Jade called me from a phone number I didn’t recognize. “Come to Arcadia,” she said. “Come alone”. Arcadia is the side of town that burned out years ago. No one wants to go to Arcadia. Not even bums. “It’ll be worth it,” Jade insisted. I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially in Arcadia. But my parents were at work and it seemed like an interesting way to kill an afternoon. So I hopped on the bus and took it to Ridgemont. Arcadia was still a few blocks away, but the bus doesn’t go that far anymore.
No one is quite sure what happened there. From the old pictures I’ve seen, Arcadia seems to have once been a nice little community. Then one day, things started to fall apart. Little bit by little bit, the brownstones and storefronts all disappeared. Everyone has their own spin on the hows and whys, but that doesn’t change the facts. And the fact is, no one knows how or why.
Once I got around the corner, Jade was there waiting for me. She had a big smile on her face. Something seemed different, but I just shrugged it off.
“Hi Maria! Did you come alone?”
“I sure did,” I said. Jade’s smile slowly faded away and she asked me to follow her. We stepped off of the sidewalk and across the street to an abandoned bakery. There was an old rusted car parked on the curb, waiting for a birthday cake that was never coming.
“You’ve got to see this,” Jade exclaimed. As we stepped inside of the bakery, I noticed the smell of rancid food. Old, rotten confectionary treats were still in the displays. There was one pristine wedding cake on a table, encased in dusty glass. It must have been made of wax.
Jade opened the door to the back area. From there I could see there was a small hallway leading into the kitchen. Dusty mixers and bowls were sitting on the countertops. I nearly lost my lunch when I saw a family of maggots that died in now rock hard batter.
“Are you sure we’re supposed to be in here?” I asked. “Don’t be stupid, Maria,” Jade said with a smirk. “We were invited.”
My heart sank into my stomach. Who invited us? Did I even want to know? I wanted to run, but I felt like that wouldn’t do me any good. Jade continued walking deeper into the kitchen. Suddenly, she stopped and turned.
“Look at this,” Jade said in wonder. She opened the gas oven and turned it on. The flames roared and I could see what Jade was excited about. I screamed in terror as I saw the burning remains of bodies, their charred flesh rotting inside the oven. I gagged and started to vomit at the stench.
Jade looked at me, the fire reflecting into her eyes and asked “Isn’t this amazing?”. “Arcadia still has a few tricks up her sleeve, doesn’t she?”. Before I could answer, Jade ran for me. An unearthly scream left her mouth as she jumped on top of me. Everything went black.
When I woke up, Jade was gone. I felt new somehow. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was different. I walked back out into the lobby of the bakery. The bad smells didn’t bother me anymore. I opened the door to see a beautiful neighborhood. Kids were playing across the street as a car pulled up in front of the bakery. I smiled at the man inside the vehicle. When he waved, he hit one of the balloons in the passenger seat. I walked a few more blocks and saw a bus picking up some people sitting on a bench. It was then that I noticed the pay phone. I decided to call my parents to let them know I’d be late. I dropped a quarter in the slot and dialed home. When my father picked up, I simply said “Come to Arcadia.”
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