Middle school is such a strange time in a young person's life.
Don't ask me why I'm writing this right now. It's late at night and the events of that day seem like they happened so long ago. Yet, I can't get them out of my head right now. Maybe it's just my nerves. Maybe it's the darkness outside. I don't really care, honestly, but I need to get this off my chest. Otherwise, I might not be able to sleep tonight. Damn these memories, I wish they would just go away.
It was about eleven years ago when I was in middle school. I was in the seventh grade and I was that kid who wore all black and listened to heavy metal in the back of the classroom. Yeah, I was a goth kid. It seems silly to think about now, but everyone had their own little clique when they were in school, I suppose.
The goth scene really appealed to me as a kid. I was bullied a lot, even before I decided to wear all black and listen to heavy metal full blast on my walkman. The "fuck everyone else in the world" mantra really suited me at the time. And, for three of my "friends", it suited them just as well. I guess that's why we got along so well.
My friends, two of which I haven't heard from for several years now, were just like me. They were goths too. Everyone back then had a clique, I suppose. They were mine. We would spend every waking moment together, both out and in of school. They were like my strange, outcast family. Well... at least they were. Times change. I still remember their faces clearly.
There was Andy, a very tall, robust kid that was the oldest out of all of us. Kyle, my best friend, was short and very thin; though his frame may have been small, he got into fights often. He had a fuse the size of a bacterium, and wasn't afraid to give someone he didn't like a black eye.
Then there was Billy. Billy was bullied the hardest out of all of us. Braces, pimples, and thick-framed glasses made him the perfect target for bullying. Yet, we four didn't care about anyone else when we were hanging out together. The rest of the world didn't matter; only the next Slipknot album did.
I'm rambling aren't I?
Well, perhaps I should get to the meat of things: where this horrible memory comes from, and why I never see those old friends anymore.
My friends and I would always go to a park after school and on weekends to hangout. This park was massive and held a baseball diamond, a football field, and a soccer field for all of the little kids and their Little League games. However, at the edge of this park was a large wooded area. It was completely cut off from the rest of the park and community. That was where my friends and I would go to hang out. There, no one would see us or bother us. It was the perfect solitude for a couple of goth kids. The strangest thing about this little wooded area, however, was a large, out of place wall that seemed to edge to park. I found out later that the wall was meant to separate an old World War II factory from the park so that the kids wouldn't have to be reminded of the war, but to a couple of kids growing up in the early 2000's, it was an eerie landmark.
The strangest part about the wall... aside from the terrible graffiti, was the seemingly out of place door right in the middle of the wall. The door was completely rusted over and had long lost its handle. The door was more or less part of the stone wall, at this point. I'm not really sure how it was able to stay standing after so many years of disrepair. It was definitely a testament to its forger.
Now, I know that this must sound pretty cliché. Yet, I'm sure that whoever is reading this must be pretty curious as to what is behind that door. Well, as fate would have it, it turns out that four goth kids with nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon were also extremely curious as to what was behind that door.
That Saturday afternoon, at about four p.m. or so... after the Little League baseball game, I met up with my three bozo friends right by the door, since it was where we usually met. The three had obvious mischievous smiles plastered all over their faces.
"Oh, what are you guys planning on doing?" I asked accusingly, but a smile also stretching over my lips as I looked the three over. Andy grinned devilishly as he picked up a steel crowbar from the tall grass. My eyes widened, along with my smile.
"We're opening that door, Terry. I stole this crowbar from my old man's work truck. He's got, like, three of them. He won't even know it's gone." Andy said laughing a bit. I remember becoming extremely giddy, almost attaining five year old levels of excitement.
"Well? What the hell are you waiting for?! Open the door!" I shouted at him. The other two began encouraging him as well. With a smug look, he placed the crowbar at the frame of the door and began pushing on it. Now, Andy was a big kid and the door was extremely worn down. It didn't take much effort for him to open the door. With a loud crack, the door flung open, and the four of us, dumbstruck, looked into what was behind the door.
It was a staircase going down into an incredibly dark basement... or bunker... or something. We couldn't even see the bottom of the stairs because of how dark it was. For about five minutes, we just stared down the concrete stairs in awe. Kyle was the first one to break the silence.
"Whoa..." he spoke, "It goes down awhile, doesn't it?"
"Yeah," Billy said, swallowing a bit. "W-We should go though. Someone must have heard us. We gotta go before they call the cops."
"Oh, don't be such a baby. We've gone this far, we gotta go down the stairs!" Andy exclaimed. The three of us looked at Andy with worried looks. We may have been goth kids, but we were still kids.
"I don't know, Andy. It's pretty dark, and we don't have a flashlight." Billy said.
"Pfft, alright wuss. Go on, Kyle, you go down the stairs."
"Me? Why the fuck me? You're the one who opened the door! You go down the stairs!" he spat angrily. Andy furrowed his brow.
"Yeah, and without my crowbar, that door would still be closed, wouldn't it? I already get a free pass on this. Terry, you got here last, you gotta go down the stairs!" he yelled at me. My eyes widened as my attention turned from the stairs to the three others.
"What? Me? Why? It wasn't even my idea to open the door! I'm not going down there!" I said, worried.
"Come on! Someone's gotta go down. Billy and Kyle are too big of cowards to do it. That leaves you."
"I'm NOT going down there."
"Oh? I can't make you?"
"You can't force me to do it."
I felt the large, blunt force of a heavy hand against the back of my head as Andy sucker-punched me. Andy was bigger and, well, let's just say broader, than all three of us put together. His punch nearly knocked me out. In my daze, I remember hearing Kyle shout something as Andy placed his hands on my shoulder and shoved me. I didn't hit the ground like I thought I would. Instead, I just remember falling. Falling down and down into an unfathomable abyss of darkness. He pushed me down the stairs, but being as light as I was, I never even hit a single concrete step. I just fell, and fell, and fell until I hit the bottom. I hit the concrete floor hard. The impact knocked the wind out of me, but, surprisingly, I didn't break any bones or, well, die. The world span and I couldn't even get up, let alone speak.
"Andy?! WHAT THE FUCK?!" Kyle shouted. From the bottom of the steps, the three of them looked like giant shadows against a pure white background.
"Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit," Billy repeated over and over as he gripped his head. "Is he dead?"
"I don't fucking know!" Andy shouted, "I just wanted someone to go down the stairs! I lost control!"
"What are we fucking gonna do, shit head?! Terry's down there and he's probably dead! You fucking murderer! You're going to jail!" Kyle shouted.
"Oh yeah? You two better get used to the idea then, because I'll tell them you helped me do it. If I go down, you're going with me!" Andy spat.
"What's wrong with you, dude? We need to go get Terry!" Billy chimed in.
"Just... Just let me think for a minute," Andy said.
"Go down there and get him, numb-nuts!" Kyle shouted.
"No! We'll all go to jail if we do... We gotta close the door!"
"What?!" Billy and Kyle said in unison as they looked at Andy.
"Think about it. We close the door, Terry's body stays down there and no one finds it. How long has it been since anyone's opened this door? Our parents have no idea where we go when we hang out. We'll just say Terry left to go home. No one will know we did it!" Andy said hysterically.
"Fuck you, Andy! Billy, let's go down there and-"
"I agree with Andy."
Kyle shut up as he backed away from the other two with a shocked look. "You... You gotta be kidding me. You too, Billy?"
"Dude... if Terry's still alive, he'll tell on Andy. Andy will tell on us, and we'll all go to jail; you, me, and Andy! I'm not going to jail, Kyle. Not for Terry, not for you, not for anyone. I was not bullied all of my life just to go to jail! WE'RE CLOSING THE DOOR! And... and if you go down there to get Terry, you'll be trapped down there too... with no flashlight." Billy said sternly. Kyle shook his head and punched Billy square in the face.
"You fucking monsters... I'll never forget about this. Andy, if you weren't such a rat, I'd go to the cops right now... but I can't go to jail. Oh God, Terry... I'm so sorry." Kyle said as he turned and walked away. I remember reaching out a hand towards the open door and trying so hard to shout for them to rescue me. Yet, the only thing that happened was Andy gripping the door and closing it. With a loud crack, the door shut; and I was trapped inside of a pit of darkness alone.
After about fifteen minutes, I regained enough of my strength to stand up and shout for help. I screamed, and screamed, and screamed... but the door never opened. The area I was in was large and empty enough to have an echo. My screams were slowly replaced by tears as I collapsed to the concrete floor and cried. I was going to die there, alone, and my killer would never be caught. I wished we never opened that door. It all happened so quickly, I couldn't believe how fast my only friends left me to die in the dark; even Kyle. He screamed once more from fear and anger as I tried to feel my way back to the stairs. I had no idea where I was going, but after about five minutes of crawling, I knew I wasn't going to find the stairs without some sort of light to guide me there. It was hopeless. I had no idea where I even was, let alone how to get out! I just curled on the stone floor and cried.
"Why God?! WHY?! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?! WHY?! WHAT DID I DO TO MAKE YOU SO MAD?!" I shouted as I pounded the concrete floor. I felt my hand grow numb as I continued to bash the floor with a fury only a man on his death bed would know.
I stopped when my hand started to bleed. My sniffles were the only sounds left I was producing. I was only adding insult to injury. I checked my hoody pockets for anything; something that could help me out of here. CD Player? No, I didn't want to die to a soundtrack. Pack of gum? Well... I was probably gonna die of starvation anyway, so the pack of gum may be a good last ditch supply of non-existent nutrients... and that's when I felt it.
My saving grace.
My cell phone! My first cell phone that my Mom got me just for emergencies! Pay-As-You-Go, Free weekend minute glory! I nearly started crying again as he pulled out the phone from my pocket. I prayed that it hadn't broken in the fall, but, miraculously, it survived the impact! Gotta love Nokia. I pressed one of the keys on the keypad and a bright light flashed from the screen. It hurt my eyes that were now adjusted to the darkness, but that was it. The phone survived in one piece, and soon, I could see where I was and where I could get out.
Sometimes, I wish the phone broke. Because what I saw in that dark hellhole is the whole reason I'm writing this.
I turned the screen outwards so that I could see and looked around the room. It was a large, circular concrete room that had boxes lining out walls. A few of them were broken open after time and cans of food with worn labels reading SPAM littered the ground next to them. Signs were plastered over the walls that had radiation symbols on them. My eyes widened as I realized this had to have been a fallout shelter. I walked over to one of the boxes and grabbed one of the cans when something appeared in my peripheral vision. I slowly turned to look and nearly dropped my phone at the sight. I placed a hand over my mouth as I backed away slowly.
The... thing was a mummified corpse. It wore an old time-y suit that was covered in dust. The suit must have been white to start out with because now the suit was a disgusting, putrid yellow in color. The corpse itself was surprisingly well preserved. Its skin was a horrific brown, with bones partially sticking out. Its eyes, well, lack there of, empty black holes. Its nose was gone and its mouth... Oh God, its mouth... was shriveled back into a twisted, corpse-like smile. The hair was all gone, with only the disgusting brown flesh remaining in its stead. The corpse was seated on the ground with a revolver clutched in its hand. Yet, its head, propped against the wall, seemed to be looking right at me.
The color completely disappeared from my skin as I turned tail and flashed my phone around the room. I found the staircase and bolted up the stairs. They weren't nearly as far-reaching as we first thought, as I was able to reach the top with a few, fear-enhanced strides. The inside of the door didn't have a knob either. I began to hyperventilate as I realize why that corpse was alone down here. He must have been trapped down here, without a handle to open the door and get out. I grit my teeth and began to bash the door with my shoulder. It wouldn't budge. I bashed my fist against the door and screamed for help, but nothing happened. The door remained steadfast. My lower lip quivered as I realized how hopeless my situation was. I'd just be another mummified corpse, like that poor guy in the suit.
It was then that I felt a hand rest against my shoulder. I swallowed as my head turned around slowly only to be met face-to-face with that corpse. My heart stopped. The corpse looked at me with its empty sockets, its chest moving in and out slowly while its twisted grin of a mouth breathed out dust. It took a slow step upwards to get closer to me. I closed my eyes and waited for the inevitable to happen.
"Let me get that for ya, kid."
One of my eyes opened and the raspy voice as tears rolled down my eyes as the corpse's hand touched the door and pushed against it. Like magic, it was able to open the door with a loud crack and the light of the outside world entered the staircase. The light blinded my eyes, causing me to forget about the corpse for a half second as my arm rushed to cover my eyes. Remembering what had just happened, I immediately bolted out of the door and landed on the soft grass as I tripped over my own feet. I rolled onto my back as I looked backwards at the corpse standing behind the open door. I nearly screamed as all the color drained from my skin. The corpse turned around and grasped the door, shutting it behind him. I could hear its voice from the other side as it spoke once more.
"Get some new friends, kid... don't wanna end up dead, do ya?"
I immediately bolted to my feet and ran as far and fast as I could away from that door, never wanting to see it again.
I suppose you all can guess what happened after that. I went to my mother and told her everything that had happened. She was horrified at what my friends had done and immediately called the police. They arrived quickly, and immediately questioned me for what had happened. I told them, well, almost everything. I told them about the door, opening it, Andy sucker-punching me, them leaving me to die... but I left the part of how I got out to myself. Who was going to believe an old, mummified corpse opened the door for me to escape? While I did mention that there was a corpse down there, I lied and said I was able to get the door open by slamming my shoulder into it, like I had originally tried to do.
The police wrote down everything I told them and left to go file the report... as well as pick up Andy and the other two. My mother did not let go of me when they left. While her closeness was a bit annoying (I was still a pre-teen, and parents are lame when you're that age), I still felt myself hold onto her and I cried into her shirt for awhile. I was alive. I was safe. I had been face to face with a corpse; a corpse that moved, walked, and... talked. Just like out of a horror movie. The more and more I mulled it over in my head, the more and more it began to seem like a paranoid delusion caused by fear. It had to be... didn't it?
Andy, Billy, and Kyle were all picked up and questioned by the police the next day. Andy, of course, lied to the police and told them I opened the door and went down the stairs myself. Billy backed up his lie, probably having been intimidated by Andy to agree with his story. Kyle was the only one that told the whole story of what happened. With his testimony as well as mine, Andy was sent to Juvenile Hall while Billy was given a warning and hefty fine for helping Andy as well as lying to the police. They let him off easy because of how Andy intimidated him. Nothing would show up on his criminal record and he'd still be able to go to college and have a promising career. Kyle got off with just a warning. Andy, after juvy, was sent to military school, so I never did see him again anyways. Good riddance. It took me several months to speak to Billy or Kyle again, and even after, I hated Billy. My hatred has not gone away to this day, in fact.
The corpse was found in the fallout shelter a few days after Andy's trial. The corpse was still in the same place it was before, leaning against the wall with the revolver clutched in its hand. No identification was found on him, and he was simply buried as a John Doe in a local graveyard. While his appearance frightens me to this day... he did save me... whether or not he opened the door or if that was simply a delusion. I still visit that grave every once in awhile and leave a few flowers on it.
I guess that's about the end of my little story. It feels better to get this off my chest. Still though, I can't help but think about how that corpse got there in the first place. What if that thing was down there alone for a reason?
What if I let out something that should have stayed down there? What if it let me out so that it could be found? Am I crazy for thinking this way? This happened so long ago... but this memory keeps coming back. That and the fact no one has seen or heard from Billy or Andy for the past few years... this is all too much.
I can't help but think I've done something horribly, horribly wrong.