36,049 / 50,000
"Well, it's not like it's a real church anymore. It was closed for almost twenty years. What could possibly go wrong?"
"Do you want me to make a list?" Adrienne inqiuired. "First of all, when did you watch your last horror movie?"
Adrienne gathered up the beer bottles and Charlie followed her to the kitchen as she talked. Charlie grabbed the now empty, save for a few bits of crust, pizza box as he did so.
"You've just been attacked..."
Charlie interrupted her, correcting her, "It hardly attacked, it just screamed."
Adrienne shook her head and sighed, returning the empties to the cardboard carrier they had been purchased in. The empties were placed in a pile with other returnables beside the back door, glass clinking and clattering with the rest.
"Fine, you were visited by some creature, an your big plan is to go visit a church, at night, where this thing may have originated. I don't know who is dumber. You for walking into a classic brainless horror movie situation where someone is sure to die, or me for following you."
Charlie stuffed the pizza box by the trash can, and rested against the counter, his hands against the cold lacquered top. "So, what you're saying is, this isn't my brightest idea ever?"
"Not as such, no." Adrienne flashed a bemused grin. "But hey, you're technically crazy, so you get on with your bad self."
Leaning forward, Charlie crossed his arms and glares at his sister. "They did declare me mostly sane before they let me out."
"And it's the mostly part we have to be concerned about!" She began to laugh, and Charlie joined in. He had to admit his plan, such as it was, could be described as being crazy. "If we're going to do this, I guess we should get it over with. What do you need?"
Charlie rattled off a list of things to bring; some flashlights, dark clothes, a crowbar.
"Not going the subtle route, are you?"
He shrugged. "Why be subtle? What do we do if we reach a locked door? Turn around and come home? That would be a massive let down. Have you got those things?"
Adrienne gave a nod and went about gathering them. Charlie dug through his suitcase, and was thankful most of his clothes were black, or very dark. He never had to worry much about coordinating them, and on the off chance the opportunity came to break into a former church that was now housing a potential threat, all the better.
He changed his shirt and traded it for a black tshirt over which he put a black sweater. He decided his pants were good enough, and as Charlie was putting his clothes back into the battered suitcase, he was surprised when he heard his sister burst into laughter behind him.
Charlie jumped at the sound, somehow turning a complete 180 degrees before he touched the ground again. His sister had changed into black slacks, and a dark turtleneck that looked to be a very dark blue more than it was black. In her hands, she carried a pair of leather boots with three inch heels.
"What, what's so funny?" Charlie demanded of his sister.
Adrienne covered her mouth, then caught her breath. "That's what you're wearing?"
"What, what's wrong with it?" He plucked at the baggy sweater.
"First of all, it looks like something dad would wear to church. Where did you find that? It's like one of those sweaters you always see a wise Irishmen wearing in the movies."
He harrumphed loudly, looking dejected. "I'll have you know I like this style."
"Yeah...No, that's not gonna work. Here, the boyfriend left this here, and I thought you could use it."
Adrienne tossed him a black sweatshirt, with a grey turtleneck-like collar.
He pulled off his sweater as he talked, "How is this any better?"
"First of all, it's not two sizes too large."
"It's comfortable that way!"
"Uh huh, sure. And while you're comfortable, Screamy McMeltingface has grabbed a nice swath of fabric of your comfortable sweater, and your legs spin. Have I mentioned the stupidity of this plan?"
Charlie's head pushed through the collar of the sweatshirt, and he adjusted it around his neck. The shirt was a tight fit, especially over his other shirt, but it would make it hard for loose clothing to be grabbed. "Not in the last five minutes, no. And I realise this is a bad idea, but we can't go to the cops. Not if Brandon is involved. And what are we going to tell people? That some benevolent group has been making me wake up in a soaked bed since before they existed? I don't think that's going to fly. Besides, we have to go down there. Everyone knows all the cool shit is down inside the basement."
"If ever there was a good reason to break laws and common sense, that would be it. Anything else we need?"
Charlie squirmed uncomfortably, trying to adjust the snug shirt so it sat well on his frame, unused to the strange clothes, so close to his body. "Hold up, miss fashion concious lawbreaker. What's up with those?"
He was pointing at the boots his sister was trying her best to hide behind her back. "What about them?" she asked, her eyes wide and innocent.
"You want to get on my case about a sweater, and you plan to wear those things? You'll break an ankle. Go get your sneakers. Comfy, safer, and quiet."
Adrienne's lips curled up in a pout, and she tossed the boots aside. "You're no fun."
"I know you've had a thing about wanting to be an international jewel thief with a hot body and awesome clothes, but this is not the time to try and live out that particular fantasy, Adge. Sneakers, go!"
She grumbled and complied, as Charlie picked up one of the flashlights his sister had found. It was small, and red, made entirely of metal. Charlie remembered having a blue one like that as when he was younger. He loved the solid construction, and feel in his hand. Giving the top a twist to turn on the light, he checked how bright it shone, and was pleased to see that such a small, handheld light through such a bright beam.
He tucked the light in his pocket, and then picked up the crowbar, hooking it through one of the belt loops on his jeans. Charlie's mind was buzzing at what he had planned. What if they did find something? What would they do then? It was just a little less crazy to tell the cops that there are inhuman monsters residing beneath the benevolent organisation's headquarters than it was that they were manipulating his dreams.
What did he hope to find down there? Charlie couldn't answer that question, and he found that was why he had to go. Too much of his life was unanswered questions. Every time he asked them, no one had any answers. It was time to find them for himself. Even if the means was not the best idea he had ever had.
"Not the worst idea I've had though," he said out loud.
Adrienne rejoined her brother, having changed into sensible shoes, and looking quite put out for the effort. In her hand, resting on her shoulder, was a bat with the very end of the grip broken off by a few inches.
Charlie was a bit surprised to see the bat. He had taken it from the gym on his last day of high school. It had been tossed in the trash since it was broken and of no use. He wanted a memento to remember his high school years, and something about the bat just called to him. He never played sports, but he decided he would give the broken bat a home, like calling out to like.
"Wow, you kept that?"
Adrienne gave the bat a twirl in her hand. "You kept it as a reminder of high school, I kept it as a reminder of you. There's a lot of your stuff in the garage, actually. Maybe later..."
"Yeah, later. We should get going."
Charlie tossed the other flashlight, matching the second but black, over to his sister, who caught it with ease, and slipped it into a pants pocket as well.
They got into Adrienne's car and drove in silence, without even the radio. It wasn't long before they were in town, the trip taking far less time than it did on foot. They parked a ways away from the church and walked the rest of the way.
The two of them moved as casually as possible. Charlie had moved the crowbar up under his jacket, and Adrienne's bat was stuffed up her sleeve. They needn't have been so cautious, as not a single person was seen as they walked to the church. The town was completely dead to the world. Not even a car passed them by. Charlie had been concerned about the streetlights, but with no one watching, it wasn't a bother being illuminated.
When they arrived at the church, Charlie gave a quick look through the windows as they approached. There didn't appear to be any lights on, as far as he could see.
He motioned with a finger to his lips, signalling silence to his sister. Adrienne replied by sticking out her tongue.
Charlie went to the front door, and in that way siblings have of communicating non-verbally, she raised her eyebrows, asking if he really intended to use the front door.
He nodded, and before reaching for anything else, he grasped the thick brass handle, feeling it's coldness through his gloves once more. Charlie pressed the latch down with his thumb, and was surprised when it depressed and the door pulled open. So surprised, that he almost fell backwards, he had pulled so hard, expecting it to be locked.
"The wonders of living in a small, trusting town," his sister whispered beside him.
The door had opened with a fair share of noise, but Charlie's luck was holding out, since he heard no commotion from the inside.
Charlie and Adrienne passed through the threshold and into the dark church. He closed the door slowly behind him, only moving it the barest bit each time he moved, so it didn't crash shut like it had done earlier.
Once they were both in, they waited a few minutes for their eyes to adjust. Details in the dark began to become clearer as they stood. Charlie could hear his sister's foot tapping impatiently.
The main hall was unchanged, as far as Charlie could see, which wasn't very far, indeed. The biggest difference were sleeping bodies on some chairs, and he thought one of the couches looked lumpier than before. There was enough light coming in from the streetlights and the half moon so they could avoid using flashlights for the time being.
They tiptoed along the carpeting, being sure to not make any noise. As they neared the rear of the church, Charlie heard the sound first; a whooshing swirling of water of a toilet being flushed. He grabbed his sister, and they hugged the nearest side of one of the large pillars as someone exited the bathroom in the rear.
The siblings kept up against the pillar, and Charlie guided them around, keeping to the opposite side of where he heard the person stumbling through the darkness. Soon Charlie heard the creak of a metal folding chair as a heavy weight of a human body settled into it.
Charlie poked his head out from their hiding spot, and looked to where the noise had come from. He saw a shadowed form shifting in the darkness as they settled back into slumber. The chair was turned away from them, and so Charlie motioned for his sister to follow him, but he kept their pace slow and cautious.
Aside from the lone interuption, they made it to the back of the church without incident, and took the step up to the pulpit. Charlie went up to the door to what would have been the father's offices, and found that door unlocked as well.
Charlie ignored the thoughts in his head that things were gong so smooth, that something bad was going to happen, and it would be spectacularly catastrophic.
The office was empty, save for the bookcases built into the walls, and several boxes upon them, and the floor. A lone window sat in the wall across from the door, letting in a bright white spot from the moon right outside. Charlie and Adrienne entered, and closed the door behind them.
The room was square, and small. It barely fit the two of them with all the boxes. It would have been just large enough for a desk, the priest, and two other people, maybe.
The door they just came through was situated on one side of the wall, and right next to it was another door, but it was larger, more ornate. It seemed to fit the original architecture more than the door they'd come through. That door was light, cheap, and looked like it had been grabbed at random from the hardware store.
Charlie again tried the doorknob, and this time found it locked. He took pause as he pulled out the crowbar. He could tell the door was old, he could smell it. As much as he wanted answers, he felt bad about ruining the antique.
He pulled his arms back, ready to plunge the crowbar into the space between the door and the frame, and was only stopped by his sister grabbing him.
Charlie tilted his head to ask why, and Adrienne only held up a finger to give herself a moment. She reached into her jacket and pulled out a screwdriver. Instead of jabbing something between the door and frame, she instead stuck it between the hinge and the pin that held the two halves together, and jimmied one out, and then the other.
Needless to say, he was relieved, and pocketed the two pins for the time being.
With both removed, the door shifted from its weight, and Charlie leapt forward to hold up the heavy wooden slab. He backed up taking one step at a time, and the door pivoted forward as he did so. As a gap grew, Adrienne snaked her hand in, and moved the door out some more, enough so Charlie could grab it by the sides and lift it out of the way. He grunted as he lifted the oaken door, and did his best to rest it against the bookshelves without making much of a commotion.
A musty smell wafted up from the cavernous opening, making them both cover their noses until they grew accustomed enough to it. It was the smell of mold, and dust, and water kept bottled up for years.
They looked down into the hole. It was the same stone as the rest of the building, including the stairs. The little light that came in from the moon was soon swallowed up by the darkness, awaiting the siblings to step into the unknown.