The Van


“Ghosts aren’t real,” said Karoline.

The hum of the van chirped as it bumped along the road; towards the outskirts of Highridge. Mary, rolled her eyes, knowing her girlfriend was preparing to rant her ears off with how the paranormal is fake and everything is one big hoax.

“I mean, I don’t understand why even you hangout with these weirdos, Mary,” whispered Karoline. Connor, the group’s researching historian, stirred, smoking out the window next to them. Cigarette ash decorating the van’s dated dark leather seats. The smell of lime sandalwood car air freshener mixed with smoke thickened its insides.

John, in the passenger’s seat, pretended to ignore K’s non-believing. As he fidgeted with the group’s camcorder, his mind ran with thoughts of having to spend a night exploring an abandoned mall. It was said to be haunted by the ghosts of the Highridge Terrors’ victims, the serial killer who used the mall as a hunting ground in the small North Carolina town of Highridge during the mid-eighties.

“It’s just not-”
“K, enough,” interrupted Mary, “if you were going to spend the whole night complaining and practically stomping all over us and our thing, why’d you come?”
“Oh, mean this ghost hunting business of yours?”, scoffed Karoline, “Yeah, nice place that you’re running here,” motioning to the van’s peeling ceiling, tattooed with graffiti and sharpie drawings of ghouls, sugar skulls and pentagrams. “And, don’t even get me started on the rusted bumper which is hanging on for dear life!”

Connor, mumbled something under his breath on how K was being super clingy and overprotective of Mary. K shooting back a deathly stare. “Hey listen here, you son of-”

“Ok, ok!” John shouted, “Before everyone starts to tear each other’s eyes out, can we all just keep a look out for the mall?” The surrounding woods were thick as well as the fog, allowing minimal sight ahead. Lucas, the driver and owner of the van, having to squint as yellow headlights beamed into the night’s fog, the visor not helping with its cracks and smudged fingertips.

“And for your information Karoline, our channel has over 2,000 followers online,” added John.
“Of course, people allows need something to believe in, even if it’s your “adventures” she motioned with air quotes,” “But really, I’ve seen your props and amateur equipment, your vlogs are all make believe, you’re basically teasing your audience, and by the way, all of these abandoned places you explore count as breaking and entering, so yeah, like super illegal.”

As John prepared to defend himself and his team, Lucas broke his silence with “Guys?”

“Did you hear that?”

The group fell silent, only the van’s dated engine coming to a screeching halt.

“Ok, not this now, pretending to hear things,” Karoline sneered, breaking the silence, “I’m leaving, come on Mary, lets go!”

“No, shhh,” Mary ushered, eyes wide and face pale.


Everyone yelped as the high pitch of the child’s voice pierced the air.

“Mommy? I’m scared,” the voice gargled. A small figure broke through the fog, limping slowly towards the van.


“Alright what the hell?!”yelled K, “Enough, now you guys roped a child into this??” Pushing towards the front of the van, she took control of the wheel, in an attempt to steer them away. Immediate protests and arguments, yells on yells, erupted within the van as the tires creaked making a sharp right turn. Hands and feet were shoved about, empty beer cans rattled and broke.

“Guys, stop it, this used to be my grandfather’s van!!”, protested Lucas loudly before everyone was jolted forward, as they crashed into a nearby tree.

As their minds returned to them, Karoline felt a cold shiver touch her shoulder. Someone’s keen eyes were on her, eyes wide and pale, glossed over. “Can you help me?”said the figure, bits of blood soaked crayons falling from their mouths, “I lost my mommy at the mall, can you help me?”

Karoline turned to see a girl of eight, with a Glasgow smile, overflowing with a soup of blood and crayons. Her face littered with holes revealing her rotting bones and flesh. The last thing K remembers is someone screaming and then black.