When I turned 11, my parents wanted me to have the best birthday party possible. They sat me down one morning and asked me what I wanted to do. I didn't know at first, but I soon came to the conclusion that I wanted to go and do laser tag. I had never been before, and my friends were constantly telling me just how awesome it was. They told me about the blacklit mazes and pounding rave music that they blasted while you shot your friends with small, red rays. It sounded like the most fun thing in the world, and I begged my parents to let me go. My dad loved the idea, but my slightly overprotective mother was a bit tentative. She said that I might get lost or scared, but in a small amount of time my dad convinced her to let me go.
My party rolled around on a Friday. I had invited all of my friends, and a few of my cousins as well. Me and my friends messed around in the arcade, ate pizza, and had loads of fun, even before the first game of laser tag started. Finally, it was time to begin the first game. I went up to the place where you could register a nickname that they would put on your scorecards. I came up with the name "Falcon" on the spot. No real reason, it just seemed cool. We approached a large door that was decked out to look like the entrance to a huge vault. The marshal for our game got us all riled up, asking us things like, "Are you ready?" and then, "I can't hear you!" After we were all at maximum giddiness, we entered a large, blacklit room, with all of the laser packs hanging off of stands on the walls. The walls were all dressed up to look like some sort of alien planet. I made the mistake of wearing a white shirt, which made me a very easy target in the eerie glow of the blacklight. My friend joked with me, saying that I looked like a glowstick. We put on the packs, turned on our lasers, and all approached the door to the laser arena.
Before we entered, the marshal told us that if anything went wrong, than we were to point our lasers to the ceiling, wave them around, and scream 'marshal, marshal, marshal!' I was the most excited I had been in a while. Finally, after the marshal told us the last of the rules, she ushered us into the foggy arena. We had ten seconds to run about and find a good spot before our lasers activated and we could commence the tagging, and we ran in all directions like crazy people. I twisted and turned all throughout the dimly lit maze. All of the walls were decorated in some way, shape or form. There were parts that looked like the alien planet of the pack room, others that looked like caves with crystal shards sticking out of the ground.
I got good and lost there in that maze, but I didn't care one bit. I was too jittery to realize I was way, way far away from the entrance. I was underneath a castle of sorts, where you could go up and shoot people from above. However, the floors were screened, and I had great joy in shooting people right from under them and watching their confusion as to who tagged them. I had so much fun in that first game. I shot and got shot, Me and my friend even teamed up for a bit before I turned on him in the last few seconds of the game. Needless to say, he didn't talk to me much for the rest of the party, but hey, it's just a game, right?
I remember at one point, I hunkered down in a corner, waiting for people to come by, when I saw a dark, ambiguous figure, moving around a few feet away from me. Even though it had none of the flashing lights of a laser pack, a shot at it. A startled, but playful "Hey!" gave me the idea that it was the marshal, patrolling the area, making sure everything was alright.
The first game ended and we all ran out, dripping with sweat and beaming to no end, to see our scores. Surprisingly, I got 2nd place, beaten by 5 points by my cousin. We exchanged some playful looks and I assured that I would get him in the next game. The birthday package came with two games if you haven't guessed already, so in the gap between the next game we ate my cake, and opened presents. It was shaping up to be the best birthday I'd ever had.
Most of the people that I didn't know had left, so now it was just me and my friends in this game. The marshal led us in, skipping the rules as we put on our packs. We once again ran throughout the maze like madmen, shooting at each other, and having a fantastic time. After tagging the cousin that beat me in the previous game, I ran off to look for more prey.
I ran around that place for what seemed like 5 minutes, however, it seemed there was no one present. I listened over the loud music and noticed I couldn't hear any laser sounds, or the pitter-patter of rapid footsteps. I ran around, around, and around the maze, long enough so that I could have memorized it. I knew by now that the game definitely should have been over. However, when a game WAS over, someone over the loudspeaker would always let you know it was done. Not only that, but lights over the entrance to the laser arena would flash brightly, and you could follow those back to the entrance. I was confused, and out of not knowing what to do I rose my laser and screamed, "Marshal, marshal, marshal!" I waited a while, then again, louder, "Marshal, Marshal Marshal!" No friendly staff member came to my aid. I was decently frightened at this point. It all of a sudden occurred to me to check if the entrance was open. But to my dismay, it wasn't.
I continued to wander around, blacklight glowing, techno music blaring, for at least half an hour, desperately trying to find an exit. I even tried to open the fire escape, but even that wouldn't open. It was then that I saw the same, dark figure I saw in the first game. I think I was in the same area where I first saw it, too. I thought it was a staff member, so I called to it. It stopped moving. I stared at it blankly for a few seconds. I was about to call for it again, but then, the blasting rave music, that was playing this whole time, stopped.
The new found silence messed with my head, in a weird way deafening me. I stood there for a few seconds more before I heard the loudspeaker click on. I thought it would be the marshal, but, there was only the sound of light breathing. After a short time the breathing increased in volume, as if whoever was doing it leaned in to the microphone. In a dull, slightly raspy voice, distorted by the poor quality of the PA, I heard a name that simply terrified me.
At that moment the figure started to move towards me. I was terrified to the point where I couldn't move. As the shadow moved towards me, I noticed something in the middle of it's face, glowing brightly in the blacklight. As it neared closer I realized, it was a smile. Not just any smile, but a very... unnerving one. My instincts were telling me that whatever this figure was meant to do harm to me, yet, in a strange way, the smile seemed friendly, like the smile of the marshal that ushered us in. For perhaps a nanosecond, I thought that it might be the marshal, but that all changed when it stopped, just in front of a light bulb I was under, so that I could see it's true form. It wasn't the marshal.
It was wearing what appeared to be a tattered, dirty version of the staff uniform. It was tall and lanky, and appeared to be holding a slightly atrophied version of the laser gun, but it wasn't attached to a pack. I looked at it's face. It seemed like the face of a man, but my brain was telling me it was something else. Something was just so inhuman about it. It's eyes appeared to have no irises, as where there should be color, there was just black. It's eyes were wide, with what emotion, I could not say, but at that moment I would say it was hunger. It's smile was still glowing. In the context of the rest of it's face, it was no longer friendly, but malicious. It too was wide, with was a slight gap between the two rows of its giant, pearly white teeth. It probably doesn't sound too horrible, but in that moment it was the most terrifying thing I had ever seen. And to this day, it probably still is. As I stood there, frozen with terror, it pointed the laser at me and I heard it whisper, "Are you ready?"
Just as I regained my senses and began to run, it shot it's laser at me. I dodged it just in time, but I realized it made a louder, more realistic noise than the regular laser guns. I looked back for a second to the place where it shot, and looked in horror at a burnt, black, smoking hole in the wall. That wasn't a play laser. I screamed and ran away. As I did, I heard it exclaim from behind me,
"I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"
All of my primal instincts kicked in, and I ran as fast as I possibly could. It seemed that everywhere I turned, I could hear it giggling to itself, almost as I did in that first round of laser tag. I put every ounce of my energy into trying to get away from him. I ran into him a few times, each time his hungry eyes and horrific smile growing wider, narrowly escaping his death beam each time. One of the times, it grazed my arm, leaving a thin, but painfully burnt cut on my upper arm, from which I felt blood trickle down. Finally, after what seemed like an hour of running, I had to stop. I found a dark and shady corner, the darkest and the arena, and took refuge there, praying to whatever God there was that it wouldn't find me. After a minute or two, I saw it. It was roaming around with that same wretched, glowing smile, and I could tell it was looking for me. I thought it wouldn't find me, until the awful remembrance washed over me, and my eyes grew wide with fear. My shirt. It was all white. The blacklight.
The thing that had been chasing me, who was at lest a yard away from me, finally centered it's piercing gaze on me. Even though I couldn't see them from here, I could feel his near-colorless eyes searing into me. It was then that everything went black. All of the light bulbs, blacklights, everything shut off with a loud clunk. I let out a pitiful cry of terror, and heard it reverberate throughout the arena. Now, in the darkness, their was nothing separating me and the thing. It could be far away, or right in front of me, ready to shoot me. After a while of silently trembling there in the corner, I cried when I saw it's glowing grin make its way into my vision. I almost accepted that I was a about to die.
However, something came over me. a sudden rush of feeling washed over me, and I let out a fearsome cry of a mix of fear and rage. I don't know why I did, but I started shooting at it with my laser. It sounds stupid, but it seemed to drive the smile back. I continued to shoot at it until, strangely, the smile disappeared from my vision. It melted into the darkness of the arena, and it was then that I probably passed out. From exhaustion or shock, I don't know.
I woke up outside the arena. Outside the laser tag building, in fact. I was laying in the grass, just behind the place. As soon as I came to my senses, I sat up and assessed my surroundings. I squinted, as my eyes were not yet adjusted to the my sunlit surroundings. I felt the cool breeze blow towards me. I stood up, and wobbled a little as I was strangely dizzy. I shambled my way towards the front of the building to find a parking lot filled with police cars. My mom was standing outside and picked me up as soon as she saw me, hugging me so hard she almost smothered me. My dad did much of the same. I don't truly know what happened that day, as I was told to wait in my car with my mom. I eavesdropped on a conversation with a police officer and my dad, however. I could only hear the following words:
"He appears... escaped... put away for strange... we have no idea how he... into the arena... we don't know... what he was h... or how he made it..."
I looked to the opposite side of the car, I saw the cousin that had beaten me being wheeled into an ambulance. He was unconscious and appeared to have a deep, bloody wound in his upper leg. I looked to the other side where dad was still talking to the police officer, but I didn't listen in, and I couldn't. There in the back of an armored police van, there he was. Still smiling at me. His eyes, staring into mine were just as dark and menacing, though they seemed to be squinted a bit, and a little damaged. What is the most strange though, is that his smile, though now in the dim, overcast light of the late afternoon, still seemed to slightly glow as it did in the blacklight.