I ran. What do you do when you see that? You run right? You pick up your fucking feet and jet, no time to play hero when you see that. Fuck, I’m a coward, I could’ve helped. No it was over before it began, so I worked every muscle in my legs and pumped my way to the club district. Hoodie soaked by the light drizzle, jeans feeling tighter with the damp seeping though and my shivering skin ignited by the midnight dash.
“We’re going out tonight!” I called up at my mother’s bedroom, she would be somewhere between Ambien and sleep anyway. Krystal grabbed my hand and smiled, “This is gonna be fun, promise.” We sauntered out of the house with a devil-may-give-a-fuck walk, giggling at the world around us because we were ready to tease our way into several free drinks and dance like possessed cabaret stars.
The club was new, it was on the outskirts of our usual dives, which made it more enthralling. There was a danger to its very existence, and we thrived on that. Who could do the most fucked up thing, that was how Krystal and I had always played. Hang from the train bridge, like the Lost Boys had, stand at a railroad crossing backwards until the beast’s hot breath was on the back of your neck and hope you didn’t wait a second too long to get out of the way. A lot of our misadventures had to do with the train tracks, I was scared of them and Krystal knew it, that’s why she always dared me to them. She was fearless and she liked us to face things as if we had brass balls and a golden dick wedged somewhere between our slender thighs. Men, she would scoff, always think they’ve got the most machismo. Nothing beat us, we were the town’s resident bad asses. From spending nights in graveyards, to playing chicken with my mom’s Acura, fuck off you’re making us laugh. So we sprinted in the falling mist to our new spot.
Club Dead is what it had been lovingly named around town, because of all the violent crimes that took place in the neighborhood. The building itself also had a reputation for giving paranormal investigators a hard-on. Apparently a shitload of people died there, but our little town did love to cover things up, so we wouldn’t know anything about that. It was said to have been the old asylum, for the record I’ve never seen an asylum in our town so this could all be bullshit, and apparently some orderly went all Andrew Kehoe and decided that there was a fire sale and everything must go! They say he poisoned the administrator with cyanide and the shot the guards in the head, then he went to town on the staff and patients. When the cops finally arrived on site, the orderly, supposedly a man named Douglas Fennick, had tortured and killed the entire 187 people who were trapped in the building. I’m talking blood on the walls, people tied up by their intestines, women shot to Swiss cheese, patients hooked to the electroshock therapy at high voltage, execution style shootings in the shower room, pieces of everyone everywhere. The fucker was creative. This is a story found only by people like Krystal and me, everyone else goes on believing that it was a warehouse for a corrupt antique dealer who left it vacant once the cops booked him. Until three weeks ago the place was surrounded by razor wire and an electric fence. Yeah, I’m sure it was a warehouse.
Club Dead loomed in front of us, just as nightmarish as we had expected it would be. While walking towards the flat black entrance, Krystal lost her footing and hit the sparse grass and rock lawn surrounding the building. “Mother fuck!” she shouted and leaned over to tend her battered knee. “Smooth moves, bitch, you’re gonna wow em on the floor!” “Hey shut the fuck up I tripped on something.” “Yeah those stripper heels.” She began checking the area where she’d lost her balance and pulled up a half buried defibrillator paddle. “What the fuck?” “I guess this place really was a hospital,” she grinned widely at me. “Whatever, some crackhead could’ve brought that or something, bad joke.” “Now you shut up! Where the hell is a crackhead gonna get an 70-year-old defib paddle?” Good fucking question, the thing was ancient, but unmistakable. “Fuck it!” I threw my hands in the air and started toward the door.
The place looked deserted at first glance, a thin layer of smoke hung in the air and seemed heavier along the floor. The walls seemed to be black, there was almost no light, except at faint pink glow further out in the distance. “Great plan, Krystal, a smog machine and one fucking club light.” The music was gothic hard metal, not even our scene. “Let’s get out of here we’re like the only people anyway.” “Shut the fuck up this is great.” Krystal plunged further into the darkness towards the reverb and slight illumination. I followed weakly into the belly of the cryptic building. The farther inward I moved the more people I began to notice. Almost smoke-like themselves, they were mounting each other and grinding slowly in the deep drop beat. Naked women with black hair and dark smudges on their bodies moved through the fog with thick cocktails. Men reached for them and began spreading their legs on the dance floor, reaching inside of them, smearing more darkness on their bodies. Krystal was gone and I was in the center of something otherworldly. A tall form approached me and began stripping my clothes off in a sardonic manner, I said nothing as he undid my jeans and peeled off my shirt, unhooked my bra and let my breasts fall freely. His mouth came in close but the face was not there, I could see no features just the idea of a face existing before me. Moving his mouth to my bare chest I felt the first awakening moment, needles attempting to penetrate me, a whole mouth of points biting into me. I shoved him off with my boot and ran.
Outside in the rain I screamed for Krystal but I knew she was still in there, in that twisted blasphemous reality, their den, whatever the fuck it was. I put my shirt on and pushed through the door of the club screaming in agony for Krystal. They looked at me silently and kept their rhythm. I pushed past them, fighting my way through what seemed like hundreds of faceless monsters, moving all the way to the back of the club where I escaped the massive terror that was attempting to overtake me. Then there she was, naked and blood soaked with something not quite human with its snout in her belly, rooting through her insides, my Krystal’s insides. I ran.
The downtown clubs still had some stragglers outside the bars, but it was a weeknight and they were closing shop early. I tried to approach several couples but my hysterical ramblings left me sounding like a drunk college student and they shooed me away to sleep it off. No police anywhere in sight and I was beginning to feel frantic, panic striking me in my gut like a fist. That’s when I heard it, the grunting breath. The guttural groan from what had been submerged in my friend’s vital organs moments ago, demon creature of indescribable horror. It had followed me. I barely had time to push myself through a back alley before its long clawed fingers reached out to snare my arm. At first I had judged it as human-like, but upon closer approach it was evident that this was nothing but a vile consort of hell. I didn’t believe in hell, but I believed in the disfigured fiend salivating at my heels. I turned off the side street from one of the clubs and darted into an alley, but the thing was fast. It dashed after me and I had to keep pace. I felt fatigue aching through my bones. I felt that I’d been running for ages, and I couldn’t stop. That’s when I spotted it, like an old friend, like Krystal guiding me to my last dare, the train tracks staring at me in the distance.
My watch read 1:07; there would be a 1:15 passing those tracks any minute. I’d long ago memorized the train schedule, to make my dares more bearable. I always knew when they’d approach and there was something comforting in the knowledge. I made it to the bridge in less than two minutes. This was the last test — give it a go or surrender to death at the ends of the needle teeth I’d had pressed into my skin earlier. It approached me in a playful way, stalking me down, grinning with its grotesque jaws, leering, knowing I was trapped on the tracks, on a bridge over a river and a drop that would kill me. But I stood where I needed to stand. I knew where I needed to stand. Checked my watch: 1:15. Fuck, where was it? The thing was on top of me, face nearly pressed into mine as it opened and closed its foul mouth, sniffing me. “You almost escaped,” it said with a voice that sounded not like a human voice but like an animal that somehow made its vocal chords work to form words. Then I felt the shaking, the bridge platform moving, and the train speeding across, eating up the tracks, closing the distance between us and it. “Fuck you,” I spat, and then I dropped, right as I felt the engine on my back, just in time to miss the hit. I clung to the underside of the bridge with all my muscles screaming. I heard the train collide with it, and saw oozing blood start running down the girders.
After the train passed I loosened my death grip on the girder and hoisted myself back up to the platform. The carnage was spread across the bridge, pieces of the demon wedged in the tracks, leaking off the edges and dripping down into the river. There was no body left to be found. I made out an arm and what could’ve been a mutilated torso . . . or something, but clearly the train had taken its victim. I looked down the tracks and noticed that a vehicle had stopped up ahead about a mile. Filled with the adrenaline of my daredevil escape, I jogged towards it. Upon approach I knew they’d noticed something had been hit after the fact. I sidled next to one of the workers and tried to make out their hushed conversation before interjecting. “What happened?” I forced out with my calmest and most curious voice. It emerged like more of a squeak. “We hit something,” the conductor muttered. “I don’t know what we hit, but it was something, something big. Its body is stretched from here all the way down the bridge. At first I thought it could’ve been a man, but it’s just too damn big!” I looked at him square in the face with wavering eyes and quivering lips. “You didn’t hit a man. I saw it. It was something else, I don’t know, but whatever it was there was nothing human about it.” “BOSS!” called one of the workers. “Come here now!” We all raced to the worker whose head was poking under the front engine. “Look,” he pointed. We stared down at the once breathing putrid face that had slit open Krystal and gorged itself. Its teeth were in a permanent snarl and its face was smeared with black blood. “What the fuck is that!” the conductor exclaimed. No one said a thing. I reached in and pulled out the severed head of the beast, then I punted its wretchedness as far off into the river as I could. “It’s dead, that’s what the fuck that is.”
By Emily Smith-Miller