"We stop looking for monsters under the bed when we realize they are inside us."
Written by Mari Mitchell
I wake up with a pounding headache and don’t even want to open my eyes. I had been to Molly and Jim’s wedding last night, but didn’t think I had drunk that much. Maybe the best man hitting on me all night had spiked my drink in the hope of getting lucky. I remember just politely excusing myself and leaving the reception when they had all started with the lame dances. I’m not much of a party girl like I used to be, I prefer to spend time alone in my studio, painting.
Last night I’d been standing outside for ages waiting for the taxi to arrive before I’d finally given up, thinking walking would be good for me anyway. Molly is like a sister to me, but she has the weirdest of ideas. It had always been her dream to have a wedding in an abandoned amusement park and finally she met a guy crazy enough to agree to that. I smiled at that thought while walking through the eerie park, leaving the tent with noisy party people behind me.
Suddenly a horrible thought arises and I feel panic creeping into my body. I don’t remember how I got home. In fact, the last thing I remember is running past the merry-go-round, feeling someone was following me.
My whole body feels sore as I go through each part of it in my mind. Toes and fingers barely move. I appear to be lying face down on something very prickly and hard. The air around me smells like vinegar. I don’t hear anything apart from a strong steady humming. I feel imminent danger lurking around me and I’m trying not to move. Slowly I open my eyes, but it doesn’t help much, it’s all dark. I sit up waiting for my eyes to adjust to the darkness and feel my face and body with my hands. To my horror I realize that my fancy dress and heels from last night are not on me anymore, instead I’m dressed in what appears to be an orange prison overall. I stand up and instantly vomit.
Suddenly a door or a window opens high above me, letting light into the room where I’m being kept. I don’t hear any footsteps so I try to make my brain understand that it was just the wind. I look at my overall and see a name tag with my name ‘Emily’ on it. I vomit again.
To escape my own mess I take a few steps to the opposite corner and notice large piles of hay around me. In between the piles, there is someone lying on the floor wearing the same orange overall that I am. I bend over the man and gently poke him asking if he’s ok, but don’t get any response. I grab hold of his hand to shake it and the whole hand comes loose from his body. My level of panic has reached its ultimate high and instead of screaming and running I just stand there with his bleeding hand hanging from my hand and I can’t stop staring at it.
“You must come with me right now!” someone yells and when I look into the direction of the voice I notice a rope ladder dropping down right in front of me. “Drop that hand and climb up, you must hurry!” the voice continues. For some reason I do as I’m told and take a last look at the body on the floor before putting my bare foot on the ladder and starting to climb.
At the top I face a tall, heavyset black man in his 40s, all dressed in military gear. I haven’t said a word to him and it seems as if I don’t have to. He knows what I’m going through.
“I know you are confused, but we don’t have time right now. This will be hard to understand, but we must get out of here. After that I can answer all your questions. Until then, you must stay by my side and trust me. Can you do that?”
I look at the shotgun in his hand and nod.
“My name is Nick and I’m one of the good guys. Just trust me, Emily.”
I shudder when I hear him using my name, but instead of showing that, I try to focus on the surroundings.
“We’re inside a barn, what you are about to see will not seem real, but remember Emily, everything around here is very real indeed.” Nick continues.
We walk across the barn, Nick going first with his shotgun and opening doors. For such a huge man, he is walking silently like a ninja. I am walking right behind him, trying not to make any sounds. I see a lot of blood and feces on the floor. The walls are covered with bizarre writings and symbols. I don’t have time to take a closer look because Nick is moving so fast. Suddenly he comes to a halt and turns around. He encourages me to peek through the door he has opened slightly. “This is what I mean by real”. Before I even see the huge decomposed body of an elephant lying inside the barn, the horrific stench from the rotting corpse has penetrated through my nostrils and I felt my stomach turning over on itself again.
Nick opens the main door and we step outside of the barn into a field full of corn and wheat. The field almost looks beautiful bathed in the rays of sun that is about to set. I had thought it was morning all along and I’m feeling confused. How long have I been here? A sudden movement in the cornfield distracts me and I step behind Nick’s large body to hide myself. I can see a cow grazing in the field and it suddenly gives me a lot of hope. Nick stiffens up “Watch out” he says and starts aiming at the cow with his gun.
“Noooo!!!“ I hear myself screaming. I can’t handle seeing more death. I run towards the cow as if trying to shoo it away from the deadly bullet. Nick runs after me and I believe I hear him calling me a stupid girl. The cow is startled by the commotion and runs in the opposite direction. I stop and watch it running until unexpectedly high-pitched warning sirens start to wail and I instantly fall on my knees covering my ears with my hands. What I next see is so hard to explain, it all happens in the matter of seconds. A blinding flash engulfs the area, accompanied by a dense buzzing sound - like a moth to a bug zapper. The startled bovine had run into some kind of force field and disintegrated. My mind could not wrap itself around what I was just witnessing. "What the hell was that?" I wonder aloud.
“Emily, get up now! Emily, you must find weapons and hide until you have teamed up. Go NOW!” Nick is yelling at me while picking me up off the ground.
I manage to get my feet under me and turn around to see him face to face with a scarecrow with large glowing eyes. Evil laughter comes from the scarecrow and Nick keeps shouting “Run, Emily, run back to where we came from!” I take a few steps back watching the scarecrow waving its arms back and forth with each movement making the corn sway and vibrate in sync. Large winged beasts swoop down from the blackened sky, coming straight toward us. I begin to run as fast as I can, gunfire booming and echoing through the landscape. The adrenaline carries me faster than I ever run before.
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