Let me just say this right off the bat: senior year is terrible. All those people who were longing for, dreaming of their senior years? Fools, every one of them. There's nothing exciting about being a senior except the prospect of finally being done with school. The year itself is torture.
Moving on, as you can imagine, I was 17, or near enough that it makes little difference. Now, to graduate, I had to perform TES, which is what they called community service in my school. The idea of it for us was that we, the students of a private school, would be split into two groups and sent to two different public schools.
Once there, we'd teach English to the elementary students of these less... reliable institutions. Since my senior year was done in the Latin American country Honduras, (which, if you haven't been keeping up with stats, has the highest crime rate on Earth now), teaching these poor kids English was about as much help as we could provide ourselves.
The issue was that these TES hours were every Saturday morning, and let's just say my 17-year old self wasn't too elated at the prospect of waking up early on Saturdays too. But, I had no choice, so off I went.
I walked forward with a scowl woven into my features, following my mother and aunt as they went to search for wherever I was supposed to go. The ground was dark and sort of silty, the previous night's rain just beginning to dry up. I could hear my shoes slide a bit.
I looked around, observing all the other students with their uniform white t-shirts and jeans, the pattern broken occasionally by a splash of color from a hoodie or jacket. Having shown up a month and a week late for the school year, I didn't know anyone there very well. Just another reason to be thrilled.
"Are you gonna buy anything to eat? For later?"
"No," I responded, not taking my eyes off the steady flow of students. After a few seconds, I turned to see my mother scowling at me and rolling her eyes.
"You're not going to go the whole morning without eating anything," she said.
"If it wasn't my choice, why bother asking?" I figured I had another good ten minutes before my maturity came back.
She let out an exasperated sigh and continued towards the little snack stand. I consented to buying some water and a bag of plantain chips, and we proceeded to search for Coach Saul, who would be supervising my group that day. Well, my mom and aunt did; I lingered behind in the hallway mouth, staring at the damp concrete and cycling through my favorite Rise Against songs on my iPod, trying not to look like a complete loser.
Before leaving, Mom came over once more to say goodbye.
"Have a good day," she said, kissing me on the cheek.
"Probably not," I muttered under my breath.
Eventually it was time for us to go to the schools, and I was glad for the chance to blend in and not look so alone. They herded us onto the bus, and we were off. I spent most of the ride staring absent-mindedly out the window, and time went by faster than I'd have liked. I snapped back to reality.
The school had an... odd look to it. Perhaps it was just me unconsciously rebelling, but it seemed darker than the surrounding area. The clouds seemed to gather above the school, and I couldn't see into any of the windows, despite it being a fairly clear morning. When I got off the bus, I noticed something else. It took me a few seconds to place it; the silence. There were no crickets, no birds, not even any wind. It was eerie, but I shrugged it off as unconscious me wanting to find more flaws to hate.
We went in to the fifth grade class, and the kids introduced themselves. I noticed most of them had impish grins on their faces. I smirked.
"Well, they won't make this too easy for us", I thought.
I was standing near the door as my classmates and coach went over how the program would go. I quickly lost interest in what I already knew and absent-mindedly began checking out the school.
It was a pretty rough looking place, the ground alternating patches of rocks and slippery mud, and the buildings themselves had peeling, faded paint. In the middle of all the structures was a small field, apparently improvised for football, but probably multipurpose. The buildings, painted white above and green below, were rather dull and artificial on the inside. It looked like a school that had recently been abandoned.
I was turning back to face the inside of the classroom when something made me stop. Across the cement field, there was a figure standing in the doorway of one of the less well-maintained buildings.
From where I was standing, he looked to be about ten. Short spiky black hair, impish grin, the usual deal. He also had what looked like ink stains all over his hands. His head moved a little, and he seemed to notice me for the first time. His eyes started to widen and his mouth began to twitch. I was bracing myself for a scream because that's what he looked to be doing, when he suddenly dashed sideways and out of sight, like someone had pulled him that way with a cane, like in cartoons.
It took me a second before I blinked and replayed what I'd just seen in my mind. After a few more seconds, I just shrugged. I guessed the kid had eaten spaghetti before getting to school, messily.
Still, why the hell isn't he in class?
After we had given them the snacks we brought and each chosen which student would be whose, the games began. Simple things at first like kickball and football, but the little Hobbits seemed happy, so we were doing our jobs right, I guessed.
I played football with my chosen student so as not to disappoint him, and being an abysmal goalkeeper, and player in general, I failed to stop the third attempt from the opposing team. He wasn't fazed, and he and the rest of his travel size team members waited on the sidelines for it to be our turn again. I took this as an opportunity to go explore.
There wasn't much to see beyond what I'd already observed. Behind what I guessed were storage rooms was the mud and dirt field where I'd lost to a team of munchkins and one classmate. The washroom consisted of a square stone tank of murky water that looked far below "hygienic". That seemed to be it.
Wow, this school is shitty.
I was just about to head back to the field when I noticed a small path wedged between two seemingly unused buildings. Now, I was new, and I was jumpy about anything that might get me in trouble, but I was also a curious little fucker, and that got the better of me this time.
I made my way between the concrete faces, completely gray, and the path went on past them for about 200 meters. There was another building off in the distance. Technically this was still within the school grounds, so I didn't worry myself too much.
I followed the muddy trail, trying not to fuck up my shoes any further. I noticed as I got closer that the building was much larger than I had originally assumed. It looked like a warehouse of sorts. I stood in front of the old black iron door and took a good look at the exterior.
The building, which had no paint at all and remained a lifeless gray, had a strange air about it, like the rest of the school. Too silent, too cloudy, too dark, but here there seemed to be something else. The air around the building felt... damp. I mean, you'd expect it to be damp from the rain, but this was another level entirely. It was warmer in the area, much warmer. The moisture condensed on my exposed skin, leaving me sticky. A disturbing thought came to me, but it was strangely appropriate to what I was feeling.
Breathing. It's like the building is breathing.
Again driven by morbid curiosity, I put my hand on the black metal surface and pushed. I hadn't been expecting it to open, but it swung slowly inward with a loud creak that denoted ancient hinges. I looked inside. The interior was almost pitch black a couple of meters in, despite the large glassless windows that dotted the apparent warehouses outside.
Well, I've gone this far...
I took out my iPod Touch and unlocked it, using the dim light to make out the inside.
The building was as bare outside as it was inside, but it was also unusually warm. From somewhere farther inside I could hear the steady drip, drip, drip of water. I walked farther in, aiming my poor light source as well as was possible. The place was actually huge compared to the other school buildings. It was a lot larger than it had looked on the outside.
Aside from that, there wasn't much to see. There were some old eaten-away tables on one side, and past that there was a line of extremely rusty file cabinets. I went to check out the opposite side and found various building materials: bricks, cement bags, grooved tin plates meant to be roof material, that sort of thing. Everything was coated in an inch of dust.
When it seemed that was all I would find, I turned to go back, but something glinted in the iPod's light. It was a puddle of something, which seemed to be originating from behind a pyramid of long steel pipes. In the light, it looked black. I guessed it was oil, and ran two fingers through it a bit. I brought them up to my face, but instead of the artificial smell of oil I had been expecting almost certainly, this stuff smelled like metal and salt. It was familiar, but... I couldn't place it. Puzzled, I brought the iPod up to my fingers to get a better look.
It... it was bright red.
My eyes widened a bit.
No, no, it can't possibly-
I followed the oblong puddle with my eyes. I had to know. I had to. Tentatively, I inched forward in a crouch and shone the iPod's light into the gap between the pipes and the wall.
I gasped, choked, barely suppressed a yell. The corpse was just beginning to decay, in that stage between bright red and sickly green, like some grisly mock-Christmas. It was completely naked and frozen with its back arched, in agony. The size told me that it wasn't one of the kids, but that's all I could discern. I couldn't tell the race, the age... I couldn't even tell if it was a boy or girl, it was so... mutilated. There were huge chunks of flesh missing from its body, its eyes were deflated and dripping down the ruin of its cheeks, all its fingers and toes had been violently ripped off... it was nauseating. I was a huge fan of horror, but seeing that made my stomach turn. I couldn't look away. Everything around the hideous mess just blurred. Then I heard it.
Faint, but constant. Squirming. In the light, I saw the remaining flesh dotted all over with holes... I saw the way the flesh was quivering ever so slightly...
I couldn't help it. I turned and vomited right there. I stood there, heaving, trying to gather myself.
What the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck...?!
I must've stood there for a full minute, with that one thought cycling through my head like a broken record player.
What the fuck is this...?! Why is-
Voices. I don't know how, but I heard them before they were even in the building. I listened and tried to distinguish words.
"Alright, alright! Just gimme a sec, the ground is slippery!"
"Wow, this place is almost the size of the rest of the school put together..."
"Come on! It's really cool!"
"Um, are we allowed to be here?"
"Come on! Follow us!"
"Why the hell is this way out here?"
Several of my fellow seniors and more or less the same number of kids, or so I assumed from what I'd heard. It was hard to tell.
I momentarily forgot everything and just stood as still as possible, trying to blend in. All the while I wondered, why the hell were they there?
The kids ran in first, seven in all. A few seconds later six of my fellow seniors walked in. I knew three of them by name. I was about twenty feet away from the door, well beyond their line of sight in this darkness, or so I hoped. I hid behind the pyramid of pipes for good measure. Each of the kids took a puzzled senior by the hand and led them farther in. None of them noticed how wide the kids' eyes suddenly seemed. None of them noticed the malicious way they were grinning.
None of them saw the seventh kid walk back to the heavy metal door and take hold of the handle.
I wanted to cry out, to warn them, but she quickly pulled and the door slammed shut with more strength than any 10 year-old girl should have. The darkness became absolute.
It's funny how a seemingly simple and unrelated event can actually save a life. I think that if I hadn't thrown up when I did, I wouldn't have let my iPod lock itself again, and the light from its screen would've given me away. I think that that unnatural darkness, in the end, saved me from the fate that the other seniors suffered.
I still can't try to recall what I heard in that warehouse without feeling needles of ice tearing through my spine, without shuddering in fright. I remember hearing the single second of near-complete silence after the iron door slammed shut, with only the echo reverberating. I remember hearing the single, gleeful giggle in the darkness. I remember hearing the confused voices of the seniors turn to screams.
What followed was the chaos of hell itself. There were horrifying, agonized screams mixed with the sounds of clothes ripping, objects cluttering around, bones splintering and cracking, and flesh being torn and rent. I could hear pleading among the screams, a few futile attempts to run, the sounds of struggling and falling. And giggling... all the while, that damn giggling... it still haunts me to this day, and probably always will.
I sat there in the darkness for what felt like an eternity, hugging my knees, trying to make myself unseen. I sat there even after I heard the black iron door open again and the giggles slowly fade away. When I finally had the courage to slowly stand up, I was cramped. I took two tentative steps, and when nothing happened, I ran.
I practically body-slammed the door, threw it open, and I ran. I ran until I couldn't see that cursed building anymore. It was only then that I saw I had run right back to the school. I spun frantically, sure that I was worse than dead.
I felt a hand land squarely on my right shoulder.
I swear, I jumped three feet and let out a yell.
"Whoa, whoa, calm down!"
From the voice, I realized who it had been. I turned to face Coach Saul, who looked a bit pissed.
"Where the hell have you been? We almost left without your ass!" he said angrily.
He motioned to the bus which sat about 60 feet away, down the inclination that the school sat on.
I wanted to tell him about the six, I did, but a thought stopped me. I realized that I'd have to show him the bodies, or... what remained of them, and to do that I'd have to go back to that building. If I went back, I didn't feel so good about my chances of surviving a second time.
I walked mechanically to the bus, took a seat alone, and just sat there, almost in a daze.
It was only until a couple of hours after everyone went home that the school sent us emails reporting that six of our fellow seniors were missing.
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Written by JustAnotherScarecrow