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;
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Carol peeks her head around the corner and out of the shadows, listening to the silence with a dusty gun held up beside her. Nothing, and she leans back into the room where Hadi and Alexis sit back, still catching their breaths. “Doesn’t look like it followed us,” she heaves out air and wipes dust off the side of the gun. Hadi comes over and shows her how to put the safety on, and Alexis keeps in the back holding a camera also covered in dust.
“What the hell was that thing!”
“No idea,” Carol exhales and tucks the gun away in the front pocket of her thick coat. “I think that was the Reaper, the guy Vince was talking about.”
“You knew the guy in the other room?” Alexis fumbles for her own flashlight, and turns it against herself.
“Yeah, he was one of the people John was with when I first met him,” Carol flashes her light over the room, “he’s the person that pointed me here in the first place.”
“Wasn’t he with two other people?”
“Yeah, he was…” Carol walks towards the back of the room and nudges a door open with her foot. Alexis fumbles around with the camera with Hadi holding his flashlight against it, she presses against the power button but nothing happens. “Alexis, Hadi, let’s hold up in here to look at it better. There has to be something on it.”
“But what if he finds us?” Alexis slaps the view-finder on the camera close.
“The guy is limping like crazy after that fall, and Hadi shot him,” Carol motions her flashlight over to Hadi, then turns it back down to the ground. “If every room has some kind of silence on it, he’d have to get all the way into here and in the same room to hear us. And this mall is a big place, come on,” she lowers her voice and takes a step into a room in the back, then looks back for them to follow. Hadi takes a second before he walks over, Alexis following close behind him with a low sigh. The room was full of dust, the air smelled of paint shavings, and against one of the walls two sleeping bags laid on partly stained cardboard.
“Ugh, what a dump,” Hadi held a hand up to his nose, blowing away dust kicked up by their footsteps. “People actually came here and decided to sleep?”
“Well, people have their own choices, or this is the best they can get – in some cases,” Alexis drops her backpack down onto one of the sleeping bags and coughs from the dust kicked up by the impact. “Well, let’s see if I could even get into it,” She settles herself on the floor slowly, dust clinging to her wool gloves, and she sits up with her legs crossed over beneath her. Carol sat down on the floor and Hadi brushed dust off the other sleeping bag before sitting on it, his gun was still drawn.
Alexis prodded and examined the dusty camera with her flashlight staring down, it was held by Carol and her flashlight was across her lap. A little while passes before Alexis puts the camera down “thankfully this one is the same brand as one of my cameras,” and she dug through her backpack for her laptop and wire. The laptop easily came out while the wire tangles around another wire, but comes out after a little bit of fussing. “Hadi, want to come over here?” She snaps the wire into her laptop as it boots up and into the port hidden under a rubber plug.
“I’m fine keeping guard,” Hadi dashes his light to the girls then turns it to the doorway.
“Hadi, keep the light away from the door, it can be seen from outside.”
“Oh, sorry,” he turns the light off and scoots closer to Carol and Alexis, both crowding around the laptop as it connected to the camera.
The last file made was dated 20131101_1632, it was almost four hours long.
“Who ever owned it was walking around for a while.”
“That’s the date Victor… Lewis came here and disappeared. Could it be his?” Carol turns to Alexis, and back to the screen as an arrow drags the file to the desktop.
“If it is, it will have some answers,” Hadi leans in behind Alexis, and Alexis pushes her legs out and sets the laptop over her knees. “Thanks,” Hadi returns to his seated position.
“Now then,” Alexis drags her finger across the touchpad, boosts the volume, and drags her fingers again to double tap the file 20131101_1632. The video starts by staring into a driver’s seat then goes across to the hood as the person behind the camera crossed to the other side.
“Here it is the mall that closed six months after opening,” the man speaks and a hand grabs a gun from the passenger seat and vanishes off screen. “It’s been a week since I was here; it was only a survey though,” the camera aims up to the sky and clothing rustles. “There were a few kids around last week; they probably won’t start anything though. And I can get out even before they come back later tonight.” The camera pans around the outside of the mall, with a small amount of snow in piles at the boarded up entrance; a car door slams. Plasterboard and graffiti takes up most of the shot. “As you can see, a lot of tags around here. There’s more by the entrance I found on the other side of it.” More graffiti and pale concrete walls.
“So far, no clue who this guy is,” comments Hadi, sitting back away from Alexis’ shoulder. “All he’s filming so far is the outside of it – is that all it’s gonna be?”
“I think that parking was horrendous. Carol, what do you think?” Alexis lowers the volume of the video, Carol remains silent and the volume crawls back up.
“There’s one of these for each outside entrance, but they are covered in a black tarp on the inside probably.” All the video shows is one of the observation windows. “Last week I saw some flashlights that the kids had with them moving around, so there is some way to get up to that area.” More bare walls follow and the person walks faster, but someone else shouting slows him, and the camera zooms in on the bay door they came through.
“Hey, Carol, what time is it?”
Hadi clicks the safety on and tucks it away under his coat.
Carol pulls up the digital watch around her left wrist, and reads it aloud. “9:32.”
The three of them watch in silent boredom, mostly just waiting for something to actually happen. A slam from the video shakes them from it, the camera sat on the ground and the man behind the cam was standing in view. The guy lifts the camera frontwards, letting the ground keep in sight while it was turned up right, “well, that was loud,” the guy laughs, and Carol groans and shakes her head. He steps into the darkness behind the bay door and closed it slowly.
The three of them watch the video listlessly again, and Carol pulls Hadi’s bag over and starts going through it. While the recorder talked about a room in whispers and two other voices laughed in the background, the three of them had biscuits and crackers. A directory flashes into view, “okay, so there’s an entrance to an underground garage. Maybe that’s where the ‘elders’ are,” and the camera turns back over to the fountain Alexis picked the camera up from. “Damn, must be a party here every week with this much shit lying around,” and he laughs, and in the distance more glass cracks, “shit,” the camera jolts around before stopping and turning away behind the person holding the camera – two young men were walking towards him, one of them played around with a knife.
“Is this guy fucking crazy?” Alexis grumbles through some crackers she stuffed in her mouth. “One for going in alone, when he knew other people were in there.”
The camera turns back to the fountain and its focus bounces back and forth, almost distorting. Broken bottles sitting on the ring of the fountain, bullet holes dashed across it, and the guy moves the camera forward and starts to walk. “Oh man, that’s a good use,” he’s speaking loudly, the footsteps far behind him stop, and his footsteps increase in pace, the video rushing towards the fountain.
“What?” Hadi leans over, “what in the fuck is this guy doing?”
“I have no idea,” Carol mumbles, her eyes glued to the video.
The camera kept moving around and then stops, aimed towards the fountain, and a circle distorts the video a bit. “Dude, what the fuck are you doing here.” Yells someone behind the camera.
“Taking a photo,” the cameraman responds.
“This won’t go well,” whispers Alexis.
“Yeah,” groans Hadi.
“You’re taking a picture of a fountain you moron. K, what in the fuck.,” says another voice, probably the other person behind the cameraman.
“I have no clue. Yo.” The first voice that wasn’t the cameraman, K, “ get out of here before you get hurt.” The cameraman is silent. “Are you fucking listening?”
The camera drops onto the ground and rolls away facing a short set of stairs. “Woah woah,” the cameraman, “don’t try anything, I got the same right to be here as you.”
“We were here first,” the person that came with K, “he said get out, I suggest you quit with your shit before you get cut.”
Alexis squints at the screen, “Wait, is the cameraman gonna ge-“
“Shit, shit, dude chill the fuck out,” it was K.
“Hey, we cool now, right?” the other guy with K.
“Wait, did he just pull his gun on them?” Hadi puts down his food.
And then a fight erupts, began with one of them being pulled to the floor. A gun clicks, but no shot. “Chip!” screamed the person called K, and two people grunt and a metal object smacks flesh. “Let go of the gun!” A body hits the ground closer to the camera, and two people were still struggling. Carol, Alexis, and Hadi had their food down on the lap or leg at this point, then a gun clicks one, no shot, but a second click follows up with a loud crack. All rustling movement stops, but someone is gurgling blood off screen. A gun drops to the ground.
“Holy shit K, what did you do?”
The coughing, choking, spitting came closer to the camera – Alexis held a hand up to her mouth as the camera started flicking to the left, and a part of the lens smudges with blood. It was a vomiting, bloody chested man with dark hair and green eyes. The creases around his mouth are full of blood, and around his eyes rivers of red ran around them.
“Oh my god,” whispered Carol.
“Sarah, I’m so sorry,” the man spat blood and rolled to his back.
“It’s Victor Lewis, this is his camera.”
“Sh-shit,” Victor coughed again and the camera laid uncomfortably close to his head, his left hand still in shot. His breathing slowed, the two people that witnessed his death sat past Victor’s leg.
“Dude, you shot a man… you killed a guy!” shouted the smaller one, his face puffy with bruises, and he stood and sat on a bench. “Holy shit, you shot someone.” His head falls into his hands and K, the other guy, kicks the gun away and throws a knife into the darkness. Then there was nothing but sobbing.
“Well… I guess we know what happened to Victor now…” chokes out Alexis with her hands over her eyes. “God, but where is his body? Why was the area clean of blood?”
“I have no clue, but there has to be some explanation!” Hadi begins to stand, crumpling a plastic bag between his hands and covering his mouth.
“You fucking shot him!” A glass bottle breaks in the video, thrown by the second person, Chip. “Let’s just, fuck, not talk about this, never come here again, maybe?”
“The fucking monthly meet up is tomorrow, chip! What the fuck am I suppose to say when they see fucking blood and a body here.”
“I don’t know jackass!”
The video flickers and a third voice groans, and Hadi leans back down, and fall to his knees. Victor, who had died right on camera, rolled over in front of the camera, blood pouring everywhere, the video flickers again. His arms push against the ground and he vomits, and then more blood comes out of a wound in his chest. Blood ran so thick a good bit of the video’s bottom filled with blood, and it splashes against it, and its spat on. “I’m…” Victor pukes again, left hacking an gasping, and the blood on the screen rolls off. He’s laying head down in front of the camera, his head in his folded arms – then he sits up fully, blood stretching down his cheeks, his mouth, his arms, and a large rush oozes from his chest. His head is turned up to an arm he rose out of shot and it hung there for a few seconds.
“What. The. Fuck,” Hadi and Carol groan at the same time.
“How is he still alive!” Alexis screams, her hands falling from her face as the video played out Victor screaming, digging fingers into the bullet wound on his chest. He starts chanting, the video glitches with every chant.
But it is only “help me” over and over again, while he rose to his feet, turned around to the people behind him, and started walking with a limp. The two men ran off screaming, and Victor fell on his knees and vomited. His head turned to the sky, sobbing. Alexis skips through the rest of the video, but only the blood changes, sapping from the lens and it left the ground free of blood.
“Okay, what in the fuck,” Hadi stands up and walks away, Alexis closed the video player and slammed the laptop, pulling the wire free from her computer and kicked the camera across the ground. Carol picked it back off the floor.
“Carol, what the fuck are you doing?” Alexis screeches, forcing the laptop into her backpack. “Leave that thing there!”
Hadi stopped his short burst of pacing, “Carol, what time is it?”
Carol turns her watch over to her face, “10:24. He should’ve called.”
Alexis fishes the cell phone out and rings Carol’s cell phone quickly. “John, if you are still there you sexist piece of shit, pick up!” the phone doesn’t connect. She tries one more time, “Pick up!” Nothing again, and she tries a few more times.
“Alexis, is there any bars?”
“No,” Alexis tries calling again, Carol pulls it from her grasp.
“Then it’s no use calling,” Carol opens her mouth to say something else but glass cracks in another part of the room – Hadi pulls his gun out again. But the glass breaking steps stop after a few seconds, and Carol gets up.
“Carol, what the hell are you doing!” whispers Alexis, stuffing the wire into her bag.
“I’m checking to see if it was him,” Carol looks back at Alexis and pulls out the dusty gun, and looks at it before aiming it down the hallway.
“Carol!” Hadi calls after her as she went out of the room, taking careful steps to the open doorway carpeted in broken glass. He was standing far outside the doorway, looking at her, and she stared back with the gun aimed high.
“Victor?” Carol whispers as she stepped outside the room slowly, letting Alexis and Hadi’s calls for her vanish. Victor, completely torn with seeping wounds and a blade stuck deep into his head, raised a hand and pointed to a store across the mall partly covered in plasterboard.
“G…” blood bubbled down his chin, through the deep gash in his throat, and the bullet wound in his left chest. “Go…” more blood came, and his hand fell downwards. “There.” Then he started walking, away past the fountain she saw him die by, and into a deeper shadow.