The Mind Game

September 4, 2016 at 12:00 AM

AN: The Mind Game is the sequel to The Door Game so if you haven’t read it yet some things may not make sense so please read it before continuing! thank you and happy reading!

The Mind Game

“What is it that makes human beings so unique? No, really, what makes us so different from the other organisms roaming our planet? Some people think it’s our compassion and our wanting to help others, but even a dog can do those things. What about self actualization: the achievement of realizing one’s self worth? Well, not very many make it past the first psychological step on the hierarchy nowadays, making it nearly impossible for them to even realize there is a hierarchy at all! So we can scratch that one off the list… What do you think Airman,” he paused, briefly cocking his head to read the name of the soldier closest to him, “Roy? What is it that makes us humans so much better, no- the best living creature on earth?” He smirked from behind his face mask as his eyes scanned the cabin of the C-130, as if he knew something that his captors didn’t.

The belly of the aircraft was scarcely lit, with only three dim lights on the ceiling and lighting strips that barely lit up the walkways. It was hard to see anything that was more than a couple feet away. At the center of the cabin, surrounded by cargo and hovering over a make-shift poker table, were four military personnel. The man with the face mask was tied to a large shipping container several feet away.

Airman Roy turned to him, “Eat shit American Psycho,” he spat before returning to his poker game.

“Temper, temper,” he tsked. “I just asked a harmless question. Perhaps someone else who isn’t so dull and dimwitted can answer the question then?” he asked sarcastically, looking to the other three soldiers at the poker table.

Growling in frustration, Roy jumped to his feet, throwing a hard right hook and catching the uncovered part of the prisoner’s face.

“Anger, definitely not the answer I was looking for,” he chuckled, spitting blood through his mask. “’A’ for effort though.”

“That’s enough, Roy,” ordered the much larger man next to him. “Did you even read his file? Ajax Timothy Houston, otherwise known as Mr. Hysteria-…”

“Please,” Ajax interrupted, “no need to be so formal, Airman Kole, just call me Mr. Madness. Hysteria is too complex a word for the simpleton to understand,” he stated matter-of-factly, nodding at Roy. He grinned widely, showing off his bloodstained teeth from behind his mask as Roy glared back at him.

“Long story short, Roy,” Kole continued, as if uninterrupted, “this man somehow managed to convince four local cops to turn on, and kill each other. He likes to toy with people and their emotions, so the more you act up, the more you feed into his ego and his plans.”

“Don’t forget about the chunk of land they found that he used for some weird science experiment,” a woman chimed in.

“Oh stop it, you’re going to make me blush,” Ajax stated in mock flattery. “They did all the hard work, I just merely told them a few little white lies and some hard truths…” He trailed off as something briefly caught his attention toward the cockpit of the aircraft. Returning his gaze to the table, he quickly switched focus to the other two soldiers. One stifled a laugh, and the other stared worriedly at him. “Do you find how I killed four people amusing, Captain Howard? Judging by the terrified look on Dr. Fahrad’s ugly mug, she is a bit unsettled now by this mission of yours.”

“I just find it comical that you can maintain such an arrogant disposition after being strapped down and muzzled like a dog, all while you have the knowledge that once we land on American soil, you’re as good as dead.” Howard chuckled, followed by Roy and Kole.

“Look at you, seeing the comedic side of things… tell you what, if you can keep up that positive outlook of yours till the end of our flight, I will give you a gold star,” Ajax joked.

“If you don’t give me my gold star when we land, I’ll make sure your death is slow and painful,” Howard stated, matching Ajax’s tone.

“You can check my right pocket if you don’t believe me.” He grinned.

Shaking his head in amusement, Howard motioned to continue the card game.

“What’s got you so strung up Doc?” Roy asked bluntly, picking up and eyeing his cards.

“He knows something that we don’t,” she stated grimly as she leaned in to whisper to them. “Whatever it is…. it can’t be good.”

Dr. Fahrad and Ajax locked eyes as she contemplated on what to say next. She wasn’t a hundred percent sure, but she could have sworn he’d been staring at something only moments earlier, just before he began his lecture. He almost seemed worried about whatever it was.

“Quit stalling and tell us please!” Roy demanded, getting impatient as she held up a finger to stop him from talking.

“What’s your opinion on why humans are so unique?” she questioned Ajax curiously.

“The human mind has always fascinated me. It is what sets us apart from everything else, in my opinion. It provides a firm foundation of morals, yet even the slightest crack can make it all come crashing down. Our imagination creates unlimited possibilities for us to act upon… till it reaches a point where we no longer can tell what is real or fake. It is our greatest enemy and yet, our closest ally. Does that answer your question doctor?”

“Creep,” Howard grumbled.

“I-I thought he was going to try to escape but…” she hesitated briefly, before turning to Howard and continuing, “there’s a chance he’s trying to warn us about something.”

“You got that from his stupid rant? You may want to get your ears checked Doc,” Roy snickered.

“We’re twenty thousand feet in the air,” Kole pointed out. “I doubt, even if he wanted to, he could even come close to escaping. Not to mention that one of us, probably Roy, would put a bullet in em’ if he even so much as sneezed weird.”

“Don’t forget, we triple checked to make sure everything was up and running before takeoff. We would know if anything was wrong with the aircraft,” Howard stated, “so if I were to chose whether this guy had a heart or not, I’d take the latter.”

She sighed to herself, feeling a little less shaken. Reaching down to grab her cards, she froze, then twisted her head slowly to the right as she noticed a slight movement out of the corner of her eye. She was temporarily relieved when she saw a tarp atop a crate rustle slightly as the vents on the floor sent up silent gusts of air.

Seeing how uneasy she was getting, Kole tried to comfort her. “Don’t let Madness over there get to you, Doc-,”

Ajax cut him off, loudly whistling a tune that Dr. Farhad recognized instantly as a Christmas song they’d been discussing minutes earlier, ‘Do you hear what I hear?’.

“Please shut up before I curb stomp your testicles!” Roy growled.

Ignoring his outburst, Ajax whistled again, staring directly at the doctor… or so she thought at first, until she followed his gaze to her Kindle, which had been sitting on the table in front of her. She whispered the lyrics, “…do you see what I see…” from the old, creepy tune as it crept into her mind. She stared at her own reflection on the screen of the device. A split second later she let out a bone chilling screech and reached for her gun after realizing the reflection wasn’t her own. She snapped her head quickly toward the ceiling above them, and instantly, before anyone could react, the lights went out. As the other three shot up from their lawn chairs, the sound of plastic banging against metal rang out, but it was quickly drowned out by shouting and a sickening crunch noise. Immediately following the stomach churning sound, the doctor’s shouting ceased abruptly.

Seconds later the lights slowly returned, starting at a twinkle then growing in brightness, as if a curtain was being lifted to reveal the first act of a play. All three men stood back to back, pistols raised and scanning the room for the immediate threat. Sitting across from them in her chair was Dr. Farhad, her whole body seemingly sucked dry. She still remained in the seat gazing up, with her mouth ajar. Her eyes, looking like they had exploded in their sockets, began oozing blood that ran down her cheeks to the tips of her fingers, forming small pools of blood on the floor beneath her.

Roy quickly turned away from his fallen comrade, getting sick behind the closest cargo bin as Kole shook his head in horror. Howard fell to his knees in disbelief.

“What could do such a thing?” Howard muttered under his breath, trailing off into his own thoughts.

“She was right you know, well sort of,” Ajax stated smugly, raising his voice to get their attention. “For the record, I would like to state I did not have an escape plan, but I do now.”

Roy quickly wiped the puke from his mouth before howling in rage as he stormed over to Ajax, putting his gun to his forehead. “You killed her, you sick fuck,” he shouted in accusation, jabbing him with the muzzle of his gun. “How did you do it? Tell us!” he demanded.

“There is no physical way possible that he could have done something like this,” Kole stated pointedly.

“Yeah, just like there was no possible way anyone could have gotten by security…” Roy stated, trailing off as a new thought entered his mind. He quickly turned his gun onto Howard and Kole. “Unless one of you is in this with him!” he concluded, as Kole and Howard both pointed their own weapons at him.

“Don’t do this Roy,” Howard said, dipping his gun down slightly. “You’re playing right into this madman’s hands. He wants us to turn against each other! Remember what he did to get where he is now.” They stood like statues for a good minute before Roy lowered his weapon. Howard let out a long weary sigh.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what to think right now, especially with what just happened,” Roy explained.

“It’s fine,” Howard responded understandingly. “Just don’t forget we’re the good guys next time.”

He nodded, clearly ashamed of what he had done. Roy turned to Ajax, “Why did you tell us you have an escape plan? Is that true or were you just trying to get our attention?”

“So he does have a brain,” Ajax smiled. “Allow me to answer your question with a question.”

“You get one question, and then you need to convince all of us that you don’t have a lackey stowed away in this aircraft. If you can’t, or if you so much as make one more lame-ass comment, I’m blowing your damn brains out all over this cabin. Maybe even make your skull into a mug. Got it?” Roy asked, his anger returning.

“Fine, you had me at blow my brains out.” He cackled briefly before clearing his throat, recomposing himself and continuing, “Assuming your captain is correct and I don’t have the ability to mummify a human being, can you guys think of anything that can? Do any of you work in Area 51 or some other crazy government facility everyone else should know about?” He finished with a pompous look that said he once again was three steps ahead of them.

“Way to waste your question,” Kole snickered. “Can we kill him now?”

“Wait a moment,” Howard ordered as he began to pace. “I think this crazy ass-hat might be onto something,” he admitted reluctantly.

“I feel kinda’ stupid for admitting this, but I don’t know what or where my home station is.” Roy said.

“Neither do I,” Kole stated. “Anyone remember what the weather was like yesterday?”

They all stood silent, furrowing their brows as they all tried to recall something that should have been easily remembered. Roy’s eyes widened as he finally comprehended the situation.

“I can’t believe it,” Roy panicked. “I-I can’t recall anything! Where I’m from, my parents, dinner last night… Let alone what base I was stationed at! No matter how much I try, I can’t remember a thing before coming onto the plane anymore.”

“Me neither,” Kole added, shaking his head in confusion. Howard nodded to confirm that he couldn’t remember either, before they all turned to Ajax.

“And you?” Howard asked.

“Sadly, I have no recollection of any atrocities I may or may not have committed in the past… what a shame. Does this mean you will cut me loose?”

“I’ll think about it,” Howard stated, rolling his eyes.

“Whatever just killed the doc and stole our memories is still here with us,” Kole pointed out, while tossing everyone a small flashlight from his go-bag, “and there’s nowhere for them to run. Let’s just find this thing and kill-.”

Before Kole could finish his sentence, the aircraft jolted, causing Howard to lose his footing and drop his flashlight. He watched helplessly as it skidded across the floor, just as the cabin lights went out again. Kole and Roy immediately turned on their lights and began scanning the room with their weapons raised.

“Your light is over here,” Ajax called from the darkness, “underneath my foot. Just follow the sound of my soothing voice, Captain Howard.”

“Guys give me some light please,” Howard ordered while feeling his away around the cabin.

“Sorry,” Roy apologized, shining the light in his direction, allowing Howard to catch a glimpse of the flashlight underneath Ajax’s shoe.

“Wow, I thought you were lying,” Howard said, jogging over to him. “If you keep that new positive attitude, I may just start calling you Mr. Nice.” He reached for the light.

“On a scale of one to ten, how much do you trust me, Captain?” Ajax asked in mock curiosity.

“I would say a strong three,” he answered sarcastically as he stood back up facing his captive, “but only because you’re tied up to a large crate.”

As Howard turned to leave, Ajax took advantage of the tiny amount of give in his ropes and pinned the captain’s foot to the floor with his own. Howard stumbled briefly, pulling his gun out of the holster instinctively and pointing it at the convict as he regained his balance. Roy and Kole both swore loudly as they too raised their weapons at Ajax, causing him to grunt and squint in pain as his face was blasted by their lights.

“Before you shoot me, I want to make a confession,” Ajax pleaded.

“Go on…” Howard motioned for the other two keep their eyes open, setting down his pistol while he listened to what Ajax had to say.

“I have an accomplice, and if you want to find him, tell the goon squad to check behind the large cargo bins stacked by the cockpit.”

Howard turned back to Roy and Kole, both of whom shared shocked expressions, and gave them the ok to search.

“Now, I’m going to ask again… How much do you trust me Howard?” he asked, losing all traces of sarcasm and staring at him sincerely.

“Um, not even a little…” he replied, thrown off by the change in his tone. “What else are you not telling us?”

“I will explain everything, but first you need to do as I say, got it?”

“Give me a reason why I should,” he demanded. “You play with your victims’ minds like its some sick twisted game! What makes this time any different?”

Ajax’s eyes darted to the other two soldiers as they slowly approached their destination. He let out a heavy sigh of defeat before speaking, “Honestly, I need you to survive this, Captain Howard, and in order for that to happen I need you to listen to me. When those two reach the corner it’s going to get really loud and really messy. No matter what you hear, or what you think you should do, do not turn around. And lastly, you may want to turn off your flash light.”

Howard snorted in disbelief, but as he started to turn around, his skepticism quickly twisted into understanding as he began piecing together the puzzle in his head. Howard hung his head in defeat and turned back to face his prisoner.

Not taking his eyes off the floor, he spoke softly to himself as the guilt for what he was about to do devoured him. “Forgive me…” he whispered as he flicked the switch on his light, allowing him and Ajax to once again be enveloped in darkness.

“Come out slowly,” Roy ordered, seeing what looked to be someone crouching behind stacked crates. “We have you surrounded!”

Roy glanced over to Kole, who gave him a reassuring nod as they crept cautiously forward. After taking only a few steps, their lights began to flicker as the mystery figure slowly rose from its crouched position. Roy hastily smacked his light against his thigh, bringing it back up only to illuminate an empty corner. He immediately began to panic, looking frantically around and in between cargo crates. A few seconds went by before he noticed Kole’s light was no longer visible around the corner. He swore at himself and the crew for being so careless in trusting Ajax. Pressing himself up against the nearest bin for cover, he cautiously made his way to the corner and contemplated his next move. Roy hadn’t noticed at first, but as he tried to control his breathing and listen for any signs of movement, he immediately became aware of the horrifying fact that he couldn’t hear anything at all. The hum of the engines, the rattling of containers, even his heartbeat failed to impinge the silence that had taken hold of him. Taking a nervous gulp, his pulse racing, he readied himself to peer around the corner. After a brief delay, he pivoted with his gun raised, ready to take down the assailant.

Before he could understand what was happening, an icy grip on his shoulder caused him to drop his light. He instinctively side-kicked his attacker, putting distance between them. Raising his pistol, he fired a single round into the darkness; right where he thought the attacker’s head should be and watched as their body went limp, crumbling to the floor. Letting out a weary sigh, he reached down and picked up his flash light, shinning it at the body.

“No, no, no,” Roy stammered, nearly in tears as he fell to his knees beside Kole. “How did I…why did you…” he trailed off as he inspected his fallen comrade and found two gaping holes where his eyes should have been. He fell back on his hands, dropping his light once again+ and scurried away from the body, till his back was pressed firmly against the nearest wall. Succumbing to his fear and the horrific scene before him, he began shaking uncontrollably as his hearing slowly returned and a female voice beckoned to him from the shadows.

“Roy…” it whispered.

“No,” he wailed desperately. “You’re already dead! Just leave, please!” he pleaded as it began to hum the same tune Ajax had whistled earlier. His forearm began to ache as he held up his gun in the direction of Dr Farhad’s voice. Sweat poured down his brow and his shaking grew more aggressive once he saw the figure approach the edge of his bubble of light. Stopping just far enough away so he couldn’t make out any distinct details, it loomed over Kole’s corpse as it kneeled and plunged what looked to be its hands into his skull with a sickening, wet crunch. Kole’s left hand, which had fallen into Roy’s line of sight, quivered violently as his skin began to shrivel and mummify. Once the individual was done leeching off of Kole’s body, it slowly rose to its feet as it began to hum the same song, turning ever so slowly in Roy’s direction.

“Move any closer and I w-will sh-shoot!” he threatened, barely able to control the tremors that spread rapidly through his body.

“Do you see… what I see…” it sang just louder than a whisper, but enough for him to hear as it drifted fully out of sight. Roy dropped his guard for no more than a second before the attacker came lunging out of the darkness.

Howard cringed as a second gunshot echoed through the aircraft, but this time followed by Roy’s muffled screams. Then, right on cue, the lights slowly crept back to life, putting the spotlight on the two remaining passengers as they both stood facing each other. Howard was the first to speak.

“How long have you known?” he demanded.

“I was never a hundred percent sure… until Dr. Farhad bit the dust.” Ajax smirked.

“You used her as bait.”

“Well I sure as hell wasn’t about to test my theory on myself.”

“But how did you come up with that ‘theory’ in the first place?”

“It was after your discussion about the different things that scared you as kids. I found it interesting that all of you had very similar childhoods, with parents who treated you like you were fragile. You were all homeschooled and had issues with blacking out-,”

“Skip the psycho babble please.”

Ajax let out an annoyed sigh. “Fine, I’ll spare you the monologue and explain. While you four each spoke of something that scared you, I thought of something that frightened me as well. It was immediately following that one thought that I noticed the change.”

“What change?”

“The thing that I thought would frighten me most… forgetting everything that had happened before the plane. It was at that moment I realized if what I had feared came to fruition, then it could happen for all of you as well. So I decided to test it out; I whistled the carol that ‘used’ to scare Dr. Farhad. I’m assuming that Roy was afraid of the dark, and Kole definitely seemed like he was terrified of being mummified—.”

“So what you’re saying is… we did this?”

“Yes, we were all tools used to create our own personal Frankenstein.” Ajax lowered his voice before continuing. “But before we take care of the monster, we need to take care of the one who is really responsible.”

“What do you mean? It’s only us two left…”

“That’s what they want us to think,” he pointed out; clearly amused by some game he was playing. “I sent your boys in the direction of the cockpit for a reason. I had to test another theory, and try to prove that there was someone possibly hiding out in the cockpit at the same time.”

Howard shook his head in disappointment for not realizing the possibility sooner.

“It’s alright Captain, we can’t all be as detail oriented as-,” he stopped as Howard pulled out his knife. Shaking nervously, he took two steps forward and silently began cutting at Ajax’s restraints.

As soon as the straps that held him hit the floor, Ajax pounced onto Howard, completely catching him off guard. Ajax wrestled the knife from his grip and thrust it into his side. Howard let out a weak grunt upon contact and stumbled back slightly as they both stared at each other with very different expressions: Ajax bore a huge triumphant grin, while Howard glared back in pain and betrayal.

“Sorry to let you down like that,” Ajax started, “but we can’t both survive this.”

“You told me… you needed me… to live,” he gasped between breaths as he held the knife in place and fell to one knee.

“I did, so you could cut me free.” He laughed madly, circling Howard like a vulture. “I didn’t actually need you for anything else. I can handle the rest from here on out.”

Growling loudly in anger and pain, Howard swiftly reached into his boot and pulled out a small safety pistol and fired it at Ajax. He yelled out in surprise as the bullet hit its mark. Sprawling into the makeshift table from the impact, Ajax collapsed it under his weight. He was showered in cards, chips and cardboard as he lay motionless on the floor. Howard tossed aside the empty pistol, then let out a weak chuckle before succumbing to his wound, falling onto his side and releasing a long raspy breath he too ceased moving.

Terry had remained hidden in a cramped compartment for three hours, coming out as soon as she knew the pilot, Captain Howard was gone. Shortly after leaving her hiding spot she realized she had no recollection of why she was even there. The need for revenge however, clawed at her insides the moment her gaze met Ajax’s through the computer screen. Twenty minutes had gone by since the final two survivors’ skirmish, and both had remained stock-still the entire time. She let out a long relieved sigh as she watched the computer screen. “It’s finally over.”

She stood up from the pilots chair and unlocked the door leading out to the cabin. She paused for a moment before turning the handle. It was one thing to see the aftermath on a monitor, but in person… She shuddered at the thought. She wiggled her limbs in an attempt to recompose herself and opened the door. She stood in the doorway for a moment as her eyes adjusted to the dimly lit room. To her left she saw two corpses that had seemingly been sucked dry, the one closest to her however had a bullet wound between his eyes. She cringed at the sight of the two soldiers as she debated on whether she should feel guilty or not. “I didn’t even know them,” she reasoned out loud before continuing to the center of the cabin. Her gaze shifted first to the woman who had been mummified before turning to the man who had been stabbed.

“You poor bastard,” she whispered shaking her head in remorse. “You got shafted pretty hard,” she trailed off as her eyes flicked over to where the prisoner should have been. Immediately she started to panic.

She whipped her revolver from its holster, turning on her heel as she heard a light tap from behind her. She probed the room with her pistol raised, not daring to leave from where she now stood. “He can’t reach me if I’m out in the open,” she thought to herself.

“Come on out!” she yelled at the stacks of cargo.

“Alright,” came a strained grunt as the prisoner shuffled around a crate clutching his arm. “You caught me RED handed.” He chuckled sarcastically at his cleverness as he raised his bloody hand up in surrender.

“Stay where you are!”

“Fine, but I have something very important to ask before this all goes down, err…” He trailed off, squinting at the woman’s stolen name tag. “Colonel Tracy, have we met before?”

“Well Seeing as I get sick just looking at you,” she reached into her pocket and pulled out a picture, holding it out so Ajax could see it, “and I have this photo of you, I find it safe to assume we have! My name’s Terry. That’s all I can remember before boarding this plane, other than my wanting to watch you burn!”

“You have a lot of balls for a woman,” he said, forcing a grin. “We must have been lovers then?”

“Now I see why they had you strapped up,” Terry spat. “You’re a real freak of nature, you know that?”

The prisoner wiped sweat from his brow as he leaned up against one of the crates. “Tell me something I don’t already know…For instance, do you like chess fake Colonel Tracey?”

“I do, why you ask?” she inquired, letting her curiosity get the better of her.

“Well I kind of figured as much… You see we have been playing our own game this entire time, and not one of these idiots caught on, well save for one.”

Confused, Terry stared at him with a blank expression before deciding to play along.

“Yeah, too little too late though. You gave me the upper hand, all because you wanted to kill off your only ally; not to mention getting hurt in the process. You outplayed yourself, and I’ll be the last one standing because of your arrogance.” She aimed the revolver at Ajax’s head and cocking back the hammer, “Check-,”

Without wavering, Ajax boasted, “It was quite the honor Terry, but I’m afraid it’s time for me to end our little game now.”

Terry hesitated, giving Howard enough of an opening to hop to his feet and ram his knife into the side of her head with a loud wet thump.

Ajax gave Howard an approving nod as the woman’s body fell to the floor. Howard rushed over to help Ajax into a lawn chair, patting his shoulder as he spoke.

“Nice job American Psycho.”

“I can’t believe that worked,” Ajax grunted as he sank further into the chair. “We make quite the couple, don’t you think?” He finished with a weak laugh while looking to Howard, who was deep in thought.

“Can I ask you a question?” Howard asked, losing all traces of humor.

“Shoot,” Ajax said, chuckling as Howard caught the pun and rolled his eyes.

Still standing, Howard crossed his arms and took a step toward the cockpit, putting his back to Ajax. “You lied about what you feared, didn’t you?”

“Yes I did. You’re a lot brighter than you let on,” he sighed as he opened up to Howard. “I am afraid of the unknown. Not knowing something terrifies me. So I do whatever I can to learn my surroundings and those in them-,” He stopped himself immediately after realizing he had made a huge mistake, but it was too late.

The lights began to pop one by one as Howard’s manic laugh echoed throughout the cabin, coating everything in darkness except for the area where Ajax now sat. The light above him flickered sporadically as he shot up from his chair, turning to the cockpit to see Howard’s silhouette facing him from the doorway.

“You know, I’m very surprised you didn’t catch on sooner,” Howard chimed over the whirr of the engines. “Not once did I share a bit of information about myself and nobody seemed to care! You pride yourself on knowing what makes people tick and reading your surroundings, yet you couldn’t even figure out who you were playing the game with! Bravo!” he finished, caking on the sarcasm as he clapped slow and loud.

Ajax gathered what energy he had and dove desperately for the woman’s revolver lying just a few feet away. Still prone on the floor, he swore loudly as he looked down the sights at a closed cockpit door. Groaning, he slowly sat up and covered his eyes as the light above him stopped flickering and slowly grew brighter. He closed his eyes trying to concentrate on what to do next, but a shuffling noise from the darkness pulled him from his thoughts. As he tried to peer past the veil of light to see what was lurking in the shadows, Howard’s voice came from the speakers mounted around the room.

“I have to admit, I kinda’ enjoyed our time together… you were a good adversary. To put it into your words though, ‘we can’t both survive this.’ Oh, and my ‘lackey’ will come for you shortly,” he added as he shut off the speakers. Ajax slowly clambered to his feet.

Ajax stood rigid trying to listen past the white noise of the engines. His eyes darted around as he tried hopelessly to catch a glimpse of the creature that he knew was watching him. Sweat poured down his face as his gunshot wound bombarded him with excruciating bursts of pain and ribbons of blood oozed out from between his fingers as he tried to control the bleeding. Tightening his grip on the revolver, he forced a half smile as Kole’s voice fell softly onto his ears from the darkness in front of him, just barely above a whisper.

“Twenty thousand feet in the air… nowhere… to run,”

“I guess I’m out of guinea pigs,” Ajax grumbled, coming up with one last ditch effort for survival. “Let’s hope the past few ‘theories’ weren’t just lucky guesses,” he finished with a heavy sigh as he slowly started backing out from under the ceiling light. He watched closely as the creature stepped out into the light, almost as if it were a marionette bound to his movements.

Humanoid in shape, the creature was easily over seven feet in height and jet black, with a few very noticeable inhuman differences. Its arms split at the wrist into three long appendages with pointed, straw-like nails protruding from their tips. Its skin seemed to constantly crawl, making it look as if thousands of ants scurried around aimlessly just beneath its surface. Its mouth was constantly parted, as if in mid sneeze, exposing two rows of jagged teeth. What Ajax found most disturbing were its eyes… it had three sets, and all of them were spread out haphazardly across the upper half of its face and each belonged to a different victim.

Its mouth didn’t move as it spoke again, this time in Roy’s voice, “Quit stalling…”

Once his eyes had adjusted, Ajax reluctantly tossed the revolver onto the fake Colonel’s corpse.

The creature released a loud, guttural growl as the remaining light went out.

“Check-mate,” he breathed to himself just before letting out a blood curdling scream.

* * *

Douglas’s eyelids fluttered as he slowly regained consciousness, and after hearing the steady rhythm of his heart monitor off to his right, he let out a heavy sigh of relief. In any normal situation this wouldn’t be considered a good thing, he thought to himself. Waking up in a dimly lit hospital room with tons of wires, nodes and needles covering nearly every inch of his body wasn’t exactly heaven, but it was definitely better than the alternative… He shuddered, recalling what happened to everyone else on the plane.

He pressed the call button on the little remote that lay next to him, not wanting to spend any more time alone in the dark than he needed. Thirty seconds later he heard someone enter the room. He flinched at the sudden loudness of the curtains being tugged open, and a doctor that he knew very well was revealed to him.

“Before we get started, can you tell me your name please?” the doctor asked, as two men and a woman in business attire trailed in after him. All four seemed to tense up in anticipation on how he would answer, each holding a pen to a clipboard as they waited.

“My name is Douglas Howard,” he stated. He watched as everyone seemed loosen up as they jotted down notes.

The doctor proceeded to ask him a series of questions, ranging from current events to memories of his childhood, while the other three checked his charts and vitals. It wasn’t until the doctor gave them a reassuring nod to leave that they exited the room, all with positive expressions.

“I want you to be honest with me,” Douglas asked, “I can’t help but realize how weak I’m feeling. Is this a side effect from the drugs, and is it going to be permanent?”

The doctor cleared his throat. “Douglas what you’re experiencing is fatigue from lack of muscle use, not the after effects of the drug.”

“Come on Richard,” he stated skeptically, “you can tell me if it’s the drugs. I won’t care if it is. Plus, do you really expect me to believe that being asleep for a week or so would make me this weak?”

“That’s the thing Douglas; you’ve been asleep for two months. There were some miscalculations on how long it would be for the drug to take effect.” He sighed, looking slightly ashamed.

“Oh,” he grumbled, dreading the thought of physical therapy, though he decided against complaining after seeing the look of guilt on his friend’s face. “I can live with some P.T., and the follow ups, Richard. Don’t worry too much about that. It’s a trial after all, and I signed up knowing the possible risks.”

Richard gave him a weak smile before continuing, “The good news is the trial seems to have been successful so far, according to your EEG’s. It’s also the first time I’ve talked to you without interruption from one of your split personalities…” He trailed off, wiping away a stray tear.

“What’s wrong Rich? You seem a little off.”

“I’m so sorry to bug you with this Douglas, but my son just passed away about a month ago.”

“My sincerest apologies my friend,” he said, covering his mouth and staring at him sympathetically. He paused to let Richard recompose before he continued, “If you don’t mind me asking, what happened?”

“He was killed by a drunk driver on his way to a friend’s home after prom.” He stated, shakily rubbing his chin to keep himself composed. “Several of his friends died too. Only one made it out alive, and he’s in a coma.”

“Geez Rich…” Doug whispered, not knowing what else to say to comfort him.

“Getting back to the trial, I need to know in full detail what you went through while you were asleep, that way I can explain to you how the drug worked,” he finished, returning to an all-business tone.

For the next hour, Douglas went into full detail about his time on the aircraft, and what he did to survive. When he was finished, Richard sifted curiously through his notes.

“It’s amazing how complex a single drug can be,” Douglas stated. “When it couldn’t find any personalities, it used everyone’s fear to provoke them into revealing an approximate location. From there, once they tried to defend themselves, it would find a precise position. In other words, once a person realized they had a weapon, they always sought to confront the creature… so I subtly set down my gun, then I disposed of my knife by pretending to lose it to Ajax and used my safety pistol on him. It would’ve been weird to just hand over my weapons to the prisoner, the only person who didn’t have a weapon.”

“Now you understand why this trial was so risky,” Richard sighed. “First, there were the complications of putting you into a medically induced coma, and we had no way of knowing what kind of scenario your mind would create in order to cope with the loss of each separate personality. To top it all off, there was apparently a chance the drug could’ve mistaken you for one of the other personalities, and allowed one of them to take over. You were very fortunate to catch on to what it was this, creature was after, and use it to your advantage.”

“To be honest, I was more afraid of the prisoner than I was of the creature. For a moment, I thought he knew what was actually going on.” Douglas admitted.

“That was something else I wanted to address. The Ajax personality you mentioned never showed up in any tests, notes, or witness statements in the past. In other words, he never existed up until now.”

“Could that explain why he was our prisoner?” Douglas asked.

“It would definitely explain that, yes. Subconsciously you could have known he was there and was a threat, but we can’t know for sure now that he’s gone. My theory though, is that he remained hidden for so long because of the complexity and crowding of your mind,” Richard added. “Your situation was so tough because you had so many beings in your head, it was hard to determine which one was the real you. Your mind needed to find a very complex way of coping with such a huge loss, and it definitely paid –,” He was cut off by his pager. Immediately, the color drained from his face as he stared at the 911 page.

“Is everything alright?” Douglas prodded.

“Yeah,” he mumbled, “it’s actually good news. My son’s friend just woke up from his coma. I’ll be back to check on you in a few minutes. If you need anything, just hit the call button,” he finished, darting out of the room.

Douglas sat in silence for a few minutes before a smile slowly played across his face. He had finally done it! He was finally free! No more blackouts or disturbed looks from his so-called ‘family’ or ‘friends’! It was all over!

As he raised his arm in triumph, he felt something crinkle against his right peck. He looked down, noticing there was a small pocket on his hospital gown. He reached in curiously and pulled out what looked to be a small piece of paper, about four inches by four inches, and blank… till he flipped it around. There on the other side of the little white sheet was a sticker… a gold star, and written on it was this message:

As Promised…
Love Ajax,
P.S. I’m still here

Screaming in terror, he frantically began to smash the call button. When nobody came, he flung himself out of bed and instantly regretted doing so as he collapsed to the floor, barely able to carry his own weight. He ripped off all his wires and carefully removed his IVs as he sat up growling in frustration.

“Richard!” he screamed desperately as he slowly clambered to his feet using the railing of the bed. Looking around, he found a set of crutches and used them to slowly make his way out of the room. When he entered the hallway he noticed something very strange; the nurses’ station right across from his room was completely empty. As he peered around the desk at the other rooms, he realized the entire floor was vacant. He had just opened his mouth to call out for help when one of the phones on the desk rang, echoing throughout the empty floor. Not letting it ring more than once, Douglas shoved the phone to his ear, speaking frantically, “Hello is someone there? I need to speak to Richard-,”

“Howard, there is no Richard,” Ajax’s voice drifted coolly out of the ear piece, “I know I’m the last person you want to hear, but you need to listen to me.”

“H-How are you here in the hospital? I thought you were only in my head,” he stammered.

“I will explain that later. I can’t talk too much right now.” He paused briefly before continuing, “There is something really wrong with this place… you need to leave now!”

Douglas hastily smashed the phone onto the receiver, standing frighteningly still as he contemplated his next move.

“This doesn’t make any sense!” he seethed to himself, smacking one of his crutches against the closest desk.

In the silence that followed, he was able to make out a noise coming from the only other room with an open door, and he watched as a teenager came scrambling through the doorway, barely keeping his balance as his legs trembled beneath his weight. Douglas stared in bewilderment as the kid propped himself up on a desk across the room, fumbling with his cell phone in an attempt to silence the alarm that seemed to be increasing in intensity. After he finally shut off the alarm, his eyes darted around the large room till he caught sight of Douglas.

“Hey old dude, I heard you talking a moment ago, is there anyone else with you?” he asked hurriedly.

Slightly offended by his tone, Douglas pretended to look around before answering, “I guess not…”

“I need one of your crutches please, I can barely walk and we need to get out of here-”

He was cut off by the sound of glass shattering as the overhead lights from down the hall exploded, scattering shards across the tile floor in every direction. From the darkness drifted the all too familiar voice of Dr. Farhad, her ghostly whisper resounding off the walls around them as she sang.

“Do you see…what I see?”

“What in the name of all that is good is that?” The kid asked, panicking as he turned to Douglas for an answer.

“You don’t want to know,” he muttered as he stared helplessly at the darkness that concealed the creature from the plane.

Another set of lights blew up as a pitch black foot stepped into the light, covering another section of the hallway with a smoky black veil. Douglas swore loudly as he came to his senses and rushed over to the kid. He threw him one of his crutches while extending his hand to help support his other side as they both began to limp in the opposite direction of the creature.

“What are we going to do?” the kid panted as the lights began to detonate at a faster pace. They both stopped and turned around. His question was answered as an elevator they had just passed chimed and slowly opened its doors, the darkness only a few feet away.

“Move!” Douglas grunted and they both charged with everything they had.

Once they were in front of the elevator, the lights above them exploded, raining down sparks and glass. Douglas shoved the boy in first which caused him to lose his balance and fall just inside the doors. The creature chuckled in Roy’s voice as Douglas clawed his way further into the elevator and turned as the doors shut behind him. He screamed internally as he caught a glimpse of the creature’s face grinning down at him before it was replaced by his own reflection on the silver doors of the elevator.

“Now we can get the hell out of here,” he gasped as he turned to the kid. “What’s your name?”

“My name’s James… and I don’t think we’re home free just yet,” he stammered, pointing to a sign hanging up in the center of the elevator which read: “Game Two”, with a list of rules written below it.

Credit: Blake L. Patrick, Edited by Tom

Where The Snow Isn’t Cold

August 31, 2016 at 12:00 AM

You know the old saying; the one that starts with: ‘A good day at the cabin begins with a sunrise…’? Well that is very much true, but what is a bad day some ask? That’s being woken up in the dead of night by banging shutters and vibrating windows!

I groaned in retaliation after being woken up from my hibernation, and shoved a pillow over my head hoping to drown out the noise. To my disappointment the banging only seemed to grow louder.

“You have got to be kidding me,” I sighed wearily, rolling out of bed and catching a glimpse of my surroundings.

The family cabin had two floors. I usually slept on the first floor in a smaller bedroom connected to the main room, which was basically a large open area made up of a small kitchen and family room. The family room had a small wood stove nestled into the far corner, with two larger homemade sofas and coffee table huddled around it. Just behind the sofas and under the staircase were a couple of bookshelves stocked with board games. The best part I think was that nearly everything in the cabin was made here on the island. Originally it was planned to have all the materials shipped out here, but the pricing was outrageous, so my parents agreed it would make the place feel homier to just gather the materials and build everything on our own.

Above the family room was the landing that led to the guest and master bedrooms. My son Benjamin usually slept in the guest bedroom, leaving my wife Kathey with the master.

“Why the separate rooms?” a lot of people ask. Well let’s just say that she got fed up with the loud snoring and bedtime shenanigans that came with sharing a bed with me. Now she gets to sleep in the largest room with the ten foot screened in window looking out over the lake… women.

I yawned loudly, stretching as I made my way out to the living room and stopping abruptly in front of the stove. Something was definitely off and I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I rubbed my chin while I racked my brain for an answer. It took me a good thirty seconds to realize we never leave the wood stove on at night, due to the potential fire hazard. I grumbled in protest as I got down on my knees to close the damper, and was just about to grab it when the windows began to shake violently. This time, however, I felt a cool breeze coming from an open window at the bottom of the stairs. Frustrated, I stormed over to the window and slammed it shut with a heavy sigh.

“Who leaves a window open in the middle of winter?” I grumbled. My frustration was short lived as my brain finally began to wake up. “Winter?” I gasped.

I lumbered over to my personal chair in front of the still burning stove, and plopped down as another thought dawned on me. I had no recollection of how I even got here! I mean, I do vaguely remember packing my bags, but the whole trip… is a blur! Who just up and forgets a whole trip to Canada? Even though I was going to regret doing so, I decided to head up stairs and wake Kathey.

“Who knows? Maybe I’ll get lucky and she will be in a good mood… yeah, no this is a terrible idea.” I grumbled to myself.

I tip-toed up the stairs as to not wake my son, and slowly crept into the master bedroom. It was dark, but I did get a sliver of light from the stove downstairs.

“Kathey,” I whispered, “you awake?”

I was met with silence, and then a howl, as the wind danced across the main window. I called out one more time and still nothing. She was always a deep sleeper, but not that deep, I reminded myself. I then decided to sliver my way through the covers, only to find myself kneeling on an empty bed with covers draped over me like a ghost.

“Where is she?”I asked myself, beginning to panic a little. I hopped out of bed and darted over to Benjamin’s room, only to find that his bed was empty too.

“Benjamin, Kathey?” I called out frantically, with no response.

I bolted down the stairs taking two steps at a time, grabbing my coat and jumping into my snow boots once I hit the bottom floor. I grabbed the first lantern I could find (the electric one) and had just turned it on when I heard something behind the cabin. I stopped what I was doing and tried to listen past the piercing wind, rattling windows and banging shutter. I sighed to myself when I realized it was just the wind, and hurried out the front door on to the screened in porch. I stopped to observe my surroundings, but it was like I had just got sucked into a black hole. To make matters worse the lantern wasn’t all that bright, so it only lit up a small area of roughly ten feet before being swallowed whole by the darkness. The one upside about it being winter though was that the snow reflected the light once it passed over it, giving me a couple more feet of vision. I took my stocking cap from my coat pocket and just shoved it on my head when I heard the noise again. I stood like a statue trying to listen past all the white noise around me. My hairs immediately came to life once I recognized the noise between the wind gusts. Someone was crying. I mentally smacked myself for being so dumb. Kathey must have taken Benjamin to the outhouse behind the cabin! They were both always too afraid to go outside in the dark alone, so they often woke each other up in the dead of night when they had to go. No complaints here. I chuckled at myself for getting so worked up.

I held my lantern out in front of me as I made my way out of the porch and onto the trail that wrapped around the cabin to the outhouse. I took maybe four steps then froze, as I stared at the path covered in snow; with no signs of anyone having made their way through.

Maybe all the wind and snow covered their tracks? I reasoned, staring at the blank canvas of snow under my lamp. Before I could ponder about it too much I heard another lament, muffled by the sound of the wind, coming from atop the nearby hill.

“Kathey,” I bellow against the wind, “Benjamin where are you guys? This isn’t funny!”

I listened carefully for an actual response but was met only by the sound of whimpering and shutters… yeah things were getting pretty creepy now.

“Well, I’m not getting anywhere standing around,” I told myself sarcastically as I made my way up the hill and into the dark abyss of the forest. Starting to panic a bit, I picked up my pace to a hard jog. Just as I thought I was making good progress my left foot got stuck on a tree root, sending me soaring into a tree. My shoulder smashed against the trunk, causing the lantern to fly off somewhere into the darkness; then I fell face first into the snow. I cringed upon impact, expecting the frozen bite, but was startled after lying in the mound for a few seconds and realizing the snow wasn’t cold! I hastily got to my feet, running and snatching up the lantern.

“Kathey,” I screamed between gasps of air, as I finally made it to the top of the hill. I waited expectantly this time, but only hearing the shutters slamming continuously, almost mocking me.

“What the hell is going on?” I seethed, looking around and finding no signs of my wife or son. “Am I losing my mind?” I dropped to my knees in defeat, ripping off my winter cap and throwing it into the snow. Clutching my hair in frustration, I watched as the snow from the force of my throw puffed into the air and zigzagged its way to the ground abnormally slow.

“It’s all just a dream,” I chuckled, hoping that I wasn’t going totally bat-shit crazy. With some new found hope, I picked up my cap and closed my eyes, “Wake up!” I pleaded pinching my arm.

When I opened my eyes the woods and banging were gone, and I was now standing in my living room back home.

“Yes!” I boomed, throwing my fist to the sky in victory.

My celebratory routine was short lived once I realized something very odd… I awoke standing up. I turned around at the sound of footsteps fast approaching, and the entire room seemed to darken as another Me rounded the corner from the kitchen with two bags of luggage and Benjamin in tow; Kathey hot on our heels.

“Rick, please wait,” she begged, sounding almost as if we were underwater, “We were both drunk and I didn’t mean to!”

“Kathey, just stop it,” Rick demanded, cutting her off and dropping the luggage he was carrying, “No matter what you say or how many times you explain yourselves, it will never justify what you did to me or Benjamin! Don’t you understand? You betrayed us and everything we had, just for what, sex? We are leaving now.”

“But what about Mommy,” Benjamin whined, dropping his backpack and hugging her legs, “Why can’t you come Mom?” he finished in tears.

“Cuz’ mommy did something bad, sweetie,” she crooned, gently resting one hand on his cheek. She moved over to a dresser by the entryway and grabbed his favorite stuffed giraffe.

“Mr. Artichoke, you fixed him,” Benjamin exclaimed rubbing his face against the giraffes, “I love you mom.” He stated hugging her waist.

Everything seemed to freeze as all the walls began to fade and dissolve back into the dark void of the woods.

“I remember now,” I muttered, my expression blank, “That’s why I can’t find her, because she isn’t even here!” I finished with a long heavy sigh. I spun around and quickly but carefully made my way down to the cabin, expertly winding my way through the trees.

Once I hit the bottom of the hill, my anger hit its peak and all it took was one bang of the shutters to send me off the deep end. What started as a low growl, turned into a battle cry as I hurled myself at the shutters; grabbing them and ripping them off their hinges and with a great heave, sending them spiraling through the air to be engulfed by the darkness.

“Finally…quiet.” I snickered through gulps of air and recompose. “Benjamin,” I called out, desperately now hoping for a miracle, “Benjamin, you there?”

With still no reply, I reluctantly trudged my way to the front of the cabin and began to tear up. Still sobbing, I made my way over to the front steps and plopped down. I remained that way for a few minutes before coming to my senses again. I then looked to the sky and let out a small croak. There were no stars, no sign of the moon, nothing but darkness. I shook my head, now numb to everything around me. I wandered over towards our fishing shack, which was located on a small deck that looked out onto the lake. As I approached the deck, my gaze shifted to the fifteen foot tall sculpture I had carved for my son using trees around the cabin, his name was Brachi. Brachi the dinosaur was a replica of a brachiosaurus. “Why build a sculpture so big? Aren’t you supposed to be relaxing at the cabin?” a lot of people ask. Well my son loved dinosaurs so much that I decided I would cut down a few trees and surprise him. Of course he decided it would be best to have him look out over the lake so that he could see us approaching, coming from the north.

“What happened to our family, Brachi?” I sniffled as I rested my hand my hand on his side following his gaze into the nothingness. “And now I am talking to lifeless objects, no offense Brachi.” I finished sarcastically patting his side and looking to the ground with a sigh. I stared off into the snow, deep in thought for a few minutes before realizing I was staring at a trail of footprints leading off into the darkness. With my hopes renewed I called out for my son.

“Benjamin,” I bellowed, “Benjamin it’s your father! Where are you?” I called out one last time as I approached the lake, stopping just at the shore line. The foot prints kept going further into the dark and onto the snow covered lake.

“Where is he going?” I asked myself as I tested the ice to make sure it was safe. Once I verified I was okay, I began my trek through the not-so-cold snow, pondering what we could have done differently. What did Benjamin or I do to deserve such a betrayal from the one we loved the most. What kind of monster could do such a thing? My mental investigation was cut short once I noticed something on the edge of my bubble of light. I stopped and observed the tracks as they looped around the figure, I squinted my eyes and gave it a few looks over before establishing that it was indeed another person!

“Benjamin,” I exclaimed running over to him, “I’ve been looking everywhere for you! You can’t just run off in the dead of night like-.” I slid to a stop, barely a foot away from the person, sitting in a chair…fishing. He wore a red flannel coat, hood up, and was bobbing his fishing pole up and down trying to bait a fish. “I’m sorry to bother you sir,” I apologized, my heart dropping, “I’m looking for my son. He’s got black hair and is about this tall.” I motioned with my hand and waited for him to respond, but after 30 seconds of waiting I got really impatient.

“Excuse me, sir, are you listening to me? I’m missing my son. Have you seen him or talked to him at all?” I begged only to be answered with silence. “Why aren’t you listening?” I yelled, shoving him from behind as hard as I could.

The man didn’t even budge, let alone flinch. He just kept fishing away.

“What the hell?” I stammered. I circled slowly, now trying to catch a glimpse of his face. I brought the lantern close to my face and leaned in to peer past his hood. I slowly reached up to pull his hood back, not taking my eyes off of his hands as he still fished on.

One second he was staring forward, then with a loud ear piercing screech, his head jerked towards me, so that we were briefly face to face. I fell backwards in horror, dropping my lantern and landing on my hands. I scuttled back, trying to inch away from the faceless figure. I could hear its joints creaking as it jolted to its feet. I scuffled over to my lantern, snatched it up and faced the mysterious figure yet again.

“Stay back!” I demanded, throwing my arm out in defense. Without removing its empty gaze from mine, it leaned over, gathering its pole and tackle box, and rigidly marched back towards the cabin. Not taking my eye off of the faceless man, I launched to my feet.

“Benjamin,” I screamed over the wind, no longer hiding the fear in my voice, “Benjamin, please answer me!” I begged, running as far from the cabin as I could. This time I got a response.

“Dad,” came a panicked call somewhere ahead of me. A wave of energy rushed over me as I sprinted towards the sound of my son’s voice. I slipped and almost fell a couple of times in my haste. I slid to a dead stop, just barely maintaining my balance and throwing every single curse word I could think of at the sight before me. Some way, some how, I had ended up behind my cabin just beyond the outhouse.

I shook my head in disbelief. All my hopes for finding my son and leaving were whisked away into the dark chasm that was now consuming my mind. I growled in frustration, smashing the lantern into the nearest tree I could find. And just like that, I was stranded in the dark, demented wonderland that was once my favorite place of peace. Once soothing thoughts of home and family were now being demolished by sinister feelings of brokenness and angst. I fell to my knees and bawled like a child who had just lost his puppy.

“Wake up!” I howled into the darkness, smashing my fists into the ground. There was a brief moment of pain but as soon as it was felt it was gone. I looked down at my hands observing them to make sure I didn’t break anything…

“Wait a second,” I uttered in shock at seeing my hands under the soft glow of a light. I whipped around, my sanity returning briefly at the sight of my son holding out his dimly lit fish-shaped lantern.

“Daddy, I can’t find mom.” He sniffled. I quickly shuffled over to him and embraced him.

“It’s alright Benny Bear, Dad’s here,” I wept clutching him tightly to my chest, “Where have you been? I’ve been searching everywhere for you.” I chuckled, holding him at arms length to check for any injuries.

“I followed the robot man to his fishing spot, but he was boring so when I heard Mom I went to the woods with my light to find her. Did you find Mom, Dad?” He asked.

I sighed, dreading the topic. I opened my mouth to speak, but stopped myself.

“Hey, Benjamin, let me borrow your light for a second.” I asked reaching to him. He reluctantly handed it over, following my gaze to the tree I had just abused.

“What’s wrong with the tree dad? Why is it all shiny in that spot?” he asked pointing to a large spot on the tree.

I didn’t answer right away, how could I? I just stared in utter disbelief at what I was seeing. I took my son’s hand, leading him over to the front porch, dragging my feet the entire way. I knew when I first awoke that something was off about the cabin, but how was it possible to end up here of all places? As we both took a seat in our favorite chairs on the porch, I began contemplating every explanation, every theory I could muster up. Every time however, no matter what angle I looked from, no matter how many revolutions the cogs in my head made, they all ended at one possibility. After spending a few hours in deep thought, I sighed heavily as tears rolled down my cheeks and pushed the hair from my son’s face while he slept.

“Come on bud,” I grunted as I cradled him and carried him to my bed. I had just tucked him in when I heard voices behind me coming from outside the cabin. I quietly exited the cabin and planted myself in one of the lounge chairs on our deck looking out over the lake. Too bad it was too dark to really see anything. The voices were familiar, it took me a little while to recognize them, and once I did, a switch went off inside me. Images began forming as I focused more and more on their words:

“…the local police are still investigating the scene…”

I remembered holding Benjamin’s hand as we looked out over the landscape.

“…so far they can only confirm two deceased individuals…”

We moved closer to the cliff edge to peer down at a pair of loons.

“…police are still on scene looking for any evidence as to what may have happened…”

I cried out in terror as my son tumbled down the face of the cliff.

“…a fisherman found the bodies floating by the dock of a nearby cabin, apparently belonging to the victims…”

Without thinking I cried out, diving head first into the lake forty feet below.

* * * * *

Kathey swore at herself as she wiped away tears with her shirt sleeve. She had grown too attached to Rick and Benjamin, and even contemplated on actually starting a family of her own with them. Even though Benjamin wasn’t actually her son, she always felt some strange connection to the little brat. Heck, from day one he constantly thought she was his real mother. She rubbed her temples hoping to relax a little, but all that disappeared with the new headline on the local news station. Missing Father and Child Found Dead, scrolled across the bottom of the television screen. She stared blankly at the screen, tuning out the discussions the reporters were having in the background. The memory was clear as day as she played it over and over in her head, and every time her stomach did a somersault.

She peered greedily through the thick foliage as Benjamin and Rick got closer the cliffs edge. As luck would have it, the loons’ calls masked the sound of leaving her hiding spot. She slithered up behind them; her blank expression slowly creeping into a wicked smirk before she shoved Benjamin over the edge. She watched as Rick helplessly dove in after his son, without even so much as glancing to see why he fell. Kathey snickered at her own brilliance and that mans stupidity. After four years of planning, she finally accomplished what she came here to do, marry Rick, and once she was added to his will, find a way to collect the insurance money.

She cackled as she pictured the scene of both Rick and Benjamin floating lifelessly in the lake. Her heart pounded excitedly at the thought of finally finishing what she started, but at a price. The cameras panned around the area on top of the cliff, before switching to an officer who stated they had found an earring at the crime scene. She was dumb not to fully inspect the scene before leaving; now she ran the risk of being caught. It was only a matter of time before they found out she wore the damn things everyday. It looked like there would be no waiting around for the life insurance this time. She took one last chug from a wine bottle before whipping it in frustration and shattering the television screen. “Time to clean this place out,” she thought to herself as she ran up the stairs to begin packing.

Once she collected all the valuables of the house, it was time to find a souvenir. She had one from every house she had destroyed. Having them helped to remind her she could do what it took to finish a job. Because of the significance, the item had to be special… unique.

“That’s it!” she exclaimed, rushing to the china cabinet at the back of the living room. She flung open the doors, immediately finding what she was looking for on the top shelf. After their wedding, Rick, being a mechanical engineer and experienced crafter, had decided to make something special for her and Benjamin. It was what he called a waterless snow globe. It was half the size of a basket ball, and had special fans built into the lower half designed to constantly blow the snow around. In the center was his family cabin that he inherited a few years before they met. Everything was crafted in amazing detail, the trees, the outhouse, the deck and rocks; to add to the effect, everything in the cabin was an individual piece. The beds and furniture had real material on them. Sitting on the kitchen counter were two real working lanterns, which stored energy through magnets or something weird like that. He even added one of those lights to the wood stove to keep the house lit up at all times. Lastly, he constructed a tiny fisherman to walk to and from the cabin to give off the impression that he was fishing. There was no doubt that this was the most unique piece in the entire house. She was just about to shove the globe into a bag when something else caught her eye inside of the snow globe. Sitting in one of the lounge chairs on the deck, looking out onto the frozen wasteland was a small figurine of Rick.

“When did he add that?” she asked herself, puzzled.

She just shrugged it off, nonchalantly tossing the globe into her bag. She gave the house a good once over and realized how quiet things were without the other two there. Wherever they are ‘I’m sure they are in a better place.’ She reasoned, just as she opened the front door and stepped out into a large pile of snow. ‘I bet they don’t have to deal with the snow either…’

Based on real location:

Where The Snow Isn't Cold

Credit: Blake L. Patrick, Edited by Tom

The Deer Of Possibilities

April 1, 2016 at 11:00 PM

As I lay in the grass, the warm summer breeze rolling over me, I can’t help but wonder what I did to deserve what had befallen me. I never really hurt anyone, never kicked any puppies or anything like that, but hey, I’m just getting ahead of my self. In order for this to make sense we have to start this story from the beginning.

It was the beginning of May and the weather had finally cleared and dried up a little. I was on my way home from work when a sign for a local petting zoo caught my eye. It was called Fawn-Doe Rosa, a family owned place where you can walk around, pet and feed deer as well as see other furry animals. A little bored with my life at the time I decided I would stop in and support the place, feed and pet a few animals then head home.

As I entered the fenced in area I walked to the far end of a huge pond, towards a small, younger looking buck. As I approached it turned to look at me and hurriedly walked over to get some food from me… or so I thought. I reached out to offer him a carrot; he tilted his head, his dark eyes staring straight into my soul. We stood stock still for a good minute before it spoke, causes me to jump in surprise.

“Hello Neil,” It spoke in a voice very similar to Morgan Freeman, “You’re a very special person and I know you’ll help me. I can’t ask this of just anyone. I really need your help and have a favor to ask of you.”

“You can talk?!” I stammered.

“Yes, Yes I’m a talking deer, but all that aside, I just need a small easy favor. I’ll make it worth your while and reward you, even.”

“How can you… a deer reward me, a human? You going to give me lettuce?” I chuckled.

“All you have to do is make a sign, saying ‘found lost dog’, with your cell phone number on it, then post it up outside the main office.”

“That would be lying. I don’t have anyone’s dog.”

“I already know you will do it Neil, less ask-ey, more do-ey.” It demanded, waving him away with its hoof.

Long story short I did what it asked. Later that night I got a phone call, asking what the dog I found had looked like, ironically I had found a dog outside my apartment complex not an hour earlier and described him to the owner. Turns out they were a very wealthy family and gave me a 20,000 dollar reward for finding and taking care of their championship, pure bread. The next day I went back to the zoo and the magical, unicorn deer was waiting for me.

“Let me be the first to congratulate you on your reward,” he began, “To introduce myself my name is Deer, I see what will be and what can be. As you can tell, me being a deer makes doing things I want done hard and or impossible for me to handle. So from time to time I have been known to seek out special people such as your self to do these simple tasks for me and in doing so receiving a reward for your actions.”

“This is too good to be true.” I grumbled shaking my head.

“I want you to know I will never lie to you or make you do anything illegal. At times the things you do may lead to something bad happening to someone else, but ultimately it will be balanced out with something good happening to you.”

At first the thought of bad stuff happening to others deterred me, but nothing good ever seemed to happen to me, so why not switch things up a little.

“What’s in it for you?” I asked.

“From the tasks you will accomplish I will be able to construct a masterpiece, one that will make my existence worth while.” He answered, with a creepy toothy grin.

“You have yourself a deal Deer.” I said with a sigh.

The next few months went by fast, especially with keeping busy doing the tasks the Deer wanted. I had done around twenty or so tasks, learning a little bit about Deer’s history along the way. He had actually been a famous palm reader and jester thousands of years back. A joke of his however went terribly wrong. When one of the princes he was entertaining got offended and had him executed, his spirit lived on through the ages, reaching out to whoever would listen. To be honest I was happier than I had ever been those past few months than I had been in my entire life. I had money, women, a good job and a great place to live. Everything was going good, till now.
This morning I was told to put a semi-driver on a shift just a little longer than usual. I did what I was asked and in doing so a coworker of mine that originally would have given a coupon for a free meal and visit at Fawn-Doe Rosa, gave the coupon to me. So I took a longer lunch break and headed out to the petting zoo for lunch. I brought my lunch over to Deer and we shared my meal in silence. I had gotten up to leave when Deer spoke.

“I’m afraid our time together is running short, as I said before I see what will be and what can be. What goes around comes back around.” He finished singing the Justin Timberlake song.

“Wait what do you mean?” I asked confused.

“Why, my masterpiece of course,” Deer chuckled, “Everything you have done for me has lead to this exact moment, starting with the poster and ending with the shift change.”

“Wait what’s going to happen?” I asked starting to freak out and debating on whether to high tail it or not.

“There is no use in running,” Deer stated bluntly, “As I said before, I have been planning this moment for a few months now. I knew, without a doubt you would help. To humor you a bit I will tell you how it all plays out, because no matter what you do my masterpiece will be complete. It all started with the dog you found, which allowed for him to be returned home. The next task, the one with the quarter, caused a child to jam a toy machine. He got upset and his mom got so worked up she had a heart attack, so they had to call in someone to take over her dog watching job for the day. The substitute watcher, being the man you told he sucks at life. He got upset and was very distracted at work today and accidentally lost the dog he was supposed to be taking care of. Then I had you go to a bar and move a beer a few inches, which caused someone to spill it on another person. The one guy got mad, throwing a beer bottle at the other guy, which hit a baseball trophy case, causing it to shatter. You tried to help the bartender find the missing ball but she got so smitten by you she completely forgot about the missing ball. Well a kid found that ball and is playing baseball with it as we speak. Then the shift you changed today, he was already working a double shift, now he is really exhausted and his reaction time is a little slow.” Deer let out a loud sneeze and turned to look across the road.

“But what does this have to do with me?” I asked dreading to hear the answer. He just nodded towards the road. I slowly turned to face the road as I heard a kid crying and chasing a dog with a baseball in its mouth. The kid stopped to catch his breath as the dog entered the road, then turning to face the kid to see if he was still following, he playfully crouched and wagged his tail. I jumped as a semi- blared his horn, too little too late… the dog exploded into bits and pieces on the fender of the trucks cabin. That’s when the ball caught my eye. It bounced into the wheel well of the rear tire, then without warning came rocketing towards me. I Covered my head and chest with my arms, hoping to protect myself, but the ball wasn’t after my face or chest. Clocking easily at well over a hundred miles per hour, the ball hit me directly in the ball sack. I immediately fell to the floor gagging and puking all over the place. All the while, Deer was prancing around laughing hysterically.

“Get shrekt scrub,” he howled, “Your- your face is so priceless ahahaha! Best prank ever!”

Looking around frantically, I found a rather large rock by the pond, sneaking up behind Deer and raising it over my head while he still laughed uncontrollably. He whipped around as he caught sight of my shadow looming over him.

“Oh shit.” He gasped, as I brought the large stone upon his head, killing him instantly.

I sighed heavily, hobbling over to my car and driving straight to the hospital. A few hours later, surprise, surprise, I found out I am no longer able to bear children. With my testicles swollen to the size of tennis balls, I couldn’t help but shake my head in disgust. I lay down in the grass, swearing to myself. Looks like the Deer would have the last laugh…

Credit: Blake L. Patrick

The Door Game

September 1, 2015 at 12:00 PM

“Yo, James hurry your ass up!” Damon roared from across the parking lot, standing next to our limo and waving me and Becca down. I quickly stole a kiss with Her before taking her hand and jogging toward the limo with her. We werent in there for more than a moment before our other friend Felix shoved a flask of Jack Daniel’s in our face.

“I made sure to get one for each couple,” He winked at me with a huge grin, “It isnt prom night without Sir Daniels!” we all burst out laughing. I took a swig from the flask before passing it over to Becca, and shifted my gaze to my childhood friends. There were eight of us total and we had all been friends since grade school and couples since late middle school. The gang consisted of Jamal, Krisie, Pat, Jade, Felix and Dayna, Becca and I, and boy were we an interesting bunch.

“So whose place are we exactly going to again?” I asked, as Becca leaned her head on my shoulder.

“The new guy, uh…,” Pat started, but Jade finished for him, “Dale Seer, he just moved here from New Jersey.”

“Yeah that guy!” Pat smiled, as Jade rolled her eyes at him.

Just then the limo driver swore loudly just before veering wildly to the left and right just narrowly avoiding a car driving down the opposite side of the road, leaving us all in a tangled laughing heap in the center of the vehicle. Normally we probably would have freaked out but with the amount of alcohol we had consumed at the time we probably could have wrecked and thought it humorous. We continued to talk about the events of everything that had gone on our senior year, and before we knew it we had reached our destination.

“Alrighty kiddos, I will be here bright and early to pick you up at eight, so don’t be late ya’ hear?” We all nodded in agreement to the limo driver, but as the others turned away from him I noticed his expression had become grim and he motioned me to come closer. “It’s not your time.” He muttered, before driving off. I just stared after the car confused by his choice of words. What did he mean by that exactly, and what was his deal? I just shrugged it off and went to join my friends who were all standing in front of a small eerie looking home.

The house was a light yellow and with as much chipped paint as there was it gave the home a weird poke-a-dotted look. The home almost reminded me of the Amityville horror house, with the dirt coated attic window, a rickety old fashioned porch and the occasional missing shutter. Yep this sure was where I wanted to spend the rest of my prom night.

“Wow, this Dale guy seems like a real winner.” Krissie stated sarcastically.
“Come on guys let’s just give this Dale guy a shot, I’m sure he is a nice guy!” Becca pleaded with us. She had been that way as long as I could remember. Always giving people the benefit of the doubt, and being optimistic about any situation, and that is why I loved her so much. Not only was she the most beautiful girl in school she was also the least selfish and shallow person you would ever meet. I can still remember the first time we met on the school playground. I was and still am one of the nerdish guys you would ever meet, and ironically I was being picked on by Pat when she stood up for me, and ever since then I could never get over how strong she was. Those piercing blue eyes and her dark brown hair still till this day take my breath away every time I see her.

“Ok.” We all uttered in unison, pick up our bags and making our way into the home.

Pat rushed passed everyone throwing his bag onto the floor of the entry way. Despite the outside of the home the inside wasn’t all that bad looking. The entry way was rather large, with five different doorways. The one to the left lead to a rather larger living room with a fire place, the second to our right lead to the kitchen. Two others were at the top of a flight of stairs on either side of the landing, and right on the wall at the center of the two was a large poster. The last one was dead ahead of where pat had gone through.
“Yo Dale, where you at bro.” I called out into the seemingly empty home. Everyone dropped their bags in the same spot as Pat and we got no answer.
“Maybe everyone got stuck in traffic on their way here.” Dayna suggested, shrugging her shoulders.

“Hey guys check this out!” Pat called out from the doorway in front of us. We all walked over to see a strangely large room for the size of the home and right in the center were two rows of four beds, one for each of us. Now that is creepy I thought to myself.

“Okay this is pretty weird, I thought there was suppose to be party here.” Pat pouted.

“Well, maybe there are more beds upstairs,” I stated turning to enter the entry room, and freezing after taking two steps out the doorway. I stared in horror and confusion at the sight before me, “uh guys, I think we have a problem.” I stammered while pointing to where the front door used to be. Everyone turned to see what I was pointing at, their jaws dropping in unison once they realized what had happened… the front door had disappeared leaving a wall in its place.

“That’s fucked up!” Pat chuckled.

“It’s not funny, how are we supposed to leave now?” Krissie shouted at pat, which then caused a chain of arguments amongst everyone trying to figure out what to do. As they all bickered I walked around hoping to figure out what exactly was going on. That’s when I noticed a small red arrow pointing up the stairway to the poster on the wall. I quickly walked up the stairs to the poster and began to read:

Game Rules:
Note: The game starts once the first door is opened
Rule #1- Once you open one door another random door will appear.
Rule #2- Once you open a door another door will disappear and so will everything behind it.
Rule #3- You have exactly 10 minutes to open a door, if you don’t a door will automatically disappear, along with another once you open a door.
Rule #4- Every 5 minutes I will come to find you, and the first person I find or isn’t hidden well enough to my liking I will give you five seconds then chase you.
Rule #5- If I catch you, you join me/us.
Rule #6- The game ends at day break.

Note: First door opened at 9:35pm. I will see one of you around 9:45.
Good Luck!

As soon as I finished reading the “game rules” I looked down at my phone to verify the time. It was 9:40.

“Uh… Guys,” I shouted down the stairs, “I think you may want to come see this!” within seconds they were all at the top of the stairs reading what I had just read.

“This is a bunch of bull crap!” Pat boomed after reading the poster.
“I agree,” Jade nodded, “This is obviously a joke by Dane or Dale or whatever his name is.”

“Plus this alcohol is making me sleeping, so I am going to take a nap with my chica Jade here. So smell you guys later!” he bellowed as he made his way down the stairs with Jade to the bedroom. I just sighed.

“I just feel like whatever is going on here it shouldn’t be taken lightly.” I said, meeting everyone’s fearful gazes. They all nodded in agreement.
“So how much longer do we have left?” Felix asked.

“Three minutes to go,” Becca uttered loudly, “We should come up with a plan after we hide.”

“Definitely a good idea, we will meet here before we open up any doors.” Jamal stated. As everyone spread out to hide I grabbed Becca and kissed her.
“No matter what happens I want you to know I will always protect you.” I said staring deep into her amazing blue eyes. She looked at me and got teary eyed.
“I know, you already have.” She muttered as she gave me a small smile and went to go hide.

I just stared after her for a moment, confused by the reaction she had given me. What did she mean by I already have? I looked down at my phone and saw I only had a minute left so I quickly ran and hid on the windowsill, which was rather large and shut the curtains in front of me. To be honest it felt kind of stupid to be hiding. For all we knew Dale could be messing with us and videotaping this whole thing to see if we would actually do what the poster said. I looked down at my phone. It was 9:46pm, and nothing had happened.

I sighed and was just about to leave my spot when I heard a whisper of a man counting down from five. Five, four, three, two, one… There was then a sound like one of the beds being dragged across the floor and a loud thud, followed by an ear piercing scream from Jade. I quickly jumped out of my hiding spot and turned towards the open doorway in front of me to see Dayna, Becca, Jamal, Felix, and Krissie grouped in the entry way. As I made my way to them the guys covered the girls eyes, and when I rounded the corner I saw why. Starting from the bedroom and making its way up the stairs was a trail of blood. As Jade came into entry, everyone rushed over to comfort her, and she began to cry and yell out in pain. I however looked towards the top of the stairs to see a small mound at the foot of the poster. I made sure to walk at the edge of the stair case so I wouldn’t get any blood on me, and when I got to the top I gagged, then threw up at the sight before me. Pat’s neck had clearly been broken easily at a ninety degree angle, with hundreds of cuts across his body and a large red streak up the front of his now ragged tux. My eyes then turned to the poster where his hand seemed to be reaching towards. On it was the number seven written in blood. I quickly ran downstairs to see everyone arguing, about what had just happened. Once I got to the bottom of the stairs they all stopped and turned to face me.

“Is he up there?” Jade sobbed. I just nodded my head and she immediately began to cry again. I grabbed the other two guys and brought them to the top of the stairs explaining what they would find once they got there. But once we got there, to my horror his body was gone.

“I swear he was just here!” I shouted in disbelief.
The other two looked just as horrified and shocked as I did.

“We need to come up with a plan and fast,” Jamal stated as we reached the bottom of the stairs, “and wasn’t there a door there just a second ago?” He finished pointing to where the kitchen doorway used to be. I swore under my breath and gathered everyone in the bedroom.

“Ok so,” I started a little winded; “From now on we stick together until it’s time to hide otherwise we can easily get picked off, or lose each other.”
“Why don’t we just wait for the bastard who is doing this and just mess him up,” krissie suggested, “because in horror movies that’s the number one issue no one tries to gang up on the killer till they are all dead.”

“I don’t think the killer is human that’s why.”I admitted, a little skeptical myself.

“What makes you say that?” Becca asked.

“Well judging by how quickly he was dragged up the stairs, and based on how big of a guy Pat was if a person were to drag him up the stairs it would take more than 30 seconds. Which is how long it took for all of us to group up in the entry way. Plus I saw the wounds inflicted on him and no normal person could have done that in the allotted time.”

“Alright but why can’t we just stay here then?” Dayna questioned.

“If a door disappears every ten minutes like the rules say then that would mean we would run out of doors eventually, and it also says that once a door is gone everything behind it disappears with so in theory we would all disappear.”

“Well since we are all in the same room, let’s open another door and see where it goes I don’t want to be here any longer than I need to be…” Jade sobbed as she got off her knees and made her way to a door at the far side of the bedroom. We all followed her, as she took a deep ragged breath and opened the door.

We were right back in the entry way… except it was laid out differently than before. The left door way was now a bedroom with only seven beds in it this time. The kitchen was now a large screened in porch with a swimming pool, and the stairs now only led to one door and next to it the poster.
I looked down at my watch. It was 9:50.

“Shit we only have a minute everybody, find somewhere to hide!” everyone ran their separate directions. I ran into the room that was once the bedroom and was now a study and hid underneath a desk. As soon as I was situated however I heard someone running up the stairs. It didn’t hit me right away till I heard a door open. I swore to myself about how stupid they were being, and could possibly have just gotten someone killed. But before I could dwell on the thought any longer I heard it again. The whispering only this time it was different almost like there were two. Five, four, three, two, one…
I don’t know why I did it, but I shouted as loud as I could so everyone could hear me, “Run!”

But it was too late. A second later I could hear Dayna scream followed by a loud crack and splash from the swimming pool. I sprinted out of the room to see right in the center of the entry way a large blood splatter mark, followed by a trail of blood to the pool. We were all in the door way when Felix walked out of the pool crying with Dayna in his arms. He collapsed to the ground holding her. From what I could see her whole face was caved in, which would explain the blood spot on the floor. Everyone else threw up, but I already had my traumatizing visual.

“What do we do now?” Jamal asked as he ran his hands through his hair in thought.

“We have to keep moving, so whatever it is that is doing this can’t catch us.”
“I was there,” Felix stammered, “I saw them. They took her from me! Her foot was poking out from under the bed and they grabbed her!”
“Them? Who is them Felix?” I asked putting my hand on his shoulder.
“It was Pat and another man…” he finished shaking his head in disbelief.
Everyone gasped including me. So that’s what the sign had meant by me/us. I looked down at my watch. 9:59pm, we had to get through a door and fast.
“Guys we have one minute we need to get through a door STAT!” I said taking Felix’s elbow, but he quickly shrugged me off.
“Felix let’s go!” Jamal pleaded through the doorway.
“I can’t go on without her,” He smiled sadly at us, “I love each and every one of you like family, but I must stay here with her.” Once every one left the room, I gave him a slight nudge on the shoulder.
“Catch you on the flip side brother.” I smiled weakly at him.
“No… you won’t.”

And just as I exited the room and turned to face him one last time, he was gone. I placed my hand where the door used to be and prayed that whatever had just happened to him it was fast and painless. I held in a sob, took a deep breath and turned to face the remaining four. Jamal was comforting Krissie, while Becca was kneeling down next to Jade who was now sitting and hugging her legs while rocking back and forth crying. I went to the settings on my phone and set a timer to go off every five minutes, one minute before we were supposed to be hiding and before a door would disappear.

“Get away from me,” Jade hissed at Becca, “How can you say something like that? Nothing is going to be ok! Pat and Dayna are dead not to mention that Felix just magically disappeared with her! Screw you guys, screw this house, screw this ‘game’, and…” she was cut off by the sound of my phone beeping.
“What is that for?” Jamal asked.

“I set it so we don’t get caught off guard when the time to hide comes,” I stated looking to my phone, “We need to hide now.”

“No,” Jade objected, “I told you guys I’m done with this stupid game! I am not hiding!”

Jamal reached for her arm but she instantly shrugged him off. We all started shouting at her telling her she was being unreasonable and that she needed to calm down. She just cursed at us and began to make her way to the study. As she did so however I began to hear the whispers again.

“Do you guys hear that?” I asked hoping it wasn’t just me.
“The whispers,” Becca pointed out, “yes I do.”

“Good it’s not just me,” Jamal chuckled before calling out to Jade, “Jade we don’t have time for this you need to hide!”

She stopped then in the entry way of the study and we sighed in relief that she finally came to her senses, but my relief was quickly replace with horror once the counting started.

“Pat,” She whispered loudly, “is that really you? Who is that with you?” She turned around and began to scream once they counted down to zero. She started to run toward us but as she made it half way down the hall way four figures shot out of the study, grabbed jade and drug her in by her ankles. We quickly sprinted down the hall and into the study only to find that she had been impaled on a knight statues spear, with hundreds of cuts covering her body. I swore loudly and smashed my hand on the studies desk living a large crack going through the center. I immediately regretted doing so however as my hand began to throb from the pain and began to swell. Becca put her hand on my shoulder to comfort me.

“You can make it through this Jay bear,” Becca crooned, “You’ve been through too much to let this defeat you.”

I immediately calmed down, but I couldn’t help but feel something off about Becca. She never used my nickname Jay bear, mostly because she knew I didn’t like it when my mother coddled and embarrassed me with it. Then again it helped to relax me a little.

“We should get moving.” Jamal suggested. We all nodded in agreement as we made our way to the new door in the study. We all took a deep breath before opening the next door.

We were now in a large ballroom. It kind of reminded me of the one in that Stephen King movie Rose Red, except the mirrors and such were all replaced by closed doors and there were four long rows of tables with fancy cloths and silverware laid out. There were six doors in total, but one was open and led to a large hallway, located at the very back of the room.

“Why couldn’t our prom have been here,” Jamal joked, “Oh wait, there is a creepy supernatural entity killing us off. If you ask me that would be a total buzz kill.”

Then, right on queue a banner fell down at the center of the room, which read:

Doors now disappear every two minutes!
Have fun!

“You have got to be kidding me!” Krissie screamed in protest.
I immediately added another alarm to my phone, and as I did so the door behind us disappeared. We needed to get moving.

“I say we go through the open door before it disappears,” Becca offered, “There seem to be more doors to choose from.”

“True,” I agreed, “but there is also less hiding spaces which would mean we would have to open another door in hopes of finding more, which could be risky.” As soon as I finished that thought the alarm went off. We all hugged each other and I whispered to hide under the tables and crawl our way to the front, and if they hear the countdown start, run for the open door.

Once we all were under the tables we slowly began to make our way to the far end of the room. Once I was half way I stopped as a foot came down fairly close to where I was now kneeling. I had to hold back from shouting Felix’s name as I could recognize his favorite pair of shoes anywhere. Idiot even wore them to prom. I was three quarters of the way there when I heard a loud thud under one of the tables, followed by the counting.

“Run!” I shouted as everyone got out from under the tables and began sprinting for the door. I made it to the door first, turning around to see the other three right behind me, and right behind them looking exactly as they did when they had died were our other four friends and another older looking gentleman I couldn’t exactly recognize, and there were sprinting… a lot faster than the living ones. I swore to myself as I thought quickly about what to do. I ran to the nearest door and got ready to open it as soon as everyone was through. Jamal and Becca made it through first but krissie had slipped just before the door way, and the other five were closing fast. Jamal quickly sprinted over to her, picked her up and threw her through the door way. He then turned to sprint but realized it was too late.

“Open the door James,” Jamal shouted, “I don’t want to give them the satisfaction of catching me!” I nodded and quickly opened the door I was holding, and an instant later the ballroom was gone.
“Jamal!” Krissie screamed, falling into Becca’s arms sobbing uncontrollably. Becca rocked her back and forth for a minute passing her fingers through her hair before turning to me.

“What do we do now?” Becca asked, looking teary eyed her-self.
“We have no choice but to move on.” I sighed. As Becca and I made our way through the door I had just opened I heard another door open up behind us. We both spun around to see krissie opening up random doors.

“What the hell are you doing?” I seethed. She turned to face me with with a scowl.

“I’m ending this nightmare! Maybe if it’s just me left I will win the game! Then I can get out of this hell hole!”

Becca ran quickly to the door behind us and opened it but nothing happened.
“Don’t just stand there,” she beckoned, “we need to get rid of her before she gets rid of us!” I took her hand and began running through random bedrooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. I stopped after the twelfth floor, turning to see that the door we had just gone through had disappeared. I sighed in relief and wrapped my arms around Becca, kissing her on the forehead. We had barely just caught our breadth when my alarm started to go off once again. I clenched my jaw, knowing that no matter what happened this would probably be the last time I would see Becca.

“Becca I just want to let you know-,” she cut me off before I could say anything more, with a kiss and I kissed her back.

“We should probably start running.” She stated eyeing the only room in front of us.

“You make sure you stay as close to me as you possibly can, okay? That way none of us can get left behind.” She nodded and kissed me on the cheek.
“Let’s go.” She stated as the whispers began to count down once more. I took her hand and we took off to the nearest door way. Door after door, room after room we went , but they kept coming. Never stopping once, never letting up their pursuit. I could hear Becca starting to get winded and we slowed down to a jog.

“We can’t keep this up.” She uttered between breadths. As soon as she said that I opened the next door and… it was a dead end. We looked to be in the attic now, with the large rounded glass window. I turned to see the others only seconds behind us. I turned to the glass to see that it was full of cracks and seemed like it was ready to break. I turned to Becca.
“Do you trust me?” I called to her.

“Yes!” She shouted as she followed my gaze. I grabbed her, wrapping my arms around her head and waist, leaping backwards so that I could break her fall. If I had remembered correctly it was almost 3 stories. I could survive that I told myself. As soon as we broke through the window everything seemed to move in slow motion. I could see the glass around me light up like fire flies as the sun light shone through them. I could feel Becca’s tight grip around me, and behind her were 7 hands reaching out toward us. Just as we were about to hit the sunlight, I could feel her grip loosen around my waist. I Scream out as loud as I could, reaching for her, her reaching for me as I fell and she was dragged up through the window. A jolt went through my body and I could hear a loud crack as my head banged against the sidewalk. Immediately my vision began to blur. I could feel the warm stickiness of blood forming around my head. I looked up one last time to the attic window to see all eight of them staring down at me. I turned towards the sun and closed my eyes, and everything went white.

Literally something was so bright that all I could see was white, but as quickly as it came it was gone, and all I could see was a blur of figures moving around me and muffled noises of what seemed like people talking.

“James,” called a familiar voice, “James if you can hear me say something.”
“I can hear you just fine.” I muttered. A few people began to cry, and as my vision cleared I could see people hugging each other crying tears of joy. Where exactly was I?

“James I can see you are confused,” stated the voice I now recognized as Pat’s father, which was weird because he worked in a hospital. I am pretty sure there were no hospitals in heaven, “James you have been in a coma for a month now, how are you feeling?”

“Wait what,” I spat in disbelief, “How? Was it from my fall?” I asked. Everyone there just stared at me mostly with grief or sorrowful expressions.
“James there was no fall,” Pat’s father explained, “A month ago you were in a car accident. You were on your way to a friend’s house after prom. On your way a drunk driver was driving on the wrong side of the road and struck your limo head on.” He paused a moment to let it sink in and as he did so he pulled out photos of the wreckage. What I saw completely shocked and horrified me. I stared at the pictures in complete shock, and I could see it was equally as tough for Pat’s father as well. The first photo was of Pat who had been flung from the vehicle, snapping his neck on impact. His body was covered in cuts caused by flying through the windshield and sliding across the road. The next photo was of Dayna who was also flung from the car but her head was crushed as the limo rolled over her. The last photo was of Jade, who had been impaled by what looked the exhaust pipe of the vehicle, and she was also covered in cuts made by glass. I stared at the last photo in disbelief. The photos matched the wounds that had killed his friends in the house almost perfectly, but that didn’t explain what had happened to the rest of them.
“What happened to everyone else?” I asked reluctantly.

“Well after the car struck the limo, it caused it to flip on its side and roll tossing the first three and yourself from the vehicle,” Pat’s father began, “The vehicle then rolled off the side of the bridge you were all driving across. We were able to locate two bodies inside of the limo, which had fallen into a river. The other two remain missing in the river.”
“So who were the ones found in the vehicle?” I asked having a good idea of who they were, as I began to connect the dots.

“Felix and,” he hesitated a moment as he saw me begin to tear up, “Becca.”
I stifled a sob, and nodded that I was ready for the rest. He handed me a tablet with a video on the screen ready to play.

“This was recovered from the limo. It’s footage of what happened in the limo at the time of the accident.”

Everyone’s eyes were on me as I played the video, as I watched there was one part that hit me the hardest. As the limo was struck, I lunged straight for Becca, wrapping my arms around her just as I had done before jumping out the window. I watched though as we bounced around the vehicle a few times before I went out one of the windows, and Becca’s dress got caught on the glass dragging her back in. Then a few moments later the car jolted and the tape went black.

I asked everyone to leave to give me a moment to take it all in. As everyone left I cried. It all finally made sense. They say you hear things when you are in a coma, and all the weird things everyone had said to me made sense now. “It wasn’t my time”, Becca calling me Jay Bear, that was my mom talking to me. They also say when you’re in a coma you can get stuck in the in-between. Which would also explain some of the comments they made to me about making it through the night, and me already doing my best to protect Becca. It finally all made sense. I took a deep breath to calm myself down, and once the tears had stopped I opened my mouth to call out for everyone to come back into the room but was cut off… I turned in horror as my phone alarm went off signaling that it had been ten minutes. I was in my own room so that meant that there was only one door in the entire room. I had to check. I reached out grabbing the curtains around my bed, took a deep breath and flung them open.

Game Over…?

Credit To – Blake L. Patrick


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