I should never have agreed to sleep overnight in that department store.
We'd gone on a late-night bar crawl, and in the Lyft on the way over to some cheap-ass pub we passed a Macy's.
Jess turned around in her seat to look at me. "Hey, uh, Kylee," she said, her words interspersed with hiccups, "I dare you to, uh, sleep overnight at the Macy's."
Boisterous laughter from the front seat: "yeah, and you can sleep with a fucking mannequin like you've always wanted to."
I paused. "When have I *ever* wanted to sleep with a mannequin?"
Well, long story short, I was drunk and there was 20 bucks in it for me. Sleep in a Macy's overnight, maybe with a mannequin next to me for yuks.
It wasn't supposed to be anything big, just a minor exploit to laugh about years later.
That's all it was.
So I got in, walked around the store for a while, shoplifted a few things (I was a drunk college kid, what did you expect) and at the very end of the night, once the last security guard left,
I cozied up under one of the beds they had all over the store, a queen with girly pink bedding, and decided to skip on the mannequin.
Nobody was with me, so I decided it wasn't worth the risk of breaking my head open overnight on a stray hand and I just decided I would lie. No big deal.
Well, the overnight was nice; the blankets were a little thin, but the bed was expensive and therefore pretty comfy. I woke up to my cell phone vibrating with a call from someone.
I tumbled out of the sheets, my clothes sticking to me with sweat, and absent-mindedly accepted the call.
"Hey, this is--"
I was interrupted by whispering on the and quiet giggling. "We love you," a voice whispered, tinny and high-pitched. "Join! Join!"
A chorus of "join" echoed through the mic and hurt my ears, scratchy and much too loud. I quickly hung up and hid under the bed, anxious that somebody had heard the noise.
I glanced at the time.
"Two-o-clock?" I gasped. How had I slept so late?
I slipped out from under the bed and took a careful look around, before meandering towards the store exit. The sections seemed empty, disjointed, somehow, and I wasn't sure why until I heard it.
I shot around, and I saw a single mannequin, stark naked, in the middle of the aisle, seemingly posed to look at the shelves of crockery that surrounded it.
I snorted. "You bitches better not be messing with me," I said.
I turned again-- the mannequin was looking straight at me. And it was closer.
"Ok," I chuckled, a hint of panic in my voice, "you can come out now. You got me, heh. I'm... you scared me."
Clack-- another mannequin, the other direction, perusing the shelves of pants. It stared at me.
"Oh... oh God..."
I ran. I ran like there was no fucking tomorrow, like there was a horde of bears chasing me, hungry for flesh.
Except I couldn't know what they wanted.
Maybe to suffocate me, simply watch as I died and the go back to mannequin things? Steal my soul? Rip into my flesh with their nails and wash themselves in blood?
Well, I didn't want to find out.
But as time went on, they got even more relentless, blocking paths and forcing me to wind through the racks, or getting bolder and moving closer.
I even felt one brush my shoulder once, its fingertips pressing into my collarbone as I passed by.
The only thing that seems to stop them is my line of sight, but I can't turn around or a horde of them appears in front of me.
I can't keep running. Even after chugging an energy drink that I found on one of the shelves, I feel like a pile of shit. It's only a limited time until they catch me.
I keep getting my hopes up when I see doors and an outside, a beautiful outside, but when I open the doors I find out it's just a painted wall and now the mannequins are closer.
My legs give up. I hit the floor with a thunk. I can't move. They seem to know that; I can see them skittering towards me with strange, abrupt movements, on all fours.
They giggle as they slowly move forward.
There's one at the lead of the group, naked and faceless like the rest. It's moving... smoother. Taller than the others. They watch curiously as it grabs my chin.
I weakly try and slap away its hand, but I can't. It's digging into my skin too much. Something feels... off. It's getting harder to breathe. My nose feels like it's stuffy. I can't blink. I...
can't see too well. The mannequin. Its fingers aren't hard plastic anymore. Skin. A face. My face, in front of my eyes, smiling, touching my face with my hands.
I can't see anymore. I scratch at it, but it's just a featureless slab of plastic. I can't scream. I can't talk. I can't move.
Laughter, in my voice. I crawl toward it, feeling the floor as I go. Somebody pats my head, and then they're gone.
Time passes. Days. Months. I can't remember my name. I still can't see. But I can hear. Oh, I can hear all the sounds. The whispers from my friends.
I can hear when the door swings open, and I can hear what they're thinking:
This is too easy.
10 bucks for this? What a buncha losers.
I hear his snoring as he falls asleep.
The whispering picks up, and the hunt has begun.