I never really had any friends growing up, well, except for my best friend Derek. But let's say that his fate was as what folks around here would call 'unexplained.'
It was the boring life growing up in Kentucky in the late 1990s. My interests were far different from what the other kid's found appealing; I liked Nintendo and Pokémon while the others enjoyed themselves on their 4 wheeler's and bikes playing in the mud.
I didn't understand what was so fascinating about getting dirty, like some barbaric hound. Besides the point, it was the 4th grade and still, I was falling behind in the social world. It's not that I was bashful, but rather in an awkward environment. For I did not have any mutual relationships or understanding.
Often on and on, it would be the same routine; School, Home, Nintendo, Bed, repeat. The only thing different from my irregular life style was the constant conflict between my parents, often arguing over financial situations I didn't understand when I was younger.
It was then one day in the mildly cold Autumn winter, that Mr. Curry, our teacher, announced of a new kid in our class was finally arriving. Everyone being excited and thrilled over a new face wasn't uncommon in my elementary school; we had new comers from all over the country and even the world. From Florida, California, China and even England! I have to admit, I was excited too.
A week and a half later, the new student came in and introduced himself to the class. His name was Derek and he came from the state of Alaska. It was magnificent to hear a name that wasn't Tyler or James for a change.
But the part that brought my first attention was that he was from the biggest state in America. That was something to be considered cool back then. No pun intended.
He then began to describe his beliefs and interests to the classroom. Saying usual life culture including that he was a devoted Catholic, enjoyed snowboarding and he loved Pokémon. I was on edge. "Pokémon!" I abruptly stated in my mind. "This could be the day I make a friend!"
It wasn't until the crowd of peer's found themselves uninterested and talking amongst each other in a rude tone, Derek did not notice and continued to the end of his introduction. He smiled at the classroom, I guess hoping for applause or some kind of positive response.
About to clap, one the kids loudly yelled "Sit down faggot and shut up!" and then threw an eraser at his face. The whole class was laughing. Mr. Curry wasn't even there, he making copies of a Social Studies lesson he was preparing for us that day.
He then proceeded to sobbingly sit down next to me; the other kids going back to their regular conversations. It was the only available seat in the room currently. I saw sadness in his eyes as he was looking down at the floor towards me; his shoulder on the back of the seat.
"Hey, cheer up dude. It's okay, it can be tough around here but I'm here for you." I said.
Sitting up in a more straighter position, he smiled.
"Thanks." Derek said silently.
"I'm Andrew. I love Pokémon too. I have Blue version with my Game Boy Color."
Derek seemed more comfortable and excited.
"Wow! That's cool! I have Red version!" he eagerly stated.
"Want to be friends?" I nervously said.
"Dude.. of course! You're probably the coolest person I've ever met!"
It felt great, I wasn't alone alone anymore. The days of sitting by myself at lunch, over.
We sat through the rest of the class talking about more than just Pokémon. But I came to find out that we both are interested in many things from Star Wars to even Outer Space.
At the end of the day, he invited me over to his house for the afternoon. I gladly accepted his offer.
I mistakenly remembered that I didn't ask my parents if I could go however, my house being across from the school, I told him that I 'needed to get something' from there first; meaning I need to ask them. My mom agreed when and I went to go with Derek.
It wasn't until I kept seeing strange things occurring around the neighborhoods while walking home with him. The residents weren't usually on their porches relaxing and the sidewalks were empty.
I began to feel scared and asked how far away his house was, and he replied that it wasn't but five blocks away. Relieved, I sighed lightly.
We approached his residence; it was actually a really nice furbished home. I was then greeted by whom I presume was his mom.
"Hello Derek, how was your first day.. well you've made a new friend! I'm Angela." She said.
"Hello Miss, it's a pleasure to meet you. My name's Andrew."
She smiled and invited me in. She stated that she baked a cake in celebration of releasing her so-called 'pets' to the wild where they belong according to her. I found it odd for that to be some kind of commemoration, but gladly accepted some as well as Derek and then he showed me his room.
I was astounded with what I saw. There was Pokémon posters, props, anime VHS tapes, bed covers, everything. It was like an oasis of what any 90's kid could dream of.
"Dude, your room is so awesome!" I exclaimed.
"Aw, thanks!" he said with gratitude and glee."
We began playing our Red and Blue versions, showing who caught the most Pokémon and how strong they were.
Even the anime was playing on the TV at the same time, it was like a carefree escape from the stressful days of living. The fun we had was so immense, that I forgotten what time it was from the prolong child play. It was 8:00 PM.
I felt that I needed to return home, my parents were probably angry that I missed dinner. So I prepared myself for telling the disappointing news.
"Hey dude, I'm sorry but I gotta go. My mom's going to get mad if I stay any later." I said.
Derek frowned but then happily wished me goodbye.
"Alright, I'll see ya tomorrow Andrew!"
As I was walking home in the complete darkness with only the overhead street lights to guide me through the sidewalk, I felt that I wasn't alone. I kept hearing little skittering sounds and giggling. I disregarded it and walked on.
I didn't understand why I haven't seen a face around the place in days. I was really in fear, I didn't ever like being alone, especially in the dark.
The skittering got louder and the giggling turned to laughter, I began to know now I was being followed and I wasn't in a safe area. So like a worried child, I ran straight home calling for my parents. Which I know by now was useless being Derek's house was so far away. I didn't know what to do, I just kept running.
I eventually got to my house in one piece, out of breath and looking for my parents. They were as expected in the living room worried that I stayed too late at Derek's and asked if I got home alright. I lied and said I did, in hopes of them judging the safeness of Derek's route and home.
"Well okay, dinner is in the microwave. Just heat it up son." My dad proudly as a father said.
I told him thanks, quickly ate and got a shower then went to bed.
But I still wondered what happened back on the street outside. What were those people doing following me? Trying to kidnap? I pondered about it for a brief moment and dreamed into a world of sleep.
I awaken the next day happier than ever to know I have a friend to speak to at school. So I got dressed, ate breakfast and got on the School Bus.
As much as I try to not hate things, the school bus is definitely one of them. We couldn't walk to school, due to there being so much traffic, however we could leave by walking; which made no sense. But every day the high schoolers were always throwing things and yelling absurd quotes. While every one else just argued over childish situations.
I arrive at class and sit down next to Derek, both of us smiling at each other. I didn't want to explain to him what happened last night on that way home, in case it would scare him.
We had a quick chat over rumors of Pokémon Gold and Silver being produced in Japan and then Mr. Curry gave his lesson. I noticed a lot of children were absent, more than they were yesterday. I ignored it and continued to listen to the teacher's lecture.
What was even weirder is that there were students all across the school district going missing and eventually they had to close school down for a week due to lack of funding.
I thought it was exciting to be off school, but I was still on ominous watch.
During that week, my mom and dad thought it would be great for me to get out and visit Derek for the day and I happily agreed and called to see what Derek was doing. As expected, he was getting ready to watch the new episode of Pokémon "Volcanic Panic," the sequel where the protagonist Ash wins his Fire Gym Badge.
He wanted me to come watch it with him. I couldn't resist, I loved the show.
I didn't feel comfortable walking alone again on the streets after that last incident, so I asked my mom if she could take me there. She complained that gas was $.98 a gallon, but she was in a good mood and obliged.
Arriving 4 minutes before the show aired, I quickly dashed to the front door and knocked politely. Angela answered and gladly explained that I didn't have to knock and I can just come in.
I thanked her and ran back to Derek's room.
"Hey dude!" I cheerfully greet.
"Hey Andrew! Have a seat on my bean bag chair if you'd like." He said.
I sat down and the show began.
As far as I can remember, nothing really happened at Derek's house. His mom always was on the phone and watching Television. Besides her fixating her flower garden. As a matter of fact, I don't remember seeing his dad either, possibly on a business trip maybe?
Derek and I came to find out that a marathon came on after the new episode and we decided to watch it until it ended. Derek had all kinds of candy and snacks to keep us through, he must have had a nice life growing up. Together we watched the show exceedingly.
The marathon ended around 6:30 PM and I didn't want to miss dinner this time and worry my parents like last time. It was getting dark out quick and I called them using one of Derek's house phones. Unfortunately, I got no answer. I redialed multiple times to make sure they knew someone was calling them; but still no response.
I came to the conclusion that they must have forgot to pay the phone bill. I remember them losing a paper of some sort weeks ago. Now, the only way home was to walk because not even Derek's mom wasn't here. It was very odd how this all happened at once.
Going home alone from the previous time was a bad idea, and asking Derek if he wanted to come along and stay the night was all my mind could come up with for a safe trip home. I guess thinking larger numbers of people together 'made the bad stuff go away.'
"Dude, remember when Charizard flew down to the core of that volcano with Magmar? That was awesome!" Derek said.
"I know! That was the coolest!
"Um it's getting pretty late dude, do you think you can walk home with me and maybe stay the night if that's okay with your mom? I'm a little scared walking alone." I continued.
"Of course dude! You're my best friend, I'd do any thing for you Andrew!" Derek cheered.
"You know, you're my best friend too, Derek, thank you so much."
We ended up contacting Angela and she agreed about our proposition.
It was beginning to get really dark so we quickly got on our shoes and went out the front door. As we were walking, I began to hear the skittering and small amounts of giggling. I ignored it, hoping it would go away knowing we're uninterested. It still continued.
Derek didn't even notice it I don't think, but I was really getting nervous.
"So, we're moving kinda slow Derek."
"Okay, let's go faster then." he laughed.
It wasn't long before he noticed the sounds too, I know I wasn't going insane.
"Andrew, do you hear something?"
"Yes, let's keep moving please." I strongly whispered.
I didn't want to sound rude, but I knew and I think Derek knew some one or some thing was following us.
Then it happened...
We both began to hear the laughter and faster skittering of what ever was around us. Danger was approaching.
"Run Derek, run!"
We sprinted down the sidewalk as we heard screaming coming from all sides, I knew these weren't people. They had to be creatures of some sort.
Suddenly they appeared.
The hairy furred animals three feet in height with huge enormous claws began running at us, Derek was scared shitless as I was. I think deep down, we both knew we were screwed; before we knew it, we were surrounded by them in the street.
"What do we do Andrew?! I'm scared", Derek began to cry.
I was crying too, we didn't know what to do.
One of the creatures then began to speak in a deep inhuman voice of which brings chills every time I think about it. It wasn't mortal.
"WE ARE THE PROXIES. THE OPERATOR NEEDS YOUR ASSISTANCE. COME WITH US."
The creatures began doing arm movements around us. Derek and I began to feel dizzy, like some kind of hypnosis spell was casted.
We made a run for it, literally breaking through the perimeter of these 'Proxies.' Derek was falling behind from running.
"Come on Derek! Run Faster!"
"I'm trying!" He tirelessly shouted.
Eventually, the Proxies got him. Pinned him down to the black top road like a tent.
"Derek!" I yelled.
I needed to go save him, he was my best friend. I start to run towards him.
"No Andrew go! Save yourself! It's too late! Just run and remember, you're my best friend!"
So, I ran. Back to my house, the rest of the little things chasing me. Crying at the same time and trying not to lose stamina.
They eventually gave up trying to get me. I was about to turn the block down the street and I took a look behind me.
What I saw was indefinite. It couldn't be real, the Proxies were all around Derek. But this guy appeared out of no where, I shit you not. It was a very tall man. He was well over 9 feet tall and wore a black clothing. It looked like a person, but the limbs were way too long to be realistic. Derek followed the man abnormally and the Proxies back into the woods off the street.
I arrived home crying my eyes out with my parents some how there, wondering what happened. I didn't know what to say.
"Derek's ran away." Is all I could think of.
My dad immediately called his house asking for Angela to what happened to Derek, putting it on speaker. He was brought to a phone assistant.
"Hello, Pike County Telecom. I am a number assistant and how may I help you?
"Yes, we need to contact this number immediately: 555-3274. Please hurry!"
Dad anxiously requested.
"I'm sorry sir, but the owners of that residence just moved. Is there anything else I can do for you?"
The assistant said.
My parents looked at each other, speechless. They just hung up the phone, hugged me tight and for the rest of the night we stayed in the living room. Secured from the outside world with my parents trying to comfort me.
I didn't know what happened to Derek, I just hope he's still alive. He was my best friend.
I still don't know what happened to Angela either, but I hope her pets are doing fine.