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I've always been a fan of puzzles. Even at the age of one, the age at which kids tend to do nothing but poop their pants and cry. But my opinion of puzzles has changed since then, and it’s all because of a vacation my family and I went on one summer.
My mother’s side of the family, my dad, my sister and I had taken our annual family vacation. That year we went to Myrtle Beach. We rented a beach house that had a pool in the back of the house, along with a basketball hoop in the driveway. We walked into the house, and the house creaked with age. The air was musky, and light filtered through the ragged curtains. Surprisingly, we found an old-fashioned elevator inside the house, much like the ones a bellhop would operate. We went up a floor, and it was actually quite modern; it had a TV, a microwave, a computer, and a fridge, along with a full kitchen. There were five bedrooms and three bathrooms. My family and I took up one bedroom, and the rest of my family took up the other four. Anyway, before you get bored with the details, there was one odd thing the landlord told us. She warned us “NEVER go into the attic, but if you absolutely have to, take NOTHING from it.”
Now at least three days into our vacation, there was a severe weather warning in our area. At about 1:00 PM, the wind started to pick up. In addition, it started raining like hell, so we ran back to our beach house. Not even thirty minutes later, water started leaking in. We eventually were left with no choice but to go into the attic. The attic was even muskier and darker than the hair of a black cat. Luckily, we found some candles so we lit them. I had found a couch to sit on, so I plopped myself on it, and dust flew out and tried to strangle me. About two hours later, the storm finally tided over, so we left the attic to assess the carnage. On my way out, I stumbled upon a chest; because of my curiosity, I opened up the chest and I found a treasure that might’ve kept me alive through the rest of the vacation; puzzles. At the time, I didn’t realize that these puzzles would actually do the opposite of keep me alive; they would try to kill me. Thrilled by my discovery, I brought the puzzles down out of the attic and I put them under my bed so I wouldn’t get in trouble with my parents.
In about twenty minutes, I had completed a 300 piece puzzle of a dog. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not really one who is into cute things, but it was a puzzle, so how could I resist? Five minutes after I had completed this puzzle, I was eating a snack when suddenly I heard a scratching at the sliding door. I slid it open, and I found a puppy. Eerily enough, it looked just like the one in my puzzle: golden fur, long tail, light blue eyes, and a cute little nose. My family was absolutely head over heels for this dog, so we had no choice but to keep it.
The next morning during breakfast, I heard a scream outside. I put down my bowl of cereal and I bolted outside to find a monstrosity that has changed the way I see dogs to this day; the puppy we found yesterday was missing the upper right side of its head. You could see the pink brain tissue oozing out from its head, and a piece of its bone marrow was protruding from the left side of its skull. Yet somehow, the puppy was still alive and wagging. I had lost my appetite for cereal, so I wound up giving it to my baby cousin. I decided to complete a puzzle to try and take my mind off of the horror I just witnessed. I reached under my bed and I pulled out a puzzle. It had 450 pieces, and when it was complete, it was supposed to look like a kid getting kidnapped into a white van (kinda cliché, but I’m not the one who made the puzzle.) Within thirty minutes, I had completed the puzzle, so I went downstairs to the kitchen to eat lunch.
After lunch, I went to the front of the house to shoot some hoops. I had just made my tenth shot when a white van pulled to the driveway. “Hey kid, you want some candy?” the driver asked.
“I’m not supposed to talk to strangers,” I replied hesitantly.
The guy in the passenger seat pulled out a gun and aimed at me. “Get in the car. NOW,” he demanded.
I had no choice. I got in the car and I sat in the back with a bunch of other kids. “Okay, calm down, Nate. It’s just a coincidence that you’re getting kidnapped right after you completed that puzzle.” I thought to myself reassuringly. But I had bigger things to worry about at the time, like how I was going to escape from this van. I searched around the floor for something I could use when I found a shank; a prison shank nonetheless (go figure.) I thought carefully about what I was going to do when suddenly, the car stopped. We had pulled up to an abandoned warehouse, and I knew this was the end of the line for our “road trip.” I had to think of something and fast. The two men in the van got out and started pushing us out of the van with one of them with a gun aimed on us. That’s when I noticed that one of them had a gun but wasn’t using it.
I walked up to the guy who was pushing us and I stabbed him in the head. His blood gushed from his head as I took the shank out of it. I quickly swept behind my kill, and I took his gun from his body. I used his body as a human shield, and I shot at the other kidnapper, killing him in two shots. After all the bloodshed I had just caused, I walked back to my beach house and took a nap. The next day, I woke up to see the upper right corner of the first puzzle I completed in pieces. That’s when I realize that the puzzles were haunted. I quickly looked under my bed to see if the puzzles were still there; they weren’t. I panicked and started looking all over the house for my family members. I found my gamer cousin complete one of the puzzles and I screamed; it was a puzzle that created a dragon. I told my family to start packing their bags, and before they had a chance to react, a random burst of fire blasted through our windows. I ran outside to see a dragon flying over the beach house. We all packed ourselves into a car, and we drove for the airport, desperate to escape from this beast from hell itself.
My mom’s sister and her family never made it to the airport, and it was a shame because she was my favorite aunt. I write this now years after that vacation, and I still have nightmares that week. Oh hi there, Skully! Skully is the name of the puppy we found at Myrtle Beach. I mean, sure he has a quarter of his missing, but he’s still my best friend. What’s wrong, Skully? Why did it suddenly get so warm all of a sudden? …Ah, fuck the dragon’s back.