It began one Friday evening when Zach Ariff, Jamal and Alaina Lee and Ahmad Seth, school friends bought together by a mutual interest in ghost stories and urban legends, meet up at Seth’s house for their weekly session of swapping scary stories. Most of their stories have the usual themes of serial killers hiding inside people's cars, haunted houses or school games where you have to chant some stupid verse or stories about a people hanging out by the graveyard and get terrorized by restless spirits and so on.

"You guys heard about The Rotting Man?" Seth asked.

“No," Zach said. "What's that?"

"Ooh, dude," he grinned conspiratorially, like he’s letting the group on a secret bigger than the formula for Coca-Cola. "You see," he began, "the Rotting Man is a creature said to be living in the outskirts of the PJ Industrial Area."

Alaina sighed, and wiped her oval face with a delicate pale hand and said in a deadpan voice, “But that place's still full of electronics factories, and there are plenty of houses and shops there. So there's no way that it could go unnoticed."

"Dude, let me finish," Seth insisted, sitting upright on his desk chair, "the thing is, this is the really old parts of the industrial area, you know, the spot where there's all these abandoned factories and no one goes there, except for the guys who cuts the grass and stuff?"

"Yeah," Zach agreed quickly, remembering the area. It used to be the main industrial spot, until the factories closed down in the eighties, and left to rot ever since its owners locked the doors for the very last time.

With the exception of a few factories, most of them are left unguarded, making it a ripe spot for graffiti artists, homeless people, drug users and the like. It's only natural someone started making up ghost stories about the place.

"So anyway," Seth continued while readjusting his glasses and brushing his dark hair, "I heard this from one of the guys that works there. From what he told me, one night, there's this graffiti artist, who broke into one of the factories. So, when he started spray-painting, he started to smell this weird rotting smell, okay?"

"Go on." Zach said, his resting his lean figure on the only empty spot on the bedroom wall, which was mostly covered in posters of horror movies and a bookshelf filled mostly with horror novels.

"So this guy continued working, thinking that it could be rotten meat someone dumped there at the factory," he continued, "but then he started hearing this song like Oh what have we here, here's a delicious morsel, tastes well raw, even better cooked, so he started freaking out. And then, he took out his torchlight, and he saw it, The Rotting Man."

"What's he like?" Zach asked, leaning forward and looking directly at Seth, twirling his curly long hair in curiosity.

"Well, he has a body of a human being, but that he has no skin and his flesh is rotting all over, that’s all I really know."

"But somehow this...Rotting Man managed to be strong and agile?" Zach asked, raising a curved eyebrow in skepticism.

"Hey, that's what I heard," he shrugged. "Anyway, when he attacked the guy, he actually bit the guy's neck, but somehow he managed to push him away, gave him a few blows with his torchlight and broke it, and escaped, before he ran into the guy that told me the story."

"So what happened to the artist after that?" Alaina asked.

"Shit, I don’t know,” Seth said, gesturing with his hand as if he was waving it off.

"So...it might be real, then?" Zach asked, leaning forward, not particularly convinced, but curious, nonetheless.

"Yeah, it might be," he grinned, and then said, "Come on, let's check it out."

"What?" Jamal said nervously, his eyes darting around the room, worry written all over his light brown skin. "You mean right now?"

Seth rolled his eyes and said, "No, not right now, bro. Later, tonight. Then we can see if it's for real or not."

"Are you sure it's a good idea?" Alaina asked suspiciously, drumming her long fingers on her bare knees.

"Of course it is," he said excitedly, his brown irises clearly shining behind his glasses, “I mean, we're exploring to see if a local rumor is true or not, how awesome is that? Shit, man. For all we know, we might even get interviewed in Mastika, maybe a guest spot in Seekers. That’ll be pretty cool, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Alaina said, rolling her eyes. “Being on TV is pretty cool but it won’t happen, Seth.”



****

As soon as darkness descended upon the town, the group drove out to the industrial complex, trying not to draw attention to themselves from the industrial workers and guards populating the area.

As they drove deeper inside, the surrounding area became even more desolated and dilapidated, with empty, gutted out buildings, graffiti-covered walls, sporadic lighting barely lighting up the cracked streets and untended plants becoming even more commonplace as they progressed.

They then stopped the car next to an abandoned soda factory, and got out.

"This is it," Seth said.

"Are you sure this is the factory?" Zach asked, looking around the area as he felt there were at least a dozen factories in the area that fit the story's description.

"I think it's this one," Seth said excitedly as he turned on his torch light, which provided them with a degree of badly needed light as the lampposts on the streets are working, with no lights coming from the factory itself. When Seth shone the light at the pitch black factory complex, it barely penetrated the darkness in the area, adding on to everyone’s apprehension.

"Come on," Alaina smiled and placed her hand on Zach’s shoulder, looking up at him. "It's not that bad."

"Yeah," he mumbled, sweat beading on his forehead, "I'm sure nothing bad will happen."

"Come on," Seth urged the group. "If I'm not mistaken..." he said, rattling the rusty gates that acted as a barrier between the outside world and the unknown dangers of the factory, and forced it open. "It's this way," he said, as he stepped into the abandoned factory complex, leading the group into a certain doom.

"Let's stay close," Alaina said, without the slightest trace of worry in her voice or on her face, as she stepped into the factory compound herself. Zach soon followed them, his hands clammy with worry and anticipation as he followed the duo, before the last one, Jamal caught up with them and closed the gate.

"Why'd you close the gate?" Zach asked curiously.

"If I leave it open, the guards might realize someone might be here," Jamal huffed, the brief period of exertion already exhausted his chubby figure.

Zach rolled his eyes. "Yeah bro, like no one would notice the empty car parked just in front of the factory, obviously."

"Yeah, can't do much about that," he agreed, wiping his sweat-soaked face.

"You guys coming or what?" Seth called out, clearly anxious to look around and verify the rumor. Alaina waited by his side, her hands on her hips, looking as calm as ever.

Zach and Jamal then jogged up towards them.

"Alright dude, now what?" Jamal asked, wheezing even more.

"Now," he said, "we look for The Rotting Man."

Oh, joy, Zach thought to himself. Why did I ever agree to this? Sure, it beats staying at home, but now I really wished I stayed.

"So...what's your plan?" Jamal asked, straightening his hefty frame.

"Well," Seth looked around, and said, "It is a big place. Do you think we should split up? We could cover more ground that way. Besides, that thing’s probably not that harmful for all we know, right? "

"Nah-uh," Zach said quickly.” No way, dude. Haven't you seen those horror movies where if the main characters split up every single one of them will get chased down by some monster until only one remains?”

"And that would be me, obviously." Alaina said cheerily. "The lone girl always survives."

"Oh, come on," Zach groaned out loud. "Look, let's just stick together. Who knows what might happen. We probably won't run into The Rotting Man, if he's even real, but at a place like this we might meet someone up to no good. At least when we're in a group, the numbers will work to our advantage."

"Fair enough," Seth nodded, before flashing his torch light around the area. "From what I know..." he mumbled out loud, "the artist would most likely be doing his work at the main building, so let's start there."


****

"Hellooo?" Seth called out as the group entered the factory building.

"Oh, good job, Seth," Zach groaned. "Alert that thing that we're around, will you? Just brilliant, bro.”

"Whatever, man," he said dismissively as he walked into the factory, flashing his torch light around. "I want him to know we mean business."

Zach rolled his eyes. "You mean you mean business, Seth. I never agreed to this."

"Hey, come on now," Alaina said. "There's no need to fight, guys."

"She's right," Jamal agreed, trying not to look to anxious himself. "The sooner we stop arguing, the sooner we can get this over with, the sooner we can go home"

"Fine. Let's go..." Seth began, looking around the barren factory floor, seeing that most of the machinery that previously occupied it was obviously removed by its previous owner, the stairwell leading to the office complex upstairs, and the open yard, which, judging by the tarmac and overgrowth, is where the bottles would be arranged before shipped away. He looked around and took another look at the stairwell. "That way," he said.

As they made their way up the staircase, Seth paused for a moment. "Did you guys hear something?" he asked.

"What, you're chickening out already, Seth?" Zach sneered.

"Shut up, man," he replied, turning back, glaring directly at Zach. "All you ever do is complain and make fun of me. If you don't want to follow, you can just leave."

"Eh, dah lah, korang," Jamal groaned. "Let's get upstairs, we might find something interesting. I mean, we probably won't find The Rotten Man or whatever he is, but there might be some cool stuff left over, you know."

"He's The Rotting Man!" Seth said, upset that the rest of the group is not taking it as seriously as he does. "Come on, we're wasting time already. He might be hiding up there, that's where I heard the noise."

"Dude," Alaina spoke up, "if you heard that noise up there, maybe it's better if we stay away from it. If you still want to go upstairs, though, I guess we can wait for a bit before we go up there?"

"Good idea," Seth agreed. "Let's wait for a couple of minutes and then we'll go upstairs."

The group stood at the stairwell for a few minutes in total darkness, the light from their torch lights illuminating the floor. There was hardly any sound, save for the shuffling sound of their shoes as they waited anxiously, unable to start up a conversation in that tense, still air blanketing the environment. Zach turned his torch light on and off repeatedly, Alaina kept hers still, Seth kept on shining it upstairs, clearly anxious to go up, while Jamal tried to amuse himself by making shadows with his hands.

After waiting for a few more moments, Seth looked at the rest of the group and said, “I think we can go now,” As they slowly went up the cracked staircase, kicking rubble and empty bottles out of their way as footsteps echoed throughout the empty factory, and reached the second floor.

"Well, here we are," Zach said, looking around the office rooms, its rotting doors ajar, as if the last person who left the premises simply left them open for the last time before leaving for good.

They then walked down the hallway, peering into the musty, vacant offices with broken light bulbs hanging from the ceiling, the floors littered with used needles and spoons and discarded whiskey bottles. Save for their flashlights, the office floor was covered in complete darkness.

Some of the offices have an old desk or chair in the room, and one of them had a filing cabinet in them, all in various states of decay and rust. The group went through the cabinet to find anything of interest, but the damp, rotting drawers were barren, except for a few moldy pieces of paper and broken cheap pens lying in small puddles of stagnant water inside them.

"Well, he's definitely not here," Seth concluded after they’ve finished searching through the whole floor. "Let's try elsewhere."

"Man, the sooner we finish, the better," Alaina said.

"Yep, that's what she said," Zach grinned.

Alaina punched his shoulder in response. "You jerk."

"Come on, let's go downstairs," Seth said, as he turned to face another set of stairs leading downstairs.



****


Jamal walked down the corridor, having separated himself from the group earlier, and trying to find a signal on his phone. He’s desperately trying to call his mother, just wanting to let her know that he’ll be fine, he’s not up to anything dangerous, when he heard a growling sound right behind him. He broke into a cold sweat, his stomach churning in terror as he wondered what to do next.

As he turned around, the first thing he saw was a bony figure, with rotten flesh hanging off its skeletal frame leaping at him. Frozen in horror, he saw the creature’s brown, cracked teeth pouncing at him.

The fear and surprise he felt when he first saw the creature was swiftly replaced by utter, blinding pain, on his neck. He gasped in shock, immobilized by the pain and blood loss. Mustering the strength needed, he tried to throw the creature away from him, to no avail, as the creature's inhumanly strong grip makes it impossible for him to overpower it.

His vision blurry from the initial attack, he tried to gain the strength he needed to push it away for the last time, but to his horror, he felt the creature's bony fingers penetrating his eye sockets, and began to pull on his eyeballs viciously, which made the pain even worse. The pain from the attack became unbearable, and crippled with pain and fear, his world turned black.

"Ooh, eyeballs, eyeballs, little piggy dead, yes, I take piggy's eyes, yummy yummy yummy," the Rotting Man cackled, as it shoved the eyeballs into its own mouth and began eating it, and took another look at Jamal's lifeless, blind body, and skittered away, humming, "three more piggies for my tummy, three more piggies and I'll be full, yes, yes, yes."



****


“Well, that was a false start,” Alaina said, as they reached downstairs. One moment later, Zach took a look behind them, and noticed something amiss.

“Uh, guys” Zach said as he did a double take. “I just realized Jamal’s not with us.”

“Shit,” Seth said, his lips curled in clear distaste, “I knew that mother’s boy going to be a nuisance.”

Alaina took out her phone, and looked at it. “Well, there’s no signal,” she said, as she placed her phone back in her pocket. “I guess we have to go back and find him now.”

But as soon as they stepped on the first steps on the stairwell, Alaina stopped on her tracks. "Kejap, guys," she whispered, her hand blocking them from proceeding. "Hear that?"

"Heheheheheheheheheheheheh," a faint cackling voice came from upstairs, followed by a faint skittering noise, and we stood there, numb with shock and surprise, until the noise faded out.

"Oh my god," Zach whispered. "He's real."

"Did you guys hear that?" Seth spoke up, his face clearly excited by the turn of events. "I knew it! I knew the Rotting Man's real! Guys, this is so cool!"

"Eh, bodoh la kau!" Alaina exclaimed. "If he's real, that means Jamal's in danger."

They quickly ran up the stairs, their footsteps echoed in the factory’s emptiness. Their lights flashed wildly in the night; highlighting the cracks in the steps, the mold gathering in the ceiling, , the rusty steel supports, the decaying doors, and the dust they kicked away in their mad scramble for their friend. They breathed rapidly, the feeling of air brushing against their lungs as they ran, praying that maybe, just maybe, they could reach to him in time.

After running around and calling out for Jamal’s name, they turned around a corner, and stopped.

Jamal's mutilated body lied on the bathroom floor, his neck almost chewed into half, the huge, gaping wound caked with dried blood, with bits and pieces of torn skin, flesh and arteries lying all around the floor.

It was the eye sockets that struck them the most, though.

The moment they flashed their flashlights at his body, the first thing they saw with the light was his bloodied face. His eyes were no longer there, with only empty bloody sockets in its place, staring back at them accusingly, blaming them for bringing him along towards his death, and warning that either one of them could be next.

Zach stated to feel light-headed and queasy. He stumbled to a corner, leaned over, and vomited loudly.

"Dude, you okay?" Alaina asked, concerned.

“Yeah,” Zach said weakly. “Just…what the fuck happened, man?”

All of a sudden, Seth burst into a fit of hysterical laughter. “Shit, don’t you guys see it? The Rotting Man’s real, man!" he continued, waving his hands at Jamal's lifeless body, "And he just...just...ate up Jamal's eyes. He's definitely real, you guys. He actually eats body parts like in the story! Do you have any idea how cool this is?"

"My god," Alaina said. "You've lost the plot, bro."

"Ooh no no no," Seth smiled as he got up and waved his chubby finger at them. "Korang tak faham, bai. The Rotting Man is real, you guys, and I'm going to prove it to the world. I'll get the evidence to show everyone he's real, and you guys are going to help me,"

"No way, dude," Zach stood up. "We're out of here. Look what it did to Jamal, man."

“Oh, come on,” Seth said, “What happened with Jamal’s a tragedy, but look at it this way. If we gather the evidence and prove to everyone that it’s real, maybe we can…like you know, avenge his death or something?”

“You idiot,” Alaina said. “You can’t just leave him here like that! What about the police? What about his mom?”

“What about them?” Seth asked.

Zach stood back up, looking at Seth with surprise. “What about them? Dude, don’t you get it? The police will ask what we were doing here, why we didn’t call them sooner, and then we have to deal with his mom, man. Shit, she hasn’t been too good ever since his dad died, and now he’s dead too.”

Zach tried to continue, his voice cracking, and no words came out. He leaned against a wall and covered his face. “Oh man, this is bad. This is really bad. We should get out of here.”

Seth rubbed his face with his hands and looked at the both of them. “Alright,” he said, “here’s what we’ll do. Let’s go and find that thing first, and we’ll make it pay for what it did to Jamal here, once we did that, we’ll come up with an alibi about…I don’t know, some junkie attacking him when he’s not looking or something."

“That’s a pretty stupid idea,” Zach mumbled, “but I can’t think of anything better.”

“But I still think we should get out of here, fast,” Alaina argued.

“Oh,” Seth said, glaring at Alaina, “do you have any better ideas?”

“I say we get out of here, now,” Alaina replied. “Call the police and tell them the story you just said earlier, but if we go to them right now, they’re less likely to think we killed Jamal. I mean, just think, guys. We visited an abandoned factory in the middle of the night, and Jamal shows up dead, and instead of going to them immediately, we simply decide to look around some more? Anyone would think something weird’s going on here.”

“She’s got a point there,” Zach nodded. “Maybe we should leave now.”

“No, no, you guys,” Seth stood up between them. “We should investigate further. We’re not doing this for ourselves; we’re doing this for Jamal. That creature simply got lucky when it attacked Jamal. We’ve got numbers on our side, plus, if we stay alert, we might be able to stay one step ahead of that creature. Once we get the proof, hell, if we kill that creature, we’ll be able to avenge Jamal’s death and show everyone that thing’s real.”

“Fuck this,” Alaina exclaimed, and turned around. “I’m getting out of here. Come on, Zach.”

Zach didn’t even respond to her request, standing at the same spot, looking down at the floor.

Alaina grabbed his elbow and started shaking it. “Come on bro, let’s go. We should get out of here now.”

Zach pulled his arm away and looked at her. “I don’t know, man. I’m starting to have second thoughts here.”

Alaina looked at him in dismay and looked at Zach, her mouth open in disbelief. “Seriously, Zach? It’s not safe here, man. Let’s go, come on.”

Zach and Seth simply remained standing, looking at her blankly.

“Look,” Seth began, “I know you want to get out right now, but it’s dangerous out there, especially if you go out there by yourself. That creature’s still out there, and god knows what’ll happen if it finds you wandering around by yourself. Let’s stick together, find that thing, and get out of here. What’d you say?”

Alaina rubbed her eyes and blinked for a moment before saying, “Alright, Seth. Let’s go with your plan for now. If anything goes wrong, though, we’re out of here.”

Seth smiled weakly and held up both his hands up. “Alright, I get it.”

“So where should we go now?” Zach asked as he straightened himself up again.

“I don’t know,” Seth admitted, “but I don’t think it’s on this floor anymore.” He looked around for a moment before he looked out of the window and noticed the back of the factory. “We could try there. It’s out in the open, so there’s no way it’ll take us by surprise,”

Zach ran his hand through his curly hair. “Shit, at this rate, anyplace is a good place to start,”

The three of them went downstairs, past the production floor, and went outdoors. They paused for a moment as they looked around the area, with weeds growing between the cracks in the parking lot, the empty crates and broken bottles strewn all over the place, trying to find their bearings in the pitch-dark environment.

As they looked around, Alaina stooped over and picked up a piece of wood, while Zach picked up a large rock next to him.

Seth picked up a still-intact bottle and grasped it in his hand. “Right,” he said, “let’s try the storeroom over there.”

Alaina was about to protest, but Seth brushed her off and entered the storeroom.

Zach and Alaina waited for Seth outside the storeroom, anxious to leave the area as soon as possible. Just as Alaina was about to approach the door to check up on Seth, a gust of wind blew the storeroom door, and closed it. As if on cue, they heard Seth quickly approaching the door and rattling on the doorknob.

“What the fuck, guys?” Seth demanded, banging on the door. “Why’d you lock me in?”

“It wasn’t our fault, man,” Zach replied, “it just closed by itself. Try opening it from the inside,”

“Dude, I can’t,” Seth exclaimed.

As they fumbled with the doorknob, Alaina heard a galloping sound approaching them from behind. Dreading the worst, she turned around and saw a humanoid figure with rotting flesh clinging on to its bones rapidly approaching them, its mouth twisted in a grotesque smile.

“Oh shit, shit,” Zach stammered, his knees shaking in fear, “What do we do now?”

“Don’t leave me behind, you guys,” Seth demanded, “hold him off!”

Before they could react, the creature leaped towards Zach, and in a moment of courage, he ran forward and threw himself on the monster, tackling it to the ground. With his rock in one hand, he quickly bashed the rock down on the creature’s head, smashing it against its skull, dust and rotten flesh flying everywhere.

Injured from the attack, it swiftly turned its head towards Zach and glared directly at him through its empty eye sockets. Zach stopped for a moment, and shocked from what he had saw, quickly scooted back before getting up on his knees immediately.

He quickly charged again, trying to hit the monster with the rock again, but the creature quickly gripped Zach’s throat with his skeletal hand, chunks of rotting flesh sliding against his throat, the overpowering stench of rotten flesh filling his nostrils.

As Zach struggled to break free from its grasp, Alaina attacked the monster from behind, hitting it with the plank in her hands. The creature cringed for a moment, threw Zach against the wall, before twisting its head to meet Alaina’s horrified face, her jaw frozen in terror as the creature smiled at her.

The impact from hitting the wall head-on quickly knocked Zach off. With Zach unconscious, it turned its attention towards Alaina. Panicked by the turn of events, she started to run away, but seeing Zach lying on the ground, and worrying for his safety, she decided to stand her ground, holding the plank with her shaking hands, anticipating the creature’s attack.

It rushed towards her, and when it got close to her, she immediately swung the plank towards the creature, but it deftly ran sideways, before it jumped on her, grabbing her throat with its right hand, and Alaina soon felt its fingers digging into it, and felt her heart beating rapidly in her chest as it slowly pulled her throat out of her neck, and the more it pulled it out of her neck, the more she gagged and gasped for breath before the creature then ripped out her throat in one single, swift move.

It then tossed her body aside like a doll, blood still sputtering out of the gaping wound, and walked away from the spot, while slurping and crunching on her throat.

“Mmm. Tough. Chewy. Chewy,” it said, walking away from the scene.



****

Zach soon drifted back to consciousness, his vision blurry and his head throbbing badly from the earlier impact. As his vision started to clear up, he began to get a hold of his bearings, and looked around. He soon saw that he was indoors, lying by the production floor.

He stood up, his knees shaking as he tried to straighten himself up, his head pounding as he did so, before falling back down again. He sighed, unsure what to do next. Just as he was about to stand up again, a figure emerged from a corner, and smiled sadly at him.

“Alaina’s gone, man,” Seth said, as he approached him.

“Gone?” Zach asked, “But…how?”

“The Rotting Man got her. You got knocked out when you tried to attack him, and she tried to save you, but that thing killed her instead,” Seth sighed, as he took off his glasses and wiped them before putting them on again.

“Fuck,” Zach said. “It should’ve been me.”

“Don’t start beating yourself,” Seth said. “There’s nothing you can do about it,”

“Wait, how’d you get out of the storeroom?”

“The door popped open after the Rotting Man disappeared,” Seth explained. “I kept on slamming on it until the lock broke.”

“Oh,” Zach said, “that’s weird.”

“Yeah, I got lucky,” Seth shrugged. “Come on,” he pulled Zach up, “we’ve got to go and find that monster.”

“What?” Zach exclaimed, “Why?”

“Come on, man,” Seth replied, “don’t you want to get back at after what it did to Jamal and Alaina?”

“No, man,” Zach replied, and started to walk away. “I’ve had enough of this. I want to go home.”

“Oh, that’s easy for you to say. Go home and cry in bed, right? You could help me and avenge them, man,” Seth retorted.

“Please, man, just let me go,” Zach pleaded.

Seth grabbed Zach’s shoulders and shook him. “Come on, man,” he said, “we can’t give up now. We’ve come this close to revealing The Rotting Man. Once we’ve shown them the proof that it exists, they’ll help us find that monster and avenge their deaths.”

“Dude, that’s a really bad idea, “Zach protested, “I mean, if we show it to them, they’ll probably say we faked the whole thing and we killed them, man. I think we should leave,”

Seth sighed, and let his hands drop by his sides. “Alright, point taken. But we’re not going anywhere.”

“What?” Zach blinked, staring at Seth in disbelief.

“We’re still going to look for the Rotting Man.” Seth said, a smile creeping on his lips.

Zach shook his head. “No way, bro. I’m not going to do it.”

Seth chuckled underneath his breath. “Shit, man. I didn’t ask you if you want to do it. You’re doing it because I’m telling you to.

“W-what?” Zach stammered, his jaw slightly ajar in disbelief.

“What do you mean, ‘What?’” Seth chuckled, a smile creeping up his face. “Man, you really are dumb, aren’t you?”

“I want to go, Seth,” Zach said, trying to get away from Seth.

Seth stepped up in front of Zach, and said, “And I’m not letting you go anywhere. I’m not about to let that creature go away without proof that it exists.”

“No, I don’t want to,” Zach snarled, his hands curling into fists. “I’ve had enough.”

“Ooh-ho,” Seth laughed. “Look who’s finally got his balls back. Too bad my plan involves me leaving here alive, not you guys.”

“What’re you talking about, Seth?”

“Oh, come on,” Seth said, “are you really that slow? I planned this whole thing along, man. I brought you guys here so that you could lure it out, and I knew Jamal would sneak off to call his mom, so that way, it’ll call the Rotting Man’s attention towards himself, thus, showing you guys that he’s real.”

He then made a circular motion with his left hand, something he would normally do when he wants to make a point, and said, “The part about Alaina dying earlier, though, was totally unplanned.”

He smiled, “So… I guess I should be sorry about that, I guess?”

“Wait…so that storeroom, you locked yourself in while we were attacked by the Rotting Man?”

“Yeah,” Seth said. “I just pretended I couldn’t open the door, and I pleaded you guys to stay not just for my own safety, but also, so I can get some evidence that it’s real.”

“Why are you doing this, Seth?” Zach asked, his eyes wide with disbelief. “Why? I thought we’re friends,”

“Yeah, kinda.” Seth shrugged his shoulders. “But the thing is, I’ve always wanted to try and break in the paranormal scene, you know that, right? Well, this is it, man. My big break. I just have to prove to everyone it’s real and it’ll be my breakthrough.”

“So where do we come into this?” Zach replied numbly, his mouth dry.

“Oh, I didn’t tell you the whole story, didn’t I? The thing was, the artist wasn’t alone, man.” Seth grinned. “The thing was, the rumor that there was a man-eating monster in this factory been going on for quite a while, actually.”

He looked at Zach and added, “So one day, I convinced this guy I met tagging up somewhere around Subang, and told him about his place, like how no one comes here and there’s no guards, so it’s a perfect spot for him.”

“So I gave him this address, and we came here with another friend of his. What happened was, we then split up, and that creature got to his friend first. Luckily, we managed to get away from that thing in time. Another thing though, when we were getting out of here, we actually stumbled into the dead body, and realized how lucky we were.”

“So…” Zach stared at Seth, “We’re nothing more but bait, then?”

Seth lifted his hands up in the air, and exclaimed, “He finally gets it! Boys and girls, we’ve made a breakthrough! And yeah, when I heard of that, I realized the best thing to do was to get as many people between me and the creature, so that way, it’ll get to them first, while I’ll be able to make a clean getaway as he feasts on you guys.”

Seth then took out his phone and started fiddling with it. “Oh yeah, wait till you see this, man.” He then started playing a video file, “It might be a bit shaky, but I’m pretty sure you can make it out, right?”

Zach stood silently as he watched the video. Despite the slight darkness and shakiness of the video, he was able to see the figures in the video, especially the Rotting Man and how he had seen him face to face. He then heard the sounds made the creature as it advanced towards them, the clear tension when he and Alaina were trying to fight off the creature, the sight of him getting knocked out, before seeing Alaina getting choked and the sound of her throat ripped out and her dying gasps, brought him towards the edge.

“That’s it, Seth,” he growled, “I’ve had enough of this.”

“Oh, do you?” Seth smiled. “Too bad I’m not letting you go anywhere.”

Zach stepped up to Seth, and delivered a blow to his gut.

Seth coughed and gasped for breath, before looking back up at Zach. “That’s the best you’ve got?”

“Oh, I’m just getting started,” Zach responded, before charging towards Seth. Seth quickly picked up a piece of rubble on the ground and threw it at Zach, but missed. Seth then ran across the production floor, using the remaining machinery for cover, while Zach trailed behind him.

Seth then bolted upstairs, heading towards the office floor again, and went into hiding while Zach lurked around the hallway, looking out for Seth.

“Seth!” he called out, “Come out, you coward!”

Zach looked into the offices, but he couldn’t find Seth no matter how hard he tried. “Fuck it,” Zach said, giving up, “I might as well get out of here.”

Zach then walked towards at the end of the corridor towards a staircase. Just as he was about to start descending down the steps, he felt a powerful blow on the back of his head.

Blinded by pain, he fell down the staircase and stopped at the landing. His vision blurry with pain, he looked back at the top of the staircase, and saw Seth’s chubby figure standing there, holding a piece of wood, and looked smugly at him.

“Sorry, man,” Seth said, “like I said, I intend to get out of this alive.”

“Fuck you,” Zach muttered. “Fuck you, man.”

Just as Seth was about to reply, he stopped for a moment, looked around, and frowned. “Well, I guess I better go now. He’s getting close,” he said.

Before Zach could reply, Seth quickly ran away, leaving Zach to fend for himself.

“Damn it,” Zach muttered to himself, trying to get up again, before slipping down to the floor. He stayed there, sweat pouring down his head, his stomach churning in terror as he saw the Rotting Man slowly ascending up the stairs and smiled, its yellowed, rotten, jagged teeth visible in the darkness, its stench choking his nostrils.

"Don't you dare come any closer," Zach warned the shambling figure lurching towards him.

"Why not?" it hissed as it shambled closer towards Zach. "I'm still hungry. I want meat. Nice, juicy meat, yes."

Zach slowly stood back up, his knees wobbling in pain, unsure of what to do. The only possible way is to go upstairs, but that doesn’t offer him much in terms of escape. The offices on the floor don’t even have a flimsy door to buy him a few extra seconds to run away from the abhorrent creature shambling towards him.

Despite his incredibly bleak prospects, Zach stood back up, deciding that he wanted to live after all. “Don’t come any closer,” he warned the creature walking towards him, slime dripping out of his mouth, before he ran upstairs again, his head pounding in pain as he ran upstairs, but the Rotting Man quickly lunged towards him, tearing off a chunk of flesh from his leg.

“Aagh! Oh god!” Zach shouted, and kicked the Rotting Man’s face. The monster then grabbed his bloody leg again, blood seeping down from his jeans towards its bony, skeletal hands, before throwing him down the staircase.

Zach’s body hit the landing again, completely immobilized by the injuries he sustained from the impact. He lied on the floor, his nose bleeding as he saw the Rotting Man moving down the staircase, the creature lurched slowly towards him with a gleeful smile.

The creature growled as it approached Zach, its jagged teeth visible in the darkness as it shambled towards him. Even as Zach tried to crawl away from it, his injuries made it impossible for him to do so.

"Aw, don't run away," it said, "meat's tastier when it stays in one place."

All he could do right now, is to close his eyes and pray. As he uttered, "Oh god, help me..." the monster leaped towards him, digging its hands into his chest. Zach felt blinding pain overtook him as he felt something being pulled out of his chest. He shrieked in pain, his voice getting slower and slower as he felt the darkness clouding his vision.

Seth stumbled out of the factory, opening the factory gates slowly, and reached the car. With the keys he took from Jamal, he entered the car and started the engine. The moment he pressed his foot on the gas pedal, he heard a scream coming from within the factory, and drove away.

"Better you than me, guys," he smiled, looking at his own reflection in the rear-view mirror, while driving off into the darkness. "Better you than me."

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