“Mom we’re going to ride our bikes” Katie yelled back at the house.
“Ok, be careful” her mom answered “and make sure your back for dinner!”
Katie, my best friend, rolled her eyes. She never took anything seriously.
“C’mon Sam let’s go”.
We started down the road. The sun was shining bright and warm. We rode around for a few hours before we decided to stop by a creek to sit and take a break.
“You know Sam” Katie said sort of maliciously, “I’ve been hearing a bunch of stories about our church”.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well” she said as her face changed to a somewhat troubled look , “about how or why it burned down for a second time”.
“Why, what have you heard?” I asked, suddenly intrigued .
“Well” she began slowly, “some say a person did it, some say it’s just something that happens and some say” she hesitated, “something evil did it”.
“Something evil? Like what? Who said that?”
“I hear some of the older people from church talking about it” Katie said quietly, looking around like someone might over hear what she was saying.
“Well what are they saying about evil things?” I asked again.
“They are saying something evil is causing the church to burn down. They think it will keep happening no matter how many times it’s rebuilt.”
“But it’s a church. It’s supposed to be a safe place” I said in disbelief.
“I’m just telling you what I’ve heard” she said, getting a little upset.
We sat quietly for quite a while just thinking about what Katie had said. I wondered why they would think evil had something to do with it. What else had happened to make them think that, that they weren’t saying. Around this town, nothing happens that everyone doesn’t know about inside a week’s time. So what exactly is going on?
“Let’s go check it out” Katie said excitedly.
I rolled my eyes and leaned back to lay on the grass, bringing my hands over my face. I should have seen this coming from a mile away. She is always doing this to me. Before I could answer she grabbed my arm and yanked me to my feet.
“Let’s go” she said already obsessed by her idea.
About an hour later we were standing in front of the charred remains of what was our church. It wasn’t an elaborate church. One room. Now however, it looked like an old forgotten school house, turned black and gray from years of neglect.
We leaned our bikes against a tree and walked over to the entrance. Katie looked at me, smiled and started easing her way up to the door, being careful where she was stepping, so her foot wouldn’t go through the damaged boards. When she reached the door she turned and motioned for me to follow, then pushed it open.
“I’m not sure about this Katie” I said starting to get a bit uneasy, “I don’t think we should do this.”
“Oh come on Sam, what’s the worst that could happen?”
“Do you really want to know the answer to that?” I asked sarcastically.
“Get up here”
Carefully I made my way up to her by the door and we slowly walked inside. We just stood there looking around at the damage caused by the fire. Katie walked over to one of the back pews.
“If someone did this on purpose” she said quietly, “I hope they have trouble sleeping at night”
She lightly ran her hand over the top of it and turned toward the alter. Then she looked at me.
“Wonder if anything is left up there. I always wondered what kinds of papers and stuff the reverend has up there with him”.
“From the look of things” I said looking around, still amazed at the sight, “I doubt it.”
I turned around toward the door which we left hanging open. Outside it was a beautiful day. It was almost like looking out from a…..
I nearly lost my breath from hearing something crack and Katie scream. I spun around in time to see Katie from the shoulders up, disappear into the floor. I ran over and looked down. “Katie…..KATIE”
“I’m fine. Get me out it’s dark down here.”
I reached down but she was just out of my reach. “Is there something down there you could stand on?”
“I can’t see anything, throw something down for me to use”.
I stood up looking around. There wasn’t much here. There has to be something. “Hold on I have to go look”.
“Ok” she replied, “just hurry. There is something moving around down here.”
I frantically searched for something that would help her, trying at the same time not to also fall through. I found nothing. As a last resort I started kicking at one of the pews, hoping to knock it loose from being bolted to the floor.
“What are you doing Sam? Hurry up! Whatever is down here is coming closer!” she said, with more fear in her voice now.
“I’m trying to loosen one of the pews,” I yelled to her, “ so I can push it down and you can climb up.”
“Sam! It’s grabbing at me, get me out of here!”
“What is?” I asked, scared now myself.
“Go get my dad or somebody! Quick!” her voice now unsteady.
“Hold on Katie, I’ll be right back with some help.” I ran outside nearly falling down the steps. I grabbed my bike and took off down the road the way we came. I was riding so hard my legs started aching but I didn’t notice. I had to get someone to help Katie before she passed out from fear. Was it really this far from her house? The shortcuts didn’t seem so short anymore.
Finally I reached her house. “Mr. Zimmerman! Mr. Zimmerman!” I yelled before I even stopped. I jumped off my bike, letting it fall and ran onto the porch to the front door, knocking as hard as I could.
“Sam? What’s wrong?” Katie’s dad asked looking around for her behind me.
“We went to the church to look around at it,” I managed between breaths, “ She fell through the floor inside and now she is stuck,” and I started crying.
Mr. Zimmerman turned back into the house, returning a second later with a flashlight and his truck keys and started down the porch, across the lawn to his truck. I got up quickly and followed him. We got into his truck and he raced to the church.
“Did she hurt herself? Why does she do these things?”
“She said she was fine but that there was something moving down there and was trying to grab at her. She started to sound very scared when she told me to go get you.” I explained.
“She should be scared. You two won’t be hanging out for a while. She is in big trouble.” He said with what almost seemed like a chuckle.
He pulled in front of the church and without shutting off the truck, got out, grabbed a ladder he had in the bed of the truck, flashlight in hand and headed toward the door which was still hanging open. I was only seconds behind him.
“Katie,” I heard him yell as I approached the door behind him, “are you ok?”
He turned and looked at me to show him where she fell through. I walked around him to show him it was right in front of him, but what I saw sent shivers down my spine.
No footprints on the floor in the soot, no hand marks on things we had touched, the pew I had been trying to kick loose was undisturbed and most of all….no hole in the floor where Katie fell through!
I walked over to the spot and pointed, “This is where she fell Mr. Zimmerman, I don’t understand.”
“It might have been one of those doors in the floor that gave out and she closed it when she heard us coming to scare us,” he said looking a little put out by it..
He started knocking on the floor where I said she had fallen. “It’s solid Sam, are you sure it was here?”
“Yes,” I said, now more confused than before, “and she started getting scared saying something was down there and started to grab at her.”
“I think she was having fun with you about that, but she couldn’t have fallen here. There’s no door here and as you can see, no broken boards.”
“I swear it was here, I heard the boards break and saw her fall through!” I said, crying now because I knew it was there that she had fallen and I was scared.
“Sam it couldn’t have been at this spot, look for yourself. Nothing.”
I started frantically feeling around the floor, crying out her name until finally I laid there in a heap. Her dad lifted me to the side and asked one more time.
“Are you sure it was this exact spot?”
“Yes I’m sure,” I said sharply, “and why isn’t she answering me?”
“She probably passed out from being scared.” he said in a half chuckle.
Again I started pounding on the floor. Nothing. I got up and ran out to the truck, grabbed Mr. Zimmerman’s hammer that I saw on the seat next to me on the way over here, and ran back in and began striking the floor as hard as I could.
“What are you doing?” he asked surprised but didn’t stop me.
“She is in the basement Mr. Zimmerman, I saw her fall. I’m going to get to her even if I have to break the boards again!”
He grabbed the hammer mid swing and took over. It kind of surprised me because I knew he thought I was at the wrong spot. I watched as little by little, he lifted broken boards and threw them to the side.
What I thought was scary before didn’t compare to what we saw next.
No basement, no Katie. Just dirt.
I don’t remember much after that. I woke up in the hospital a few days later. Katie was never found. The newspapers called her a runaway. I knew different but no one believed me. The talk around town tormented me so much on top of the nightmares I began having about her, that we moved away. I heard they rebuilt the church one more time and it still stands today. I haven’t gone back. But apparently, Katie has. On the anniversary of that day, people have said they heard boards breaking and a girl calling for help. When they go to lend a hand, nothing is there.