Wendy Cremwell is an ordinary teen, who leads an unusual and confusing life; no matter how much she wants it to be normal, for in Oakville, her hometown, bizarre things seem to occur every single day, and only her and her best friend Lola Cooper seem to know about it. This is a story of hope, of horror, and of things that are not as they seem.
As I opened my eyes and came out of unconsciousness the air grew damp and cold. The first thing I saw was a rectangular florescent light that hung on the ceiling and flickered dimly. The dying light barely lit up this cavernous place, and as my eyes adjusted it took me a few seconds to realize that this was not a cave, but a subway.
I stood up from the dirty concrete with a groan, and was overwhelmed with head-swimming dizziness. To save myself from falling I grabbed a nearby guardrail to my left and held on tightly until the room stopped spinning.
Where was I? My mind short-circuited, for I could not remember where the time had gone. I also couldn't recall how or why I had come to be here. I did not even remember getting up that morning, or what had happened in the day.
I studied my own hands. They were painted a rusty red from the time-worn dust coating the guardrail. In my palm was a long, thin scar, starting at my ring finger, traveling down to my wrist, then wrapping around my hand. It was as red and raw as a fresh wound, only I felt no pain.
Then I noticed the backpack. After taking it off my shoulders, I knew it wasn't mine. It was a black Nike book bag that I had never seen before. In the bag were a few normal items: a small flashlight, a bottle of water, a sheet of paper, a ballpoint pen, and to my surprise, something not normal.... a dagger. The sleek blade had strange writings and symbols carved on the side with careful precision, and it seemed to put off a light of its own...that illusion may have been my imagination at work yet again.
I owned none of these items and did not recall packing them for this "excursion."
I stood there in the gloom, thinking for a moment, the dampness of this place was beginning to settle into my bones, the darkness starting to settle into my mind, causing unneeded fear. Fear of what, you ask? It certainly wasn't merely the darkness that troubled me, but a sense that I wasn't alone in this place.
At this realization, a familiar feeling crept in....a feeling of being watched.
My hands fumbled to switch on the flashlight. Sweeping it around the room, I saw stony walls with cobwebs clinging in their cracked crevices. Garbage littered the floor, and over on the tracks where subway trains should have glided, lay chunks of fallen cement and debris.
Apparently this subway had been abandoned long ago and no one had been here in ages. Suddenly, something glittered in the flashlight beam. Two ruby red eyes that glinted like tiny jewels on the subway tracks.
It was a huge rat that stood there nibbling on a piece of cardboard. I choked back the urge to scream, because although this place was lonely and vacant, something did not seem right. I sensed that I wasn't alone, and swallowed my shriek for fear of alerting my presence here. Out of experience I prefer, not unlike rats, staying out of sight when in unfamiliar places such as this. The sooner I found an exit, the better.
With the aid of the flashlight, I made my way to the other side of the room, where a huge doorway loomed forebodingly ahead.
Through it a hallway led to who knows where. It was too dark even for the flashlight beam to reveal where it might lead. The darkness was unsettling, as tormenting as a dungeon in an ancient faraway castle in a harder, crueler age.
There was only one way to find out where it might take me.
Before I could move on, another rat scuttled into view in the doorway. It was huge and hairy, nastier then the first and it stared at me with those burning little eyes as if to say, "What are you doing in my house?" Like I really wanted to be.
I took a breath, trying to calm the primal fear. As I thought this, a loud, shrill squeal echoed nearby, followed by the sound of claws, scraping and ticking on the stony ground.
Although I had averted my eyes for only a few seconds, the rat had vanished from its spot in front of me. The raking of claws drew closer from the seemingly ancient hallway, and as it did, adrenaline pumped into my veins. I quickly reached into the backpack and pulled out the dagger. Unsure if I could even use it, I gripped the blade in one hand, holding it up in a defensive stance to prepare myself for whatever was coming.
To my amazement, a dog appeared where the rat had just been. My dog, Sammy.
Relieved beyond belief, I tucked the dagger into the side pocket of the book bag again and waited for him to come to me.
Sammy, usually energetic, stayed where he was.
My Border Collie looked very wet, almost slimy. A substance covered his black and white fur. He stared at me vacantly, not even panting.
I called to him softly, bending down and offering my hand. This would always send him running in my direction, but now he seemed frozen in time.
"Sammy?" I cooed to him, sensing something was terribly wrong.
At Sammy's feet, a puddle of the slimy liquid glistened strangely. So did his eyes.
As if driven by a powerful force unknown to me, Sammy fled, his collar jingling as he ran down the hall, out of sight.
With much reluctance, I followed.
In the next room there were several large benches, probably where people would sit waiting for their subway tickets. Near them was a row of large blue booths, which were reminiscent of telephone booths used years ago, but each with a small space, protected by a glass panel that was almost entirely broken off, for a clerk to stand and hand out tickets to lines of waiting people.
Because of the darkness, of the uncertainty, of the paranoia virtually seeping out of the walls, I had suspected this place to be very old, at least to me, since I was only fourteen, but now I know that the subway was abandoned, at most, several decades ago.
Its desolation and poor condition made this place seem much older than it really was.
Still, after who knows how many years, nothing and no one occupied this place, except for the rats, squealing and scattering at my approach.
Cautiously, I tried not to be afraid as I followed the trail of slime that my dog had left. What was that stuff? I wanted out of here. The air was musty, sour, cold, and sharp instinct kept telling me to get out now.
But another instinct, perhaps a more curious, stupid one, urged me to go on and risk finding out what was here.
If this had been a horror movie, as it most enormously felt like, this dank abandoned subway station would have been a perfect place for monsters to lurk.
I fearfully swept the flashlight from left to right, hurrying on towards what I hoped led to an exit.
I stopped in my tracks when I heard Sammy barking.
Concerned for him, I ran ahead towards the sound of his voice. My heart raced. My throat constricted, and my gut feelings screamed again and again for me to get out of there.
Darkness always ahead, everything was a blur as I ran through the other hallway, the sinuous, fleeting shadows and tricks of light in my periphery only heightening the fear.
Abruptly, the barking ceased and was replaced by a sound that sent shivers up my spine.
A high trilling noise, which was too hard to describe and too real to ignore. I came to a halt just beyond the next entrance and for safety switched off my light, listening.
The noise had stopped and for a split second all was deathly silent. Only not for long.
A loud, papery rustling sounded not too far away. After a few more moments spent intently listening, I realized this had to have been the sound of beating wings. Bats? I didn't want to find out. The only way to go was forward, but before I could, yet another sound rang out in the darkness.
It was a voice, unclear at first, speaking in a smooth singsong.
"Wendy Cremwell? Wendy Cremwell..." it sang in a strange and taunting tone. I felt the drum roll of my heart increase, and the nape of my neck prickled.
This voice didn't belong to anyone I knew and sounded very weird. But what frightened me the most was that it knew my name.
I slowly reached for the dagger again and as I did it felt powerful and cool in my hands, almost magical.
If circumstances demanded I use it I would, only not being experienced with weapons of any kind, I would be lucky to fend off whoever owned the haunting voice while holding down my breakfast...whatever that had been. The sight of blood was just too horrible to me.
The voice called out yet again, as calm and smooth and eerie as before.
"Wendy Cremwell? I have your dog. Please come get him."
As I heard Sammy whine, my blood felt frozen in my veins.
Terror further sank its icy fangs into me. I decided to let go of it however, for fear of what might happen to my beloved canine if no one came to his rescue.
Holding the weapon in my right hand, I rushed into the next room toward the sound of Sammy whining, prepared for the worst, braced for anything.
But nothing was there except for my petrified pal, standing in the middle of the room. I rushed to him, bending down to stroke his head and quell not only his fears, but mine as well.
I didn't pet him for long, and disgust set in when realized that a thick slime now coated my hand. "Yuck!" I whispered. "What did you get into?"
He looked at me solemnly, his eyes telling an evident story that I could not read. He had seen something terrifying that I had not. I was not intent on sharing his experience.
Like many of our furry friends, Sammy is more than family to me. He and I share a bond that isn't the same with my mom and dad, or even my brother.
I also could not see how he could be bonded with my jerk of a brother. He is too self-absorbed to care for an animal anyhow, and Sammy, unlike me, can easily tune out the annoying antics of my sibling, and pretend as if he doesn't exist.
Whoever was just in this room, calling my name with that unnerving voice, had left in a flash. I noticed more slime leading forward into yet another passageway. "This is crazy." I thought miserably.
Everything that happens to me seems so unreal that I sometimes expect a hidden camera crew to jump out. Then we could all laugh, mock the frightened look on my face and go to the comfort of our homes where things like this do not, under any circumstances, happen in real life.
I felt much safer with Sammy by my side, and with much hesitation, I decided to move on. This place was nowhere for anyone to be. Anyone human, at least.
I was dangerously certain that whoever was here was still waiting for us, perhaps in the room just ahead.
The next doorway led straight to the main entry room. We were getting closer to the exit but it was still too dark to see anything.
Still more debris lay all around the booths and windows. Most of the glass in here had been broken, probably vandalized, and the crystalline pieces lay shattered nearby, sparkling as the flashlight beam swept across them.
There was also an escalator, obviously leading up out of the underground and into daylight, if it was daylight outside. It had long ago quit working, and was the equivalent of stairs.
Sammy suddenly began to growl. Startled, I looked where he was facing at: one of the nearby booths.
From the inside I could hear the trilling noise, louder and clearer than before.
Cautiously, the dagger still clenched in my too-tight fist, I slowly approached the booth. The trilling grew louder, now almost a shriek because of its high, shrill pitch.
With one trembling hand, I reached toward the door of the booth...and flung it open.
Nothing was there. The flashlight shimmered on the metal inside, revealing dust, dead rodents, and more garbage, but nothing sufficiently terrifying.
If Lola had been here, she would have been joking about what a dump this was and how this was the kind of place where hobos live, therefore lightening the mood and making this place seem like less of a horror. Lola is my best friend. We instantly became friends when I moved to Oakville , this strange town, with my parents and brother Dustin.
Lola and I are like sisters. She is the only one that takes my word for anything that happens. Her mind is so open and full of wisdom, but in such an innocent way. The way things are, she accepts them, and does more than her part in being the best friend that she can be.
Now in the dark subway station, Sammy looked at me. He seemed as puzzled as I was. We both knew something was here, watching us, and how quick this stranger proved to be only sharpened our fear into even more splintering angles.
Unless this stranger had superhuman strength and the ability to leap tall ticket booths in a matter of seconds, there was no way he could have left that quickly.
Unless he was, as I suspected, not human at all.
Finally giving in to the instinct that continued to command me, I turned towards the escalator.
To my alarm, Sammy growled yet again, and that growl quickly turned into a loud and savage snarl. I heard something from above, the beating of wings that had sounded earlier.
Then I heard something drop with a sick plop from behind us.
I whipped around, near us lay another rat. It was dying, twitching on the ground; its tiny body coated in that same thick, revolting mucus. After it stopped moving I realized that there was nothing left inside it. The tiny carcass appeared to be drained of all its fluids. Flattened. And whatever had done this had just dropped it from the ceiling.
I froze, now realizing him...it...whatever it was, now hung right above us.
For a moment my arms felt useless. I couldn't shine the flashlight on the ceiling for fear of what might be there. The wing beating continued, so close I could now feel a gentle wind on my face.
I jumped back in alarm, my heart seemed to be screaming inside me, "get out, get out, get out of here!"
I looked up towards the high ceiling. Something was clinging to the rafters, but it wasn't moving. It appeared to be the skin of a very large creature, with six or more very long spindly legs, a long, angular body, and a large head that bared enormous eye sockets. A translucent exoskeleton is what it was. The skin of an impossibly huge and monstrous insect.
Horrified, staring for a moment of pure disbelief at the massive thing above, I called for Sammy to come to me and he gladly did. We began to run, to sprint toward the escalator, toward freedom.
The trilling continued, as did the beating of the giant insect wings. It got louder and louder, seeming to chase us as we fled toward the exit.
We ran faster, pounding up the stairs of the escalator and away from the creature I knew was pursuing us. Finally at the end of yet another tunnel I saw sunlight, a beacon of hope of escape to the outside. Sammy sprinted ahead of me and I hurried to keep up.
The wing beating was now right behind us. In my frantic mind's eye I could see the owner of the exoskeleton, reaching out his many limbs, so close to grabbing us and pulling us into the darkness to await our terrifying fates.
The illuminated walls blurred past, and the exit to the city could be seen straight ahead. "Almost there." I panted in a desperate croak, pushing my limits to move faster.
Finally as we broke into the warming sunlit day, into the cool autumn air, the last thing I heard was the trilling noise again, now seeming to sound much more like hysterical and playful laughter, and it said something else that I could hear with horrid clarity:
"Don't run away, Wendy Cremwell. I'm merely observing."