Hayden woke with a start, drawing quick breaths, as if recovering from a nightmare. A sharp surge of pain pierced his forehead. He instinctively brought his hand to his head in pain, only to bring it back down to find it covered in a clear slime. Frightened, Hayden felt around his forehead and found a deep wound just shy of his temple oozing the liquid. He sat there on the clammy concrete floor, listening to the distant dripping of water. He gazed at his legs in a trance, noticing that his clothes were dirty and ragged.
He sat quietly and listened.
Before he could think the situation through, a flash of light caught Hayden’s eye. He jerked his head to the side to look for the source of light. There, only a few metres away, lay a dead body, the pool of blood around it reflecting the rays of a stray light bulb above.
Hayden panicked. He quickly stood up and frantically searched for a way out of the room. Where was he? What was he doing here? Why was this body in the room? Hayden’s mind was working a mile a minute. Taking a closer look around, he realized the room was bare. The walls were fighting a losing battle with some mould, and the ceiling was covered with a network of pipes. There was a distinct hum of electricity in the air, and the lone light bulb struggled to stay alive.
At the far end of the room was a door with its paint chipping off. Hayden stood up and walked to the door, noticing that he was limping. The distance to the door seemed longer with his numb leg. He tried to open the door. It was locked, and despite many efforts, it would not budge. Tired and confused, he slid his back down the door until he was seated on the floor. He flipped all the info around in his mind, but nothing rang a bell. He couldn’t remember anything. His age, his last name, nothing.
Seeking answers, he wearily got up and approached the mangled body on the other side of the room. The blood around the corpse had turned a dark purple. Almost black.
As Hayden approached the body, the smell became worse and worse. He stopped momentarily to catch his breath. He continued and kept walking until he was only a few feet away. It was almost impossible to distinguish the body’s gender, since the face of the body had a fist-sized hole in it. Hayden gagged at the sight, but forced himself to look again. There appeared to be an additional gun shot wound on the cadaver’s right leg. Eventually, Hayden came to the conclusion that it was a man. Moreover, it was a young man. The corpse didn’t seem much older than himself.
Daring himself to investigate further, Hayden apprehensively crouched down and searched around the young man’s soaked pockets. He searched each pocket on the corpse’s cargo pants one after the other, trying to avoid the wound. The pockets were empty. Losing hope, he tried the back pockets. The first one was empty, but in the second one, he fished out a damaged, blood-stained wallet. Escaping the smell, he limped back to the other side of the room and sat down to rest his injured leg. He dropped the bloodied wallet down next to him in disgust. He closed his eyes.
“What the hell have I gotten myself into?”
He tried remembering anything that had happened before he woke up, but once again, nothing came up. Hayden decided he would look inside the wallet for some kind of identification. He gingerly picked up the wallet and opened it. A chunk of flesh fell out and landed on his lap. Hayden yelped and shot up, twisting his leg in the process. He collapsed back down and crashed on top of the flesh. Tears started streaking down his face and he started gasping uncontrollably. He grabbed the wallet and crawled away, whimpering. His cries of pain echoed across the barren room. Still shaking, Hayden opened the wallet again and looked through the brown leather flaps, now soaked in blood and tears. He found some darkened money, which he instinctively decided to pocket, and he also found a driver’s license.
The words read “Mason Brahn, Age 17.”
The name sounded familiar. He looked closer at the little face displayed on the square of plastic. He thought he recognized it. Suddenly, a memory came back to him;
Hayden was walking towards a soccer field in the distance. Suddenly, Mason appeared in front of him, accompanied by someone else. The other person was a boy, around the same age as Mason. Mason’s lips started moving, but Hayden couldn’t remember what he was saying.
Hayden remembered this little scene from his school, if only he could remember what it was called. He obviously knew the boy that was now lying in his own pool of blood, but what was the connection? Why would this boy he knew from school be dead in the same room as him?
A sharp pain ricocheted around his head. It was worse than before. Hayden rubbed his forehead, causing a streak of blood and clear liquid to run down his face. He wiped it away, and decided to make a bandage. He ripped off a strip of his own shirt and tied it around his forehead. His wound instantly started to sting. Before he could try to ease the stinging, a sudden movement caught his eye. He looked up and searched the ceiling. Whatever it was, it had disappeared in the darkness. Hayden sat there quietly, trying to make the least amount of noise as possible. His heart started beating very quickly. Suddenly, a red light winked at him. It had come from a darkened corner of the ceiling. Hayden got up and walked towards the light. It started moving again. As he got closer, Hayden realised it was a video camera. He stopped walking as his eyes widened. Someone was watching him.
In horror, he backed away quickly as possible and tripped backwards. He got up and limped as fast as he could to the opposite side of the room. When he reached the wall, he grabbed it and gasped for air, keeping a frightened eye at the video camera.
“WHO ARE YOU?!” He screamed. His voice echoed around the room, before it plunged into silence again. The red light kept blinking. Hayden stood there, as if waiting for an answer. There was a sound of a slow drip of water echoing around the room.
“WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?!” Hayden called again. His ears started ringing and another surge of pain entered his skull.
Silence, except for that awful dripping. It was going to drive him crazy.
“I’ve got to get out of here” he muttered to himself.
He stood up and looked around the room. He took note of the decaying door. Maybe he could bust through it using force? He walked up to the door and gave it a kick with his left foot. It rattled. He tried again, with the same result. He stopped kicking and looked around the room once more. He looked at the camera again, half angry and half scared.
He took off his shoe, picked it up, and lobbed it at the camera. Sparks flew as the camera fell to the ground. For the first time that day, Hayden felt a small sense of relief. Instead of observing the broken camera, something grabbed his attention. There was a loose pipe dripping water. A thought came to Hayden: what if he could pry the pipe free and use it to break down the door? He walked right under the pipe and stretched his arms. He couldn’t reach, and with his injured leg, he couldn’t jump. He looked around the room for something to stand on, but couldn’t find anything.
Except for the body.
His need to get out of the room being greater than his dignity, he walked up to the body, took a deep breath, and grabbed hold of its legs. He dragged it as quickly as possible towards the loose pipe. A trail of blood and pus followed the body as it was dragged.
Finally, Hayden was under the loose pipe. He dropped the legs with a thud and turned away quickly to throw up. As he emptied his stomach, he heard a creak just outside the door. He stopped and listened. He could have sworn it was a footstep. Hayden’s heart started pumping violently. His ears were perked up, trying to pick up any sound, but none came. It was as if someone was waiting…
He wiped his mouth and realized how hungry he was. He knew he had to get out of here, and quick. He had to continue. Looking down at the body with determination, he put his foot down on the its stomach. He then dragged his injured leg on it as well. It was hard to balance on the soft flesh, but he could finally reach the pipe. He grabbed it, and the rusted metal gave out on the first tug. It crashed to the ground next to the him. Hayden cautiously got off the body and grabbed the fallen pipe. He weighed it in his hands. It was quite heavy, and his weakened state didn’t help. He lumbered slowly towards the door. When he was close, he gripped the pipe and lunged at the door. The pipe drove straight through the door, leaving a splintered hole in it. Hayden kept ramming the pipe through the door in different places until the door was riddled with apple-sized holes. He dropped the pipe with a clang and kicked the door. Some of the wood splintered. He kicked it again, and most of the wood gave way. The hole was now large enough for him to crawl through it. He looked back around the room one last time, then crawled through the jagged hole.
Hayden got up and found himself in a hallway. Like the room, everything seemed old and decrepit. A musty smell lingered in the air. Hayden spotted another camera looking at him. He was debating which way down the hall he should go. He knew he had to decide, and fast. Whoever had put him in this place could be lurking anywhere. Before he could think any further, he heard the distant, muffled wail of a police siren. Help was on its way! However, Hayden knew he had to find somewhere to hide until the police came. He limped down the hall, his head hurting more with each step. He crashed through the first door he found. He quickly closed the door and stood still.
The room he found himself in was completely pitch black. Hayden quietly groped around the wall until he found a switch. With one flick of the finger, the whole room came to life. All the lights turned on, he could hear an air conditioner booting up, and in front of him, a row of screens were flickering to life. He approached the computers and sat down on an old wooden chair. He waited as the screens booted up. Once they did, he noticed that one screen was showing the CCTV footage from the hallway, while the other was black, with words “Technical Failure” at the bottom of the screen. Hayden realized that the camera footage could unlock the truth of this nightmare. Too impatient to wait for the police, Hayden started scrounging the memory files of the computer until he found one save file from yesterday. He clicked it, and the screens flickered to a new image. The black screen now showed the room where Hayden was held in. There was no body in it, and there was no sign of Hayden. He fast forwarded until the end of the video. There was nothing.
Frustrated and impatient, he clicked the save file from the current day. Once again, the screens flickered to show both an empty room and an empty hallway. However, as Hayden fast forwarded, he found 3 figures walking down the hallway. He paused the video. He recognized himself. Standing in front of him were what looked like Mason, the boy in the room, and some other kid. As Hayden stared at the other figure, he realized it was the boy from his memory. The boy who was standing next to Mason. Hayden’s eyes widened. The other boy was Freddy Gardner. It all came back to him now. Both Mason and Freddy were his high school bullies. But what were they doing here in this old building? Hayden continued the video. The screen showed the three boys walking down the hallway and then turning out of sight. Then, they appeared on the other screen showing them enter the room where it all began. He watched as the other 2 boys walked to the opposite end of the room, and he stayed on the other side. He reached in his pocket and threw the other boys what looked like some rope. He started talking and motioning to the other boys about something, but the cameras did not pick up sound. He saw as Mason shook his head, as if saying “No”.
To his horror, Hayden watched as he pulled out an ugly revolver from his pocket and pointed it at the other boys. Both instantly raised their hands. He motioned again, but Mason shook his head again. A flash of light came from the muzzle of the gun as he pulled the trigger. Hayden watched as Mason ducked down, clutching his leg, when another flash of light broke across the screen and Mason crumpled to the ground. Before he could turn his gun toward Freddy, the other boy had already charged at him. Hayden watched himself get knocked down. Another flash of light, but the bullet missed. Freddy quickly kicked him in the head, and he watched himself go limp. Freddy proceeded to crouch down, pick up the gun, search Hayden’s pockets for a cell phone, and leave the room. Freddy sprinted out the room and locked the door behind him. He then opened the phone and dialed a number, before running out of sight.
Hayden reclined from the screen in horror. The sirens had gotten closer, and he could already hear police officers breaking doors down the hallway. This was not a rescue, this was an arrest. He was the murderer. He knew what he had done was horrendous. What would his parents think? He would live the rest of his life in guilt.
Armed police officers broke down the door. To their surprise, they saw Hayden standing in front of them with a blank face.
“GET ON THE GROUND!” They yelled, the mounted flashlights of their weapons blinding him. Hayden slowly put his hand in his pocket.
“GET ON THE GROUND, NOW!” A chorus of police officers repeated.
Hayden knew he couldn’t go to jail. He wouldn’t be able to live with himself, and the fact of the matter was nobody else would be able to stand him. In his pocket, he gripped a piece of flint, and ripped his hand out of his pocket as quickly as possible.
The police opened fire and Hayden was killed instantly.
Excerpt from a local newspaper-
Early this morning, police invaded an old company warehouse after a phone call to 911 was made by Fredrick Gardner, 17. The boy claimed that Mason Brahn, a friend of his, had been shot by Hayden Weiss, a boy from their school. Both Gardner and Brahn were hanging around a restaurant after school when Weiss, a German immigrant who had been bullied at school, came up to them with a gun drawn, and ordered them inside of a rental van. Weiss then drove them to a warehouse where he had already broken into and ordered them inside. He ordered them to tie a piece of nylon rope around their own hands. Brahn protested, and had been shot. There then was a struggle between Weiss and Gardner, which left Weiss unconscious. Gardner escaped the warehouse and called the police, where they found Weiss, pretending to have a weapon on him. Police, expecting the worst, opened fire.
“I didn’t think he’d go that far.” said Fredrick Gardner at an interview.
“All Mason and I would do would just make little jokes.”