We continued on our way toward the house. Turns out everyone was full of questions, Benny most of all. He was like a mad man, firing one after the other, but it wasn’t like the other two weren’t without theirs either. They all seemed to think that I had all the answers. They couldn’t pull out of themselves for long enough to see that I was just as lost as they, if not more.
Funny how when you stay quiet, people think it means you’re calm and that must mean that you have the guidance they need. I was freaking the fuck out, but I also knew showing them wouldn’t contribute anything positive. They didn’t have what we needed.
When we pulled up to the house, I remember looking up at it and thinking it just looked like a regular, old, run-down house. There was a presence, though. One that didn’t sit well with me. Like an aura that sent chills through me, making it impossible for me to relax. It was like a pulsing from beneath that made my whole body tense and want to pull itself in.
Made me want to stay away.
AP had come back to us, for the most part. I could tell he wasn’t fully there yet. He wasn’t saying much, which wasn’t unusual, but when he did, his words were muddied.
“Y’all stay here,” said Torrance as he grabbed the shotgun in front of me.
“Fuck that,” said Jackson. “Like hell we will.”
He turned to Benny for backup who hesitated before saying reluctantly, “Yeah. Like, hell.”
I didn’t wait for anyone to look to me for backup or permission. I got out and opened the door for the rest of them.
“We’re going with you,” said AP in a low, sure voice.
Torrance didn’t protest. He turned as if he were not surprised we had passed his test and got out of the car.
“I ain’t going in there without a gun,” said Benny once everyone was out.
“Fuck off,” said Torrance as he took the lead.
We all followed and listened to Benny grumble under his breath, “Well fuck you too Torrance.”
Torrance used the barrel of the gun to open the small gate that was the final barrier from the demons inside and the rest of our world. It felt weird considering the fence around it was broken apart where we could have just hopped straight over it, but I guess when you’re trained to go through the given path, it’s hard to see any other options.
As we approached the front door, my eyes found themselves scanning the windows above. I expected to see the bright red orbs that had been there before, more riddling the cracks between the wood as they welcomed the stupidity of their prey.
But only an empty dark abyss met them.
“Don’t let your guard down,” said Torrance as he looked each of us in the eye. “Be ready for anything.”
“What for? Not like I got a way to defend myself or nothing,” said Benny.
“Shut up nigga,” whispered Jackson. “You’d just end up shootin’ yourself anyway.”
“Thank you” said Torrance as he turned the handle and pushed open the front door. He led with his rifle and I gave him a moment before following in.
“Fuck both y’all,” whispered Benny behind me. “If I die, it’s you niggas’ fault.”
Torrance stood near the entrance, aiming the light under his barrel all around, hovering over the entrances to the other rooms and up the stairs.
“Fuckin’ places gives me the creeps,” he said quietly.
“No shit,” said Jackson.
Torrance pulled something from his pocket and handed it to me. It was cold and heavy. Heavier than the one I had but I was grateful nonetheless. I flicked it on and nearly blinded myself as the light shot into my eyes.
“Lead the way kid,” he said.
I was thrown off completely. I had expected this guy to come in here and do some serious cop shit. Sweep the perimeter, neutralize the threats, clear us through without any danger. I realized then that he was just a man. He was just like the rest of us. The only authority anyone ever has is the one that others give them.
Cop or not, he was just as scared and lost as the kids he was with.
His badge didn’t earn him respect. Being a human being who was trying to defend others while putting his own life at risk did.
“This way,” I said, pointing the light toward the dining room.
He nodded and stepped ahead. I felt my free hand yearning to grip his belt like a small child holding on to his parents’ legs. Those children never realize that if something was there behind the shadows, they would be the hindrance that kept them all from surviving.
It was right about this time, as we were passing the dining room, that I felt the eyes all around me.
My eyes scattered everywhere, frantically searching the cracks, decorations, anything that could provide proof that there was something, or somethings, waiting for the right moment to pounce on us. Like if I would have found it in time and been able to prepare.
I found nothing, and I truly believe now that they wanted us to be there. They wanted us to find everything we did.
They knew. They fucking knew.
Products of our own…
-What did you find?
For the longest time, I thought it would be best if I kept my mouth shut. Just accepted my fate and lived with the beauty of simply being alive. If I don’t rock the boat then they’ll allow me to sail on.
But I was wrong. I was so fucking wrong.
People don’t like hearing the truth most of the time. They prefer things stay covered up so they don’t have to confront the harsh reality or the discomfort of potential change. But I realize now that once that discomfort has been sparked, it only grows until something is done about it.
-Is that what you’re hoping I do?
The doll was waiting for us in the exact same spot. It looked just as terrifying as the first time I’d seen it. Torrance moved straight past it, aiming his shotgun’s light directly through the hole we had made before. I walked up to the dool and reached out to the medallion around its neck. I leaned in to inspect it but the doll’s endless stare left me unable to think. I ripped it down from the fridge and tore the medallion from its neck.
The doll’s throat burst open, spilling its stuffing out alongside a dark gray and green mold that gave it a sickly appearance. As I tried to sever the medallion clean off, a thread prevented me from doing so. I could see something behind the veil of the doll. The single eye that had been sown on sunk inward as I tugged on the line and I felt revulsion and anger. I yanked the threat as hard as I could and imploded the doll’s face.
I felt powerful, as if somehow I had caused pain to the faceless. It lasted only a second before I saw the tiny metallic sphere that hung at the end of the thread.
It glowed bright red, pulsing. It frightened me and I dropped it on the floor where it reverted back to the cool, reflective, metal sphere. They knew, and they were letting us know they knew.
It should have helped calm me, knowing that I had been right. Knowing that all of my paranoia of being watched hadn’t only been in my head, but it changed nothing for the better. It only made it worse.
We were in the right place. We were seeking the right answers, but we had no idea what we were really asking. Everything told me to run, told me that answers were not more important than our lives.
But a little voice played in my head. My mother’s voice cooed softly, “Go on.” and I kept reminding myself that I was dead anyway.
“What the fuck was that?” said Benny. He scanned the walls around us with such intent, likely how I had been just moments before. I couldn’t tell if he had meant the voice or the flashing orb, so I responded with the one I was more confident we had all experienced.
“They’re watching us,” I said as I knelt to pick up the sphere.
“Who?” he said. “Who’s watching us?”
A rumble at our feet forced me to brace myself before I fell. We all hugged the closest thing to us to keep ourselves balanced as the ground beneath us shook.
“What the fuck?” said Torrance as the trembling stopped.
He stepped through the hole we had made, followed by Jackson poking his head in and repeating the exact words before going all the way through himself.
Inside, there was another square hole in the center of the room with light illuminating from underneath. The tar-like sludge spilled through like the intestines of a cow leaking onto the floor. There were steps that led below, inviting us down toward a long cement tunnel, like the ones inside the walls of an old dam or nuclear plant.
“I ain’t going down there,” said Benny. Torrance unholstered his pistol and pushed it into Benny’s chest.
“Yes you are,” he said before gripping his shotgun tight and taking the first step down.
“You fucking kidding me?” hissed Benny. “We being premasticated!”
I followed Torrance down, as did the rest soon after me. One of us was taking the plunge, which meant we all were.
All of us are the same in god’s eyes.
The tunnel led us to a ladder, which Torrance checked with his foot. It was secured onto the cement and he slowly managed to climb down with the rifle in one hand.
It was a lab.