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;
Carol parks her car in the lot of a cash-only motel with her phone plastered to an ear, listening to someone on the other side of the line. She speaks sharp ‘yes’s and ‘ah-huh’ while she shrugs off her coat and drops it in the back seats and reaching for a plastic bag and a flat backpack. “Yeah, the meeting place is at,” she looks to the dim sign above the motel office, “Scott’s motel. . . yeah, off the 3-20, exit 26.” She throws the two bags over her shoulder and picks a clip of 30 dollars from her pocket. “I’m buying the room now, try not to be late this time Hadi.”
Carol stuffs the phone into her jean pocket and recounts the fold of cash, 30 just as she counted earlier. She shakes her head at herself, and pushes into the office. A guy half her size looks up from a piece of paper when the bell rings, “Oh, Carol.” The door slams.
“Same wage, right? 30 for three hours?” She passes the clip across the counter.
“ID,” he pushes the paper and pencil off to the side and pulls a log book from a drawer.
“Bob, it’s me.” Bob points the back of his pen to a camera sitting behind him. Carol pulls up the backpack and digs through the front pocket for her wallet. “Here,” she flashes him the back of her wallet, her Driver’s License in full view.
“Wish I could do it like I used too, really, but I could be fired now,” he scribbles down into his log book, scratches some things out, and rechecks against a piece of paper hidden from Carol’s site. “Alright, looks like B4 is still available.” He pulls a lanyard out from his shirt and unlocks another drawer, fishing for the key. “Far warning, Carol. There’s a screamer in A5 and they paid for seven hours.” He holds the key’s tag and ring up.
Carol’s nose wrinkles as she pockets the key. “Thanks Bob, I really needed to know.” Her wallet drops back into the backpack and she stuffs the plastic bag and its content into it. She turns to leave, takes a step, and turns back, “do Alexis and Hadi have to show ID too?”
“Uhh, I’ll send them up when they come.”
She pushes the door open with her hip and closes it slowly with the side of her foot. With the door closed and Bob back to whatever puzzle he started on, Carol starts up the closest pair of stairs, shoving the backpack over her other arm. Passing B1 she hears a person crying and murmuring, and she quickens her pace to B4. She unlocks the door, throwing her stuff down onto the single-sheeted bed, and closes the door, sliding a chain lock over the knob.
She too lands on the bed and pulls off her shoes, pulling the backpack over and sliding it off the bed. Carol digs into it and pulls out everything except her wallet, balling the plastic bag and throws it back into the backpack. Her phone rings. “Hello?”
“Yea Carol, I might be running late this time.”
“Hadi, you need to get that thing fixed.” Carol sits back and pulls out a small binder.
“Yes, I know, it’ll be fixed by next week, or the week after that, I don’t know.”
“I can always just give you some money,” outside the motel, a police siren races past.
“No, I won’t let you do that.”
“Fine, how long do you think you’ll take to get here?”
“A half hour. Or an hour. What’s the nearest cross section?”
“Uh,” Carol flips through the binder, tracing her finger across the backup transportation plans, “106th and Avon avenue… Hello?” She traces around the backup bus routes for each of them. In the background of the phone call she hears Hadi mumbling. “You need to take the 105 route, it’s the closest to here.”
“Alright, and from, uh, the bus station on 13th and Sullivan?”
Carol flips through some more papers. “Uh, 36 minutes at the least, 45 at most I think. When did the bus leave?”
“It left just before I got here.”
“Okay, stay there and get on the next bus.” Someone knocks at the door. “Hold on Hadi. Who is it?”
“Carol, for fuck’s sake let me in, my arms are dying,” a woman’s voice whines.
“Hold on Alexis, Okay Hadi, we’ll be waiting in B4. You got your ID right?”
“Bob needs you to check in,” she turns to the door, “Alexis, drop the shit at the door and check in with bob, he needs your ID.”
“Fucksake,” groans the woman on the other side of the door, and there’s a thump. Carol closes her call with Hadi as she crosses to the door and unhinges the chain lock. Looking down the hall, Carol saw Alexis digging around her purse, and she started pulling in two backpacks.
Inside she unpacks Alexis’ cameras, putting them on the other side of the bed and her laptop in between them. The wires were strung between all of them, Carol just dropping them down as she pulled them out. She wasn’t going to mess with Alexis’s delicate setup. While she waits for Alexis to return, she opened a container of pizza bits, munching on them while flipping through her binder. Straight-from-website pages flip back and forth, red marks circling and crossing out a list of various locations between Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana.
She pulls a red pen out of the back pocket of the binder, “Nah, not there,” she crosses out a old factory, and adds on the side ‘set for demolition’. Two taps on the door get her off the bed and unlock the door again.
“Is Hadi going to be late again?” ask Alexis, squeezing past Carol.
“Yeah, he’s still having car trouble; he might get here in an hour or so.” The door slams, the lock clicks back in. Alexis fiddles with her wires, snaking them around and connecting all three cameras to the laptop. “Want some?” she offers the container of 4 cheese pizza bits.
“Sure,” Alexis grabs two to stuff into her mouth, and returns to the laptop. She taps in a password, user name, and opens each camera’s drive in separate windows. “Any idea where we’re going to go? Or when.”
“The recent list is in the binder, but I still need to look through a few of them – check to see if they are set for demolition and such.” She sits back on the bed and settles the binder between her knees, the container on the nightstand. “That one factory is going to be demolished sometime in the next month or two, and the annual asylum got big plans ahead of it, Rick’s got a few groups of people that want to start doing this sort of thing.”
“Oh god, that poor building. She’s going to get wrecked even more.” Alexis taps through a few photos, deleting the ones that are blurry or are too bright. “Shit, I really need to get a new flash for this one,” she taps one of her cameras, its small frame dwarfed by the larger camcorders at either side. “Got a lot of blurry pictures last time.”
“Fuck, as if Hadi’s car wasn’t being as much of a bitch,” Carol scratches off another location on her list, eats another pizza bit, and holds the container to Alexis – she takes a handful and eats them off her palm. “Think you can check the forums while we wait?”
“Yeah, just give me a minute here,” Alexis reconnects one of the cameras and puts it back down. With the camera completely connected, she opens a browser and types in the regional-state forum, UrbexNOH.com. She scrolls through the news post, then the technology sub-forum, and goes over to the pre-planning forum. “Want me to read off some people and the locations they are planning to explore?”
“Yeah, I’ll cross examine with this.” Carol shakes the papers over her shoulders.
“Alright,” Alexis opens each recently posted thread, six tabs blink across the browser. “Starting off with Will1994, he’s doing the lake-side summer school near Dilton.”
“I’ll look for him in the papers.”
“ChesireCat38 plans to film Ceder Point at night, sneaking in,” Alexis turns her face away from the screen with her eyes closed, snorting air. “7TrevorSnake7 is doing that factory, which you said is going to be demolished.”
“I should tell him.”
“You can tell him when you get home, he’s planning to do it in two weeks. Plenty of time. Oh, this one looks interesting.”
“What?” Carol leans back on the bed and Alexis turns the laptop so they both see it.
“VTLewis is going to an abandoned mall, in Findlay.” Alexis pulls the laptop over to her and scrolls down. “I didn’t know there was an abandoned mall in Findlay.”
Carol shrugs, “Not enough people drive or look in that area, or along highway 75.” She goes back to her list of locations.”There is a place in Sandusky I was interested in seeing. Old church, closed for renovations but not enough money to do so.”
“That does sound like a two hour stay though.”
“There is another in Port Clinton as well, we could plan to go see both locations.”
“What’s the one in Port Clinton?”
Alexis looks back to her laptop and taps about it, scrolling through some more ruined pictures from the camera, and finally responds. “Alright, we can do a two-fer. I need to build up some money though so we can stay a night in a motel somewhere near both places. I ain’t going to take a trip to Sandusky and Port Clinton and come back in the same trip.”
“Fine by me,” Carol scratches her chest and gets up to go to the bathroom.
Alexis looks at the clock in the corner of her computer, 6:17, a few more minutes till Hadi should arrive. She flips back to the browser and reads the complete first post by VTLewis, scrolling past a picture of a White Rat and a door with ‘The Devil’s Hole’ written in red – she rolls her eyes at the comment below it. “The one you stick your dick in,” she scrolls past the comment and to the bay door and skims over its description.
Returning to her laptop, picking it up and sitting against the backboard, Alexis switches back to the camera files. Flickering through hundreds of pictures from each camera, she deletes them with a combination of keys, flagging some to look at later with Carol and Hadi. When Carol returns from the bathroom and sits on the other side of the bed, Alexis cleans the recycling bin. “Carol,” she disconnects the smallest camera from its wire.
“Yeah?” Carol opens a bottle of water and water fountains it down.
“Think next time you can hold the flashlight farther? Quite a few on here,” Alexis taps the side of the small camera, “got oversaturated with light.” Alexis puts the camera down on the other nightstand and returns to her laptop.
“Pff, how old is that though?” Carol pulls the binder and papers onto her lap.
“Old in camera terms, could have a busted lens, or something,” Carol mutters the last part as she goes back over the information for their next trip. Alexis almost responds when Carol’s phone rings. “Hold on,” Carol slides the loose papers beneath pages in the binder and picks up her phone in one motion. “Hadi?”
“Yea, I’m on the bus now, but it took a different route.”
“What? Why,” Alexis closes her binder and gets off the bed.
“To get around an accident,” the bus announcement system rings in the background and an electric voice read a street. “I’m getting off at the next stop; hopefully I’ll be there in twenty minutes.” The call ends.
“Hadi will be here in twenty minutes,” Carol puts the phone on the nightstand and gets back to her binder. For a few minutes, the tapping of keys and a pen on binder are the only sounds besides someone screaming down the hall. “Hey, I was thinking,” Carol flips back through her binder and to the backup driving map.
“We should probably just get together at each other’s home, since Hadi is having car problems. That and spending 30 bucks plus gas isn’t something I can do in the long term.”
“Yea, though it can’t be my place.” They think back to Hadi’s dog allergies.
“My place has thin walls, but I guess for a few get-togethers could be worth it. How about Hadi’s place.”
“We should wait until he gets here.” Alexis taps through the tabs she had open, clicks on VTLewis’ profile, and starts reading though it. “Huh, this guy lives in the same area as Hadi.”
“Yeah, doubt they know each other, Hadi doesn’t go on here often.” She closes off the browser and return to the camera files, picks a few, deletes a few, and empties the recycling bin. Over the next thirty minutes not much is said between them, Carol handing Alexis some snacks, the clock ticking on the wall, someone screaming on the lower level and a pair yelling at each other. “What a place,” Alexis keeps her eyes on her laptop.
“Pff,” Carol’s phone rings again, “Hadi,” she looks to the clock, “where are you?”
“Just down the street, had to make a detour,” ruffling of a coat was heard on the other side. “I’ll be there in five, does Bob want my ID to let me in?”
“Yeah, we’re B4, don’t mind the screaming lady on the first floor,” Carol looks over at Alexis, her brow twisting into a frown and a pair of earphones dangling down to her pocket. “Alexis sure is.”
“Oh screw you, Carol,” says Alexis, replacing an ear phone.
“See you in a bit,” Carol puts her phone down.
A few more near silent minutes pass before Hadi knocks on the door and Carol lets him in. Alexis pulls her cameras up beside her and goes through the rest of the videos on the other two cameras, her ear phones half set with one side in her hand. Hadi brought a container of now cold turkey slices, which they all choke down. Carol repeats the places she and Alexis agree on and of any arrangements they could make for next time – Hadi volunteers his place for the next meeting.
“Hey, Hadi, do you know someone that has the name ‘Lewis’?”
“No, not really … why?”
“Well,” Alexis pulls up VTLewis’ profile, “This guy found an abandoned mall no one else has heard about, and he left to see it this morning. From his contact information, he lives around the same area as yours apartment is.”
Hadi motions to Carol’s container of pizza slices, she gives it to him, “Oh, well there’s quite a few apartments in my area, it’s not really surprising.”
“We could see if he wants to join our posse,” Alexis snorts and gets back to the cameras. “Okay, I’ve gone through and removed any that were less than great, how much time do we got now, Carol?”
“About an hour 25,” Carol shuts her binder and stuffs it into her backpack, and puts the container that had the pizza bits away as well.
“Great, then we have enough time to go through either the photos and one camera of videos, or both video cameras.”
“How about a photo and video, we can go back over them again next week. I got a projector that I practice my slides with,” Hadi brings up, swinging his feet up onto the bed.
“Oh, cool! Yea, that sounds great,” Alexis smiles and reconnects the photography camera. “Alright, which Camcorder, A or B?”
“B, since it has the least amount of recording on it.”
The three of them go over 172 photographs taken last week at a theatre in Detroit, repeating their memories they had there and pointing out the most important ones to keep and post online. Hadi is more partial to the wide open shots, Carol doesn’t want any that have her in the frame or asks to crop it so she’s not in it, and Alexis looks for any flaw in the photographing. The image count on the camera goes down to 83, with some flagged for editing later on. The video reviewing takes longer – each of them laughing at one point or another had having a difficult time deleting most of them.