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A Place in Legend

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There's been an urban legend in my city for as long as I can remember. I can't even remember who I first heard it from. I don't think anyone knows how it got started. Even so, it doesn't stop people from talking about it. A place that doesn't exist on the map, out where it would be suicide to go looking, but you can get rich just by finding it? Who wouldn't wonder about something like that? Best of all, though, the story is true. I know. I've been there.

It started in mid-autumn, years ago. Things in town were getting bad. Thugs roamed all around the city, harassing who they pleased, important buildings had been left to fall apart, and the government wasn't stepping in to do a thing. Me? I was down on my luck. Didn't have anything but my wallet and the clothes on my back. I'd headed out to the suburbs, way outside town. That far out, there was nothing but old folks and mini-marts that had maybe three things in the whole store, but the law never went out that way, and for someone like me it was the best place to ask for handouts, maybe find some money on the ground...heck, I'd even do odd jobs if I got something I could use out of it. The thing about being out in the sticks is, you've still got all the city problems, but then you've got the bugs. Big ones, little ones, jumping, burrowing, and flying wherever you go. You can't get away from the damn things. They're not afraid of people, either. Stand still too long, and they'll be all over you, looking to see if you taste good. I think that's why I went looking for it...I just couldn't take dealing with those damn bugs.

So, I followed the stories. I went up into the hills, where the wildlife sometimes comes down looking for a snack. I headed along deer trails and switchbacks and the kind of terrain that those "Caution: Falling Rocks" signs were invented for. It was nerve-wracking, but the only thought in my mind was for the fortune that would await me if I could just find it. I travelled a good long way, well past even the furthest houses and into "crazy hermit" territory. Then, just as I thought I wasn't going to be able to make it any further, I reached a place where the trail seemed to end in this grove of dead trees, with one big one in the middle, looking like the face of an angry giant. My heart started to beat faster, because I knew this was the last landmark in the story, the place where nobody knew where you went from there. I can't remember which way I went either. Just that one minute there was no path, and the next minute I could hear my ears ringing, and there it was.

The building has this strange architecture. When you see it, you know right away it's not normal. It looks sinister, menacing, all odd angles and shapes that don't make any sense. The whole thing is made out of this rusty, corroded looking metal. It looks like a scab...a whole building made of dried blood. You stare at the entrance, and it just feels like it hates you. Like, really hates you. Even with the promise of the reward, I was almost ready to turn back, to just give up on the whole thing, when I saw that place. If it hadn't been so hard to get there, if it hadn't been for how everything matched the stories, I would have. On the inside, the first thing I remember is the fire. It was burning on the inside. I saw this figure crouched down, just hunched over right in the middle of the flames. His skin was puffy and red, and his eyes were milky white. I thought at first that he was dead. Just as I was about to turn and run, his lips split open, revealing crooked snaggle teeth. Then he spoke, his voice harsh and gravelly...

"IT'S A SECRET TO EVERYBODY."

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