"Here you go!" squealed Kyleigh, handing Nina a yellow balloon with "HAPPY B-DAY" written across in white and decorated with mini confetti. All of its five ribbons were tied to her hand to keep from floating away.
"Thank you." Melanie, the birthday girl, smiled. It was really quite a decent present Kyleigh got for her. She'd always give her a drawing or something handmade, anything what Melanie considered half decent. Melanie'd accept them, keeping them for at least a month, not wanting to upset her little sister. In three year's time, she learned to love the hard worked art. She imagined putting forth her best work, only to be rejected. She had learned sympathy.
Melanie fastened a ribbon as her mom came in the room, holding a huge chocolate cake. Her dad turned off the lights, singing along. Kyleigh and her friends joined.
"Happy birthday, dear Melanie... Happy birthday to you!"
She blew out thirteen candles. The smell of smoke and clapping filled the air. The (now) teen pulled her head back, wiping away the smoke.
"Do you want to open the gifts first?" asked her mom.
A few silent minutes of hesitant thought came. Then she nodded eagerly, unable to contain the excitement.
Each of her three fiends went to grab the present from the foyer. They set them in a neat line in front of her. Melanie opened from left to right. A yellow snapback and beanie from Bianca, $20 from Courtney and a box of chocolates from Taryn.
She always loved yellow. Dawn was her favourite time of the day, that's when the yellow sun rises. Dusk actually was the second least favourite, for its sunset scenery. Night was what she hated. It's when all the bad stuff happens. Criminals, kidnappers, murderers, rapists, drug dealers, you name it.
Although rain clouds block out the sun, Mary loved dancing in the rain. She wanted her first kiss under the rain. Her say was, 'After the sun comes out, it always makes a pretty rainbow.' Starting at six, she still says it like an unbreakable lifelong pledge.
She propped herself between Kyleigh and Tanya, not saying another word as she stuffed her stomach with cake.
See you at school, texted Bianca.
You too, Melanie replied.
Night.She tucked her iPod under her pillow, glancing at the time and it was 12:03 a.m. Her eyelids were forced shut, as this was the only way she'd fall asleep within 10-20 minutes. She tied the balloon on her bedpost.
"Hey," greeted Tanya as Melanie approached her and Taryn at the bus stop.
"Hey," she answered back, "where're the others?"
"Bianca's at an appointment. Courtney's sick."
They went to talking about their past birthday memories, from the the best presents to the most embarrassing moments, to the place they went, continuing on the bus, all the way to school.
They parted to their separate classes. Melanie drew in class, zoning out in her own world.
"Come do this question, Melanie!" called out Mr. Sheen. She lifted her head.
"Busted!" He yelled, smiling at his victory of catching her slacking. Then his smile turned upside down. "Pay attention in class!"
She nodded, stuffing it in her desk. When he looked away, she slouched in her seat so the desk covered her drawing she continued on. She loved drawing so much, she'd eat and eat and draw during lunch.
The door opened. Melanie was still keeping her head down.
"I had a dentist appointment..." mumbled Bianca, handing Mr. Sheen a late slip.
"Make sure your dentist makes appointments on Saturdays. I don't want you disturbing my classes," Mr. Sheen scowled.
She took her seat next to Melanie, peering aside her curtain of brown hair.
"'Whatcha drawing now?" asked Bianca.
Melanie did, and said, nothing.
The bell rang. Melanie snapped out of her trance, whipping her head in all directions. She was wearing a confused look.
"Whuh?" she voiced.
Her brown eyes enlarged when she saw what she'd drawn... The balloon.
All day, Melanie'd been wondering what was so special about that balloon. 'It's the first non-handmade gift Kyleigh got for me' were the words that kept echoing in her mind, soothing her.
Over the last month, one balloon was on Melanie's mind. The balloon. But eventually, she told herself it was the excitement of the second last day of school. There'd probably be balloons there, she guessed mentally. That's why I'm thinking about it.
When Melanie walked in her room, she saw the balloon lost helium, still floating in place. She untied it and jogged downstairs to grab a snack whilst watching TV.
Melanie flicked the lights off and slipped in her yellow blanket. The balloon was gliding everywhere. There was an eerie feeling, seeing it here and there, even though it was just a regular balloon. Melanie ducked under the covers, sweating heavily.
No, she thought. It's just a regular balloon.
She lowered the covers, screaming at the balloon suspended in midair in front of her face. Feeling like a child, the teen ran to her parents' room.
"What's the matter?" said her Dad.
"The-the... b... ball... The ball... Oon...." she hyperventilated.
"Calm down... What about it?"
"The balloon, i-i-i-i-it's floating all around my room! It lost so much so much helium. It can't do that! It shouldn't!"
"Lemme take a look."
They stepped in her room, where the balloon was acting innocent, revolving in a circle, especially near the vent, not daring to inch close to Melanie.
"It's just the vent, sweetie," he explained.
"Don't you act all innocent!" she snapped at the balloon.
"Melanie, it's just that horror movie you watched three days ago."
"It was floating in front of me! Right in my face!"
"The balloon goes anywhere. It's a weird coincidence you looked when it was in front of you."
"Dad! It stayed in midair! It didn't move an inch!"
Her dad didn't know how to explain that. The serious look on her face made him actually believe her. She wasn't the type of person to pull pranks.
"Melanie please. Go to sleep, it's past midnight."
With that, he left, closing the door behind him.
The balloon stayed in place in front of her wall, waiting for Melanie to turn before moving aside to reveal written in blood...
Welcome to Hell.
Melanie fished her drawers for anything that could pierce the balloon. Aha! A sewing needle! She whirled around, a look of triumph played her features, until she saw the balloon had disappeared.
More writing appeared on the wall, replacing the previous message; You'll be last.
Melanie was frightened, yet confused at the same time. Will it kill my friends? Family? She thought. Anyone in sight? Whoever it may be, I have to destroy it before it can kill anyone.
A scream erupted from Kyleigh's room. Melanie darted to her room, still clutching the needle. Their parents joined seconds later. The balloon did its innocent act when they came.
"Kyleigh!" breathed her mom.
She was sobbing, "The-the-the balloon!"
"Oh, now Melanie's got you along playing along, too?"
Melanie tried to grasp the balloon, but it sped from her extended hands, slowing down behind her parent's backs, as if it'd were some kid who got off the loose and watched the other framed children get punished.
"You watched the horror movie three days ago," started her mom, "It'll wear off, just calm down on this horror stuff."
"We know you're excited for the last day of school tomorrow," her dad added. Her mom nodded along.
It's all because of the balloon they forgot about the last day.
Melanie looked over her Dad's shoulder, at the balloon inflating itself. She mustered all her strength, whipping the needle at it. It popped, red substance splashed everywhere, including each person's clothes. The metallic smell of blood rose in everyone's nostrils.
"Melanie!" shouted her Dad.
"I didn't know it had anything inside!" Melanie exclaimed. "It was inflating itself!"
"Melanie. Anabelle. Thompson!"
"Dad! It's blood! Aren't you scared?!"
"Why would it be blood? Why would there be blood inside a balloon? Why would you put something in it?"
"I didn't! Why and how would I?"
"Just throw it in the garbage!"
She did as told, but cut it to pieces before dumping it. Then she went back to bed and smiled at optimistic thoughts. Oh well, Kyleigh's room'll be clean again. At least the balloons gone. And the last day of school's tomorrow!
So far, nothing went wrong on the last day. Everyone was happy, talking to people they barely knew or just saw. Even the populars talked to the nerds. Mr. Sheen was nice, probably happy to get a break from the pests.
"It's such a nice day outside!" Taryn said.
Melanie turned her head to the window. Outside, she saw the same balloon, blood covered it as if it were candy apple. Her smile switched into a frown.
How the hell did it—who's blood is that? She mentally asked herself. Don't worry about it. Deep breath. It's the last day. Nothing can nor will ruin it.
Her frowned turned upside down. She turned to her friend.
"Yeah," she grinned.
Mr. Sheen opened the window, letting the air cool down the heating classroom. Everyone breathed in the freshness.
Melanie tried a few sports during recess; soccer, basketball, volleyball, badminton. She liked basketball, although badminton was the easiest.
She halted at the doorway of the classroom, a terrified look etched upon her face. The balloon was lingering over her chair, in her seat, dripping blood. Melanie strode to it, shaking it. No liquid inside. She reached for a pair of scissors, jabbing a hole in the balloon. Blood leaked from the hole. How the hell!? She mentally screamed.
Other people had witnessed it. Whispers flared up, echoing through the hallway.
"What's going on?" boomed up Mr. Sheen, his face was a deeper shade of red than a tomato, "What the f-hel-... What happened?!"
"I deflated this balloon with scissors..." Melanie barely whispered.
"Why would you do such!?"
"It was in my seat."
"What is that red liquid?"
His facial expression quickly changed into a terrified one, mouth agape.
"It's not what you think!" she defended as she threw her hands in the air, dropping the scissors, "The balloon already had blood inside! I couldn't have filled it and seal it shut!"
"It's true!" Shot up a random student.
"Uuhh-uhh just. I'll get the-uh janitor," Mr. Sheen stuttered.
He sprinted away, the whispers grew louder.
During the second recess, everyone was glaring and pointing at Melanie as if she'd murdered someone instead of the balloon. Literally. The news spread like wildfire in just three periods. Melanie stopped her worries when the party came on, same went for everyone else. She grabbed a plate full of popcorn, chips and Cheetos. Her other hand held Coca-Cola as she waddled through the line to her friends.
No one mentioned the balloon incident so far, she thought, sighing in relief. She turned to the balloon laying on her desk. It was there so it wouldn't heal itself in front of many witnesses. Then she could take it home to rid of somehow, if it decides to fill itself with blood again. She decided burning, as it always works in movies.
Whose blood was it? The questioned scarred her mind. Why would it go through all that trouble to scare me? I guess it's demented. But how come there's been no reports of murders?
Melanie quickly learned to not pop it, in case it kills anymore people to fill itself.
There was a choking sound from her parents' room. Melanie's eyes quickly opened. She ran to their room. Their corpses laid on the floor, the balloon floating in between them.
Melanie instantly opened her eyes, gasping for air, clutching her chest at the nightmare. She looked up at the wall in front of her bed. There was writing on the wall, as always, in blood.
That wasn't a nightmare.
It took some time to transmit the message. She got it, running to her parents' room. She ignored the déjà vu, seeing the balloon in between her dead parents.
How come I never heard them scream? She started crying at the thought. Were their cries in sync with my nightm-vision?
As soon as her eyes cleared, she looked up at what the balloon had presented; her friends.
Were they killed in their sleep? What about the neighbours? Did they hear?
She didn't care right now, she had to head downstairs.
Kyleigh barged in, started bursting into tears at the sight of her parents' lifeless bodies.
"Stay here," Melanie commanded, "don't do anything."
Melanie ran downstairs.
Kyleigh was in too much rage to listen. She charged at the balloon, following it in the bathroom as Melanie was a few steps at the bottom.
"Kyleigh... Nooooo!!" hollered Melanie, but it was too late.
She raced into the bathroom, where Kyleigh was thrashing in the balloon's ribbons. The others held her head in the water. She sprinted towards the balloon, it's grip tightening immediately.
She stopped in her tracks, but the balloon continued anyways.
Kyleigh released a bubbled cough, her body stiffened. Melanie was blinded by rage. She ran at the balloon. Its ribbons raised, snaking around her neck, slowly strangling her. Another ribbon held her other wrist with the kitchen knife she got from downstairs. She dug her pockets for the lighter also got from downstairs. The balloon saw, winding a ribbon around her wrist. She tried fighting, but its grip was surprisingly strong. The balloon distanced its ribbon as Melanie flicked on the lighter, still choking her.
She didn't give up the fight, gradually lifting her wrist up. The balloon increased the grip. Melanie felt as if she was going to faint soon. Then she had an idea. She lit her hair on fire, whipping it at a ribbon, quickly dipping it in water after the fire made contact with the ribbon. The fire quickly spread and Melanie smiled victoriously. Pain exploded through her neck, spreading throughout her body. She'd completely forgotten its ribbon was touching her neck. The fire had spread from the ribbon her her.
She roared in pain, quickly dipping herself in the burning water. The balloon was a pile of ashes.
After a long while, she looked in the mirror. There was a circle of burnt skin around her neck, like a choker. She thought the best way was to not endure the framed charges, as nobody's ever going to believe a balloon did all that. Melanie raised the knife, sinking it in her heart.