As I walked up to the old rain-soaked door, I remember being very wary of my surroundings. Here it was, and it hadn’t changed a bit. The streetlight turned the pavement into fireworks, and as my confidence grew, I entered the derelict building. I couldn’t help but gasp in awe, or was it horror. It had a strange echo of archaic times. The memorial plaques on the wall had fallen into disrepair, and the spray painted words were imprinted across the dusty stained glass. To think, I had been a part in that some years ago. To think this place was a part of my past.
My footsteps echoed loudly, and made me self-conscious of my surroundings. Memories flowed as I stared blankly at the polystyrene cup that rolled back and forth on the grainy altar, like a bizarre parody of the communion chalice. Just outside I heard somebody laugh, and it made me jump. I turned around, but it was only a group of people on their way home. But still, my left hand shook so that I clasped tight with my right one to make it stop. Even the air trembled as I made my way through the building’s awkward passageways and damp rooms. The wind threw rain violently against the window.
The door blew open; I gasped. The lone candle positioned on top of the pulpit guttered and spat in the draught. He had obviously arrived here before me, but as I looked around, any other signs of life were absent, save for the spiders weaving intricate webs along the grey, stony walls. Gabriel had sounded haunted on the phone. Not as he usually was. I wondered at the time if anything was wrong, and immediately thought of Rene. But why tell me here, or now? I re-played our phone call in my head to try and make sense of it.
“Meet me tonight… he old meeting place, midnight. Don’t be late. ” Those words had almost definitely been rehearsed. Why? Only time would tell. My mind whirled with unpleasant thoughts of death, terror, and darkness. I became nostalgic walking around. We used to come here after school. It was where I met Gabriel. And where he met Rene. It was as dark, as gloomy, as cold as it ever was. I stopped. Something ELSE was inside. It was inside this building. My eyes widened, and I cautiously leapt back a step. With a small voice, I brought up enough courage to say one word.
“Gabriel? ” As my eyes grew accustomed to the dark, I could make out a shady figure in the darkness. It was incredibly still. “Hello? ” I started to shake. My breath started and stopped. I didn’t think it was Gabriel, but I wasn’t certain. “I can see you,” I tried to laugh it off. “Good joke Gabriel, really funny. ” I told myself over and over that he was playing a game with me. But why? Why hide from me if he knew I could see him? What was this about? It went dead, and it went back to almost perfect silence, save the sound of my breathing, and the dripping ceiling. The figure, whoever or whatever it was, was unnaturally still.
As I fumbled around in my bag for a flashlight, I kept my eyes on it, unblinking, so as not to miss any movement. I turned on the flashlight, and as I pointed it towards the figure all my worst fears and expectations were realised. There it was, motionless; one eye shut, the other staring off into the distance at an invisible murderer. Propped up against the wall crudely, its skin was bruised around the neck and hands. I noticed it was missing a shoe, with its toes curled inwards like stumps. A flash of lightning lit up its twisted face, as the candle on the pulpit flickered repeatedly like a deadly, silent laugh.
I tried to scream, but nothing came out, save a small, scared whisper. Adrenaline pumped through me, my breathing became irregular and heavy. My eyes hurt as I blinked, fighting back the shock and tears and terror. There it was, terrifying, beautiful, disturbing, trapped in a different world. As I stepped back cautiously, a single boot was kicked in my path. This time I did scream. But screaming I knew would do me no good. I knew that I was trapped, helpless, and that my fate was lying in these next few moments. So hard to grasp, so terrible a thought, so ghastly a reality.