Woodsy ambience fills my senses. Frogs, toads, crickets, and other bugs make noises as fireflies twinkle through the trees. It’s a beautiful, warm Autumn night. The sun is just barely seen above a far away mountain. I’m joined on my left and right by my good friends Cameron and Aiden. We know the three of us get into trouble, but we always seem to have a way out of it; mostly because of my quick, and witty thinking.
Our feet fall on the unofficial path back to the road we know can take us back to our neighborhood. Conversation fills the air between the two who are following me. I block out their words. Not because I don’t want to hear what they’re talking about, but because I don’t care. I take a drink out of the Dr. Pepper bottle I store in my hoodie pouch. I don’t care what my friends say about Mountain Dew, I only care about the Pep.
I hear their conversation shift to a different topic as I return my drink to my pocket. My ears listen in. “Hey, do you guys think we could, like, walk around the abandoned, old building? I don’t like going through it. It creeps me out,” Aiden says.
“Aw, you don’t like all the cobwebs and rats? I think it’s charming,” Cameron jests.
“Says the man who stepped on a bear trap,” Aiden mocks.
“Hey!” Cameron exclaims. We all chuckle. Cameron’s leg is healed from the beartrap incident a few months ago. It was a scary experience, though. Aiden and I might make fun of him for it, but it was a serious injury for him. All the blood… not to mention the risk of tetanus. But that experience is in the past now. Thankfully, it was just a flesh wound.
“Seriously, though, Aiden, we have to cut through it. Going around it would take too long. I’d rather not get any closer to the cave that’s next to it,” I say.
“You mean the old mining tunnel? Why not? It collapsed a good decade or two ago. There’s nothing in it but rock and soil. It’s harmless compared to the creepy building,” Aiden responds.
“We’re going through it, Aiden,” Cameron cuts in, “If you hate it so much, you can go around it by yourself.”
“Ah, okay, nevermind,” Aiden says.
“Good boy,” Cameron jokes as he pats Aiden’s head like a dog. We continue our path as darkness completely covers the scenery around us. We take a second to pull out our flashlights out of Cameron’s backpack. I hear clicks as Aiden and I’s flashlight turns on.
“Ugh!” I hear. I turn to Cameron and put my light on him, “This stupid flashlight.” His flashlight fails to turn on.
“Just hit it a few times. That always works,” I joke. Cameron hits the flashlight. Surprisingly, light starts to shine out of it. Of course it works only when I say something. I move my light down our path. Two lights move around in different areas around us as Aiden and Cameron look around. “We’re coming up on the building. Do you have your adult diaper on, Aiden?” I jest.
“Hardy-har,” Aiden responds. Their lights travel the outside of the building. We can’t tell what it was used for. It could’ve been a school, or a hospital, or maybe just a base for the miners since it was built next to the mining tunnel. What we do know about it, though, is that it’s very old and is home to colonies of rats. My light travels to the exit on the back of the building. The exit is wide open, as the doors to it aren’t hinged anymore. Broken windows adorn the walls of the outside of the building. It stands only two stories tall, but is quite wide.
We slowly step into the building. Their flashlights travel the hallway on both sides of us. I keep my flashlight forward. Although nothing bad has happened to us in this building, our senses are on high alert. We make our way through the building. Slowly, we’re met with peeling walls, uneven wooden floors, and more broken doorways.
“Every time we come into this place I feel like it’s deteriorating faster and faster,” Aiden mutters to us. I agree with him. This place was in bad shape when we first came across it, but now it feels like a shell. Many rooms are now caved in and the main staircase up to the second floor has been eaten away by termites and time. We never had a chance to go up to the second floor. We didn’t have the confidence for a while, and now, we’re unable to. There will be a point, possibly soon, where the safer option is going around the side of this building rather than through it. We continue at a solid pace throughout the building, making smalltalk and pointing out things on the way. The entrance to the building is now in sight. I feel a weight lift off of me as we continue to get closer to the outside. A breeze of fresh air hits us as we leave the building. I might have to agree with Aiden next time we go this way. This building is awful.
Suddenly, as we were finally leaving the building’s dark aura, something reached all of our ears. Singing. We stop in our tracks. The beautiful singing continued. It said no words, just stunning feminine vocalizing. The three of us look at each other, confused.
“That sounds beautiful,” Cameron says in awe. I look around with my flashlight, looking for a source of the sounds.
“There’s no one here,” I say. Looking around made my ears adjust to the sound, helping me pinpoint a source. It seems the same thing happened to Aiden at the same time. Both of our flashlights jump to the entrance to the mining tunnel.
“How is that possible?” Aiden says to me. I look at him.
“I have no idea,” We look at each other in disbelief as the vocalizing continues. The tunnel collapsed. The only entrance is blocked by metal and stone. There’s no way a woman would be able to survive trapped down there for a couple decades. Our eyes travel back to the cave. We both gasp. Cameron, his flashlight now dropped behind him, was walking towards the tunnel.
Both me and Aiden rush to Cameron, pulling him back away from the feminine lure. It seems to have put him in a trance. Aiden continues to pull him back while I decide to step in front of Cameron. Out of desperation, I slap him across the face. The sound echoes off the trees. Cameron coughs and holds his jaw. The vocalizing ceases, replaced with a booming, feminine voice. “Pie jesu domine, dona eis requiem!”
We sprint away, our flashlights dancing on the scenery as our arms flail. Adrenaline courses through us. All I can think about is running and getting to the road. Branches and leaves crunch beneath our feet as we finally see the road. Safety! I slow down once my feet start hitting the concrete. I put my hands on my knees as I feel like I’m inhaling all of the oxygen in this hemisphere. I close my eyes and just breathe. Footsteps follow me, and I hear Aiden and Cameron catching their breath as well.
We walk home in a comfortable silence. Our bodies beg for sleep and the safety of our homes; we agree not to speak of what happened until the morning.