Sam sat quietly in the back seat of the red truck. The noise of the engines drowned out any sound from her fellow passengers. She looked out the window, staring at the street signs going by. Reading them to herself, she picked her helmet off the floor and placed it on her head. She tightened the straps little by little, making sure that the helmet fit just right. She looked over at Danny.
He glanced to his left to look at the cute new girl. Her hair was pulled up into a tight bun, keeping the hair from her face. She was rather attractive to many guys and after tonight, he was going to ask her out on a date. He just had to keep up his macho man façade until the night was over.
He realized she was looking at him, he smiled and turned away. Feeling awkward, he looked up to the Chief. “When are we getting there?” He asked to keep his mind off of how big of a goof he was.
The Chief looked back to him from the passenger seat, “About fifteen minutes! Get ready!” The Chief turned back to the road in front of him and looked up to the smoke trail leading off into the night. The red flashing lights hit all the buildings in front of him, “Take a left up here! It’s right around the corner!”
The driver looked to his right and nodded. He brought his gaze back to the road, driving such a large truck wasn’t easy, and he had to keep his mind straight. They were about to be in the thick of it. He turned left, gliding the massive vehicle around the corner. The loud horn shouted out across the street.
A fellow firefighter stood on the sidewalk, waving to the fellow red truck joining the fight. The truck pulled up next to him. He looked inside seeing the crew grabbing their masks, air tanks, and tools.
The Chief jumped out of the truck first and approached him. He knew the man well, it was Phil. He had served with him many years, “What’s going on here?”
Phil spoke up over the fire’s roar, “This whole place is going up in flames!” He turned to the building on fire and pointed, “We got it held back on our end, but there are reports of some people trapped inside.” He turned back to the fire crew with a forced smile, “And it’s our job to get them out.”
The Chief nodded and turned to his team. They were all geared up and ready to go at his orders, “We’re going on a search and rescue to save the people trapped in the complex. I want you guys inside in five minutes!” He looked to the driver, who was grabbing a crowbar, “Jacob! I want you on point!” Jacob nodded and ran towards the building, with his team right behind.
Jacob made his way up to the door and lifted up his crowbar. He slammed it into the door and pried it open.
The Chief ran up to the opened door and peered inside the dark building. He turned back to his team, “All right, I don’t want any heroics this time. We get inside, grab the people, and get the hell out!” The Chief lowered his mask, “Do this by the books and we can get back in time for beer.” He smiled to his team; some of them chuckled at the comment. Anything he could do to lighten their spirts. Every mission was tense and death could happen at any time.
Sam tightened her grip on her axe. She looked to her right. Danny was standing next to her. “See you on the outside, Danny?”
He turned to her and nodded, “You know it.” Of course he didn’t give away his fears. Once this was over, he was going to go on that date with her.
The chief then ran into the building first, with Jacob following, and the rest of the team behind.
Sam quickly fiddled with the mask over her face, making sure it was working. The Chief spoke in his patented half yell voice over the squad’s radios, “Sam, I want you and Danny to take the left hallway. We think there might be some people trapped in the offices.”
Sam looked at Danny, who nodded in understanding. Danny didn’t let his excitement show, half because his fear of something wrong happening on this mission, and half on a count of his manly act he was putting up. This would be a perfect opportunity for him to spend some time with the girl before his date.
They quickly moved out through the smoked filled hallway, creeping past several offices. Sam peered inside each one just long enough to spot anyone trapped inside. She looked up at Danny, who was already halfway down the hallway. Sam jogged to catch up to him and felt a chill move down her spine. She hated being alone in a dark place. Nothing scared her more.
Sam jumped slightly at the mysterious shout.
Danny glanced back to her, “I heard a voice come from up ahead. From all this smoke, they must be trapped by the fire.”
Sam grabbed her axe with both hands, she stepped in front of him, “That’s why we’re here, right? To get them out.” Sam gave Danny a quick smile. She ran to the end of the hallway, where the voice had come from. There was a heavy set of double doors. She tugged the handle, but it was locked.
Danny walked slowly behind, not sure if this woman was flirting with him or not. He pulled out his crowbar.
Sam started to pry at the door with her axe. When she looked down to her feet, she saw smoke billowing from underneath.
Danny walked up to her raising the crowbar for her to take, “The fire is thick in there, be careful.” He tried to show a bit of caring, maybe it would help his chances with her.
Sam took the crowbar and nodded, “I would be prepared to get the hell out if we need to. Step back when I get this open.” Danny grabbed the axe from her hand and held it to his side.
Sam hit the door a few times, finally getting the crowbar wedged inside. She pulled once, and then pushed for better leverage. She looked back to Danny and nodded.
He took a few steps back, and then she gave it one more tug, using all her power. The doors swung open, Sam fell to the floor.
Sam covered her face. She expected fire and a plume of smoke to burst from the room, but there was nothing.
Danny stepped forward to look inside. There was no fire, just a plain office break room.
Sam picked herself up off the floor and joined him, “What? This place should have been up in flames.” She took a few steps forward, “It’s like it all just…disappeared.”
“I was thinking the same thing, Sam.” Danny stepped into the room, “Looks like a break room, or a cafeteria. But where did the voice come from?”
The two walked in looking around at the odd room. Sam looked at the corner, where several tables were knocked over. “It looks like they got out of here in a hurry.”
The radio crackled up and the Chief’s gruff voice was soon heard, “Alright this end is clear, what do you have for me Sam? Phil says that any trapped people should be on your side.”
Sam pulled her radio to her mouth, “Well, we found a room that should’ve been on fire, but there’s nothing inside.” She walked over to Danny and grabbed her axe back, giving him the crowbar in return.
The radio flared up again, “Yeah… we got the same thing here, some pretty strange stuff going on.” The Chief went silent for a bit. His voice soon came over the radio again, “Sounds crazy but someone yelled ‘help’ and we haven’t found signs of anyone trapped here. I’m gonna call this one, it’s too weird. We’re headed to you now.”
Sam’s brows pressed together and she pushed her mouth to one side, “They ran into the same thing we did?”
Danny looked at her, “That’s strange. Something’s going on here. I’ve got that feeling, you know? Pins and needle type.”
Sam pulled her axe to bear when he said those words. Whatever it is, she was getting out of here. She had seen enough television and read enough books to know when something is wrong, and you just get as far away as possible.
Then it hit them, an inhuman howl.
They tried to cover their ears, but the howl cut through their helmets and pierced through their hands. The radio flicked on with static, and then the howling stopped. When the radio became clear, Sam and Danny could hear the chief talking, “What was that? We’re coming up on you guys now, just passing some offices.”
The radio went silent for a few seconds, then the Chief spoke quietly, “There’s a guy in front of the door. Do we know him?”
Sam and Danny quickly glanced back to the door they just came through. A dark figure in old pioneer clothing was standing there. His hair was an eerie white, like sickly starlight. His face was covered by the shadows. He slowly tilted his head up to reveal terrible smile, evil almost. Its mouth stretched from one ear to the other, inhumanly strung across its face.
The doors suddenly swung shut with a loud bang.
“What the…” Sam ran to the doors. They were locked. She tried prying again with her axe, and then looked back to Danny, “Get your ass up here!”
Danny stood petrified. He stared at the spot where the man was. A horrified expression appeared on Danny’s face.
Sam tried to snap him out of it, “Danny! Hey! Get over here man.”
The Chief’s radio started up again, “What is this thing?”
Sam heard Phil over the Chief’s radio signal. “Beats me. Hello? We’re here to save you.”
A sudden scream cut through the air. It was amplified by the Chief’s radio, “Ahhhhhhh!” Then static.
The Chief yelled into his radio, “We need backup! We’ve got to get Jacob out. Something stabbed him in the neck!”
Sam then started pounding on the door, but it wouldn’t budge.
The Chief’s radio came on again, “What is this thing? It’s everywhere!”
The double doors swung open knocking Sam down. Phil and the Chief came through the door dragging Jacob behind them.
“Oh! Sam, Danny?” Phil looked at Danny, who was still petrified with horror, “What’s wrong with him? We’ve got to get out of here!”
They all looked to Danny standing in the middle of the room. He slowly started floating into the air, levitating above the ground.
He finally snapped out of his trance, looked around, and realized he was several feet off the ground. “What’s going on?” He got out the words before he suddenly jerked to the ground, slamming down hard.
Sam shut her eyes as she heard bones crunching. She thought this was crazy. It had to be a nightmare. Sam opened her eyes again and saw Danny being slammed repeatedly into the ground by an unknown force. Everyone stared at the violence, not knowing what to do, or what was even happening.
Danny looked up from the ground with his last breath and saw Sam with her mouth hanging open. A horrified expression was plastered across her face. His last thought was that he’d never get to ask her on a date. His body was then thrown up into the ceiling. Ceiling tiles broke down as his body disappeared from sight.
Sam was motionless on the ground. She couldn’t believe what had happened. Phil stood with his eyes wide with fear.
The Chief snapped out of his trance and looked at Jacob on the ground. His friend was lying in a pool of blood. The Chief knew enough about death to know he was gone now. He looked up at Phil, then at Sam sitting on the floor. He lost two men tonight, and he wasn’t going to lose the rest.
He grabbed Phil and shook him, “Hey, snap out of it! We’re getting out, now!”
Phil was staring at his fallen friend, blood still spilling form his neck.
“Leave him! We can get him out later. Grab Sam and let’s go!”
Phil nodded and turned to Sam on the ground. He reached out to her.
She looked at his hand for a second, and then took it, using him as leverage to bring herself to her feet. She nodded at him as they turned to follow the Chief, but stopped dead in their tracks.
The dark figure was standing between them and the Chief. It held out its hand and touched the Chief’s shoulder. The Chief stared into its eyes. There were black voids, just abyssal pits of darkness. The Chief then knew that all the stories he’d heard before when he was young, all the tales and myths he was told throughout his life, they were all true. If this creature was real, then they all had to be.
The dark creature just smiled, its long mouth filled with jagged teeth, as it tightened its grip on the Chief’s shoulder. The Chief sprang into fire right before Sam and Phil’s eyes. He let out a short scream and fell to the floor. His gear was already melted and seeping into his charred flesh. The horrible smell of burnt meat filled the air.
The dark figure turned to the two remaining survivors. It walked slowly, almost as if it were floating towards them.
Then in the blink of an eye, it was right in front of them.
It wore clothes of a pioneer. Phil thought it must be old, older than any of them, than this building even. He quickly swung at the figure with his crowbar, but it passed right through the dark being as if he were swinging to hit smoke. Its flesh rippled as the tool passed through it, like air moving out of the way of a moving vehicle. His faced was overcome with fear. Phil readied his crowbar to swing again, knowing it would not do him any good, but he had to try something.
The monster’s smile widened into an inhuman grin. The crowbar was ripped from Phil’s hands by an invisible force, and was pulled back behind the figure, floating in midair. It then flew at Phil at an incredible speed, impaling his chest. He coughed up blood while falling to his knees. He turned his head to Sam. “Run,” He whispered before being hurled at the knocked over tables in the corner of the room.
The figure focused on Sam. It took one step towards her. She dared not blink. She wanted to see everything before she died. She then realized that she had lied to herself. Being alone in the dark was not the scariest thing to her. This was.
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