Discount from Hell

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
The circumstances around a shopping mall in a small town are rather unsettling.

Submitted: May 24, 2017

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Submitted: May 24, 2017

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Ever since the small town of Pendelton in Maine got its own shopping centre, the city has seen an economic boom. Now the once sleepy town, where at best a few truckers would stop by on their long way to Washington, was filled to the brim with tourists throughout the year. Except for the winter season, as the winters in Pendelton tended to be extremely frosty, while they were considerably milder 60 miles across in the slightly bigger town of Windburt. This year the temperatures dropped to an all-time low. Not only did the residents have to deal with the blistering cold and the hazards caused by the icy, howling wind throwing random debris around in the streets, they also had to worry about an impending snowstorm. The biggest storm since the big whiteout of 1955, was impending and everybody was busy preparing for the apocalypse. Excluding me. I decided, that this was the perfect time to do some holiday shopping and buy my six-year-old son this flashy fire truck, that he so desperately wanted. It was only 4pm, when I set off on my journey, yet the sun would only emit its dim rays through the thick, heavy fog, that settled down in the town centre, for a few more minutes, before it would make room for a dark and cloudy sky. As I made my way to my car, I immediately started shivering. I can´t seem to remember, that I have even remotely felt so cold ever before, even though I have spent my childhood in the snowy regions of Alaska. The few seconds, which it took me to walk down my driveway had deeply shaken my motivation to visit the mall, after all it was only November, there was still plenty of time left. Yet for some odd reason I decided to go nonetheless. With the heating in my old Ford turned up to the max, I left my driveway and slid down the icy streets to the Pendelton Centre at the outskirts of the upper district.

About halfway through my trip the weather turned even worse. By now the sun had gone down and the heralds of the upcoming snowstorm made their presence known. The streets were of course abandoned, except for the omnipresent fog, which gave me certain Silent Hill vibes. It seems like my wife Betty was right once again, I should stop playing these stupid games at night. With the overall terrible visibility, it took me twice as long as usual to arrive at my destination. Thankfully there were plenty of parking spots available so I parked as close to the entrance as possible and sprinted towards the glass sliding doors, to avoid freezing off my ass once again. After my dash towards the entrance I entered the centre and (to my immense displeasure) I noticed, that the heating was turned off. In fact, most of the otherwise enjoyable and inviting attractions were turned off. The fountain in the middle of the mall was out, as well as the lighting, leaving the water and the benches scattered around in almost complete darkness. The only light sources were a few restaurants on the second floor as well as a dull twilight, barely making it through the circular ceiling windows. There was absolute silence, apart from the occasional eating noises.  All the sudden I was startled by the well-known clacking of high heels coming towards me. I turned around and saw myself confronted with some kind of sales lady. She slightly cocked her head to the left in a jerky, questioning manner: “May I ask for your name Sir?” Right off the bat I noticed, that something was off. The steel blonde hair of the woman was neatly tied back, unveiling a high forehead and dark, nearly black, eyes fixating me, watching my every move. Overall, she seemed very stiff and appeared to be shaking slightly. A bit creeped out I mumbled: “..Tom Wilson… uh do you know what is going on with the mall today? “ I briefly turned around to point towards the dark aisles stretching all across the centre. When I turned back, to my sheer amazement and horror, the woman was gone, no sign of her anywhere... 

Shortly afterwards the remaining lights also went off, flooding the empty isles with darkness. I heard surprised exclamations from the few guests in the restaurant above. What I saw next gave me goose bumps all over my body, across the glass door, written in big, unintelligent letters, was nothing but my name. Even worse the slight snowfall outside had turned into a full-blown blizzard. For some reason, there was an immense heap of snow lying right outside the door, effectively blocking the exit. I stumbled back in disbelief, within a moment my unsuspecting shopping trip had turned into some sick horror flick. Surprised shouting above me. The other guests must have noticed the snowstorm. I was about to holler at the people above, but my suddenly dry throat prevented me from doing that. My heart was racing and my whole body was covered in cold sweat. I needed to sit down for a minute. Panting heavily, I leaned against the blocked glass door.  My mind was racing, how did it come to this? Did I have a stroke of some sort, maybe that’s why I have lost track of time. My train of thought was abruptly stopped by a menacing snarling coming from above. Only for a brief second, there was absolute silence, which was broken by the panicked screams of the unfortunate guests. Those calls for help were in turn overshadowed by a deafening scream from whatever the hell was preying on those people up there. The poor souls were screaming at the top of their lungs, but the sounds they uttered gradually became more and more faint until a new dreadful sound set in. There were bones crushing, meat being torn, completed by  something wet and meaty hitting the once polished marble tides of the mall. At this point in time my limitless fear drove me towards the exit. As quietly as I could, I paced towards the glass door. A reflection of a middle-aged man with glasses and a hazel brown receding hairline stared at me with eyes wide open and an expression of silent dread. After what felt like an eternity I made it to the door. The violent snowstorm outside had killed the power, so I had to open the door manually. This proved to be a daunting task, as the gears, which operated the door mechanism had turned rusty for some reason. My attempt to open the door resulted in a high-pitched screeching sound caused by the aged gears. Following this sound, the hideous noises from above seized at once. I was frozen in fear. Easily I could imagine the creature above raising its head, trying to catch the scent of a new victim. The thumping of heavy footsteps put me back into action in no time. As fast as my legs would carry me, I ran towards the nearest store, which after closer inspection turned out to be a desolated clothing store. I spotted a dressing room which could do as a hiding spot. Still sprinting I dodged various clothing articles, which were strewn across the dirty shop floor, when an enormous shockwave threw me off my feet. The thing must have jumped down from the first floor! Behind me I heard a triumphing roar. Now crying and cursing I crawled towards the dressing room, when a cold, wet claw, smeared with intestines grabbed my leg and pulled me into the darkness…

When I woke up again I was in my car. Shakily I exhaled. What I experienced was too real to be a simple dream. I lifted my head and realized, that I have gotten into a crash. My trusty old truck was firmly lodged into a tree. It was a miracle, that I had survived unscathed. “Sir, are you alright?”, a female voice called out to me. Still somewhat dizzy I turned towards the voice. Staring at me with a concerned expression was a young woman. “Let me help you out”, she said. She yanked her arm at me, to help me out of the wreckage. Somehow that motion seemed familiar to me. Slowly I searched for her eyes and to my horror I faced the same black eyes, which I have seen back at the mall. “This isn´t happening!”, I cried out. With shaking fingers, I struggled to unbuckle my seatbelt. While the woman outside was still staring at me in her odd pose. Finally, I emerged from my car, pushed the unsettling girl aside and fled into the woods. With no idea, how much time had passed since my hasty flight, I stopped at a tree to throw up. I tried to get a sense of direction, but all I saw were snowy pine trees and a clouded sky. It was still snowing but it was nothing in comparison to the blizzard at the mall. I was hopelessly lost and freezing in the cold. To make matters worse, I heard a well-known thumping noise in the distance…

Thomas “Tommie” Winston, happily married and father of one, was found the next day at the rather messy back of the shopping centre, after his worried wife alerted the police about the absence of her husband. They found him leaning against the wall with a look of utter terror on his face and deep, wide cuts along his arms. He had been the fifth person to fall victim to the haunted mall, however his predecessors were all homeless and without families. In turn those potential homicides got little media coverage. Unlike the fates of those poor vagabonds, Tommie´s case blew up. The mysterious circumstances of his death were broadcasted over international television. In every news outlet, you could read about a harmless shopping tour turned murder. Countless speculations about the deceased father circled around the internet. Despite the horrible weather conditions, the shopping mall was crowded with onlookers and self-proclaimed detectives. In the light of these events the local police department ordered a detailed investigation. The whole area was swept for clues with the support of the neighbouring police departments. Yet the meticulous search proved pointless. As did the questioning of the employees, which only unveiled some fragmented, semi-paranormal clues. Apparently, some employees have sighted an uncanny woman, who seemed oddly out of place. The descriptions of her clothes differed greatly, but all the explanations had one thing in common: black, piercing eyes. Some other late-night workers also claimed to have heard odd thumping noises from the roof of the building and exclaimed, that they felt, as if something was stalking them through the many ceiling windows, which presented the viewer with a sunny scenery at daylight. At night-time however, those windows quickly turned into malignant eyes, watching your every move.

The police were utterly clueless about the whole strange occurrence. They probably would have remained in that state, if not for the seasoned detective Rick Wallner. He decided to question the foreman of the of the company, who built the mall.

The ex-foreman was a lanky, nervous man of Italian descendants. During their talk, he constantly drove his fingers through his thinning out black hair, while his other hand was nervously scooting around his oak wood table . “The whole project was a damn nightmare”, he started. Detective Wallner was sitting in front of him in his antiquely furnished, yet modern apartment. “The first death happened only one week after laying the foundation. The brakes on one of the trucks gave up and crushed the unsuspecting operator”, he explained. “After that there were a handful of deaths every month. It was getting increasingly hard to find workers to finish what we started.”, by now he stopped his efforts to hide is accent and the detective had a hard time following him. “Mr Vincini, did you notice anything noteworthy, before this series of deaths started?”, he enquired. After his question Vincini seemed to age at least 10 years. “That woman…. that damn woman. No one knew when she appeared and no one noticed, when she was gone again. After that I saw my friend being run over by a truck. It was all her fault!”, he cried out. The man was obviously devastated. Wallner offered him a cigarette, which the ex-smoker promptly accepted. After a while he regained his composure and continued his story: “Do not tell me, that you haven´t noticed. That mall is cold and distant. If they didn´t spend a fortune on heating that thing, it would be freezing in there. All those deaths… all 27. A place doesn´t just witness so much pain without changing. Believe me I am not superficial, but that place just feels… evil.”

The police closed the investigations shortly after. 


© Copyright 2017 Simon P.. All rights reserved.

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