I was going to graduate this semester with my science degree. Paige was in her final year of studying architecture. I had taken her to the old, abandoned warehouse in my hometown to get a glimpse of the inside of it for her final paper. We were best friends since meeting each other in college and we had planned to celebrate our future careers while in my hometown.
‘This warehouse must have been constructed in the 1800's’ I thought to myself. There was no electricity, and the only light was from the huge windows near the ceiling with old scaffolding under them. The workers must have used the scaffolding to open up the windows. Paige hurried along to keep up with me despite my telling her countless times to walk slowly. Paige had done enough research into this warehouse and no doubt came across the ghost stories.
“Paige, you know those ghost stories are made up. Its so teenagers don’t use this place to party, right?” I said to her just as a howl sounded outside. I paused in front of the old scaffolding. “There is nothing here that can hurt you.”
“Are you sure? I swear I heard something,” Paige slowed her pace and came to my side as some metal cans fell to the ground with loud clinks spilling whatever liquid was inside of them on the other side of the room.
We started walking again her tennis shoes making squishy noises with each step. I told her the rumors of what this warehouse was used for and pointed to the out dated equipment left behind. Paige stepped onto a grate and it got caught on her shoelace. Her next step had her screaming as she fell down the hole the grate was covering.
"Finding a way out shouldn't be too hard." I said to her. The sunny day was turning cloudy, and the room was becoming more difficult to navigate. The grate had sunk her into an old well. She couldn't swim, but thankfully the water was not even knee deep. I could tell the water wasn’t that deep by the sound of her fall and that she was still screaming.
“My leg hurts real bad!” Paige screamed. “I think I broke it. Ah! There’s a bone sticking out my leg! What am I going to do?! Help me!” She screamed at me.
I walked slowly and carefully around the dimly lit room to where she fell. I felt around the opening. “Great, there is no ladder. I'll go find a rope or something" I said soothingly being extra careful to avoid stepping onto the multiple grates covering the floor. It seemed like I was playing hopscotch jumping from one solid square of metal floor to another to skip stepping on a grate.
The door to the warehouse opened and someone walked inside. I couldn’t make out what they looked like with all the light suddenly inside the warehouse. “What are you doing inside my warehouse?” they asked in a masculine voice.
“I didn’t know this warehouse had an owner. I was showing my friend the great architecture inside.” I said quickly and repeated myself. “I’m sorry I didn’t know this place belonged to anyone.” We were out of ear shot of Paige.
He got closer to me and there was a sudden sharp pain in my face, “You should know better than to come inside. This place isn’t yours,” he said to me. “Get out.”
“Please, we need your help! My friend fell from an old grate she stepped on and she’s inside an old well.” I said to him instantly regretting I gave her location.
“Too bad. You shouldn’t be here.” He said to me and rolled his gray eyes at me. He walked away from me and I continued looking for a rope. The light increased and I assumed he had left the warehouse.
Suddenly, I smelled smoke. "Hey! The warehouse is on fire!" I screamed. I couldn't focus on finding a rope anymore. "Move to the side Paige!" I ordered her. I squatted near the opening before jumping in.
There was nothing but darkness. Then I saw a tunnel and I saw some light! I grabbed Paige's arm to support her, and we walked toward the tunnel. “It’s okay. We’ll survive this, okay?” I said to Paige. She started screaming from pain. “Shh… I think he’s coming.” I told her quietly. It never occurred to me that the guy who set the warehouse on fire would know about the tunnel, but the sudden thought had me walking faster to the end of the tunnel.
Paige was barely able to walk, and we had only gone a few feet into the tunnel before she passed out. I was still holding her upright, but I felt the sudden change in her posture. I held her tighter and continued to the best of my ability to walk us towards the end of the tunnel.
I reached the grate at the end of the tunnel to discover it was locked. ‘No escape, this is hopeless,’ I thought to myself. I lowered Paige down on a small walkway to the side and roamed around to find another escape without her. It was a shame I had thought it would be so easy to escape. I walked away in complete silence- only the sound of my steps in the water, the smell of stale water and the complete darkness of the tunnel had me reaching the walls to ensure I was going in any direction.
I briefly touched letters on a metal frame. It didn’t bother me. It was probably a meter marker for workers anyway, but there was an arrow. I followed the arrow for a bit and could hear the howling again. ‘I must be close to the exit’ I thought to myself.
“Ah! Don’t touch me!” echoed through the tunnel and I raced to find my way back to Paige. Surely, I hadn’t gone that far away! I approached cautiously. I could hear hits and Paige’s horrified screams. I couldn’t get there fast enough. Clothes being torn were muffled by the sounds of grunts of pleasure from a male voice. He sounded like the guy who slapped me in the warehouse earlier.
“Shut up!” he screamed at her. “I don’t know why my dogs even let you both inside.”
I kept going in the opposite direction careful to avoid the noise of running to not alert the guy that I was still in the tunnel. I got close to Paige, but I couldn’t hear her screaming anymore and the man was gone! The metallic smell floated around me. I couldn’t escape it. I glimpsed at Paige’s limp body and the elephant tattoo she was so proud of on her hip was covered in blood. I reached out to touch her but felt a sharp pain in my leg. I turned around to find a huge dog gnawing at my leg.
“Let go of me!” I screamed at it, and I kicked at the dog with my other leg. Finally, I managed to get the dog to let go of me. I took off running and I turned left. I just kept running until I ran out of breath.
The darkness was overwhelming. I kept pushing one hand against the wall to balance myself. The smell of the metal and stale water had me sick to my stomach. My mind kept wandering back to the sight of Paige. I wondered if she was okay. I tried to make my way back to her, but it would take a while. I reached on the wall and felt letters and an arrow again.
“Girly, Girly” taunted a masculine voice echoing through the tunnels. “I’m gonna find you and teach ya a lesson.”
I took off running faster. I could hear the howling of the dog behind me. I put my hand on the wall and balanced myself. These few seconds were all I could afford before I had to keep running. I didn’t notice him until it was too late. He saw me. I had turned a corner and there he was. The light from a grate shinning over his head told me he saw me. I hadn’t even seen any light in what seemed like hours, but my loud panting was enough to draw his attention to me. “Girly, girly” he called out to me.
I fell to the floor. I couldn’t run anymore. I braced myself for whatever he was going to do to me. He held a rag to my face. “We can’t have you making a mess like your friend” he said soothingly. I saw the marks on his face probably from Paige. I felt him running his hands through my hair and all over my body as I drifted into a deep sleep.
The next thing I know I’m waking up on a floor naked with a pounding headache. It’s too dark in this room to tell where I’m at. Then, the memories came crashing to the surface, I remembered Paige’s limp body and the man who slapped me. The metallic smell came into my nostrils before I could think more. I tried to stand up, but my hands were tied together and I fell face forward. “Paige?” I called out into the empty darkness. “Paige?” I almost shouted, but quickly got quiet again fearing the one who did this to us was nearby.
I crawled around in the darkness to the best of my ability and found a warm blanket. It wasn’t that big, but it was big enough to keep me somewhat warm for the night. The blanket seemed to be a bit wet, but I didn’t care. I fell asleep curled up with my tied hands in front of my face. It was a disturbing sleep and I felt like someone kept touching me all night. ‘That’s what I get for reading all those ghost stories’ I thought to myself between some stages of consciousness and sleep.
I woke up to daylight. The scent of metal was everywhere mixed in with smoke. Was I still in the warehouse? My eyes opened wider, and I moved my hands. My hands! I shot to sit up with the memories flooding to me again. I ran my hand down my body and looked at my hand that was covered in blood. “Paige!” I screamed. I got up and looked down at the blanket I used the night before. I fell to my knees before I could even register it.
The blanket was Paige’s skin and her clothes or what remained of them were still attached to her skin. The ties on my wrists were not there because her blood had lubricated my wrists enough that the tie slipped off. I couldn’t breathe. This couldn’t be happening! After a few minutes of screaming that felt like eternity, I calmed down enough to think straight. ‘I have to get out of here or I’m next’. I looked around the room and saw the same scaffolding. I could try to climb out the window! I shakily walked toward the scaffolding.
The door opened and a plume of smoke entered with it. I fell to my knees pleading for my life, “Please, please don’t hurt me. Please don’t kill me. Please, please, I’m begging you.” I cried.
“We have someone here! Someone get me a blanket!” A male voice yelled. I looked up and through the smoke saw he had a bright yellow hat and was that firefighter gear? Was this over? I heard him catch something then he picked me up from the floor and covered me with the blanket. “It’s okay now. It’s okay.” The voice sounded eerily familiar, but I couldn’t place it.
“No, no! Paige!” I pointed to the blanket of skin on the floor. He coughed a few times pulling me away from the scene.
“There’s another body in there,” he told another firefighter. “Get the coroner here. I’ll alert my father that his warehouse is now a crime scene.” He came sit by me and grabbed my wrist to take my pulse. I finally looked at the firefighter that saved my life and saw the same gray eyes starring at me.