3:07 A.M

I woke up gasping for air, trapped in the darkness of a tight, ice-cold metal box. I panicked! I needed to get out immediately.  
I thrust my hands forward and attempted to kick my feet out, yet nothing from the lower half of my body moved. I continued to bang the interior of metal box with my fists and eventually, the lid gave way, bringing with it a surging release of air pressure.

I sat up facing forward and looked around. A faint amber colored light was present, allowing me to see a long row of caskets to my left, and a laboratory table to my right, spread full of medical tools that I assumed belonged to the mortician.

Am I having a nightmare?

I slapped my face hard.

Wake up! Wake up!

It did nothing; I was awake. 

I noticed one of my front teeth was hanging loose. It wiggled around in my mouth until I finally reached in, plucked it out and threw it to the floor. 

Disgusting AND horrifying! 

The predicament of my reality ran through my head like wildfire...

Am I dead? No, but that is what they must have presumed.

The posttraumatic stress set in.

I have to get out of here …it is the only way…

It was a struggle, but I crawled out of my container, and then dragged myself to the corner of the room, where I spotted a mirror. 

Seeing the reflection of my face was eerie. My skin was pale grey, rippled and had bulged into miniature folds around my eyebrows, ears, nose, and mouth. I looked awful. 

An ugly grin turned into a frown real quick upon seeing my missing tooth.

It wasn’t all hopeless though. Miraculously, I began faintly feeling my legs again. I propped myself on the cold floor and looked into the mirror one more time. I still had on my work clothes: a light blue denim shirt and black slacks.

I turned myself around. My head moved, but my body remained stationery. I sighed.

Man…I am a zombie! The sarcasm seemed to ease my mind.

Desensitized to my appearance, I peered closer into the mirror. My hair had turned silver; combed straight back—not my style at all. I tried to yawn, discovering my lips were loosely sutured together at the corners. That made me sad.

Dolefully, I lumbered over to the laboratory table, grabbed something to use as a comb, and went to fix my hair. When I did, the object took a chunk off my scalp. I literally wanted to cry as it fell into my hands.

The hell with this, I am leaving… I was a basket of emotions.

I moved forward as quickly as I could toward a set of yellow metal doors. My mind was faster than my stiffening body and I tripped over my feet, landing on my knees, taking with me a box full of metal medical supplies. I heard my bones crunch along with the tools rattling loudly as they hit the floor.

Damn! If they have security, they will be here in no time. I must escape NOW.

I successfully made it outside the exam room and quickly found I was not at a mortuary, but at a medical facility of some kind. There were empty offices and research rooms all around—and at the end of the hall, a security station.


If it couldn’t get any worse, one of my legs decided to fall asleep again, forcing me to drag it past the empty offices, and finally past the security station. The two guards on duty seemed preoccupied with a football game. I proceeded through the exit. 

Outside, the night air was inviting and the wind felt strong.

Ok, where to next?—I see the Tampa Times building, meaning, I am a quite a ways from the park. I won’t make it on foot—have to steal a car… 

I searched around parking lots and alleyways yet had no luck. 

Damn it! 

I looked down at my body, reaffirming I hadn’t the strength to make it there by foot. My ankle unsuspectingly had twisted forty-five degrees, and my kneecap bulged out. I knew what I had to do next.

I hid behind a newspaper delivery box by a nearby traffic light, and waited for a warm, running vehicle. The newspapers were dated two days into the future. I did the math and realized I had been decomposing for over thirty-nine hours.

A few minutes went by and up came an old woman in a rickety old ninety’s Cadillac, Fleetwood. She had just caught the traffic light, allowing me time to sneak over to the driver’s side door. I moved slowly, crawling on my hands and knees until I got beside the door.

The smell of stale cigarette smoke lingered out the rolled down window. This was my opportunity to strike. Come on Zombie powers! 

I sprung up off my feet and leapt into the window, one-half in and the other, dangling outside. I prepared to fight her for the vehicle, but experienced no struggle. I lifted my head to look at her. She appeared dead.

I crawled the rest of the way in; over to the passenger seat, then switched spots, placing her to my side and prepared to take off. Her head flopped over, and landed against the glove compartment, bringing with it a loud thud. 

Poor old woman…I thought she would just flee...

Right as I went to hit the gas, I smelled her burning cigarette. It fell to the floor between the gas pedal and brake during my dash into the car. I reached down, picked it, took a drag, and tossed it out the window. 

Time stood still while I traversed though stoplights and stop signs. In reality, about fifteen minutes had past. I abandoned the car just blocks from my destination, after dumping the old woman’s body under a picnic table at the neighboring water park. I then set off on foot, a few blocks over to the area where I knew I could sneak in.

A fourteen-foot chain link fence surrounded the main park property. There was an emergency route and the park’s medical center hidden at the rear of the park, unknown to general public. Both served as a transport for the animal residents to and from the hospital. 

That’s where I was, staring through a cluster of palm trees camouflaging the long and skinny gravel driveway. A small fence, adjoining two swinging-chain link doors, separated me from the perimeter of the driveway. I just needed some bolt cutters to cut my way through. I hadn’t access to any, but found a shovel and dug under the swinging doors.

On the other side, I limped down the driveway. At the end, I sighed pleasantly, seeing security was gone for the night. 

Now I just had to get to House Number 5, located at the front of the park. It was not going to be an easy trip, though. I had no choice, but to hustle my way through the Mambo Safari, and that meant, dodging large nocturnal animals.

I shuffled through the tall grass, over the train tracks and into the Rhino Habitat. They slept most of the night and since their hearing wasn’t keen, my best opportunity was to pass through their enclosure.

Everything went as planned, until I ran across a few unsuspecting wildebeest grazing nearby. Seeing me, they began growling and grunting alerting every animal in the Safari. I was hustling faster than ever, (mind you—through the darkness.)
I saw the gate that lead into the rear entrance, and while I focused on only that, I accidentally tripped over a boulder. When it moved, I realized it was a rhino.

I scooted as fast as I could, meanwhile the rhino was in a gallop too, clearly angered at me for disturbing its sleep. I managed to get to the gate and to the other side, but what a surprise I received when I used my arm to hoist myself up and over. Everything below my elbow fell off. The rhino, seeing this, grabbed my fallen limb and swung its head back and forth, playfully showing me it belonged to him now.

I looked down at the stub of my wounded shoulder; strangely, there was no trail of blood; just strands of wiggling muscles and ligaments. I shook my head, kept on moving and made my way over to House Number 5.

The entrance was open, along with the dirty white cotton sheets blowing at the doorstep. I stepped inside and immediately made my way to the location I remembered my tragedy. 

Room by room, I passed through until finally, I reached the long dark hallway where it happened. I stood there nervously.

“Come out and show yourself—I am here to reclaim the life which you stole from me…whoever you are!” I demanded.

I waited impatiently for a reply. I didn’t hear one and began grinding my teeth. The silence angered me and I yelled out again. “Show yourself—tell me what you did with me?”

Just then, a subtle warm and damp wind blew across my face. It came from a room up ahead. I walked in and an apparition appeared. A female, dressed all in white—her hair and skin too. She was a zombie like me. 

She floated back and forth, circling around the room in which I stood. At first, she laughed and poked her fingers at me, exemplifying her superiority. I grew irritated with her theatrics and grabbed her the last time she flew past.

She landed with a snarl, met me face to face, and with rotten fish breath, asked, “Do you remember your fate, Danny Weaver: pitiful, poor little maintenance man? If you cannot recall, I will activate your memories.” 

Before I knew what hit me, she plunged her fist into my chest, bringing with it an eruption of fire.

“I will narrate from the beginning with the help of my husband over there.”

She pointed to another apparition who sat in the corner at a white desk in front of a white typewriter. He was all white too.
“Now dictate this young man’s doom, dear…”  

Her husband looked over at me, gave me a bitter look, and said, “Anything for my sweet Mary.” Then went to typing as I was whisked away into the memory of what had happened to me. As it started, I saw pages flying off his typewriter. 

Danny’s recollection 

It was like any other Saturday morning at the park. My schedule of maintenance was posted on the green board; a long list of “do’s and that’s.” My last stop for the evening was House Number 5. It needed extensive work. There were broken switches, a few tripped wires, reinforcement soldering on circuit boards, and finally, an erratic fog machine. 

The day went as planned, fixing stuff without a hitch. During lunch, I went to go visit my girlfriend, Martinet, who worked in the park as a naughty nurse at the Freaky Friday show spectacular. It was nice to be able to spend time together at work (even though it was against the rules to fraternize.) 

At the end of our break, she teased me, saying, we should do something wild and crazy like meet up and “do it” at one of the houses. I laughed and replied jokingly, “Whatever…” 

A few hours and I would meet my quota for the day and go home. Last stop…House number 5. 

I continued fixing the wiring and the broken switches, and then finished with the erratic fog machine. It didn’t take long and I headed out. Suddenly, I an awful screeching noise came from behind. I didn’t think much of it and proceeded forward. I passed through a display of mounted wall corpses and then down a long dark hallway full of dangling pillows and torn bed sheets hanging from the ceiling.

Midway through, I heard the disturbing noise again; this time, followed by a familiar voice. 

“Martinet?” I yelled out to my girlfriend.

Around the corner, she peeked at me, dressed in her naughty nurse outfit. I gulped and took a second look. It was really her. 

“What are you doing here?” I asked stupidly. In the back of my head, I knew the real reason. 

She didn’t answer, just twirled her fingers, and pointed down the hall. I remembered a utility room off the side. 

Perfect…this is where she wanted to take me. 

I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next: I was ready...

I headed into the room, but she was not there. 

“Hey! Where’d you go?” I started undressing.

Still, she didn’t answer. I looked off into the darkness, trying to spot her, but she wasn’t there.

“Hey, look,” I said, “I don’t have time to chase you around this house, so get over here and let’s do this business.” I made my voice clear I was serious. 

I noticed a few flickers of light in the corner of my eye. It came from down the hall. I put my pants back on and went to investigate. I presumed it was a malfunctioning strobe light.

As I came closer, it flashed intermittently, producing multiple shadows of myself. It was somewhat mesmerizing. Right about the time I made it to the light, the sultry odor of carbon filled the air, telling me the fog machine was broken again.

It was then things turned really bad. The flashing light ceased. Next, I felt hundreds of slimy fingers running across my body and my vision went completely black, and then screams. My girlfriend was screaming! The room started spinning; then came the blackness.

I woke up wrapped in thick iron chains, stuck to a wall inside some old church cathedral, not of this century. My unconscious girlfriend was sprawled out across a tall stone slab, surrounded by a group of individuals, all dressed in long black cloaks. They were preparing to sacrifice her. 

One yelled, “All hail Satan!” Then they all simultaneously dropped to their knees—all except for one of them; a silver haired woman in her seventies—she looked like a gypsy. She pointed to the rest of them to acknowledge a visitor approaching from behind the curtain in the rear of the church.

In walked Satan. 

His skin was leathery red with angular black streaks. Physically, he looked like an enormous hairy sea shrimp with wings. Strands of skin follicles dangled off him like leather tassels as he moved. He was short, maybe 4 feet tall—no facial features, besides a mouth, in which he growled and snarled dozens of times. He flapped his wings, then flew himself over to the congregation and approached the table where my girlfriend lay. 

I wanted to shout out to them to stop and release her, but my lips were sutured shut. 

The old woman handed a long shiny bronze poniard to Satan. He clamped onto it, raised it up over his head. Meanwhile, his followers were screaming loudly, “All hail, Satan!”

The demon then turned to me and declared he was going to sacrifice my girlfriend. The weirdest thing was, he didn’t say a word, but I could hear his thoughts in my head. 

I struggled, screaming in my chains as he proceeded to stab my girlfriend repeatedly. Once he stopped, he dove onto her mutilated body, head first, and from inside her stomach pulled out a fetus and threw it onto the floor until it bounced to my feet. From the shock of realizing, my girlfriend was carrying a child, let alone the intensity of this nightmare, I passed out.  

I woke up on the slab, staring at the face of Satan and his followers. It was my turn to die; he whispered his thoughts in my head.

As he brought the knife into the air, the old woman beside him yelled, “For my Danita!” then cast the knife into my stomach until all I felt was numbness. The room started spinning again; then came the blackness.

When I opened my eyes, I was in the hospital with frantic doctors and nurses running all around me—attempting to save my life. Moments passed and, I received fatal news.

 A doctor above me looked at his watch, and I will never forget his words. “Time of death…8:12 p.m. Cause…heart attack.”

“Wait!” I yelled, under my breath. “I am alive!!! Why can’t anyone hear me?”

My mind overflowed with worry, yet my body remained paralyzed. 

I remembered my last moments: The maintenance at House Number 5, the apparition playing my girlfriend and finally, the part where we suffered death by Satan and his worshipers.

Comfortingly, I sensed the presence of my father nearby; he, my little brother and sister stood above me. Dad’s tears rolled down his face, while my brother mumbled the location of my fate was that of the young girl named Danita last year. My sister asked him how he knew; he shivered as he lied, saying he overheard it from a bystander. 

In reality, he was one of four careless fellow students who pranked the girl, well knowing she was sensitive to strobe lights, lying to her confirming that house had none. What my brother didn’t know was that she and her family were witches; the kind you don’t mess with. 

First to the scene was her grandmother. Rather than grieve, she quietly cursed them all for what happened, especially the kids. 

Just then, my flashback ended and I was again, standing before the entity; the grandmother, all in white, no longer attempting to deceive me as my girlfriend.

“Now you see, don’t you?” she said with wry in her voice. “Your life ends here as another takes your place.”

“But I didn’t have anything to do with your granddaughter’s death,” I pleaded.

She laughed and replied, “All who cometh into House Number Five will know my wrath.” She then disappeared. 

For a moment I thought she spared my life—that was until I heard someone approaching, calling out my girlfriend’s name. It was me, but the spirit inside me had taken on her form. 

“No, no, no!—Please leave!” I attempted to warn him off, but the individual as myself unfortunately saw me as my girlfriend. Much worse, my words came out sensually.

It was too late; when I saw myself, the spirit inside lunged out, and unleashed a conduit of violent energy, smothering my body. I was forced to watch myself fall into shock, then a massive seizure, and finally, the coma.

In the end, I had ridden through hell, paying a penance for my brother’s misdoing. Still, I could not escape death. 

The park had a new set of problems, never heeding the curse of this woman. They should have just shut down House Number 5 for good.

 I can only fathom what will happen to the next lonely victim who enters that house. Will they meet their fate as I had to, or will one who possesses enough power; subjugate the evil that lurks there?

Please do not go inside alone…

On thirteen sheets of aged parchment, littered on the floor of House Number 5, this story was discovered…


Author: James A. McDonnell
, Editor: Suzanne Davidovak
Please, tell me what you think about this story.