“Ya’ know, they say this city never sleeps...” She tapped the ashes off her cigarette, and gazed up at the neon lights above. “...But I’m just praying’ one day I’ll wake up.”

I looked her over, watching her as she adjusted the shoulder strap of her dirty tank top while shifting her weight to her right leg. She couldn’t be older than seventeen.

When she asked me for a cigarette outside the gas station, I reluctantly obliged, but now she stood beside my car as I filled the tank. It was unnerving having a stranger sit by you like they’re your friend.

“Where ya’ headed?” she asked, softly. I noticed her voice was shaking.

“Upstate,” I lied as I closed the gas cap. “Gotta get going now, though. Uh, stay safe.”

“Can I bum a ride?” she proposed, cupping her hands together somewhat innocently.

I hesitated, racking through my brain to find the most polite way to reject her.

“Just up the street, not far from here,” she meekly stated, clearly attempting to up her odds. “Please?”

Something about the desperation in her voice, and the fear in her eyes made it impossible to say no. Five minutes later, I’m driving down the highway, this strange young girl beside me in the passenger seat. She stares out the window watching the blur of the city fly by her. There is a long, awkward silence.

“Are you alright?” I ask, tilting my head towards her direction.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see her glance my way. After a moment, she turns to face the window again.

“Yes.” she says simply, shutting down all possible conversation.

“Okay, then.” I internally groaned in my thoughts.

It begins to rain, the water pouring down my windshield looks like blood in the red glow of a stop light. Again, there was silence except for the rain pattering on the car roof.

I reach my fingers on the lever behind the left side of the wheel, tugging it up. I hear the windshield wipers squeak, and the girl stirs.

“This is my turn, it’s a left from here.”

I nod, I’m now driving down a dark street over a railroad track past dark warehouses with shattered windows. I’m beginning to feel a little uneasy.

“How much further? I need to get on my way…”

“It's right up there, see? See that light?” she is pointing out the window. There’s no light there; just more dark warehouses lined side-by-side to each other down the long empty street. The girl is shifting uncomfortably in her seat, looking out at the darkness met with pouring rain.

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“We’re almost there, I promise.”

“I don’t know about this.” I state, feeling a mix of anxiety and frustration bubbling inside of me. “Do you just want me to drop you off here?”

“No! See? There it is!”

Now I can see it. Sure enough, there's a light glowing ahead at the distance. I begin to feel my paranoia fading away the closer we get. I drive closer to the light, glowing through the blurring rain in the distance. As we travel towards it, I make out a neon-lighted symbol- a red inverted triangle attached high on an otherwise dark warehouse. “Perhaps it’s a nightclub of some sort,” I muse to myself.

I finally pull up beside the building on the right. She gives me a mumbled thanks and slams the car door behind her before scurrying off to the front of the building, she knocks and the doors open and darkness swallows her. The red neon light flickers and goes out, leaving the establishment indistinguishable from the darkness surrounding.

Whew, I sigh. My ordeal is over and now I can just go home. I turn the car around to begin my venture residence.

As I get closer to the intersection, my headlights fall on something further down the road. In front of the warehouse the girl entered before a mass of hooded figures standing still in the rain. then, slowly, they begin to move towards me. Terror rising like vomit in my throat, I reversed the car and turned to drive the other way.

But my headlights are cast upon another mass of robed people. What is happening? Something smashes through my back window.

That’s when I first hear the chanting: a low grumble reverberating throughout the mass of people. it gets louder as the passenger side window smashes open, the second mass surrounding the front of the car. All i see is the glint of twisted metal rods and the glow of white eyes with no pupils beneath the hoods. I scan the horrific sight before me. I recognize one hooded face- the girl from the gas station. Only now, her eyes are blank, emotionless voids. Then something smashes the headlights, successfully plunging us into darkness.

I feel the icy breaths of the shadows beside me.

“We never sleep, we never wake;”

“We never sleep, we never wake;”

“We never sleep, we never wake;”

“We never sleep, we never wake;”

“We never sleep, we never wake.”

They chant in deathly harmony, Like a mantra... right next to my ear. It sends an uncontrollable shiver up my spine.

As I scream for mercy I feel fingers tugging at my clothes, and hands muffling my face. They pull me right out of the window, the shards of glass cutting my skin, drawing blood. I feel the rain drenching me to my core. Cold.

I muster some strength to look up, the light draining from my very eyes. The neon triangle is the last thing I see before they drag me into the warehouse and darkness swallows us.

“Hey, can I borrow a smoke?”

I lean up against the gas pump, you hand me one, reluctance written clearly on your face.

“Ya’ know,” I began. “They say this city never sleeps... me? I’m just wishing I could wake up.”

You strain a smile and nod, try to leave. you know you can’t leave.

“Can a bum a ride?” I asked. “Just up the road…? Please?”