BlackoutThe loud vibration of my phone running across the night stand woke me from my dreamless sleep. I thought I had put the phone on silent before I fell asleep; I guess that didn’t happen. Tiredly, I rubbed my eyes and grabbed the phone off the wooden surface. I squinted as I looked at the caller ID: Tyler. I groaned, thinking, what the hell could he possibly want this early? Granted it was 12:00 in the afternoon, but everyone knew I liked to sleep in. “What?” I said, answering the call. On the other end, I could hear Tyler laugh. “Good morning to you, too.” I rolled my eyes. I was in no mood for Tyler’s little games. “What do you want, Ty?” “It’s time to get up,” he commanded. “We have figured out what we are doing today.” “Yeah, and what is that?” I said with a yawn. “Just wait and see, bud.” I could see that stupid, little cocky grin Tyler always wore, pasted across his face. “Get dressed and meet us at the abandoned slaughterhouse at ten.” “What? The abandoned slaughterhouse? Why?” “Just wait and see, buddy!” Tyler laughed. “By the way, happy Halloween!” he cheered and hung up. Annoyed, I grumbled as my head fell back into the pillow. Halloween. I completely forgot about that. Oh well, I wasn’t much of a celebrator anyway. The whole getting dressed up to get candy idea was old now; I was seventeen – I was too mature to be worrying about that stuff or even believing in the silly ghost stories that were told to scare the little kids. Tyler and some of my friends need to grow up and move on from the whole Halloween scene. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my friends. But sometimes I also loved a little thing called personal space, and with my friends, it could be hard to come by. Besides, why the hell did Tyler want to go to that old abandoned place? It was just an abandoned building that has been in the town for years and because of its appearance it set the tale for many ghost stories. Slamming my cell back onto the night stand, I sat up, stretched, and rubbed my eyes. My eyes felt heavy, and I could feel the collected crust of sleep rub off them. Lazily, I slid out of bed and shuffled my feet across the cool wooden floor, heading for the bedroom door. Upon opening it, I was greeted by Jethro, my English bulldog. He sprung to his stubby feet, his nub of a tail wagging furiously, causing his whole back end to wiggle from side to side. I couldn’t help laughing at the sight of him. He was honestly a freak of nature with his under bite, droopy eyes, pushed-in face, small stocky body, and lack of tail, but he was an amazing dog, and I loved him. “Hey buddy,” I said, kneeling down to his level to stoke his brindle coat. He barked one raspy bark in reply and began to cover my hand with his saliva as his tongue licked my fingers. “Jethro, that’s so gross,” I complained, pulling my hand away from the dog’s moving tongue and wiping it on my pajama bottoms. “Shane, is that you?” my mother called from downstairs. “No, it’s the boogey man, Ma!” Mom laughed. “Come downstairs. I have breakfast ready.” “Coming,” I informed her, pulling my attention from the drooling dog. I stood up and proceeded to walk downstairs, Jethro right in step behind me. I could hear his loud snorting with each step he took. When I walked into the kitchen, my three-year-old sister, Lilly, cheered from her seat at the kitchen table. “Shaney!” She squealed, her mouth filled with cupcake. She was dressed in her pink, sparkly princess costume, her blond hair up in two pigtails on both sides of her head. I slightly laughed and grabbed a napkin to dab Lilly’s face. “You’re covered in frosting, Lil.” She squirmed and moved away from the napkin. “Happy Halloween!” Lilly cheered as she threw her hands up in the air, losing hold of the cupcake, and it landed right in my lap, covering my pants in orange frosting. “Shaney, messy!” “I can see that.” I said as Jethro bounded over and attempted to lick the frosting off my pants. “No! Jethro!” I shouted, pushing the dog away from me. This morning was going great so far… Lilly continued to giggle. “Puppy wants to play! Let’s go play, Puppy!” She wiggled in her seat, indicating she wanted to get out. Mom came over, picked her up, and put her down on the floor. Lilly, skipped out of the kitchen, singing to herself, with Jethro running after her. “Here, Shane.” My mom handed me some wet paper towels. “Thanks,” I said, grabbing the towels, pulling out a kitchen chair and sitting on it as I began to wipe away the frosting. “So any plans tonight?” My mother asked. “Um . . . Yeah,” I wiped the last bits of frosting off my pants. “Tyler wanted to hang out tonight.” “Oh, when?” She handed me a plate of freshly golden scrambled eggs with some bacon on the side. It looked delicious and my mouth automatically began to water. I stuck a bit of egg in my mouth. “Not until like ten, he said.” I swallowed. “Oh great!” My mother’s hazel eyes beamed. “Lilly wanted you to take her trick-or-treating.” “What? No!” I protested. “Please, Mom. I can’t be seen doing that!” My mother frowned. “She wanted you to take her. Are you going to break your sister’s heart?” “Oh, that’s not fair!” “Then take her and don’t complain.” I grumbled to myself and continued to eat my eggs. “Fine.” I muttered. Just what I wanted to do, go out with my three-year-old sister to trick-or-treat. Tyler’s plans for tonight better be worthwhile for me to have to wait until ten ‘o clock tonight and have to put up with this until then. I parked my blue Jeep Wrangler outside the gate of the abandoned slaughterhouse. I still didn’t get why Tyler wanted me to meet him there. What fun could possibly come out of this place? I stepped out of my car, and walked up to the gate. Tyler stood there with my other friend Sam and his girlfriend, Rose. All three of them were passing a joint, each taking a hit from it. Tyler looked super excited standing there in his red varsity jacket, his dark eyes beaming and he crookedly grinned at me as I approached, his white teeth glowing off the reflection of the moon. “Hey bud!” He howled. “Want a hit?” He offered the blunt to me. “Thanks,” I said, taking the joint and smoking it. “Hey, Sam, Rose.” I greeted the other two. Sam shrugged in response and Rose could hardly take her wide eyes off the structure of the slaughterhouse that stood in dark shadow behind the gate. I followed her gaze to take a look at the place, handing the blunt over to Sam. “So what are we doing here?” I asked. I looked at the old decaying building. This was just pathetic. I heard stories about this place from kids around town. It was apparently haunted, but I never really believed it. Ghosts didn’t exist after all. It certainly looked like something that would be in a bad horror film. The roof was falling in on itself, the walls slowly decaying from years of misuse, the grasses around it overgrowing, and the windows smashed and shattered. The building was hideous and should’ve been taken out of its misery years ago. Tyler’s the one who answered my question. “It’s Halloween. What better way to celebrate than a haunting?” He grinned. “I hate Halloween,” murmured Sam. Rose took another hit off the blunt and mumbled something under her breath but I didn’t hear what. I noticed she was shivering too . . . It wasn’t cold out. “Okay, so I think I’ve figured a way to get in.” Tyler grunted. I hadn’t noticed he was looking for a way in. “You dumb b*s just stick behind me.” He smashed his large foot into the rusty gate. The rust infected iron didn’t stand a chance against his force and collapsed in a series of loud clanks and bangs. Tyler gave a satisfying whoop and the expression of a maniac, as his taste for destruction seemed temporarily satisfied. Rose covered her ears. “Oh my god! Someone definitely heard that! We have to go!” She whimpered, her voice cracking in panic. “Hell no!” Tyler roared. Together we climbed up the steep and worn down path in silence, Tyler in front, Sam and I shuffling behind, and Rose dragging behind, mumbling to herself. I swung my head for a brief glance at Sam, wondering why he wasn’t keeping Rose company. But from his expression he looked bored and deep in thought; so I decided to mentally drop the matter inside my already drowsy mind. The walk up to the main entrance seemed to be taking forever. We all continued to walk in silence, feet dragging; the only one who seemed excited was Tyler. “Here we are.” Tyler said, sounding like he was some sort of tour guide. We had all stopped at the entrance of the slaughterhouse. I looked at the frayed building. It seemed bigger now than it did before . . . And more creepy. I was surprised it was able to still stand on its own still considering that one of its old walls had collapsed. “Fantastic,” I said, my voice licking with sarcasm. “Let’s go in.” “Guys!” Rose exclaimed, flapping her arms in anxious to get our attention. “The cops!” All three of us quickly spun around to look for ourselves. My heart thudded in my chest. “Idiot!” Tyler smacked me in the back of the head. “You shouldn’t have parked your car there!” I glared at him. “You shouldn’t have kicked down the gate, Dumbf***!” “Shut up both of you, and hide,” growled Sam as he grabbed Rose and dived into the overgrown brush. Tyler and I quickly followed just before the cops were about to walk up the path. We all huddled as far as we could into the brush. Thorns poked at my sides and I heard Rose yelped and whined about her shirt getting ripped and Sam quickly shushed her. The cops and their flashlights now stood where we were two seconds ago. They shone their flashlights in all different directions, looking around but seemed to come up empty. I heard their muffled voices and the static of their radios going off. And soon the shuffling of their heavy boots on the gravel sent an exhale of relief out of my chest. I hadn’t even noticed I was holding my breath. But the cops had left and we weren’t arrested. “See, all is fine.” Tyler said, breaking the silence. Sam and I both punched him as we climbed out of the bushes and continued with trying to get into the slaughterhouse. “The door’s boarded up,” examined Rose. “Nice observation, Sherlock.” Tyler retorted. Sam snorted at Tyler. “That window’s busted we could climb in through there.” I pointed at the window next to the door. They climbed in, Rose first, “Oh my god, it is so dusty.” She coughed. Sam climbed in after, pulled out his flashlight and turned it on. Tyler followed, also pulling out his flashlight. Then I climbed it, accidentally cutting the palm of my hand on some glass. “F***.” I muttered, rolling my hand into a fist to stop the bleeding. Inside, dust floated around us in the moonlight that fluttered through the holes in the ceiling. Graffiti lined the rotting walls. It smelled of wet dog and rot. In the distance there was a faint dripping sound. The ground was covered in old planks of wood, trash and glass. Yeah, this place just screamed fun. “This place is creepy.” Rose whimpered, standing behind Sam, trying to get as close as she could to him. Tyler shone the flashlight all around. “It’s freakin’ awesome. Come on!” He said as he started to walk away. “Where are we going?” I asked, quickly following behind Tyler. I lacked a flashlight so I didn’t want to fall behind. “We’re going up there.” Tyler replied back to me, lifting his chin towards the staircase. I looked at the staircase, it was falling apart, missing a few steps, and didn’t look that sturdy. I guess Tyler didn’t care. No one raised any objections against Tyler’s choice; he pushed passed us towards the staircase with the light from his flashlight bleeding from his chest. I followed after Tyler and carefully marched up the wooden staircase. Behind me I heard Sam and Rose’s feet slapping against the rotted wood. There was a loud snapping sound and I heard Sam curse under his breath. I turned to see that one of Sam’s feet cracked right through the weak wood. He pulled his foot out and cringed as the wood sliced into his ankle. He shone the flashlight down at his ankle. The bottoms of his jeans were ripped and blood was seeping through the material. “Oh my god!” Rose exclaimed, “Sam! Are you alright?” Sam nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine. It’s just a scratch.” “Way to take it like a man, Sam,” laughed Tyler. “Now come on, keep walking everyone.” He continued to march up the steps, the rest of us cautiously following. Once we reached the top of the stair case our feet met rotting floorboards instead of concrete and various twisting and turning dark and dreary hallways. When we reached the rotting floorboards, we all paused, concerned about our weight against the fragile ground. “Think it’s safe?” Sam asked, as he shined his flashlight down at the floor. Tyler took a step onto the floor and pushed his weight onto one foot. “Seems fine to me,” he shrugged. “Come on.” Tyler marched across the floor towards a room further down the hallway, Sam and I exchanged a glance, and gingerly followed him. When we get to the door, we realized that Rose was still across the hall, too frightened to move. Tyler seemed occupied and interested in the deadly looking machinery in the room, so Sam and I exchanged another glance, before Sam pointed his flashlight towards Rose and called out. “Rose..!?” Her expression lit up by the light, showed that she was trying to focus or look at something. Her head was slightly bent forward, her hands fidgeting and tense. She didn’t respond. “Rooooosseeee…..!??” Sam called out again, annoyance in his tone. She bounced up towards Sam and tugged on his hand tightly. “I thought I heard something, you guys!” She sounded extremely nervous. “Heard what?” I asked. “The cops?” I automatically grow paranoid and started to look around, perking my ears for any other sounds besides our own. “Dumbass probably meant a ghost, Shane.” Tyler’s deep voice came from behind me. Sam sighed. Tyler didn’t seem to notice and continued to look at the machinery. I turned to Rose. “There are no such things as ghost, Rose.” I said. “In fact, we haven’t heard a thing since we’ve gotten here. This is lame.” “I know what I heard!” She stomped her foot and folded her arms like a little kid. Tyler grew bored of the machinery room and suggested we go check out something else. “Let’s check out the East Wing.” “. . . Why?” I stared at him. “Because it’s supposed to have the most ghosts over there!” I snorted in response. I didn’t know where the f*** this East Wing was and I doubted it had any more ghost activity as we were experiencing then. But we went anyway. Tyler led the way towards another staircase, and Sam and I followed shortly behind. My feet felt like they were being dragged, I was so beyond bored with this little adventure. We continued up along another hallway, corridors, and through more rooms. I found more vandalism and trash but still no paranormal activity. Suddenly, there was a faint noise in the distance. It sounded like a lonely howl . . . Or wail . . . Followed by some creaking. Sam looked around, dazed. “What was that?” “The Grim Reaper,” Tyler laughed mischievously. I rolled my eyes. “It was just the wind.” “Where’s Rose?” Sam asked, looking around in a circle. “The pussy probably ran off scared.” Tyler laughed again. Sam growled at Tyler. The creaking noises continue. “She probably just went back outside to wait for us.” I said, trying to comfort Sam. A yelping sound shot down the hallway. It was coming from the direction we just came from. “That’s Rose.” Sam confirmed. “We have to go back.” “Dumb b****.” Tyler snorted. “Just leave her. We’ll get her on our way back.” Sam charged at Tyler. “You’re such a f*ing prick. I am not going to leave her alone in the dark!” Tyler just rolled his eyes. “Oh, blah blah blah . . .” He said, mockingly. Sam punched Tyler in the gut. Their fighting continued and I just mumbled under my breath and wondered off to find her. I jogged back towards the sound, my feet slammed against the hard wooden floorboards as I checked out hallways, and different rooms at random. I found myself in a room we had not been in yet, and realized that I had travelled in the wrong direction. I twisted on my heel to leave, when I heard snapping and a deep groan. The rotten floorboards had snapped beneath my feet. They groaned in protest, and shattered to dust as my body dropped like a stone directly into the darkness beneath me. It took me forever to fall. The cold musty air felt like it was being pressed against my face; not rushed. It felt like I fell in slow motion. At the very last moment of my fall, time speeds up and my body smashed into the cold unforgiving floor. The stiff and frozen floor felt like it slammed against my body, and spilled out all of the air from my chest. I was dazed and confused my mind still numb and diluted from being high. Yet I felt a weird sensation tingling through my back rather than the expected and agonizing pain. It felt good. And the frozen coldness on my back cooled down my body intensely. I wasn’t even mad at Rose anymore for getting lost. But I couldn’t remember where Sam and Tyler where. My mind spun before catching up, and I felt myself grinning stupidly as I lie there alone looking up. I observed the broken hole and floorboards in the roof. Rose’s shrill voice broke through my moment of observation and silence. “Oh my god Shannnnnneeeeee! SHAANNNNEEE!?” I lifted my head and banged it against the floor in annoyance. I wish Rose never f*ing came, I wouldn’t of fallen and been stuck down here if it wasn’t for her. “SHHAANNNNNNEEEE!?” Her obnoxious voice shattered through the darkness again. I chose to ignore it. I was mad at her again, but I only wanted to enjoy this weird and relaxing feeling for a few moments longer… “SHAAAAAANNNNNNNEEEEEE…..!?” I gritted my teeth and banged my head against the concrete once more.“For f*** sake; what is it Rose!?” I snapped back towards the hole above me, amazed by the strength of my voice then, even in that state. Silence. I waited for her stupid and pointless reply. “Oh…well I got lost, it was dark and smelly... I didn’t know where everyone else went . . .” There was a pause. I strained my ears to the darkness. Her voice returned, and I realized she was getting closer to where I was, as her voice grew louder. I groaned again. “… and then I wondered where you were! And I heard something breaking…” Her voice trailed off again, and this time I realized she was approaching me from the darkness of the room I was in. My eyes locked on to the swirling darkness ahead of me. I pulled my arms back, and rolled onto my feet standing up. I clumsily dusted myself off, aware that my back and hands were throbbing. I stared up, realizing that there was no way I was going to be able to reach to climb back through that hole. I paused to consider a way around it or a door out when Rose finally showed herself. “Peek-a-boo Shane!” She giggled above from me. I sighed, stared at her and clenched my fists. “Hi Rose….” I murmured back, biting back my tongue from an enraged and snappy reply. She just stared at me, grinning chewing slightly on her lip. Her eyes looked glassy and yet fully alert, which freaked me out a little. I decided to break the awkward silence, allowing my heavy mind to swim around for a decent topic. “How did you find me?” The question spilled from my lips. “Well someone whispered where you would be!” She screamed happily, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. I stared at her completely lost and dumbfounded. My head started too ache, trying to figure out what she meant. “Somebody . . . whispered to you Rose . . .? What the f***!? That just doesn’t make any sense! Who else could know I would be here?” I snapped back, ignoring that I should try to be polite to ease some decent answers out of her thick head. There’s a long silence as I see her try to concentrate, before her slow reply eventually comes. “ . . . Well, they knew you would be down here Shane . . .” She lightly murmured to me, as if she did something regrettable. Her head and stupid grin then dropped. “You shouldn’t have come to look for me Shane.” She whimpered, and I noticed that both her hands were behind her back. “I came to find you!” I screamed. “You shouldn’t of, Shane.” I heard her sniffle and then twitch. “No!” She shouted. Her body itched closer to me, but it looked like she was fighting it. What the hell was happening to her? “Stop it!!” She screamed. I could see tears falling down her cheeks, glittering in the low moonlight. “Rose?! What are you doing? Who are you talking to?” “Get him out! Shane! Help me!” She cried. “Get him out of my head.” Her body went into a series of back breaking spasms, her body twisting in angles not humanly possible. When she turned to look at me again her eyes had rolled back, leaving nothing but white. “Rose...?” I took a step backwards. A demonic grin crawled across her lips. “Rose is gone.” The voice that came from her mouth wasn’t Rose’s . . . It was raspy and had a bit of a hiss to it. “W-what . . .?” I blinked, hoping that this was a dream and I’d wake up soon. This thing took another step towards me. I took another step back. This seemed to please it as its grinned grew wider. I turned to run . . . I didn’t know where I’d go but there had to be a way out of here. I didn’t make it far, that thing quickly charged at me faster than a human possibly could and pinned me to the wall. My face slammed into the rotting wood, I felt splinters seep into my cheek. “Wrong move,” The thing hissed as I felt something sharp and cold seep into my back. I screamed and kicked out; the thing just shoved me into the wall harder. It pulled the sharp object from my back; I felt warm liquid ooze from it as I fell to the floor, unable to move. My body involuntarily twitched as I felt myself grow weaker and weaker. I coughed, my eyes slowly shutting as I faded into darkness. In the distance I heard Rose cry, “I’m so sorry, Shane . . .” I wasn’t sure if it was just that thing that took over Rose toying with me . . . I awoke to the sound of the phone ringing and my mom’s soothing voice as she picked it up and greeted the person on the other side of the line. I groggily stared at the white ceiling above my head. A slow grin crept across my cheeks remembering the night before. It was a good night; a hell of a good night. I couldn’t remember ever having so much fun than I did last night. Well, I probably have but it’s been a really long time. The way I felt . . . Maybe it was the help of the weed we all smoked beforehand but I have never felt so scared and excited all at the same time. That slaughterhouse was extremely creepy. I was so skeptical when Tyler told me about going. I thought it was stupid; ghosts didn’t exist. But last night definitely made me a believer. The sudden clashing of pots and pans slamming into the kitchen floor bolted me from bed. What the hell happened?! It sounded like the kitchen exploded. I ran towards the door of my room, but I stopped in confusion staring at the door. It was opened? Why? I never slept with the door opened . . . Maybe I was just so exhausted last night when I got home that I had forgotten to close it. Then again, I don’t even remember coming home. I didn’t remember anything since the slaughterhouse. You passed out. My conscious reminded me. I did? Oh right, that would explain it. I probably passed out from the high and the huge adrenaline rush and then one of my buddies probably brought me home. Once that conclusion was settled, I padded down the hallway and down the stairs into the kitchen. I stopped in the threshold when I noticed all the pots scattered across the blue tiled floor. My green eyes looked around the kitchen. The stove was on, the flame lightly blazing, but no one was in the kitchen. It was as if everyone vanished in the mist of doing whatever they were doing. I could almost see my mother reaching for the pots in the cabinet, then vanishing as she’s about to pull on out, sending all the pots clattering to the floor. It was creepy. “Mom?” I called out but there was no reply. Where was everyone? I pulled my gaze away from the disaster of the kitchen as Jethro trotted passed me. He stopped for a minute, sniffing the pots. Then snorted, sneezed and walked over to his bowl and began to gobble down his food like there was no tomorrow. I smiled at the dog. “Hey, buddy.” I said, walking over to him. Usually the sound of my voice would start a butt wiggle or at least have him stop to look up at me. “Jethro,” I said, about to reach out to stroke the bulldog, but Jethro suddenly froze, his hackles rose. I pulled my hand back as the dog spun around, his dark brown eyes darting in different directions and his nose twitching as he sniffed the air. A growl erupted from deep within his chest. I stepped back shocked. Jethro has never acted in such a way towards me. I didn’t know how to react. “Jethro, it’s just me buddy.” I tried to comfort the dog but it was if the dog couldn’t hear me or see me for that matter. He continued to look around, barking, growling and sniffing, yet he was right in front of me. Confusion was an understatement. “Jetty!” Lilly squealed as she skipped into the kitchen. “You silly doggie.” She cooed and hugged the defensive dog. It seemed to automatically calm Jethro because he stopped growling and began to cover Lilly’s face in slobber. Lilly giggled in delight. I stared dumbfounded at the two of them. “How’d you do that, Lil?” Lilly stopped giggling and looked around, her eyes rested on me and she smiled. “Shaney!” I exhaled in relief, finally some normalcy. “Hi, Lilly.” “You have Mommy and Daddy sad,” She frowned. “You need to cheer them up. Come!” She hopped to her feet and run out of the room. I quickly followed. What could I have done to make my parents so sad? Lilly led me into the living room where my parents were intently watching TV. From the looks of it and sounds of it, it was the news. I hated watching the news so I automatically tuned out what was being said. “Mommy,” Lilly cried, tugging on my mother’s arm. “I found Shaney.” “Shh, Lilly.” My father said, picking her up and putting her in his lap, turning his gaze back onto the TV. From what I could see, I thought my father’s eyes were a bit red and moist. Was he crying? Why? What the hell was going on? My dad doesn’t cry! Lilly protested, squirming in his arms. “No! Daddy! Shaney!” “Shane isn’t here anymore,” my mother spoke, her voice sounded empty and broken. Her gaze never left the screen. I walked over and stepped in front of my parents. “What the hell are you talking about? I’m right here!” I exclaimed, outraged. How could my mother say such a thing to my little sister? My parents didn’t even acknowledge my existence. I could’ve sworn that they were looking literally right through me. “NO!” Lilly screamed. “He’s right there!” She pointed her little finger at me. My dad sighed, “Yes, Lilly, that’s his picture.” “My picture?” I asked, confused. I was standing right in front of his god damn eyes! “What the hell are you talking about?!” I shouted the question, hoping it would finally spark their interest. Still nothing. My blood was beginning to boil with anger. I charged over to my dad. “I’m right f*ing here!” I stomped on my feet like a five-year-old throwing a tantrum. “He’s getting mad that you not see him!” Lilly said, poking my father in the cheek. Dad pushed her hand away. “Lilly, be quiet please. “ “Oh my god!” I snapped. “This is a whole new low for the both of you!” I reached out to pinch my father’s arm. If my voice wouldn’t show my presence, then physical touch would, especially if I pinched him. It would piss my father off so much. Having him yelling and screaming at me was better than being ignored. However, when I went to touch his arm my fingers went in him. My eyes shot wide open as I stared at the tip of my index finger and thumb resting inside my father’s skin. There was no physical contact. I couldn’t feel anything, not even the shiver I saw run through my dad. What the f***?!?! I pulled my hand back and stared at it. There was nothing different about it. It looked exactly the same as always; chewed finger nails, scarred knuckles and all. I wiggled and flexed my fingers as well, everything was perfectly normal. I went to try and slap my dad across the face this time. I swung my hand as hard as I could but it was like Dad’s head engulfed my hand. It went right through him and I lost my balance and stumbled sideways. If this was some sort of sick joke . . . Well, it wasn’t f*ing funny! “Dad! Dad!” I shouted, “please hear me, Dad! Please!” My chest heaved, no I wouldn’t cry. I ran over to my mother. Her expression was blank, her eyes watering. “MOM!” I shouted and went to shake her shoulders but my hands went right through her too. “Oh god. Oh god.” I cried, looking at my hands. “What is this?!” I had to be dreaming. I had to. Stuff like this doesn’t happen! I tried pinching myself in the arm to wake myself up but nothing happened. My breath was becoming uneasy as I started to panic. I had to wake up! My attention perked to the television screen blaring behind me. Maybe it would provide me with the answers I needed, my parents certainly thought so since neither of their stares left the screen for a second. I turned around to face the screen, the news was still on. I gasped and stepped closer to the TV as I read the headline at the bottom of the screen. It read: SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD FOUND DEAD AT ABANDON SLAUGHTERHOUSE. I was at the slaughterhouse last night. My friends and I didn’t find any dead bodies though. Oh jeez, I hope it isn’t any of my friends . . . No, it couldn’t be . . . Well maybe it was Rose, she was scared shitless last night. Maybe she had a heart attack . . . No it couldn’t have been her because she’s only sixteen. It definitely wasn’t any of my friends, I’m pretty sure I would’ve remembered one of them dying. That’s a pretty big thing. I was so concentrated on my thoughts that I almost didn’t hear what the reporter was saying. She mentioned the name, Shane Collins . . . It was like a slap to the face. I whimpered at the sound of it. It couldn’t be true . . . But all the details of last night started cascading into my mind that my head started to throb. Me getting stuck in that slaughter room alone, Rose, the way she was acting, how she suddenly wasn’t Rose anymore, the stabbing pain to the back, the blood, me blacking out . . . Not remembering how I got home . . . My dog not seeing me . . . My hands going right through my parents. The blackout wasn’t me fainting. It was me dying.