Prologue

Have you ever messed with something that you don't understand?

I'm not talking about when you were a kid and your friends used to dare each other to chant "Bloody Mary" 50 times in front of the bathroom mirror.

What I mean is going somewhere unfamiliar and thinking you're safe just because you have a good feeling about what you're doing.

Trust me, I know what it's like. You're having a good time, the adrenaline kicks in because you're experiencing something new...it's easy to disregard any rules that were outlined before you left.

But it's this kind of recklessness that claimed the life of one of my friends when I was young.

A poor, innocent soul who didn't need to die.

This is a story about the dangers of disrespecting the supernatural forces which lurk in the shadows of certain places.

**

I'll tell the story as best as I can remember it, though some of the details might be a little vague because this was more than 10 years ago.

It was summer in the town of Parsky, California, and the heat was beating down on us as we walked down the same route we had every day from school.

But this fateful Friday, there was an air of excitement about our group...well at least between me and Emily.

Jeremy wasn't so keen on our plan.

"What if someone sees us, we'll be in so much shit...my parents will probably ground me for life!" Jeremy protested, booting a stone along the ground.

The youngest of us three, Jeremy was a typically shy kid who tended to keep to himself around others.

I'd known him since I was born - our parents were close. He was a sweet kid with a heart of gold, though he did lack some self esteem and was bullied at school cause he was scrawny.

"Oh come on, don't be a pussy!" said Emily.

"It's going to be awesome, we'll be the first people to ever do this!"

Emily, on the other hand, was the opposite. Outspoken and strong-willed, she was the one who came up with the idea to sneak into the water tank on the edge of town at night.

The tank had been drained by the state water company for repairs. Emily knew this because her dad was good friends with one of the workers, and had mentioned it at dinner the night before.

At recess, Emily had come bounding up to me and Jeremy and commandeered us for the trip, saying how cool it would be to sneak in and check out the inside of the tank.

While I thought it would be fun, if a bit dangerous, Jeremy wasn't super interested.

The water tank in question was on the outskirts of town. It was a hulking, rusted monolith that I'd overheard some parents calling an 'eyesore'.

It was well known that some of the seniors at our school would sneak through the fence around the tank during the summer to go swimming.

But I'd never heard of first years doing it...I guess that was part of why Emily was so keen.

If we pulled it off we could brag about it at school, and maybe even become popular for a while.

"Ty, you aren't going to bitch out on me too are you?" Emily asked me.

I probably should have mentioned, my name is Tyler, or Ty for short. And while I really wasn't excited by the thought of being grounded again, I had to admit that the idea of trespassing for the fun of it sent a thrill through me.

It gave me a sort of anxious feeling in the pit of my belly - but I couldn't deny that I was excited about it.

"I'm in."

We both turned to look at Jeremy, who took a deep sigh and rolled his eyes.

"Fine, but you better know what you're doing Emily, like you should make sure it's safe and shit..." he trailed off.

Emily grinned, grabbing a hold of a nearby street sign and swinging around it happily.

"Ain't nothing safe about what we're doing!" she yelled.

"I'll see you tonight, at the place!"

**

After I finished tea I told my parents that I was going over to Jeremy's place to play some video games, something that happened regularly on Fridays.

The plan was that Jeremy would tell his parents he was coming to my place to play games - next level mind games.

When we met in the middle of the street, I noticed he hadn't packed light by any stretch of the imagination - in fact, his backpack was near overflowing.

By contrast, I’d changed into some jeans and a jacket, put a torch and some snacks in my backpack, and that was about it.

We all knew where to meet anyway.

"Dude...do you really need all that stuff?" I asked Jeremy, looking him up and down.

Jeremy nodded, unzipping his bag and producing a number of items, including a compass, water bottle, pocket knife and a rain jacket.

"I want to be prepared, you never know what could happen," he said.

"You think you're prepared, but are you sure you're ready for the ghoul that lurks in the tank?" I said, shining my torch underneath my mouth and putting on a deep voice.

Jeremy nudged me with his shoulder, "Knock it off dude, that's not funny."

"He lurks at the bottom...waiting to consume any who dare to enter!"

"Seriously!" said Jeremy, smacking into my harder this time.

The force of the blow sent the torch out of my hands and into the air, turning end over end before smashing into the ground.

I groaned, picking up the torch to reveal the bulb inside had smashed. I pointed it at Jeremy, frowning.

"What am I gonna do now?"

"Lucky I brought two!" said Jeremy, tossing me a new torch.

**

The sun had well and truly set by the time we met Emily at the agreed meet-up point.

We were standing at the beginning of what was known as the town's industrial estate - a failed experiment by the council to attract bigger companies to invest in the area.

The space was left fairly bare, as only a few companies had actually invested in the space.

There was a small solar farm on the left side, while a number of business hubs lined the right.

The path down the middle led to a hill, atop which the town's water tank stood. The hulking metal structure groaned in the wind as we approached, as if protesting being without the water usually inside.

The light continued to fade as we walked.

"How are we getting through that fence?" asked Jeremy as we neared the base of the hill.

The tank was surrounded by a barbed-wire fence that stretched around its base. From where we were I could see the iron zig-zagging stairs on its side, but no way through the fence.

There were also a few construction vehicles around the outside, but I couldn't see anyone still around.

"That's why I brought these," said Emily, producing a pair of wire-cutters from her backpack. 

Emily's green eyes shone in the darkness as she grinned at us.

"We're already trespassing...you wanna add vandalism to our rap sheet?" I asked, meeting her stare.

"I don't see any cameras...do you?" Emily shot back as we reached the top of the hill.

Before Jeremy could add his own protests, Emily got to work creating a hole in the fence.

I turned to look at Jeremy, who was staring up at the water tank, seemingly in a daze.

"You OK?" I asked him, trying to see what exactly he was looking at.

"I didn't realise it was that tall..." Jeremy said, gazing at the rickety stairs on the side of the tank.

"Do you need me to hold your hand?" I joked, before I also realised that the tank was at least 50 feet off the ground.

Emily turned around, "My work here is done...are you guys OK?"

I quickly swallowed the lump in my throat and turned to face her.

"Yeah, let's go."

Practically forcing Jeremy along with me, all three of us crawled through the small hole Emily had made in the fence.

Inside the construction area were a number of work stations, as well as cranes, trucks and bulldozers all bearing the California Water logo.

It was now completely dark, with the only light coming from our torches.

The wind was howling, creating a chill that was only mitigated by the fact we had all layered up...though some more than others.

"Jesus I'm freezing!" squealed Emily as we approached the stairway.

She was wearing a long t-shirt but no jacket or jumper. The tee had "FallOut Boy" emblazoned on the front with an image of the band performing.

Trust Emily to rep her favourite band in a situation like this.

"Probably should have been better prepared," smugly said Jeremy.

"Yeah well you were prepared to not come at all, so-

Emily was drowned out by a huge gust of wind, which blew into us on the unprotected hillside. I staggered as the water tank made another loud groaning sound.

Bracing myself on the ground, I looked over at the others. Emily was backed up against one of the construction trucks, while Jeremy had fallen over, dirt staining his jacket.

As the wind subsided, I got to my feet and looked at the others.

"You guys alright?" I asked.

Emily nodded, "Yeah, I think so...that was crazy."

Jeremy, who had turned pale, didn't reply.

"You OK Jeremy?" I said, trying to meet his gaze, but he was staring off into space with a horrified look plastered on his face.

His eyes were kind of glazed over, and his breathing was shallow. 

"I...I think he's in shock or something," I stuttered, not entirely sure what to do.

Emily walked over to Jeremy, and placed her hand on his shoulder.

"Jeremy? You in there buddy?"

Suddenly his head snapped back, and his eyes sparked to life.

"What...what the hell was that," Jeremy said, gasping in between each word.

Emily put her left hand on Jeremy's other shoulder, trying to get his attention.

"Look at me, Jeremy, look at me," she said.

"What happened?"

Jeremy finally looked at her.

"I heard someone in the wind...it was like a voice coming from...from in there," he said, extending a shaky finger and pointing at the tank.

"It was like some old lady, and when she was talking to me I couldn't move."

Emily and I exchanged a look. I was beginning to get seriously freaked out.

"What did she say?" I asked him, anxiety building in the pit of my stomach.

"She was yelling...something about her son...she was calling for help," Jeremy said, still seeming dazed from the incident.

"Did you hear anything?" I asked Emily.

"No, did you?"

"Nope."

For a moment there was silence as we all took in what had just happened. I never knew Jeremy to be someone who would make stuff like that up.

He could be a wuss, sure, but, I doubt he'd be making this up to get out of going into the tank, especially when we had already come this far.

"Trust me, I know what I heard," said Jeremy, crossing his arms.

"Dude look I believe you, what do you want to do?" I said.

"I won't blame you if you don't want to go in," said Emily, "That's freaky."

"No."

Jeremy's answer took me by surprise, I was fully expecting him to back out.

"We go in there and we find her, if someone's in trouble in there we should help them," he said, his eyes narrowing.

"Do we actually know if there's someone in there? If there is...maybe we shouldn't go in." I said, my anxiety beginning to build.

"Oh come on, are we really gonna let some creepy voice stop us after we've come this far?" questioned Emily, raising her eyebrows.

"If there's someone in there, for whatever reason, there's three of us and one of them. So I ain't scared," she said.

I sighed, and relented, "Alright then, let's go." 

The stairway leading up the side of the tank was very narrow, so we had to go one at a time. Emily volunteered to be in the lead, I followed behind her and Jeremy brought up the rear.

The stairs creaked as we climbed them, the wind at our backs. My heart was pumping hard in my chest, the thrill of discovering something new racing through me.

At the same time I felt something akin to dread in the pit of my stomach. I couldn't help but replay Jeremy's words in my mind.

"She was calling for help."

I shivered, a chill running up my spine. My hands, clinging to the metal bars of the stairway, were growing sweaty.

We were now about halfway up the stairway, and I was resisting the urge to look down, keeping my eyes solely pinned on Emily's back.

"Oh man..." I heard Jeremy say behind me.

"Just don't look down," Emily said as we passed the halfway point.

Easier said than done.

Suddenly, another gust of wind ripped through us, causing the stairs beneath us to shake.

My eyes grew wide.

"Holy shit!" I blurted, trying to hold on to the side of the stairway.

Emily squealed, trying to keep her balance in front of me.

In that moment, my hand slipped off the handrail and I fell back. Sticking my foot out to stop my fall, I almost twisted my ankle before I slammed chest-first into the handrail.

The collision knocked the wind out of me, and as I gasped for air I gazed into the darkness below.

It felt like I was looking down from a skyscraper, the trucks and cranes below looked tiny now, almost like toys.

Taking a few breaths, I staggered back, rattled but grateful to be alive.

Jeremy put his hand on my back, "Ty, you OK?"

"Yeah that was...man we are up high," I said.

"I think I almost peed myself," said Emily shakily.

That drew a chuckle from Jeremy, "First time you've been scared all night."

"Are you guys alright?" I asked, slowly getting my breath back.

"I'm OK," said Emily.

"Yeah, we should keep going before it gets any later," said Jeremy.

I glanced up at the remaining stairs to the top of the tank. They continued to wiggle as the wind blew through, not giving me the greatest confidence.

"I don't know, with the wind the way it is tonight, that doesn't look particularly safe," I said

"No, we need to keep going."

I frowned at Jeremy. This wasn't like him, before the trip he was barely even interested in coming...why did he feel the urge to get in the tank as soon as possible.

"And why is that?" I asked him.

"Someone's there."

Without another word Jeremy pushed past me and continued up the stairs. I glanced at Emily, who looked just as confused as me.

But we couldn't leave him. We were too far in, we had to keep going - regardless of what was waiting for us inside the tank.

Slowly, steadily, Emily and I followed Jeremy up the remaining stairs. Eventually we reached the top of the tank, the cool night air whistling over our heads.

From here we could see the city lights dazzling in the distance. It was a really stunning sight, one I was tempted to capture.

Pausing for a moment, I pulled my phone out of my pocket. I clicked the unlock button, but nothing happened.

I tried again, still nothing.

"The hell?" 

Emily turned around.

"What's up?"

"My phone won't work," I said, showing her.

"It's probably out of battery, I mean you spend way too long on it in class," Emily replied.

I sighed, "Come on just try yours, I really want to get a shot of the lights from up here."

Emily reached into her pocket to produce her old-school Nokia brick.

"Huh, mine doesn't work ei-JEREMY!"

I jerked my eyes to where Emily was looking.

Jeremy had already made his way halfway down the stairway inside the tank, completely on his own. He had abandoned us, without saying a word.

The next few moments went quickly, as Emily and I bolted down the stairs after Jeremy. We yelled at him to slow down, but to no avail.

As we got deeper in the tank, closer to the bottom, my mind was racing. Why was Jeremy acting like this? I'd never known him to abandon his friends like that.

It was as if something had taken over him, possessed him, after he said he heard someone speaking from inside the tank.

And that was exactly where we were heading now.

The darkness seemed to swallow Emily and I as we stepped off the final step and onto the base of the tank itself.

The space we were in was huge, but completely and Jeremy was nowhere to be seen. The only sound was coming from water dripping from parts of the walls around us.

The cloudy night sky was visible through wooden slats on top of the tank, its ceiling now removed. 

"Jeremy?!" called Emily, moving further into the unknown surroundings.

His name bounced around the walls of the tank, creating an echo that grew in intensity before drowning out.

No response.

"He's got to be here somewhere," I muttered, reaching into my pocket and producing my torch.

I pressed down on the on switch, but got no response...just like my phone.

"Figures," I said, showing Emily that the torch no longer worked, "It's like some kind of EMP or something."

Emily turned to me, "A what?"

"Forget it, you don't play COD."

"Guys?"

The voice was shallow and sounded far away, but it was unmistakably Jeremy's.

"Jeremy!" Emily broke into a run towards the voice.

"Keep talking!" I yelled, right behind her.

"I'm over here!"

We plunged forward, water splashing in the air as we ran through puddles. Just as I felt we were getting close to Jeremy, I heard Emily gasp and then fall forward, head over heels.

She landed on the ground with a loud thud, and I managed to stop myself before I suffered the same fate as her.

"Shit that hurt," muttered Emily.

Looking down at the ground I could see there was a pile of wooden slats stacked on the ground, most likely left behind by workers.

As I bent down to help Emily up, who was lying crumpled on the ground clutching her ankle, my eyes were blinded by an intense light filling my vision.

"Jeremy? Is that you?" I said, shielding my eyes with my arm.

"Oh man am I glad to see you guys," Jeremy said, pointing his torch down at Emily, sufficiently blinding her as well.

I continued to help Emily up, but she broke free of my grasp and charged at Jeremy, shoving him in the chest.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?!" she yelled, slightly limping, "Why did you leave us like that?"

"I honestly don't know, it was like I blacked out or something," Jeremy said, a response that stopped Emily in her tracks.

"You...blacked out?" she said, frowning.

"Last thing I remember I was Ty saying that the stairs looked really dangerous at the top, and I was going to agree...but then it was like I skipped time, the next thing I knew I was down here," Jeremy explained.

He didn't look pale as he had before, which was reassuring to see. But I couldn't help but feel the urge to leave the tank right then and there.

This entire night had been plagued by weird events, and I really just wanted to go home.

"I'm glad you're OK, but I don't really understand what's happening here...you're getting possessed, none of our electronics are working - well except for yours," I said, pointing to Jeremy's torch.

"You almost blinded me, by the way," Emily chipped in.

"My bad."

"I'm just getting some bad vibes about this whole situation." I said, peering at the both of them in the light of Jeremy's torch.

Just as Jeremy opened his mouth to respond, there was a loud crash from above us and the sound of wood being broken.

Quickly, Jeremy pointed his torch up, just in time to illuminate one of the wooden slats from the tank's roof plunging down directly above us.

Without thinking I grabbed Emily and pulled her away from the path of the falling timber. We hit the ground hard just as the wood slammed into the ground, millimetres from our legs.

I looked over at Jeremy. He had also managed to barely avoid getting squashed, managing to dodge out of the way on his own.

At that moment I realised I still had my arms wrapped around Emily as we laid on the ground. I blushed and quickly let go, getting to my feet.

"What the hell was-

"I TOLD YOU TO COME ALONE"

I froze as the words bounced off the walls and reverberated in my skull. I clutched my ears as they echoed around the inside of the tank.

It sounded like they were coming from a woman, somewhere ahead of us in the darkness. Jeremy's torch was no longer shining, leaving us completely blind.

My heart thumped in my chest as I met Jeremy's gaze.

"I ONLY WANT YOU" 

Suddenly the sound of wood being torn apart returned, and another wooden slat crashed to the ground somewhere to our left.

"Oh god," I heard Emily whisper.

"We need to get the fuck out of here," I said, trying frantically to figure out which direction we had come from.

"MY CHILD"

Another crash, this time closer, as another piece of timber slammed into the ground. The woman's voice was so loud it left my ears ringing every time she spoke.

I tried my torch. Of course, nothing. Feeling with my hand, I found Emily to my right. I grasped her hand tightly while searching for Jeremy with my left hand.

"Jeremy, grab my hand, quick!"

More slats began to fall around us, each one closer than the last.

Bang.

Bang.

BANG.

Finally Jeremy's hand grasped mine.

Wasting no time, I began to run, pulling them along with me.

I tried vaguely to move in the direction we had come, but hampering matters was the fact that Emily had clearly hurt her ankle when she tripped earlier, so she couldn't run as much as furiously limp.

"Emily are you-

"Don't worry about me, just keep going!" she said, clearly in pain.

I prayed that I was going in the right direction, but it was impossible to tell in the darkness, we could be running around in circles for hours.

Just as I was beginning to get my bearings, I felt Jeremy's hand being ripped away from mine.

I whipped around, and couldn't quite believe what I saw.

Jeremy had dropped his torch, and it was on the ground blinking on and off, so every couple of seconds we were getting a glimpse of the situation.

Jeremy was being lifted up into the air by a gangly-looking woman, who was covered in rotting flesh. Her skin was dark grey, and her body was oozing liquid from every orifice.

She was wearing torn, water-logged clothing that seemed to sag on her body. Her arms and hands were covered in scaly wrinkles, spotted with openings that looked almost like gills.

The woman's green eyes bulged as she stared at Jeremy, a wide smile forming on her thin, decaying lips.

"My boy," she said, opening her mouth and sliding out her grimy green tongue.

As she licked the side of Jeremy's face I stood there frozen. I wanted to help my friend, but I was paralysed by fear.

"Let him go!" yelled Emily, charging at the gruesome woman.

"STAY AWAY"

Her scream was so loud that it stopped Emily in her tracks, bringing her to her knees. I felt like my head was going to explode as I collapsed to the ground.

The woman's face twisting into a snarl, she walked forward and lifted her foot into the air, bringing it down with tremendous force onto Emily's already injured ankle.

I saw Emily's face contort in pain as she clutched her foot. I would have heard her scream if my ears weren't still ringing like crazy, but I could see the intense pain etched on her expression.

Smiling, the woman leaned forward and kissed Jeremy on the cheek as he violently tried to wiggle free from her grasp.

I could see the fear in Jeremy's eyes, and I knew I had to do something. I couldn't let my friend down.

Not again.

This whole night Emily had been the one to throw herself into danger to help Jeremy, but I'd always been too much of a pussy to actually do something.

Making sure the woman was still distracted by Jeremy, I slipped my backpack off and grasped it in my hands.

Slowly, silently getting to my feet, I stepped forward and launched the backpack at the woman with as much force as I could muster.

It collided with her face, causing her to lose her grip on Jeremy and eliciting a shrill scream from her lips. 

"NO"

As Jeremy scrambled free I ran over to his torch and grabbed it, quickly shining it around to find the exit.

The light emitted by the torch continued to flash on and off, showing me short snapshots of different parts of the well.

Wall.

Wood slat.

Puddle.

"Come on, come on," I muttered.

"GIVE HIM BACK"

My heart was pumping ferociously in my chest and my hands were cold and clammy as the woman's shrill voice invaded my ears.

"Leave us alone, bitch!" I heard Emily shout somewhere in the darkness.

At that moment I almost lost grip on the torch, my hands slipping off its handle for a second. On instinct, I thrust out my hand, just managing to grab it before it collided with the floor.

"I WANT MY CHILD"

Then I heard Jeremy, "Oh God, no!"

Gritting my teeth, trying to block out the panic around me, I raised the flickering light again.

Night sky.

Construction tools.

Stairs.

"Yes!" I yelled.

The light blinked off, and then on again.

Only this time, the grotesque face of the woman was illuminated, her expression twisted into a snarl.

I jerked back, but it was too late.

The woman reached out and grabbed the torch in my hands, hissing wildly.

Suddenly, everything came to a stop. My eyes were filled with a bright light as I experienced a shock so intense I thought I was going to pass out.

I recoiled, the torch slipping out of my hands. The next thing I knew I was on the ground in the fetal position, my limbs shaking.

I was in utter agony, the pain felt like someone had sucker punched me in the balls...twice.

"Ty!" I heard a somewhat disembodied voice in the background say. I could only barely hear them over the white noise invading my ears.

Next I heard their footsteps pounding on the ground, coming closer.

Then, Jeremy's face came into view. He was holding the torch I'd dropped.

"Holy shit Ty, are you alive?!"

I heard him clearly that time, the effects of the shock beginning to wear off.

"Barely," I choked out, before my breath caught in my throat and I launched into a coughing fit.

Jeremy put his hand on my back, before I felt someone else slide next to me. I felt a hand on my neck, two fingers checking my pulse.

"You could have permanent damage, that looked like some kind of electric shock," Emily said.

I could hear the concern in her voice, so I turned to look at her.

"You're pretty busted up yourself," I said, nodding to her mangled ankle.

"I'll be fine, Jeremy's the one who got slobbered on," she responded, smirking at Jeremy.

His response was to immediately heave his guts on to the ground, as if the memory was stained in his mind.

"I'm never following you guys into a water tank again by the way," Jeremy said, his face gone completely white.

"What happened to her?" I asked, realising we were no longer being pursued. 

Jeremy wiped his mouth and shined his torch to our left, "See for yourself."

The light illuminated the body of the woman. Her flesh was charred, smoke rising from her eyebrows. Clearly she had been shocked just as bad as I had, maybe worse.

"Is she..." Emily trailed off, gazing at the motionless woman.

"I don't know," I said, "But I don't think we should hang around to find out."

"I know I'm not, I want to get as far away from her as possible...whoever or whatever she is," Jeremy said.

He extended his hand to help me up. As I grasped it, I felt an aching pain radiate across my palm. I jerked my hand back, and saw the gnarly burns indented into my palms.

"At least I'm not unconscious," I said, shrugging.

Jeremy helped Emily up, who braced herself on my shoulder. I brought my arm around her waist to support her, and we slowly made our way towards the stairs like some three-legged-race contestant.

While we moved I began to actually think about what had just happened. There were so many questions...who was this woman? Was she even alive in the first place?

She looked like a drowned corpse...but somehow she could walk and talk...boy could she talk, I doubted I'd be able to hear properly for days.

The woman was also fascinated with Jeremy for a reason that I didn't yet understand.

Regardless, the first order of business was to get the hell out of dodge before any more weird shit happened.

We began to ascend the stairs, which creaked beneath our feet.

"Just take it slow," I said.

We had made it halfway up the stairs when I heard Jeremy curse. I flipped around to see that all was left of Jeremy was his head and his arms.

One of the stairs had given way and he'd fallen through, his hands clutching the ground the only thing stopping him from plunging into the ground below.

I cursed under my breath, crouching down and extending my arm to help Jeremy. Emily reached out to help bring him up.

We slowly began to lift him up, but suddenly we felt resistance on the other end.

Someone was pulling him back down.

"HE'S MINE"

The woman seemed to have unnatural strength, it felt like I was in a tug-of-war with a giant Irishman.

It was then I realised that either she had jumped up to grab him and we were pulling against her entire body weight, or she'd somehow contorted her own body to reach him.

"I'm not letting go, I'm not letting go," repeated Emily, but it was no use.

Jeremy's eyes grew wide as he slowly began to be pulled back down.

"Guys, please," he said, tears forming in his eyes.

I felt my heart sink as Jeremy was ripped from our grasp, and plummeted down to the floor, landing with a sickening thud.

Emily began sobbing quietly as all of the other noise suddenly stopped. There were no more falling slats, no more screams, even the wind had died down.

I took a deep breath, preparing for the worst, and slowly looked through the hole Jeremy had fallen through.

On the ground laid Jeremy.

With the woman's arms wrapped around him.

He had landed on her, and he was alive.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

"Jeremy, you OK?!" I called out.

Jeremy slowly managed to raise his hand, and give a thumbs up. I turned to Emily, who was looking bewildered.

"He's alive," I said.

"Well go get him!" she exclaimed, relieved.

I turned back to Jeremy, "I'm coming!".

Leaving Emily, I began racing back down the rickety stairs - hopefully for the last time tonight. 

Reaching the floor, I tried my torch, finding that it was now fully operational. Lighting up the path in front of me, I was able to find Jeremy easily.

His clothes had been torn, his eyes looked glassy, and his backpack had nigh exploded from the impact, but he was still breathing.

"Hey buddy," I breathed, almost out of breath from pounding down the stairs.

"Hey," he croaked.

The old woman's arms remained wrapped around him, so the first order of business was to pull them off. I grabbed the grotty, decomposing arms, and tried to pry them apart.

No give.

My anxiety began to build as I struggled mightily to try and loosen her grip, but it was no use, her grip was unnaturally tight.

Then a disturbing thought went through my head.

She looked like she was dead, but hadn't she looked that way the whole night?

Just as I was pondering this, the woman's mouth fell open, and water began to pour out of it. 

And this was no stream, this was a full borne torrent shooting into the air and raining down on Jeremy and I.

"Oh shit, oh shit oh shit oh shit," I gasped as the foul liquid began to pool around us.

"What's happening?" asked Jeremy, still semi-conscious.

"Don't worry I'm gonna get you out of here," I tried to reassure him.

Knowing I couldn't pull her arms off myself, I picked up the torch  and began searching around for something sharp to try and cut through her grip

Scanning the ground, my eyes fell on a saw that was lying onto the ground next to a 2x4 piece of wood, likely left behind by a worker.

"Hurry Ty!" called Emily, who was no doubt watching on in horror at the situation unfolding below her.

Picking up the saw, I quickly returned back to Jeremy, who was now nearly submerged in water. If I didn't free him now, he would drown. 

Gritting my teeth, I frantically began to try and cut through the woman's arms with the saw. 

Sickly green liquid began to ooze from her arm as I desperately hacked away. The smell was like nothing I'd ever experienced, it smelled like death mixed with vomit.

I gagged as I continued to cut through the woman's sagging flesh. I closed my eyes and tried to block out the sight and smell of what I was doing, just focusing on dragging the saw up and down.

Then I felt the saw collide with something hard and brittle. I opened my eyes to see something white sticking through the gore of the woman's arm.

I had cut through to her bone, but I didn't know if I would be able to hack through it.

Jeremy coughed and heaved, the water level now nearly above his head.

I tried to support his head as I cut, to help him breathe, but it didn't work. I couldn't keep his head up and hack through the woman's bone at the same time.

"Ty," said Jeremy, coughing loudly, "I don't want to die."

"I know, I know."

Tears stung my cheeks. I could barely will myself to look at him, I didn't want to watch my friend die.

Knowing I had little time left, I let Jeremy's head sink under the water and grasped the woman's arm with both hands.

I quickly brought my knee forward and braced it on her arm. With all my strength, I pulled backwards, trying to snap the bone.

Nothing.

As much as I pulled, the bone resisted, as if it was completely locked in place. A feeling of helplessness rushed through me as I heard Jeremy spluttering.

"No, no, no, no" I said, slamming my fist into the ground.

But there was nothing I could do. The water level had risen too high, the liquid was still spilling out of the woman's mouth, and now Jeremy's head was almost submerged.

Having barely made it through the woman's first arm, I gave up, dropping the saw and meeting Jeremy's eyes.

"Tell mum...I'm sorry," he said, tears running down his face and mixing with the water.

Before I could reply, the water rose above his head, completely submerging it.

Jeremy thrashed as he tried desperately to get a breath of air, but I knew it was no use, and I couldn't bare to watch.

I stood up and began to wade my way through the water back to the stairs.

"I'll tell her," I whispered.

**

Emily and I ascended the stairs in silence. She hadn't spoken to me since I'd made it back to her.

I could tell she was angry, but I couldn't keep pretending that nothing had happened.

"What the fuck are we going to do?!" I said, breaking the silence as we reached the top of the stairway. The water had now almost completely consumed the stairway, but was no longer rising.

Emily paused, her back turned to me while she was propped on a wooden slat she had been using as a walking stick.

The question hung in the air, daring either of us to answer. 

"Emily, say something," I said, tears beginning to well up in my eyes.

"It's my fault," Emily responded, turning to face me.

Two black streaks ran down her face, her makeup unable to hide the devastation of losing a close friend.

"I pushed him to come with us when he was scared," Emily said, sobbing softly.

"You didn't do anything wrong, how could we know what was gonna happen?" I reasoned, trying more than anything to make myself feel less guilty.

"We didn't know what we were walking into."

Emily let out a long sigh, and tried to wipe her eyes with her jumper sleeve, smudging her makeup even further so it left angry black circles on her cheeks.

I could see the pain in her eyes as she looked back at me.

"You know, you're right," she said.

"We didn't know, and that's why Jeremy is dead."

The rest of the way home we tried to work out what we would tell our parents. One thing was clear, we didn't want to tell our parents anything less than what had happened.

Even though it was tempting to lie, to try and make it look like we weren't crazy, the truth was something supernatural happened inside that tank, and we wanted to at least tell our parents exactly what went down.

We were going to tell them that there would be another body at the bottom of that tank, wrapped around Jeremy.

Even if it might be bad for us in the long run, we would be honest and hope the evidence would support us.

For Jeremy.

**

Epilogue

Parsky Police found Jeremy's body alone at the bottom of the town's water tank. There was no old woman attached to him. There was no water either, the tank was completely empty.

Because our statements directly contradicted what the police found, we were brought in for further questioning.

We became the two main suspects in the mystery of how a local boy had drowned in an empty water tank.

Although police could confirm we were with Jeremy the night he died, there was no physical evidence that suggested we had caused his death.

The case became a national media sensation, with TV reporters coming from all over to report on the story.

Seeing Jeremy's tearful mother pleading for us to confess to his murder really drove the nail, but I did sympathise with her. Losing a son was not a pain I could yet comprehend.

I barely saw Emily outside of police questioning during this time, and we drifted apart as the reality of being directly involved in the death of another person consumed us.

Eventually we were cleared of any crime by police, although Jeremy's family took us to the civil court, trying to get a ruling of manslaughter.

That was settled out of court, though mum never told me exactly for how much.

Then, well, we went on with our lives. Emily and her family moved away from Parsky, while I finished my schooling there despite virtually having no friends anymore due to the incident.

I moved away to UCLA and started earning my physics degree, trying to put the past behind me.

And to be honest, I hadn't thought about what happened the fateful night we visited the water tank on the edge of town for months.

Until this morning, when I got a text from an unknown number.

"Ty, it's Emily.

You need to come back to Parsky.

Another boy has died.

We need to get to the bottom of this.

For Jeremy."

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