Posts Tagged ‘scifi’

A couple of things to note before I post this here: this was one of my first completed NaNoWriMo novels (2012). It came to be out of a dream I had. It is one of my favorites. It is Young Adult. It is copyrighted by moi.

Oh, and when I copy/paste, WP does not recognize paragraph indents. Sorry.

Last, please don’t just “like” and move on. If you like it: why? Please comment. Give feedback. Postive, negative, neutral – I don’t care. Just have the courtesy to comment. A comment gives me incentive to go like YOUR blog and follow YOU.

*Image courtesy of Pexels

Princess Boo

Charley Duman came across the littered parking lot, hands deep in his jacket pockets. Charley was wary, walking hurriedly, his eyes scanning the perimeter of the old factory warehouse. He was watching for any sign of life in the five-acre compound, specifically life that threatened him.  Charley and his best friend, John, always came in by a break in the chain link fence along the greenway, crossing the narrowest portion of the parking lot to the west entrance. There were other ways in, but this one was the most isolated and was never monitored. It was, John said, the forgotten way into the old warehouse.
Other people used the old factory as a hang-out and Charley was watching out for himself at the moment. There was no sign of gangs or the occasional vandals today. The homeless man who had been crawling into the stairwell beside the loading dock had been rounded up by the cops a few days past, so Charley didn’t have to worry about the old lecher. Charley didn’t like the stinky old man and he didn’t trust himself to be alone with the guy. What if he was a perv? Or some kind of serial killer?
Charley was not a big boy. He stood just under five feet tall and weighed 98 pounds, exactly. He failed at everything athletic. The jocks at school loved to bully him. Girls didn’t even look at him. His father had been a short man and Charley had no delusions about his future. His family could not afford martial arts classes and he was pretty certain his lack of athletic prowess would have doomed him anyway. He could hide, and he could hide quickly, and that was the talent that kept him from being pummeled by the “in” clique at school. You couldn’t beat up someone you couldn’t find.
John, on the other hand, was tall and wiry. John could run, he could bat, he could even throw a baseball in a straight line. He couldn’t do much else, but the ability to play baseball saved him from a lot of the bullying that Charley had to endure. His status as a ball player and his size helped protect Charley from the worst of the bullying. Charley knew that. He was thankful for that. But he fervently wished he was someone else most of the time.
The old warehouse once belonged to a clothing manufacturer but was  abandoned sometime in the late 1970’s. It sat near the back of a five-acre plot of asphalt and concrete, surrounded by chain link fence and razor wire. Three sides were surrounded by newer industrial buildings and the west side backed up to a narrow greenway that also (conveniently) backed Charley’s and John’s homes and the school they attended. It was an easy escape from school to the old factory. Signs dangled from the chain-link warning of electrical shock and guard dogs.
There were no dogs and no electric current. The fence itself was a deterrent, but there was the break in it along the west side, conveniently close to a thicket of trees (this was the entrance used by John and Charley). Another break was in the front of the compound, where the main gates could be breached by a talented lock pick. The gates were on wheels: when the gangs came in, they often picked the lock, rolled the gates open and then closed them behind themselves so they would look like they were still locked. The dead give away was always a car parked somewhere in the vast empty parking lot. The gangs could not walk anywhere, they always had to ave a car.
The derelict building had corrugated metal siding and a flat roof, three fire escapes, a loading dock with a stair well next to it, a west-facing entrance, a south-facing entrance and a main entrance close to the center ell – all locked. The windows on the first floor were heavily boarded up, and any entrance near the fire escapes was also boarded up. There was no easy way into the old building. Most of the hoods who trespassed, climbed the fire escapes or hovered under the protection of the awnings over the doors where they could smoke cigarettes or pot in relative shelter.
Charley and John and been no different until John discovered a window on the south end of the west wing that had loose plywood nailed to the inside. The glass on the outside was broken, but the boys could push the plywood inward to clamber over the sill and into the building. Once inside, they pushed the plywood back into place so nothing looked odd from the outside.
The place was not popular. It was considered a haunted building. Once, some of the bravest members of the Varsity football team had decided to test the haunted theory. They crawled under the fence in the same place where John and Charley entered. They prowled the exterior of the building, looking for a way in when IT happened.
IT was a rumor. It happened twenty years earlier, in the 1980’s. Some said Coach Harper was one of the boys. Mr. Dreiger, the druggist, was another one. Phil Gonzalez, a local contractor, was another one. John’s dad was another. John’s dad would not talk about it unless he was extremely drunk.
Charley knew of the event from his mother and through the myriad of rumors surrounding it. He trusted his mother: she was single, worked hard, and didn’t pander to a lot of gossip or tall tales. She believed in IT.
John knew more: his father would get drunk and recount the tale, embellishing it every year.
The story kept most good kids away from the old factory. The cops didn’t try the doors unless there was a car in the parking lot: Sheriff Hockings was another one of the youths who had attempted the break in on October 31, 1982.
Personally, Charley thought they were idiots for trying anything on Hallowe’en. Every one knew Hallowe’en brought out the strangest behavior and accentuated anything eerie and dark. There was a reason slasher movies were always set on the 31st of October.
He was near the dumpster now and no sign of John. He steeled himself. John was about to jump out from behind the dumpster and startle him…
“YEAH!!” John leapt up from a cat-like crouch, grinning as Charley jumped back. “Gotcha!”
“I wish you wouldn’t do that,” Charley grumbled.
“But it’s fun.”
“It’s bullying.”
“You know I am going to do it. Why do you jump every single time?”
“You wouldn’t understand,” Charley grumbled.
John just laughed, as he always did. “Coast is clear, I’ve been here five minutes and no one is around. Let’s get inside.”
They walked to the boarded-up window and pushed the board in, quickly clambering in. The room they entered was a small room with a dust-covered desk and three tan-colored aluminum folding chairs, the sort that were stacked under the elementary school platform in the gymnasium. A white bookcase was pushed up against the wall. The boys kept a a stash of supplies, including a deck of cards, a flashlight, cigarettes, and some snacks hidden inside the big grey metal desk. Light filtered through a second broken but un-boarded window, high on the wall and too small to crawl through (assuming one could sneak a ladder onto the grounds and reach it).
The boys never stayed in the building after dark. They were truants, but they were also good kids, kids who tried to be at home for dinner with the family (Charley’s family consisted of himself and his mother; John had both parents and a little sister), and they did not want to be caught in the open parking lot when the gangs were hanging out. Or the Seniors, because the Seniors inevitably chose after dark to “haze” someone by daring them to break in and spend the night.
Charley, especially, did not wish to meet the older youths in the parking lot when they were high on ego and in hazing mode.
Today, John was the first in the room. He retrieved their stash of items from the bookshelf while Charley reset the board in the window. It always took some time for their eyes to adjust to the dim light and John liked to retrieve everything before the board shut out the extra light. “I brought a second flashlight,” he said, producing a small black LED flashlight. “It’s pretty bright and the batteries last longer.”
A stack of old 12-volt batteries were hidden inside the coat closet, along with the litter from the boys’ snacks. They had no particular reason for hiding the items, but John was a neat freak. They didn’t want to carry the trash back out, so they hid it.
“I’m so tired of Mr. Mack,” Charley grumbled. “You know he told my mom that if I miss any more classes, he’s going to make me repeat the class next term?”
“Yeah, my dad threatened me with that, too.” John lit a cigarette. “We’re not the only kids who skip his class all the time. I think they should fire the old geezer.”
“Yeah.” Charley watched John as he smoked. They had no agenda. Hanging out inside the creaky old building was slightly better than enduring another science lecture or taking part in yet another humiliating Phys Ed class, and a world better than showing up at home early and having to carry out the trash . For the past six months, the boys had been sneaking out to the factory to skip a class here or a class there. They tried to keep from creating a pattern, but inevitably they skipped Mr. Mack’s Freshman Biology course more than any other class.
They settled down to watch a video on Charley’s iPad when they heard shouting outside in the hallway. Quickly, they stashed everything. John pressed his ear up against the door and signaled to Charley to do the same. He frowned as he listened.
Charley faced John, his left ear pressed against the hollow door.
“Die! I said, die! Dammit all!”
There was a thump, and then some more thumps, a clatter, and what sounded like chains rattling. The noise was coming from somewhere near the end of one of the halls.
“Die?” John mouthed the word, his thick eyebrows knit into a uni-brow. His eyes wee wide. “Gang fight?”
“Let’s get out of here.”
A roar not unlike the roar of the male lion at the zoo reverberated from above. The door reverberated, as did the plywood in the window slot, and everything else in the room.
“Let’s check it out.” John said. He cautiously turned the door knob to peer into the hallway.
“Let’s not.” Charley looked nervously behind him. He edged away from the door.
“No one is out here,” John whispered. He stepped into the hallway, leaving Charley alone. Charley hesitated, then grabbed one of the flashlights and followed John out into the hall.
They were standing in the west wing, near where the building made a ninety degree turn. The entrances were all boarded up and the hall was dark and silent. A sound like something heavy being dragged or pushed sounded from the south wing. The boys hurried to the corner and peered around it, John from a standing position, and Charley, crouched and poised to retreat.
The door into the stairwell at the very end of the south wing was open, letting in a sliver of light as something bulky was dragged through the opening. It was just a shadow thing. The door clinked shut, but they could still hear sound of a struggle moving up the stairs. There was no longer any shouting, but something very large and bulky was being dragged upward.
“I bet he’s got a body he needs to dispose of!” John left the shelter of the wall and headed to the opposite side of the hall, where he quickly padded toward the stairwell.
Charley followed in hot pursuit. “John! Use your head! If he’s killed someone, he’s gonna kill us, too.” His whisper sounded too loud.
John ignored him. Rolling his eyes, Charley hurried to keep up, trying to keep his shoes from making flapping noises on the hard hall floor.
They stopped by the stair well door. Charley was breathing hard. John’s heart was playing staccato in his ears. They pushed the stairwell door open together.
It was slightly lighter in the stairwell. They heard a door above click shut.
One hand on the wall and moving slowly, with their backs toward the wall, they climbed to the third floor. A large window opened to the outside here, as did one on the fourth floor. They knew the source of light, at least. The sounds of struggle were beyond the third floor entry.
They crossed the second floor landing which was boarded up with plywood sheets from inside the stairwell. John’s legs felt like rubber as he led the way to the next landing. They could go no further: the stairs up to the fourth floor were barricaded off with a sheet of plywood.
“AHA! Now you die!” A man’s voice, muffled by the door, sounded. A final “whump!” as someone or something fell heavily against the floor (or wall) and the long, drawn-out wheeze of what seemed to be a final breath.
John put his hand on the cold aluminum knob, his heart pounding almost as loudly as the muffled thumps and bumps from beyond.
Then silence. Interminable silence.
Charley, who wore a watch, timed five minutes. He deemed that a reasonable time to allow a villain to escape. It was certainly enough time for a villain to escape before he and John peeked and found the corpse.
Five minutes is a very long time in a dark and silent and small enclosure, but neither boy had his mind there. Both envisioned finding the bloodied corpse and notifying the authorities. Wouldn’t they be the heroes?
They would tell the investigators how they heard the struggle and the final blow, and swear they could recognize the villain’s voice if ever heard again. They would play key roles in the investigation, raised from petty suspects in the crime around the neighborhood  and elevated to heroes. Their photograph would appear in the local newspaper wit the headlines:
The futuristic headline ended their reverie: they were, after all, skipping school. Charley’s mum, especially, would be unimpressed. He could hear her now…
John turned the doorknob lightly. He inched the door away from his body and into the third floor South Wing. The hallway was littered, but perhaps that was a body? He pushed the door open and let himself and Charley through.
Charley was close on his heels. A pile of rags was piled on the hallway floor. When John reached out to touch it, it rattled like newspaper and they both jumped. Charley’s hand flew to his heart.
“Just newspaper,” John whispered, relieved. He approached the nearest door and tried it. Locked.
Charley studied the floor of the hallway: the dust was undisturbed. He thought that if something had been dragged through here, specifically a large body, the dust would be stirred up.
“Gimme that flashlight,” John ordered, wresting the lantern from Charley’s fingers. He aimed the beam down the hall.
Charley knocked the light down. “Gawd! He’ll see it, you idiot! What if he has a gun?”
“Did you hear a gun?” John answered crossly. “There’s two of us. What’s he gonna do?”
“Kill us, too?”
Reluctantly, John snuffed the light. He did not relish walking down the dark hallway. “What do you think we should do?”
“Wait and see if anyone is reported missing,” Charley hissed. “Let’s get out of here.”
They left the darkened hall for the stair well. They were still feeling heavily oppressed and walked back down quietly and slowly, ready to run if the door above opened again. They crossed the second floor landing. John glanced at the door and stopped: it was not boarded up, but a large padlock held the door fast. He pointed at it, but Charley was already halfway down to the first floor.
Feeling prickles across the nape of his neck, John hurried to follow his short best friend back to their room. They gathered their things and left, each one deep in his own thoughts. Not until they were back through the break in the fence and walking towards their homes did either one speak.
“I’m gonna keep an eye on the news,” Charley said.
“I think we should call the cops anonymously.”
“They can trace your call. If the call turns out bogus, you’re in trouble for filing a false police report.” Charley shook his head.
“We could use a pay phone.”
“Yeah, like where is a pay phone?”
“Oh.” John brooded.
“We don’t even know a murder was committed. We never saw anything. We just heard something and that doesn’t prove anything.” Charley was pacing now, leaning into his thoughts as if they were a fifty-mile an hour wind he had to counter. “The dust on the floor wasn’t disturbed. There would have been tracks or marks in the dust.”
“The second floor door went from plywood to a padlock.”
Charley stopped so suddenly that John ran into him. “What?”
“The second floor door. You saw it. It was all boarded up with plywood when we went up the stairs. When we came back down, there wasn’t any plywood, only a big old padlock.”
“I don’t remember what it looked like,” Charley scratched his chin. “I was so freaking terrified we were going to get shot.”
“Well, I remember.”
“That’s not possible, you know.”
“That I remember?”
“No, that it went from boarded up to having a padlock on it, only.”
“It’s also not possible that something as big as we saw being dragged would leave no marks on a dusty floor.”
“None if this is possible. How did anyone get in there in the first place?”
“We get in there.”
Charley shook his head. “They didn’t come in the same way we did and you know that. I am officially freaked out.”
“And I’m not?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Look, I’m saying that we need to not skip school for a couple of weeks. Let the dust settle. Let someone file a missing person’s report. Then we go back.”
“It will be Hallowe’en in two weeks.”
“Oh, for!! We don’t go back on Hallowe’en. The place will be crawling with pranksters. November first. We’ll go back on the irst. Everyone will be bored with the old place and whatever happened will be long gone. And we’ll throw the truant officer off.”
“Great. We go back on the Day of the Dead…” Charley looked away, down past the trees and at the backs of the homes along the street where they both lived. “Shit. My mom’s car is in the driveway. She’s home early or my watch stopped.”


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