“Are you sure this is a good idea?” said Amy. She was staring into the dark of the empty holding tank. Twenty years ago this was a popular marine park, but since the city had been abandoned it was an overgrown collection of empty tanks and broken bleachers. The light of her flashlight didn’t reach the far wall of the tank, and the air was stale and chill.
“Of course it’s a good idea. I heard there is all sorts of stuff hidden in these things!” Brigit said as she hid behind Amy waiting to go in. The moon was full tonight creating errie shadows around them as they looked inside of the tank.
“I heard that when they abandoned this place, they didn’t rescue all the animals. They died here. It gives me a bad feeling. But you’re right.” The girls were here on a dare. They lived in the neighboring town—nobody lived in this city anymore, not since the accident. Amy had let her adventurous side get ahead of her at a sleepover the night before. “Well, we just need to go in, find something to prove we did it, and leave, right?”
Brigit shifted her weight as she replied “Yea, that’s all we need. I brought my phone to take a picture in case we don’t find anything to bring back.” She tugged at her jacket as the wind picked up, unable to keep from constantly looking over her shoulders with every noise she heard. Both girls had the feeling that they were not alone, but hadn’t seen or heard anything to prove it yet. “Can you hurry up and go inside already? I’m about to have a panic attack.”
Amy didn’t say anything, just nodded, and she grabbed Brigit’s hand. Brigit felt Amy shaking as she pointed the flashlight at the floor and they started picking through cracked concrete to the bottom. The light only illuminated a narrow cone, and she swept it along the walls from inside. Other than the opening they climbed in from, there was only one window where visitors would have looked in on the tank. The windowpane was still intact, made to withstand the pressure of the water that would have been in this enclosure. A drop of water fell from the concrete ceiling and splattered on the ground by Brigit’s foot. “There’s nothing here,” said Amy.
“Shit.” Amy could feel Brigit fidgeting “I really don’t want to go into another tank. I’m bad enough with this dark, but I also am afraid to leave this tank. There is someone or something out there Amy. I just know it.” Brigit clung as close to Amy as was possible as she looked out the window. Every slight movement caught her attention as she constantly checked every shadow with the light from her phone.
“We don’t need to go back the way we came, if we can break this glass we can drop down into the tunnel and head out that way.” Amy put down the flashlight and grabbed a chunk of concrete. “Okay plan?”
Without responding to Amy, Brigit quickly grabbed the flashlight and aimed it towards the window as well as her phone.
“I’m going to take that as a ‘yes’,” Amy said, and she hurled the concrete at the glass, punching a two foot hole through the pane. “Here, I’ll just drape my jacket over the glass so we don’t get cut and we can climb down.” She went ahead down into the dark of the tunnel, leaving Brigit in the tank.
As if her life depending on it, Brigit scrambled through the hole the fastest Amy had ever seen her move. “Ugh.” Brigit handed Amy the flashlight and turned to grab Amy’s jacket only to notice it had fallen into the tank when she crawled through. “Sorry about that.” She walked over to Amy and grabbed her free hand, unwilling to be any further from her.
Amy didn’t seem worried about the jacket. Brigit had torn a jagged gash in her forearm when she had scrambled through the glass. “You hurt yourself. Forget about that stupid jacket.” Amy tore a strip of cloth from her shirt and tied it around Brigit’s arm. “That should do for now.” Amy took the flashlight back from Brigit and pointed it around the tunnel, which curved away in both directions so they couldn’t see very far. The light settled on a kid’s backpack, stuffed up against the wall. “Perfect, see that? Let’s go check it out.”
“But…but but but…” Brigit was looking at the backpack in horror. “That shouldn’t be here. It has been here for a while, but not long enough to be before this place was abandoned. I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all.” She braced the wall as she stayed close to Amy.
They walked towards the backpack, Amy dragging Brigit along. “Whatever it is, don’t you want to know?”
Brigit shook her head vigoriously. “I am curious, but not enough to actually want to look at it. I just want to go home. Can we please just go home? I don’t even care that we don’t have an item to take home to prove we were here. I’m done.”
But she stayed close to Amy as Amy knelt down and unzipped the backpack. “What the fuck?” Amy pulled out page after page of wrinkled paper. “Looks like some little kid drew these.” She handed the pages up to Brigit and kept digging through the backpack. And then she stopped. “Oh god.” In the bottom of the backpack was a pile of bones. Small ones, but bones nonetheless.
“NO.” Brigit dropped the pages without seeing what had stopped Amy. The pictures themselves were what got her. “I don’t want to deal with this.” She had seen this before when she was little. Her parents…no she wasn’t going back to that memory, not this time. “We need to put everything back, now. Please? It will be okay if we just leave everything here.” she couldn’t look Amy in the face anymore, not without having flashbacks now.
Amy looked up at Brigit and her eyes went wide. In the shadows behind the glass—in the tank—she saw something move, something black, swaying down in a slow motion towards the window. She froze, transfixed.
Brigit noticed that Amy hadn’t said anything and looked up only to see the horror on Amy’s face. She looked behind her to see the tall figure standing right by the hole in the window. “Don’t blink. He barely moves while we are looking at him so we can back away faster than he can move. We just have to keep him in sight. Right or left?” She snapped her fingers in front of Amy’s face to snap her out of it.
“I’m so sorry this is all my fault what is that thing how do you know this l-l-l-left?” she whispered, watching the figure hunch down to pass through the glass. “I can’t move, Brigit.”
Brigit grabbed Amy’s arm and pulled her up as she backed away to the left, quickly. She made sure to keep the figure in her sight until it was just a small image. “Now, run. Run Amy, RUN!” She turned Amy around grabbed her hand as she held her phone out for light and ran for her life. She wasn’t going to let this happen again. She needed to get out of here, away from all of this, and with Amy still at her side. “How many pages did you hand me from that bag?”
Amy was regaining her wits as they ran. “Twelve? Maybe thirteen? Or maybe it was less than that. Who, what is that thing?” she panted, remembering the empty face, the slender arms, ethereal tentacles stretching out from its back. “I’m sorry, Brigit. I’m sorry.”
“No need to apologize hun. You just need to remember how many pages. I don’t feel comfortable telling you its/his/her name.” They had reached another split, and Brigit was trying to figure out which way to go. “We need to find the rest of those pages. There are 16 pages. If we don’t find them, we won’t get away from him.” Brigit looked back to see Amy slowing down. “WHAT do you THINK you are DOING?!?!” Brigit pulled Amy and started running again, this time taking the right tunnel.
“Okay I’m paying attention,” Amy mumbled. She glanced over her shoulder every few seconds. “I think there were thirteen. In the backpack. Oh god, Brigit, it was full of bones. The bag. I think they were a little kid’s.”
“Yea…I know.” Brigit stopped looking back ages ago, but could sense Amy was looking. “You need to stop looking behind you sweetheart. If you see him and don’t keep staring at him, he gets to you more quickly. Look for pages on the walls.” As She said that, Brigit realized that they had come to a hallway with several doors. “Shit.”
“He’s behind us.” Amy’s voice was quickly losing its vitality. “Where do we go?” Brigit felt Amy’s hand go slack in her own. Then Amy screamed, “Where do we go!?”
“DON’T SCREAM!” Brigit turned off the lights and picked the closest door and closed it. “We have to stay in the dark for a little. Do NOT leave my side. Hold on to my hand or I will end up freaking out. I can’t do this alone.” She squeezed Amy’s hand and started feeling around for paper and a door to leave the room, making sure not to mistake the door they came from.
Amy’s foot crinkled a sheet of paper, and she bent to pick it up. As she handed it to Brigit they both felt a little crackle of electricity in the air. Brigit squeezed Amy’s hand harder. “Have you found a door yet?” Amy whispered.
Just as Amy said that, Brigit’s hand smacked something hard. She shined her phone on it and noticed it was a knob. “Yea, actually.” She turned the handle and opened the door only to slam it shut and run to the door they entered the room in. “We are going this way.” She grabbed Amy’s hand and ran through the door to the room across the hall.
“No! That was the way out. I’m sure of it. We have to go back.” Amy pulled back against Brigit’s hand, looking over her shoulder in desperation.
“NO!” Brigit snapped and dragged Amy as she saw another piece of paper and another door. “Sorry for the snapping, but you don’t want to go out that door. The way out is finding the last page before he gets us.” She pulled Amy into the next room unable to look behind her anymore, too terrified to even move her head.
Beyond the next room they ran out into a hallway. Amy turned right and droned, “a note.” And indeed there was a note, next to a glass door with moonlight filtering in. She smiled. “That’s it, right?” and her whole body relaxed.
“Okay then this means that we are safe. Let’s go.” Brigit walked up to the door that had appeared at the end of the hallway and opened the door. She froze. “Look! We made it outside.” She turned to face Amy.
But Amy was gone.
And the abandoned marine park slept silently under a full moon.