It started out as a dare with good friends. Four of us, to be precise. We dared ourselves to stay at an abandoned building in the woods. Of course, in backwoods Oregon, there was nothing better to do. It was rumored to be haunted, and it was a sort of a tradition for the senior classes to dare themselves to do something stupid the weekend before graduating. Dorathy, Michael, Tom, and yours truly, David, were into horror and scary stories all our lives, so it only made sense that we would do something like this before Tom and Michael left for Maine to go to a college there and Dorathy run off with Brad to God knows where.
When we headed out, it was a calm summer afternoon. We told our parents that we would be camping out in the wilderness prior, and left with smiles on our faces and a backpack full of camping supplies. Tom, our de facto leader, decided that before getting to far into the woods that we check our equipment to make sure we didn't forget anything.
While looking through our supplies, Dorathy gasped and let out a scream. Apparently Michael decided it would be a good idea to bring a pistol.
"What are you thinking, bringing that with us? Don't you know my dad would absolutely kill me if he caught me with one of those?!" Dorathy yelled.
"Don't worry, I wouldn't let you touch it anyway. It's only a 20 caliber to kill snakes with," Michael replied.
"It's probably best to keep it. Who knows what animals we'll run into once we get there. Better in trouble than dead," Tom said.
After about ten or so minutes of bickering and hollering, Dorathy caved in. After all, nobody knew we were going to the building. In fact, it was likely that nobody really knew it was even there. Tom had already been there several times, on his weekly hikes through the woods. He said that unlike most other abandoned buildings, this one didn't have graffiti and other signs of vandalism that normally accompanied the sheds, hospitals, and other places that dotted the country-side. Even he didn't make a mark on it, to preserve it for when we could camp there. Posterity is important when sharing photographs.
We trudged on for nearly half a day, stopping every now and then to rest, eat, and drink some water. The sun beamed through the trees at high noon like a disco lamp through the fog. Busy animals made their dues and fled as soon as they noticed us. About half a mile out, we ran into a carcass of a deer. Tom stopped the group to investigate.
"Why are we stopping at every dead nag?" asked Michael.
"This area is a preserve. No hunting. Need to make sure there aren't poachers in these woods. Also, the kill is fresh," Tom retorted.
"Ew, it reeks!" proclaimed Dorathy.
"Geez, I guess it smelled like something died, then," I sarcastically said.
After a bit of investigation, Tom decided it must have been a wild animal, since there were no visible gunshot wounds or signs or arrow puncture. The only odd thing about it is that the meat was still there. Just half of the hide was missing. We continued on as the sun continued to beat down on the canopy above us.
Around two hours later, we ran into the abandoned building. Up until this point, Tom was a little hazy on the details surrounding the building itself. We had assumed it was a non-descript cabin or some other back-woods residence of a poacher long dead. No. The woods started to thin out as the sun was setting in the sky. With us traveling west, we saw it outline a massive facility. There were occasional patches of windows on the ground floor, all broken or boarded up. The roof had a bell tower without a bell. The whole building was a dusty grey, except for the roof which was a pale red. As we approached the building, we saw a rusty semi-sphere cage sticking out of the ground. A playground. This building used to be a school, now long abandoned. From what time period, we could not discern, but long before electricity allowed lights and central air. Silently, we walked to the door. The door originally was chained and locked. We assume Tom had cut the lock on one of his many trips here, and now the chain and lock sat neatly on the dirt just outside the foyer. Grinning like a madman, Tom opened the door. Dorathy quickly covered her ears and Michael and I cringed as the door made a sharp creaking sound as Tom slowly opened it.
"Do you REALLY have to open it THAT slowly?" grimaced Michael. Tom just smiled more menacingly as the door finally gave into the pressure and lowered the pitch of its swinging. Fully open, the halls were littered in old papers, books, rusty lockers, and occasional tiles that lifted off the floor. The place had a smell of decay and oil. We followed Tom inside to the area he picked out to camp in so we could set up camp. We walked through a few narrow, dark hallways with doors on either side of them until Tom stopped and opened one. We walked into a room that was much cleaner than the rest of the school we had saw thus far. The room was completely empty, aside from two or three tiny wooden desks, presumably meant for children, a row of cubby holes attached to the wall with nothing in them, and the blackboard. A breeze came in through cracks of the boards on the windows, picking up dust as it went.
As we unpacked our supplies, I thought I heard a noise in the distance. A small rumbling noise.
"Hey, Tom. Do you hear thunder?" I inquired. His face was as pale as a ghost.
"Yeah, but I checked the weather about a week ago. There wasn't supposed to be any rain this weekend," he replied.
"Well, there was this typhoon about to hit Alaska, but I didn't think anything of it," said Dorathy.
"You mean to tell me that you KNEW about a typhoon but didn't tell us?!" Michael shouted.
"Brad said not to worry, that we would be fine," she responded.
"Calm down. I brought enough dried foods to last a few days in case of an emergency. And if it's raining, we can drink the rainwater," I said.
We agreed to go ahead with our plans to stay for the night, hoping that the typhoon would pass overhead without causing any damage to the school. After all, it was too late to head back now. With Tom and me getting our portable grill out to cook some dinner, Dorathy and Michael left to explore the rest of the school. A few minutes later, Dorathy's scream echoed through the halls. Tom and I almost knocked each other out trying to get into the hallway to find her. Room after empty room filled our eyes as we hastily opened each and every classroom. As I veered around a corner, something hard struck my head, causing me to fall backwards and see stars. Almost immediately after falling, I heard another loud thump. Tom jumped over me and continued down the hallway. Groggily, I stood to face my attacker. Michael did the same, opposite of me. A small chuckle escaped my throat, we had just literally ran into each other. We both got up and ran after Tom. We caught up to the sight of Dorathy crying in Tom's arms. He stood a full head over her, staring into one of the classrooms. Michael went first into the classroom, and I followed. What I saw next caused me to gag.
A man's body sat laying in the middle of the room. Maggots fell off of him as his body was into the late stages of decay. His clothes were torn and ripped, and he had no shoes on.
"Must have been an old vagrant," Michael said, breaking the silence between Dorathy's sobs, "Tom, didn't you check everywhere before we got here?"
"No," Tom replied, "I've never been on this side of the school. I've only been in the North wing."
"Wasn't this place locked up tight? How did he get in?" I asked.
"He must have been the guy who found this place and cut the chain. Look there, he had a pair of bolt-cutters with him," Tom answered.
Looking over the guy, it looked as though he died of natural causes. We decided to close this room off and search for any other surprises together. The only other thing we found is that the stairs in the center wing were too rotten to safely climb. The thunder in the distance came again, this time much more pronounced. We eventually made our way back to the room where we were camping and cooked dinner. The sun had set into the darkness, casting shadows all through the room. Dorathy was the first to sleep, after she had eaten. Tom was second. Michael would be the first watch through the night. He and I softly shared stories of our exploits in high school as the night went on. Eventually, I too fell asleep.
I slept soundly as Michael kept watch. After a few hours, he woke Tom, and Tom took the second watch. I dreamt of spirits and ghosts and creepy-crawlies all through the night. At around 3 in the morning, Tom woke me up to take my shift. I awoke to the sound of wind, rain, and thunder. Looking outside, the wind was pushing the rain in through the cracks as lightening lit up the sky. Our parents must have been worried sick.
Tom laid down on his sleeping mat after handing me Michael's pistol. I sat on his collapsible chair and watched the rain pour down outside. The lamp in the center was still as bright as the sun, letting off a solid white color that permeated all corners of the classroom. I noticed faint yellow marks on the blackboard where the children's drawings were not fully erased. Creaks and groans echoed through the walls, setting an eerie tone.
A sudden crash and shaking awoke the group. "What the hell was that?!" Tom and Dorathy proclaimed in unison. I grabbed the pistol and flashlight and went to investigate. In the main foyer, we found a new, large, metal object. Above it, a rough, circular hole allowed water to drip in to the school. The bell from the bell tower had fallen into the first floor.
Relieved that nothing else had happened, we went back into our camp-room and Tom, Michael, and Dorathy slept until what should be dawn. Once they awoke, I went back to sleep.
~~Day 1: I awoke to the sound of rain still pouring from outside. Tom had saved me a few morsels from their breakfast. Looking outside, it was still pitch-black, as if I had slept through the day. My watch said otherwise.
"The wind isn't letting up," Tom said, "hopefully we just caught the tail end of the typhoon and we will be able to return home tonight. We might get yelled at, but that is the safest option." Michael and I nodded in agreement. Dorathy just stared through the cracks in the window. Tom continued "We might want to fully check the place for any supplies they might have left behind. I think I saw a few potato sacks in the cafeteria."
"You really aren't planning on eating rotten potatoes, right?" Michael said with disgust.
"No, the sacks were empty. We could use them to barricade the room in case this area floods, though," Tom replied.
Sure enough, there weresome empty potato sacks stacked up in a corner of the kitchen of the cafeteria.
"We should fill these now, so we have them if we need to use them," I suggested. Since I had the only shovel, though, that meant that the task was left to me. I spent hours digging up mud in the rain to fill up six potato backs. Tom and Michael stacked them neatly in front of the door. The rest of the day was spent searching in vain for any other supplies. We ate about half of the rations I brought that night. Freeze-dried food might taste bad, but it was still food. Right before we went to sleep, we refilled our canteens using Tom's water-catcher, aka. a plastic back with a hole in it.
~~Day 2: Tom awoke me for my shift. For the most part, I had slept well. The rain was still raging outside, with wind and thunder accompanying it seemingly in tandem. He handed me the pistol and laid back down on his mat. Hopefully, our parents just assumed we managed to find a place without phones to stay. Using the stove, I made myself some coffee from the water in my canteen. I looked outside through the boards to see the area immersed in a pitch black cloak. Thunder echoed through-out the skies.
Day slowly came, although without a watch you really couldn't tell. The rain seemed to come down harder today than it did yesterday. Tom and Michael argued about braving the rain, but eventually Michael came to his senses. If we were going to brave the storm, yesterday would have been the day to do it. Now the risk of hypothermia was almost a certainty. The day was spent watching the rain come down from the foyer of the school. We talked, laughed, and joked to pass the time.
At about half past noon we made a discovery that pretty much eliminated our worry that the school would be flooded. We saw that all around the school was standing water. The school was built on a hill. We moved the barricade to the foyer to be able to have something to sit on, and watched as the rain continued to fall. At night, we agreed to half the remaining ration.
"If math has taught me anything, if we continue to half our food each night, we will never run out, right?" Tom joked. The other half would be eaten the following night, if needed. Half of the ration did nothing to stave off the hunger pains, though. All through-out the night, I had a difficult time sleeping due to the hunger.
~~Day 3: Dorathy awoke me from my sleep. Since there were four of us, and only three were needed to keep watch, we rotated who would not have to keep watch. Tonight was Tom's night to sleep in. My stomach growled as I sat up and grabbed the pistol from Dorathy. She gave me a concerned look and then went back to sleep. I decided not to make coffee, since that stimulates an appetite. I watched miserably as the rain kept dragging on. Somehow, it seemed even worse than last night's rain. The wind howled through the trees. Without a fire, without a blanket, the wind blowing through the boards chilled me to the bone. Several hours later, the rest of the group woke up. Michael complained about being hungry, and Tom concurred. Dorathy didn't say anything. She was too fixated on the storm to notice, I guess. The hunger pains gradually died down as the day went on. The jokes and general feel good atmosphere we had days prior started to decay into an alarmed and concerned discussion. Our parents were undoubtedly worried about our location, and there was nothing they could do about it. Michael had his pistol with him, determined to shoot any animal that he saw for food. Tom and I knew, however, that any animal in the immediate area was long gone.
There was also the concern about what we would do after the storm ends. Before, we thought we would trudge back home through the mud. Now, the school stood above at least a foot of floodwater as far as the eye could see into the woods. We didn't have boots, so walking into the freezing waters would likely end up with us dying of hypothermia or some other disease. Dorathy had the idea that if we started a bonfire, we could get someone's attention. So far, that seemed like the best idea we could come up with. Night came much slower than we cared to wait for. The hunger pains had set in long prior to dinner, each of us clutching our stomachs and begging for the growling to stop. Sweet relief came as we greedily ate the last of our rations. Hopefully we would be rescued the next day.
~~Day 4: It was my turn to sleep in. Granted, I couldn't sleep much. In fact, only Tom was able to stay asleep after his shift. Michael and I periodically awoke during Dorathy's shift. The slight relief we felt with the prior day's consumption of rations gave way to a new hunger. The rain torrents blew and blew, not letting up in the least. Minutes gave way into hours, and soon we were sitting around the foyer hoping that any animal would dare to come to the school for shelter. We continued to discuss plans on what we would do after the rain subsided. Michael suggested we make a raft to sail to a nearby city, which would have been a good idea, except that we had no idea how to build one.
The day went by without incident, we grew hungrier by the hour. We made our way back to camp starving. Tom reassured us that the hunger was only temporary, and that technically a human can survive weeks without food. I nodded my head, and Michael and Dorathy just ignored him. Michael took the first shift, while Tom and Dorathy went to their sleeping bags. Due to the hunger, I couldn't sleep. I stayed up with Michael and kept him company.
~~Day 5: The night dragged on slowly. Unable to sleep, I was able to talk to Tom as well, who kept reassuring me that we would be ok. More than likely he was reassuring himself as well. During the day we sat at the foyer. Not a word was said to each other. Every now and then one of us would groan from stomach pains. The rain still had not let up. The waters around the school were starting to rise, but not so much that we were in danger of being flooded anytime soon. Dorathy blankly stared into the rain. The day again passed without incident. At night, Tom, Dorathy and I went back into the camp-room. Michael said he would watch the front entrance for animals. Hopefully one would take shelter at night and then we would have food. None of us slept that night. Dorathy tossed and turned in her bag while Tom and I played cards with a deck that I had brought.
~~Day 6: With two days without any food, our minds started to deteriate. The rain had let up quite a bit, and the sun peeked through the clouds. Returning home, however, was not an option. The water around the hill was two feet deep at least. We almost had to restrain Michael to prevent him from running off. Tom and I set up a bonfire outside the school, hoping that someone would see and rescue us. Minutes turned into hours. The day passed without a single helicopter in sight. Nobody was coming. We returned to our room and waited another night, Michael again staying in the foyer to hunt for animals.
Several hours into the night, a loud bang entered through the hallways. Unmistakably a gunshot. Michael had shot something. We ran to the foyer to see what food he had brought us. Dorathy was first to the foyer. When she got there, she let out a loud, piercing cry. Michael had shot himself. Blood ran down his temple and on the ground.
Tom and I glanced at each other. We had the same, unforgivable thought going through our minds. I grabbed Dorathy and led her off to another room to console her. She cried hysterically, occasionally muttering things such as 'her fault' and 'should never had brought that gun'. Dorathy's senses were much sharper than mine, to my dismay, and her crying dramatically increased without warning. I couldn't understand why until I also smelled it: the smell of burning flesh. Tom was preparing our dinner. I led Dorathy to camp room, dragging her at times. Tom had already hid the rest of the body, and filets of Mike's arm dangled on his stove, filling the air with a dangerous aroma. Tom split the food evenly between the three of us. Dorathy did not touch her food, and sobbed as Tom and I hungrily wolfed down the remains of our dear friend. Tom fell asleep soon afterwards, and I followed shortly after. The last thing I remember before I fell asleep was Dorathy eating bits of Mike between sobs.
~~Day 7: I awoke to a horrible screaming. "It's your fault that Michael died! I hate you!" This was followed by a loud bang. I scrambled to my feet to the sight of Dorathy sitting on Tom. Tom's head had a bullet wound from where she shot him. She then turned her head to glare at me. Her eyes were bloodshot, and she was uncontrollably sobbing. Droplets of Tom's blood was splattered all over her face and body. I turned and kicked the door down and ran into the hallways. I ran into twists and turns as I desperately looked for a hiding place. I entered a random door and hastily shut it behind me. The sun shining in from the windows illuminated the room. I saw two bodies in this room. Michael's, and the old man's body from before. The smell festering in this room was unbearable, but it was too late to pick a different room. Down the hallway I heard Dorathy's footsteps walking towards me.
"Where are you, David? Don't you want to hang out?" she moaned.
There was no place to hide. No furniture, no desks of suitable size, nothing. There was, however, a bolt cutter in the corner of the room. I slowly walked over and grabbed it, and as quietly as I could, made my way back to the door.
"David! Oh Da-vid! Where aaaaare you?" she called out.
Boom. Boom. Boom. One after another, door after doors slammed into the walls as she opened class-room after class-room. Mine was the last one. I prepared the bolt-cutters, praying that she would come to her senses.
"There's nowhere left to hide, David," she said. A roar of laughter echoed through the halls as she laughed hysterically.
Boom! The door swung wide open and she immediately aimed the pistol into the room, scanning for me. As swiftly as I could, I slammed the rusty bolt cutters down on her wrists and burst out of the room, running for the outside. I ran past the bell in the center room, out the foyer, and into the playground. Even if I didn't make it, dying from hypothermia was a better fate than this. I trudged out into the water, slowing as the mud and water filled my shoes. I leapt out of them, and continued in my now soaked socks. Boom! A sharp pain followed by a warm feeling crept into my shoulder as a powerful force pushed me forward into the water. I was totally submerged for a second before I floated upwards. I struggled to regain my footing. I turned around and saw Dorathy standing in the doorway, laughing hysterically. Boom! She fired the gun again and missed. Boom! Again, she missed. She stopped aiming at me for a second while she regained her composure.
"I'm so sorry David! I didn't mean for this to happen! I am so sorry!" she screamed between laughter and sobs. She then turned the gun on herself and fired.
I returned to the shore of the school island. Dorathy was dead, without a doubt. I felt nauseous and woozy from the loss of blood. I returned to the campsite and found Tom's first aid kit. I patched up the wound as best as I could, but without help, it was difficult to reduce the bleeding from my back. There was no exit wound, the bullet was still in my shoulder. I passed out shortly afterwards.
~~Day 8: A pounding headache woke me from a comatose sleep. It took me a few minutes to remember that all my friends were dead, and that I was alone with their corpses. The sun had not risen yet. Looking at my watch, it was still 4 in the morning. Still, I left the room and used my flashlight to gather tinder for a bonfire. I gathered as much as I could from all the class-rooms.
The sun broke through horizon as I finished preparing the bonfire. I lit the bonfire and left the school. It took a while, but eventually the entire school was engulfed in flames. Smoke billowed out into the sky, most of it from the wet wood from the monsoon. I sat next to Dorathy's corpse and wrestled the pistol from her clutched hand. I checked the ammo, and found there was one bullet left.
One bullet left, just in case they never find us.
Written by Benovere