You softly frowned, silently strolling down the desolately dim path. There was nobody around. The night wind howled loudly in your ears, solely punctured by the the sound of your sneakers stamping on the path. Tall, metal lamps positioned every few feet dimly illuminated the bleak night. You depressedly looked into deserted building after deserted building, searching with vain hope that you could find anyone or anything. You furrowed your brow as you racked your brain, trying to think of anything you could recall. Nothing, apart from the fact you woke up like that came to mind. You were abandoned here, unsure of why.
Hesitating in front of one of the buildings, you curiously observed it. In a fading and yellowing script above the awning, read the word “Jewelry.” When your gaze finally settled on the door, you gasped in shock. It was left ajar. That meant someone had to be inside, right? People didn’t just leave jewelry stores unlocked, right? Right?
You quickly glanced across both sides of the cobblestone street, ensuring there were no cars coming, lest your mom learn of said actions. You shuddered; she wouldn’t ever let you hear the end of it. After ensuring there was no oncoming traffic, you quickly scuttled into the dingy alleyway separating the two buildings. Thrusting your back against the cold, brick wall of the store, you sighed, staring slightly to the side.
You were having second thoughts about entering the jewelry store. Was it really breaking-and-entering and trespassing if there was plausible believability that you were the last person alive? Were you really the last person alive? It felt like when you were younger and you pretended to be someone, somewhere you weren’t. Except, this time it was real. Somehow, in the back of your mind, you knew this was reality.
Your heart was racing and your palms were sweaty. The internal debate was no longer if this was reality or not—it was a debate about how much trouble you’d be in if you were caught doing this. Did the fact nobody was around really justify you breaking in?
Obscured by the darkness of the alleyway, you stole glances at the road once again. Your vain hope that somebody was there was shot down as quickly as it was raised. There was nobody there.
You silently shuffled to the front of the store and stole glances inside through the narrow crack of the door; shoving the door open, you looked inside it, shifting your attention towards any alarms that could be going off. There were none. A shame that truly was—that there was no security to the store. If you really wanted to, you could’ve robbed it blind, then and there, yet, your morals got the best of you ultimately.
You were truly alone within the store. There was nobody else there. As you took a tentative step onto the creaking old wood, seemingly shrieking in displeasure, you looked around once again. With a deep, gravelly voice, you softly muttered “I’m in,” as a faint grin spread across your face.
* * *
You quickly glanced around the claustrophobic room as your heart-rate skyrocketed. You had just forgotten about the fear surmounting before, and now, it finally returned with a vengeance. It was that breathtaking feeling of exhilaration that rushed through you. You had never done this before, (you hoped).
The same debate from earlier resurfaced. Were you breaking and entering? Was it really breaking and entering if the door was unlocked and left ajar though? And you had plausible deniability you were the only person left alive.
Your face then went blank. “If I’m the only person left alive, who’s gonna charge me for breaking and entering?” you silently think to yourself. You turn your head to the left slightly, pondering the implications of that. They didn’t make sense, but that got you thinking: How would that make sense to begin with?
You shook my head, muttering curses beneath your breath. It was in your nature to think about dumb things like that, and here you were, technically breaking into a jewelry store and pondering the ramifications of being charged for a crime when you were the only person left alive! You then shifted your gaze to the small, shining glass cases lining the inside of the store.
The jewels inside—various shades of reds, greens, blues and whites—drew your attention more than the inane debate could. “This was an actual store… What happened to the people here though?” you silently pondered.
You began striding across the rickety wooden floor. It creaked loudly beneath your weight, eliciting pained winces with every step you took. You felt like you could just fall through the floor at any given moment. You could feel your heart in your throat, your pulse quickening with every step. Why were you so nervous now? Sure, you were just casually breaking into a jewelry store, but you were the only person left alive, does that really matter now?
You shook your head again, steeling your nerves as you stole deeper into the building. You kept looking over the display cases. The gems were so shiny. You wanted to steal them. It’s not like anyone would really miss them considering you were the only person left alive. But your morals got the better of you.
As you passed by the stairs leading down into the basement and you quickly glanced into it. It looked like a simple storage room, nothing more, but that caught your eye. Why did a jewelry story need a storage room in the first place? Sure, the small door, faintly illuminated by the pale light… wait… the small door in the storage room?
You turned your head to stare at it. There very clearly was a door down there. Suddenly, new questions rushed through your mind, pushing the old ones down deep into the recesses. Why would there be a door down there? Who could’ve made it? Why does it exist?
You tilted your head slightly, squinting to see it in the dim light. Here you were, casually breaking into a place, and there was a mysterious door here in a basement. That was a first. To both things.
You took a few steps closer to the lip of the basement, and then you heard it: The unmistakable sound of a doorknob rattling. Your heart was pounding faster than ever. You were sure you had seen the doorknob turn.
* * *
Your heart was pounding faster than ever. You were sure you had seen the doorknob turn. It had to. There was no way that was something else, like the wind, right? You knew for a fact that nobody else was there, and you certainly would’ve heard them if they were. Against all better judgment you suddenly barked “Who’s there?” into the derelict basement.
Moments after, you knew that you shouldn’t have, but it was like the urge to steal all the gems, sudden, without warning, followed by a nagging voice telling you not to. You started wondering who it could’ve been. It couldn’t have been a monster. Monsters don’t exist. You knew that, right?
You then decided to descend into the dingy basement. You weren’t sure what there was to it, but something called out to you. It wanted you want to push deeper and deeper into it and to investigate the strange room.
Step after step, you slowly began treading down the creaking, wooden stairs. Each step you took loudly groaned beneath your weight. If there was something in the basement, which there certainly was, they knew you were coming at this point. They’d have to be deaf not to hear you.
You then suddenly froze on the third-to-bottom step, stricken with fear. You could feel your face go flush with shock, your mouth hung agape. You thought you saw something move. There was no doubt about it.
You couldn’t tell what it was, but something certainly moved. Fear and panic raced through your entire body. You could feel the adrenaline pumping through your system, urging you to fight with your tiny arms, or run using your tiny legs. You couldn’t however. You couldn’t bring yourself to move using either your tiny arms or legs. You could only stare in horror, watching whatever it was silently move about the basement floor.
Your breath shortened; you could feel yourself tensing up. It was hard to breath now almost like someone had suddenly taken a vacuum and sucked out all the air of the entire room. You could only silently tremble in fear.
That’s when the figure stopped. You swear you could see them turn to face you. Even in the pitch-black darkness, you swear you saw whatever it was in there turn and stare at you as a wry grin slowly spread across their pale face. You were hyperventilating as you stared at Death, (or at least, that’s what you thought it was), and you could feel your entire body forcibly trembling in its panic-induced state.
You could see it walking towards the door. You wanted to scream; to tell them not to, but nothing came out. Only the suffocatingly dead silence. It laid a bony hand on the door as it turned the doorknob while keeping its focus on you. It slowly opened the door, squeaked loudly, seemingly against the strange figure as well.
The figure let its hand go as the door slowly swung open, gaining speed with each second that passed. Moments later, it fully swung open, and all you could do was scream…
* * *
The door swung open, loudly protesting the strange figure opening it, and when it finally finished, you could only scream, a blood-curdling scream. It was a scream that quite literally could wake the dead from their eternal slumber. You started to try to escape, feeling a sharp pain in your chest. The figure step closer only fueling your desire to escape. Before you could reach the top of the stairs, you froze dead in your tracks. The figure was now at the bottom, slowly getting closer to you.
You don’t know why you stopped, admitting to yourself it was a dumb idea. You turned around, ready to book it out of there but you didn’t get the chance as the bony hand took hold of your shin. You shrieked once again, kicking your leg behind you, hoping that you’d hit Death in the face. You didn’t.
You could hear the figure approaching you from behind as you clambered onto the wooden sale-floor again, feeling another cold, bony hand on your shoulder. That was all the motivation you needed to run. You slammed into the door with your shoulder as hard as you could, running outside.
You were safe now, as you nearly doubled over, putting your hands on your pants, panting heavily. You could feel the initial adrenaline rush starting to wear off. That’s when you heard the door close behind you once again. You felt your face contorting into a fearful frown, suppressing the urge to shout things you shouldn’t say to your mother as loud as you can. You lowered your head, trying to suppress tears, knowing your death was upon you.
You felt a hand on your shoulder and waited for a moment. The swift and painful death you expected never came. Instead you heard someone ask, “Hey, you alright? You elbowed the door pretty hard from the looks of it.”
You turn around, confused. Standing behind you was a young man wearing a grim reaper costume. “You alright? I mean, I know it’s suppose to be a haunted house and all, but, I didn’t think it was that scary, y’know?” he worriedly continued.
“It… It… It was a… a haunted house?” you breathlessly reply.
The man eagerly nodded. “Well yea! It’s Halloween after all! If you want your refund since, you didn’t really get to experience the entire thing, just let us know. Alright? Anyways, if you need a moment, just take one. I’ll be in the basement if you need me,” he sarcastically replied, before beginning to tread back into the basement.
You began laughing, as you fell onto your back. It was just a haunted house. Nothing more. Thank god for that. You pass out on the cobblestone trail, realizing what an idiot you were for thinking that the gems were worth something.