Few people notice the absence of Victor Lewis, an Urbex that targets one building a month, taking pictures and recording video. Two weeks ago, he targeted an abandoned mall, and told friends of his plans – only they made the connection to his plans and disappearance, and share it on a small local forum. As the rumors spread, more follow after Victor’s footsteps.
Mature | Death; Body mutilation; Body horror;
Plasterboard covered in graffiti is the first photograph Victor Lewis takes of the abandoned mall. From inside his sedan he rolls a cheap camera’s film to the next and takes another shot. A heavily clothed young girl, no older than 19, walks into the shot and Victor rolls the camera again. A clipboard, paper, and pencil replaces the camera in his hands, noting the clothing the young girl wears and what features of her face aren’t covered in a scarf. She approaches his car and stands outside the passenger’s window, her arms huddled against her body. “Why were you taking pictures?” she asks through the thick scarf, her cold nose peaking over the top.
“Of you? No, sorry. You just walked into the shot.” Victor shoves the clipboard beneath his seat. “Do you know anything about that mall?”
He notions to the building with the plasterboard doors and windows, the plants outside the entrance wilted in the cold air. She rewraps her jacket while turning towards the building and answers him with a stare “Why do you ask?”
“It caught my eye. Do you live anywhere around here?”
“No. I live around the block.” She looks down the street.
“Are you one of the homeless around here? I could get you a sandwich or something.”
“No. No thanks, I’m fine.” Victor follows her movements away from the side of the car and down the street, she looks back as she circles the corner. Shoving away the camera and clipboard into the bag on the passenger seat, he turns on the ignition. The engine rumbles, wheels crawling across the curb before he turns onto the street and later onto the interstate.
Back in his apartment Victor tosses the bag onto the couch before removing his heavy coat, dropping it on the floor on the way to his computer. The idle flashing beneath his desk lights up as he shakes the mouse then goes back over to the bag for the camera. Back at the computer he drops the camera in a basket sitting at the side and flickers through various files on his computer screen – public documents and files about the mall.
Built two years ago and operated for only a few months; closing after that. Glancing over the various stores that had a passing outlet in the mostly empty building; the larger areas for larger companies completely blank outside aside from the plasterboard and graffiti. Was he missing anything: a news article from the time it operated, during the construction, was there construction issues?
There was none he could find.
He groans and leans back in his chair, spending two more hours looking for information that won’t be there as far as he knew. A clock ticking on the other side of the room glows the time and low light crawled beneath the blinds, faint against the ugly brown carpeting.
He breathes a sigh, “whatever,” and shoves the chair out from beneath him for a drink – a lukewarm soda from a box sitting on the kitchen counter. The handle of a skillet peaks over the rim of the sink, bowls and plates covering it. He’d clean up the kitchen tomorrow, he promises himself on the way to the bedroom and drops the half finished soda in the trashcan. On his bed he flicks through his cellphone for any messages. He only has one, from his ex-wife, asking when he was visiting their children. He deletes it and goes through the missed phone calls. There are two from a girl from work, telling him to fuck off two hours apart, three hours ago. He deletes those too.
He throws the blankets back over and rolls away from the dresser, still thinking about the mall.
In the early morning of the next day, around six o’clock, the alarm clock on the desser screeches before falling to the floor. Victor, without a pillow, forces himself out of bed and tears away a page from the calendar sitting on the dresser. A Saturday. He can drive back to the mall and ask the homeless there about it – maybe bribe some information with some sandwiches.
But first, before throwing his bag back into his sedan, he shakes his computer awake and opens a web browser, then a bookmark. The url reads UrbexNOH.com, and he goes to his newest thread to give it another update.
Nothing new, but today going to get a lot of information!
Smiling to himself he picks another camera from the basket at his desk, tucking it away in his bag before throwing on the jacket he left on the floor the previous night. He leaves his apartment in nearly the same mess, taking only the bag with him. On the way to the mall he drops by a small store, buying a couple prepackaged sandwiches to throw in the backseat. At the mall he parks his sedan near the edge of the empty lot, approaching a small group sitting just outside one of the many blocked off enterences. They whisper amongst themselves, others pointing towards him.
Welcoming, he thought, pulling the plastic bag of sandwiches out the side window and stuffing it into his near empty strapped bag. He adjusts the camera and takes another snap at the grey building, and one more at graffiti written around one side of a metal door. He makes his way to the group slowly and at an angle, taking snaps at the roof, the dying plants, and the ribbed access doors between two trees. Any glance towards the group is meet with their eyes, and he turns back to the building the first time, and the second he walks straight for them. “Hey, you guys hungry?”
Two sitting beneath a pillar raise their hands and stuff them back into their jackets. “What do you want?” asks a woman buried under two jackets and snow pants. Victor hands the two at the pillar each a packaged sandwich
“I want to know about this place, the mall. Really, that’s all I want.” Victor kneels down in front of them, rubbing his cold nose with the corner of his jacket. “Anything on why it was abandoned or something of that nature – I read up that it was abandoned shortly after opening. Have any of you been here that long?”
“No, we are just hanging out here,” speaks up another, a boy between 15 to 20, from the corner by the older woman. “If you want to know anything, you’d have to either speak with the Vets or the White Rats.” The boy just stares at Victor when another person speaks up.
“We’re hanging out here because we feel comfortable here than anywhere else in this area,” the girl from yesterday speaks up. “The Whites don’t like coming here, so they don’t mess with us, or the Vets.”
“Where are the Vets? Do they hang around the mall or somewhere else?” Victor pulls out the grocery store bag as well as the other prepackaged sandwiches, sitting them in the middle of the oval the group and him makes.
“Not here,” another says, and three others back him up.
“They have a secret spot they hang around at, none of us know where they call home.” The older woman returns to the conversation, standing up in front of the plasterboard planks covering the glass doors. “And if we knew, we wouldn’t tell a stranger like you about it.”
“Heather sit down, he’s not here to cause trouble,” hisses the girl from last night. “I don’t think. Why are you here anyway?” She is looking towards Victor and his bag, the sandwiches spilling out of the plastic bag and onto the cold concrete.
“I wanted to know about it, the mall, I was sort of interested in taking pictures of the inside and maybe staying in it for a night. Anything wrong with that?” Victor pulls the plastic bag closer to him and more of the prepackaged sandwiches pop out
“No, but the Whites like using it sometimes,” one at the pillar says between bites of the sandwich. “It’s dangerous, and there is no lighting in most of it. To be frank, its creepy at night and I wouldn’t spend any time in there.”
“It’s always dark in there, nothing to really see besides dust and rot, probably,” the oldest one speaks again, taking glances from Victor to his car in the far lot. “You should probably go anyway, that thing stands out, and this place is off-limits.” Victor releases the plastic bag and stands, brushing pebbles from the knees of his pants.
“Alright, I can move it somewhere else. But,” he stuffs a hand in the coat pocket, “do you guys know anything else? I’ll leave if you don’t.” None of the group spoke up. In the following silence, taking a span of maybe three minutes, he realizes that they do not want anything to do with him. He was too forward to realize it. “Alright, I’ll be off then, I’ll leave the sandwiches,” he groans as he turns around, heading back to his car.
He can hear a few of them speaking up while he walks away, a few people laughing, and they were enjoying themselves again. When he looks back the bag of sandwiches is near one pillar, it irritates him – he spent his money on those. He refuses the thought that they are homeless.
With a slam of the driver side door the engine rumbles to life, Victor guiding it around to the southern entrance with the camera in hand. More plasterboard, graffiti, scraps of food packaging and empty cups – the same as the others. A window sat above the entrance, a second floor, and inside it was black; prehaps a tarp Victor reckons and takes a picture.
The next entrance is the same, however he doesn’t pass up another photography opportunity. Zoom-ins on the White Rat tags fill the next couple images, scattered throughout where aliases and various spray-painted dicks. Beneath the mess was the remains of a purple spray that follows along the length of the plasterboard. Victor steps back, and once more, to take a photograph of the entire wall of white, purple, red, and black. The purple beneath the tags makes an arrow pointing to the right, and a black spray paint scratches across it beneath the other tags. Of course, Victor takes interest and gets closer to the point of the arrow and looks towards the far door where even more tags scrawl across it, a sprayed rat stands on two legs away from the door and holds a can beneath its paws.
He rolls his eyes and groans, shoving himself towards the metal door sprayed with black and white spray-paint saying ‘’THE DEVIL’S HOLE”, and a little black marker points to the door written above it is “the one you stick your dick in”. He takes a picture of it, the door and the little comment above it, and reaches for the door handle.
It is locked.
He takes a step back and looks among the other tags and sprays, maybe for something purple like the arrow. The hopes of it being visible clouds rational thought, and he walks among the wall taking shoots of the graffiti on the wall. Anything purple he follows.
The purple tagging ends at a bay door, scrawled over with a white rat and brushes of other colors across the wall and sheet metal. Various tags don’t match, and it takes two more photos before he relies the obvious brick sat at the bottom of the bay door and the sloped concrete. With his shoe he nudges the metal door upwards – a shriek of metal answering him. With curiosity quenched, he jogs back to his car and stuffs the camera into the limp bag.
Back at his apartment he throws the jacket onto the couch, kicking away his shoes into a corner while standing infront of his computer – one hand holding the camera. He shakes the machine away before digging through a drawer of loose wires, mumbling “come on,” as he searches the right fit. When his computer finally returns from hibernation the internet browser from yesterday greets him. It takes him five tries to connect the camera to the computer.
Survey4 (F:) pops up in a window and he drags all the new images to the near empty desktop, makes a file, and drags them into the unnamed file. The web browser, previously minimized restores its window and he returns to his thread.
I went back to the mall. Talked to a couple kids hanging around one of the entrances. They didn’t telll me anything useful, besides that two bigger groups of people hang out there; The Vets and the White Rats – I think the later might be a local gang? Since their name/icon was everywhere. I was able to find another entrance that looked more promising – and sure enough I think I found an entrance!
While I was taking pictures, I saw that some of the tags didn’t match up, and so there was a bay door that had a brick proping it open. I think I might stake out the area later on just to be sure that it’s actually an entrance, and not just some random hangout point.
I’ll edit the threat after I go back through the pictures!
With a tap of the submit button, and the following notification, he closes the web browser and opens the unnamed file he dumped all the pictures in. Each images was listed by timestamp and he deletes images from the last time he used it – before today’s trip – and opens the first in an onboard image viewer. Boring shots of the building, of the group and the building, blank concrete with scrawls of bright and dim graffiti across the lower walls and dead bushes and bare trees; he flicks through them back and forth, comparing each shot to find the best in the bunch. He deletes those that have most of the sky above it and not enough of the building.
Until only three photos remain of that side of the building, Victor moves onto the next set, going to the two shots at the black windows above the entrance. The photos drag into another window, the later shot becomes a layer to the former, and he flashes between the two shots in a photo editing program. To his dismay, there is nothing in the windows besides the dark background. He moves onto the rest of the set, deletes a few, and moves onto the last set.
The door covered in black spray-paint and covered in the words “The Devil’s Hole” photo he renames ‘The Door’, the purple arrow overwritten with graffiti photo is named ‘Purple Arrow’, and the Rat bay door is named “Entrance”. All three are thrown into another file on the desktop – which he opens and drags to one side of the screen, the web browser on the other side.
“I should watch it tonight, then go in it next week,” Victor tells himself. “And get some gear on Friday, and then I could go the following night.” He pulls a locked box out from beneath the couch, putting it on top of the jacket. “Might need this, fucking kids might try something when I go back.”
That night he drives back with binoculars and a camera with a broken flash. The stake out of the south end of the mall starts silent and stays that way until his watch ticks past 10pm. A group of people with flashlights walk down the side of the building, shouting, screaming, and laughing as they near the bay door. It takes two people to open it and one to hold it open for the rest of the group. When they are all in, the bay door slams shut.
For the next six hours Victor is left alone with his car, watching the bay door and waiting for the group of people, probably teens, to come back out. After a few hours he sees flashlights on the second floor window. So the bay door is the way in, he notes it down for later, and takes a look at his watch. Three am. He starts his sedan and drives back home, falling asleep sideways on his bed.