Hide and Go Seek
“It was a dark and stormy night,” or at least, that’s how most of these stories start. But not mine. It was actually quite a normal summer night. My brother and I had invited our friends Coltan, Justin, and Ben over. We had spent the day drinking soda, eating candy, and playing video games. Jokes were told and sides were hurting in mirthful pain.
Hours blended together and we ended up strewn across the living room. Naruto was on the TV, but none of us really paid attention. We were bored. We were waiting for something to do.
Coltan spoke during the commercial break. He suggested that we should play hide-and-go-seek-tag. I waited for everyone else to agree before I nodded my approval. You see, even though I was fifteen, I was afraid of the dark. Not necessarily afraid of not seeing, but afraid of not knowing what there might be in the dark. Regardless, I didn’t want to be the one to ruin the fun.
It took us a few minutes to decide who would be “it” first. We raced to yell “not it” which only resulted in confusion. Each time we did it, the more confusing it became. Ben finally got frustrated enough to develop a new method of selection: he would write each of our names on a strand of paper and randomly grab one from a bowl.
He swished his hand around the bowl, taking his time to determine our fates. His hand became still, and then his fingers closed around a piece of paper. He started to lift his hand out of the bowl. Seconds dragged by as my heart beat quickened in anticipation.
Ba-dum. Ba-dum. Ba-dum.
I took a deep breath and stepped forward. I asked Ben what the rules were. He said that “base” was the tree in the front yard, we could hide both inside and outside, and that the last one tagged was “it”.
As we made our way out the back door, I asked him what I should count to. He told me that fifty should be okay. We stayed as a group until we made it around the house and into the front yard. As we came to our driveway, I broke from the group and slowly walked towards the tree. I eyed the front yard looking for possible places where they might try to hide. When I was inches away from the tree, I closed my eyes and leaned against it.
“One… two… three… four…” I counted out loud.
I could hear footsteps going in all different directions. They got more and more quiet until I could hear them no more. Silence. I strained my ears and heard familiar noises; an owl hooting, a coyote howling miles away, and grasshoppers chirping happily.
“Forty-eight… forty-nine… fifty!” I yelled, making sure that everyone would be able to hear me.
I slowly turned around only to see that no one was there. I walked up and down my yard a couple of times waiting to see movement nearby. There was no sign of anyone.
I began to panic and walked out into our cul-de-sac. Just as I was about ten feet into the street, I heard footsteps. They were approaching me at a quick pace. I whipped around to face the end of the cul-de-sac to see a dark figure darting through the bushes of our neighbor’s yard. I was frozen. The shadow stopped somewhere in the bushes about six yards in front of me. I approached the bushes slowly, tip-toeing my way there.
“Hello…?” I asked.
I walked towards the right side of the group of bushes and hoped that no one would be there. As I was nearing the other side, the dark figure shot upwards. It jumped through the bushes and sprinted towards my yard. After I realized who it was, I chased after him, but it was no use. Coltan tagged the tree before I could even make it back to the grass. He was trying to laugh, but his panting made it difficult.
“Maybe… n-next ti… time,” he blurted.
“Yeah,” I replied, also out of breath.
Just then, more footsteps could be heard from the other side of the house. Someone was trying to make a run for the base. It was Justin. After he rounded the corner and saw me, he turned on his heel and ran towards our backyard. I followed him behind the house. I noticed an up-side-down plastic storage container by the swing set that was definitely not there earlier today.
I walked over to look under it, but as I did, Justin made a run for the front yard again. I ignored him this time. I held my breath as I cautiously reached my hand towards the container. In a single swift motion, I flipped the container over exposing Ben to the night sky. He scrambled to his hands and knees, trying to get away. I brought my hand down onto his back rather roughly and exhaled. It was over. I had tagged someone.
Ben stood up and chuckled.
“Oh well,” he said with a smile. “Have Justin and Coltan tagged the base yet?”
I nodded and we both made our way back towards the front yard. As we rounded the corner, we saw both of them sitting by the tree. Ben waved at them and they stood up.
“Who’s it?” Coltan asked.
“I am,” Ben stated as he leaned against the tree. “One! Two! Three! Better start running… Four! Five!”
Justin ran out into the cul-de-sac while Coltan and I sprinted towards the backyard. When I rounded the corner, I broke away from Coltan and continued to run towards the back door. I opened it up just enough for my body to squeeze through and quickly closed it.
Once I was inside, I looked around trying to determine a good place to hide. I decided the best place to go would be the guest room, a section of our house that is rarely used. I stepped inside the guest room and heard the door slam behind me. I jumped, but then I remembered that the hinges on the door were designed to make it close on its own.
It was now pitch black.
I carefully navigated my way into the small bedroom within the guest room. After flailing my arms around in the dark a bit, I was able to find the bed and sidestep around it. My toe bumped against a door during the process. Cursing silently, I reached out for the doorknob. I opened the creaky closet door and pushed aside two never-used bathrobes. That was when I realized that I was not alone.
Two red eyes met mine. A chill went down my spine and I tried to scream, but I couldn’t. I wanted to run, but I was frozen in fear. The red eyes squinted a bit, as if the… whatever it was smirked.
It was the creepiest, most fucked up voice I have ever heard. The only way to describe it would be if you were to hear someone scrape their nails against a chalkboard while a dying pterodactyl screams. I get chills just remembering it.
My right leg gave out on me and I fell to the ground. I started to crawl towards the door… away from this thing! A hand, cold as ice, grabbed my ankle.
"ＴＨＥＲＥ ＩＳ ＮＯ ＮＥＥＤ ＴＯ ＢＥ ＡＦＲＡＩＤ."
Its nails… no, its claws dug into my skin. I screamed and kicked. I tried everything that I could to break free from its grasp. The more I flailed, the further its claws dug into my skin.
Why? Why would no one come to help me? I was being dragged towards the closet. My mind started to fog. Everything became black.
I woke up and looked around me. Ben was asleep on the couch, Coltan was watching Naruto on the TV in front of me, Justin was playing a game on his Nintendo DS, and Spencer was gone. I blinked a few times and let my eyes adjust to the light.
“Where’s Spencer?” I asked groggily.
“He went upstairs to sleep in his own bed,” Coltan replied, only half paying attention to me.
I sighed. This meant that this was all just a dream. I smiled slightly and watched the rest of the episode of Naruto with Coltan. A few hours later, we decided to call it a night and turned off the TV. I slept on the floor so that everyone else would have enough room to sleep.
As I was trying to get comfortable, my left ankle itched. I scratched it with my other foot. This didn’t get rid of the itch, so I reached down with my hand to scratch it again. This time, I felt five deep gashes on my ankle. My breathing became short as my heart began to beat faster.
"ＴＨＥＲＥ ＩＳ ＮＯ ＮＥＥＤ ＴＯ ＢＥ ＡＦＲＡＩＤ," came a deathly familiar voice from the guest room.