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I had been feeling a little under the weather for the past few days now. Not so much that I was actually sick, no, nothing like that; it’s more like a... feeling of unease? I haven’t been sleeping well and I always feel run down; like when I actually do sleep it’s just my brain shutting itself off and my body continues to run rampant.
I wake up each morning and pump myself full of the daily caffeine that’s slowly become more of a need than a pleasure, and continue on my days as normal. Or as normal as I possibly can considering the circumstances. This was vastly becoming old, so I decided to make an appointment with my physician; I go in tomorrow. Tonight, however, is our town’s annual festival. Due to the fact I’d been feeling out of sorts, I didn’t really want to go, though I had never missed one since I was five years old. My parents had always taken me when I was younger, rest their souls. It’s one of the only things I have left to remember them by now. Mr. Rocharti, my physician advised me to go, he knew how much the town festival meant to me.
“What was one more day?” he said. “I’ll be seeing you tomorrow morning anyways, have fun tonight.” I sighed, but agreed none the less. Who knows, perhaps I would have fun and forget about how I’ve been feeling for a night.
When the day neared evening, I began to get ready. None of the fun things ever started until after six p.m. anyways, so I didn’t care if I arrived late. Tossing my hair into a messy bun and throwing a red hoodie over my clothes, I headed out. If I hadn’t been sick I probably would have cared a little more, but it’s not like I was headed to a business meeting anyways. I guess this is it, I thought and left my apartment, being sure to lock up. I didn’t need another accident like two years ago…when my parents were brutally murdered.
It was horrible; I still have nightmares from it. The police said it had to have been done by someone they knew because there was no sign of a break in, but I don’t know anyone who could have done that to a friend. Now, don’t get me wrong, my parents weren’t the greatest of people, but they didn’t deserve that. The worst part is that the last thing I ever said to them was “I wish you would both just die.” I never got to tell them how sorry I was. Coincidentally, the same night my parents were killed, a local doctor here went missing without a trace. But I’m getting off topic; it’s never good to revel in the past too much.
I was making my way to the town square to try and get my mind off of everything, thinking about all of that started to depress me. That’s when I heard it…it was music, sounding slightly like an orchestra, but the main instrument was a flute or something of that sort. It was…alluring in a way, but also creepy. Figuring it was coming from the festival, I continued onward. After about another ten minutes of walking, I had finally arrived; but I could no longer hear the music that was just playing.
A few hours went by, and I was actually having a good time. I even ran into a few friends of mine from back in high school, Cassie, Marie, and Daniel. It was nice to catch up, ever since graduation I’ve basically neglected all of them, never keeping in touch. I holed myself up in my apartment and focused only on work and, well, I was always alone, but I seemed to start liking it that way. Everyone was worried about me after the incident with my parents, I slowly pushed them away.
“Hey Abbie!” Cassie yelled at me from across the street. She was at the goldfish catching game. Cassie always had a soft spot for all animals; she tried this every year, to win a fish. It had been almost five months since I had even said a word to her, or any of them. I came to find that she and Daniel had become an item, and Marie was moving away soon for college. I missed this, just taking time to hang out with friends. Why did I ever stop? Then I heard it again…that beautiful melody. I asked my friends where it was coming from, but they just looked at me strangely.
“What music? I don’t hear anything,” Daniel said.
“Abbie, are you feeling alright? You don’t look very well.” It was Marie talking this time.
“Y-yeah, actually no. I’ve been feeling a little under the weather lately, but don’t worry.” I gave them a reassuring smile; but the song was still playing. Throughout the rest of the night I continued to hear the melody on and off, but I didn’t mention it to my friends again. I did ask a few of the shop owners and merchants though, but they too stated that they couldn’t hear anything other than all the sounds of festivities going about.
It was now nearing eleven p.m. everyone was lining up by the lake to watch the fireworks that were soon to go off. Again, I heard the tune. I have had enough of this, so I made my mind up to search for the source. After a long while of looking it seemed almost pointless to continue. How was I supposed to locate the sound of music playing with the festival going on? Then I heard it again, it almost sounded as if it was right next to me, but nothing was there; and soon it began to fade out from in front of me. It was…taunting me? Like the wind was playing the music in a whisper, begging me to follow. I complied, trailing this enthralling melody.
Realizing that I was on the complete other side of the lake from the festival, I began to panic. Then, I heard an eerie growl from behind me. My body shaking, fear clenching my heart and tears begging to fall from my eyes, I slowly turned around. What was behind me was almost impossible to explain. The fear clutched my throat so I couldn’t scream; all I could do was run. That melody I came to love the sound of just earlier that day now taunting and terrifying. The monster was chasing me. I came to the clearing where the Mursberry Tree was; that wasn’t more than a mile from town square. I would just have to run a little bit longer and I’d be fine, I’d be safe, but I was growing tired.
I couldn’t run anymore, and the song grew louder; louder and louder, coming at me from all angles. I froze. This monster was chasing me, but he was always right there, right behind me, taunting me; never once catching up but always there. It was obvious he was just messing with me, only running as fast as I could to keep up with me at the perfect distance. What did it want? It was no use, this creature was right behind me and there was no escape from it, I know this now.
In my last moments, I elected to turn around and face my attacker, the player of this song. When I was facing him, I noticed he was playing a flute-like instrument, but unlike any I had ever seen before. This beast puts his arms down, ceasing to play the melody; his cold eyes bore into mine. He had an strange toothy smile plastered on his face, long arms and a sickly hunched over body. His hands were large and clawed, how could he even play an instrument? A glop of messy black hair lay matted over its head and in his eyes. His clothing was so weird.
“W-what do you want?!” I asked, voice shaking. The creature just smiled at me, and snickered, lifting one of its clawed hands and wiggling the fingers.
“It’s time to pay the piper!” It screamed at me in a horrible, gravely, high pitched tone; and lunged towards me. The noise of the fireworks grand finale blurred out the dreadful sounds of my screams as the monster tore me apart.
My body was found the next morning with a note saying
“A toll was taken for your sins; the guilty soon shall pay again.” — The Piper