Being a night owl, it wasn’t uncommon for me to be awake until the sun had risen, the warm yet harsh rays of light telling me that I should probably get some rest soon. Over the years, I’d found many ways to pass the time, whether that was reading, watching YouTube, anything really. I had paused my video and gotten up to get something to eat. Scrounging around in the kitchen there wasn’t much to eat. Thinking of a way to fix this, an idea had popped into my head.
“Wait, isn’t that mart open 24/7?” I had asked to myself, breaking the silence of my small apartment.
Thinking it was worth a shot, I walked out of my apartment, locking my room behind me, and made my way down the street. I won’t give specific locations, but the place I live has a mart only two or so blocks away, so it was an easy walk.
After about ten minutes or so, I had found myself in the dark parking lot, almost no cars in sight. I forgot to check the time before leaving, but I’d say it was around 2:30 in the morning. I walked through the automatic sliding doors and was greeted by the soft hum and bright glow of fluorescent lights overhead, stretching out in every direction. Deciding to pass some time in the store, I quickly found myself meandering through the claustrophobic isles. I had made it to one of the far corners of the store when it dawned on me that I hadn’t seen anyone, not even staff.
“Probably just not a busy night, might be someone in the break room,” I had thought to myself as I slowly made my way in and out of the maze of items, almost all advertised to be at a “Low Price!” While observing a shelf full of kids toys, I heard something clatter to the floor somewhere else in the store, making me jump. The sudden noise had made me realize just how unnervingly quiet the place had been. I quickly left the isle and made for my destination, the fresh produce left out on display. While browsing their selection, I couldn’t shake the feeling of something being wrong. It was like I was being watched from somewhere just out of my view. Taking a big sigh, I bent down a bit and reached for a pack of cherry tomatoes. As if the fruits were a trap, rigged just for me, I had heard another loud slam, quickly followed by the lights cutting out.
The place had become deathly still, the gentle hum of the lights above no longer providing background noise for me to ignore. The loud speaker suddenly crackled in, the static coming out making it sound like it hadn’t been used in quite some time.
“Sorry for any inconvenience, but the store is now on lock down. Please, stay calm, and wait for the light to return. Thank you, and have a great day,” an almost sickly sweet feminine voice chirped through the speakers, almost echoing off of the walls in the dead-quiet store.
“Lock down? Since when did this place have a-” my thoughts were quickly cut of by a low moaning sound coming from a few isles away from me. It had sounded like another person, a man, in pain.
As I quietly yet quickly approached where the sound was coming from, it became quickly apparent something was wrong. Something about him just sounded… wrong. It was repeating, like a record had been scratched. Before I could turn into the isle to see whatever was making the noises, it suddenly stopped, as did I. Time seemed to freeze as everything around me seemed to be paused, the silence almost becoming palpable.
Then there was a cracking sound. At first I had thought it was the speakers, praying they were going to announce that the lockdown was over, the lights flashing back on with a blinding brilliance. God how I wish that’s what it was. As I listened closer, it began to sound… wet. With each sickly crack or crunch, a heavy squelch came with it. I silently took in a deep breath and peered around the corner into the isle with the sounds.
Whatever confidence I had mustered before looking had drained as quickly as the color from my face. In the isle was a figure, hunched over in an impossible position. Features were hard to make out in the darkness, but I could tell something was moving in its back, sharp claw-like bones were slowly sliding out of the figure, the crunching and cracking being caused by it ripping through the flesh and bone of whatever was now balled up on the cold tile flooring.
It sat in what I presumed to be silent pain as the bone-like structures continued to escape its body, soon bending over the figure and lightly falling to the floor with a soft “click” sound. The silence once the appendages quit growing didn’t last nearly as long as the others had, an ear-splitting screech flooding my senses coming from the figure as it’s new, claw-like “legs” had lifted it from the floor, bringing it well over my height of six foot two. The body, now suspended in the air and in even more pain than before, limply dangled from the legs. The only thing moving on it was the head, wildly looking around and wailing. I felt like I was going to vomit. Lightly grabbing my tomatoes, I quietly sneaked away, any sound my shoes had made were easily drowned out by the pained screeches and screams of that… thing.
As I made it past the abandoned registers, another deafening silence had fallen. At least, I thought it was silence. As I continued to slowly creep to the exit, a faint clicking sound has found its way through the silence. A knot started to form in my chest and I looked behind me. There, in the darkness, was the thing again. Following me. Its long, sharp “legs” gently clicking on the tile floor as its stealthy approach continued. Seeing as stealth wasn’t working anymore, a new plan of action came to mind. Get the f**k out of there as fast as possible.
Breaking into a sprint, I clutched my food to my chest and ran as fast as I could. As soon as I started my full escape, the thing screeched at me and I heard its tapping become frantic as it tried its hardest to gain on me. Whatever it was, it didn’t want me leaving. It didn’t take long for me to make it out of the building, breathing heavily as I continued down the street. I’m not usually the best runner or athlete in general, but the adrenaline of being chased by whatever that thing was will do wonders for you. I flew into the apartment complex like a bat out of hell, quickly flinging myself into my room and locking the door.
I had sat my food down next to me, panting heavily. If I was tired before, there was no chance Id be sleeping anytime soon. But it’s not like I would get to anyway. I heard a faint tapping on my apartment room door…