Abandoned For A Reason

Jordan Drew

Grace was pissed...or upset. Confused angry, hurt... There were so many things going on in her head that when her mother asked her how she was dealing with everything, she froze. She’d done everything she could think to do but get down on her hands and knees and beg, but her boyfriend didn’t listen and now he was gone, and she was left alone. Again. Well…not alone alone. She had her family, but it wasn't exactly the same. No late-night cuddles or clandestine meetups for midnight picnics. Not without Mark. Mark was always up for a little adrenaline rush. She never thought he was crazy enough to do something that would get him killed.

Then again, he never really thought going to the barn would kill him. Which was stupid because she told him places were abandoned for a reason. They were generally dangerous, and she knew the barn was particularly dangerous because her grandfather owned it. Not that her grandfather was even slightly concerned Mark was dead or he died on the property. Her entire family pretty much shrugged it off and said she'd told him to stay away, and they were right. She had, but a little compassion would’ve been nice - even if it was just for show. They never really cared much for Mark. Her grandfather said Mark didn’t appreciate boundaries.

The night Mark died, he'd tried to convince her to go with him. A ghost hunt in the abandoned barn. It was a stupid idea, and she flat out told him so. She also told him there were no ghosts in the barn, but he was an amateur ghost hunter and all he could do was parrot the local newspaper. Over the last hundred years, according to the paper, seven people died there. Not that there was proof. There was never a body found on the property. No body, no witnesses, no one to tell the tale. Instead, some backwards ass-hat journalist’s girlfriend disappeared after going with some friends on a ghost hunt. Like, disappeared entirely. No note, no phone call, nothing, and instead of taking it as a sign that maybe she just wasn’t into him, he blamed her grandfather. He even took him to court, but her grandfather hired a bunch of forensic whatevers, and no one found a single piece of evidence the girl had even been on the property, much less inside the decaying barn.

Her grandfather believed that would be the end of it, but the journalist wouldn't shut up about it. On a dark, rainy night, the guy decided he was going to do his own unsanctioned investigation. Unfortunately, he disappeared as well, which spawned a new round of battles with the rumor mill. The journalist's disappearance caused a slew of other investigations, and no matter how many warnings and trespassing signs her grandfather put up, it didn’t stop people from going in…or disappearing. These newer disappearances were the reason Mark became interested in investigating the building in the first place.

Mark spent two weeks putting the investigation together, and she spent two weeks desperately trying to talk him out of it. She was able to talk two members of the group out of going by explaining to them her grandfather was litigious and got great enjoyment in tying things up in court. The tech nerd, Des, and Mark were unwavering in their decision to go because Kira, the psychic said there was no way they would get caught if they went on Halloween night. Unfortunately for Mark and Des, Kira wasn't a real psychic. Grace knew this because Kira died first and never saw it coming. Des died about five minutes after he’d spent two hours setting up the equipment.

She watched Mark almost twenty minutes from her perch in the rafters. He was talking to himself, concerning himself about the flock of large black birds circling overhead to notice her. She unfurled her wings and gracefully went to the floor behind him. “The Sluagh,” she said, tucking her wings in so Mark wouldn’t see them.

He was startled, but he smiled in relief when he saw her. “You came!”

“I live here. I did tell you not to come, Mark.”

He nodded, looking back to the patches of sky he could see through the roof of the barn. “What did you call them?”

“Sluagh. They're the souls of the damned. Humans who died unforgiven. They feed on souls of the living. They’re most active this time of year.”

Mark looked back at her and raised his eyebrow in the most adorable way. “They’re birds. Big birds, but just birds.”

“No, Mark. They’re family.”

Her grandfather swooped down with his massive wings and huge talons, and lifted Mark, taking him high in the sky. He grabbed him by the head, slicing through his vocal cords, disabling Mark ’s ability to scream, but careful to not allow a single drop of blood to fall. This was key. Spilled blood caused questions and more investigations. Her grandfather was tired of all the questions.

Grace watched as they disappeared in the midnight sky just as all the rest had. She was going to miss Mark more than she’d missed the others. She was pretty sure she cared about him, if the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach was any indication. She had told him not to come. She’d told him abandoned buildings were abandoned for a reason. She was going to miss Mark. Probably.

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