“Hey, Frank, you’d make a good football,” mocked Nick.
Frank yelled, “Stop it!”
Frank raced off to gym, which was his least favorite class. He didn’t enjoy gym because he was short and thin, and everybody thought he was terrible at sports. This was probably true, but nobody knew for certain. The gym teacher required that Frank remove his glasses before he played. Frank couldn’t see his hand in front of his face if he wasn’t wearing his glasses.
After gym, he was mortified because all of his classmates laughed at him when Tim threw the football, which knocked him over. Angry and embarrassed, Frank ran off to English class.
“At least it’s not gym,” Frank thought as he ran to Miss Mea’s classroom. He screamed, “I hate gym,” as he arrived at the door of his English class.
In English class, Miss Mea had a daily journal assignment, where each student was to write a few sentences about a certain topic and then show it to the teacher. That day, the assignment was simple, to write something nice about someone else in the class. Frank was having problems thinking of something. As far as Frank knew, nobody liked him. He had no friends. If somebody did show any indication of liking him, that person would get picked on too. Frank had nothing nice to say. Nick taunted Frank under his breath as he turned in his assignment, “Brain Turtle.” Miss Mea looked at Nick’s journal. His paper said, “Frank is a football.”
Miss Mea grabbed a red magic marker from the pen cup on her desk. She said, “Good, you got an A+,” while marking an A+ on the top of the page in Nick’s journal and circling it. Even Miss Mea never liked Frank.
Nick returned to his seat with a smug grin on his face. While he was returning, he held his journal up, to show Frank what he wrote. When Frank saw this, his face quickly turned red with rage. He loudly said “Won’t you just leave me alone,” and ran angrily out of the classroom, with the entire class watching. Neither Miss Mea nor Nick could respond before Frank left the room. Frank pondered where he should go…he considered seeing the principal, but the principal would just get him in trouble for running out of class like he did. He ran through the corridors, ignoring the hall monitors’ attempts to stop him. Finally, as he ran past Mr. Shot’s science classroom, he decided that he didn’t belong at the school at all. With nothing left to do, Frank ran away from the school grounds.
Frank ran down the street, looking for a place he could be alone. He ran down the street until he saw an old, abandoned warehouse, which looked like it had not been used in years. Knowing he would be left alone at a place like that, he walked right inside. He walked into a corner of the warehouse and sat on top of a dusty crate, crying while thinking, “I wish I could have at least one friend.”
He looked around the dusty warehouse walls that were covered with spider webs. He saw a few broken windows and graffiti in another corner, too messy for Frank to be able to read. However, Frank was getting a strange feeling that there was something more to this warehouse.
He sat there for a while, thinking about how he could get revenge on Nick for making fun of him for the past several years of school. He sat down thinking until he heard the screech of truck brakes outside of the warehouse. Frank looked out a broken window, and then cleaned his glasses and looked again, to see if there really was a truck there. There was a large black truck parked right outside the warehouse! Frank ran home, scared.
At home that evening, during dinner, Frank explained to his mom how he kept getting teased by Nick, and couldn’t take it any longer.
“Some people are going to be like that,” his mom said, “you’re just going to have to learn to put up with it.”
“But you can only put up with it so long,” said Frank.
“The same thing happened to me when I was at school,” his dad said, “if you pay it no mind, eventually, they’ll stop.”
“That’s what everyone says,” Frank cried, “when I went to the school counselor about this, that’s all she said to me. I tried it, and it didn’t work!”
“You’ll have to try it a little longer,” Frank’s mom said, “it always works in the end. People like that tease to get reactions. If you give them no reaction, they’ll have no reason to stop.”
“It doesn’t work,” Frank cried with frustration, “it doesn’t!”
He dashed up to his room and slammed the door behind him. He lied down in his bed and cried. He did not speak to either of his parents again that night.
The next day, Frank went to the warehouse instead of school. When he arrived, the first thing he noticed was that the truck that had parked outside it yesterday was still there. He also noticed that the truck was not marked at all. There wasn’t even any registration stickers or a license plate.
Then, he walked into the warehouse. Inside, he heard voices. Frank ran to the nearest corner to hide. He saw three people who were dressed like typical factory workers. They were wearing dirty blue jumpsuits, and blue hats, and they all had unusually pale skin. One was short and very fat, another was tall and skinny, and the third was of both average height and weight. The third one also bore a large scar on the right side of his face, and seemed to be their leader. He mostly ordered the others around using hand gestures.
He thought that they might have come from the truck that stopped there yesterday, but he wasn’t sure. The truck couldn’t have stopped for some other reason. There wasn’t a traffic light or stop sign in the area. The people looked like they were working there, but how could they? It was abandoned. Frank’s head was filled with thoughts about this mystery.
Frank watched the people all day. They seemed to be taking some crates from the truck and storing them in the warehouse, and removing other crates from the warehouse, placing them in the truck.
“This warehouse is supposed to be abandoned,” thought Frank.
He curiously watched the people all day. Though he was somewhat frightened, his curiosity dominated his fear.
Once, one of the people carried a stack of three crates over to his corner. Frank opened one of the larger crates and hid in it. “I think I’ll be safe in here,” Frank thought when he was inside the crate. The person placed his stack beside Frank’s crate and walked away.
Frank stayed hidden in his crate and watched them through a small hole in the side. He was also able to get a look at the crate that was just placed beside his. The crate was marked with a gibberish word painted on, in a color as red as blood. It was either a word from some language Frank was unfamiliar with, or some sort of secret code. Frank wondered if he had just discovered some foreign spies. However, this thought was quickly forgotten when he heard the man with the scar speak, in a very deep voice, that put a chill up Frank’s spine whenever he heard it. The worker who spoke used perfect English to the other worker. If they were foreign spies, they would be speaking to each other in their native language.
Eventually, when school finally would have ended, he waited for the three people to be on the other side of the warehouse and then he opened his crate, and went home. That night, he considered telling his parents what he saw, but ultimately decided against it, as he didn’t want his parents to know he was cutting school.
The next several days, Frank ran to the warehouse and hid in his crate watching the mysterious people. He wondered what they were doing, so he spent his days watching them intently, hoping to pick up some sort of clue as to what they were doing with the crates in the abandoned warehouse. By the fifth day, he no longer cared about Nick, Miss Mea, or anything that happened at school, but continued to come to the warehouse, his curiosity about what the people working in the warehouse were doing having gotten the best of him. He was so curious that he even came on the weekends, and spent most of the day there.
Though Frank didn’t particularly take note of it, none of the workers had ever placed another crate on top of his, or attempted to remove the crate that Frank was hiding it.
On the ninth day, the tall, skinny man said, “Let’s inspect the crates and be sure that everything is here,” in his typical bone-chilling voice. Frank was worried. They were going to look in the crates, and Frank was hiding in one. They all dispersed around the warehouse. Frank knew he had to make a break for it while they weren’t in his corner. However, before he could, the short, fat man turned in his direction, and walked over to the corner. Terrified, and unsure what to do, Frank remained still. A man opened the crate that he was hiding in, and immediately stepped back with fright when he saw Frank hiding in the crate.
“Intruder!” he screamed.
The other two people ran over, and stood on Frank’s left and right sides, while the other guard remained in front of him. The warehouse wall was behind him. Frank was surrounded.
The people made no direct attempt or threat to harm Frank, but Frank was scared enough already. Motivated entirely by his fear, and empowered by it also, Frank picked up one of the smaller crates that was next to him and threw it with all his might at the man with the scar. Dust flew everywhere. The crate barely missed the target, but it broke into pieces. This distracted the people long enough for Frank to escape.
When he ran out, the first thing he sighted was a police car, parked at a nearby intersection. Frank rushed over to the car, and nervously tapped on the window. The police officer, who was eating his lunch in the car, opened the car window. He looked at Frank with a look of disapproval on his face.
“Shouldn’t you be in school, boy?” the officer asked.
“There are three people working in that abandoned warehouse,” Frank said, his voice filled with fright, “I’ve been watching them for days! I don’t know what they’re up to, but…”
“Alright,” the officer said, with a sigh, “let’s have a look.”
The officer left the car, and Frank led him to the warehouse, eagerly waiting to show the officer what he had been watching for days.
However, much to his shock, the warehouse was empty. All three of the mysterious workers were nowhere to be seen. The truck had disappeared without a trace. The crates were missing, except for the large one that Frank had been sitting on, and there wasn’t a trace that anybody other than Frank had been inside the warehouse for years. The officer looked around the warehouse for a couple seconds before turning to Frank, with a look of disgust on his face.
“I don’t understand,” Frank cried, “the three workers were here just a couple minutes ago! One was short and fat, another was tall and skinny, and…”
“I think you need a new pair of glasses, boy,” the officer interrupted, “Now, you should go back to school.”
Author’s Notes (may contain spoilers):
I consider “The Warehouse” to be the first serious story I wrote. I originally wrote it in 2003, for an assignment back in middle school, where I was supposed to write a short “suspense story”. At first, the assignment turned me off. I may be a writer, but I have to find my own inspiration. I can’t just churn out stories on demand, but fortunately, I got this idea, developed it, and I ended up being one of only a few people in the class willing to read their story out loud for the entire class. This may be part of what led me to writing the type of stories that I do today. In 2009, I went back to it and edited it on a whim, adding more detail and fixing problems based on what I had learned since then. The version posted here is the edited version.
I published it as the first story to this blog largely because of it being such a significant milestone in my writing progress. It is not my best, even with all the revisions. However, it was not long after this class that I began some of my larger writing projects, including Wiz, the Mysteries of Valleyville, and Swogprille.