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I never wanted it to happen. When I walked into the factory that day, I could have never imagined what would follow me. It wasn’t just me, but Eliza as well. Neither of us would leave that factory the same way. It was about a month after the accident. A month since that woman was killed. Everything started to go back to normal. I was able to go to job-shadow my dad as he worked in the factory. I wanted to work with steel ever since I was little. It interested me like nothing else. The possibilities of what you could make with it were endless. As I followed my dad into the factory, a girl about my age ran to catch up with us. She was tall, had short hair, wore glasses, and had a general air of happiness about her.
“Oh, I forgot to tell you. This is Eliza. She is going to job-shadow me with you.” my dad said to me. I looked at the strange girl. She looked right back at me. She smiled, revealing straight white teeth. She obviously used whitening devices.
This was interesting. When I had asked to shadow the steel man, I had had no idea another kid would be there. He was about my age, with many of the same features as my shadow; reddish-brown hair, brown eyes, and a sort of curious, but cheerful, mood. I smiled, and he smiled back, displaying the usual ivory shade of teeth. I suddenly felt incredibly silly for using whitening devices taken from my mother’s bathroom. I was a teenager, why had I done that?! The steel man, who I assumed was the boy’s father, introduced me. I waited for him to introduce the boy, but for a few minutes he just watched us staring at each other. At long last, I finally learned the boy’s name.
“Oh, Eliza, this is Micah. He’s also going to be job-shadowing me today, and is my son.”
He looked at me expectantly. I looked right back. What was I supposed to do, leap for joy and throw my arms around his son? Forget about it.
Seeming to sense that I wasn’t planning on doing anything like that, he moved on.
“Well, let’s get going!” He began to walk towards the main factory doors, swinging his arms a bit nervously as he walked. The other kid and me stared at each other for a moment, then followed.
Why was she staring at me? I couldn’t think of anything else but to stare back. After a few seconds, we both dropped our gaze and followed my dad through the large factory doors. From the outside, you couldn’t hear much, but once we stepped in, the din of the machines filled our ears. My eardrums felt like they would burst.
“This is where we make things like steel reinforcing for buildings!” dad yelled. I looked around. There were men in blue jumpsuits walking around, carrying clipboards, cell phones, and even steel beams. I started rethinking my wanting to work in this kind of a factory. Eliza, on the other hand, looked more excited than ever.
I actually found myself very interested in the what the steel producers were doing. It would never be my first choice of a job, but at the very least it would get a bit of money. Michah looked about ready to bolt out of there. I figured he had either just swallowed something putrid or simply despised the work he saw going on.
Well, at least one of us is enjoying this. Dad walked us around the factory, showing us how the steel is made. He said something about the Bessemer Steel Process, but I got too bored. I looked around again. Something seemed out of place. One of the men was carrying a clipboard, but the writing on the paper had no resemblance to any language that I had ever seen. He looked up at me. I quickly turned away. Eliza gave me the evil eye, telling me to pay attention. I shook the thought of the clipboard and tried to listen to my dad.
Micah was distracted... He kept glancing down over the railing at the workers. I mean, he seemed like a nice enough kid, there was no way he’d ignore his dad just to ignore his dad. I glanced at the steel man, and, seeing that he was absorbed in describing some component of the steel process, joined Micah at the railing. It only took a moment to see what had him so perplexed: It was one of the workers. Like most of the others, he was holding a clipboard, but the writing on the clipboard was unlike any I had ever seen, and seemed to change colors as he moved. He seemed... well, secretive. There was nothing nervous in his posture, but he was moving surreptitiously, if confidently, through the crowds. Micah and I exchanged a look, and I know that I was about to go down there and pursue the matter, but we heard something behind us. It was a sort of strangled, weak cry. We turned, and saw...
Nothing. My heart started pounding, and I was about two seconds away from screaming when my gaze fell upon the steel man. But he was on the ground. Why was he on the ground? Micah stood staring wide-eyed at his dad for a moment, and I rushed back to the railing on a sudden hunch.
As I suspected: The man with the clipboard was nowhere in sight.
Where did he go? Clipboard man couldn’t have gone very far. I turned to dad. But he was laying on the ground. I kneeled down next to him and shook him. Nothing. Was he unconscious? Was he dead?
“Dad! Wake up!” I yelled. I looked around for help, but everyone else was collapsing.
All but one. He was holding a clipboard. But his face didn’t seem right. His eyes seemed to glow with an unearthly light. I blinked. Then he was right in front of us. The man grabbed us by the shoulders and led us out of the factory as more and more workers fell, seemingly dead. I was getting nauseous. My head was spinning, and I wanted out. Luckily for me, we rushed out of the doors right at that moment. I looked back. There was a disgusting yellow-green smoke emitting from the smokestacks. The man threw us to the ground. Eliza struggled to get up, but he only kicked her down again. The last thing I remembered was his sleek black shoe zooming towards my face.
When the man kicked Micah, I screamed. I don’t even know why, at this point. I was scared for myself, I was traumatized, I really don’t know. But I screamed, and then he stuffed a rag in my mouth. He carried one of us over each shoulder, and marched straight, towards the parking area. Thoughts flew through my mind: Should I kick? No, I might hit Micah. Where were we going? What had happened back there? Was Michah okay?
The man carried us to a car, and dumped us in the trunk. My concern for Micah heightened when we were dumped so roughly, but it was when I saw his face that I thought he might actually be dying. His face was covered in blood, and from what I could tell he was still bleeding profusely from the side of his head. The car started. I closed my eyes. I was all alone. My side hurt where the man had kicked me, and even then what I’d seen in the factory had made me weak. I was good for nothing. I opened one eye to peek at Micah, but quickly shut it. I didn’t want to dwell on his wound for too long. I might weaken, might cry... That called the tears forth all the more quickly. I opened my eyes. Through the blur, I could see Micah still bleeding. I bunched up his jacket and pressed it to the wound, trying to stop the bleeding. But this needed a doctor. I took a shaky breath, then screamed. I thought I could hear the man yelling at me to stop, but I kept screaming. My lungs burned, but when I tried to take a breath, they filled with gas. I choked, looked at Micah. Still bleeding, sleeping more deeply than ever. Stay awake, Eliza, I urged myself. For both of you.
The gas overcame me, and I dropped into the dark abyss of an induced sleep.
I awoke to see a hideous creature staring at me. Its eyes were yellow-green, like the gas at the factory. The factory! It wasn’t my imagination. I was tied up and laying on a hard concrete floor. I summed up my surroundings. In the center of the room was an enormous black pit. I looked up. Just as black as the pit. There were six walls, also concrete. So a hexagonal room with a giant pit. The creature had two arms, and a mass of legs. The thought that the gas may have been a hallucinogen slipped across my mind. Then I saw something that sent an icy chill of foreboding through me. The creature was holding a clipboard. This was the strange worker I had seen at the factory. I looked at Eliza. She stirred, sitting up. She looked around the room. She started to hyperventilate.
“Micah? Where are we? What is that?” she questioned, pointing at our captor with her chin. I wanted to answer, but I couldn’t. None of this made sense. I just knew we needed to get away. Drip. Drip. Drip. I couldn’t tell what that was. The blood dripping down my face, or the water that was dripping from the high ceiling. I decided that it was both. On the other hand, it sounded like it was coming from the pit. Like something wet was down there. The creature turned around. Then, he vanished. Eliza and I were freed from our bonds, but I would’ve preferred to stay tied up than face what happened next.
Something in the pit roared. Actually, many somethings. It seemed to echo forever on the walls. Micah looked nervous. As an experiment, I threw my cords down the pit. A few minutes later, the things in the pit howled. It was a deep hole. Suddenly, a tentacle-like arm shot out of the pit. I screamed, and jumped out of the way. This only made things worse. Why? Because now the thing had Micah His eyes were about as wide as silver dollars, and as he was pulled towards the pit he scrambled for a handhold. He didn’t seem to see me, he was so focused on getting free. Now, I had a choice. I could let him be taken. I barely knew him, and the creatures might be kept occupied for awhile. I might be able to escape! Then again, we had been through a lot... Time slowed down. Micah was being drawn ever closer to the pit’s edge... I made a command decision.
Even as I grabbed Micah’s hand, I could tell that we were both going to get pulled in. We simply weren’t strong enough. I squeezed my eyes shut. Here’s where we die, I thought. We clung to the edge of the pit for a moment, then there was nothing beneath our fingers.
‘This is it.’ I thought. ‘We’re going to die.’ Where did everything go so wrong? What was down there? What were we falling into? I didn’t want to die. I grabbed desperately for something to stop the fall. Nothing. I thought of my dad, probably still laying on the factory floor. Was there even a floor to the pit? It didn’t seem like it. We were dragged down, down, down. Down, until we landed in water. More tentacles reached out. They grabbed us and pulled down into the frigid water, and into darkness.
Coldness... Water... Loneliness... Was this what death felt like? For the slightest moment, Micah and I looked into each other’s eyes. I saw in his the same resigned terror that I knew was in mine. I nodded. We closed our eyes, let the cold seep in, let water fill our lungs. Perhaps it would dull the sharp pain of fangs.