“So,is this the place?”, Cherika questions,staring high up at the building so much so, it makes her neck ache. The gold and brown colours of the building make it glow. Above the entrance way is a sign with dark spooky letters that speel out : THE GERALD . “Yep,this is it!” Mike answers,coming up from behind her. He perches his glasses atop his head and stands crossed arms staring at the building too. “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m pretty excited for this. We are the third band to be performing here since a decade”, he yelps excitedly. Cherika nods, her eyes never leaving the building. Something was intriguing about this place, she thought. ‘The Darkest’ ( I just made the band name up,so it is fictional too.) would be performing here in merely two days. Mikes goes to check in. THE GERALD. The name seems pretty ancient,not that the place isn’t. Gerald was built in the late 40’s by a group of rich people who believed in spirits and black magic, in Mumbai, India. It was very special because it was a grand hotel with large built-in concert area. The area was soundproofed so the slumbering guests wouldn’t be disturbed. It used to be mega popular. All the famous bands and singers of that time used to perform here. Then for some paranormal reasons, this hotel was closed down in the early 60’s only to be reopened back again in the late 70’s. Again it somehow got closed down but now it is truly reopened and never closing down again according to the manager. “People love it too much.”,Mike said. Cherika doesn’t realize how long she is gazing at the building until Kyra taps her head and comments that she looks like she got hit by a truck or something. Cherika spits out her tongue in defense. She starts walking in, uncertain of the suddn tightening of her stomach. She waves it off as an early nervousness before her performance,though she never had one before. She was hungry too. ~~~~ Mike declares that they should go exploring the theatre since there is nothing else to do. The show begins after may hours besides exploring is always fun. They take the elevator to the first floor. They start walking through many doors and long hallways to be met with another set of many doors. There were many black and white photos of past performers and famous personalities and Cherika couldn’t help but silently squeal everytime she comes acroos a photo of her favorite performer, She started to feel a bond with the place. Cherika has her eyes set on the red carpet her feet keep sinking into and how the inside of her head feels oddly heavy, like some force is sitting on her skull and now she feels she has déjà vu. That she’s walked here before. She’s not too worry about it, she gets it a lot. She’ll dream of something and six months later it’ll actually happen. She’s not sure if that means she’s a physic-in-training or delusional or whatever, but it’s creepy-cool all together. A small sign greets them over the second double doors before letting them in: No Throwing Objects at the Performers Here’s the thing with Cherika when she sees gorgeous things and/or people: she stares with a wide opened mouth and she looks so gleeful that people think she’s about to meet some teen chick celebrity she adores. Deep gold curtains surround the stage and the entire floor is bare, with an area in the back with seats and a small bar. The walls are brown with what seems like tiny yellow cursive writings painted on them. Balconies are up above, and red and gold streamers hang from the ceiling. More photographs covered the walls along with some signed memorabilia like records. Those are up high so people can’t damage or steal them. “We’re seriously playing here? This is for opera stuff! We’ll soil it with our music,” says Cherika, twirling till her eyes spin out. “. . . You just insulted our band,” Dwayne says. Cherika sneers at his Frown of Disproval, shooing him away and focusing on her fascination. “You know what I mean, dude,” she says, before Kyra randomly yells out, numbing their ears and laughing at the intense echo it makes. While the boys are doing a sloppy gay version of Romeo & Juliet (Dwayne being Juliet, naturally), Cherika drifts over to the far end of the stage with her cellphone out. A few words are typed before she holds up her phone and tries to take a picture of the area, and then the boys. Cool air spikes across her bare shoulders and Cherika freezes up, her back tensing as someone’s eyes glare at her. She pulls her phone down shyly, thinking some angry worker is about to yell at her that they couldn’t be in here yet. Turning around, all she gets is a still empty theatre. She notices a flickering light bulb on one of the balconies, but that’s all. “Oh . . .” Okay, so she imagined it. That’s what she tells herself to calm down even though her skin still feels like something cold slapped it and she has a vague thought that they shouldn’t be here at all. It doesn’t seem so pretty and inviting anymore. Her feet are moving faster than necessarily towards the door, and it’s only when Elliot calls her name that she acknowledges the boys. “I’m . . . gonna get something to eat,” she explains and they follow. She peeks back inside before the doors close, trying to see if someone’s there. She doesn’t see anyone, even though for all she knows they could be hiding in the shadows. The thought freaks her out. Even when they’re on the elevator she still feels awkward. Everyone is way too close to her and her stomach hurts and -- “You all right, Cheryl?” Mike asks. “You’re standing in the corner like . . . you’re going emo.” She scoffs, changing into a brighter demeanor with a quirky smile. “Nah, I’m fine. Just starving, and kind of nervous for the show, you know?” She tries to keep her happiness from slipping as Mike looks at her like he doesn’t believe her. But soon he grins about it before looking away. The doors open. Cherika rubs her arms as they file out. The bumps and raised hair on her arms refuse to go down. ~~~~~ They have a mini party in the boys’ room, consisting of Taco Bell and 90’s tunes before Cherika drifts next door to her own room. She burrows under covers and takes a moment to decide whether or not to leave the lamp on. “I’m so stupid.” She’s seventeen-years-old and too tired to worry about earlier, the darkness, and what can happen now. She even flicks her head for it. She turns the light off and feels herself relax as she floats off to sleep. Only five minutes later does she get the sensation of falling fast and jerks herself awake. She could ignore it, and continue to sleep, except something’s not right. Cherika tries to breathe and can’t. She moans and shakes the covers off, coughing hoarse and choppy breaths that cause her chest to burn and the back of her throat to prickle. “Mrgh,” she mutters, whining at the sudden ache in her neck. Feels like someone’s hands are around it, squeezing harder every time she moves. Her hand shoots for the lamp, fingers missing before finding the button. She doesn’t get a chance to press it. Someone grips her arm and tosses her onto the floor, her head hitting the ground first, stunning and making her immobile. Cherika groans as pain shoots across her head. Her chest begins to hurt more. She hurriedly sits up as the daze subsides and looks around with fear jabbing at her but she can’t see anyone. The creeping darkness is the only thing there and the falling coldness around her. Oh, God, no no . . . Her eyes tear up and she’s swinging at the air and hitting nothing. She can hear them – the words being muttered angrily in her ears that are low and far off. She can’t understand them and yet they’re so close. They’re going to kill me. The tightening around her neck is getting worse; her breathing is almost nonexistence, and her body is on the verge of blacking out. Cherika forces herself to stand up and runs into the door. She fumbles with the knob but finally gripping it right, opening the door and falling into the bright hallway. She crawls and hits her back on the wall, gazes dreadfully at the blackness leaking out of her room and staining the floor. Tears are hitting her chest as fast her heart is beating, and though she knows she should get up and alert the boys for help – she can’t get herself to move. She sits there pathetically and waits for It or whoever’s in her room to come out so she can see its face. Also, Where the hell was Kyra when she needed her!!!! She never gets the chance to. As soon as she sees the shadow come towards her, a faded apparition, a rush of air escapes her mouth and she screams. Even if the walls of her throat begin to bleed she won’t stop screaming. She keeps yelling, forcing all the fear out, even as someone shakes her and threatens to slap her. They do so anyway and it forces Cherika’s eyes to open and for her to stop screaming. She’s lying on her back now, still in the hallway, but the boys are crouching over her, instead of some murderer. The tears continue to pour as she sits up, Mike’s arms holding her. They’re looking at her worriedly, and even a few guests have their doors open, trying to see what’s going on. “Are you okay? What happened?” Kyra asks. She’s holding her hand which she tightens her grasp on. “I-I – someone’s in there!” she squeaks, leaning back more into Mike. She stares into her room and sees the lamp on, lighting an empty room. “Cheryl, honey, there’s no one in there,” Mike reassures, but she can tell he’s lying. “Yes, there is. I couldn’t breathe! Someone was attacking me! They were trying to kill me a-and –“ She holds her head as her brain spins, her chest aching terribly. She can hear someone say, “But no one’s there. I just checked . . . “ and something about a “nightmare.” But that can’t be true. It really happened. It did and yet . . . something’s poking at her that maybe it was a dream. One of those that feel real but they aren’t. She’s never had one like it before so she isn’t sure. Someone was there and yet wasn’t. Nothing makes sense. The boys, for Cherika’s sake, get a security guard to come and check out her room. He finds no one or anything that points that anyone but Cherika was in there. He reassures her that things are okay, tells the prying guests to go back to bed and sorry for the disruption, before leaving. Holding her arm, Mike leads her back into her room, the others in tow. “I’ll . . . I can stay with you, tonight, if it’d make you feel better,” Mike offers. Though it’s Cherika natural instinct to politely refuse, say she’s a grown girl, she merely replies with a thank you, rubbing her eyes like a small child. It takes a while longer but eventually the others head back to their room. Cherika climbs into her bed cautiously; almost afraid that something is hiding under the bed, ready to grab her. She scolds herself, tells herself she can calm down now. Cherika’s room actually has two beds in it, so Mike takes the one next to hers. She’s biting her lip at the slight tension in her muscles as he settles in. She turns away when Mike catches her staring. She’s not going to lie, she’d really prefer for Mike to be over here, by her, in the same bed, and not what seems like very far away. She does feel a bit silly about it, but at the same time she’s not comfortable sleeping yet. “It’s okay, Cheryl,” Mike points out, and Cherika mutters, “Huh?” He chuckles, getting up and flopping over to her side. “Go to sleep,” he tells her, smiling. “Everything’s fine.” She nods before finally turning off the light and closing her eyes with a sigh. “Thanks.” She can’t see his face but she knows he’s still smiling and it makes her feel good, pushes the edginess away enough for her to close down peacefully. In a way, it’s not Mike’s voice. It’s too hollow and too sad, however, it’s right in her ear and so who else can it be? If it’s not him, she must be entering her dreams. She must be dreaming ,she hears, “It’s your fault.” Cherika wakes up to a clock beaming 8:45 and she feels like her bladder is going to explode. She stumbles to the bathroom, almost tripping into the door but she somehow manages to catch herself on the doorframe. Her gaze falls on the mirror. Distastefully she had fluffy hair and red eyes. Her gaze travels a tad lower and she had to bite her tongue to keep from screaming. A grotesque red and black mark went around her neck as if someone had tied a rope around it. Or like someone tried to strangle her……. Guys, If you like this story please vote for it. Yeah my second name is Cherika. But I want you guys to comment if you like it or if you want me to do some grammer edits or anything like that. I won’t bite. The story isn’t over yet.