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From Flesh to Stone

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Bzzzzzz! Bzzzzzz! Bzzzzzz!

I wake up to my phone vibrating on my nightstand next to my alarm clock. The clock reads 12:46 am. It's Thursday, summer vacation after my senior year in high school. I check the phone, and I already know who is calling. It's my girlfriend, Amy, and I already know what she's calling about. She, a few friends of ours, and I have always been fascinated by the paranormal and supernatural, exploring abandoned and supposedly haunted places whenever the chances would arise, entering excited as children, yet as careful as we can, bringing backpacks to bring back souvenirs, salt and white sage to ward off any spirits that may be a bit ticked off about us invading their home, cameras to record and take pictures, and headlamps.

"Yes?" I answer as I pick the phone up.

"Everybody ready to head out?"

Tonight we're going to an old psych ward a half hour's walk away to explore. Usually we tend to stay away from that area because of the old, decaying structures that are falling apart, but since it's the last time we'll all be seeing each other 'til college and it's the end of our childhood in this town, we decided to send ourselves out with a creepy old sanatorium left to rot after being closed down for mistreatment and abuse of the patients.

"Yeah, everyone's ready. Are you?" Amy responded, her voice a soothing symphony that can calm even the worst panic.

"Yeah, I'll be at the spot in ten minutes," I reply.

By "the spot" I mean our normal meeting place under a big tree in the park we meet when we go on these expeditions into the unknown. I get my bag and head out the door as quietly as I can, keeping from waking my parents and six-year-old brother. I arrive at the tree in twelve minutes, the night sky projecting a bright, beautiful moonlight. I see the three of them standing by the tree, talking and waiting for me.

"Hey, look who decided to show up! How's it goin', man?" Jax greets me with a friendly smile and hand shake.

"Not too shabby, yourself?"

He shrugs in response, "Couldn't complain."

He smiles again. He's always been the mischief and fun of the group, making us smile whenever we're down, makes things more exciting. Something about him is just captivating, from his light brown skin to his dreadlocks and dark brown eyes.

"Hey, don't forget me, Max. Get over here." I'm soon hugged by Ellie, the tall, thin brunette of the group. She's the nerdy and outgoing happy-to-meet-new-people person, a bit sarcastic when she wants to be, sassy all the time, and takes trash from no one.

"Oh, of course I'd never forget you, Ellie." I hug her hard, taking the wind out of her. Playfully, of course. We all tend to screw around with each other, and I'm known for my bear hugs. I let go of her and she giggles, punching me in the shoulder lightly.

"And of course, I can't forget about the amazing Amy." I walk up to my girlfriend and hug her, kissing her softly. Her lips are soft and smooth, as I pull away to look at her, I can see that she's blushing a bit, giggling. Her blue eyes gazing into mine, her freckles spotted perfectly symmetrical all over her cheeks.

"Well hello there, Mister," she says, laughing a bit. We finally breach from our embrace and the four of us head off on our journey to the mental hospital talking along the way. When we finally get there, we see the rusted gates with steel bars with sharp spearhead-like tips at the tops of each one making the gate and a decrepit lock holding on for dear life. With a nearby rock and a powerful smash, Jax manages to break the lock with ease. The place is desolate, left to rot, and gives off a Pripyat and Chernobyl kind of vibe due to the intense silence. A feeling of fear and loneliness washes over me as we entered the facility. There is a rush of cold air in the courtyard in front of the looming, malicious building.

The Asylum

"Well," said Ellie, a look of wonder and unease plastered on her face, much like everyone else, "looks like we're here..."

"You know, we could always turn back if you guys are too nervous." I had to tell myself that it's just some asylum, nothing too bad will happen, nothing dangerous ever happens when we do this. I tell this to the others as well to reassure them, hoping it will have more success on them than it did on me.

"What, you scared all of a sudden?" Jax joked, "Is big strong Maxxy scared?"

"Oh, shut up, you know you're nervous too. Now let's go." I walk up to the door with the group following behind me, Amy grasping my hand knowing that something is off about my expression. Something about this place just creeped me out, but I tell myself that it'll be just like every other time; a few noises, shadows without bodies, nothing else to it. I put my hand on the doorknob and as I do, a cold rush is sent through my body, turning my blood into ice water. I let out an unwanted gasp as the feeling surprises me, forcing me to grasp the doorknob tighter.

Amy holds me, her touch is gentle and soothing enough to bring me back to my senses. I look into her worried eyes and she says, "It's okay, I'm here for you." I nod in response and turn back to the door, taking a deep breath before opening it. I turn the knob and open the door quickly, and the door creaks loudly in return.

Once I took a look inside, it really isn't that scary, just a bit eerie. I don't understand exactly why I'm not even more horrified after seeing the entrance, with its peeling, beige wallpapers, eaten and chewed handrails on the staircases, claimed by termites, with steps that splinter and some just waiting to give out beneath someone's feet. Pictures hang from the walls and were left lopsided and slouched over, hopeless of life ever being restored to the building. The place is dusty and dark, our flashlights being the only things bringing light to the scene. We walk in and a floorboard creaks behind Ellie, the last of us in.

"This place is depressing..." Ellie comments. "You sure there's gonna be anything interesting here?"

"I hope... Otherwise this whole trip would be for nothing, obviously." Jax says, stepping inside and looking up at the looming chandelier, barely hanging on for dear life. "So, where do we start? This place isn't that big, only three floors. There's a cemetery in the back of the property and a garden with a bunch of creepy stone statues."

"How do you know all this?" I ask, curious.

"Prior research, wanted to know what we were getting ourselves into before hand, you know?" He walks into a room on the right, comes back out and says, "Nothing in here, just a bed, table, and broken mirror. Guess we should start searching the place, huh?" We begin our search with our cameras on, recording as we go, to find little to nothing. A half hour goes by and we're finally on the second floor.

That's when things go south.

I turn around after searching one of the rooms to see that Jax has gone. He's been with us this entire time, where's he gone?

"Hey," I ask, "where'd Jax go?" Everyone looks around, then back at me with worried expressions. I'm suddenly very, very worried. The place isn't too big, but the fact that he's lost here is enough to worry me, knowing how broken this place is. He could hurt himself on anything, and just as this thought hits my mind I hear a floor breaking with a loud crash!

"What the hell was that?" exclaims Amy, "that could be Jax, we have to see what that was!"

We run out of the room and down the hall to see a giant hole in the second and first floor, leading down into a dark pit. We run down the stairs and go to the gaping hole on the first floor, I can barely make out a grey figure in the depth below, it's just too dark. We all aim our flashlights at the area, and I can feel my heart drop to my feet and bolt into my throat. It's... Jax... Only it's a stone statue. I can tell it's Jax though, because it looks exactly like him, the statue's on the ground with an arm in front of his face as if to shield it, sprawling on his butt on the floor with a look of fear on his face. His dreadlocks are frozen in time, like snakes waving in the wind as though he fell to the ground. What could have happened? What can explain this?

"What the hell is that? It looks just like Jax!" screams Amy, clinging onto me for protection. I hold her tightly to ease her mind, but it didn't seem to work; I don't know why this would, one of our friends was just turned into stone it seemed, but does that Medusa stuff really exist? It couldn't, those are just fairy tales, works of mythology. We hear Ellie scream and turn around to see a horrific sight. It's a young lady wearing white with grey skin, pale, white eyes, and a gaping, empty void of a mouth standing right in front of Ellie, staring right at her.

"Ellie, run! We have to get out of here, now!" But she wouldn't move. "Ellie, come on! That thing probably killed Jax, we have to go now!" I have to grab her by the shoulder, but the unknown girl screams a pitch so high I had to let go and run out with Amy to keep us from going deaf. We run down the hall to get to the entrance, but it seems to be taking forever. I look back after hearing Ellie scream yet again, and see the girl grabbing Ellie by the shoulders and sucking a blue light out of her through her eyes and mouth, turning Ellie's skin grey, and eventually turning her body to stone. I sprint faster with Amy running beside me, hand in hand with me as we finally reach the door. Too scared to stop to actually open it, I crash through the door with my shoulder and it breaks, releasing a horde of termites onto the floor. They crunch beneath our feet as we run out into the courtyard. Amy and I escaped that night, but we had witnessed things no one should ever have to experience.

Who was that girl? What had she done to Ellie and Jax? Why?

Amy and I run back to the town, where we separate in silence to go to our houses. We are honestly in too much shock to say goodbyes, everything that had happened was just too much for one night. Morning comes after a restless night and we go to our parents about the matter, then the police. Absolutely no one believes us until we go back to that dreaded place and show the police and our parents the stone statues. Amy mentions to the police what I forgot: more statues. They're in the garden and the police go to investigate, pointing out numerous people that have mysteriously gone missing throughout the years. But how did they end up here? None of it really makes sense, but what about this whole ordeal does?

Amy and I eventually go to college, we keep in touch, stay together. Eventually, I ask her to marry me and we live a happy life together, for some odd reason going back to that town. It seems like that damned place has every good memory there, our childhood, family, friends, and all. But it also contains the haunting memories of that night. Years of therapy haven't helped but coming back here somehow makes it easier; like facing your fears and conquering them. But that girl, that thing will never leave our memories.

I wake up one night to Amy sleeping beside me, like every other night. But this night I see our daughter, Mary, standing in the doorway with a look of horror plastered on her face. She is frozen in place. Solid as stone.

I feel the bedroom get colder and colder, feeling a chilling breath down my neck. I am terrified, remembering that night.

"Amy, love? Something's wrong with Mary... Oh God... Oh good God, please, no," I put my hand on my wife's shoulder and feel the cold texture of stone. That girl, that thing from so long ago is back. She's taken my family, turned them to stone. A demented sculptor, claiming my family as her works of art. And now there's me, a block of stone just waiting for her to carve.

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