Don’t mind the noise

No matter what you hear, don’t shine a light at the noise.

Bobby tried to keep that piece of advice front and foremost in his mind as he wandered through the building. It was hard to focus on that tidbit, though, when there were noises all over the old, abandoned factory.

Every so often, Bobby had to abruptly change course because an odd noise would sound from directly in his forward path. That’s what was taking him so long to maneuver through the building. All the random, eerie and odd noises all over the place freaked him out some. Well, a lot, if he was truthful. But he was dead-set on getting past the factory and finding out what had happened to his sister.

Bobby’s thoughts drifted back, to earlier in the day, when he’d gotten home from school. He’d walked in the house, happy to be home for the semester break, and called for his sister to come say hello. But no one answered his call. He’d looked for Sara all over the house, in the backyard, and even gone to the neighbors to ask about her whereabouts. No one knew where she was.

He had found the note on his return to their house; a bright green sticky note posted front and center on the refrigerator door. It hadn’t been there on his first pass through the house. Bobby had searched once again for his sister. Or whoever had posted the note.

He didn’t find anyone in the house, and besides the note, no evidence that anyone had been inside. He read the hastily scrawled writing on the neon paper:

Sara fades quickly
To help her, go to 
22765 Freightline Rd.
No matter what you hear, don’t shine a light at the noise.

A loud creaking, croaking sound right in front of him jerked Bobby’s mind back to his current predicament. He turned left, hoping it was the right choice. Another noise, this one of crackling and popping, erupted from his right, startling him so badly he forgot the mysterious advice. His flashlight started to swing right, coming up from the “safe” floor in front of him. Remembering just in time, Bobby dropped the beam back to the concrete at his feet.

Peering up, through his eyelashes, he could see a rectangle of light not fifty feet in front of him. Bobby picked up the pace, pushing for the open door. But a cacophony of shrieks, cackles, and moans exploded in his path before he had gone more than a half dozen feet, forcing him to make yet another correction. The weary young man veered to the right, searching for another path.

The eerie, random sounds continued, prompting more course changes, turning that mere fifty feet into hundreds, then thousands of feet. Bobby was tiring quickly, fatigue stealing his focus. He had more and more close calls, nearly shining his light on several of the noise-makers. He longed to find his sister, but even that drive was beginning to waver.

Far above the factory floor, Sara watched in terror as her brother walked in circles and erratic patterns through the cavernous building. She couldn’t breathe, her heart thudded loudly in her chest. Panic threatened to overtake her.

“See how he struggles,” a sibilant voice hissed in her ear. “A brother’s love is powerful. But so, too, is fear. Which is stronger for your beloved brother, I wonder?”

Sara sobbed. Her breath caught in her throat.

“Please,” she begged, “stop it. He has no idea what’s going on. Just let him go!”

“Aww, Sara,” one of the other psychology students complained, “just go with it. He’s not hurt or anything.”

The professor nodded. “No, he isn’t hurt. And you did agree with giving him two hours from the first step into the building. It’s only been,” the speaker consulted his watch, “forty-five minutes.”

Sara, watching the toll being taken on her younger brother, sobbed. “He’s only just a kid, still. Please, let him stop.”

The professor shrugged, waving another student over to the panel of switches on the far wall.

Bobby jumped, terror overtaking his mind, when the lights in the factory suddenly blossomed into full fluorescent bloom. He looked wildly around the area, dismayed to discover a gigantic warehouse full of mannequins and sound playback devices.

Sara’s teary-eyed appearance at his side was too much for the mentally exhausted young man. Sara was the only psychology student to rush to his side when he collapsed.

The others were too busy taking notes.

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