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, I don’t think that’s a-”
“I know, Hadi, it’s a stupid idea. But I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something else at work here, and Victor is possessed by whatever it could be,” and Carol watches in silence as Hadi picks himself off the concrete block. “You two could look for anyone else that may be here – I’ll talk to him myself.”
As Hadi walks over a heavy sigh escapes him, placing his hands onto her shoulders. “Just be careful, Carol.” Carol nods, a phantom feeling tugging at her heart as Hadi and Alexis collect themselves and walk off into the darkness, Alex’s light illuminating their pathway to the belowground parking lot. She stands alone for a few more seconds, clutching her cross necklace beneath her jacket before she turns back to the dry fountain in the middle of the mall. Then she walks, taking deep breathes to steady her mind until she stands on the once stained carpet and kneels – one hand brushing against a dark spot. Off to one side there is the crunching of bone and meat hitting tile. Carol freezes; running her finger across the safety.
Her breathing shakes before she swallows the fear back down into her chest, turning over her shoulder to stare at the body lying a couple feet away. “Victor?” she takes another deep breath. “I know you’re in there. I’ve seen the video. I know what happened.” The breathing corpse struggles to stand, a groaning ‘good’ replies, and slowly it rises up to a kneeling position.
“Puh…end it,” the corpse gurgles, blood oozing out of the gash across its throat with each heaving breath. A hand rises to the handle of the knife embedded deep into its skull and pulls it out only to thrust it back in – the scratching of metal on bone cuts through the air. The knuckles curled around the cross necklace are white; a panic crawls up her spine and she pushes it back.
“Victor. Yes or no, do you hear what I am saying?”
“Yeeeeeessss,” crawls from the back of Victor’s throat; a mangled finger rises to his chest and picks at a bullet hole, “Thiiiiiiiiis is wheeeeereeeeeee I wasss shot. Wiiith mai own gunnnnn,” and sputters of blood shoot out of his mouth. Carol covers her own as she steps back, watching the blood that drips down off the various wounds turn into a spiral beneath his feet. “Hooow did youuuu know… I waaaasss here?”
“A relative or a friend. They -” she fight against her need to vomit by swallowing hard, “they had fliers for you, and we used the same forum…” another suppressing of vomit “We saw your thread, and connected the pieces last week. And the people that went missing, and, and we figured it out from there.” The hand that once held the cross lies against the base of her neck.
“Whaat’s … your name?”
“Carol, Carol Tyler. Where you the shadow in the window, a few days ago?” A gurgling ‘yes’ replies. “Are you the only one that can … walk around?” A straight ‘yes’, clearer than anything else before.
This time Carol cannot hold back any longer, turning away to eject her stomach onto the carpet. For a couple seconds only the retching of her puking fills the air, the walking dead man remaining still in his kneeling position. A few quick stabs of the knife into his brain brings her back to the present, bile dribbling off her lips to cringe at the wet sharp sounds coming from Victor’s head. “Oh god,” she mumbles, spitting out the remains in her mouth, “why do you keep doing that, Victor?”
A long stab and the rolling of the blade around the inside of his skull lengthens the silence between them – a bubbling gasp the first to rise from his throat. “It … keeps me in controoooool,” another stab into his head, “if … I stop …” and there are several more thrusts of the knife into his head.
Carol releases a breath she didn’t know she was holding, swallowing a huge lump forming in the middle of her throat “If you stop, you won’t be in control of yourself. Is that right?” A drawn out ‘yes’ seeps out between the sharp gasps. “Then, you know what is going on.” Against her will her mind goes wild with the implications – her gut twists on itself.
“Yeess,” he shouts, releasing the handle of the knife and letting the hand fall against his leg.
“Then,” Carol swallows, “you know what must be done, right?” Somewhere deep within her heart there’s a snap and tears dot the outline of her vision. It’s not for him, she tells herself, but for all the victims that are still somehow alive and suffering. “You know more than I do about … whatever is controlling you than I do. Are there any ideas on how to end all of this?”
Victor nods once and then never stops, his body rocking back and forth with hands digging into the remaining bloody tatters of his pants. Carol holds up Victor’s former gun, aiming as best she could with tears staining her vision. Then he pulls the knife out of his head and presses the blade against the wrist of his left hand. First he only cuts through the mangled flesh, dragging the blade down to the joint of his elbow before lifting it and pushing it deeper into the flesh. Over and over he repeats until the knife cuts through to the other side.
Then he starts flaying the skin of his fingers from the base of his wrist to the fingertips and dig out the bones of each joint – severing the tendons connecting each to another. “As faaar … as I know. I … am the host. It keeps me … alive. To kill. For it. But if. I bleed. Enough. I should. Die.” Between every other word he forces in another breath as he stares down at his handiwork before plunging the knife deeper into his skull. “The more die. Longer takes. But if. No limbs. Can’t. Come back. To kill. Again.” He peels more flesh from finger bones, cutting the flesh into strips while he digs out the bones. “If brain. A stew. I keep. Control.”
Carol had already sat herself down on the ground, the gun lying on the ground with her hands gripping her mouth and cross. Frozen, she can only watch as he tears his arm into ribbons and throws away the bones as best he could with mangled arms. The pooling blood grows but more tries to crawl up his body and into the mangled arm and the slit in the side of his head. Faster he starts to cut, cutting off his left hand and flinging it as far away as possible. Then his lower left arm and he sits on one foot to cut off the other still in a bloodstained sneaker.
“Puh… lease, help me,” he gurgles, blood rushing up his neck to the deep cut in his head. Somewhere, deep within her brain, a switch flips in Carol and she forces herself up and grabs the gun. Victor does not even turn to acknowledge her walking closer to him with the gun pointing at his head – until she grabs the other side of his head and shoves the gun barrel deep into the massive wound and fires.
His head acts like a silencer and his hand on the knife doesn’t lose hold – cutting deeper and deeper into the joint of one foot. After the final slice that removes the foot from his leg Carol kicks it away, taking the knife into her own hand and stabs into the muscle near his exposed knee. Victor’s hand hold the leg down as she keeps stabbing into the flesh, slicing through against the bone and tearing off huge chunks of the bullet riddled muscle.
Carol kicks away any remaining flesh away from the ever-expanding spiraling blood that lies beneath them, never looking into the face of the body she’s tearing into with a dulling blade. ‘Not a person,’ she tells herself, ‘A monster, a killer, if it doesn’t end now, when will the next chance be?’ Another round goes off into Victor’s skull but he barely moves besides exposing his other leg to the blade clutched in Carol’s hand. His hand hold his leg down, ready for the next furious blows of the blade cutting through muscle and against bone.
What would normally be a difficult job was made easier by the numerous wounds decorating his body, cutting through thick muscle by connecting the bullet wounds together in each lengthy cut. The tears were flowing out of Carol at this point and she pulls the trigger on his gun again. Another shot muffled by his skull and brain matter that began to ooze past the blood desperately trying to crawl back in. Another leg off; Carol kicks it away across a field of broken glass.
Three limbs off; the last remaining was his right arm and he holds it up in the air for her – palm face up.
For a few seconds she lets go of the gun, holding the wrist of his right hand and tearing the knife through the base of each finger until they were all scattered on the floor at her feet. She kicks them away then pulls the trigger of the gun again. This time, he flinches and his body rocks from the force. Beneath them the spiraling blood starts to thin. Carol works fast to cut through the elbow of his right arm, ignoring the blood sticking fast to the gloves and seeping through to her fingers. Across the bone, tearing away the flesh, sawing through the tendons connecting the two arm bones; she throws the remains away.
All that remains of him was his dismembered body and head. Only now does she look him in the face – a face with only a few scratches and bruises and down on his neck there was no slice. Then he spoke, clearly, even as his body laid flat on the tile in the center of a twisting pool of blood. “You need to cut off my head, and crush it until the spiraling stops.”
Carol stands frozen, eyes wide and the lump in her throat rising again and threatens to make her vomit. Taking a few shaky breaths, she kneels down beside his body in the pooling blood; both hands hold the handle of the knife tight and she stares at the untouched skin of his neck.
“Just, do it, I don’t want to kill anyone anymore,” a shaking sigh crawls through his remaining body and stares up at the ceiling. “You’re not doing it for me, I know, but for everyone else that I’ve killed here.”
Carol plunges the knife deep into his throat, squeezing her eyes shut against the bubbles gurgling up past the blade before she stabs into his throat repeatedly, pulling the blade towards her with each slice. Over and over she cuts against the thick structures in his throat and between the bones of his spine. There is no protest from him, only bubbling breaths that crawl over the blade of the knife. And when his head finally comes off the knife drops onto the tile with an echoing ring – the once pooling swirling blood gone from the tile. Any remaining blood from him crawls towards his severed head, the head mouthing ‘thank you’ repeats even after she picks it up with shaking hands.
Walking far away from the body she stops on the other side of the fountain and throws the head as far as she can down the darkness of the pathway opposite of the direction Hadi and Alexis went. A hollow smack and a series of cracks respond to her and she starts to walk towards where she threw the head.
And throughout the mall, there was screams.
Carol held her hands over her ears as the screams echo through the building – dozens of voices crying out in agony until only the jingle of Carol’s phone sang in the mall. She was kneeling down against the floor with her head on the dusty tile, squeezing her head with her hands and forcing out the tears that flow heavily from her eyes.
“It’s over,” she cries, curling up against the floor with her arms wrapping around the back of her head and her head pressing against the front of her jacket. “It’s finally fucking over,” she sobs.
Beyond the walls a siren of an ambulance wails, becoming one of several low tones that make up the refreshed ambiance of the mall. Slight winds coil through the open chambers and shake up loose papers left scattered about, throwing them through the dark corners and across fragmented glass. The sharp footfalls from the other end of the mall echo into every corner, slowing near where Carol lies curled.
“Carol, Carol, are you alright?” begins Alexis, falling to her knees and both hands shaking Carol’s shoulder. A few more shakes bring her back to now and Carol pulls Alexis into a tight hug – burying her face into Alexis’ shoulder.
“I, I just -” Carol gasps, gripping Alexis’ jacket tight, “there was no other way, he wanted me to – oh god.” Both sat on their knees and Alexis ran her hand up and down Carol’s back; speaking soft whispers of comfort. Hadi knelt down beside them and ran his arms around them, pulling them both into a tight hug. The broken gasps between sobs stop Carol from saying anymore for the moment.
“Carol,” Hadi starts a few minutes later, eyeing her blood soaked gloves and the blood drying on her face, “what happened – are you hurt?”
“No, no, this blood isn’t mine,” she chokes out, pulling off the gloves and chucking them far away.
“Then whose is it?” asks Alexis, still holding Carol tight.
“Victor, it’s all his.”
“You need to tell us what happened,” began Hadi.
“Carol, is it over? The victims – the ones me and Hadi found – they just started screaming.” Alexis scratches through her bag for the first aid kit, “what in the world happened?”
“It’s over. He’s dead, I had to -” Carol clutches her stomach for a moment, “I had to cut him up – his legs, his arms, his fucking head.” and her arms coil over her head. “He just watched me as I did it – and he was saying ‘thank you’ when he was just a head. And the screaming – it was everywhere.” A second wave of tears stop her from saying more.
“Come on, let’s get out of here, Carol,” whispers Hadi, gently grabbing one of Carols arms and gently pulling her up. Alexis helps Carol stand, taking her weight as they stand and slowly start walking towards the way they entered.
The three stop after passing through the hollow store’s back door, Carol sliding her back on the wall until she’s sat on the floor. Alexis lays her bag on the floor crawling through her bag again for the first aid kit, pulling out some wet wipes she hands them to Carol who viciously rubs off the blood from her face.
“So, what now?” Hadi sits down across from the both of them with Alexis’ camera in hand.
“I think leaving should be one of them – nothing here is good anymore,” mumbles Alexis before crawling over to grab her camera out of Hadi’s hands. He sighs. “Hey, it’s mine, not yours.”
“Can I have his camera – Victor’s,” whispers Carol. Her eyes are still towards the ground and her hands curling into the hem of her jacket.
“Sure,” and Alexis pulls out the now-dead man’s camera from her bag and hands it to Carol who turns it on and starts flipping through the files. “What do you want it for?”
“Deleting everything, we should do the same for ours,” Carol takes some time to figure out the camera’s system. “Pretend this never happened, yea.”
“Are you sure, Carol?” asks Hadi.
“Yes, so start deleting everything to do with this place. If you have anything to say save it for later,” she starts flipping through the photographs on Victor’s camera and deleting them one by one. The last file on the camera, the last thing it captured, was the last video Victor had made of his final steps into the mall and towards the dry fountain.