corridor and into the kitchen, which was completely black. I slowly felt my way over as I heard the wooden corral door swing open. A sigh of relief came over me. They weren’t on my trail. I kept creeping along, and was almost to the ball pit and jungle gym, when I knocked over a stack of pots and pans. This brought a colossal crash and I heard the corral door open and shut very quickly and I sprinted for my life. I ran into the jungle gym and began to make my way to the very back, the darkest corner. Half way there, they came running through the door, but still hadn’t laid their eyes on me because of the extreme dimness and almost complete darkness of that room.

I had bought myself some time by knocking down those pans because the corral is right next to the jungle gym door, but they turned around and ran into the kitchen, which also led to the jungle gym and ball pit. They just went the long way. I arrived at the back part and started climbing like a madman. It was especially difficult due to my injuries, but the amount of adrenaline was more than enough to mask it. I was almost 20 feet up when they began to climb in the middle of the room. I didn’t remember this room being so tall. Just then, we heard a crash in the arcade room.

I froze, as did they. Was it the cops or a regular inhabitant of this place? The two slid down the 5 feet of metal they had climbed and the man went to look who it was. The woman remained and looked around cautiously. I, out of pure shock, stood in place. If I had half a brain, I would have climbed to the top and entered the attic. As I remained in that position, I started to feel the pain and light-headedness that comes with this magnitude of an injury. Just then a horrific scream echoed through the walls and the man came running back in, but this time, he was missing an arm. I turned and never looked back, climbing until I died or was caught or, God willing, got away. The woman jumped up and started climbing faster than I. She was slowly gaining on me. I got to the top, about 40 feet off the ground.

I could just barely make out a patch of ceiling that I could push up and escape through. I ran that way as she reached the top. The entire ceiling was hard metal, except for a single tile of business office style ceiling. I pushed up on it and hauled myself up. I replaced the tile as I saw her flaming eyes locked on to me like a true predator determined to eat. I slammed the tile down as she was just 3 or 5 feet from it. The tile was much heavier than I had expected. It was probably light wood or very hard industrial cardboard. I found some junk and piled it upon that tile until it touched the ceiling. The junk was mainly bricks and boards and some very helpful and life saving cinder blocks. She was banging on it with mighty force until she either died from whatever killed the man, or decided she would try another way. The attic was about 4 feet high, and surprisingly clean. Only the junk I gathered around me, mostly bricks and cinder blocks, and more of the same stuff was up there with some peculiar items. I couldn’t see a thing, but felt several DVD’s, a sock, a doll, a couple of cassette tapes, a container of liquid, and a bunch of nails.

I crawled for probably 30 feet until I found a square hole covered by carpet in the ceiling. I pulled myself up and felt more carpet. I feared I had found the lair of whoever lived here. I crawled another 5 feet and felt a rack of clothes. About 50 shirts hung from hangars and I crawled through them. I was in a dark room, maybe 7 by 12 feet, and the ceiling was normal height now. There was a normal sized door and it was bright on the other side. I opened it and was standing in a bedroom.

It took me about 8 seconds to realize it was my own room! We had a house out in the country; nowhere near Scandia, and I had somehow ended up in that room! That house was in a completely different part of the state. I walked around the entire house and found no one, but it was normal and untouched. Everything was in place. Just then I remembered we had a landline there. I sprinted to the living room and found the phone.

I picked it up and held my breath to see if there was a dial tone. There was, and I quickly dialed my mother’s cell number. I was in tears. It rung 4 times and then she answered.

“Hello?!” She didn’t know who would be calling from our country house.

“Mom! I’m at the country house! I…”

I heard the closet door open and close. I turned quickly to see a man, about 6 foot 2 in a white Easter Bunny mask, holding a chain and a machete. He dropped the chain to the ground as I hung up the phone and ran. He chased after me, but this was my house, and I knew it well. I ran into my father’s bedroom as he quickly followed. I reached up on the shelf and found my father’s revolver and shot the man five times in the chest and once in the head. I had been shooting guns since I was 6 and was pretty good at it. The police arrived with my parents and took me home and took the dead guy to the morgue.

Epilogue

I learned that I had been kidnapped a week ago after I left the movies with my friends. I dropped them all off and went to get gas. I was apparently taken in the parking lot of the gas station. The police failed to identify the body of the man, for he had no criminal record. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the prison’s cemetery. Two days later, while we were in the city, our country house burned down. I thank God to this day it did, and I thank Him even more that the tunnel to that twilight zone is forever destroyed. Police hadn’t begun the investigation yet, and had no proof the hole in my closet existed. The way I got there, however, remains unexplained. It’s truly scary to think that any kid could have a tunnel in their closet, dug by a madman, leading to a true hell. I was taken to a hospital for both therapy and for my wounds. It was white.

An actual dream I had.

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