E. L. DAWSON
I opened my eyes to a bright shining light, and I wondered just where I was.
As my sight adjusted, I realized that the light I was seeing was only the fluorescent on a ceiling far above me. Moving my head I looked around the area I was in, and nothing registered. I had no idea where I was, or even for that matter, who I was.
I sat up, and put my hand on the smooth shiny floor. âTrazel.â I thought, even though the word had no meaning to me. Looking around, my mind screamed, âWhat is going on?â
The room that I was in was about two hundred feet wide and a thousand feet long. The floor was made of the shiny stuff with markings on it. One marking, I could tell, was a circle with an A in the middle, and the middle of the A became a gigantic bird. I wanted to name the bird, but couldnât do it. It was black and had a long beak,
The walls were made of brick, and there were pictures on them. On the south wall were pictures of kids and above them were the words âIn Memoriam.â Twelve pictures in all, and all of them had placards that told the age that they were when they had expired. There were other pictures on the walls, but I could not tell what they were from where I was sitting.
Wooden benches sat every five feet from the walls and they were accompanied by a waste can. I stumbled to the bench closest to the glass doorways, leading outside, and sat down. I couldnât believe how groggy I was. My mind raced as I wondered what happened to the other people. Had I been abducted by aliens? Was there a terrorist attack? Maybe even the rapture? I didnât know All I knew was that this was the kind of building that should have had other people in it.
âHello!â I yelled out, and the only thing I heard back was the echo of my own voice ringing out.
âIs there anyone here?â I got the same response, and I got a chill up my back.Â I wanted to run out the doors, but found that my pride wouldnât let me. I was going to walk out those doors like a man!
I put my hands in my pocket, frantically, and found a cell phone, and in my right hip back pocket I found a leather wallet with the Indianapolis Colts logo on it. Thumbing through it I found sixty dollars in cash, an American Express card, a Social Security card, and a drivers license made out to Kevin OâHalloran. According to the license, I was forty-eight, born on August forth, 1964. Even though I now knew my name, I still had no idea who I was. It was frustrating.
Standing up on wobbly legs, I started for the doors. The first thing that hit me was how cold it was in this place. I could see my own breath. Goose bumps rose on my arms as the hairs stood on end. For the first time of many I felt scared. Alone and scared, I made my way to the doors leading outside.
It was daylight, and the parking lot was full of vehicles. I thought to myself how weird it was that there would be that many cars and trucks in the lot, but no presence of any other human beings in the building.
Pushing on the bar, nothing happened. The door stayed closed, and I was at a loss. I slammed my body against it, and all I got for my trouble was knocked over to the floor. I was getting scared. Whatever had happened here did not want me to get out. That thought made me more jittery than anything else that had happened up to that point.
I made myself stand back up, and decided that it was time for me to check out the surroundings, and find another way out, and maybe find other survivors along the way. I took a really good look at where I was at. There was a cafeteria, and I thought maybe I was in a school. By the size of the common area, it had to be a high school!
My hand automatically reached into my breast pocket, and I pulled out a Camel Crush, and lit it without any problem. I inhaled a generous amount of flavor, and then crushed the little ball in the filter, changing the flavor to menthol. I decided to sit down and enjoy it. If anything would bring anyone out it would be a non-smoker demanding that I put out the cigarette. At least that was what I was hoping for.
What had happened was a big zilch. Nothing! I finished my cigarette, and crushed it out on the floor beneath me. I listened for loud pounding footsteps in the hallway around me, and got no sound at all. I was devastated. As crushed as the cigarette butt that lay on the floor below me.
There was a map on the brick wall in the entrance, and I walked over to study it. The marquee over the picture stated that it was Appleton High School. The name rang a bell to me, but I could still not pull it up. My mind or at least what was left of it would not allow me to access anything that was to let me remember who I am. I couldnât believe how big, according to the map that the school was. I thought to myself as how this school could have itâs own zip code. There was a whole wing dedicated to band only, and then a music department, and home economics department. I was shocked.
My finger went across the map, and I felt that I knew the place as well as I was going to. I walked away with hope in my heart. Hope that I would find another person, or at least a way out of the predicament I found myself in.
The first thing that I decided to do was go to one of the locker rooms and clean myself up. Not that I was dirty or anything, I just wanted to get the smell of fear off of me. Was I scared? Yes, and I still am. Getting that smell off was the first step in trying to find a way out of this mess. I wanted a shower.
I walked down the hallway next to the commons, where I found the gym. The bleachers were all in, and the basketball goals were out so that the basketball team could practice. âNever again.â I mumbled under my breath, as I walked towards the mens locker room.
Opening the door, I expected the lights to be off, but I was wrong. The hallway lights leading into the pit of the beast were working all the way down into bath and shower area. I was relieved I yelled down the hallway, âHello?â Once again, no sound came from inside. I shook my head and cautiously made my way in. Each step that I took I felt like screaming, and my own foot falls rang in my ears.
The door to the coaches office was standing wide open, and I peeked in to see if there was anyone in there. It was the same as everywhere else. Nothing!
âDear God,â I found myself praying. It was probably the first time in years that I had even attempted to speak with God, but I felt that this time it was maybe the only thing to do. âI donât know how long it has been, but I am in desperate need of you right now. I donât know what is going on, nor do I even know who I am. I am lost and lonely. The truth is that I am scared. Please help me in my hour of need! Amen!â
I waited hoping that God would intervene, but to no avail. I was thinking that the door would open and the coach would be all happy to see me. It never happened. I finally walked back into the room where the lockers were stored.
There were yellow lockers all in a row around the room. They were all open, and clothes were scattered all over the floor. There were names on magnetic strips above each locker. Yeary #15, Muncy #28, and so on. I shook my head as I realized that these poor kids would never play the game ever again.
I walked over to the locker marked for Yeary, and rummaged through it. Speed stick Sport deodorant stood out to me, and I grabbed it. It wasnât as if Yeary would ever need it again. I also grabbed a towel out of his locker.
With a heavy heart, I walked into the shower. It was a square room with three shower heads on the three sides that didnât have the doorway. On the tiled floor there was a single three inch drain. Strands of long dark hair clogged it, and I reached down to grab the clumps out. Touching them mad me want to vomit, because my mind kept telling me I was touching the hair of a dead man, and that though stayed with me. I hurriedly grabbed to sickening clumps, and threw them at the wall, where they stuck.Â I ran to one of the toilets and hurled.
Feeling better, I rinsed out my mouth, and walked back to the shower. I didnât know what to expect, but as I turned to water on I was mildly surprised to find that the hot water worked. I found myself whistling a tune that I didnât ever remember hearing before, as I got undressed.
A man can adapt to any given situation, and I knew that I was adapting quite quickly. It is truly in our nature, and I was experiencing it firsthand. Getting under the hot streams of water made me once again feel like a man, and I knew that I was going to find a way out of this mess.
My thoughts turned to the cell phone that I had found in my pants pocket. Why I hadnât thought of using it before, I couldnât say, but it was looking me in the face the whole time. I could call out to one of the numbers stored in there and then someone would come and get me.
âYou idiot!â I said aloud to myself. âAll this time you had the solution right there in your pocket, and you didnât even think about it!â
Turning off the water, I dried myself off. I finally felt refreshed and ready to go. My mind gave no thought to the fact that if there was no one in the school, why would there be anyone out there.
I put my clothes back on, and checked the cell. There was no signal, and I cursed it. I knew that I had to find a place where I could get out, and use the phone so I could let someone know that I was stuck in the school. I was desperate. I hit the contact list, and saw the name Leslie OâHalloran. My mind scanned itself trying to remember who Leslie was, but nothing came up.
I started wondering if any of the other doors would work. If I couldnât open them, at least I could break the glass to get out. I knew there had to be a way out, but I was just overlooking it.
âWell, Iâm not getting anything done just sitting here.â I said, standing up and walking towards the door that lead to the hallway around the gym.
As I opened the door a gust of cold wind hit me, and I screamed. It didnât just hit me, but it went through me. I had no clue what it was, but whatever it was scared the living daylights out of me. My legs went limp as butter, and I fell to the floor. There was something here with me, and I knew that it couldnât be a good thing. It wanted me and this time I wasnât just scared, but I was terrified for my immortal soul!
I managed to crawl back to the common area before the feeling came back into my legs, but I was crying the whole way. I didnât care if anyone had seen me, for if anyone had found themselves in the situation that I was in would have done the same. In that, I have complete confidence.
Finding my legs, I stood up, and made my way to the pop machine. I was thirsty, and I wanted something other than water. Depositing two dollars, I pushed the button for a diet Orange. Three quarters came out in the change slot, and I collected my money and my drink.
My stomach grumbled and I knew that I needed to find something to eat, so that I could keep going. I walked into the cafeteria and then into the kitchen. I was surprised at how big it was, but even more impressed with the cafeteria that accompanied it. There were two sections to the cafeteria. One was the main sitting area. Tables were everywhere, there was five fifty-five inch hi-def televisions in the back, and sides near the doors. I started chuckling as I noticed an old style jukebox that stood next to the doors that led to the commons.
The second part of the cafeteria was much smaller, but there were signs to different fast food places in the area. There were tables for Burger Queen, Pizza House Pizza, Chuck wagon Roast Beef, and of course that old back up, Subterranean Subs. These kids ate well, that was for sure. I wondered to myself if these kid’s parents knew what they were paying for, and found that I really didnât care.
I walked to one of the serving lines and couldnât believe what I was seeing. There was hot food in metal containers on the steam tables, and it looked fresh. My mind flashed that there really was someone here with me, and I bellowed out.
âHello!â I yelled before I could stop myself. I wanted nothing more than to find someone else. Anyone would do just fine. Then I remembered the presence that I had felt in the hallway, and became very still.
My stomach growled even harder, and I grabbed a cheeseburger from the steel metal bucket, and placed it between a sesame seed bun. The taste hit me at once. It was the best burger that I had ever tasted. I donât remember my taste buds ever having an orgasm, but it was the closest word I know to describe it. A total tastegasm! The Orange drink was the same. My mouth filled with Orange flavor as I guzzled the entire contents down my throat.
I made another cheeseburger, and grabbed some French fries from another bucket. I wanted to sit down and see if I could find any news about what was happening. What I really wanted to know was, was I the only one this was happening to.
The screen came on, but there was nothing but snow on any of the channels, and I was sorely disappointed. When I was a kid there was a T.V. movie that I had watched called âWhere Has All The People Gone?â It starred Peter Graves as a man who was in a cave during a solar eclipse. The flairs had killed all the people that were not protected. Thatâs how I felt right then. Almost everyone else was dead, and I was one of the few left.
That thought didnât do my appetite any good.Â I pushed the rest of my food away and grabbed another cigarette. I placed it in my mouth, and clicked the lighter. It didnât flame on the first click, so I flicked it again. This time I was able to light my smoke, and I sat back to enjoy it.
While I sat there blowing smoke into the air, I tried to think what would be the best way of getting away. The only thing that I could think of was that maybe I could break the glass of the doors in the entrance. In my heart of hearts, I knew that there had to be a way out, and it was up to me to find it.
I finished my cigarette, and downed the rest of my Orange drink. Standing up, I felt that the plan I had was going to work, and that was something I needed to feel. I walked out of the cafeteria, and into the commons.
Grabbing one of the trash cans, and hoisted it up. It was made of fiberglass, and had a good amount of weight to it. I nodded my head, and walked into the entrance.Â Opening the inner doors, I felt exhilarated. I lifted the barrel over my head, and flung it at the doorway that was keeping me locked inside of this desolate mortuary! I screamed in triumph.
My gleefulness was short lived as I watched the trash barrel hit the glass and bounce off. I stood there in disbelief, and my shock turned to anger as I grabbed the barrel and started smashing it against the glass.
âThis is not happening!â I yelled out with each impact on the glass. âI will not be defeated!â
Iâm not sure how long that I stood there beating the glass with that trash can, but I got tired of it in a hurry. I collapsed on the floor, and bawled like a baby. Drawing myself up into a fetal position, I let it all out. I was scared, and I wanted answers, but none were forthcoming.
I must have fallen asleep lying there, for when I woke up the sun was going down. I donât know how long I was out, but I was covered in dried snot from when I was crying. I stood up, and stretched, letting my muscles get loosened up. I didnât know if I was ever going to get out of here, but I did know that I was going to keep trying. I wondered what the beings that were holding me thought. I wasnât going to give up, and I swore whoever was responsible was going to pay!
I knew that it was time to quit whining, and show them what I was made of. I was angry! Angry at them, angry at myself, and at anyone else who might get in my way!
I made my way back to the cafeteria and walked over to where the cheeseburgers were. The food was gone, and I wondered if someone had come while I was asleep, and took everything. That was possible. I knew that there were plenty of scenarios that would be possible but I thought that I should wait before I made up my mind on what I thought was going on.
I was hungry again and since there was no food in the cafeteria, I thought I might find something in the teachers lounge. I hadnât been to the front of the school yet, so I wondered what would be up there. I did know by the map that there were a few classrooms in each wing, and that the offices were in a square. Student Services was what they called it. I found that funny because I knew that they used to call it the principalâs office and the guidance councilorâs office.
I started down the long hallway that ended at another entrance door, but I already knew that I wouldnât get out that way, so I didnât even try. I was on a quest for food, and then I would worry about how to get away after my belly was full.
By the time I walked by the front doors, it was full dark, and once again I felt the coldness of the unknown hit me. This time I did not scream out, nor did I fall down. I took it in and let myself show whatever was watching me know that I would prevail.
I kept on walking and I let the exhilaration of my own humanity show for all to see. The creatures of the unknown be damned. I was going to shine! I remember wondering to myself if any other human being had gone through what I was enduring now. I really didnât know, but I found that I couldnât care any less either.
I found the teachers lounge and looked in the refrigerator. Upon seeing that one of the teachers had left a Tombstone Pizza in the freezer, my stomach rumbled. It was a supreme, and I loved those. Taking it out and unwrapping it, I opened the microwave, and shoved it in. While waiting for the pizza to cook, I scanned the lounge, and what I saw was unbelievable.Â Fresh coffee was being made. I watched the dark liquid pour out of the cup that held the grounds into the carafe. It smelled so good that I was literally drooling.
Searching the cabinets, I found several coffee cups. I poured a cup, smelling it as I took in the sweet nectar. The microwave said I still had about five minutes, so I sat down and took a big gulp of the coffee. Frowning, I thought that there was something a bit off about it. The coffee wasnât bad or anything, it was just a bit more bitter than I was used to.
âIt must be an off brand.â I spoke aloud thoughtfully.
Sitting there sipping from the cup, a loud ring came from the wall behind me. I knocked over the chair I was sitting in as I ran to the phone that was displayed underneath the television in the corner of the room. I picked up the receiver and put it up to my right ear.
âHelloâŚ Hello, can you hear me?â I screamed into the phone, and all that I heard back was static. âPlease! Is anyone there? My name is Kevin OâHalloran, and I am stuck here! Please answer me!â
Hearing that hateful static on the other end, I knew that my hopes would be dashed once more if I dwelt on it. I hung up the phone and walked over to the microwave to get my pizza, as the timer beeped. I found a pizza cutter in one of the drawers and sliced it four times, then sat down to eat the magnificent pie.
Once again, I was fooled. The pizza in front of me didnât taste exactly right. It wasnât spoiled per se, but it tasted as if it had absorbed the flavor of the cardboard that it sat on. I ate it knowing that I was going to have to keep up my strength if I was going to get out of here.
âOkay, so theyâre playing games with me. Fine, go ahead. Letâs see who is more strong-willed! I managed to say at the top of my lungs. âI will win! I swear it!â
After I ate, I stood up, and walked out of the room. As I turned the corner, in the hallway, I saw something I knew that I couldnât have possibly seen. It was a shadow creature. I didnât see it well, but I could tell it had long black misty tentacles hovering behind it. I also could see right through itâs grayness. I thought for sure that I was seeing a ghost and that had scared me worse than anything else I had seen through the whole day. The thing floated from one end of the hall to the other, and lit into the wall going into the guidance offices.
I stood there in shock, and my body broke out in a cold chilly sweat as I took one cautious step after another. I knew what I saw, but tried to convince myself that it was just a trick of the mind. I told myself that I was all alone in a spooky building, and that the mind plays powerful tricks on a person when he is scared shitless.
I wasnât convinced.
I knew that I would not be able to sleep that night, for too much had happened for that to even be possible, so I decided to go to the weight room instead. Do a workout, something to tire me out. Was I ever so wrong!
Remembering from the map, I knew that the school was big, but I really had no idea just how big it really was. It took me a good ten minutes to walk from the front of the building to the back where the weight room was. I was huffing and puffing by the time I walked into the room. Deciding to forgo the cardio room, I went to a bench a laid down on it and grabbed the weight bar above me.
Time here has no definite meaning, and that was something I was finding out. All the clocks had stopped, and my internal clock was messing up more often than not. What Iâm meaning to say, is that I had no idea how long I was in there sweating myself, and trying to think about what I had gotten myself into.
As I sat up and wiped the sweat off my face, I was astounded to see a kid sitting on another bench. He was just sitting there staring at me, and I finally found my voice.
âYou can see me?â I asked while seeing a glimmer of hope once again.
The young man just sat there and said nothing. I stood up and walked over to him. He kept staring until I got close, then he winced as if I was going to strike him. The look in his eyes were woe-some, and I knew that I had seen him somewhere before. Studying his face for a few seconds I had visions of pictures entering my mind. It was then that I knew that what I was seeing couldnât be possible. The face of the boy surrounded by a frame and a placard swam in front of me. The words âIn Memoriamâ above his picture told me that I was seeing a real God for honest ghost! I screamed, and the boy just lowered his head, and said nothing. The sad expression on his face made me want to cry for the kid. I wished to help him, but I knew that I couldnât even help myself. I knew that this poor kid was doomed. He was going to be here for the rest of eternity, and that this would always be his place of unrest.
My feet were planted to the floor as he looked at me, and I to him. He was dressed in a pair of shorts, and his hair was cut short. His blue eyes took me in as I waited for what he would do. I put out my hand hoping to feel a real person, but my hand passed through him. He started to shimmer and disappear, but I pleaded with him to stay. I needed company even if the other person wouldnât speak. I wanted to know that there was someone else in the same predicament that I was in.
âPlease stay!â I heard myself repeating over and over again, but to no avail. The boy faded and I knew once again I was alone. I had at that moment understood that I was being tortured by something or someone unknown. I again felt the terror creep into my soul!
I carefully backed out of the weight room, watching the bench where the ghost had sat. I was wondering if it sanity that I was losing, or maybe something else. Maybe I was losing my very essence. I wasnât sure what to think as I ran down the hallway, hearing the door to the weight room slam shut.
I suddenly knew that what I had gotten into wasnât any government tests, or anything else like that. I still thought that it was a possibly That I was abducted by aliens, but I was finding that harder to believe. I stopped and panted, trying to catch my breath. Even that was harder than I thought it would be.
âKevin!â A whisper that was neither masculine, or feminine echoed through the hallway, and I turned to look for it. There was nothing in any direction, and I started shaking all over.
The hallways were deserted except for the overhead lights that lit the way to other mysterious hallways and classrooms. I wanted to run, but instead I found my inner strength was surfacing as I yelled out, âDamned you! I will not be broken, you son of a bitch!â
There was no reply as the eerie silence settled around me. I felt the cell phone in my pocket and a thought suddenly hit me. I was sure that I would get a signal on the roof. I could call out and someone could send help! I knew that this would work, and I became excited. I knew that the things in this place, this dead place could not keep me down. I was going to show them that I was better than anything that could be holding me here. I just needed to find a way onto the roof.
Needing to relieve myself, I first stopped by the menâs restroom. I sighed as the warm urine passed through my system into the urinal below. I realized that I had not gone at all today and found that I was concerned. I wasnât sure but I thought that I was usually pretty regular. I decided to worry myself about that once I was clear of the mess that I was currently in. Whatever this mess was.
I zipped up my pants and walked over to the large round lavatory. The faucet was the kind you put your hands under and the water turns itself on. I was deep in the sensation of the water hitting my hands when I felt that I was not alone in there. Something that I couldnât see was waiting in one of the stalls, and I knew that I needed to see what was there.
There were three stalls and three urinals. The urinals were out in the open, and the toilets were enclosed. As I approached the stall closest to the urinals, a toilet flushed. I almost jumped out of my skin. You would think that after everything I had seen and everything that had happened, I would have been used to it. That wasnât the case, not at all. I looked down on the floor as water seeped from below the stalls. The toilet was overflowing a black murky slime that my mind was telling me I didnât want running over my shoes. I stepped away from the stalls, as a toilet seat came crashing down on the toilet itself. As I turned to run the lights in the restroom went out. In the blackness I saw something I tried to tell myself I was not seeing, a pair of red eyes. They floated in the darkness and started towards me!
A scream trapped itself in my throat, as I backed my way to the entrance, into the lighted hallway. I sat down on another bench, and took out my cigarettes. There were four left. And I knew that this was one of the times that I needed one.
I took one out of the pack with shaking hands, and grabbed my lighter. I flicked it several times before a small flame came into view. Steadying my hand as the flame approached the cigarette, I took a long deep draw. I felt the calming effect of the smoke as it went down my throat into my lungs. I held it there and let my fears evaporate into the silence that I had never thought I would be so glad to hear.
I checked the map once again and found the nearest mezzanine. It was basically an electric room that supplied all the power for that wing of the school. Not only were there the power lines, but also a back-up generator in case the regular power went out. Also there would be a door that led to the roof. Thatâs what I wanted. I wanted to get out of that school.
I had been noticing odd smells, like a musky, dank smell. I needed a breath of fresh air. I realized that I had to walk to the front of the building to get to the second floor, and then up another set of stairs to the mezzanine.
All of the time I was walking towards the front, it was in my mind that the door probably wouldnât work, that all my walking would produce nothing more than more heartache. I slapped myself hard, and said, âKevin, you canât think like that! Man you have to keep moving, and do the best that you can to find a way out!â
I walked on, listening to the sounds of my own footsteps, hoping that no one else would follow. Going by the library, I noticed movement through the windows. I wasnât sure what I saw, but I knew something was lurking in the shadows. I didnât really want to know what was in there, but I was compelled to walk in just to satisfy my curiosity.
I quietly walked in. The first thing that I had noticed was that the sign stated that the room was called a Media Center. I thought as how things had changed since I had been in school. Kids today had it easy. Televisions in the classrooms, Jukeboxes in the cafeteria, and now even a media center. Howâs that for living? I gave a nervous laugh, and walked further in. There were two long tables with seven computers on each side. I was impressed to say the least. They were all on, and the homepage for Appleton Community Schools was showing on every one of the screens. I looked around me suddenly afraid that the Shadow-creature was back, but there was nothing in the room with me. Just the electric smell coming off the computer and moldy paper smells that I had always associated with books.
Sitting down at one of the terminals, I wondered just how much I would find out. I typed in Yahoo.com and waited for it to load. My wait wasnât very long as I watched the headlines take effect on the screen.Â A country singer had died, and there were terrorist attacks on Americans in Iraq. Nothing revealing what my situation was, so I typed into the search engine for the Indianapolis Star.
A list of different websites listing the Indianapolis Star came up onscreen and I clicked the front page. What the screen showed me was â404 error, This website cannot be found.â I sat there looking at it for what seemed an eternity. This way my luck, at least for the past day.
I lowered my head into my hands and just let my thoughts fly where they may. I knew that I was in shock, but I wasnât sure just how to cope with it. I also knew that if I quit telling myself that there was a reasonable explanation for all of this, I would lose my mind once and for all. My mind at that time was a very fragile thing.
Standing up, I decided that it was time that I did what I started out to do. I was going to get out on that roof, and then I was going to get some answers. First of all I wanted to know who Leslie was. Was she my sister? Maybe she was my wife? I had no clue, but if I spoke with her maybe I would learn something about myself. That would be a start.
Taking a deep breath, I started moving my feet towards the door of the Media Center. Something in the back of my mind was nagging me, and I had to think hard before I fully understood what it was. I was scared. That was all, plain and simple. Scared to find out what I maybe was going to find out. I had to make my feet keep moving.
As I left the Media Center and walked very carefully toward the stairs, the air around me was getting very stale, and I found that it was getting hard to breath. My legs were like iron, and it hurt with each step I took. Slowly, I took each step of the stairway with a bit of throbbing pain.
âKevin!â The voice rang out again, and that broke my paralysis. I ran to the doorway where the mezzanine was, and took the stairs three at a time until I was at the top. The noise from the machinery was mind-boggling, and sounded like beeâs humming during a summerâs morning. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, but was able to hold it in.
I found the door that led outside and walked to it. I asked myself if this was something that I really wanted to do, and then took a deep breath. âYES!â my mind screamed out to me. âMove your hand, open the door, and make the call!â
Grabbing the handle of the door, I pushed it down. To my amazement I heard the bolt slide open, and I pushed the door. The wind hit me like a stone, but I could breathe and I was free from the inside. I rejoiced.
I walked out to the edge of the building so I could get a good look at my surroundings, and realized that all the cars and trucks that I had noticed that morning were gone. I tried to tell myself that my eyes had deceived me that morning, but in my heart I knew what I had seen. Too much had happened all day to make me that naive.
Grabbing the cell phone from my pocket, I smiled to see that there were full bars across. I had mega-signal. I was ecstatic as I went to my contact list. Leslieâs name was the first one on there, and I hit send.
I listened to the beautiful ring and smiled. The other end rang three, or four times before a womanâs voice answered. âHello?â She asked in a sleepy voice.
âHello, Leslie.â I said, close to having a major breakdown. I felt the tears come to my eyes, and a parched lump came up my throat. Finally I had someone other than myself to talk to.
The voice on the other end hesitated, and then asked, âWho is this?â
âItâs me, Kevin.â I simply said.
What she had said next, I was totally unprepared for. âYou son of a bitch, donât you ever call here again! Next time I will call the police! Do you hear me!â She cried out and slammed her end down.
I couldnât believe it. What had I done to make her hate me so badly? I yelled out to the heavens just then, and pitched my phone into the parking lot. It hit the pavement and broke apart into small parts. A laugh made its way up my throat, and I let it out. I know I must have looked like a madman up there letting everything that I had endured that day come out. My laughter sounded a lot like screaming, and perhaps it was. All I know is that I could not stop it. I had to let it all the way out, or I knew I would go insane.
I worked myself into a frenzy, started coughing, and passed out on the roof of this building.
I woke up to a popping noise. The sound not only terrified me but seemed to bring back a memory. I cannot remember exactly what it was, but I know it had something to do with my life. Something I so desperately wanted to remember.
Standing up, I looked out over the parking lot and realized that the streetlamps were blowing out. That was the popping. The moon had already succumbed to the west, and there was so much cloud cover that the stars were not even visible. I was going to be engulfed in total darkness, and I found my mind going back to the thing I saw in the hallway. I began to shake uncontrollably. Knowing I needed to calm down I took a deep breath, and counted to ten.
It was the middle of the night, yet the heat intensified. Sweat was running down my face in rivers, and I could see the tar on the roof start to bubble. Steam rose from the surface as I shook my head in disbelief. The steam and bubbles were starting to change into some kind of creature. It was forming as it came toward me. The thing had the blackest sharp teeth I had ever seen, and glowing fire and brimstone eyes that made me think of Hell. I stood transfixed as it came within a meter of me. My curiosity broke and I ran for the door to get back inside. I opened the door, ran inside, and as I turned to get a final look at the outside I saw that the steam and tar monster was still coming for me. I shut the door as it reached me. The creature hit the metal door with a bang. Locking it, I made a sigh of relief.
I leaned against the door, as the thing kept crashing into it, and I tried to scream, but couldnât find my voice. The humming of the electrical equipment in the room had stopped itâs buzzing, and was laughing at me. Each machine had grown a voice and was taunting me. They were calling my name, and telling me that something evil was going to get me. For some reason I knew that the school was coming alive and that I would be seeing more than ghost and goblins, I was going to see death itself.
I ran down the stairs into the well-lit hallway and got down on my knees and thanked God for not letting the monsters get me. I was like a four year old afraid of the boogeyman. I was scared that the thing wanted more than just my life, but that my very soul was hanging in the balance.
Up the stairs in the mezzanine there was a gigantic crash, and an even louder and fiercer growl than I had ever heard. The tar creature had gotten through the door, and I was not about to wait around to see what the thing was going to do to me. I took off and ran right into the band room.
Inside the band room, I paused long enough to catch my breath, as running was becoming a thing of nature with me. I placed my hands on my knees and took deep breaths, letting the oxygen slip into my lungs. Thatâs when I noticed the ghost-like shadow creature roaming around the snack room that the band leaders insist on. A small mouse was shying away from the monster, but I knew the creature was going to get it.
I watched mesmerized as the demon reached out and touched the poor frightened mouse with his finger. The mouse froze, and simply died. I was horrified. The apparition picked up the dead mouse, and devoured it. I watched as it slid down its transparent throat into darkness. Up came everything that I had eaten that day.
The beast heard my retches and turned to look at me. Its red eyes blazed with hatred, and the smell of sulfur was making itâs way into my nostrils. It pointed at me and I knew that my only hope was to run away. I turned to see if it was following me, and of course it was. I put out a burst of speed and flew out of the music department. I didnât stop until I was in the front of the building.
There were yellow lockers on each side of me going down the hall, and I could smell the stench of decay coming from each one of them. Death was here and I knew enough to be respectful. I hesitantly took a step in the direction of the Home Economics hall, as a small creaking came from inside the lockers. I moved quicker, and then each locker opened with an explosion. From each a skeleton erupted to grab and hold me. It was like running a gauntlet, but this particular line was for me very essence.
As each sinister pile of bones jumped out, they would call my name and hit the floor shattering, turning into dust. I made it past the last of the lockers only to be grabbed from behind by one of the corpses that was smart enough not to jump, he remained intact. I let out a primitive scream, and turned to face it. The skull was facing me down, and I let every ounce of anger that I could muster flood over me. I brought my fists down on his collarbone, smashing it into dust, and as the skeleton crumbled, I kicked his skull with my knee. I smiled as it skidded to a halt down the hallway by the principalâs office.
âI had triumphed.â I was thinking as I strolled down the corridor, wondering what else was going to happen. It turned out I didnât have long to wait.
Stumbling across an entrance to the maintenance hall, I decided to check it out. My mind was telling me that there was a way out in this direction. I held out hope, but to tell the truth and shame the Devil, I didnât believe it. The first door that I had come to said it was the boiler room, and I opened it. Heat blew at me as soon as the door was cracked even a little bit. I expected to see a fire on the other side, but what there was, was a big nothing. It was devoid of anything.
My shirt protruded in front of me as I realized that I was being sucked into the dark nothingness that lay before me. âSomebody, help me!â I yelled as I was flung into the void. I realized I was floating as the door slammed shut.
My name was whispered throughout the darkness, and I looked for it. There was no one else around me that I could see. I was alone, and floating in a place that I had no business being.
âHello?â I responded to the whispers, but nothing came back. I wondered if this was what it felt like to go insane. âIf someone is there please talk to me!â
I flew through the abyss until I saw a door on the other side from where I came in. Floating to it, I felt relief wash over me. I was going to get out of this mess, and I knew it. I grabbed the handle and when I opened the door, I was outside of the school. There was a large hydro air-conditioner and was happy to see that it was on the ground, and so was I..
I walked around the courtyard, and found a gate to the parking lot, but when I turned around the boy I had seen in the weight room was sitting at a picnic table under the large compressor. He looked at me and shook his head, with his black hair flapping in the wind as he did so.
âWhy not?â I asked, knowing that the boy would not or could not speak. I wanted to go out there, but I hesitated because he didnât think I should go. What was the reason? I found that I wanted to grab the kid and shake him until he spoke, but I knew that wasnât going to solve anything. Instead I got a gut feeling that I should go back inside and figure out another way. I found the door into the main electrical room, and walked back inside.
The electrical room led me back into the maintenance hallway, and I decided that I had had enough of that place. I walked back into the main corridor and down the Home Ec. Hall. That was when I heard voices coming from one of the rooms and broke into a run.
I knew that if I found the owners of those voices I would finally be free. Looking into every doorway, I was disappointed. There was no one in any of the rooms that I had looked into. There was lights on, but no people. The voices were still carrying, but there was not one person to be seen.
I checked every room, until the last one at the end of the hall I could see dead bodies lying on the floor. I tried to throw up, but it seemed that all the food that I had in my stomach had gone out when the demon had ate the mouse.
The door stood wide open, and I heard clawing sounds. Grunts were coming from the dead, as they stood up. I stood there in shock as they came for me, and all I could do was scream.
I snapped awake from the dream with a gasp, and the sun was shining directly over my head. I knew at once I was having a nightmare. Standing up, I walked over to the edge of the building once more. I swear that all the vehicles were once again all in the parking slots. A single thought entered my mind, âA full parking lot is a happy parking lot.â I made a small chuckle. My cell was no longer visible to me, for a red Mustang parked above it.
My dreams of the night before was riddled with strangeness, and had seen things that I had never seen before. Sometimes I felt like I was flying, other times burning. I was hearing disembodied voices and running around in circles. I tried to run from what I didnât understand, but I now knew I was running from myself.
âThatâs all this whole thing was!â I told myself as I walked to the door. âIt was all a nightmare. Iâll get back downstairs and there will be people everywhere. Iâll be ok.â
As I walked into the hallway outside the mezzanine door, I knew that I was wrong once again. The whole building was silent as a tomb, and just as deserted by any living, breathing human beings. I sat down and cried. If it is true that crying cleanses the soul, then mine must be squeaky clean.
I though about the boiler room I had dreamed of, and I knew that the possibility of finding my way out lay in that direction. I knew this morning, or afternoon, whichever it may have been that what I was seeking may be there. My plan was to check it out, at least right after I found something to eat.
I went back to the cafeteria, and once again I found that there was food in the steel hoppers. Not only cheeseburgers, but there were Hot Dogs, and Salisbury Steaks as well. I grabbed a tray, and loaded on the steaks with plenty of Mushroom sauce. I smiled as I looked at the scrumptious food that lay before me. Cutting into one of the steaks, I dipped it in the sauce. I brought the dripping monstrosity toward my mouth, and shoved it in. In mid-chew, I gagged, and spit the whole thing out. It was like chewing rubber, and there was no taste at all. I sniffed the rest of the food, and found that there was no smell as well. With a frown, I pushed the tray away. I was no longer hungry. I grabbed my pack of smokes, and gave a sigh as there was only two left in the pack. After the disappointment of my dinner I knew that I needed one. I fumbled one out and grabbed my lighter.
Flick, flick, flick, flick, flick. On the fifth try I was able to get a small flame that was just barely able to light the front of my smoke. I took a deep draw, and coughed it out. The cigarette was stale! They were fine last night and now they werenât? I found that I didnât care how stale they were, I was going to smoke this one and then the last one. My lighter was on its last leg, Hell it was probably dead by now anyway. I figured that I would have to light it with this one anyway. I smoked it down to its filter, and lit the last one with the nub. I smoked it, and it too was as stale as the last one, but it was something to smoke.
After they were both gone, I walked down the corridor to the boiler room. For some reason I knew that this was going to be my last chance to get out of here, and I so desperately wanted to get out.
Opening the door to the boiler room, was hit with a blast of warm air, and I basked in it. For one glorious moment I felt better than I had since this whole ordeal began. I walked in and let the door slam behind me. I found what I was looking for in the back of the room, doors that led to the courtyard behind the school!
I cautioned myself not to get cocky as I approached them. Trying one of the doors and finding that it was not locked, I pushed it open and walked into the courtyard. I had a smile on my face as I walked toward the fence. There was an opening underneath the gate and I knew that I could crawl through, which I did. I found myself in the parking lot and I knew that this time I was going to get away.
Walking across the pavement, I started whistling. I am not sure of the tune, but I wanted not to think too much as I made my way to any other place away from here. I walked a little faster, and then I was at a run.
I was free!
I ran. I ran like the wind to the road that was my salvation. Swearing to myself that once I was away I would never set foot into another school building as long as I lived, and then at the street, I hit an invisible barrier and was knocked back. When I hit the pavement with my butt, I felt the pain, but it was no where as painful as the hurt of my wounded pride.
âNO!â I bellowed. I clenched my teeth together, and stood up. Walking to the barrier, my fist connected to it. âThis is impossible, the things invisible! This just canât be happening!â
Defeated, I slowly made my way back to the building, walking between the cars that were parked in the lot. Shaking my head on several occasions, I just kept walking. I didnât want to think, and I didnât want to care any longer. All I wanted at this point was to wallow in self-pity.
I walked in through the front doors that would not open to let me out, yet seemed to be welcoming me back, and then I walked into the auditorium next to the commons area. I saw the shadow creature once more as it was gliding across the stage. I walked in.
Now that I had a good look at it, I was surprised at how ghost like it really was. I could see through it, even though it was dark on the other side. I was right about the tendrils that floated behind it, and the bloody thing didnât even touch the ground.
âWhatâs your game?â I asked it. âWhat the Hell do you want from me? I want answers damned you!â
The creature stopped where it was, and turned to look directly at me. My jaw dropped as I looked at his glowing eyes. I wouldnât say that they were red, but to me they looked to be on fire. Maybe the creature was just trying to scare me, but I stood my ground. I really had no more fight left in me, and now all that I wanted was to know what was going on, and how to end it.
The creature rushed toward me with its eyes blazing and I found out that I couldnât move. I felt it pass through me and all the hatred that it had stored up inside it washed over me. There was no doubt in my mind that it was a demon, and I was the one who got to see it.
I turned around and watched as it flew out the door of the auditorium, and I decided to follow it. I tracked it as it went down one hallway after another, and finally into the newest part of the building. Part of the building that was just being constructed.
I opened the door and walked in.
The creature was gone, but what I saw made me the happiest man in the world. There were other people! The workers were in there, and all at once I knew that I was one of them. I remembered who I was. My name was indeed Kevin OâHalloran. Leslie was my wife, and my sixteen year old daughter attended school here, and I was a construction worker who was working here.
We were adding on to the school. Yes, they were calling it a Senior Center. My mind was going into overdrive, and all my memories were flooding together. I knew deep in my heart that I had been dreaming! This was real, and there was no such things as shadow creatures, ghosts and the like!
âOâHalloran!â I heard Jack Kirby yell over to me. âGo tell Johnson that we need that forklift over here.â
I smiled and acknowledged Kirby. Walking through the work site I heard a loud clang, and I knew that Gary Johnson had hit a propane tank with one of the forks.Â I started running toward Johnson, when I spotted Harry Nesbit lighting a cigarette.
âHarry! NO!â I screamed out, but it was too late. There was an explosion, and I felt the blast of heat pick me up, and throw me onto the commons inside the school. I laid there with my eyes closed for what seemed an eternity.
When I finally opened my eyes, my daughter, Beth, was crying over me, âNo Daddy, no.â She kept saying, and I wanted to comfort her. Now I knew why my wife Leslie was so upset. A crowd was gathering around me, and I tried to tell them I was all right.
Standing up, I looked around. I just couldnât believe how far the blast had thrown me, and I knew right then that I was lucky to be alive. From out of nowhere, I heard the voice that I was certain I would never hear again. âKevin. It is time.â It whispered. Looking up, I saw the shadow creature looming around the tiled ceiling.
Looking down, I then knew what had happened. I watched my soon to be dead body twitch on the floor. Beth was crying, and I couldnât do anything for her, but stand there and gawk at my body lying in front of me.
Listening, I could hear the sirens coming for me, and I was at a loss. I leaned over to my baby girl and I kissed her forehead one last time.
âKevin, come to me. It is time for it to end.â The voice once again whispered in my ear. I said nothing yet, but just nodded my head. I knew that it was over, and I had to go. I walked towards the door that so stubbornly held me in, and walked through it, into my new state of being.