Friday, August 22, 2014


Genre: Horror

By Daniel Skye

     In Fairview, Long Island, there’s a tunnel located on Essex Street, too narrow for any vehicle to squeeze through. Kids like me used to use the tunnel as a shortcut when walking to and from school. Not anymore. Access is prohibited by local authorities ever since the disappearance, and subsequent discovery of Grady O’Malley.
Even the most unpopular kids in high school have their own circles, a group of friends to call their own.
Not Grady O’Malley. An outcast since the day he was born, Grady didn’t have any circles. He didn’t belong to any group or gang. Most kids were mischievous, rambunctious, but Grady was downright malevolent.
He wasn’t a bully; more of a prankster. Except most his pranks used to involve fire.
Grady got expelled from our high school after he torched the gymnasium. After that, he’d waste his days away hanging by the tunnel on Essex, smoking joints and drinking cheap beer bought from the gas station.
The attendant at the gas station never used to card anyone for beer. He’d just charge extra to those that were underage and pocket the leftover cash. We didn’t care though. We were just happy to have a steady beer supplier.
But one day, Grady O’Malley never returned home for dinner. His parents called the police after the first day, declared him missing.
A brief search led the police straight to the tunnel on Essex, where they found what remained of Grady’s body.
His arms and chest was riddled with lacerations that cut so deep into the skin it scrapped the bone. The left side of his face remained intact, while the right side had been maimed beyond recognition. The flesh had been stripped right down to the skull.
The cops were never able to determine if it was the work of a person, or a wild animal. But nobody’s dared step foot in that tunnel since Grady was found there.
The macabre incident spawned a series of urban legends that circulated through town. Some say Grady’s spirit still haunts the tunnel. Some say if you go to the tunnel and say his name three times, he’ll appear out of nowhere, and kill you where you stand. And some believe that whatever inflicted that horrific damage to Grady still dwells inside the dark tunnel.
One thing was for sure, Mikey and I were about to find out the truth.
* * *
     Mikey’s real name was Michelangelo. His father was a big TMNT fan.
     But if his IQ reflected anything, it was the fact that he was about the furthest thing from a Michelangelo. That’s why we called him Mikey. Michelangelo simply didn’t suit him.
He wasn’t intelligent or creative, unless it came to constructing a device to smoke marijuana out of. Mikey was what we call a MacGyver smoker. Give him a crazy straw, a milk carton, and a snorkel and he’d make a bong out of it.
Other than that, he wasn’t very sharp. In fact, he was about as sharp as a marble. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the poor kid sort of looked like Rocky Dennis. The phrase “a face only a mother could love” definitely applied in his case.
But I still hung out with the guy. I kind of felt bad for him. Not many others were willing to even give him the time of day.
It was Sunday, April 20th, 2008. Most of the shops in Fairview were closed, but the Wendy’s on Main Street was still open. So Mikey and I grabbed some burgers and met up with Devin Morris in the parking lot, bought a dime bag of purple haze from him.
I asked Devin if he wanted to smoke, but when he saw I was with Mikey, he passed.
As we walked down Main Street towards Twins Lakes, our usual smoking spot, we passed the gas station.
“Should we grab some beers?” I asked.
“I spent my last five bucks on the bag,” Mikey said.
I dug through my pockets to see if I had any extra cash, but came up dry. “Oh well,” I shrugged. “At least we can still get high.”
Violet and Sienna emerged from the gas station, six packs of beer under each arm. Twin sisters, they were roughly the same height and the same weight. They both had silky blonde shoulder-length hair and peach-toned skin with a scattering of golden freckles on their cheeks.
“Look, it’s the twins,” I said to Mikey. “Play it cool. Don’t say anything to embarrass me.”
“I won’t say nothing stupid. I’m no idiot.”
“That’s debatable,” I muttered as we approached the girls under the awning of the gas station.
“Hey, ladies,” I said, careful not to call them girls. “Where are you two heading with all that beer? Mikey and I are going to Twin Lakes to roll some joints. Wanna come with?”
“We’ve got other plans,” Sienna said, grinning. “We’re going to the tunnel on Essex.”
“The tunnel?” I repeated. I knew what Sienna referred to. I just couldn’t understand why they were going.
“Today is the anniversary of Grady O’Malley’s death,” Violet explained. “We wanna see if all those rumors are true.”
“You two are crazy,” I said in playful fashion. “Mind if we tag along?”
“We’re not supposed to go to the tunnel,” Mikey said. “We could get in trouble.”
I gave him a look as if to say don’t blow it.
“Never mind him,” I said. “It’s four-twenty and we got a bag of purple haze. You interested?”
“Alright, you can tag along,” Sienna said, leading the way.
* * *
     Nothing was visible beyond the mouth of the tunnel. It was a pit of darkness I had trudged through many times in the past, but that day, it gave me the chills just to be standing near it again.
The girls offered us beers, which we accepted, and I rolled up the first joint.
“To Grady O’Malley,” Sienna said, tipping her bottle and letting some beer pour out to the ground.
“To Grady,” Violet said, mimicking her sister’s actions.
As I passed the joint to Sienna, she smiled provocatively and asked, “Truth or dare?”
“Truth,” I chose.
“So predictable,” Sienna said, rolling her eyes. “Fine. Who would you rather make out with, me or Violet?”
“You’re twins,” I said.
“So?” Sienna said. “That doesn’t mean we kiss the same.”
“Okay, I’d pick Violet,” I said, hoping to make Sienna jealous as a ploy to see if I could get Sienna to actually make out with me. Maybe she’d see if she could convince me to change my pick.
“Your turn,” Sienna said to me, stricken.
“Ladies go first,” I said, still trying to play the role of the gentleman. “Let Violet go next.”
“Okay,” Sienna said. “Go ahead, Violet.”
“Truth or dare?” Violet asked.
“Truth,” I said again.
“I wasn’t asking you,” Violet smiled. It was an evil grin that helped me read her mind at once. “I was asking my sister.”
“You have to ask one of them,” Sienna said.
“I can ask whoever I want,” Violet said. “And I’m asking you. Truth or dare?”
“Fine,” Sienna said, rolling her eyes again. The joint had burnt out at this point and been forgotten. “Dare.”
“I dare you to make out…” Violet started. I had my fingers crossed in hopes that she’d utter my name. “…With Mikey.”
Sienna didn’t seem repulsed by the thought as I had assumed she would be. She seemed quite eager to show her sister up by any means.
“Okay, I’ll do it,” Sienna said.
“In the tunnel,” Violet added. I watched as the color drained from Mikey’s face. He hadn’t stepped foot in that tunnel since the Grady incident. He wouldn’t even go near Essex Street until this day.
“Cheer up,” I whispered. “You have no idea how lucky you are right now. And the legends aren’t true. They’re just silly rumors. There’s nothing to fear inside that tunnel.”
As I whispered words of encouragement, Violet and Sienna bickered back and forth.
Sienna really didn’t want to go inside that tunnel. And I can’t say I blame her.
“Chicken,” Violet said, egging her on.
“I’ll show you who’s a chicken,” Sienna said. “Mikey, I’m about to make your dreams come true. Let’s go.”
She grabbed his arm, tugging him along. She stepped into the cavernous structure, dragging a terrified Mikey along with her. They disappeared into the darkness and Violet and I stood, waiting from them to eventually return.
I finished my beer and helped myself to another bottle. I found the joint that Sienna had discarded and lit it again. Violet was timing them with her phone to see how long her sister would actually make out with Mikey.
Then she moved closer to the mouth of the tunnel and peered inside to see if she could catch some of the action. Suddenly, a sound emerged from the tunnel. But it wasn’t the sounds of smooching that emanated, it was screams.
Sienna came running out, her eyes wide with terror, her white blouse stained red.
“It was awful!” she cried. “Just awful!”
“What happened?” Violet asked, a quiver in her voice.
“I don’t know,” she said, shaking. “I could only see parts of it. Those eyes…glowing red, like blood. And the hair…and the teeth. My God, the teeth. They were like sharks teeth.”
* * *
     I ran as fast as I could to summon the police and the paramedics. I ran until my legs throbbed and my heart beat like a jackhammer against my ribcage. I ran and ran, and then I ran some more until I reached the gas station and used the phone to call the authorities.
     The cops arrived at the tunnel immediately. I was hoping it wasn’t too late. I was hoping Mikey would still be alive in there somewhere.
But Mikey was dead. And what remained of mangled, chewed up face scarcely resembled a face at all.
I lost contact with Violet and Sienna after graduation. It was probably for the best.
The tunnel was sealed off permanently after Mikey’s death. They cemented it in and put the word out that anyone caught trespassing there would be arrested on sight. Again, probably for the best.
But that didn’t stop the bodies from piling up in Fairview. I tried hard to forget that day. I drowned myself in a sea of booze and pills and every other drug imaginable. But it wasn’t enough to numb the pain.
As I’m writing this, it’s Saturday, April 19th, 2014. Mikey’s anniversary is right around the corner. And I promised myself one day I’d return to the site. I promised to return and finish this once and for all.
That day is tomorrow.

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