It is a crisp and brisk October night and I am spending it in my room until I receive a text from my friends, Billy and Logan.
“Hey Jake, meet us at that old toy factory in an hour or so. We want to give this old dump a whole new look. Are you in?” I sigh and reply.
“Sure, it’s not like I have anything better to do. Should I bring anything? I have some pretty cool neon paint that would really brighten up the place.”
He texts back sure. I pack my bag, the one I take on all my late night excursions, and holler to my mother that I am going to meet my friends. She sighs deeply and allows me to leave. She wants me to make better choices but I do not really care. I want to be strong, independent and most of all, a rebel. I take my motor scooter and speed off into the night, zipping up my favorite hoodie all the way up to my chin. Tonight is going to be fantastic. If only I knew how wrong I would be.
I pull up to the gravel parking lot and lean my bike against the wall of the building, pausing for a breath. Billy and Logan are not here yet so I stand by my bike and wait, my body shivering from the cold bite of the air. Finally, at midnight, I see the bright lights of Logan’s car with Billy sitting next to him in the front seat. Seeing them makes me feel relieved because this place gives me shivers down my spine. I toss them my cans and we walk inside. The place is dark and slimy; wet mold drips rhythmically from the old decaying ceiling. I can scarcely breathe for the smell is like rotting cheese mixed with body odor. Quickly, we begin to work, spraying machines, walls, old toys, anything in sight. The paint smells sharply of acrylic and it burns my nostrils.
Suddenly, I hear the sound of metal. I turn, slowly, and face the direction where I heard the sound. All I see is a plain old stuffing machine, covered in rust. I continue to color some stuffed bears a bright orange when I hear the noise again, louder this time. It sounds like fingernails scraping a chalkboard and I clutch my head in agony. I turn and creep cautiously over to the stuffing machine, the culprit of the horrible sound. Nothing appears to be moving but I feel something growing in the pit of my stomach: fear. I see Billy; he is taking his paint can and heading in my direction. I want to scream but no words will come out of my mouth. Quickly, I rush over to Billy, tackling him to the ground. He rises, clearly annoyed, and brushes himself off.
“What the heck was that for!” he exclaims. He obviously does not know that the machine is on.
“Uhh nothing sorry,” I mumble. I push away the fear and continue to do my work. Then, I hear Billy’s screams. I spin around and see him. He is now somehow inside the stuffing machine, banging on the glass to break free. How he managed to get trapped in there is beyond me It is no use though. The machine is a tall steel box that is sealed up tight and full of old, moth-ridden stuffing. Logan and I watch in utter horror as Billy sinks into the stuffing, and vanishes. One down, two to go.
“Come on Logan that was messed up. We should be going, like now!”Logan, still in shock, scoffs at my request.
“No way. That was probably just a stupid prank. Now come on, we have more crap to vandalize.”
There is no way I want to stay here any longer but I do not want to go home alone either. I take a deep, shaky breath and follow Logan farther into the building. The hallways are as black as pitch and since neither of us thought to bring a flashlight; we are stumbling around blindly in an abandoned old toy factory, a toy factory that just ate our friend. After what seems like hours, Logan pulls me into a dark room that is full of old fashioned toys. Since this place has been uninhabited for years, the toys are covered with a thick layer of dust and smothered with cobwebs. Against the wall, there are boxes upon boxes stacked up to the ceiling. When I brush off the dust on one, it reads: “Unwanted Toys”. I gasp and jump backward, knocking down some boxes behind be. Logan is on the other side of the room and he gives me a strange look. All around me the boxes have the same label. The original name of the toy company was “Wanted Toys”. It looks as if someone purposely wrote the “un” part of unwanted on all the boxes. Only, nobody has been here in over forty years. An icy cold chill runs down my spine and I have the feeling we are not alone. I run over to where Logan is, only, he is not there anymore.
“Logan?” The syllables shake and waver as I call his name again. “This isn’t funny dude. Come on let’s go”. The shaking in my body is uncontrollable at this point. I walk slowly around the room, surveying every square inch to make sure he is not there. Panic rolls into my brain like storm clouds in the sky. Then I hear it, faintly at first, but growing louder and louder. It is a jack-in-the-box playing its joyful tune. The light music echoes throughout the corridors. It comes into sight and I see a figure being dragged along behind it. I dart into the room, peeking around the corner. I do not dare to breathe as it passes. I want to scream but will myself to stay silent. After two whole minutes, the jack-in-the-box disappears, dragging the lifeless figure behind it. I breathe out, long and hard. I have to leave now or I will never see daylight again.
Careful to head in the opposite direction of the jack-in-the-box, I noiselessly make my way down the eerie, dimly light hallway and try to find a door to the outside world. Losing Billy was bad enough but losing Logan too makes me sick with anxiety and fear. I do not want to be next. My heart is beating louder than a hundred bass drums and faster than humanly possible. I am so wet with sweat I could be an overflowing wellspring of life. Every breath seems to rattle my body and do not know how much longer I can go on living. I swear I hear something dart behind me and whip my head in that direction. Nothing is behind me. My pace quickens and soon I find myself in a full-on sprint. I do not know where I am going but I just want to leave this foreboding place alive. I hear scuffling and freeze in my tracks. I turn, very slowly and see a stuffed teddy bear. Its eyes are small and it looks old and careworn. I take yet another long deep breath and run for the door in front of me at top speed. I hear it following close behind me but I do not dare look back. I am at the door. I now see it leads outside. I open it and begin to step out into the cool, night air. I almost make it too.
The police search but they never find Billy, Logan or Jake. Life goes on and everyone gives up looking for them. Today, over five years later, the old toy factory sits alone with no visitors. That is, until the next unsuspecting boys come along, looking for mischief.