Ashes to Ashes Page 17


“What?” asked Rebecca, shining the light where he was looking. There was the faint outline of a door in the wall in front of him, wider than normal, and though it had no handle or visible way of opening, it was obviously an entrance to somewhere.

Dex handed the camera back to me to film, and as I did so, he reached into the pockets of his cargo pants and pulled out a Swiss Army knife. I pretended I didn’t notice the way his large forearms and biceps were flexing as he stuck one end of the knife into the door’s edge and tried to pry it open. After a few frustrated grunts and failed attempts as Rebecca and I watched helplessly, he found purchase and with extra leverage, the door began to part from the wall. It let out a low groan and we were all hit with a blast of stale, frigid air. It wrapped around me and chilled me to the very core.

“Oh, man,” I said, taking a step back but remembering to keep filming.

“What is it, Dex?” Rebecca whispered.

He took a small flashlight out of his other pocket and stuck it in his mouth as he pushed the wooden door open the rest of the way. He grabbed the edge of the wall and poked his head into the cold abyss. I could only see the light from his flashlight bobbing faintly against stark cement walls, and I had this fantastic urge to reach forward and pull him back, as if something was going to come out of the darkness and take him.

He pulled the flashlight out of his mouth and turned his head to look at us. “Looks like we found the body chute,” he said just as a loud smacking noise resonated from the tunnel, echoing loudly and making my heart thump.

He aimed the flashlight back inside in time to illuminate a lone bouncing ball roll past him and disappear into the rest of the darkness.

“Holy fucking fuck!” I screeched, my voice catching in my throat. “No. No! Bad!”

“Shit,” he swore, now frantically trying to light up the tunnel. ”Did you guys see that fucking thing? Holy shit!” He waved at Rebecca. “Quick, bring the fucking light here.”

Though my heart was in my mouth, I watched Rebecca as she stepped forward and handed him the light she was holding. In the dim glow of the hallway, she didn’t seem scared at all.

“You did see that, right?” I asked her, my eyes begging for sanity. “Please tell me that wasn’t just for me and Dex again.”

She gave me a half smile. “The ball again? Oh, I saw that. I just don’t believe we’re truly alone here after all. And I don’t mean in the supernatural way, either. Who knows who Davenport has upstairs, playing tricks on us?” My mouth dropped slightly at her resistance to believe. She nodded at the camera and continued, “By the way, I really hope you got all that.”

As it was, I had gotten all of that, albeit a little shaky and peppered with our obscenities. But it was there. Despite how Rebecca saw things, it did feel good to actually capture something like that on film. It wasn’t proof by a long shot, but if it scared the shit out of Dex and I, it would scare viewers.

I looked up from the footage to see Dex staring at me impatiently.

“What?” I asked.

“Do you want to go in or not?”

Honestly, after seeing that ball go past, my answer was hell to the fucking no. But since Rebecca was so certain that everything was a set-up, a cruel part of me hoped we could prove her wrong. Besides, when you were with a skeptic, it made things a little less scary.

Well, in general. Probably not this time.

I took in a deep breath, trying to steady my nerves against the idea of going inside some long, closed up tunnel that some ghost child was playing ball in. “You lead the way,” I said. Then for good measure, I added, “Rebecca you can take the rear.”

I half expected to hear Dex make a joke about that, but he was so wrapped up in the moment that he didn’t even notice.

He pointed the flashlight into the tunnel and very carefully stepped down into it, me holding his upper arm for balance. Once he was in, he looked up at me. “It’s just about a foot or two lower than where you’re standing. It’s kind of slippery in places though, so watch your step. I’ve got you.”

Before I could say anything, he reached out and grabbed me around the waist. My weight was no match for his brute strength, and he picked me up and gently placed me in the tunnel so that my feet were on the step just below him.

“Thanks,” I said, never tiring from the feel of his strong hands around me. It definitely tried to take my mind off the current situation, but really, there was no getting around that I was now standing in a long-forgotten tunnel that was used to transport dead bodies. As Dex helped Rebecca climb in, I looked all around us. There wasn’t much to see except a few feet in front and back, as far as the light would reach. The stairs we were standing on were worn cement, splattered with dried stains that I hoped were dirt and rust. Beside the steps was a smooth incline for the stretchers to wheel on. The walls were cold and grey, and with a strange bit of relief I could see the remnants of a graffiti tag where someone must have left their mark back when the place was abandoned. If the vandals could brave it, so could I.

As Rebecca shined her light around, it seemed like the tunnel went on forever in both directions. “Should I prop the door open with something?” She looked genuinely concerned which threw me off for a moment, until I remembered her claims of claustrophobia.

Dex gently took the camera from my hand and the light from Rebecca. He eyed the door with consideration. “It’s heavy and has traction on the floor, see?” He gestured to the bottom of the floor in the hallway where the door scraped along. “There’s no draft in here either. We should be okay.” He slid his eyes to me, giving me a silent chance to back out.

“Well, let’s go,” I said. “We don’t have all night.”

He nodded and aimed the camera in front of him. “I’m assuming the tunnel runs diagonally along the length of the building. The very top probably lets out above the far corner of the west wing.”

I felt the darkness sitting on either side of us, the coldness of the tunnel seeping into my clothes. I quickly jabbed Dex in the back. “Hey, we’ll worry about that later. Let’s just get to the second floor.” It never left my mind for one second that the ball had rolled somewhere behind us, at the end of the chute, and there was no telling if the ghost that kicked it there had gone after it or not.

In other words, I didn’t know what was worse—the void in front of us or the black emptiness behind us.

Thank god I was sandwiched between the two of them as we very carefully made our way up the passageway. I felt all my senses on fire as we went, my eyes happy to be watching my feet instead of the unknown that lay in front of Dex and his camera. The only sounds were our footsteps that echoed faintly from the closed-in walls and the raggedness of our breaths.

“Everyone holding up back there?” Dex whispered. As if he couldn’t feel me hanging onto the back of his jacket like a little kid.

“Uh huh,” I managed to say, my mouth dry.

We waited to hear Rebecca’s response but she didn’t say anything, though I could feel her breath and presence at my back.

“Feeling claustrophobic yet?” I prodded her for an answer. When she still didn’t say anything, I dared to look behind me.

Despite feeling her breath a second ago, I could barely see her. She’d stopped in the middle of the tunnel, about ten feet away, her figure backlit faintly from the residual light of the hallway.

“R-rebecca?” I asked, my voice shaking. I stopped and pulled Dex back. He immediately shined his light on her.

“Are you all right?” Dex asked. “Why are you being creepy?”

“Shhh,” she said softly. “I’m listening.”

“To what?” I whispered as goosebumps prickled my arms.

She didn’t say anything but remained absolutely still. I could hear my own heart thudding in my chest, Dex’s breathing, the whir of the camera as it tried to focus.

I was about to ask again what on earth we were listening for when I finally heard it.

It was a few notes of music. But more specific than that, a xylophone, like the kind I used to play around with as a child. I held in a gasp as my brain tried to recognize the faint melody in it. The notes would come and go, as if being swept away by an imaginary breeze, so the song never felt fully formed.

“Ring around the rosy,” Dex said in a low voice. I turned to look at him, wincing at the light he was holding in his other hand. “Listen.”

He was right. I could pick out the tune, and once I did, I got pummeled with that get the fuck out of here feeling. We’d made it about fifteen feet into the tunnel and I’d already had enough.

Of course, I didn’t tell them that. I could feel Dex watching me closely.

“Let’s keep going,” I said quickly. I looked over to Rebecca who slowly nodded. I could see the music was intriguing her and that her rational mind was trying to attribute it to something logical. I wished she could pass some of that logic on to me because her mind seemed like a safer place to be.

We resumed walking, and as we did, the tune began to fade until we were left again with the sound of our own breathing and blood pumping within us.

“Okay,” Dex said slowly, coming to a stop. He shined the light forward, illuminating nothing but the never ending tunnel as its greying walls disappeared into the black. I was terrified of the darkness that lay ahead, getting that same peculiar feeling I’d gotten earlier in the day when I stared up at the building. Seeing nothing, but feeling—knowing—that something was hidden in front of your eyes and watching you.

He looked over my head at Rebecca. “Do we want to try communicating in here or on the second floor?”

“Communicating?” I repeated, my skin dancing with raw nerves. “In here? No way. Not tonight. We should do that after the tour tomorrow so we know what the hell we’re dealing with.”

“There’s obviously something in this tunnel with us,” he said, his voice an octave lower. “Don’t you feel it?”

At that, a loud, gritty scraping sound rushed up from behind us. Dex immediately shined the light down the chute, illuminating the door to the first floor.

It was closing on us. Slowly.

As if someone on the other side was pushing it shut.

“Oh god,” I gasped as the door closed with a groan, sealing us inside the tunnel.

CHAPTER EIGHT

With the door closing with such heavy finality, Rebecca suddenly sprang into action. She started walking down the stairs as quickly as she could until Dex and I had to run after her in order to keep illuminating her way.

“Rebecca!” I called out as we caught up to her. She was frantically running her hands along the walls, looking for the outline of the door. As on the other side, there was no door handle or anything to indicate it was a door at all.

“Here,” Dex said, handing me the light and the camera. He told me to shine it on the wall dead ahead and he started running his hands over it. When he found a groove in the cement, he shoved his shoulder against it and the door budged open a crack. We expected the light from the first floor hallway to come seeping in, but everything was dark. Terribly dark. The timer must have turned the lights off.

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