I was woken up by my kiddo at 4:50 this morning, and couldn’t immediately fall back asleep. I jotted down a few key points from the dream I was having, but when I woke up several hours later, I had a hard time piecing them all together. For the most part, I can remember it all, but it is hazy. I don’t think there was really an ending either. I think I’ve had this dream before, though, because it all felt really familiar. Dreams are weird. This one shows my ridiculous, inner fangirl. It sounds like a fanfic, I know. I might turn it into one actually. Don’t laugh.
Okay, I did turn it into a fanfic. Kind of. It is very long (3,669 word count). Sorry, not sorry.
Roughly set in the present day.
It was late autumn, and I was attending a large YouTuber convention going on in Chicago, similar to VidCon. This year, they were holding a massive, YouTuber panel, right in the middle of a massive, indoor stadium. It was going to be so amazing. I was attending the event with a couple who were roughly my age, a guy and a girl, named Alex and Tory. I don’t know them that well at all, as they were merely friends of a friend. To be honest, they didn’t exactly seem like the kind of people I would actually be friends with outside of this scenario. Basically, they had a spare ticket to the event, and I really wanted to go. So I got stuck as the third wheel. The girl was tall and thin, with blond hair and brown eyes. She was wearing a hot pink dress, white and pink patterned tights, and pink shoes. The pinks did not match, and it was driving me crazy. The guy had shaggy, brown hair and brown eyes, he had a white t-shirt on, and a green button-up shirt over it, with jeans. Pretty normal looking folks. Very bubbly, hyper personalities.
We got to the convention center, and entered through the large, glass doors into the main lobby. There were groups of people scattered about the room, and I immediately felt out of place. We were ushered down a long corridor, surrounded by young, teenage girls, who were all squealing and screaming giddily. For some reason, I felt taller (and older) than nearly everyone, despite only being 5’3. I guess I should be surprised. We went through the doors to a large stadium and found our seats down on the floor, fairly close to the stage where all of the speakers were already seated. The two people I was with were screaming and jumping, much like the teenagers all around us. I was perfectly still. I felt anxious being around so many people. I slumped into my chair and pulled my hands into my sweatshirt, I suddenly wished that I actually was friends with Alex and Tory.
We found our seats and settled in. I felt uncomfortably warm. There were two girls seated a few spots away from us, and they looked like they could have been sisters, they looked so similar. They were wearing matching white shirts with Tyler Oakley’s face plastered all over them, with random words written in sharpie. I smiled at them, and I remember thinking that I liked the bright, red hair that one of the girls had. The other was blonde.
The panel started, and I sat in the audience, listening and cheering along with everyone else. The YouTubers in attendance were Dan and Phil, Tyler Oakley, Connor Franta, Catrific, and Shane Dawson, as well a few others that I did not recognize. Everyone around us had their cell phones out, snapping pictures and recording videos of the various YouTubers on the stage. Catrific was in the middle of answering a question, when a loud, booming noise filled the air. Smoke and dust clouded my vision, and suddenly, everyone was screaming. People were pushing past me, and the two people that I had shown up with were gone.
I put my shirt over my mouth and nose and tried to squint through the cloud of dust, but I couldn’t see anything. My ears were ringing slightly, but I could hear the distant sound of gunshots, and more screaming. I moved forward through the smoke and dust, tripping over various fallen objects that were scattered across the floor.
Another explosion of sound rang through the air, followed by a loud crash. The screaming seemed to be dying out, and I wondered whether everyone else had gotten out, or was dead. I found my way up to the stage, where I could hear frantic shouts. The dust had cleared a bit, and I could see that the stage had been completely demolished. And that several people were trapped in the rubble.
I climbed onto the stage, where I found several YouTubers, and a couple of the other audience members. The girl with the bright, red hair was there, tears streaming down her face, creating streaks on her dust-covered cheeks. Her blonde friend was nowhere to be seen.
Tyler Oakley and Connor Franta stood to my left, visibly shaken, and stared blankly at the large pile of rubble in the center of the stage. No one moved. A single arm was trapped within the rubble, all the way up to the shoulder. It was not moving, and there were no cries for help. The arm was female, with silver bracelets and dark green nail polish. Catrific’s arm.
Suddenly, more shots pierced the quiet, and we all scattered off in different directions. I jumped off of the stage and found myself following a tall figure through a corridor to the left of the stage. The figure disappeared from site, and I felt panic in my chest as I realized that I was suddenly alone. An arm reached out and grabbed me, pulling me through a side door.
A hand stifled my scream, and I opened my eyes to see a pair of brown eyes staring back at me. I had been following Dan, and it had been him who had grabbed me. My heart felt like it was going to explode, and I took a moment to calm down before surveying the room that we were in. Tyler and Connor were also in the room, along with a short girl with black hair, who I recognized from the panel. The girl was crying, and Connor had his arm wrapped around her shoulders.
“What happened?” I finally managed to breathe.
No one answered me. I started to panic. Where was everyone else? What was going on? How were we going to get out? Were we going to die?
Tyler and Dan were peering through the cracked door into the corridor. There were no gunshots, no more explosions.
“Is it safe?” The girl with the black hair asked.
Shane shrugged, but we needed to move. We walked into the hall and slowly continued in the direction away from the main stadium room. Things were quiet, and I allowed myself to breathe. I needed to calm down, or I feared my heart would explode. We were going to make it out. We had to.
Then the lights went out, and the other girl in our group let out a high-pitched scream. I heard the sound of footsteps, and a hand gripped my arm, pulling me forward. I reached out behind me, trying to grab for anyone in the group, but found no one. I struggled to keep up with whoever was dragging me along, and felt a breathless ache in my chest. I had to keep going. I didn’t want to be left alone.
Gunfire rang through the air again, coupled with a scream. The girl from our group.
Then silence. I wanted to scream.
“We have to hide.” A voice interrupted my panic. It was Dan. Dan was dragging me through the darkness.
“Where is everyone?” I choked out.
“We have to hide.” He replied flatly.
We clung to a wall until we found a door. Locked. We walked several more feet and found a second. Unlocked. We ducked into the room and pressed our ears to the door, listening for anything. There was only silence. We allowed ourselves a moment to recover in the dark silence.
“I don’t know,” Dan broke the silence, “I don’t know where anyone is. I don’t know what happened.”
He sounded angry.
“Was… was Cat the only one?” I asked. I could feel his stare, even through the darkness.
“I don’t know,” he said, agitated at my question. I could hear the slight tremor in his voice, “Shane. Shane is dead. Cat is dead. I don’t know where Phil is. I don’t know what’s going on. Fuck!”
I heard a crash as he cursed loudly. I tensed up, searching for his figure in the dark, but it was useless. I had never been in darkness like this. Completely devoid of light.
“Dan? What happened?”
“Nothing. We need light,” I heard a shuffle, and saw the bright light of a cellphone screen. His iPhone. Why hadn’t I thought of that? I took out my phone and flashed the light around the room. We were in some sort of dressing room.
“We can’t stay here, we have to keep moving. We have to be near an exit. If we stay here, we’ll definitely be found,” I urged him to move, but he was sitting silently on a chair, “Dan.”
He didn’t look up, didn’t respond. I walked to the door and opened it slightly, covering my phone screen with my hand so that the light wouldn’t leak into the corridor. There was just silence. No gunshots, no footsteps, no screaming. Was it over?
“We have to move, Dan,” I repeated.
“Phil…” he choked out. My heart sank.
“We’ll find him. We will. But we have to move. We’re no good to anyone if we’re dead.”
We left the safety of the small room and continued down the corridor. I tensed up, hearing hushed voices in the dark ahead of us. Female. Young. Non-threatening. We rounded a corner and came face-to-face with three teenage girls, who screamed upon seeing us.
“Shhh!” I hissed, trying to quiet them, but it was too late. There was more shouting in the distant darkness. Deep, male voices. I felt Dan’s hand grip my arm and yank me back into the darkness, and I reached out for the girl closest to me, but her friends were pulling her in the opposite direction. Toward the voices. I wanted to cry out to them, telling them to follow us, but I didn’t want to endanger our lives.
More shots rang through the darkness. I felt a lump in my throat as tears stung at my eyes.
We were running for what felt like forever. Dodging voices in the dark. How could a building be this big? Where were we? My cheeks were sticky with dust and tears. My arm was throbbing dully from Dan’s tight grip. We came to the end of a hallway and were greeted by large, metal double-doors, the same doors that had led us out of the stadium. We were back where we had started. Dan paused at the door and peered through one of the small, rectangular windows. He squeezed my arm gently, letting me know the coast was clear, and we slowly walked back out into the room where everything started.
The dust and smoke had settled, and there were emergency lights on, casting an eerie, red glow over the entire stadium. It was terrifying, and made me feel small. My chest tightened again in a familiar panic.
“We can’t stay here,” I whispered, “I think the main doors are over there, maybe the coast is clear.”
“I need to find Phil,” Dan whispered back, his voice cracking.
“Hey! Dan! Over here!” Someone hissed at us. We looked around, and spotted Tyler, Connor, and two young girls camped against the side of the stage, hidden in the shadows of the red haze. We cautiously crept over to them, where Dan was greeted with quick hugs from Connor and Tyler. I looked at the two girls, who looked absolutely terrified. The blonde had streaks of blood on her tank top, and I doubted that it was her own. The brunette just stared into the distance in shock. It was heartbreaking. I wondered briefly what they had been through, what they had seen. If they had lost anyone.
“Have you seen Phil?” Dan broke the silence. Tyler and Connor shook their heads, and Dan’s face fell.
We regrouped in silence and made our way toward the main corridor that was once filled with happy, screaming fans. It was empty, except for a few lifeless bodies, and piles of debris from the crumbling building. What the hell had happened? Was it a bomb? Why?
I reached out to comfort the young, blonde girl in the group as she sobbed at the sight before us. Everything was quiet. Why us? Why here? How many people had made it out? I looked over at Dan, who was holding his phone out in front of him for light, his eyes were guarded, but I could see sadness. He was scared for Phil. I knew we would find him. We had to. We were going to find Phil, and we were going to get out of here.
We approached the large, glass doors at the front of the building. I breathed a sigh of relief and pushed against the cool, metallic handle. The doors did not budge. Connor and Dan were suddenly beside me, violently shaking the door. It was no use, it was locked.
The two girls sobbed, and I felt my fingers shaking.
Connor stepped back from the door, “It’s glass, we can break it. We need to find something to break it. I’ll go find-”
Dan held up his hand and shushed Connor, his eyes staring out to the other side of the glass. I turned to see what he was looking at. My stomach turned. Bodies. Bodies everywhere. There were at least a dozen armed, masked men standing guard outside of the building, standing scattered amongst the bodies of the innocent attendees. In the distance, there were police lights. They knew we were here… but they couldn’t get to us. How were we going to get out? There was a pit in my stomach. Dread and fear.
We stood there in the dull, red glow of the emergency lights, all feeling exhausted and terrified. What now? Do we just keep wandering the halls trying to find more survivors? Do we hide and wait it out? I looked to the others in my group for answers, but their expressions said it all; no one knew what do to.
I took a deep breath and turned to back to the main lobby area. There were so many doors and corridors, all closed., but hopefully unlocked. If no one was going to decide where we were going next, then I would. I didn’t know if anyone would follow me when I started walking toward a solid, grey door in the corner of the room, but when I looked over my shoulder and saw them all trailing behind me, I felt a bit better. We could do this.
The door was unlocked, but I pulled my hand back quickly upon coming into contact with a sticky, slick substance. Tyler tilted his phone so that I could see my hand, and there was blood, dark and wet. It was all over the handle and smeared on the door. I glanced back to the group, suddenly afraid that I may have been leading them to certain death, but their nods reassured me that we had no other choice but to push forward.
There were stairs on the other side of the door, leading down into more darkness, possibly a basement or control room. We waited a few minutes, listening for voices or any kind of noise, but heard nothing, and descended down the stairs.
We were in a large room, filled with panels and wires. The room was absolutely massive. There were bloody handprints smudged along the wall. We all shined our phones around the room, surveying, looking for places to hide. Or a way out.
Something moved in the corner just in front of us, but ducked back into the shadows before I could get a good look. I held up my arm in warning to the rest of the group. My heart was beating rapidly.
“Hello?” I called into the darkness, “We aren’t going to hurt you. Are you alright?”
Slowly, a tall, slim figure emerged from the shadows. In the light cast by our cellphones, I could make out pale skin and terrified, blue eyes. Realization hit me, and I couldn’t help but smile.
“Phil! We found you!” Dan lowered his phone and sprinted toward Phil in the darkness. He wrapped his arms around him, and I heard sobbing, though I wasn’t sure who is was coming from, “Guys… guys. Guys!”
Dan was lowering Phil to the ground. We all ran forward, and the source of the mysterious blood on the wall was revealed.
“Fuck. Fuck!” Dan had his hands on Phil’s stomach, and they were covered in blood. I pulled my sweatshirt off and knelt down next to Dan, pulling his hands aside and pressing the fabric into Phil’s stomach. Phil’s eyes were still open, and he just stared up into the darkness. I could feel Dan trembling next to me, and I wanted to reach for him, but resisted.
“Tyler, come here. Shine a light right over his stomach, yeah?” I lifted the sweatshirt slightly, trying to pinpoint where all the bleeding was coming from. Phil had been grazed by a bullet, but the damage wasn’t nearly as bad as I initially thought. He was going to be okay.
“How bad it is?” I heard Connor ask from behind us.
I put one hand on Dan’s arm and squeezed, and he looked down at me, “He’s going to be fine. He’s lost a bit of blood, but I think it’s more shock than anything. Phil, can you hear me? Can you stand?”
We all crowded around Phil and helped him to his feet, supporting his weight. He was in bad shape, but he was going to be okay, assuming we ever got out of this awful place. We made our way back to the stairs with Phil, but stopped suddenly at the sound of a rush of voices at the top of the stairs.
“Fuck fuck fuck…” Dan cursed, as we backed into the room. Phil let out a groan of pain. I felt someone grip the back of my shirt and pull me backwards, just as the door opened, and flashlight beams flooded the room. We crouched down, terrified. Was this it then? Is this where we were going to die? I felt as though my heart was going to burst, and I held my breath, waiting.
A blinding, white light hit my face, and I blinked, suddenly blinded. This was it. The end.
“Are you folks okay?” A deep voice cut through the unbearable silence. My blood felt like ice. “Hey, Carl, I found a few more! Come on, let’s get you guys out of here. It’s all over.”
I couldn’t move. I felt two strong hands pulling me up. Time seemed to slow down, like it does in movies. We were guided back up the stairs, into the lobby, and out the glass doors. We were outside. It was still dark, and there was a chill in the air. I suddenly wished I had my sweatshirt. I couldn’t hear anything, so I tried to take in my surroundings. There were body bags, SWAT vehicles, and other survivors, draped in warm blankets, giving their stories. I turned to see the group of people who had helped me survive as they were brought out of the building. Dan, Tyler, Connor, and the two young girls, who I later learned were named Jasmine and Clara. We made it. We were alive.
I watched as Phil was loaded into an ambulance. There was a paramedic assuring Dan that he was going to be fine, and I could see tears in his eyes. The doors closed, the ambulance drove away, and Dan turned to face me.
“Thank you,” he smiled at me, finally sounding normal, “I’m sorry. For everything.”
“Sorry? You saved my life. More than once.”
“But you saved Phil’s life. And I was a prick. So thank you.”
I smiled. I wanted to argue that Phil probably would have been fine, even if I hadn’t been there, but there was no point. We were okay. We were alive.
“I never got your name,” Dan said, cocking his head to the side, “I guess there was never really a good time for introductions…”
I laughed, “Jan. My name is Jan.”
Dan chuckled and pulled me into a hug, “Nice to meet you, Jan. My name is Dan.”
I couldn’t help but laugh at him. As if it wasn’t completely obvious that I knew who he was. Tyler and Connor walked over to us, relief on their faces. Dan introduced me, and there were a lot of hugs exchanged. We gave our statements to the police, and were interviewed by several news stations. By the time people finally started to clear out, the sun was starting to rise, casting a golden glow over the dark sky. The air was still cold, but I was wearing someone’s sweatshirt, though I wasn’t sure who had given it to me. Connor offered the three of us a ride back to our respective hotels, and after more hugs and thank yous, we split up. I would probably never see them again, but I had one hell of a story to remember them by.
Sorry, not sorry.
Thanks for reading, friends!