The events of the following story may be true. Names and places have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.
Chapter 1- introduction
It was an early fall day when it all started. I’ll never forget the sights, sounds, and general feeling of foreboding that I felt on that day. Thinking back, the event that set it in motion was my brother Mark’s first visit from college. With me being his little sister and all, he made sure to feign interest in my update about what had happened while he was gone, but I could tell he had other things on his mind. “What’s up”, I asked once we had a private moment. He shook his head and huffed off. Thinking back, I should’ve respected that he didn’t want to talk about it, but I wasn’t the type of person who could let that happen. He was obviously distraught over something, and I intended to find out what it was. That night while he was asleep, I snuck into his room and searched through his duffel bag. I know it was wrong and all, but I was worried he might’ve been in some serious trouble. (As if a 16 year old could do anything about adult problems). Worried he might wake up and see me, I carried the duffel bag back down the hall to my room. After opening it, I threw caution to the wind and emptied the entire contents onto the floor. What I saw… was pretty normal college garb. A few pairs of clothing (in desperate need of a wash), his car keys, his wallet, and a flashlight. The flashlight seemed odd, but at the time I didn’t think anything of it. I was just about ready to give up and put it back when I had a strange idea to check the clothes pockets. Weird, I know, but all that matters is I did check them; and set off a chain of events that I will regret for the rest of my life.
Feeling inside the pockets, my hand closed around a smooth round object. Pulling it out, I was surprised to see that it was a pocket mirror. Wrapped around the mirror was a piece of paper. Carefully unwrapping the paper so it wouldn’t tear, I stared at the three words.
HE’S WATCHING ME
Feeling an eerie calm sweep into the room, I broke into chills. What was that supposed to mean? Did my brother have a stalker or something? What made it seem even stranger was that it looked like his handwriting. Putting a hand against my chest to calm myself, I decided to confront him with the knowledge the next day. Maybe he could shed a little light on the subject. After returning the bag to its usual spot, I went to bed, feeling strangely unnerved.
That night I had the first of many nightmares. The first went like this: I was running in a forest of some kind. In my hand was a flashlight, but it was off. I clicked the button, but it wouldn’t work. Behind me I could hear footsteps. Or, actually, a lack of footsteps. Running deeper, I blindly stumbled over a tree root. Feeling for something, anything, my hand connected with something soft. A scream rose up from my throat. But then I felt something as cold as ice wrap around me, and drag me into the darkness.
When I woke up I realized I must’ve fallen from my bed during the night. My covers were scattered around the floor and my shirt was soaked with sweat. I stole a quick glance at my clock and inwardly groaned. It was only 4:30 am. Pulling myself off the floor, I almost screamed in pain. Choking back tears I pulled up my shirt a little to see a long gash stretching around my waist. Tracing it with my fingers, I wondered what could possibly make that mark. Then a worse thought crept into my head. What if it was self-inflicted? I went to my bathroom and spent the next 10 minutes spreading Band-Aids and Neosporin all over it. When I was pleased that I could cover it with a longer shirt, I went back to bed and tried to get some sleep.
The next morning (at about 8am) I went downstairs and had breakfast. For a moment before I left my room, I could almost pretend that it was a normal day. Then I felt a throb in the gash, and had to dig my nails into my palm to keep from crying out. My parents were eating cereal, while my brother was actually cooking. He seemed happier than normal. “Did you sleep well?” My mom asked me. I thought of the most bitingly sarcastic comment I could say, and then just responded with a simple “fine”. You see, lately my mom and I hadn’t been on the best of terms. This is mostly in part that she wouldn’t let me keep Sparky. Now before I lose you, I’ll back up to about one week ago, when my parents were in a frantic rush to prepare for my brother’s return. So frantic, in fact, that I decided to go outside to clear my head of the fumes that were in the cleaning spray. Anyway, I started to walk around town. I live in a small town, but as much as anyone really needs. It has two gas stations, but everyone only uses the one, Burney’s; because the other one closed down about a year ago. The owner just packed up and left, just like that. So I passed the other one and saw the cutest doggy I’ve ever seen in my life. She (I’m just gonna call it a she but I never found out what it was) was just walking around and sniffing things. Her fur was a tannish brown. Surprisingly, she just ignored me and continued to walk around. When I reached out to pet her, she retreated a little. I put up both of my hands to show her I meant no harm, and she actually seemed to understand. I started to pet her and she licked my hand. Now I’ve got to admit, I’m an animal lover. Always have been. But I’ve never actually had a pet of my own. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw the dog had no collar. I immediately named her Sparky and she followed me home. My mom practically had a cow when she saw Sparky in the house. I argued, and bartered, and debated with her until we made a deal. I could keep Sparky as long as I kept her outside, and took care of her by myself. Seems pretty fair, right? That’s what I though too. But then, suddenly the next morning Sparky was gone. Mom denied having any part in it but I’ve never known any animal to run away after you’ve given it food.
So ever since then I’ve been quietly rebelling. I mean, she made a deal with me right? That’s totally binding.
But, as always, I held my tongue. Apparently, Mark felt like chiming in too. “We’ll I slept great”, he said.
After breakfast, I tried again to talk to him while washing the dishes. “I went through your bag last night”, I said. Subtle, I know, but the change on his face was instant. He dropped the dish he’d been holding and stared down at the sink. “Outside, now”, he said. “What”? I had barely heard what he’d said. “Now!” he said. I grabbed my coat and went outside.
I hunched my shoulders against the wind, pulling my jacket tighter around me. Mark closed the door behind him. I’d decided to ask him what the note and mirror were all about. But before the words left my mouth, he cut me off.
“Did you see him?” he asked. I just stared at him. “See what, Mark; I just want to know what’s going on with you”.
The look of relief was so noticeable on Mark’s face that I felt a strong urge to comfort him. “Look”, I said, “just tell me what’s going on. I can’t help you unless I know what’s happening. If you want to leave mom and dad out of this, that’s fine, but I want to help you”.
“But I want to keep you out of this too”, he said. He turned and walked back inside. I didn’t know how to feel about that. It was frustrating to know that I couldn’t reach him. What could he be going through that was so bad that he wouldn’t even let me help?
I went up to my room and lay on my bed, thinking. I decided to leave it be for a while. The next three days of my life were the most normal I’d have for a while. It was late November, and everyone in school was itching to be let out for winter break. I’d done decently with grades, though I had never been a scholar like my brother. To be honest, recently I’d felt like all my parents hopes were riding on him. It was unfair to him, because he had a lot of pressure, but also to me because I felt like I had something to offer the world. I just hadn’t discovered what it was yet…
To make things worse, I started having more nightmares. Some nights were better than others. Recently, I had been seeing a little more of the nightmare, then waking up only to find that the gash was throbbing. Only through a steady process of reapplying gauze and Neosporin did i manage to hide it from family and friends. The lack of sleep began affecting me, though. My grades slipped and I sometimes snapped at my family when I didn’t mean too.
Markus seemed to become more worried, and I had to admit I wasn’t far off. Tree branches started to look like arms and I had constant headaches whenever I left the house. My mom said it was just puberty, but I knew better. Whatever Markus had gotten himself mixed up in, I was there too. Everything seemed to culminate around my school field trip. For starters, none of the students wanted to go and a few even faked an illness. The problem was when you lived in a small town like I did; you couldn’t hide crap from anybody. But honestly, we hadn’t even had a field trip for years, which made this one all the more strange. My headaches got worse, to the point where mom finally took me to see a doctor. He said tons of Doctor-ly things and ended up prescribing an overpriced version of painkillers. I felt terrible making my mom pay for it when it was probably my own imagination. Still, once I took one of the pills, the headaches stopped. For the first time in a while I could actually function like a normal person. But Markus didn’t seem to relax. And he was becoming more paranoid. He even had the nerve to tell me to stop taking the pills. “I can’t tell you why”, he said, “but you have to believe me”. Yeah, because he’d been soooo forthcoming with information lately. I tried to ignore him. Life was good, or, at least back to where it was before the nightmares started. I prepared for the field trip, talked to my friends, and spent more time with the family. My parents seemed to notice this too or at least that I was acting more sane than Markus was. One day when I came home from school, I saw him scribbling madly on some poster board. When I asked if it was for a project, he hissed- like literally hissed at me. Later that night I managed to catch a glimpse of it as he walked past my door. It was all squiggles and jumbled symbols. I silently thanked god that he was leaving in a week. I only had to stay away from him for a week. And…the next day my mom suggested that Markus and I go do something together. When I protested, she gave me the death stare that meant “you will go now and you will like it”. We walked down past the first gas station and down to the second. Markus actually acted pretty calm, and I enjoyed catching up with him. He did leave out a few things, and shied away from certain questions, but that was fine with me. I finally told him about Sparky. Concern clouded his features and he asked me where I had first seen the dog. “Right around here actually”, I said.
“That’s strange, normally all dogs around here are kept indoors”, he said.
“Maybe she was feral?” I asked, worried where this might lead.
“What kind of feral dog would let you pet it”? I didn’t answer. “And a normal dog wouldn’t run away after you’ve fed it”. He stared at the abandoned gas station again. I’m going to check it out”, he said.
“No”, I said, pretending to check my watch. “Mom will want us home in a few minutes”.
“It’ll only take a second”, he said, “come on”. I debated on whether it would be worth it. “If you come with me this once, I’ll tell you everything”. He looked at me with such a convincing glance that I changed my mind. Either that or my curiosity got the better of me. I walked ahead of him. “Start talking”, I said. I should’ve though for a little longer, maybe I would’ve realized: what type of person offers to tell their secrets? One who doesn’t think he has much more to live for.
The gas station door was padlocked, but the wood was so rotten that Markus easily broke it down. “You know how college is, right”, he said. I nodded. “Well, one of the most notorious fraternities was all about ghost stories and all that. I decided to join, partly for the experience and partly because I’d heard they hosted awesome parties. Like seriously, tons of music, food, and scary stories. The problem was that they were really exclusive, and only initiated members could join”. Markus paused to look around the room. The power had been cut, and the lights didn’t work. But I wasn’t surprised when he pulled a flashlight from his jacket pocket. “From what they described, the initiation seemed pretty easy. Just stay in the forest from midnight until 4am and videotape the whole thing. I should’ve known better. They showed me the way into the forest and left. Or so I though. Really, they were putting on costumes to try and scare me throughout the night. They waited until I fell asleep and played out the whole horror movie thing. It terrified me, but I figured out that it had to be them. They started laughing, said I’d passed the initiation when… this figure appeared. At first I thought he was another one of their friends who’d shown up late, though I didn’t understand what he was supposed to be. But then… I noticed his height. Stepping out from the shadows, he must’ve been seven or eight feet tall. For a second I thought maybe he was wearing stilts, but then his arms extended outward. Tentacles, like honest to god tentacles emerged from his body. They were as black as sludge, and one grabbed the leader of the fraternity. He screamed, and I swear, blood was everywhere. But even worse was the man’s face. It was fuzzy or something, like constantly moving, sorta like static on a TV screen. And he had no facial features, just a smooth white place where it might have been”. Markus turned to me. “I was more scared than I’ve ever been in my life. I collapsed to my knees, watching as he slaughtered the entire fraternity. The things he, no it… did, I imagine that’s what hell is like. And the worst thing was, I couldn’t look away. I felt him holding my gaze on him, as he finished each and every one of them”. He was silent. I didn’t know whether to believe him or not. But one thing was real, the fear my brother had felt. Anything that could scare him that much had to have been bad. “Why weren’t you killed”, I asked. Markus shrugged helplessly. “I don’t know. I felt myself lose consciousness after he killed the last one and looked at me. When I woke up, it was two days later and I was in the hospital. I had no broken bones, no injuries at all. The police questioned me for a little bit, but they seemed to want to keep it quiet. At first I felt relieved, then, such remorse, thinking that I should’ve died too, ya know”? But then, after I went back to school, I realized what it was. And the answer scared me. I hadn’t been spared out of pity, but from disinterest. I wasn’t scared enough for him”. He put his head in his hands. “A few days later I saw him”. He was standing outside of the school, right in the small shady area covered with trees. I screamed, and people came, but they couldn’t see him. Only I could. And it was terrible. Every night there would be the nightmares”. I shivered. This all seemed too close to home, but I reassured myself by saying that most of it had gone away. “I would wake up with things in my room moved, with signs scratched on my windows and door. And then … I came home to visit. And after you questioned me, I tried to keep you away from it, so it wouldn’t go after you too”. I felt a shiver to up my spine. So I had been dealing with something unnatural. But if it was the same thing my brother had seen, why had it left me alone? We’d looked around the gas station, but nothing was there. Just piles of old boxes, candy and snacks. “Actually, Markus”, I said, scaring even myself. He turned and looked at me. I lifted my shirt slowly, just enough to give him a glance at the wound. “Good god”, he said. “How, how did this happen”? “I went to sleep and had a nightmare”, I said. “When I woke up, this was there”. He furiously shook his head and backed away from me. “No, no, no”, he said. His breath came out in puffs of cold air and I realized that the temperature had dropped. “We have to get out of here”, he said at once, grabbing my arm. As we turned to go, I saw a figure at the door. My brother hadn’t done it justice when he’d described it. It felt like my heart stopped and my veins froze with ice. He was… I can’t describe what he looked like. It’s unfathomable unless you’d actually been there. Markus threw himself in front of me. “I’m so sorry”, he said to me. And then, to the tall thing, “leave us alone”. It tilted its head to the side in what might’ve been a laugh if I hadn’t felt like bolting in terror. The tall thing raised one arm and my brother collapsed to the floor, writhing in pain. Then it walked closer to me, its head still tilted to the side like a broken doll. I felt the gash on my stomachs flare up in pain. The agony doubled, and then tripled, beating my previous record for most pain felt. I fell to my knees and it reached out at hand, holding my chin up to meet its face. I remembered what my brother had said about it not killing him because he didn’t feel enough fear. I pushed back the pain, searching for a calm place in my mind. At that moment, the tentacles emerged, dripping a tar-like substance. My train of though was smashed into a thousand pieces as my mouth opened. In that moment I knew that if I screamed, it would kill me.
And that’s all I remember of that day. I must’ve blacked out, because when I awoke it was Monday. I was in my bed, and the clock read 4am again. I checked the calendar to see for sure, but it was actually the next day. No random paranoia or fear bubbled up. I almost pushed the whole experience away as a dream when Markus barged in. “Please tell me you remember all that”, were the first words out of his mouth. Not “thank god, your alive”, or “are you okay”. We talked about it and he said it was the first time anything like that had happened. Somehow we’d lost almost twelve hours of time and ended up safe in our house. It was too eerie to put off as a coincidence. But looking at the clock reminded me. The field trip was the next day. And the location was a national forest. I felt nervous and told Markus. He advised me to skip the field trip. I actually thought about it for a moment, but decided to go only because it would raise suspicion if I didn’t. My mom finally thought my mood was improving, and to miss the school year’s biggest field trip would be a blaring alarm in her mind. He understood, he’d been in high school not too long ago. He said he wouldn’t stop me on three conditions. 1. If I saw anything strange, or the tall man, I was to stay with the group and stay safe. 2. He would give me a flashlight in case anything else happened, as well as a knife. “It probably won’t do any good on him, but at least you might put up a fight”. And 3. He was going to tag along behind the group. At this I objected, but I was so scared that I probably would’ve agreed to anything at that moment. He gave me the flashlight, and I prepared.
When I say the town I lived in was small, it was small! My family didn’t have a computer, but the local town library did. I went there that day after school to use one. The computers were all dinosaurs, running windows 2000 or something, but I really didn’t care. All I knew was that I wanted to find out more about this ‘tall man’. A quick Google search of ‘the tall man’ pulled up nothing. I tried just using ‘tall man’ and got a few interesting results. The first described a case in Tennessee where a boy had disappeared. Witnesses claimed to have seen a very tall man take the child away. He was seen wearing ‘very nice clothes’ as one observer said. I thought that the article was too similar to what I was facing. I printed it and decided to show Markus later that day. As I was leaving, the librarian stopped me and said that someone had left something for me. She handed me a book, old and leather bound that seemed to be falling apart. I saw a car drive off in the distance. Worried, I walked home. Along the way, every car made me jump. Not sure what to do, I left the article on Markus’ bed and opened the book. Inside were pictures and crudely drawn illustrations. They seemed to be of the tall man Markus and I had seen. A note at the bottom of the first page said YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS. I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. I mean, it could be a trick sent by that man to get our hopes up. Even still, a part of me relished any thought of outside help. Someone who knew what we were going through. Someone who could explain the whole situation. I went to sleep with a smile on my face. I had no idea I would awake screaming.
That night, I had another bad dream. It went like this: I was on the class field trip. But no one seemed to notice me. It was like I was invisible or something. The teacher led us all deeper into the forest, yet I was the only one who realized how bad of an idea it was. The sun had set, leaving only the light of the moon to illuminate the path ahead. I tried to warn them, frantically waving my hands, but they continued on. Suddenly, the teacher seemed to fade right out of existence. Students were looking all around, trying to figure out what was going on. In tears, I looked around, waiting for him to arrive. Sure enough, a static started, slowly at first, but then rising in frequency. The students- the poor clueless students were covering their ears now. Blood ran from them as the tall man appeared. I threw myself in front of him, shielding them. “Please”, I pleaded, “just leave all of us alone”. He looked at me with his blank face. Except this time, I saw more. His face was like a TV screen, and its once static covered screen reflected a barrage of images. First, a wall covered in blood, then a screaming child. I was petrified and could only watch as they flashed on and off. A boy as he said goodbye to his mother for the last time, a broken arm, mysterious illness. These were all moments in his victim’s lives. The static reappeared and the wound on my stomach throbbed. I saw him reveal his many arms, and then they were all clawing away at my insides.
I awoke on my bed, gasping for air. I looked at the wound to see that it had reopened during the night, and blood was everywhere. It took me nearly an hour to get everything cleaned up. By then it was time to get dressed. I had come to dread school, and- in a moment of weakness- tried to chicken out. My mom’s worried looks were enough to make me change my mind. I packed my backpack with the flashlight Markus had given me. He would drive a few cars behind the school bus, intervening if necessary. But besides the flashlight, I’d grabbed a flare from the garage. Hopefully I wouldn’t have to use it, because it wasn’t exactly the most “school appropriate”. On my way out, I’d remembered the paper wrapped around the mirror that I’d found when Markus had first arrived. I ran back upstairs and grabbed them. I had no idea if they would come in handy or not, but I felt that it was better to be over prepared than under prepared.
Because of the field trip, we only had to report to home room. Everyone was talking, and I busied myself by reading more of the book from the library. It was almost incoherent at points, the words trailing right off the page. Still, from what I could understand, it was an account of a man as he tried to find out what the tall man wanted. He’d looked through historical texts and found what he’d believed were instances the tall man had been around. In the final pages, the boy had become increasingly paranoid, going as far to say that many big name companies were involved. Then, the pages stopped. As in, they ran out. In the middle of a sentence the pages ran out. I flipped through it again just to be sure, but I’d read everything in it. And just in time. The intercom rang, signaling it was time to get on the bus.
Even though I’d said my school was small before, I probably should put it into perspective. There were 20 students in the ninth grade class, and about 30 in every other grade. That meant the school had roughly 100 students in my school. Because of this, the school board had rented 2 buses. I was on bus 1, with the other eleventh graders and seniors, while the ninth and tenth grades were on bus two. The buses quickly pulled away from the school, and for some reason I felt a sense of dread forming in my stomach.
During the bus ride, I talked to some of my friends. While doing so, I realized how much I’d changed. The everyday school drama that they talked about seemed so… irrelevant. I guess when you’re constantly stalked by an evil entity that wants to kill you; you start to not sweat the little things. But even still I managed to enjoy myself, and even relax a little. I mean, I was in public, surrounded by over a hundred other kids. What could go wrong?
Sometimes I wish I’d shut up. Because at almost that exact moment, the chain of events clicked into place. Things that I learned later may help you understand. The bus driver, whose name was Frank, saw something at the edge of his vision. That blur, that smudge, suddenly disappeared and reappeared in the road. Worried it was a person, he wrenched the steering wheel 90 degrees to the right. The shape disappeared. Afterwards, the police suspected it was a cat or dog. Anyway, the bus was driven headfirst into the woods, where it hit a tree, throwing off its balance. Frank continued to try and right its course but it seemed that the trees were blocking the way back. His only choice was to drive deeper. At this point everyone was screaming. The second bus had hit the first bus as well. They however, had stopped on the highway. A lone car hit the second bus, where it quickly stopped. The first bus finally couldn’t resist the tilt it was at and fell over. Branches broke through the window as it slid along the forest floor. When it came to a stop, the bus driver and every teacher/chaperone was unconscious and had suffered a major concussion. This would later be blamed upon the fact that they had been ejected from their seats and struck the front of the bus. As for the teens, they were all knocked unconscious as well. The only problem was that the door had been crushed inwards. There was no way any of them could get off the bus.
I opened my eyes and saw darkness. For a moment I remained disoriented, but then remembered what had happened. At that moment, many thoughts raced through my head. First and foremost was to do an injury check. And to see if I was blind. I felt around and even moved a little, but nothing hurt. Reaching around, I felt the backpack that I’d brought on the bus. I grabbed the flashlight from inside. Right away, I clicked it on, but nothing happened. I felt around it and discovered that the plastic covering had been broken, along with the light bulb inside of it. Shaking, I reached for my flare. I managed to start it, and red light illuminated the bus interior. I saw that I was the only one awake. Shaking people, I decided to try and get help. The door was a mess, crushed beyond recognition, but the windows seemed alright. The wound on my stomach started to throb, which made me nervous. I ran up to where the bus driver was and checked his watch. It was 1:30 in the morning. I turned back to leave, grabbing my bag, when I heard a noise. The red glow of the flare cast strange shadows along the walls of the bus. I heard the noise again, and seemed to put two and two together. Why would the flashlight be broken? Nothing else in my bag had been touched by the crash. No… It had to have been him. The tall man appeared in the bus. Knowing I couldn’t do much within the cramped confines of a bus, I jumped on a seat and dove out the window. The broken glass shredded my arms, and I couldn’t help but scream as I landed on the ground. Up on my feet in seconds, I doubled over and puked as the wound throbbed again. It only did that when He was close. Running, I used the light of the flare to see. The unfortunate part of it all was that He could also find me by looking at the light. I had a choice to make.
In the end, the choice was made for me. The flare died out, plunging me in darkness. I held my breath and dropped it. Slowly, carefully, I crept forward, my arms outstretched. I felt my way along in the dark, quietly listening for any sound. A crack of a branch, the rustling of the wind, and the sound of my own breathing were all I could hear. Once I heard footsteps right behind me. I froze, hoping the pounding of my heart wouldn’t give me away. After a few moments, I could hear the footsteps recede into the distance. Breathing a sigh of relief, I continued on. A hand clamped itself firmly over my mouth. I tried to scream, but a light clicked on beside me. Markus’ face came into view. He looked terrible. There was blood running from his forehead, and one arm hung useless at the side of his body. “Thank god you’re alright”, he said. He helped me up, and saw my arm. “Jeez, what happened out here”? I told him about everything I’d seen since waking up. “Gosh, we need to get out of here”. We followed some lights Markus had seen way off in the distance. Even though Markus was with me, I constantly looked over my shoulder, waiting for him to appear. As we got closer to the light, I realized it was a lone street lamp, in the middle of the forest. We stepped inside the circle of protection it offered. “Okay”, Markus said, “we need to logically think out our next move”. I leaned against the lamp pole in despair. “Does it even matter?” I asked. “We’ll just end up being killed somehow”. Markus grabbed me by the shoulders, and shook me, hard. “You can’t give up like this”, he said. “There’s got to be a way to beat this thing, and we’ll find out what it is”. He reached in his pockets, pulling out a second flashlight and a pack of batteries, giving them to me. “What do you have”, he asked. I tossed him my backpack. He pulled out the knife and handed it to me. “Just in case that thing can be hurt”. He reached back into the bag, and pulled out the mirror and paper. He seemed to freeze. “What’s this”, he said, holding it out. I gave him an obvious look. “You should know, I got it from your room”. He seemed disoriented. “I’ve never seen this in my life”. About to question him, I opened my mouth to speak when the street lamp went out. Markus clicked on his flashlight. My stomach throbbed in pain and I doubled over. I could see Markus turn the light around us nervously. His light fell upon a tree, and he stopped. When I looked up again, the tree had moved.
The tall man appeared behind my brother, still and part of the dark. I screamed Markus’ name, but I knew he wouldn’t turn around quickly enough. I ran at the tall man, trying to knock him down. Instead of connecting with him, I passed through. It felt like being dumped in ice water. I clutched at my flashlight, turning it on. The tall man turned his head at me and the beam went out. I clicked it again, but it wouldn’t turn on. He walked closer to me, and my thoughts began to swim into one incoherent mess. I vaguely could hear Markus swearing and screaming for the thing to take him instead. The tall man turned his head sharply and stared at Markus. My brother rushed to my side. Before I knew what was happening, words began to spill from my mouth. “Don’t you see? We’re only alive because he wants us to be”. Markus had tears running down his face. “Give me the mirror”, he said calmly.
“Give me the freaking mirror, now”. My numb hands reached in my pocket, vainly trying to find it. “I think I dropped it”, I said.
My voice sounded distorted and far away. All I could see was the tall man, staring at me. His face was blank, expressionless. No joy, or sadness, or regret. I reached my hand towards him in a daze. “Why those eyes”, I said. Markus pulled me away, trying to keep me from him. He was bad. He needed to stop. I heard him shouting at my friend. He was saying things like “what did you do to her”. I saw my friend nod, pressuring me to answer his silly question. It was all suddenly very silly and meaningless. “What did he do to me” I parroted, smiling at my brother. “What did you do to yourself?” I said, laughing. He started to shake me, still crying. Then his gaze fell upon something behind me. “He looked me in the eyes.”Please”, he said. I turned my head to the side like I’d seen my friend do. It hurt a little bit. My brother dove past me and picked something up. I couldn’t see what it was, but I guess my friend could. He was mad. Like, really mad. I could hear his screams enter my head. They echoed around, amplifying. I screamed too, because he hurt. My brother, he held something up, and pointed it to my friend. The man, my friend told me I needed to stop my brother. He was going to inconvenience my friend, and I needed to stop that. I felt the knife in my hand, before I knew it. It was very ordinary, but my friend said to do it now. I got up, shakily. I saw my brother walking towards my friend. I walked up behind him, and shoved the knife up into his back. Little red flowers began to appear. It was beautiful. My brother looked at me in horror, a pitiful open mouthed wail on his face. He pushed me back and shoved something into my friend. It was amazing to watch. My friend seemed to mix with the red flowers and they were both fighting. My brother looked at me, pity on his face. Why did he pity me? Why me? I had to ask him the question before he left. My friend was roaring in anger, screaming for me to kill my brother, but I ignored us voice. It was too silent for my deaf ears. When I was closer, my brother reached out and grabbed the knife from my hands. “I’m so sorry”, he said. “Take care of mom and dad”. “This won’t hold him for long”. Then I watched as both he and the tall man seemed to spiral away.
I felt a splitting pain in my head, and clutched it between my arms. I curled up into a ball. Words and numbers flashed into my head, becoming memories. Darkest Day. Lightest Hour. 274857345. The Shadow Will Walk. Eater. Whole World Broken. The Determination. Cerebral. Left And Right. 4722222222228. Then I passed out.
Several police officers found me out in the woods the next day. I was crying and crawling in circles. When they tried to move me, I went to sleep. I was in the hospital for a week. The doctors were really nice. When my parents came, I tried to tell them what had happened. That Markus was dead, or something worse. They shook their heads and said that Marcus had gone back to college while I was on the field trip. I realized that Markus must’ve made up a cover story. He knew that he wouldn’t make it out of that forest alive if he went to save me. But he went anyway. I was sad for a while, and only thought about why… Why had this happened? If Markus hadn’t done that stupid initiation, if he hadn’t come back to visit. All of these things I’ve decided to forget. Because it isn’t over. When Markus had said he’d be back, I know he’d meant it. It’s been quiet for a few months, but when he comes back, I’ll be ready. And I’ll get my brother back. I’m Alex Weaver, and this is my story. End of Part 1
Credit To – Dylan L. Sneer