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Mystery Science Fiction Suspense

*This story might contain disturbing or graphic descriptions, and use of sensitive language*

We took the same trail we always take. It was dark, and the hazy air made it hard to see. We rode parallel to the chain-link fence that bordered the outfield before ditching our wheels in the long grass and sneaking through the small gap where the fence was unfinished.

“Shh,” Kim said. “There could be people here.”

“There’s no one here!” Jill exclaimed in her typical, outside voice. Her laughter made me laugh.

The fields were empty, and the only light came from a distant streetlamp near the parking lot. Crickets cooed from the swampy woods and ponds outside the tidy terrain inside the fence.

“I told you guys it would be fine,” I said. “I do this all the time. My mom has no idea.” Kim and Jill were staying the night at my house, and we’d snuck out to the nearby baseball fields to celebrate the first night of summer break.

“We should still be careful,” Kim warned us. "Remember that kid?" A teenage boy had disappeared last fall, and the town was still on edge about it. He’d just got his driver’s license and left for a quick spin, and never returned home. Nobody had seen him since.

We made our way to the empty bleachers and huddled together. Jill pulled from her backpack a tightly rolled joint and a lighter and lit it up like she’d done it a thousand times. A blanket of smoke tumbled out of her mouth. Through the cloud and toward the parking lot behind her, I swore I saw something dash behind a parked car.

“What was that?” I said, looking at the parking lot.

“What was what!?” Kim said, frantically. She was the biggest chicken of us all.

“I thought I just saw something over moving over there,” I said. “It was probably nothing.”

We all sat there, staring at the parking lot for an uncomfortable amount of time, without saying a word. The joint had gone out. Finally, Jill fired it up again and we passed it around, still staring at the lot, empty except for one lonely, white car.

Several moments passed, and I started to wonder why there was a car in the first place. Could it be the missing boy’s car? There was no one else there, after all. It was rural Minnesota. The parking lot was blocked with caution tape from a minor incident that had occurred there before winter. The sheriff had received a call about several stray dogs found dead on the premises. No one could explain why. The local news said that no one should go there, and that these places were some sort of phenomenon happening all over the country in various places. They speculated it might be some sort of noxious gas.

A sarcastic giggle escaped my mouth. How could it be that bad if all they did was throw some neon tape around it?

“Let’s go check it out,” I said.

“Check what out?” I realized it was the first thing I’d said in a while. They had been having a conversation amongst themselves and had forgotten all about the parking lot. But when I began confidently making my way over to it, Jill and Kim ditched their conversation and ran to catch up with me.

As we got closer, the light got brighter. We could see each other’s faces, and we could also see that there was the silhouette of a person in the back seat of the car. We froze.

“Should we go up to it?” Jill asked.

“I think we should get out of here,” said Kim.

Before I could say anything, the car alarm triggered, the lights began flashing, and we all tore off running toward the restrooms—a small concrete building behind us, near the bleachers.

I knew this ballfield well because it was a few blocks from my house, and ever since I could remember, even during baseball games, the restroom doors were always locked, so we huddled just on the other side of the building.

“That was a little weird,” I said. I liked to seem brave, and it was easy to do standing next to Kim, but inside I was freaking out. Part of me wanted to forget our bikes, run through the field and into the small patch of woods ahead where I knew there was a street just beyond. It was the fastest way out of here.

The car alarm ceased. It was quiet again, except for the choir of crickets and toads. I peeked beyond the corner of the building, back to where the car stood. Nothing much had changed. I was about to stand up and investigate further when I heard someone running the faucet inside the restroom building. I tried to stay calm, but my heart was thumping faster and harder.

“What the…,” I whispered, slowly backing away. The girls stared at the building, then at me, and then immediately got up, and we all took off through the field toward the woods. That’s when things went from weird to scary.

When we arrived at the edge of the woods—a small, wooded hill—I noticed a tall, hooded figure standing, arms at his sides. He just stood there, motionless, facing us, with a ghoulish blankness of expression. We went from a full sprint to an abrupt halt. His face was pale, but mostly abstracted by shadow.

We began tiptoeing backward, and as our eyes adjusted to darkness again, it was clear that the wooded hill was peppered with these figures. They were all over. I didn’t know whether to turn and run, or if it was best not to take my eyes off them.

“This is, like, super weird,” I tried to joke, but my braveness had shriveled to confused panic.

“Should we run,” Jill asked, “or is this a prank?”

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” Kim panicked. Her voice cracked with tears.

“I think we should go back and run through the parking lot, toward the main road,” Jill said.

“Good idea,” I turned around, and just as I was about to launch into a full sprint, he spoke.

“Stop,” he uttered, and I turned to face him. The figure removed his hood. It was a man I recognized but I couldn’t remember how. Was he a friend’s father, or maybe an old soccer coach?

“Don’t go that way,” he strained to say. He was serious, and it was obvious he was afraid. Then a silent dart hit him square in the jugular, and he dropped to his knees in a state of shock.   

By this time, I was out of my mind. A sort of survival hypnosis overtook me. Next thing I know, I’m running. I could hear my friends’ footsteps just behind me. For a moment, I felt that we would get out. I really thought we would make it to the main road, and a car would see us, phone the police, and this would all be over. But that’s not what happened.

When we made it to the parking lot, the car was no longer parked, but blocking the road. There was a face looking out at us—a boy’s face. But something wasn’t right about it. It was floating about erratically, and the cab was filled with a writhing movement.

We ran past the car. I ran one way, Jill and Kim, the other way. I was headed toward the road when I heard a scream that stung me with horror. I turned around and saw Kim being gripped by a mass of black tendrils that came through the car window, sucking her in the narrow space, stomach first, nearly folding her in half.

Inside the car was a pulsating hot dish of black goo and boils. It had overtaken nearly every square inch of the space. In the back seat, the body of a boy was propped up by the alien mass. His body was animated, waving about, but lifelessness peered through his wide eyes.

When the chanting began, I realized we were surrounded by hooded figures. They stood calm and collected, hands together, concealed inside their oversized sleeves. The chanting was of another language—one that sounded only of vowels.

“Help!” I yelled, but they made no response.

Jill was on the ground by the tire, struggling underneath a mob of inky tentacles. One of them tore the backpack off her and tossed it out of the way, where it landed on the ground in front of one of the hooded men. A school badge slid out from the open zipper, exposing a name that everyone in town knew—Jill Gable, the mayor’s daughter.

The hooded man threw his arms in the air to cease the chanting. He raised a gun and fired it into the air. The tentacles retreated and dropped Kim on the rocky gravel, and Jill hopped to her feet and brushed herself off.

“How was it unknown that this is mayor’s daughter?” The sheriff turned and asked the mob of cloaked participants. Heads turned and looked at other hooded heads. Shoulders shrugged. The freak growth inside the car hissed. And the crickets and toads escalated to a crescendo.

“Shit!” he exclaimed, discontented. “Everyone, get out from the taped area!”

The ground began to grumble and shake. A hairline crack turned into a small tear in the Earth, which quickly opened to a crater. The three of us huddled in a cluster of thin trees nearby and watched the ground open and swallow the car into a pool of thick, black sludge. Just before the ground closed again, a black, spindly hand rose from the hole and grabbed the armed man, pulling him into the black void. As he fell into the Earth, his hood dropped, and I saw it was the Sherif. Then the ground was still again, mended back together like nothing had happened.

Before I could speak, Jill cut me off, “Yeah, we know. It just got weirder.”

“Were we almost…sacrificed?” Kim piped in. “Let’s run,” she whispered.

“Stay put,” one of the figures called to us. And we did, but not Kim. Kim ran into the woods but didn’t get very far before being shot in the calf with a dart. She lay on the ground, attempting to crawl away. Squads showed up, and eventually, Kim was carried into the cab where Jill and I waited, as instructed.

We were told that if we ever told anyone about what happened that night, our families would suffer unspeakable tragedies. And then we were driven home, one by one.

That was twenty years ago. I no longer have any living family, and this is the first I’ve spoken of it. I’ve never returned to that place, wouldn't even dream of it. We girls were traumatized, but we survived. Somehow even moved on with our lives. Over the years, we grew apart and lost touch.

I’m still not sure what unfolded, or why it happened, and it frightens me too much to dwell on it. But I never felt safe in town again, knowing that even the Sherif was in on whatever conspired that night. I skipped town as soon as I turned of age, and to this day, I pray I never happen upon one of those places again.

March 25, 2024 17:53

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2 comments

J. D. Lair
19:10 Mar 31, 2024

And that is why you shouldn’t smoke weed! lol jk. This had just the right amount of eeriness to it without being over-the-top. Occult meets Stranger Things. Well done!

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Marek Sunda
07:37 Mar 30, 2024

It reads like somebody is trying to explain a bizarre dream they had.

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