Your father stood there, his sleeves haphazardly shoved up his arms and that familiar psychotic look in his eye.
It's been years since then. The house hosts an entire plethora of tainted memories and heartbreaking pain.
Your waking hours are the present from a relative that you've never seen in your life and he hasn't seen you since you were two: clumsily tied up with some new unseen horror that lies inside, never what you wanted but never exactly bad either.
It's the day of the funeral. Your mother and father passed away together, same day, same time. Neighbors speculated that their love for each other was just so deep and interconnected. You knew better.
Nevertheless, the remains must be dealt with, the old house cleaned out and sold to the next unsuspecting couple who would grow apart over the years and the corners would fill up with dust and unspoken words.
You sigh and slowly open your car door and step out. You can see the children swinging on the playground, strangely silent save for the creaking of the rusted metal.
A flurry of nosy neighbors surrounds you.
[[Get back in your car and drive away.]]
[[Stop to talk to them.]]
"Hello, everyone. Thank you for expressing your grief," you say formally. You see the familiar faces, just lined with a little more wrinkles, interlaced with the crows'-feet of grief now.
"I can't believe how you must be feeling."
"What a beautiful couple, taken so soon!"
"Darling, how beautiful you've grown!"
The comments about your parents being the most beautiful couple you've ever seen start drilling into your head just as painfully as a real drill would. You push through them and enter your house.
[[Turn on a light.]] You walk past them, your face a stone mold of indifference. Their anguished cries slowly fade to a dull throb.
You open the front door of your house and with one last breath of clean air, step inside.
[[Turn on a light.]]
When you turn on a light, it reveals the house that you remember. The furniture was never moved, the mat where your shoes were supposed to go was still that bright sunflower, just a little dirtier now.
Suddenly, a shadow sweeps behind you.
[[Smash it.]]As you scream a high-pitched noise, your neighbors begin to crowd inside, pitching their high voices of concern. Your scream is quickly cut off as you realize that the shadow was just your brother.
"Whoa, you alright?" your brother says. You nod shakily, putting it down to the nerves of coming back to the house.
"Yes. It's just... you know." You gesture to the house while shoving your neighbors away with your hand. "Lots of memories." Your brother carefully avoids your eyes, looking everywhere else.
"Yeah," he says uncomfortably. "Anyway, wanna start cleaning everything out? There's bound to be a ton of blood on everything." The two of you laugh and begin looking at everything carefully, appraising its value and mentally categorizing everything.
"Hey, I'm gonna go get some boxes from the basement, wanna come with?" your brother asks.
[[Go with him.]]
[[Decline.]]As you swing your arm around to smash the being behind you, your arm is suddenly stopped by long, pale fingers. Your throat begins to close up, until you release that the hand is human.
Smiling awkwardly, you turn to face your brother. "Hey, loser, long time no see." You hug him tenderly, careful to keep your eyes open and on alert.
"Yeah, long time no see. Anyway, ready to start selling Mom and Dad's crap? Let's haunt another family." Your brother wiggles his eyebrows and you can't help but laugh and nod.
Suddenly, he smacks at a drop on his head. "Yuck! What was that?" The two of you turn to look at the white stuccoed ceiling, which has been strangely discolored, a cross between rusty iron and brain matter.
"I'm gonna get some boxes from the basement, wanna come with?"
[[Go with him.]]
You shrug and nod your assent. HE can't hurt you anymore.
Maybe he still haunts your dreams sometimes.
Nothing wrong with some old childhood fears, right?
[[Go down the stairs.]]"No way!" you say, giggling nervously. "You couldn't drag me down there!" Poor choice of words. Your brother bites his lips nervously and fidgets with his hands, scratching at his skin, a nervous habit he retains from childhood.
"Sorry, Simon. I...forgot."
"No, no, it's fine. I just wish that I could forget, too." He smiles weakly and opens the basement door.
Your apologies die on your lips.
[[Stay on this floor.]]
[[Go upstairs.]]The basement still looks as worn as it always did, the steps creaking with the slightest of pressures, the sparse furniture facing each other sadly, caked with dust. You can still smell the sharp iron-y tang and it makes you shudder.
The two of you walk towards the old storage room. When you open the door, a flurry of spiders scurry out, as if they're escaping something in there. You leap back, startled by the hundreds of legs that race past you.
"Why. Just why." Your brother sighs in contempt. The two of you step forward and start looking for boxes.
Your mind begins running wild with what could happen to you, so far under the earth... with no one except your brother.
As you brush off a cobweb and step farther into the abyss of the storage room, you find a piece of wallpaper curling like a baby's first strands of hair away from the wall.
[[Peel the wallpaper away.]]As your brother descends the stairs, you sigh and walk into the kitchen. Your mother, who had an affinity for cooking shows yet was wonderfully underskilled with a knife (or was she...), had renovated to create the kitchen of her dreams.
You walk over to the sink. Empty. Except for a huge clump of blond hair raying out from the drain like threatening fingers.
As far as you could remember, your mother's hair was crow-black.
[[Swallow and back away.]]
[[Attempt to pull the hair out of the drain.]]You carefully pick at the wallpaper and peel it until suddenly, it all just falls away. What's written on the wall chills you to the bone.
//Hell is what they made up to justify our sins//
//Heaven is what they made up to reward their virtues//
//What lies beyond is what I made up to torture all//
The last line gets messier and messier, as if the person who wrote it was slowly becoming more and more delirious.
You call your brother over: "Simon, come look at this." He slowly walks over to you, his heart stopping as he reads the words.
"I think we should leave." His face is paler than a faded tombstone.
"Simon, come on. This is our chance to finally figure out who our parents really were."
"At the expense of our lives?" he retorts, shaking his head. "You know what I've been through already." In his eyes, you can almost see the blacksnake and hear the high whistle.
"Simon," you whisper, "I'm not going to force you. I don't want to. I know what you've been through. But you can't stop me from going. I need closure."
Simon sighs, resigned. Then, he slides his arm through yours.
"I guess if we die, I would rather it be together."
"Just like them?"
"Just like them."
[[Open the door and walk forward.]]You'll hire some cleaning service; after all, you're just here to pack up their possessions.
[[Go upstairs.]]With a disgusted sigh, you pull on a pair of gloves and began yanking at the tangly mass.
Suddenly, the mass begins to move all on its own. It coalesces into a hand. With a gasp, you recoil from the sink.
A voice that's equal parts raspy and enticing begins to whisper:
"What's wrong with you, sweetie? Don't tell me you're scared of a little hand?" The hand waggles back and forth. "What can hands do? Choke? Strangle? Hurt? Kill?" The voice drags out this last word out rather lasciviously. The sight of this disembodied hand is so frightening, yet you can't seem to look away.
"N-no..." you stutter, but it sounds unconvincing to your ears. You swallow in a futile attempt to still your beating heart and back away. As you shift your eyes to the right, you see a sharp knife.
"You see that knife, sweetie? Take it. //I dare you//."
[[Take the knife.]]
[[Don't take the knife.]]Then, you ascend the stairs. You initially absentmindedly rub your hand against the banisters, but you quickly recoil when you feel the splinters rubbing against your skin.
As a prick of blood falls from your hand, you think you hear hungry whispers coming from the walls. You quickly get a bandaid from the closet, then continue upstairs.
[[Go to your room.]]
[[Continue to the attic.]]You sigh, knowing that it would have to come someday. You push open your door, which requires a little force. Your parents probably never opened your door again after you left.
What's a bit troubling is everything is exactly as you left it. The crease in your bedspread has remained constant.
Your lava lamp is still going. For a few moments, you watch as the oil rises up, hot and angry, then slowly calms down, only to be infuriated again.
The white-hot memories resurface like an old man trying not to drown; burning blue tears threaten to choke you until you force them down.
//Not today// you think to yourself.
[[Open your closet.]]
[[Continue to the attic.]]
You gently pull on the rope that opens the attic. The ladder unfolds itself with a reluctant groan. You shakily begin to climb it.
The attic was always unfinished: the floorboards still delicate as the day that they were first installed, the window still letting in just two or three strains of weak-tea sunlight.
As you brush off cobwebs and stand up, something chills you to the bone.
It was your old doll from when you were seven years old. She stands upright, but that's not the strangest thing about it.
She's a rag doll.
The vacant smile on her face grows wider as she sees you.
"Hi!! Long time no see... remember me?" she giggles, what's starting to become a nightmarish sound. "I remember you... remember everything. I remember when your momma used to force you to–" You shut your eyes and ears and turn away, praying for this grisly hell to fade away.
[[Succumb to the darkness.]]
[[Strangle the doll.]]You left almost all your clothes when you left. There was no reason to take them: many were ripped, had mysterious stains, or both. You slowly run your fingers along the clothes, shuddering as your nails catch on a rough edge.
Too many memories of being inside the closet, both figuratively and literally. You shiver at the wine-dark stain in the back.
[[Shut the door on these memories.]][[Continue to the attic.]]Mustering up the tiny bit of your courage that your parents couldn't stamp out, you turn and grab the knife and brandish it in front of you threateningly.
The voice giggles high, girlishly.
"What a brave little one. Do you want to try using it on me? I swear I'm good target practice." The hand dances back and forth, now having moved onto the countertop. "Do you think you can do three times in a row?"
"Go find some other fucking family to haunt," you snarl. As you lunge for it, the ground suddenly opens up beneath your feet and you fall into the gaping abyss.
"Bye-bye! See you soon! Sooner than you might think..." the voice giggles lewdly.
You fall for only a few seconds until you hit the floor. With a groan, you stand up and with a start, you see your brother standing right next to you.
"Shit!" you yelp. "Where did you come from?" Your brother is wide-eyed.
"From the basement! But I was just there two seconds ago..." The two of you immediately grasp each others' hands and look in front of you.
A wide door with chilling words written on it:
//Hell is where you go when you commit ten sins//
//Here is where you go when you commit ten thousand//
So it goes.
[[Open the door and walk forward.]]Deciding not to take the knife, you turn back to face the hand, which suddenly leaps from the sink, dragging years' worth of food gunk with it as it attaches itself to your throat.
You clutch at your throat and try to let out a scream, but nothing comes out.
Your last thought is //Where the hell is my brother?//
You have died. The sound of inhumane moans begins as soon as the two of you step foot into the doorway. Suddenly, after both of you are in, the door slowly swings shut with an eerie creak.
Simon quickly rushes back and yanks on the doorknob, which dissolves into nothing.
Suddenly, a black vine wraps around his hand, engulfing it like an amoeba.
"//Hey, pretty boy. Wanna race?//"
[[Investigate the vine.]]
[[Run like hell.]]You squeeze your eyes shut. You can still hear the faint taunting of the ugly rag doll and how her voice grows deeper and multiplies rapidly in the dark void of the attic.
It's been so long since...
//You have died.//With a feral snarl on your lips, you lunge for the doll and your hands close around its stout throat. When the voices don't cease, you rip the stuffing apart.
When you're done, you're panting heavily, your fingers woven with ethereal, white cotton. You quickly brush them off, the sensation reminding you of a nasty cobweb.
What was that? A fluke in the simulation? When you look down at her, her smile still smirks faintly up at you. With a shudder, you kick her head to the far corner of the attic.
Suddenly, you hear a high-pitched scream coming from the basement.
[[Run to the basement.]]
[[Stay in the attic.]]You quickly skid down the ladder, the splinters leaving bloody little marks on your feet and you pound down the double sets of stairs and hurtle into the basement where you know your brother is, all alone, no one there, no one to know where you guys are...
Your brother is whiter than a bone scrubbed clean. When he sees you standing there, he jolts and raises his arm to point at the door in front of him:
//Let me drown in the waste of my own sins.//
//Let me burn in the fire of God's wrath.//
//Let me suffer from my own fears.//
//There's room for you, too//
The two of you swallow and look at each other.
"Simon," you whisper. "This is our chance to find out what the fuck was wrong with them." He nods.
The two of you [[Open the door and walk forward.<-step forward]], and the darkness swallows you up.
You feel a bone-chilling shudder run up and down your spine, using your individual vertebrae as ladder rungs, scraping out the marrow and leaving you raw.
You're better off here, far away from whatever that noise was.
You sigh and begin shuffling through the old boxes with messy labels scrawled on the rough cardboard surface.
After you've taken a few boxes down the attic ladder and set them on the floor, something catches your eye.
It's a small, pink box that has "Children ♥" written on it in a pastel blue script.
[[Open the box.]]
[[Leave the box alone.]]But the thing that stood out to you most was the strange behavior of your mother and father.
At dinner, they would sit and smile at you and your brother, their plates of rice and chicken and peas left remarkably untouched as they conversed about their illusory mundane lives.
In the wee hours of the morning, you would get up to use the restroom and you would hear scratching from inside the walls.
The shadows in your room would sometimes move and when you fled to your parents' room, you were even more frightened by what was [[before your eyes:]]
Bright scarlet blood decorated the headboard like some grotesque Christmas decoration; gleaming white bone was jagged and tossed carelessly on the glossy hardwood floor; pale bits of flesh lay on the sheets as toys would lay strewn across a child's bedroom; some ghastly fluid was splattered on the walls in a crude mockery of some modern art.
//''They''// turned to you, their pupils dilated like they were high.
Your mom had crimson eyes that pulsed wildly in the darkness; your dad was committing some unspeakable act and as he turned to face you, his face looked like it had been melted off.
For a while, there was just silence.
(set: $combinedStyles to (text-color: "red") + (text-style: "shudder"))$combinedStyles[The noises they began to make drove you insane as they stabbed the inside of your skull over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over...]
"Darling, I think you had a bad dream."
[[Present-Day]]You get back in your car, put it in reverse, and quickly push the pedal to the floor. Your car whines as it complies.
You're out of there like the coward that you are.
But didn't you know?
Your demons follow you everywhere.
You can't run from your fears.
They'll just hunt you down.
So don't run. Not able to resist your meddlesome human nature, you take the cover off the box and carefully place it next to you.
Inside lies a freakish carnival of horrors straight from one of those medieval children's books.
You carefully finger a strand of hair in the box. It's thin. Baby hair. You look through the contents of the box further. Cards that teachers forced you to write in elementary school professing your love for your parents.
Every single word was crossed out.
Dressed up in red pen, the construction paper had been torn in countless places, the marker distorted and the hardened macaroni carelessly broken apart.
Inside, there's a rusty knife that you shudder to think about why it's there.
Looking further, you see a pill bottle and grimace, thinking it's some leftover hiding place for your mom's rampant drug habits, but it turns out to be teeth.
Specifically, your brother's teeth. As you lift up the tangerine-colored bottle, they begin to assemble exactly in the form of a mouth. You can hear them chatter as they crack into place.
"Hey, help us please! We've been trapped in here for so long!" comes a tiny, irritating voice.
[[Open the pill bottle.]]
[[Don't open the pill bottle.]]Coward. Why wouldn't you want to open the box?
[[Proceed to the basement.]]With a sigh, you look around at the attic again and marvel at everything that's dusted in a fine layer of thick disuse.
You proceed to the basement, going round and round the different staircases until you're dizzy with fear.
"Simon, where are you?" you call.
"In here!" you hear a voice and follow it. When you walk into the storage room, you find him sitting on the floor dejectedly and thumbing through a few old keepsakes. "Remember these?"
He's holding up a pair of delicate silver bracelets. An imprint of a smile appears on your face. Your brother and you had gotten them when you were younger as some beach souvenir. He offers one to you and you take it.
You turn it over and over in your hands, and when you look up at your brother, he's staring at you with a faint predatory look and you think you see a hint of green. When he notices your gaze, his features immediately school themselves into faintly bored and looks down. When he looks up again, his eyes are their normal brown.
"I wonder if they still fit."
[[Put on the bracelet.]]
[[Don't put it on.]]Feeling entranced, you quickly unscrew the white cap and let the teeth out. They "stretch," their yellowness now fully revealed in the dim light of the attic.
Suddenly, they warp into a terrifying mosaic of a smile. Scarlet blood begins to leak from the gaps and drip out onto the floor. In a cry of disgust, you leap away from the teeth and smash the box onto it.
The chattering and the dripping stops. Carefully, you prod the box with your toe until it moves off the teeth.
They're smashed and you breathe a sigh of relief, moving to clean up the box.
Then, you turn to go to the kitchen to get some paper towels to clean everything up.
But suddenly, you hear whispering and the quiet clatter of them.
[[Slowly turn around.]]You shudder in disgust and set it aside. The chattering of the teeth fade quietly into the background.
Further perusing the contents, you delve further into the strange world that your parents seem to have created.
Everything starts speeding up like you're in a movie, sickening thing after sickening thing. You find old projects that should have been thrown out long ago, fingernail clippings, vials of long-turned brick red blood.
What scares you the most is that there are 3 umbilical cords, each put in their own bag and labeled.
The first two are yours and your brother's. But the third one makes your heart pound with fear.
It's labeled "Experiment Gone Wrong."
[[Open the bag.]]They start enlarging, shiny canines growing in the moist light of the attic. At its peak, it's a huge thing at least thrice your size. It begins chattering even more, echoing in the unfinished attic.
Suddenly, they speed forward and engulf you within their slippery depths.
(set: $combinedStyles to (text-color: "red") + (font: "Nosifer"))$combinedStyles[scream]
[[Panic.]]With trembling hands, you carefully unzip the bag and shake the cord out. It falls to the floor, but instead of being a dry black mass, it begins to glow a faint, poisonous green.
It seems like you can never catch a break.
The umbilical cord carefully manifests into the glowing shape of a child.
But this child is sort of warped, its skin undulating like waves and its hair blowing like stove flames. It looks unnaturally like a human man, with its features developed. But its stature is short and its limbs are chubby.
If you weren't facing it, you would have probably thought that it was cute.
It giggles and starts toddling toward you.
"Mama!" it yelps like a doll. It begins repeating that one word over and over again like a mantra and the voice begins to deepen and multiply as the child walks towards you.
[[Kill the child.]]
[[Smack the child.]]
[[Leave the baby alone.]]You scrabble around frantically looking for a sharp object to puncture the child with.
The rusty knife.
You scoot around the child and make a mad dash for the knife. Gripping its handle tightly, you slowly stalk towards the child.
Its chubby hands are still reaching out, but its teeth have multiplied. Its mouth is wide open now, able to fit the girth of a pipe. Its gums are embedded with sharp teeth that are eerily similar to the daggers that your dad forced you and your brother to play with.
As it advances, it begins to whisper the mantras that your mother embedded in you:
"//There's nothing wrong with a little pain//"
"//Everything's wrong with being humane//"
[[Stab the child.]]
[[Drop the knife.]]You smack the child with the palm of your hand and make it topple to the ground. It falls straight through the floor with an audible squish.
You clatter down the steps, two or three at a time until you reach the spot where the baby was supposed to have fallen through.
There's nothing save a wet spot.
So then you race down to the basement where your brother is.
Or at least, where he was supposed to be.
[[Look around for your brother.]]You scrunch away from the baby, shutting your eyes and praying for it to just be a simulation, some wild thing that your imagination has dreamt up in the nostalgic horrors of the attic.
And when you open your eyes, the lasting image of a stretched-grin and green claws is burned into your mind.
//You have died.//You suddenly realize that the high-pitched scream must have been your brother's! You panic, frantically racing around the storage room until you find something peculiar.
The wallpaper has been torn away, but instead of revealing cotton-pink insulation, a passageway is revealed. You call your brother's name, but there's no reply.
You step inside the passageway and [[begin to walk.]]Closing your eyes and briefly counting to three, you lunge for the child and thrust the knife out and it meets its mark with a sickening squish and then a crunch that follows as you screw the knife in tighter.
The angry whining of the child stops. You carefully peek one eye open, then the other.
It's staring at you in abject horror.
Then it closes its fingers, which have now grown scaly green claws, around the handle of the knife and by extension, your fingers.
It begins to grow, larger and larger until it practically blacks out the anemic lighting.
"Don't you remember me?" it says in a hurt voice. "We practically grew up together!" Then, in a flash, you [[remember it.]]You poor bastard.
The child's eyes begin to glow a warming lavender.
"//Aw sweetie, you've decided to come home?//"
And then nothing.
//You have died.//You remember playing with this child, ''your sibling'' in the very faintest brushstrokes of your memory.
Everything was rosy at first, but then it began to quickly downspiral.
Sometimes, you would think that you saw them readjusting their joints or twisting their neck all the way around like an owl. As soon as you ran to your parents, they would dismiss it as your active imagination and go back to discussing the rising price of avocadoes.
And then their eyes would spark out, little smoke spirals popping from their nose. You were so freaked out that you refused to play with them anymore.
And then you never saw them again.
Half a year later, your brother was born.
[[Return to the attic.]]With a smile, you snap the bracelet into place and hold it up to the fluttering light. Although a bit tarnished, it still shines brightly.
Your brother hands you the other one, saying, "Try this one on, too! I wonder if they still look the exact same after all those years."
You narrow your eyes. That was... strange? Couldn't he put it on himself?
Nevertheless, you take the proffered bracelet and snap it onto your other wrist.
And when you're done finagling with the clasp, you glance up at your brother, ready to show him the identical fit.
And it's at that moment when [[he lunges.]]You smile lightly, leaning against the stained wall and shaking your head.
"Wouldn't it be funny if you put them on and they became handcuffs, just like in the movies?" your brother asks.
"Simon, I am pretty sure that that has never happened in any movie. Like, ever." He laughs, but it's a laugh that makes your spine tingle and you to look subconsciously behind you to make sure there's no demon lurking there.
"Let's look around some more," he suggests. You shrug and [[follow suit.]]Even though it was just a pair of teeth, it clearly had some invisible parts to it: you're trapped inside some cave.
You push at the soaking walls and you come away with a full handful of bright red hair. In disgust you wipe it on what seems to be the tongue of the cavern.
The mouth begins to bounce around and in a futile attempt to derail it, you drag your nails down the sides. The mouth lets out an angry scream and smashes itself against the ground and you let out a cry of agony as a few of the teeth puncture your skin.
Then, it begins moving. You can feel it moving down the stairs with periodic thumps like a cosine function.
It's moving to the basement.
[[Where your brother is.]]A strangled yell escapes your throat and you start punching like mad at the damp cavern all around.
"SIMON!" you scream. "SIMON YOU ABSOLUTE SHITHEAD WHERE ARE YOU AND HOW DO YOU NOT HEAR THIS ABSOLUTE MONSTER OF A MOUTH THUNDERING DOWN THE STAIRS?"
"IS THAT YOU??" you hear an equally loud scream. "What are you doing in there?"
"Having a party, that's what!" you snarl. "Get me out of here!"
You hear a bit of silence, some shuffling, then a warcry muffled by the slimy barricades. Suddenly, the mouth tightens all around you, then you're ejaculated with the force of a few thousand Newtons.
You slide to a stop in front of your brother, who is wielding a rusted candelabra.
He grimaces as the saliva touches his shoe. "You know, when you used to say that you wanted to go to a water park, I sure hope that this wasn't what you had in mind."
You jump up and hug him, not caring that you could probably be spreading thousands of diseases to him.
[[Express your worries.]]"Oh my God," you say, returning to the attic with the frightening child. "Who the //fuck// are you? And how are you still alive?"
It smiles sweetly, grips your hand harder, and says, "Let's tell the truth, shall we? No one ever really dies. We live on and on and on in the artifacts of who we were. Those who are forgotten are those who never belonged in this plane anyway."
What plane is it talking about??
"I'll never die. I'll keep coming for you. In the darkest of your dreams I'll be lurking there, keeping an eye on my favorite sibling. My //only// sibling. In your waking hours, you will never be able to rest. I will protect you with everything I have and everything I don't. We will be together forever and ever.
"Doesn't that sound great?"
[[Agree with it.]]
[[Disagree with it.]]"Y-yeah!" you breathe out shakily. "I think we could make that work." The baby narrows its unnaturally developed eyes at you and tuts.
"Oh sweetheart, I thought we agreed not to lie." And the baby lunges for you and [[yanks you into the wall.]]"No!" you snap. "That sounds horrible! I don't need another ghost following me around, I already have enough of those! I certainly wouldn't want some psy-fucking-chotic baby tracing my every move!"
Its eyes (set: $combinedStyles to (text-color: "red") + (text-style: "blink"))$combinedStyles[flash bright red]. "Is that so? Well then I guess it's a good thing that–" but then it cuts itself off. It cocks an ear as if it's listening to some voice that you can't hear. "Well, I suppose I'll have to cut this conversation short. I'll see you soon!"
And just as mysteriously as it came, it poofed into thin air. You throw the knife forward like a spear but it bounces off the wall harmlessly and clatters to the ground. You're panting heavily, glancing all around you.
But suddenly, the floor of the attic is turning wet, coated with a sticky gray material. And as you lean closer, you realize it's brain matter. It smells particularly odiferous, like formaldehyde and rotting meat.
Pretty soon, it's up to your ankles, then your knees, then your waist.
[[Try to drink it up.]]
[[Leave the attic.]]You dumbass. Why are you trying to drink brain matter?
//You have died.//You slosh through the viscous liquid and race down the ladder, slipping on it. Just as the flood threatens to topple over to the lower floor, you shut the attic up.
Just in time. You can hear the sloshing of the liquid above. Panting heavily, you make your way down to the basement.
"Simon?" you call.
But just as you enter the furnace room, what you [[come upon chills you to your very dead heart.]]Your brother's visibly shaking, but you motion for him to keep quiet as you creep closer. As you examine where the vine is coming from, it suddenly lashes a branch around you, too and drags you closer to it.
"//Let's go on a ride!//" comes the scratchy voice.
[[Let yourself be dragged.]]
[[Try to fight it.]]You grab your brother's hand.
And the two of you start running.
Double-click this passage to edit it.You pull and tug at the brambly tangle around your waist in an attempt to dislodge its very tight grip to no avail.
The vine just tightens further around you and a high giggling can be heard.
Next to you, Simon is feverishly pulling at the vine's grip on his waist, his wrist.
Nothing happens. The both of you are forever hopelessly entangled in the grip of the vine.
Then, it stops very suddenly, jerking your heads forward and nearly giving you whiplash.
"We're here!" it murmurs.
The two of you are in front of a door that gleams golden, a shining beacon of hope in the dreary darkness. The vine releases the two of you and slowly slithers back into the cracks in the wall.
[[Open the door.]]
[[Try to escape.]]You're filled with the sudden, strange sensation of weightlessness, then your corporeal body slams back into itself like a car crash.
And you're surrounded by nothing but a brilliant white light at first. As your eyes adjust, shadowy figures begin to coalesce.
"What's going on?" you say, but your lips feel heavy and your tongue is weighed down in your mouth.
"We're going to //make// you love us." The baby's voice has taken on a different tone, higher-pitched.
And it reminds you of your mother.
[[Try to kill them. All of them.]]His blue sleeve is lying carelessly on the floor.
(text-color: "red")[With his arm still inside.]
[[Scream his name.]]
[[Pick up the sleeved arm.]][[Keep running]][[Keep running..]][[Keep running...]]And the two of you finally come upon a door that's as blue as a pair of acid-washed jeans. You can hear the vine quickly approaching, so you...
[[Wait for the vine to catch up.]]
[[Fling the door open.]]But just as you take three steps into the passageway, there's a faint sealing sound behind you, as if a kindergartener is applying a veritable mountain of glue to their decrepit arts and crafts project.
When you turn around, the wall has sealed itself behind you.
(text-style: "smear")[And the corridor is plunged into darkness.]
[[Walk forward.]]His eyes are bright green and his fingers are growing into long, black claws and his face is stretched into a wide smile.
You try to bring up your hands to fend him off, but it turns out that the bracelets have welded together and formed a very short, very restricting pair of handcuffs.
You trip backwards as you try to run away from the strange disfiguration of what used to be your brother and Double-click this passage to edit it.You turn the doorknob and step inside the room. It's bare, save for a little girl wearing an immaculate pink dress, sitting in the far corner of the room, quietly crying. Her hair is bright blonde.
[[Checkpoint 1.]]You look at your brother and he stares back. Ever so slightly, you jerk your chin to back where you came from. He sighs and nods, and you can see his muscles tense.
And you're off.
Sprinting through the corridor like hell.
And for a while, you think you can make it. The door is just in sight and the doorknob is back, gleaming faintly in the dimly lit area.
Simon propels himself forward and twists the doorknob. You sprint through and the [[door slams behind you.]]The two of you are breathing heavily, and then you're running up the basement stairs and out of the house into the lawn.
And you hear faint voices screaming, but they're not coming from inside the house. They're coming strangely above you.
"God?" Simon quips. It sounds like the chaos of any teen dystopia: the authorities are scrambling to keep their power while the teen rebels are slowly bringing down their forces.
[[And then you're yanked up and out.]] "SIMON!" you cry out. "Where are you??" You glance around frantically, shoving over boxes in your panic.
"Over here!" you hear. You whirl around, your hands clenching into fists and you throw the boxes out of your way and Gingerly, you pick up the sleeve and the dismembered arm slides out through the ripped hole and lands on the floor with a definitive thump. The sight of the leaking bone makes you gag and you throw the sleeve back onto the arm.
With a thumping heart, you look around, quietly calling Simon's name.
Suddenly, there's a thumping coming from behind the furnance. Feeling dizzy, you carefully creep towards the furnace. The thumping grows louder.
There's a small doorknob. The outline of the door is just barely visible and it looks very tiny, only about 3 feet tall.
"Simon?" you call. The thumping grows unbearably loud now, and you think you can make out a muffled scream.
[[Open the door behind the furnace.]]
[[Call for help.]]You carefully approach her on tensed limbs, and your brother shivers and follows suit.
"What's wrong?" you ask, carefully inching towards her. She turns toward her, her face a perfect picture of anguish, and the tears leak from her eyes.
"Can you help me?" she asks. You look at your brother and the two of you nod your assent. "My mommy's trapped in there," she says, pointing to a door behind her that certainly wasn't there before, "she needs someone's help."
Your brother asks, "How long have you been down here?"
She sniffles and says, "Three years."
[[Ask her how.]]
[[Go through the door.]]The two of you ignore her and turn away, examining the room.
But when you turn back, there's nothing in her place but the pink dress she was wearing, now torn and decorated with a single green claw.
[[Pick up the claw.]]
[[Keep examining the room.]]Inching forward, you feel the walls as you make your way down the corridor.
You walk for only a short time until you bump into something. Feeling around, you realize that it's a door.
Sucking in a quick breath, you open the doorknob.
And your brother is lying on the floor.
[[Dead.]]You back away quickly from the furnace and shut out the pounding noise, slamming your hands over your ears and shutting your eyes.
And when you regain your senses, the pounding is gone and the basement is utterly silent, and it's like everything has disappeared.
Heavy breaths fill the room, but you realize they aren't your own.
They belong to the blue hand that's [[snaking around your waist.]] You take out your phone and shakily dial "911." After a few rings, someone picks up and says, "911, w-w-what's your emer––––g-g-gen–– y-y-y-y-your–––– emergen–––– cy–––?"
The voice begins breaking up and it distorts until the other end sounds like a demon and it's no longer asking you about your acute situation.
"Welcome to the Void, how would you like to die tonight? Classic? Modern? With a twist?" And then there's nothing but a dial tone.
And your phone crumbles to the ground, leaking oily black fluid that melts the floor.
It looks like you're all alone.
[[Open the door behind the furnace.]] Carefully, you open the door using the dainty knob on the front. Thankfully, it opens outward, so your brother can get out. He winces as he stretches out his limbs.
And his face is half melted off, revealing his eye socket and a white bone. You can't help but shudder away from him, closing your eyes to turn and vomit.
"I know. I'm not beautiful anymore." When he smiles, it comes out like a grimace; like he wants to kill you.
[["What happened to you?"]]
"Don't scream, but I have something to tell you. I think you're going to die tonight."
The hand slithers round and round like a seatbelt that is just a little bit too concerned for your safety.
[[Let yourself be strangled.]]
[[Fight against it.]]Very dead. Very pale. All the blood has long since drained from his prone body, a giant cavity open in his chest.
You kneel down and poke at his exposed sternum, which collapses to dust at the faintest of touches. A strange formaldehyde-y smell emanates from his body.
And with a shudder, you...
[[turn your back on him.]]
[[find something to cover him.]]
[[stay and mourn him.]]Double-click this passage to edit it.The two of you deliberate for only two seconds, but it's enough for the vine to catch up. Instead of immediately strangling you two like balloons, it opens the door like the paragon of chivalry.
[[Open the door.]]Double-click this passage to edit it."How have you survived for three years down here?" you ask. //With no food or water// you silently add.
She begins to [[tell her story.]]"Hey." You lean down comfortingly to the girl. "We'll find your mom." She nods and sniffles. "And we'll try to bring her back to you! And then you guys can go home, okay?" The girl smiles wanly.
"Thank you," she says.
"Oh, and also?" she starts to add.
"Beware of the little green monster."
The two of you walk through the door and are greeted by...
[[a dog.]]Double-click this passage to edit it.Double-click this passage to edit it.The white lights scare you, until you remember where you are.
You're a test subject at the Asylum for the Clinically Insane in America, 1953. And you were supposed to be dead thirty-four years ago.
"This one isn't functioning anymore. It's starting to rebel. Should we keep it and try again?" There's a bit of silence.
Another voice says, "No, this has happened before with it. It's better to just destroy it and move on with another subject. There's thousands of candidates just //waiting// to be tested. Even though this one may be of the highest caliber, it's ultimately too great a risk."
A weighty silence.
(text-style: "outline")[A syringe, a push, a liquid, a weight.
A life, a death, a test subject, a cry.
You're dead, so am I, life just seems to fly by.]
//You have died.//
[[Begin<-Restart]]She says, "I came down here three years ago with my momma. She told me that we were exploring underground, like Dora!" She pauses for a second, then sniffles.
"Until the monster came and took her away."
"What monster?" your brother asks. "Can you describe it?"
"I will never forget. It had eyes that were so empty and... teeth. So many of them. Like it was a shark. Its fur was red and really dirty... like there was food in there." You nearly turn to vomit. "And... it talked like a baby."
"What do you mean?" you ask.
"I //mean// that its voice was really high, and the things that it said sounded so innocent but so horrible at the same time, like 'You'll make a delicious snack,' or 'Won't you stay? I just killed two people,' or 'Let me inside, let me inside, (set: $combinedStyles to (text-color: "red") + (text-style: "shudder"))$combinedStyles[LET ME INSIDE NOW."]
Her voice rises higher and higher on the last sentence and [[her voice turns demonic.]] (set: $combinedStyles to (text-color: "red") + (text-style: "shudder") +(text-style: "rumble"))$combinedStyles[LET ME INSIDE NOW LET ME IN LET ME IN LET ME IN GIVE IT TO ME NOW.]
[[Run through the door.]]You and your brother are as frozen as two criminals caught in the act. The girl leaps across the room and in one fell swoop, chops off both your heads.
There's a few seconds where your neurons are working, but then they go dead and so are you.
//You have died.//The two of you skid through the door which her mom should have been and slam the door behind you. As soon as the handle clicks into place, the door disappears and the screams of the girl are silenced.
What lies in front of you is a pit of fire. And it looks like the only way to get across is on those skipping stones of human pelvic bones.
[[Don't jump at all]][[Do nothing.]]
[[Approach her and ask what's wrong.]] Double-click this passage to edit it.You struggle and grasp the hand and try to yank it off of you, but all that does is exacerbate its grip and the pain.
It drags you to a doorway that you've never seen before and whisks you through it. It purrs up at youDouble-click this passage to edit it."Simon, we need to get out of here. Now."
"After all this time? No way! Weren't you the one that practically forced me to stay here? Don't tell me we're leaving now!
"No," you gasp. "You don't understand! We need to go."
But suddenly, a monster leaps from behind and chops off both of your heads.
//The End.//Tell The Mother––– to Stop Following Me!
Hello. This is the beginning of a horror story where you, as the reader, return home after years of avoiding it, for fear that the memories would be too much.
Your parents have died under strange circumstances. Your brother and you return home with your only intention being to pack everything up and hopefully throw it in an incinerator somewhere where no one will get hurt by it.
But just because that's what you wanted doesn't mean it's going to happen.
//Warning: This story contains mature themes that may be sensitive for younger viewers and contains a decent amount of gore. Proceed with caution.//
There's little that children remember: a flash of bright red here, the smell of your mother's perfume as she gently patted your mussed hair, the sounds of screams echoing from your basement, your father's deranged look as he staggered home for the five-hundred-sixty-eighth time and locked himself in the bathroom, your brother's broken cries slowly leaking from his room.
You remember your father leaving you alone with your brother, warning the two of you not to touch anything in his bathroom.
One fateful day, curiosity dragged you and your brother to explore his bathroom. After all, what secrets do parents hide from their children?
No sooner had you touched the door handle when suddenly, the floorboards creaked behind you.
[[Turn around slowly]]He sighs and says, "I don't know. I just remember searching for boxes and then a white mask jumped out at me and all I felt was... pain." He shudders.
You grasp his shoulder and help him stand up, although looking at his face makes you want to vomit again. "What do we do now?" he asks.
[[Push him to continue exploring.]]
[[Take him to the hospital.]]
[[Leave him behind.]]"Come on, Simon!" you push. "What do you need your face for? Expressing emotion? We don't need that." He sighs. "If you really don't want to go, I won't force you... but who will be my loyal sidekick?"
Simon snorts. "I'm not the sidekick here." And with a heavy grunt, he stands up, clinging to your shoulder for support. "We're going to the hospital," you reply. The two of you leave the basement and the house, walking out to your car. You're careful to lock the front door and double check it. Simon climbs shamefully into the back seat, sinking down.
The car starts surprisingly easily with a twist of the car keys. You back out of the driveway and make your way to Angelvale Hospital.
But when you arrive, it's not the sterile silver you remember. Instead, the name of the hospital has been replaced with ugly red letters outlined in black and nearly half the windows are broken or boarded up. The parking lot is empty, with a singular newspaper blowing back and forth.
But you can make out humanoid shadows moving back and forth.
[[Continue into the hospital.]]
[[Wait until you see people.]]
[[Kill Simon yourself so no one will ever see this abomination.]]With a heavy heart, you say, "Simon, I love you, but I want to find out what really happened in here. I don't think I can do that if you're with me..."
He sniffles, another spurt of blood leaking from his nose.
"It's okay. I get it. Just... be safe." He grasps your fingers and you squeeze back tightly, standing up and moving away from the shell of your brother.
He exhales, and then dissolves to dust.
You sigh and yank the keys out of the engine. You and your brother get out of the car and walk into the hospital.
But as soon as you step foot on the white tiles, every head in there snaps to the two of you and all noise ceases. That's when you realize that they're not humans.
At least, not alive ones.
[[Run out of the hospital.]]
[[Keep walking in.]]Double-click this passage to edit it."Simon," you whisper. "Let's go, but slowly." You usher him out of the car. "Wait a second, I wanna get something out of the trunk." He nods and slowly hobbles over.
You surreptitiously open the trunk and look for the knife that you stashed somewhere long ago. It's rusted over, the teeth broken off in some places. Looking around quickly to make sure no one's looking, you quickly turn to Simon.
And you shove it through his heart.
[[Watch the life drain from him.]]You shudder but remain still as it begins its ugly transformation. Its limbs stretch unnaturally, the bones cracking and the skin warping. Lesions open on its skin, purple blood leaking slowly and dripping to the floor.
Its spine bends in a way that it never should and the figure fills out with curves, turning into a body that you never wanted to see again.
The other shadowy figure in the room slowly blurs into a clearer image.
(text-color:red)[//Whose bodies are in the grave?//]
[[Ask your mother what's happening.]]
[[Ask your father what's happening.]]
[[Scream as loud as you can.]]
Double-click this passage to edit it.Double-click this passage to edit it.Double-click this passage to edit it.Double-click this passage to edit it.Double-click this passage to edit it.With a shudder, you turn away, not wanting to see his marred face and his torn apart chest.
But you hear scraping behind you and a creaking. When you turn around, it's //him.//
His eye sockets are glowing faintly purple and he smiles at you.
"Time to go home."
And he throws his stump of an arm around you and shoves your face into the ground.
[[Give in.]]You look around and see an old sheet covering a few boxes. You whisk it off, coughing away the dust that flurries up in a tornado and place it over his body.
You can't stand the smell or the look of him and turn away to vomit.
But when you turn back, the sheet is flat on the ground.
And he's gone.
[[Leave the house.]]
[[Look around for him.]]Tears start rolling down your cheeks. He's gone and he's gone forever. Bid adieu to any hopes you ever had of solving this godforsaken mystery. Gone forever your last living family member.
Until his hand shoots out and grips your throat tightly. His eye sockets shoot open, but they're empty as a tundra on the coldest of days. He bares his mouth, teeth jagged and torn.
"You don't deserve to cry, any more than I deserved to die."
And he crushes your windpipe until you're nothing but just like him, too.
//You have died.//Sorry, you're dead. [[Jump forward]]
[[Jump diagonally]]Simon and you are frozen in your places, but a hand comes and shoves you forward into the lava, effectively cutting through the ice in your veins.
//You have pathetically died.//Then there's a vertical fork: jump off the cliff or climb the staircase?
[[Jump off the cliff.]]
[[Climb the staircase.]]Sorry, you're dead. Sorry, you're dead. Do you even know how to jump diagonally?Double-click this passage to edit it.Double-click this passage to edit it.His mouth opens in shock, and you cruelly twist the knife further into his organ. His face crumples in pain as he lets out a high whine.
"When you see Mom and Dad, tell them to stay in Hell right where they belong," you say. He collapses to the floor, twitching in agony.
(text-style: "smear")[Suddenly, your heart experiences a sharp pain.]
[[What's going on?]]You can't deal with it anymore and you feel yourself shutting down. Breathlessly, you race up the stairs and out the front door, where you suddenly [[fall through the ground.]] Double-click this passage to edit it.You give out a sharp cry of pain then promptly black out.
When you come to, your arms are twisted painfully and confined by thick strains of rope.
Your brother stands, smiling at you, his face and body as good as new.
Behind him, stand your parents.
[[Scream for help.]]
[[Make a witty comment.]]You open your mouth and begin screaming as loud as you possibly can. You continue this until you see that the three of them are standing in front of you with faint smirks on their faces.
"What's going on?" you ask. You look straight at your parents. "You're supposed to be dead."
"What an astute observation. Has it ever occurred to you that humans //don't need to die?//"
[[Ask them what the hell they mean.]]
[[Tell them that it's crap.]]Double-click this passage to edit it.You don't let your body betray any emotion that you might be feeling. "You can't hurt me anymore," you say. "I've got nothing to lose." As you say it, you realize it's true.
Miles underground, you have no other ties. If you died here, the end of this horror would truly end.
[[Resign yourself to death.]]"What in the ever living hell do you mean? Humans are born to die!" you cry out indignantly, beginning to struggle with your bonds.
"I wouldn't struggle," your brother says, his voice multiplying and distorting. "She doesn't like it when we struggle. It makes her feel unwell."
"Who is she??" you demand.
"Life," they reply in a monotone. "She gives us everything and is our everything. Once we grow too old, she takes us back and sends us to Death, where we stay forever and ever. If she loves you then you will stay on the Earth forever and ever.
"You can stay with us, too. We can be a family again."
As they move closer, the knife at your brother's side swings closer into view, and you get [[an idea.]]You press your lips together and look at the floor. Your mother comes over and sharply yanks your head up by your hair.
"Join us," she snarls. "It's a better life. Isn't that all you ever wanted? Especially when you left?" Behind her, you see your father examining his nails, as if his wife isn't manipulating his daughter.
"Join us," they all begin to chant, advancing on you with glowing red eyes. "We've got it better down here. God has left us to die with no protection. So we made our own Heaven. You'll forget everything from this life. Everything that gave you pain. You'll love it when you see it but there's no seeing it until you die."
As you look into their eyes, you realize this is it. You are miles underground.
There is no escape.
[[The last thing you see is your watch face that says 1:04.]]
"It's wrong!" you snap peevishly. "Everything you're saying is wrong, wrong, wrong! We are born to die, and there is nothing more to it!"
Your father smiles at you, then at them. "I don't think she's the one. I guess we waited too long. He smiles down at his wife. "Should we have another one?"
She smiles back and nods. "Of course, my love." They share in a brief kiss and make a dismissive motion at your brother. "Kill her."
The fear in your heart is heavy in the air as you stare up wide-eyed at your brother.
"It doesn't have to be like this."
"Yes, it does."
You don't see how he does it, but you feel a sudden wet warmth at your neck. Your brother holds up a mirror, and you see the bright red slash across your throat like a necklace.
"Pretty," he comments. "Such a shame that you weren't the one." He drops the mirror to the floor with a resounding crash.
You wonder if this is home at last.
//The End.//"Fine," you pant. "I will become one of Life's loved. Everything happens for a reason, right?" Your brother smiles and begins to untie your bonds.
"We knew you would understand. You're reasonable enough."
As the ropes fall away, you...
[[grab the knife and run for it.]]"Perfect. All we require is your death to see if you're truly part of us."
Without warning, your mother takes out a tiny vial and forces its contents down your throat, and [[everything goes black.]]
You reach out for the knife at your brother's waist, snatch it, and begin to run. It's a race between trying to keep up your speed and finding the right doors.
You hear heavy breaths behind you and the anguished wails of your former family.
You accelerate and you finally see a doorway leading to your basement.
"Don't do this to us! We need you!" your father screams from not far behind.
You pause, and decide to
[[leave them all.]]You sit bolt upright, screaming out of your mind. Breathless, you realize that it was all a dream, and you throw the blanket back on, shifting to glance at your alarm clock, which reads 1:02.
But as soon as it turns to 1:03, you hear your bedroom door creak open.
//The End.//You wake up surrounded by darkness on all sides. Tentatively, you raise your hand above you and find that it meets soft velvet.
It's so lonely down here. You can't move or hear anything. You weren't the one. It almost makes you wish that you'd been cremated instead.
//The End.//You race out of the basement and up the stairs, flinging open the front door.
What greets you is a horrid sight.
The children from before are swinging high, higher than ever, but their hands are limp at their sides and the only thing attaching them to the swing is a thick rope around their necks.
And before you know it, you feel the rough cord surround your throat.
"Those are our very best. You can join them, too." And your air supply is cut off.
Just a few moments later, your body joins the childrens', condemned to swing forever and ever, a morbid display to show everyone why God stays in Heaven.
//The End.//Double-click this passage to edit it.You wake up with a start, heart pounding. You look down at your hands and sigh with exasperation.
They're soaked in blood, and you've done it again.
Looks like you never learn, do you?
//The End.//You wake up in a cold sweat, the blankets tangled round and round your body and the cuffs restraining your emaciated wrists and ankles.
You look pleadingly to the man clad in white behind the glass, but he looks down at his clipboard and makes a few marks and whispers to his colleague:
"Turn it up to 11."
Oops, you did it again.
//The End.//You shudder and leave the ashes of his corpse behind. Suddenly, you hear voices whispering all around.
//"It's your fault."//
//"Come with us."//
//"You'll love it down here."//
[[Give in to the whispers.]]
[[Scream "Who's there?"]]
[[Ignore the whispers.]]Weakened by everything, you drop to the floor and start crying uncontrollably. Dark shadows wrap comfortingly around you.
"//It's okay, sweetheart. We've got you.//"
[[The last thing you see is your watch face that says 1:04.]] "Who's there?!" you scream. "Leave me alone!"
The whispers do nothing but intensify, and suddenly, a pile of boxes is knocked over, revealing their contents.
Bright pink intestines, squirming and writhing on the floor in agony. A few hearts that pump weakly like they're gasping out their last breath. Many sundry body parts that begin to move around like a baby walking for the first time.
[[And suddenly, you see your mother in there!]] You ignore the whispers, taking deep breaths in and out. You keep walking, looking around for some clue that will lead you somewhere.
But you feel hopeless. With your brother gone, there's no way you can do this by yourself. He helped you get through everything. And at the very least, he would help to scare away the monsters.
You find yourself circling back to the kitchen. The knives are still there, rusted from the old torture you used to experience.
You take one, smooth-bladed and long. You take a few moments to remember everything in your life, good and bad.
And with no hesitation, you plunge it through your heart.
//The End.//You take her hand, sobbing.
"Mom? What's going on? I-I don't understand!" She squeezes your hand back in a show of comfort, her fingers wrapping around your palm.
Now, where did she get those extra four fingers? And more importantly, now if only you could find the rest of her.
//The End.//The two of you are out of there like the police are fast on your heels. The two of you throw yourselves into the car and your hands fumble to shove the keys in the engine.
The car refuses to start.
You yank the keys out and shove them in again and again, but it's futile. The creatures are fast and there's just so many of them.
[[Let them take you.]]
[[Get out of the car and start running.]]You swallow and reach back blindly for Simon, seeking some sort of comfort.
But he's gone. You swivel around uncertainly, until you hear chittering sounds coming from the creatures in front of you. They're holding Simon, one at the head and four at the limbs.
"Come with us or he dies," one of them hisses.
[[Let Simon die.]]
[[Go with them.]]You bite your lip nervously, glancing at Simon. The creatures at his limbs look hungry, already foaming at the mouths.
You silently pray that he'll understand, maybe one day if you see him in Hell.
You turn on your heels and dash out of the hospital. You spare a glance back at Simon, only to discover that his limbs have already been torn off his body and the humanoids are eating it, relishing with pleasure.
[[get back in the car and drive away.]]
[[run back and let yourself get killed, too.]]Double-click this passage to edit it.You messily shove the keys and turn over the engine. It splutters to life in protest, and then you floor it.
It isn't until much, much later that you can finally stop, outside your childhood home again.
The children are swinging higher than ever, but they're strangely silent.
[[go over to the playground.]]
[[reenter your house.]]
[[drive far, far away.]]A wide grin slowly grows on your face. You take the car keys out of your pocket and chuck them far away, watching as they skid sadly across the asphalt.
You run back towards the hospital and in some macabre scene of family reunion, launch yourself into the creatures' waiting arms.
There's a prickly pain, and then nothing.
//The End.//You shove your hands in your pockets and begin walking towards the playground.
As you approach, you expect some act of recognition from the kids.
But they are still as silent as ever.
After all, what do you expect from a couple of children hanging from the swings?
Suddenly, a small hand taps your wrist.
"Tag, you're it."
[[And you're launched, up and away.]]You push open the front door with ease.
//Didn't you lock it?// whispers a tiny voice in your head. You ignore it and push forward, making a beeline for the basement, wondering if you can find any clues.
When you enter the furnace room, the door creaks shut behind you. You whirl around, looking for the source of the closer.
You find nothing, assuming that it was some wind.
But when you turn around, the baby is standing in front of you. It smiles.
"Thanks for killing off Simon. I just //knew// you could do it.
"But unfortunately, I wanted you to do it yourself. And you didn't. You're nothing but a coward. What would our parents say of you?" It shakes its head matter-of-factly. "There's nothing left for me to do but to kill you."
And then it pounces on you, baby teeth tearing into your throat and ripping out flesh.
You think you're insane, but your body relaxes.
//It's time to go home.//You decide to leave everything behind. Fuck your house, fuck your family, and more importantly, fuck the bank. Let them repossess the house, let them deal with the haunted crap.
You were done.
You got back into your car with a sigh of relief.
But no sooner had you buckled up than a hand tapped you on the shoulder.
"Don't scream," it says quietly. "I only offer a choice."
The hand comes up holding a red and a blue pill.
"If you take the red, you will learn everything about them. But your mind will never be silent again. The voices will never leave you alone, not at night, not during the day, never.
"But if you take the blue, you will never know anything about them. Your life will be free to do as you please. But there will always be the nagging question: should you have taken the pill? What secrets would you have learned?
"What secrets do your parents hide?"
[[Take the red pill.]]
[[Take the blue pill.]]You take the red pill hesitantly and pop it in your mouth. It goes down surprisingly easy.
Suddenly, a pain pounds through your head, but you begin
[[seeing your mother.]]
[[seeing your father.]]
Shamefully, you look back into the backseat to see the owner of the hand, but strangely, you find that you can't look back there. Your eyes are fixated on the hand.
And you reach out and pop the blue pill in your mouth.
[[Five years later.]]When you finally land, your brother sits in front of you.
"Simon!" you gasp, reaching forward. You're yanked back by an invisible force, and your limbs start to feel heavy.
"What shall we do with her?" comes a hidden voice. Simon stares at you blankly, and you realize that his body is as good as new.
"Fling her from the highest mountain we can possibly find," he replies in a bored tone. The hidden voice chuckles, then reveals itself as [[your father.]]You pant heavily, beginning to feel the strains of a panic attack. You force yourself to calm down, tapping quickly on the chair that you're imprisoned in.
Your father stares at you, then begins to laugh in a high tone.
"YOU'RE NOTHING. YOU'RE WEAK. Your brother was a better child in every way!" he shouts, grinning crazily.
His eyes are rolling all around in his head and you think you see black fluid leaking from his ears.
"You are a good-for-nothing girl that can't do anything right. You could never do //anything// right when you were younger. All we asked you to do was make the children in the basement //suffer// just a little bit!
"You are worthless. And your brother is right."
[[Don't do anything.]]"I am not weak!" you scream back. "Not wanting to hurt others isn't weakness, it's a form of bravery in its own right! I stood up against the temptation to kill others, to hurt, but that does not make me worthless!"
Your father snarls, suddenly lunging for you. "This Earth is filled with too many bad people, and you know it's our job to weed them out. So what if they're children? Who knows what they could grow up to become?"
"Like me?" you reply softly. "I've grown up to become a better person than you ever will be. I don't hide my sadistic urges behind a masquerade of pretending to follow God's will.
"You can't kill children just because of what they //might// become! If we did that, there would be no one left on this Earth!" With a final intake of air, you scream,
"(text-style: "outline")[I AM NOT WORTHLESS.]"
[[And just like that, the two of them are gone.]]Stinging tears flow freely down your cheeks, and you feel yourself being hoisted up.
Mere moments later, you're standing at the very tippy top of the world. Below, all you see is a misty white fog, and all around you are the peaks of snowy white mountains.
"//Jump//," your father and brother hiss in unison.
An uncontrollable force takes over your body. You can't resist what they're saying.
Your feet take you to the very edge, and with no hesitation, you leap off the edge.
God did tell you that if you didn't do your job, you would be fired.
//The End.//You're standing back in your old room. When you look down at your body, it's the spitting image of you when you were 12. Your hands roam over all parts of your body, making sure that it's real.
Suddenly, you can sense your mother standing in front of you. Instinctively, your eyes flutter shut, waiting for a reprimand or a harsh slap.
Instead, you hear a soft chuckle.
"Come on, don't we have Ivy's birthday party to go to? You wouldn't want to miss a chance to see your crush, do you?" She winks.
And you know exactly what to say.
"Mo-om! You're gonna embarrass me!"
//The End.//You see your mother as a young child, but you instinctively know that it's her. She's kneeling before her parents, who each hold a torch in their hands.
They tilt the torches towards her as if they're about to knight her, but then they're burning her shoulders.
And she's strangely silent, her face only twisted into the merest grimace.
But suddenly, you see a flash of metal in your grandfather's hand and before you know it, it's embedded in your mother's skull.
She's screaming out of her mind, but she makes no attempt to move away.
Finally, after what seems like forever, the fire flickers out, but the metal's gone.
You then realize that it's embedded in your mother's head. It sinks into her skin, disappearing slowly until the flesh knits itself over it.
When she stands back up, her eyes are lit with a crazed fire and there's something unnatural about the way that she smiles.
[[Leap back to the present.]] You blink profusely, then you're able to see a face, but it's old and wrinkled and certainly not one that you recognize.
"I accept the sacrifice."
You would recognize that voice anywhere. It haunts the deepest crevices of your memories and lives in those moments when your house is silent.
It's your father.
Bewildered, you step closer and see that he's standing in front of a marble fountain. The water runs clear and sparkles, even in the dim moonlight.
"//Then drink,//" whispers a soft voice.
Your father plunges his hand in the fountain and lifts it to his mouth. Suddenly, you can see him aging in reverse. When his transformation is finished, he's the man you know today.
"//Your price... you will never be able to love. We will be with you forever. Whispering in your ear and controlling your actions.//"
[[Leap back to the present.]]Your heart slams back into your body, an awfully familiar feeling. You're gasping, and you immediately twist your body back around in the car seat to find the hand, thank it for everything.
But the backseat is only filled with a few empty bags of chips and soda cans.
You're alone. But you've been this way since you've been born.
//The End.//"Oh my goodness! You look so perfect!" your best friend cries, grasping your arm.
You turn and look at your outfit in the mirror. It's a light purple, to match your near-future-spouse's. You blink profusely, attempting to scare away the tears.
"Thank you. Is it right to feel so... happy on my wedding day?"
"What are you talking about?! You've been together for so long... so in love. I'm so happy for the two of you," your best friend says.
You then prepare to
[[walk down the aisle.]]As your father is absent, you've deigned to choose one of your friends to walk you down. He grasps your arm and smiles.
And then everything passes in a joyous blur. It's time for the vows.
You slip the rings onto each other's fingers, smiling into their eyes.
But as soon as you lean in for the kiss, you hear a familiar whisper in your ears.
It's all of them. You surreptitiously swivel a little bit, and they're standing there, dressed in pastel formalwear, waving at you and smiling.
Your brother bares his teeth. "//See you tonight!//"
//The End.//Simon whispers your name. And you turn to look at him. There's a mutual understanding in both of your eyes.
"I love you," you say, eyes stinging. You grasp each other's hands.
"I love you, too," he replies. "Sorry we had to go out like this. I imagined that we would live to be killed by robots of our own creation while we would be flying in the air with real hoverboards or whatever." You can't help but laugh.
"Yeah. Except those //things// are pretty close to robots. They're both mindless and ugly." The two of you share in one last laugh, then the creatures are on you.
Glass shatters in and you feel it land on your skin. You hardly feel it, because you recognize the faces of the creatures.
Your old friend.
The senile lady down the street.
Your middle school principal.
And you see a faceless one, but you can faintly make out its collar.
And it reads your name.
//The End.//The two of you are running, running like hell. It's not enough, though. They are extremely fast, and the fluids they secrete makes the coefficient of kinetic friction less.
And then they're on you, ripping out your throat with their sharp teeth and injecting your body with a poison that makes you scream out of your mind.
There's so much pain that your body just blacks out.