Unwary of the danger presented by the towering building, a dare is followed through.
The massive, well-worn oak door creaked slowly open. A large, brass knocker cast into the image of a gargoyle seemed to warn her of what lay within. The interior of the foreboding house was dark and the air thick with a sweet, cloying smell. The girl standing in front of the building swallowed briefly before she actually set a foot inside its ivy-covered exterior. She was in her late teens, the majority of her long flowing hair was safely pulled back and tucked inside her wool hat. Several strands hung loose about her face, falling into her clear blue eyes from time to time. Her heavy winter coat was wrapped tightly around her body as the flashlight she carried wavered in her unsteady hand. She had to question her own stupidity for actually visiting the supposedly haunted church; a simple dare shouldn't be enough incentive for her to risk her life! But it was early in the afternoon, and daylight should remain for several hours. The thought gave her some comfort.
Pushing her dark hair out of her face and tucking it behind her ear with a gloved hand, she advanced into the pitch darkness that loomed beyond the door. The thin beam of light from the flashlight seemed inadequate, for it barely penetrated the dust that was hanging in the air alone. Breathing in the musty air she began to sneeze, covering her nose and mouth belatedly with her scarf. Proof they wanted... she sighed and trudged forward into the interior of the building. Well, it wasn't like there was a ghost there to move... things...
Her thoughts trailed off as she saw tracks on the floor before her... human footprints that started in the middle of the room. Frowning, she knelt down to examine them. They seemed fairly fresh; each toe of the foot was defined and the indentations around them were still crisp. The floor that was exposed by the unknown person's passing was glisteningly dark. More than likely, it was one of her friends trying to scare her.
What juvenile behavior. She stood once again, her gaze drawn to where the tracks were leading. A cobweb-covered door stood slightly ajar, the trail of prints abruptly cutting off halfway through it. If they thought that this would scare her, then she would definitely prove them wrong. They were probably waiting inside the room to jump on her. With a grin, she pulled out her camera and charged the flash. She would definitely take them by surprise.
Biting her lip she advanced on the room. She could hear movement within. It stopped as she drew closer to the door; it seemed that her suspicions were correct. Grinning, she shoved the old door with her body to open it all the way and stepped into the small room, shining the flashlight ahead of her as she took a picture. The flash of the camera lit up the interior of the enclosed space, bringing into relief the gristly scene within. Her jaw went slack with disbelief, blood draining from her already alabaster skin.
The innocent room she had entered was liberally splattered with drying blood, streamers of which were still dribbling, the viscous liquid merging with the pool already spread across the floor while up near the ceiling it looked as if someone had run amok with a paintbrush. The cloying, sweet scent she had first smelled upon entering the church dominated the air, bringing to mind the image of a slaughterhouse or a graveyard; the smell of long dead flesh. A cloud of the thick dust that was present in the whole building wafted out of the room, settling on the girl's clothing. Her scarf slipped without her notice, though she could hardly care. Sitting directly in the middle of the hideous scene was a severed human hand, the angle such that she could easily see the protruding bone and severed tendons that dangled limply from the stump into a pool of blood. Several flies settled onto the mass of flesh as she watched, the only life that could be seen. The buzzing of their small wings beat to the tune of her pulse.
She screamed, the camera dropping from her limp fingers to land in the spreading river of crimson. Without pausing to pick up the fallen equipment she spun on heel and raced out into the hall, shoes slipping on the dust. She slid into the wall, the impact driving the wind from her body but she did not let that deter her as she pushed herself forward into the safety of the light. Dimly she could feel the footsteps dogging behind her, unhurried and heavy. Sparks of adrenalin shot through her system. This couldn’t be happening. She could almost see the cemetery through the door still ajar from when she had entered, the crumbling gravestones covered with moss and ivy taunting her from the open, chill air. The Gothic architecture of the building spoke of its age and grace from times long past – something far more sinister now than the gossamer strands of her memory depicted it. It didn’t offer her hope. Not with the breathing thing behind her.
Sobbing, heaving, her chest rose and fell. Fingers dug into the rotting wood on one side of the door. An unnatural stillness had settled over the area as the last rays of the sun played on the horizon, warm orange, kissed with life and just beyond her reach. The mists of the moors had begun to gather, their gray tendrils creeping into the house through the cracks in the stone and wood. Not quite as silent as death but just as heady it stalked her. She could feel the time slipping through her fingers. Her feet would not move. The muscles in her arms strained against the unseen force keeping her from salvation, taut with exertion. Nails bit into the wood, splinters driving themselves into the beds of her fingers, yet she could gain no ground.
An unyielding hand gripped her by the ankle and she shrieked, vanishing into the blackness of the church.
A high-pitched giggle like a chorus of chimes echoed in the vast graveyard, the fairy rings of glowing mushrooms illuminating the weathered stones. The massive building stood staunch in the darkness, a corrupt vestige of what it had once been.
Word Count: 1,040