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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium

This is my entry for the newest sentence challenge for The Imaginarium house.

Submitted: January 22, 2018

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Submitted: January 22, 2018



“Warn me next time,” Jess cried, hitting Mike on the arm. “I thought you'd disappeared.”

“So what,” Mike said, “I'm supposed to tell you every time I look into another room?”

“When we're wandering through an old, burned down school, yes. This place is creepy enough without having to worry about where you are.” And indeed the place was creepy. Everywhere they went they came across old, charred textbooks, broken chalkboards, melted plastic chairs. The old kindergarten and first grade classrooms were the creepiest. The half melted dolls and action figures which seemed to watch you wherever you went, the burnt finger paintings of families or animals, and, in one case, a board covered in bubbled photographs of young children. The dim beam from Jess' flashlight roved over one such room now, the one Mike had just investigated, leaving Jess alone in the dark hallway. 

“I don't know why you thought this would be a good place for a date,” Jess said as her light fell upon a bookshelf filled with blackened children's books. 

“I figured,” Mike said, “if you got scared enough, it would be a guaranteed way to get you into my arms.” 

Jess scoffed and rolled her eyes while Mike chuckled. 

Everyone at her highschool always told stories about how this school was haunted. Jess didn't believe a word of it, of course, but that didn't mean she enjoyed being here. It was an ominous feeling, walking around in a place where so many innocent lives had been claimed by tragedy. Especially at night. 

Although Jess didn't believe in ghosts, she couldn't help seeing figures in the darkness that may have resembled children. Brief flashes of debris that looked like a hunched child, or pictures and paintings that resembled a child's face. No, this definitely was not her idea of a romantic date. There was a sad, forlorn feel to the place that somehow made the whole experience even more unnerving. 

“Come on, let's keep looking around,” said Mike suddenly, causing Jess to jump. Mike chuckled again and led her back into the hall. 

There was debris everywhere: bits of ceiling they had collapsed during the fire, fallen bricks and chunks of drywall, entire rows of lockers which had tipped over. This made navigating the halls in the dark extremely difficult. They often had to move something out of the way in order to progress. Jess was wary every time she lifted something up; all of the bodies had supposedly been recovered after the fire, but she wouldn't have been surprised if they had missed some. If she found a skull, she was out of here. 

The two teens came to the end of the hall, which diverged into a T. Jess turned right, Mike left. Jess made a cursory sweep with her flashlight. And froze. 

At the end of her section of hall sat a small, hunched figure, barely visible in the dim light. It appeared to be a small girl clutching her knees, perhaps crying, although no sound came from her. 

“Hello?” Jess said quietly, her voice cracking.

“Eh?” came Mike's voice vaguely. 

Jess ignored him and, against her better judgement, stepped closer to the child. Perhaps she had wandered in here by mistake, gotten lost. She must be so scared. After several steps, Jess stopped again. She looked over her shoulder and saw the beam of Mike's light down the opposite hall. 

“Mike, there's a little girl here, I think she's lost,” she called. 

“Oh, ha ha, very funny. This place burned down two decades ago, why would there be kids here now? Unless it's a g-g-g-ghost!” He laughed. 

Jess shook her head and turned back toward the girl. Her flashlight fell upon a pale, staring face. Jess took an involuntary half-step backwards. Now that she was closer to the girl, she noticed that there was something strange about her, besides the fact that she was now staring unblinkingly at her. The girl's hair did not seem to obey the laws of physics, but rather swirled slowly about her head as if she were underwater. There also appeared to be a dark glow surrounding her, and no matter how hard Jess tried, she couldn't seem to bring the child completely into focus. Every once in a while the girl seemed to flicker. Jess smacked her flashlight. 


Jess spun around, her heart in her throat. A locker had just been slammed behind her. Mike's flashlight we still bobbing behind her. “Very funny, Mike,” Jess cried. She turned back to the girl and jumped. 

The child was standing now, her gray, floral dress swirling like her hair. Her face was emotionless, her eyes hollow. Slowly, she raised a hand toward Jess and took a small step forward. 

Jess backed away, heart pounding, sweat beading on her forehead. 

“Mike!” she cried, looking again over her shoulder, but his feeble beam of light was nowhere to be seen. Had he disappeared into another classroom, or . . . 

She pushed the disturbing thought from her mind and turned back around. The girl was gone. Jess stopped backing up, shining her flashlight in every direction to try to locate the aberration. Nothing. 

A small, icy hand curled around Jess' wrist in an iron grip.

© Copyright 2018 J. R. Merrick. All rights reserved.

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