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;
A hand fell onto Carol’s shoulder, turning her around to face Alexis, “Carol, what were you thinking!” Carol shook off her hand and slid her fingers to the barrel of Victor’s gun.
“I was just…” she watches Hadi scan the area, then turns back to Alexis. “We need to gather our stuff, he… it told me we need to go there,” she motions to the open storefront window. Alexis’ face scrunches for a few seconds.
“It told me to go there, it’s Victor, the guy that was on the camera,” Carol holds up the dusty pistol, “I think this is his too.” Both women turn to Hadi when he walks back to them, turning once to the fountain. “Hadi, it wanted us to go in that storefront – think it could be a trap?”
“Eh, I don’t think so. He left you alone right?” Carol nods.
“So, we need to pick everything up and move them again?” Alexis groans, turning around and walking.
“Wait! No, maybe not. What if we leave everything there and check it out? We’re the only ones here,” a stale silence falls around them and Carol sighs, “ignore that,” and steps around a pile of glass. Alexis rubs a hand over her cheek then looks over to Hadi who just shrugs – Carol steps out of the shadows of the storefront. “Two people here,” and sinks back.
Alexis left herself in the front, picking up the torn and scattered contents of a backpack left there, trying to ignore the sobbing coming from the backroom. Hadi and Carol went towards the back, letting a light guide them into a doorframe missing a door. Carol took her spot in the front, flickering the light from the legs visible in the doorway to a bloody teenager holding a laptop and a pipe. Beneath him swirled a pool of his own blood.
“Who the fuck are you,” shouted the teen, knocking the pipe against the plaster walls.
“Carol, and – “ she looked back and Hadi left her alone,” well, me and two others. What’s your name?”
The teen groaned, knocking his head back against the wall twice. “Nick, is the monster dead yet?” Carol hadn’t heard the last part, her face twisting between regret and the choking in the back of her throat.
“Nick as in Nick Wheatly?” A stillness thumping to the sound of the other man’s whimpering breaks between them.
“I… um, I really don’t know how to say this, but, your friends were looking for you.”
“What?” spoken barely above a whisper.
“Kate, Bennie, Jessica, and Vince, they went looking for you.”
“Well, I guess they didn’t find me,” he groans. Carol stomps over and kneels on the ground in front of him but not in the pool of blood.
“No, they went looking for you, here. Vince is missing his eyes.” Nick stares and the pipe rolls between his leg and the wall. “Kate, Bennie, and Vince were looking for you, here, and I found Vince without his fucking eyes. Jessica, I don’t know where she is, but I think she may’ve come here as well. Have you had any contact with her?”
“I- no! The only people I’ve ever talked to was that fuckface over there that broke my ribs and face, and the goddamn monster that left me here! Why aren’t you looking for her, if you know so goddamn much?”
“Because that ‘monster’ pointed me here.”
“Do you have any idea on what the thing did. It just came in here and fucked that douche over there up, and it left me to die in here with no so much as an attempt to help me! Then it fucking comes in here, sits on the guys chest, and slits – fucking cuts the guys eye open. His fucking eye. And it was smiling. Smiling at me after it cuts that guys eye open, like he was jerking off at the same time!” Behind her flashlight Carol pulls at her lower lip with her teeth, her forehead scrunched and muscles pulled tight. “It had the gull – the fucking gull – to say it’s sorry! After I heard it kill two girls, and all it gave me as a ‘sorry for fucking your life up’ gift is this laptop that doesn’t fucking work!” While the laptop drips blood, Nick slams it against the concrete wall twice then drops it, his head back against the corner. He took a sharp breath, rolling an arm over his broken nose and the deep purple bruising on his forehead.
“I…” Carol falls onto her ass and rolls her flashlight between both hands.
“What? Are you going to say anything about it? Why isn’t the monster fucking dead!”
“Because it’s a person that died here too!”
For a while, besides the seldom movements of the man lying away from Carol and Nick, the circle of blood around Nick is the only thing making sounds – sliding down the crumbled hinge of the laptop, around the side of the pipe that rolled into its path, only to vanish beneath Nick’s broken left leg. “Listen, Nick, let me just tell you everything I know… and I want to show you something.”
Within around ten minutes she goes over; the disappearance of Victor Lewis, meeting his friends, leaving with John and Jessica, and the last four days. Bringing Tilly to investigate the outside of the mall, going over the footage, recruiting John, and running away into a store opposite of this one. When Nick asks “why did it lead you here?” All she can answer is with a few broken moments of silence before she leaves the room. Carol comes back a few minutes later with Victor’s dusty camcorder. She previews the video, skips past the beginning, and then hands it to Nick.
He drops into the spiraling blood beneath him a few minutes later.
“How the fuck…” Carol scoops the camcorder from the blood, holding it from the top and watches, through the light of her flashlight, as the blood peels itself away from it. “That monster, that thing was once a person?”
“Yeah, but. I don’t know what it wants.”
“It gave me this,” he holds the laptop up to Carol, and Hadi walks around from outside the room and takes it away. “Who-“
“Hadi, friend of mine,” Carol lets the camcorder lay down on its side. “Uha,” she goes back to silence. “Is there anything else you can tell me?”
“Just,” Nick’s fingers intertwine above his mouth, and the palms run up over his eyes. “Just find Jessica, and tell me when you do, or bring her here. Please.”
“Alright. I’ll… I’ll come back and tell you when we find her, I promise,” her heavy flashlight clanked against the ground and Carol stepped into the spiraling blood, pushing her hands around nick. He only patted her on the back, and she reaches into her pocket for a handheld flashlight she took from Alexis’ bag.
“I’m fine in the dark,” she held his right shoulder and stared, “don’t worry, just find Jess.” Carol pulled herself back and sat on her ankles.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes,” he had his elbows resting on his legs, and his hands rolled over his face again. Carol left him in the dark, but let herself stand in the doorway for a few more seconds, and walked outside the storefront’s broken window.
Alexis and Hadi sat in the median on a concrete square with a dirt center and the red-stained laptop sat across from Alexis, who dug into a backpack. Hadi stood guard, watching in the direction of the fountain and panning behind and above to the overhanging walkways. Carol removed her gloves and sat them besides the laptop, standing with her hands dug deep into her coat. “Well,” she started, and neither of them answered.
Carol looked down to her bloody pants and shoes, letting out a partial sigh before looking away to the storefront. The bloody footprints she left drained back into the room, crawling around the glass leaving red tints on the side that too fade away. One hand crawls up to her neckline and fishes out the cross necklace.
“Carol.” Hadi stood on the other side of the concrete wall, and waved his gun in the direction of the streaming blood. “Care to explain?”
“The blood? I have no idea why it’s doing that,” Carol tucks the cross necklace under her coat, “but when I was in there, it seemed to just… vanish into the floor after circling for a while.”
“Almost like a drain?” Alexis zipped the backpack from the storefront up, a backup laptop battery in her lap.
“Yeah,” Carol sits down on the concrete ledge, and Alexis only eyes the still dripping laptop with unsteady eyes before looking away. “I can replace the battery Alexis, you don’t have to do it.” Alexis shook her head in Carol’s direction but didn’t look down at the laptop.
“Well, since we have some time to ourselves,” Hadi’s footsteps crackle against the glass, stopping beside the concrete square they sat on, “should we figure out what to do with this thing; kill it or…” he trails off and looks at Carol, she stares back. “Have you tried calling him again?”
“John? No, there’s no connection in here, remember?”
“Oh, yeah,” Hadi turns away from the both of them, tucking his gun away while watching the blood dripping off the concrete rolls into the open storefront. Carol sighs and lies on the concrete behind him, and Alexis has her back to the both of them. Hadi steps in front of one of the moving blood streams – it slowly makes its way around his boot. “Okay, so any ideas on… local urban legends?”
“The Devil’s Vortex, what was sprayed on the one door. That’s all I know.” Carol sat up.
“Remember any of it?” He turns to her.
“Ah, shit, let me think,” she swung her legs back over the side, “mostly that the building was constructed, gross smell, water lines broke; that’s about it that I remember hearing.” Hadi crouches down beside the trailing blood.
“How crazy does the idea of an entity sound?”
“Pretty crazy,” Alexis taps her shoes against the glass, “is the blood gone?”
“Nope. I can still put it in,” Carol scoots over beside Alexis and reaches at the battery, which buries inside Alexis’ coat sleeve. “Okay, fine, but it may take a while and there could be some important info on it,” the ‘it’ extends into an ‘iiit’, and Alexis glances over at Carol.
“Carol,” Hadi stood up.
“Wasn’t the first guy –”
“Wasn’t Vince circled by the same… spiraling blood pattern?”
“Yeah, he was.”
“What if those being there is what’s keeping them alive?”
For nearly a minute the Mall returns to its own tempo of still, stale silence, with only distant crackles and shambling filling the air around them. None of them move, and Alexis flinches when a loud smack echoes through the dark corners. “What in the hell was that?”
With a ‘sssh’ from Carol, she takes out the dusty pistol from her coat pocket and sweep the shadows for Victor – Carol’s hand is shaking. No other sound comes from outside their zone, and slowly, with one hand still on the pocket and holster, they gather around the concrete block.
“Okay, so,” Hadi wipes his nose, “what if those… spiraling blood patterns were what kept them alive. There can’t really be any other way to explain it, right?”
Alexis nods, but Carol bites at her lip, “but how many people are – well – still alive?”
“You’d have to ask Frankenstien that. Question, was there anything different when he pointed you to the storefront? Posture, speaking pattern, whatever.”
“Besides the huge fuck-off knife sticking from his head, no – since he’s bleeding from fucking everywhere! I mean, he has that bullet wound; but he has gashes like a cut across his throat, part of his face is almost black with bruising – not to mention all the little holes all over him. If we didn’t know it was once a HE, I’d be sure it was a zo-” A dry heave rises up Alexis’ throat and Carol turns to her. “Sorry Alexis. How’s the battery and laptop?”
Through her left hand, looking at Carol, she picks up the laptop with her right. “Ugh, clean I think. No more… blood dripping from it.” Flipping the laptop over, she snaps the battery locks open and pulls it out, sliding the spare battery into the bottom and flipping it back over. “Give me a moment to figure this one out, okay?”
“Alright,” Carol swings back around towards Hadi, “Could him having the knife in his… well, head, really change anything?”
“I don’t know, but there’s no one else that could’ve done it. It’s tough enough to cut through bone, but with a knife like that? He’d have to do it to himself.”
Carol laid her head down in her hands, staring at the ground for a few seconds, turns to Hadi, and Alexis stands and sits between them. “Got in.”
“Good, anything on there?”
“Nothing a high schooler wouldn’t have. Homework, boys… hm, a folder of scarves. There’s a new text file on the desktop. Should I open it?” Alexis glances to her right and flinches when Carol’s chin rests on her shoulder. “Uh, a yes, I guess.”
Hadi sits behind Alexis, and she scrolls the mouse over the single text file and single clicks, waits, then double clicks. It opens.
I am victor lewis
please kill me
I don’t want to hurt more
Hadi and Alexis, their faces torn in wrinkles, look over the Carol, and she stares at the small lines of text. “So,” she heaves out then looks to them, “what should we do?”
“Kill… him I guess?” Alexis flips over the laptop and closes it in a single motion.
“But how,” trailing off, Carol stands up from her spot on the concrete and walks back into the storefront they kept their things, Alexis and Hadi unmoving behind her. She watched last video on Victor’s camera, replaying the portion between the gun being drawn and the first minute of straight sobbing. Bullets won’t work, neither would bleeding or a knife – would burning work, or a special remedy?
Carol said nothing when Alexis came in to check on her, sitting down beside but not looking at the looping video camera held in Carol’s shivering hands. Alexis placed her hands on Carol, and she snapped the view-finder close – it gave Alexis a hell of a startle. “Carol,” Alexis wasn’t granted a response; so she shook Carol’s hands. Carol brushed them away. “Carol, talk to me.”
“I’m thinking of something,” her head faces the camcorder – and slowly opens the view finder only for Alexis to yank it from her hands. “Hey!”
“Carol, stop watching that video! What the hell has come over you.”
“Nothing, okay. I’m just trying to come up with some sort of plan.”
“Yeah, okay, but Hadi thinks we should look for the others.”
Carol bites her upper lip and looks away to the far wall, rolling her elbows up onto her rising knees. No response, and Alexis takes the camcorder out of earshot. Inside her head, Carol replays the video and the words of Vince and Nick; how many of the other missing people had a similar encounter like them, and why did Victor point her to Nick – why did he leave her alone? Possession, it was an idea she toyed with, and applied it. To Nick’s vicious screaming, that Victor had said sorry to him, that Victor pointed her to Nick’s location, and the video.
Planting her boots square into the floor tiles, she picked herself up and walked out to Hadi and Alexis with a sharp tugging at her heart. “Hadi, what do you think you and Alexis should do?”
“Try to look for the others; what are you planning to do, Carol,” under the hood of his coat, Carol could see the frowning on his face and a sharp gaze like what she saw on the other side of prison bars in Erie.
“I’m going to talk with Victor – I think he might be possessed.”