The Town

“Are you serious? You’ve never seen ‘the Town’?”

“Yes, I’m serious. I’ve never seen ‘the Town’. What’s it about?” I asked looking at the dumbfounded expression on their faces. Alicia and her sister, Amber, were sitting on the couch looking at me with their jaws hanging in disbelief. I enjoyed watching movies, but I was nowhere near being a movie connoisseur.

Alicia was the oldest at 24, the same age as me. She leaned her toned frame against the back of my brown leather couch. Their flawless caramel complexions usually made girls jealous. She and her younger were models and looked like they belonged somewhere exotic doing a photoshoot for Nigel Barker, but in fact they were usually more comfortable in sweats hanging out eating junk food. I believe I was one of their few girl friends because most were intimidated by their looks or afraid they’d steal their boyfriends. I didn’t have a boyfriend, but I don’t think I would have worried about them. We were sitting around in my living room talking about random topics when apparently my ignorance of horror movies became the topic.

“Oh, it’s just the most awesome horror movie series yet,” Alicia answered. Her 22 year old sister agreed with a nod.

“Series?” I asked. I could believe that I didn’t know about a movie, but a series of movies? How could I miss something that had multiple release dates? Multiple trailers?

“Yes, series. There’s ‘The Town’, ‘The Town 2’, ‘The Town: When Night Falls’…” Alicia began to list them causing me to start to mentally issue her a ‘nerd’ card. It didn’t help that she was wearing her glasses that looked like they belonged on Steve Urkel. It amazed me that things that were considered nerdy in one generation became fashionable in another.

“My favorite ‘Under the Stairs’ and ‘What They Don’t Tell You’,” her sister chimed in. Yep, her ‘nerd’ card was printed and hole punched to go on the imaginary lanyard I was ready to drape around her neck. I shook my head at the enthusiasm they had for a movie series I hadn’t heard of until today.

“How many are there?” I asked.

“Six?” Alicia asked, turning her head to her sister for confirmation, but instead she shook her head.

“No, there’s seven. I just can’t remember the name of it.”

“That’s right. I didn’t like that one very much which is probably why I never think of it.”

“True. So we have an extra ticket to go to the movie set of ‘the Town’ tomorrow, you want to go?” Amber asked turning to me nodding her head to suggest the answer I should give.

“Umm, I don’t know.” I shrugged my shoulders. I wasn’t even a fan and didn’t think I would enjoy the tour given my lack of knowledge of anything pertaining to the movies.

“It’ll be fun,” Amber said scooting towards the end of the seat and giving me her biggest smile. I was sure that smile was her ultimate tool used to get anything she wanted. I’d seen it being used on Alicia thousands of times, but now I was the victim.

“I guess, I don’t have anything else to do,” I replied earning an excited squeal as she jumped up and gave me a hug.

“Good. I’m going home so I can go to sleep. I needs my rest.” Alicia stood up stretching and picking up her purse.

“‘Night, ladies,” I said walking them to the door.

“We’ll be here at 7am sharp,” Amber said turning around to point her finger at me to add to her serious tone.

“Ugh, why so early?”

“Cause we have to catch the bus at 8am. No one is allowed to drive there. They say the location is a secret,” she explained.

“Yeah, and the windows are tinted so you can’t see outside,” Alicia added. I brought my eyebrows together, confused by this detail. Honestly, it was discouraging to hear.

“And that’s supposed to be fun?” I asked, feeling myself begin to back out of my commitment.

“Yes, it adds to the experience.”

“I guess, is there anything else I should know?” If there was one more crazy detail, I was going to stay home tomorrow.

“Umm, nope. Just be ready to go.” There might have been something else, but Amber was wise enough not to say anything if she wanted me to go on this trip with them.

“Okay,” I said shaking my head. We said our goodbyes and I closed the door.

I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to watch one of the movies. It was on Netflix after all. I started the first of the series, ‘the Town’.

The movie wasted no time in setting up the scenario. Five college students were going on a road trip. Two cheerleader types and three jocks were traveling down the interstate singing along with the radio and enjoying life. Two tires blew out on their SUV and they walked to the next highway exit indicated by the signs. They knew they had a spare tire for one, but still needed a second. The simple town seemed harmless enough. The people of the town stared at them when the outsiders weren’t looking in their direction, but pleasantly smiled when their eyes met.

They were able to find someone to help them and 2 of the students left with a tow truck guy to bring their SUV back to town for repair. When their vehicle was scheduled to be fixed within a few hours, something weird happened as all five of them stopped in a restaurant on the Main Street. Besides, the eatery being empty of customers, the waitress seemed paranoid as she took their orders.

When she returned with the drinks, she whispered to one of the guys at the table that they should leave now. He looked at her suspiciously, but she persisted that to remain in town after sunset would be unsafe. He asked her what would happen, but when the bell dinged for her to pick up their orders from the window, she resumed ‘normal’ behavior. Smiling at them, she delivered each plate to the respective person and told them to enjoy their meal before returning to the back. When they paid their check, the guy tried to ask her again about what she told him earlier, but she smiled and denied knowledge of anything he claimed happened.

The students shrugged it off and walked back to the garage. Along the way, the guy in the front laughed at a joke and turned around to find one of their number was missing. They turned their heads in every direction, but couldn’t locate her. They broke into two groups of two and split up to search the area. I watched for as long as I could, but then I fell asleep.

When I woke up to a blood curdling scream, I looked at the screen and found the waitress closing one of them into a room. My eyes were heavy and I closed them again. When I opened them, the scene had changed to show the darkness fading as the sun began to rise. The sunlight hit the door where the lone survivor exited looking confused and shivering with fear. The last scene showed him shuffling along the highway in the hopes of escaping whatever had taken his friends. I was sad I missed the important scenes that would tell me what dangers were in the town, but I was too tired to think. Pressing the power button on the remote for the television, I laid down and fell back to sleep.

True to their word, they were promptly at my door at 7am. Actually, it was 5 minutes until and I fully intended to use that time to pack a snack bag and a couple of bottles of water.

“Let’s go,” Alicia said anxiously.

“Alright, alright,” I answered. Her enthusiasm would be contagious, but I was too tired to be infected. We were all dressed casually making sure we wore comfortable shoes for all the walking we would do.

When we arrived at the location of our departure, the company made us sign liability waivers and permission slips to be filmed and allowed us to board the bus. Just like they said, it was tinted, so we couldn’t see where we were going, but no one minded because they played a never before seen installment of the series. Everyone, but me, had their eyes glued to the screens that dropped from the bulkhead. I decided to sit back, close my eyes, and listen to music on my iPod. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I hoped our visit to the Town was going to be entertaining and I’d get back in time to finish the little bit of homework I decided could wait until I returned.

When we set our feet down on the set, Alicia and Amber immediately geeked out about everything their eyes could see. They remembered the scenes associated with every landmark that existed on the Main Street.

“This is the restaurant from the first one,” Alicia said an octave higher than her normal tone.

“It is,” Amber agreed. I remembered the place from my attempt to watch the movie last night, but this time there were plenty of people trying to get in to eat breakfast or get a cup of coffee to start their day.

Maps were available and there was a path we could take through the rest of the set if we wanted to. Amber and Alicia argued back and forth about which option we should take.

“I want to go on the tour,” Amber said tracing her finger on the path that was shown on the map.

“I don’t want to go on the tour, we can do that next time,” Alicia said with a hint of begging in her tone. They did this all the time. When it came to where we wanted to eat Amber would speak up first, not afraid to appear self-centered. Alicia would counter with a ‘we can do that later’. I stood there watching them go back and forth laughing on the inside. I had made the mistake of laughing aloud once. Both their heads turned to me, and I learned they were quite serious in their dialogue. I put my hands in the air and stepped back to wait until they made up their minds.

“Please, Alicia, can we go on the tour,” Amber pleaded, using her arsenal of looks and pouting to convince her older sister.

I’ve seen men in Tom Ford suits that just gave the keys to their Bentley to the valet ask her for a moment of her time and she would effortlessly say ‘no’. Alicia could turn down the finest man that offered her the world on a silver platter. Her sister, however, had her wrapped around her little finger. She put up a fight, but still Amber would win. It was only a matter of time.

Alicia looked at her sister’s pouting face and closed her eyes. “No, Amber, I don’t want to go on the tour.”

Amber grabbed her sister’s face and brought it to hers. “Sissy, please.”

“No.”

“Puh-lease, Alicia,” she begged giving her sister a bear hug. She groaned showing her resolve was cracking. “They were almost sold out when we got these tickets. If we don’t go this time, we might not be able to get tickets for another.” Anyone could tell Alicia was already caving. Amber didn’t speak. She didn’t need to. Her eyes silently begged and pleaded.

“Ugh.”

“I don’t know why you even said ‘no’ the first time,” I said to Alicia. “She always gets her way.” I turned to look around. Watching them was hilarious, but with the predictable end near, I wanted to take in the scene.

I first turned to the glass front to an antique shop. My reflection showed a young woman with an athletic build wearing jeans and a tank top. It was supposed to be a warm day and I knew my light brown skin was going to be a few shades darker by the end of this day. I pulled my sunglasses down on my face and adjusted my one strap backpack across my chest. As I completed adjusting myself, I could see behind me two young men approaching us.

“Whatever, looks like we’re going on the tour,” Alicia said finally giving in.

I shook my head, it was about time she gave up fighting the inevitable. Amber did a small happy dance, turning in a circle, but stopped once the young men stopped a foot away from her.

“Hello, ladies,” one said. Although I knew they were headed our way, I assumed they were going to the antique shop. Apparently, we were their destination. I took a closer look at them and realized they were twins. Standing at least a half a foot above Alicia and Amber, the one with twists stood relaxed and confident while the other with an afro stood behind him hesitant to engage us.

“Hi,” Alicia said seductively. Their appealing features were not lost on her. Sculpted cheekbones, brown eyes, nice build. “Are you here to take the tour?”

“No,” the one in front replied. “I’m Jeremiah. This is my brother Julian.”

He motioned to himself and then his brother. My eyes flickered to the one behind him. He had the same face, but his eyes didn’t mirror his brother’s ease and relaxed demeanor.

“Well, hi, Jeremiah and Julian. I’m Amber, this is my sister Alicia, and my friend Renee.” We waved as she said our names and I gave a small smile. My sunglasses prevented them from seeing my eyes, but I wanted to give a pleasant first impression.

“So, if you’re not taking the tour, where do you plan on going?” Alicia asked, looking for an opportunity to return to her original plan.

“Oh, no, we’re not tourist,” he said smiling at her. “We work here.”

“Oh, so you could be our tour guides?” Amber asked, then looked at her sister. She didn’t miss how her sister wanted to renege on her recent concession.

“Sure,” Jeremiah answered. “Let’s go.”

Amber walked beside him taking in his every word about the history of each location. Her questions were asked when he paused and he answered everyone. Alicia walked on his other side taking in everything being said. When we stopped walking to go into an area where a key scene had been filmed, she would take those moments to steal his attention from her sister and ask her questions. They enjoyed his words, it seemed he had ‘inside’ information on every part of the tour. I walked behind them with Julian. He didn’t speak and I didn’t fill the need to interrupt our silent stroll. We could both hear the conversation in front of us and I was content to take it in and look around.

His silence was in stark contrast to his talkative twin ahead of us. Every now and then I would glance at him to take in his features. They were relatively constant and he appeared to be expressionless. Only when his brother began to describe the horror scenes that took place at a particular location would another expression flash across his face. I couldn’t place it the first time it happened nor could I decipher it the second time. On the fourth time, my brain had decided on two possibilities – sadness or regret.

I couldn’t settle on either answer, but more importantly my mind began to question why those emotions would be associated with scenes from a movie. He just worked here, right?

“So what do you do here?” I asked him as we stood outside the small house that was the scene of the 3rd movie. Jeremiah, Alicia, and Amber had gone inside to take pictures. He seemed to be lost in his thoughts as he stood there beside me. I was lost in my thoughts as well, but I needed answers to the questions my mind posed.

“Umm, janitor,”Julian said unconvincingly.

“Okay,” I took his answer but I didn’t believe him. When I stumbled on the cobblestone path of the park we passed through, he caught me. His hands were warm and smooth. He gave me a small smile and asked if I was okay. I smiled and thanked him for saving my life. His smile touched my heart. He had seemed so withdrawn until then. His hands were far too soft to be a janitor. My father was a janitor and his hands were calloused and riddled with scars from when he’d hurt himself doing his work.

“Are you enjoying the Town so far?” he asked looking around the neighborhood. It resembled what would be considered small town America, but I knew it was used repeatedly for multiple scenes of slaughter and death.

“Umm, it’s okay. I’m not sure I would have come here on my own.”

“You’re not a fan of the movies?” he asked raising his eyebrows in surprise. I shook my head and removed my sunglasses. The clouds had covered the sun, giving us a moment of shade.

“No, I tried to watch the first one, but I fell asleep and only woke up at the very end. To be honest, I don’t even know what the ‘monsters’ are in these films.”

“Monsters?”

“Yeah, what makes the movies so scary. Are there vampires, werewolves, boogeymen?” He laughed heartily, but then became serious after the moment passed.

“There are scarier things than vampires and werewolves.” I looked at him focused on the seriousness of his expression.

“So what do you do for fun?” I asked attempting to lighten the situation.

“My brother and I play video games, basketball, and…” He stopped to look at me before running into the house. I stood there waiting for him to return with the rest of his answer. When he returned, he grabbed my hand and started to pull me back the way we came. “Come, I told them you’re with me.”

I looked at him, questioning myself. Should I trust him? His smile soothed my fears and I wondered if he had this effect on anybody else.

“It’s okay, we’ll meet them for lunch in an hour. Please?” His eyes pleaded with me and I gave in to the childlike expression on his face. I nodded as I allowed him to guide me to a brick building at the end of the Main Street.

“Where are we?” I asked as he lead me inside. It was mostly empty except a few people in the halls.

“You’ll see,” he said as he pulled his hand away from mine to pull out some keys from his pocket. He opened the door and motioned for me to enter. I hesitated because it was mostly dark except for the screens that lined the wall. I stood in the middle and tried to process what I was seeing. He stood beside me and took my hand in his. I looked down at our hands and thought it was weird for this type of affection, but figured it was harmless.

“Surveillance?” I asked.

“Um, yes and no,” he replied. “For days like this, it’s surveillance. For the movies, we use them for footage.” I nodded.

“That makes sense. So why do you like to be here?”

“I think people are interesting. See that man there,” he said pointing to the top third screen from the left. “He looks like he’s here with his grandchildren. The kids look like they bought the whole gift shop. He’s probably wondering how they’re going to carry all that stuff home.” He laughed. It was light and carefree. His demeanor here was so different from earlier, I wondered if this was the same person.

“You’re a people watcher.” He looked at me.

“Is that weird?”

“No, I like to watch people too. See that woman over there,” I said pointing to the screen that read ‘#55’. “She looks like a cougar and that 20-something young man got her to bring him here.”

“How do you know she’s not his mom? Uh, oh.” I laughed at his expression as he watched the woman initiate a makeout session that he was willing to continue in some corner they must have deemed private, but the camera caught it all. His eyebrows came together and I glanced at the screen.

“Oh my gawd,” I said looking down quickly. Apparently, kissing was not enough as they began to have sex in their private corner.

“Yeah, that happens in that corner a lot, but that’s not why I like coming here,” he said bashfully.

“Uh-huh.” He laughed and turned off the screen for a few minutes to allow the couple to have some privacy. We sat down and talked more about the people we saw on the screen. Speculating about where they came from and what they meant to each other, we passed the time laughing and joking about the scenarios that played out on the screens.

An hour passed quickly, I found myself inwardly complaining that it was time to meet the others for lunch.

“So where did you two go?” Alicia asked me when we were sitting down to the table. She sat on my right and Julian was on my left.

“Don’t worry about it. Did you enjoy your tour?” I asked taking in her mouth shaped like an ‘O’.

“Okay, Miss Thang. You don’t have to tell me now, but you will tell me later.”

“Okay.”

“You can tell her,” Julian whispered in my ear.

“I know, I’ll tell her later.”

We ordered our food and enjoyed each other’s company. I recognized the waitress from the movie, but she didn’t behave like she did in the film. She served us with a genuine smile and I found she was very good at her job.

When we left to go to other sites Alicia wanted to see, Jeremiah and Julian continued with us. Again, the three were in front of us talking about scenes from the movie and Julian and I talked about life.

Around 3pm an announcement was broadcast that the buses would begin departing in an hour. One bus would leave every half hour until all the buses we arrived on were gone. We paused for a moment to listen, but then resumed our walk.

“You guys shouldn’t wait for the last bus,” Julian said looking at me with his serious expression returning.

“Why?” I asked. He shook his head.

“Just don’t wait, okay? Promise me you won’t wait.” I looked at him. The few hours we spent together were nice, but I couldn’t understand his concern for our departure. I nodded. I would do my best to convince Alicia and Amber, but I knew these two would probably go against his advice.

A little before 4pm, the Twins had to go. We gave each other hugs and the girls exchanged numbers with Jeremiah or rather he took there’s, but didn’t give them his. I didn’t ask for Julian’s number. I thought we connected today, but I didn’t think I would see him again. We hugged and he lingered a little longer whispering in my ear his warning again before kissing me on the cheek.

“So where do we go now?” Amber asked watching the twins walk away. “I wish I could keep him.”

“Who?” I asked.

“Jeremiah, girl. He looks so good and did you smell him?”

“Umm, no. What cologne did he have on?”

“That’s the thing. I don’t think he wore any. He just smelled like… like… girl, I don’t know, but I loved it.”

“Well, Julian said we should leave soon.”

“Yeah, I’m tired too. Let’s go.”

“Ooo,” Alicia said. “Look!”

“What?” her sister asked turning her head in the direction her sister pointed. Confusion was replaced by amazement. As if they were under a spell they walked to the oversized television screen that was placed under a small tent. The sound began and the crowd in front of the screen hushed to take in what was said. I sat there and watched them watch. A half hour later, the screen turned off and everyone came out of the stupor they were in.

“That was so good,” Alicia said to a nodding Amber.

“Guys, we need to get to the buses so we can go,” I reminded them. My watch read 4:30pm. A bus would leave every half hour until the last bus left at 6pm. Since we were going to miss the one leaving now, we needed to get there and fast. Once the last bus left, there wasn’t another way to get back to where we left our car.

“Okay, let’s go.”

We walked along the street. I estimated we were 10 minutes from the loading zone. Another screen was set up promoting never before seen interviews with the actors in the films.

“Oh my gawd, we have to see this,” Amber squealed. She took Alicia’s hand and they ran across the street to take in the next morsel that fed their need to know everything there was to know about ‘the Town’. I stood there with nothing to do, but look around. I noticed that along this street there were several tents with screens underneath them. Each one had groups of people huddled underneath them to see the next unreleased footage. No one was wandering the streets. The town was practically a ghost town except the fans that were slowly making their way to the bus loading zone. Judging by the number of tents and the fact that each segment took about 25 minutes to run, we wouldn’t make it in time if I couldn’t convince them to stay focused on reaching the bus.

It was 5pm when the video ended. As I looked up and down the street all of them ended at the same time. Alicia and Amber walked back to me talking to each other excitedly.

“Did you see…?”

“I saw that. Isn’t it amazing how…”

I didn’t hear their entire conversation and could care less to know what they were saying. As soon as they were standing in front of me, I cleared my throat.

“Girls, we have to catch the next bus.”

“You’re right, let’s go.”

“No, you have to promise me we won’t stop at another one of those screens.” They looked at me with the same confused expression. “We’ve stopped at every one. Each one more exciting than the last, and at this rate we’ll miss the last bus.”

“Okay, we’ll walk straight to the bus. No more stops.” They both nodded to each other and then to me. I believed they believed what they were saying, but I knew their obsession with ‘the Town’ would cause us to miss the buses.

When my clock read 6pm and I could see the last bus pull away not more than 20 feet away, I had a bad feeling in my gut. They were still locked in this last screen, but workers were out handing out flyers with maps on how to get to the town’s motel. The buses would not be back until the morning and there was no way to get home because we didn’t even know where we were.

One of the workers looked familiar as he passed. It was Julian.

“Renee, why are you still here?” he asked in a hushed tone, but the intensity far exceeded the volume at which he spoke.

“They wouldn’t come with me.” I said as he looked up at the sky. The sun was sinking further down in the sky, but I wasn’t sure if that held any significance.

“You missed the last bus,” he said sounding defeated.

“Hi, Julian. Where’s Jeremiah?” Amber spoke when they approached us.

“Um, he’s handing out flyers on the other side of town.”

“You guys want to hang out? Looks like we missed the last bus.”

“Um, sorry. We can’t, but you should head to the motel.” They nodded and started to walk away.

“You coming, Renee?” I nodded and started to walk with Julian in the same direction.

“You need to listen to me carefully,” he said as he smiled to the visitors and continued to make sure everyone had a flyer in their hand. “There’s only one place for you to go now.”

“Julian, you’re not making any sense.”

“The sun’s almost down. Time’s almost up.” I didn’t say anything. “It’s going to sound weird, but I need you to trust me.”

He stopped and turned to me, the smile was gone and the look in his eyes concerned me. “Do you trust me?” he asked. I nodded. “Good, on the way to the motel, there’s a Burger King. I need you to get into the freezer. Not the frig, not the bathroom, the freezer. Stay there until I come get you.”

“The freezer? Is this a joke?” I asked looking around for someone to tell me I’ve been punk’d.

“I am serious, Renee.” I looked into his eyes and saw fear and sincerity. He was honestly concerned about something, but I didn’t know what. I didn’t think he would tell me either. A decision needed to be made. I could trust him and take his crazy advice and find myself locked in a freezer or walk with everyone else to the motel.

He left me to go hand out some more flyers and I rushed to catch up with Amber and Alicia.

“So what did he want?”

“Huh?” I said distractedly looking at Alicia. I was still processing what he said to me. It was ridiculous, but he said it with such intensity, he had to mean every word.

“What did he say?”

“Um, it’s going to sound weird, but we have to make it to the…”

“Oooo,” they cooed looking at the next screen to turn on.

“NO!” I yelled causing them to turn back to me. “We have to go this way now.” I looked up at the sky watching daylight fade. I grabbed their hands and power walked down the walkway. They resisted, but I wouldn’t let go. The Burger King was in sight, but something I didn’t anticipate happened. Whatever was on the last screen was even more enticing than the last five.

They struggled to get out of my grip, but I held on until they twisted away.

“We have to see this,” Amber said.

“No, you don’t,” I pleaded.

“But we do. Do you know what this is?” Alicia questioned.

“We have to go this way, please,” I begged them, but they still turned and walked towards the screen.

“Renee.” I jumped at the sound of my name, but relaxed when I recognized the voice. “What happened?”

“I got them this far, but they won’t listen to me,” I told Julian.

“Run, you have to run now.”

“But what about Alicia and Amber?” I asked looking at them in the crowd. Their eyes glazed over as they lost themselves in the screen.

“I’ll get them and bring them to you, but you have to run now. Please.” I looked at him and ran towards the Burger King as he hurried towards my friends. I turned back in time to see his efforts were futile. They were locked into the screen and no matter how he shook them or waved his hands in front of their faces they couldn’t stop watching.

Once inside the Burger King, I looked outside and noticed I had about 3 minutes before the sun completely disappeared. I knew the freezer was in the back, but how do I get passed all the employees to the freezer without them noticing. The windows showed the sky becoming darker and darker. I watched as the last bit of light disappeared.

I inched towards the employee entrance and opened the door. Someone was bound to notice me, but all of them were stopped and looked to be frozen in place.

“Are they okay?” the woman next to me asked.

“I don’t know, but I think something bad is about to happen.” She looked at me, but disbelief was in her eyes. That’s when the screaming outside started. Her head snapped towards the windows. “We have to get into the freezer.”

She turned back to me. “That’s ridiculous. I’m going to go see what happened.” She let go of her son and daughter’s hands and walked to the door. While she was gone, I kneeled down to her young children.

“Hi,” I waved to them. “Um, I’m going to check out the freezer, do you want to see it?” They nodded and I took their hands and walked through the employee entrance to the back of the fast food restaurant. We found it easily. Just as I was closing the door behind us I noticed one of the employees started to move. His eyes opened and they were a bright yellow. His skin became scaley and he sniffed the air before letting out an inhuman sound. My heart leaped and I closed the door as quietly as I could. The children were confused, but stood there quietly. I looked around and found a few sleeping blankets with a note. “Wait for me here. No matter what you hear, do NOT go outside.” I gave one blanket to the two kids. It was very cold in the freezer, but the blankets made it bearable. I played music on my iPod and gave them an ear bud each. They listened to the music until they fell asleep. Of course not without asking me where their mother was. I had to lie and say she was on her way and she’d be so proud of them. I don’t know if they believed me, but they stopped asking questions and went to sleep. I didn’t have music in my ears. Instead a steady flow of screams and wails filled my ears causing my pulse to reach levels I didn’t think my heart could sustain. Only the temperature caused me to move to find myself in my own sleeping blanket next to them.

I covered my ears and prayed that Julian would bring my friends and the night would end soon. After a couple of hours, I lost hope and focused on making sure these two children were alright.

It seemed like forever, but the door opened slowly and I mentally prepared myself to defend the two young ones that still laid next to me.

“Renee?”

“Julian?”

“You made it.” He quickly crossed the room and wrapped his arms around me. His warmth brought feeling back to my face. He walked us out of the kitchen area, but told us not to look outside. I took the two young ones to the bathroom and told them to use it and stay there for a moment.

“Julian, where are my friends? Where’s their mother?” I asked looking him straight in the eye. He shook his head.

“I tried, but they wouldn’t… I tried, but I couldn’t.” He shook his head again and looked at the ground. “But I can get you out of here.”

“I don’t understand.”

“And I can’t explain.”

We tied cloth around their eyes and told them it was a surprise as we strapped them in to the SUV that was parked outside. He told me not to look around, but I couldn’t help it. What I could only imagine was blood was everywhere. The walkway was stained with so much red, I gasped thinking of all the people that had been out here when the screaming started.

“Renee,” he said bringing me out of my thoughts. “We have to go now.”

We drove away, making our way to the interstate. When we came to a familiar exit, he pulled to the side of the road and stopped the car. He got out of the car and opened the door for me to get out too.

“Julian, I don’t understand.”

“You do.”

“Is everyone, dead?” He nodded and the sadness I noticed in his eyes before was back.

“You have to go,” he said handing me the keys.

“Come with us.” I took them grabbing his warm hands as well. I was still shaking from this whole ordeal. Was I stable enough to drive? Could I make it back home on my own?

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because… I belong there.”

“But you’re not like them.”

“You don’t even know what ‘them’ are.”

“But I know you’re not like them.”

“I am. I have to go back now before they wake up,” he said looking back the way we came. “Forget about me. Don’t ever come back.”

I caressed the side of his face and he leaned into my touch. He stepped back and began to run toward the Town. I drove back to the city with the two young ones in the back seat staring out of the window. They couldn’t have been older than 8, but I believe they understood we had made it out of a very bad experience.

It took a while, but I located the children’s father and returned them to him. I wanted to call Alicia and Amber’s family, but didn’t know what to say. When I did call, I let them know they were missing. The police took my information, but didn’t seem surprised by report. I called everyday for an update in the investigation, but the police didn’t seem interested in finding my friends. The missing person’s report was closed within a month when their remains were discovered somewhere on the movie set. Their deaths were ruled accidental and the investigation was terminated. It was all too convenient.

My therapist tried to convince me that I was mistaken about what happened. I knew I wasn’t crazy. I knew what I heard. When I began to describe the creature I saw, they said I watched the Town movies too many times. They didn’t believe me when I said I had barely seen the first one – only the very beginning and the very end. I had never seen the creature I was describing except in real life. When the next movie was released, I went to watch it in the theaters. Perhaps this one would give me a clue about what happened in the Town. I was amazed by the footage I saw. So many people I recognized from that day were on the screen. My eyes widened when Alicia and Amber’s faces filled the screen when night fell. Their screams touched my soul and the laughing in the theater upset me. I was the only one that realized this was not acting. This was how my friends died at the hands of those creatures. It took a moment for me to notice, but when I did, I stopped breathing.

The creature with the yellow eyes tore into the flesh of Amber’s abdomen. His growls and the sounds of flesh tearing sickened me. When the camera zoomed in to his actions, his fingers caught my attention before I ran away to the nearest trash can. My stomach emptied as I recalled the rings on his fingers. The same skulls I saw on Jeremiah’s hands were on the creature’s claws. I couldn’t believe it. The Town wasn’t just a movie set, it was their hunting ground and fans paid for the privilege to be hooked on their fishing lines. By the time they realized they were trapped, their obsession devoured them when nighttime fell.

by Angelique Grey

author note: This was my first attempt at translating a dream I used to have into a story. I’ve changed names to remove the fanfic nature of its original version. Let me know what you think.

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