Somewhere out in the woods of California sat a desolate warehouse. Within these ruins remained the cadavers and stench of decades of decay. The windows smeared with dust and sludge, the walls crumbled from lack of repairs, rusted machinery lay covered with equally decayed sheets. From the ceilings, hooks and cables dangled with victims that found themselves lost and trapped at the hands of the local mortician. The cold concrete structure was stained with vast amounts of blood that had become dried and layered over the years. From inside the belly of the structure, the mortician worked his nimble and steady fingers on a young boy who had found himself lost only a few days ago.

Tony had been on a camping trip with a small group of friends when he stumbled away from the campsite and found himself in the hands of the mortician. The last thing Tony remembers was staring into blackened eyes that had seen more than any human ever should.

Tony came to on a cold steel table and noticed the mortician staring down at him from behind a surgical mask. The whites of his eyes were perfectly covered bloodshot from what seemed like years of sleep deprivation. Tony felt a chill run up his spine as a finger was pressed firmly against his lips as the mortician shook his head in a slow motion. His matted hair stuck close to his scalp and had faded of all color.

Tony managed to turn his head on its side to find a table similar to the one he was on covered with a white sheet that had blood stains and some glimmering instruments one might find in a hospital emergency room. “What did I do to deserve this, God?” Tony thought to himself as he looked up at the ceiling. He became disgusted and sick to his stomach at the sight above him. Several feet above from where he lay, a corpse was facing back down upon him with hooks holding it in place. The face had been peeled away and the flesh gnawed to the bone from insects consuming the remains. It appeared to be a male from its decayed genitals now drier than the Arizona deserts.

“So,” the mortician began, “What seems to have brought you here to my neck of the woods? Hm, were you seeking adventure and thrills?” his voice sounded frail and deep. “Because it would appear that you found yourself an adventure, but I have found the thrill.” His voice trailed off into the shadows leaving Tony more frightened than ever. Footsteps echoed throughout the hollow building as he attended to other “projects” inside of his lab. Tony attempted to moisten his dried lips, but could not manage to produce enough saliva. He had no idea what time it even was, how long he had been missing, or if anyone would ever find him. He closed his eyes for a moment.

“Tell me,”

The mortician began as he placed his pale clammy hands on each side of Tony’s face, “if given the chance, do you feel you could escape and reach help?” he was now hovering over Tony’s face and looking deep into his soul. Tony could not find the words or strength to reply. He continued to stare as he spoke some more. “What be your name, son?” he asked in interest.

“T-To…Tony, sir…” he had managed to sum up enough strength to speak his name.

“Well now, Tony, I admire your strength and will. Would you appreciate a glass of water?” he asked tauntingly as he stepped over to a sink with a glass to fill it. The faucet produced a murky brown liquid. He walked it back over to Tony. “Here you are, drink up.” He smiled as he lifted Tony’s head into a position so that he may drink. The fluid drained down his parched throat nearly gagging as a cockroach entered his mouth. The mortician grinned in sick pleasure as he heard the delightful sound of the bug being crunched between the molars.

He dropped Tony’s head back onto the table before smashing the now empty glass against his face. The glass littered the floor and glistened as a single light shined upon the fragments. Blood spilled from his face and onto the table.

“Do you think you can just step out here and fuck with me? Do you have any fucking idea who the fuck I am? I am about to become your worst fucking nightmare.” He shouted at Tony’s lacerated face before snatching up a scalpel and dragging it across Tony’s stomach. He shouted from the sharp pain. Suddenly, the mortician focused his attention to what seemed like two female voices from outside the structure. Setting down the scalpel, he removed a machete from the nearest wall and made his way to the front door.

“Maybe he went in here, Kayla.” Kaycee spoke with assurance. “Tony? Tony, are you in here?" Kaycee shouted as she propped open the door as far as she could. “It looks like we’re going to have to squeeze inside. You have your flashlight ready?” she asked Kayla.

“No, I’m just holding a dick in my hand.”

Kayla spewed sarcasm from her mouth, “Yes, I have it. Let’s go.” She said as squeezed her way in first and flicked on the torch. “Tony, get your skinny Mexican ass out here if you’re in here.” Kayla taunted him in hopes he’d appear. Shining the torch around, she stopped as she noticed a dark figure go behind a column. “Dammit Tony, stop playing games and let’s go.” Kayla’s voice echoed off the walls. Kaycee searched in her own direction until she was met by a light tap on the shoulder. Slowly turning, she was confronted by a tall figure and had no chance to scream. The mortician swiftly swung the heavy blade through her tender neck. Her body dropped faster than he had swung. Her mouth sat open at the ready to let out a scream and he decided to keep it as a trophy. Sheathing the machete, he picked up the head and dragged her body into the shadows.

“Okay, Kaycee, I don’t think he’s here. Let’s head on back before the rest get worried.” Kayla shouted, but got no response. “Kaycee?” she shouted again as she headed back for the door. Kayla suddenly stopped dead in her place when she heard her feet splash in an unknown fluid. Shining the torch down at her feet, she was standing in a fresh puddle of blood.

“What the…?” she thought to herself before refocusing her attention to leaving but stopped again with the mortician standing before her with a wide grin across his face. Kayla stood motionless in fear as the machete struck her limbs in swift blows. Chunks of flesh crashed to the floor until it was a pile of diced remains coated with the warmth of her blood. Kayla’s intestines spilled from her gut like limp noodles fresh from boiled water. Calmly walking back to the main chamber, the mortician could hear rattling chains as Tony struggled to remove himself from the chains that held him down. Slamming a fist straight into Tony’s weak jaw, he grabbed the two hooks and placed them inside the incision along Tony’s stomach. Each hook was attached to a cable that linked up with a large machine. The mortician walked over to the machine and powered it on. Bursting into life, smoke spilled into the damp air as it roared into life. In moments, the cables began pulling back in the opposite direction and tore the flesh apart to widen the small wound. Nothing could be heard over the loud engine inside of the machine, not even the sinister laugh of the mortician.

The revving of the engine drowned out the silence of the warehouse and echoed off the bark of the trees outside.

“Do you hear that?” asked Noora, “that sounded like an engine of some sort.” She continued. Ryan and Michael looked up at her like she was crazy, but then Ryan heard it too. They all decided to go out and give the noise a look; they also needed to search for Kaycee and Kayla. They had no idea that soon enough, they too would meet similar fates as those of their friends. Trudging through the silent forest, leaves crunched beneath their feet with each heaving step until they saw what appeared to be the abandoned warehouse. Noora stopped dead as Michael and Ryan continued forward.

“You guys, I don’t like the looks of this place. Maybe we should stay out. Why would they be in there anyway?” Noora’s voice cracked with uncertainty as Michael and Ryan continued walking. Ryan gave the heavy steel door a light shove and the hinges let out a loud screech that rang throughout the hollow building.

The mortician peered up from his torture victim and stepped over to the table with surgical instruments. Snatching up the nearest and sharpest weapon, he headed off toward the source of the sound. Ryan crept into the darkness as Michael and Noora held their positions outside. Ryan could hear the light echo of his footsteps bouncing off the concrete walls. He came to a sudden halt at the possible sight of light. The possibility of light drew him closer and closer until he was confronted by a towering figure. The figure took a step close to Ryan causing him to trip over his own feet. Crashing to the ground, he fell in a puddle of warmth that was Kayla’s blood. In a panic, he stood up and found himself caught between the cold concrete wall and the tall figure. A leathered hand reached out and caressed Ryan’s cheek down to his neck.

A strong scent filled Ryan’s lungs as it crept through his nostrils. The scent was unfamiliar for a moment, until he had realized that it was the stench of decay. Before he could make a sound, his throat was slit and his torso gutted like a pig. A dark liquid spilled from his tender neck and down his chapped lips. The final sound that embarked from his mouth was the gurgle of blood pouring from his mouth. The mortician knelt down and carried the body into the shadowed corridors to dispose of it with the other two.

“Man, what could he be doing in there?” Michael mumbled under his breath, “Alright, I’m going in. Are you going to join me?” he quickly asked Noora so that he wouldn’t have to enter alone. They both crept inside. Michael perched the door open with a rock so that more light would come through and illuminate the labyrinth they were entering.

“You go that way and I’ll take this way.” Michael pointed forward before stepping off into the narrow hallway.

“Ugh,” Noora thought, “What if nobody is even in here and we’re just wasting our time?” she continued to think to herself as she made her way through the poorly lit hall.

“Ryan? Tony? Kayla?” Michael began calling out for his friends but to no avail, “Kaycee? You guys in here?” he stopped in hopes of a response. Continuing through the hall, Michael made his way to the belly of the beast. He could see Tony chained to the table in the center and now torn in half with blood smeared on the floor beneath. Sprinting to his aide, Michael was already too late. “It was such a shame I had to kill him,” the mortician stepped out from the darkness and into a poorly illuminated spot, “He seemed like a real nice kid.” He smirked and reached behind him to retrieve a nail gun fully loaded and ready to go. With his hands still held behind his back, he inched his way closer to Michael. “What is it you want with me?” Michael stuttered in fear before colliding with a wooden frame in the shape of a cross. “It is not so much what I want with you, but what I want to do to you.” His voice trailed off and left Michael confused. Before Michael could even take a step, the mortician revealed the nail gun and shot Michael straight in the stomach. Stepping closer, he held up one of Michael’s hands and shot another nail until he heard the splitting of bone and wood. He repeated this with his other hand and attached a hook to the back of the wooden frame to hoist Michael into the air. His legs naturally came together and the mortician took yet another shot that pierced the flesh, bone, and wood. Michael shot out a loud scream of pain and agony that caught Noora’s attention. She sprinted to the source. As she came around the corner, the mortician did not even look away from his masterpiece above to take aim at Noora and pulling the trigger. A nail penetrated straight through Noora’s skull and into the wall opposite of her. With a wide grin, the mortician dropped his tool and snatched a lock and key. Without a single word, he made his way to the front door and locked up. Never to return again, he lit a cigarette and took one deep inhale before tossing it into a pile of dried brush and leaves. Quickly they caught flame and he was gone. The final sound that could be heard was the crackle of heat from the flames as it consumed all around it. The mortician walked off with a grin and hands tucked away in his coat pockets. He walked off into the forest never to be heard from again, never to be seen again, never to return.

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