I am really into photography. It has been my hobby throughout my life. Recently, I decided to make it my primary profession and enrolled in a professional photographer’s course. The classes were held in the evening; the teachers were very good. In general, I learned a lot of helpful information. At the end of the course, I had to do a photo shoot to get a certificate as a professional photographer. I had an idea to take photos in an old school on the outskirts of our city for a long time. The building was abandoned, and the idea of a photoshoot there seemed very interesting. Without thinking long, I wrote to all my friends. Four of my closest friends agreed to be models for the photo shoot. I was thrilled and was looking forward to the weekend, as the rest of my friends were busy.

Of course, my boyfriend Nurlan was the first to agree. On Saturday morning, he picked me up in his car. Then we picked up my classmates Aliya and Anel. The last fourth model agreed to be my cousin Madiyar. He lived not far from the abandoned school, so we picked him up last. Madiyar had recently broken up with his girlfriend and was very emotional. The photo shoot was meant to help distract him and lift his spirits.

– Strange choice; no one comes within a kilometre of this school; it’s creepy,” said my boyfriend.

– That’s the thing, that’s why I asked you to dress like school kids. Imagine how cool that would be! – I said excitedly.

– Let’s not stay out too late. I don’t want to be at this school at night,” Madiyar muttered.

As I said before, the school was on the city’s outskirts. The journey took us about half an hour. Once upon a time, many people had lived here. But over time, it had become a deprived area.

– I hope no one will be there. I don’t want to be photographed next to homeless people,” Aliya said.

– Or even worse, if there is a maniac wandering there and he will kill us one by one, like in American horror films – jokingly supported her friend Anel.

– Come on, girls, everything will be fine. If there is anything, Madiyar will save you all, – said Nurlan with a sneer. Madiyar annoyed him with his sad look.

– Stay out of his way, Nurlan. Here comes the school,” I said in a joyful voice.

We were finally there. The school looked very creepy, but it was huge: two buildings with four floors each, connected by a corridor, not to mention the huge grounds.

– Well! We’ve got a couple of hours before sunset! I don’t have an expensive camera; you can’t take night photos with it,” I told my friends.

There was no fence around the school building, so we entered the grounds without difficulty. I noticed that Madiyar was holding his head.

– Are you all right? – I asked him.

– I had a headache. It’ll probably go away now,” he said.

– You stay at home a lot; it’s probably oxygen deprivation.

I took citramonum and a bottle of mineral water out of my bag and gave them to Madiyar. I always have the essentials with me. I knew my brother was struggling to break up with his girlfriend, so I persuaded him to come with us.

On the school’s territory, there was an abandoned football field, pull-up bars, and other workout staff. Of course, almost everything was in deplorable condition. There were weed beds on the sides of the porch. Nurlan was the first to run to the doors and pull on their handles.

– Just as I thought, it’s closed. That’s all right, I can easily break down this door now,” Nurlan said.

– Don’t waste your strength. They’ve done it before you,” Aliya said, pointing to a broken window on the ground floor beside us.

Before we got inside, I decided to take a couple of pictures of the outside of the school. I asked the guys to pose for me, and I think the pictures were pretty good.

– Oh, I’ve got a headache. I’ll stay here. You guys will go inside,” Anelle said.

– You coward, there is no maniac there, – laughed Nurlan. He had already found an old desk somewhere and put it against the broken window.

– Well, let’s take turns,” he said, climbing onto the desk and then through the window.

Anelle, on the other hand, said she would join us later. She wanted to get some fresh air before going inside. By the way, I was starting to get a bit of a headache, too, but I didn’t pay any attention to it for some reason.

So, the five of us ended up inside the school. I took some photos in the corridor and wanted to go into some rooms. Nurlan immediately found one with four desks. I seated my friends like schoolchildren and took a couple of incredible photos. Suddenly, Anel entered the room.

– Oh, you’ve already started! Is there another desk for me? – she asked.

– Yes, have a seat; there are four desks here,” I answered her.

– Yes, but they are all occupied,” Anelle said in surprise.

At first, I thought she was joking, but then I thought about it. I had seated four of my friends at four desks; why wasn’t there enough space for Anelle? No matter how hard I tried to solve this simple problem, I failed. The more I thought about it, the more my head hurt. The faces of all my friends were also confused. We all realised something strange was happening but couldn’t figure out what it was. Nurlan stood abruptly and tried to see who had taken Anel’s place.

– One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. I don’t understand anything,” my boyfriend said, confused.

– Get in my seat, Anel; I’ve already taken the photo,” Madiyar said.

I noticed that his look was terrified. Anel sat in her brother’s place, and I took more general shots. Then, I took a particular photo of each of them separately. But for some reason, I took five pictures instead of four. My mind was jumbled, but in the end, I decided to figure it out when I got home. As strange as it seemed, we went on exploring the school corridors.

On the first floor, we found a large assembly hall. I suggested we take a general photo on the stage, and the guys agreed. The five of us stood on the stage, posing like schoolboys, and the sixth took our picture. I then went down and took another general photo myself. The five of us were beautifully arranged in the photo.

When we left the assembly hall, Nurlan came up to me.

– Listen, something strange is happening here. It’s like I’m under hypnosis. Didn’t you notice that a sixth person is walking around with us?

– Yes, I noticed it on the ground floor, in the office with the desks. But I don’t know who the extra person is,” I said.

The school was huge, so Madiyar suggested splitting up to find interesting locations for photos. I would never have agreed to split up before, but now I supported him for some reason. Nurlan and I went to the second building, where the gym was located. Aliya and Anel went to the third floor and the other two to the fourth. Madiyar didn’t want to go alone, but we assured him that there were two of them.

– Three groups of two; no one will be left alone,” we told him.

– Since I will be alone, at least give me a camera. I will quickly take pictures and go down to the third floor to the girls, – he said firmly. We agreed.

Nothing was interesting in the second building. Nurlan and I were silent and didn’t say a word to each other. I tried again to figure out who the odd man in our company was. But just thinking about it made my head start to ache. We walked in circles around the second building as if in a trance. I lost track of time. Suddenly, we heard a scream from the first block. The obsession was instantly lifted from fear, and we came to our senses at once.

– It’s Anel or Alia! How long have we been walking here?! – Nurlan shouted in panic.

– There’s something bloody going on here! Let’s find the others and get out of here,” I said in fear.

As we ran down the corridor to the first building, I noticed it was already dark outside the windows. Had we been walking around the school for more than five hours? The screams were coming from the fourth floor, and when we reached the place, we saw a gruesome sight. Madiyar was lying on the floor, all pale, in a pool of his urine. His eyes were wide open, and foam came out of his mouth. Alia was shaking him and trying to bring him to his senses. Anel stood nearby in horror; she screamed that we heard.

– We waited for him on the third floor, but he didn’t come. Then we went up to the fourth floor and found him here in this state,” Alia said, stammering with fear.

– Why is it dark outside? Let’s get out of here! – shouted Anelle.

Suddenly, something heavy came out of the darkness and hit me right in the head. From the force of the blow, I fell to the floor and almost lost consciousness. It was my camera, someone had thrown it at me and cut my forehead. Nurlan quickly helped me up.

– Are you all right? Let’s get out of here! – He picked up Madiyar and put him on his back.

I reflexively picked up my broken camera. We ran very fast, not looking back. I fell down several times; I felt like someone was always pulling my leg. It was good that the girls didn’t leave me and helped me up. I was very grateful to them for that because, in such cases, everyone usually thinks only about themselves.

After running out of school and reaching the car, we carefully put Madiyar in the front. My friends and I sat in the back. At first, I decided to take my brother to the nearest hospital, but he slowly started to come round on the way. We started asking him what had happened to him in school, but Madiyar couldn’t remember much of anything. 

– Why are my trousers wet? – was the only thing he said.

Madiyar asked us to take him home first. We persuaded him to go to the hospital, but he said he was fine.

– Did anyone realise what happened at the school? Why were there six of us and not five? I asked my friends.

– That’s enough for today; I’ll take you all home,” Nurlan said.

No one argued with him. As we drove along, I counted the number of people in the car just in case. This time it was right: five people. At home, I downloaded all the photos to my laptop but was afraid to look at them alone. So, I wrote to the general chat group and agreed to look at the photos together.

Nurlan, Madiyar, Aliya, and Anel met at a cafe the next day. I brought my laptop with me to look at the photos. To our surprise, Madiyar remembered what had happened to him the previous day. When we asked him about it, he said we had better look at the photos.

In the first photos, everything was normal. They showed my friends posing on the school grounds. But then I noticed that right behind the boys was that broken window. It was far away, but we could see a blurry figure. The following photos were from the corridor. On them, we could see a dark figure following us. The following images were from the classroom. All four desks were indeed occupied, as Anelle had said. We saw that a strange girl was sitting at one of the desks. But her face was blurred. Then there were pictures where I photographed everyone separately: an image of Nurlan, Aliya, Anel, and Madiyar, and then we saw a picture of a pale girl. Her eyes were empty and didn’t express any emotion, and there was a noose mark on her neck. She was about 15 years old. Next was a photo in the auditorium where we stood on the stage together. It turns out that a ghost took that picture. And I don’t even remember giving my camera to anyone. But the creepiest photos were where Madiyar stood alone in the dark. First, he stood in the distance, then closer and closer, as if the photographer was running straight at him and taking pictures. The last photo was of his face mangled with horror.

– That’s why my trousers were wet,” said Madiyar.

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