The bell rang and I lifted myself from my seat and headed out of second period. My back was killing me from sitting in the hard, plastic chair for the past hour and a half; I was ready to get out of there. “Mr. Forsythe, come over here, please.” My English teacher motioned me over to his desk with a disappointed look on his face. I hated when he called me that. I always thought it was so stupid. He looked down at his desk and I mimicked his motion. On his desk was the essay we had to turn in a few days ago. Across the top margin, scribbled in sloppy red ink were the words, not acceptable. “I’m very, disappointed in your work here, Mitchell. The assignment was to write a persuasive, argumentative, essay on something you have strong feelings over.” I got agitated rather quickly and snapped back at him. “That’s exactly what I did!” I yelled. “Writing about why marijuana should be legal is not the direction this paper is supposed to be going in! I want a new paper and a new topic on my desk by Monday morning!” I stood in disbelief and didn’t speak for a moment. “You want an entire essay? I have plans this weekend! Are you out of your mind, dude?” I lied about having plans. The only thing I planned on doing this weekend was sitting on my ass. I just said this as an attempt to get out of writing an essay. “Don’t call me, “dude”. Monday morning; end of discussion.” I stormed out of the classroom, cursing his name under my breath. In the hallway I headed to my locker which was only a few feet from his door. I put in my combination and the locker opened as easy as usual only this time a small piece of paper fell out. It was folded into the normal size of a note someone passes in class. I picked it up off the floor and noticed there was something written across it very neatly; it read, Mitch. Thinking it was nothing more than a note from a friend I shoved it in my pocket, grabbed my Spanish book and made my way to third period trying not to be late. During lunch I found my friend, Dusty, and sat beside him. “What’s up, bro? You look down.” he said as I took my seat at the table. We have been friends a good while and I always felt I could talk to him about whatever was troubling me. “You remember that essay I wrote for English class?” I asked shaking my milk up. “The one about why pot should be legal? What about it?” “Apparently my teacher didn’t like it so now I have to write an entire essay by Monday morning.” “Damn, dude! That’s brutal. You gonna do it?” “I’m gonna have to I guess.” I let my hand fall from the table where it rested and it rubbed against my jean pocket reminding me about the note. “Oh, yeah, I almost forgot.” I pulled the note from my pocket. “Did you put this in my locker?” I asked as I held up the note. He took it from my hand and looked at it puzzled; as if he’d never seen it before. “Wasn’t me, dude. Why? What does it say?” I shrugged. “I don’t know. I haven’t read it yet.” He looked at me as if for approval and I nodded letting him know he could unfold the paper. As he undid the last fold we were caught off guard by what we saw and both looked at each other as if searching for an answer. What was on the paper was a very crude drawing of what appeared to be a house or barn of some sort. I don’t know why it was so unsettling, but looking at that picture gave me a very uneasy feeling. We both stared blankly at this piece of paper as if it were an ancient artifact. The lunchroom was very loud, however, I was in such a state of concentration that the noise seemed to dissipate and eventually stop altogether. Without speaking a word, Dusty pointed to some writing above the childish drawing. The font of the letters matched that of the front of the note; it read, “Come to my house and play. I need a friend. 451 Wagon Run Road.” “Dude,” Dusty said under his breath, “that’s on your street.” He looked up from the note and turned his head to me. I could tell his uneasiness was growing as was mine. I shook my head as if a way to shake the feeling, however, it was futile. “There’s no way, bro. My house is the only one on that street for a good mile and a half.” I explained. “This is just some bullshit prank. Some kid on the bus probably did it.” The bell rang loudly through the cafeteria. I went to grab the note but Dusty jerked it away from me at the last second. “Let me hold onto it and do some research.” he said. As we got up from our seats I let out a loud sigh, grabbed my tray and began walking to the trashcan. Dusty followed close behind. “Trust me, dude. Just give me a few days with it and I’ll let you know if I find anything.” I reluctantly gave in and nodded to him. “Awesome! I won’t let you down, bro!” He turned around and headed out of the lunchroom. There was only one period left in this Friday and I was more than happy about that. I woke up the next morning around eight. I hated that school messed up my sleeping schedule. I had plans on going back to sleep, but nature was calling. I dragged myself out of bed and headed over to the bathroom on the far side of my room. As I was answering the call I heard my phone spit out its normal notification for a voice-mail. That’s weird, I thought. I usually hear my phone ring through the night. I shook and then flushed and stepped over to the sink to splash some cold water on my face in an attempt to wake myself up. Letting out a huge yawn I stepped out of the bathroom and headed over to my nightstand where my phone lied being charged. When I retrieved my phone from its resting place, unlocked it, and checked my notifications I saw that I did indeed have a missed call along with a voice mail. They were both from Dusty. Thinking to myself that he might have actually found something I listened to the voice-mail. “Hey, dude. I have found some crazy shit about this house. You have got to hear this! I don’t want to tell you over the phone so either I can come over or we can just hang out somewhere. It’s up to you, bro. Call me back, as soon as possible!” “Whoa.” I said aloud. “He must really have something.” I searched through my contacts and found his name with the intent of calling him. I put the phone to my ear and listened for a ring but there was no ring. All I got back was the regular, “The person you are trying to reach” speech followed by white noise. This caught me off guard since I’ve never known of a phone that gives out that noise when someone can’t be reached. I decided to try a few more times. Each time I go the same result except for the final try. The white noise stopped and I heard a deep inhaling and exhaling before a long beep. It was a bit unsettling but I thought it was just my imagination. I decided to hop in the shower to further wake myself up. After getting out the shower and getting dressed I was greeted by my mom outside in the hallway. “Your friend is here, Mitchell.” she said as I followed her. I walked into the living room and saw Dusty sitting on the couch with some papers rolled up tightly in his hand. When he saw me he jumped from his seat and made haste in my direction. He grabbed my arm and whispered to me in an anxious tone. “Dude, I found something.” His face was pale as a ghost and his eyes were open wide. I stared at him blankly for a while before replying. “Alright, man. Let’s go outside and talk about it. I want a cigarette.” We went out and sat around the table under the porch. He unrolled the papers and weighed them down with various items: ashtray, cell phones, lighter. There were so many different things to look at. There was an aerial view of what looked to be nothing more than a forest, and out dated newspaper article that had been printed off and some type of property plans. I backed up a bit as if trying to take it all in. “Whoa.” I said aloud. “What is all this?” I asked him. “Let me start with the picture.” He was pointing to the aerial view photograph. “This is what came up when I looked up that address on Google Earth. At first I thought it was just some woodland and trees but then I looked closer.” He scooted up in his seat to be closer to the photo and I followed. “If you look very closely you can see the roof of a house and about thirty feet from that is some type of shed.” I squinted and followed his finger as it moved. “You’re right.” I said, “That’s insane, bro. That house is at least a mile deep into the woods.” “I know.” he said, “Now let me show you this article.” He picked up the paper and tried to smooth it out the best he could. The paper had become discolored from its original pearl white to a dingy sort-of yellowish-gray. I guessed that was from his sweaty palms caused by his anxiety. “This article was written in 1989 so it isn’t too old; however, it’s really creepy.” He pointed to one of the paragraphs with his finger. “It says right here that there was an eighty-two year old man who lived there with his daughter while she took care of him. Apparently he had PTSD and was having a hard time developing relationships with other people. All he would say was that she was his “one and only friend.” I picked up the paper and began reading to myself. “Dude, this is seriously weird.” I said aloud before taking a drag from my cigarette. He looked up and nodded in agreement. I leaned back in my chair, blew out some smoke and looked through the screen around my porch. “It’s a beautiful day out. We should go somewhere; do something.” Dusty jumped from his seat. “Dude, I’m all in for it! We can go check out this house and find out who gave you that note.” I looked at him in disbelief. “Are you serious? I told you it is most likely some dumb prank a kid pulled. I know a lot of people. Besides, I was thinking more about that thrift shop up the road.” “Mitch, we have to do this man. There is no way anyone knows about this house. It’s like you said, it’s at least a mile in the woods.” His argument was a good one and that fact agitated me. “Come on, dude! Thrift shops are lame and they smell bad. Forget the thrift shop; we can go in that house, look around for a bit and if you’re scared just-” I cut him off right there. “I’m not scared, alright! I just don’t want to get caught by my parents again.” I made up an excuse on the spot and it was a damn good one. “Last time I tried to sneak out they took my license for month.” “Dude, that guy died inside that house. The last person to step foot in there was the police and his daughter. There is probably some cool shit in there. If we get caught, I’ll take the fall for it all the way.” I took one more drag from my cigarette before putting it out and fell back into my seat. “Let me think about it, alright?” A few days passed before me and Dusty talked about the house again. I had to ruminate for a while before deciding. I really was scared and was also nervous about getting caught. After a while I finally just gave up and decided to agree about going. I pulled out my cell and gave him a ring. “Hey, dude, what’s up?” he asked as he answered the phone. A reluctant sigh rolled across my lips. “I need you to be ready by tonight. Say around six o’clock.” I could hear the excitement rise in his voice when he spoke. “We’re seriously going?” he said, “Alright, man. I’ll be ready whenever you need me to be.” Another long sigh escaped my chest. “Call me when you’re ready and I’ll come get you and we will head out from your house. I know a back way to the street so we don’t have to pass my house.” “Alright, just give me about an hour and I’ll be ready.” “Alright, I’ll talk to you later.” I hung up the phone, threw it on the bed and sat down beside it. I was beyond nervous. My hands were shaking and I couldn’t seem to stay still. I decided to go outside and have a smoke on the porch to help calm my nerves. Around 6:30 Dusty called me up. “You ready to do this?” he asked. “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be I suppose.” “Alright, cool. I’m sitting outside my house waiting for you.” I hung up and slid my phone into my pocket and commenced the search for all the things I needed. “I have my phone and my cigarettes,” I said out loud, “but what else do I need?” I couldn’t help but get the feeling that I was missing something. I went through my mental checklist one more time and then it hit me. “Shit, my keys!” I gave myself a good smack on the forehead scooped my keys up off the computer desk and headed out. Strangely enough my parent’s didn’t question where I was going and simply said, have fun! I shrugged it off and headed out the door making sure to shut it behind me. There was a thick fog covering the ground and the air was chilling on my bare skin. This kind of thing was common this time of the year but I hated either way. I hopped in my car, cranked it up, put it into gear, turned up the heat and headed on down the road toward his house. The world was quiet and all I heard were the tires rolling along the pavement as I went along my journey. I decided to turn on some music to help kill the eerie vibe that surrounded me. When I pulled into his driveway I honked in a friendly manner and waved out the window putting on a masquerade of excited emotion. He waved back and smiled then came down the steps and got in the passenger side of my car. “You find the place okay?” he asked as I backed up out of his driveway. “Yeah, no problems really just all this damn fog.” “Kind of sets the mood, eh?” he said nudging me and laughing. I laughed along nervously and just kept my eyes on the road. I put on some music to help settle my nerves. The ride there was nerve racking. The sky was already getting dark and just to add to the atmosphere; there was a full moon out. I had decided to put on pants for the trip considering how far this house was into the woods. “Can you get me a cig out of my pack, dude?” I decided to try and calm my nerves a bit with a smoke. I lit it up and took in the first drag. The smoke filled my lungs and the sweet menthol cooled my throat. As I exhaled I felt a huge relief lifted from my shoulders. “Alright, dude, pull over right here.” Dusty said. “Why?” I replied as pulling over. “According to the Map-quest directions we have, we’re at the opening to the house.” I looked out my window trying to make anything distinguishable shape out of the oncoming darkness but it was futile. It was around winter time so the nights were much darker than usual and this night in particular was no exception. “Well, turn the car off and let’s check it out.” I looked at Dusty as if he had lost his mind. “I’m not leaving my car here, dude. Get out and check to see if the path is big enough for my car to fit through.” He groaned, grabbed the flashlight and stepped out of the car. I turned down the music and stuck my head out the window. “How does it look?” I asked. “You could fit, dude. No problem. Just back up and turn in.” “Alright; watch out.” He stepped out of the way and I backed up a bit before turning into the woods. My car wasn’t built for this kind of thing I just wanted to get it off the side of the road. I gently placed my foot on the gas and inched my way about twenty feet in the woods. I put it in park, got out and then locked it. “You ready to go?” I asked. My voice had two very obvious tones to it; fear and regret. I was feeling sick and my stomach seemed to turn flips inside me. I didn’t want to do this but I was already here and there was no point in turning back. “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.” With that said Dusty pointed the flashlight down the dark path and we began our descent into the unknown. After about ten or fifteen minutes of walking the forest started to get to me. “This is fucking freaky, dude. Maybe we should just turn back.” The sounds of the wilderness were beginning to shake me up a bit. “Come on man. I bet we’re almost there. Besides, it’s just an abandoned house. What’s the worst that could-” His voice trailed off. I stared at him with confusion until I followed his eyes. There it was. It was eerie on how much the house itself resembled the drawing. The porch, the shutters, even to the shattered window to what I believed to be the attic matched. “This must be it.” I said. I swallowed hard trying to get rid of the lump that lodged my throat. Dusty was now noticeably nervous but he tried to shake it off with some humor. “This has to be it. I mean how many people build a house this damn far back into the woods.” He let out a nervous laugh and took a step forward turning back to me making sure I followed. “Come on. We will just go in, take a look around and leave.” I nodded and we proceeded into the house. The front porch was your normal wood porch except this one had obvious signs of weather damage. Nature had also engulfed one entire side of the house and claimed it as its own. There was ivy running up one side of the house and moss was beginning to grow over the aged, rotten wood. Each step we took seemed to make the house moan or groan very loudly in stark contrast with the silence of the wilderness. All the sounds I heard previously had now seized. No crickets were chirping and no animals were running around. It seemed as if time had stopped the moment we stepped on the porch. Dusty shined the flashlight over the front of the house to help us find the door. The last thing I wanted right now was to be stuck in the still darkness. The door may have been white at one point but now the paint was chipping and it looked weathered and dingy. The doorknob was a golden, brass like color and it stuck out like a sore thumb on this eye-sore of a home. I turned to Dusty and his face resembled that of a bed sheet. All the color had ran out of it. I could tell he was beginning to get very scared. “You alright, dude?” I asked as I put my hand on his shoulder. My touch startled him and he jumped while letting out a loud scream. I jumped back and screamed as well considering I didn’t expect the reaction I received. “Dude, we can leave if you-” “No!” Dustin’s look of fear turned to that of malice and hatred. I took a step back in shock. “We are going in there like we said. We’re not chickens, Mitch!” Something didn’t seem right about his attitude nor this situation, however, I was afraid of what he may do if I was to try and leave. I’m fairly tall but Dusty has the weight factor over me. There would be no way I could leave even if I tried. “Alright;” I said reluctantly, “you can go in first.” His expression never changed and he kept eye contact with me the whole time he was opening the door. It wasn’t until the door opened up and hit the wall on the inside that he looked away. The house was pitch black and even though my eyes had adjusted to the dark that was outside the darkness in the house seemed darker than what was outside. “Shine the light in.” I said to Dusty without looking away from the entryway. The light illuminated what looked to be a den or living room. Watching our step and the floor under us we stepped in. There was a dark, mahogany coffee table in the middle of the room accompanied by an area rug underneath. The couch that sat beside it had definitely seen better days. The cushions were ripped and their guts were spewing from the loose seams. “Is that what I think it is?” Dusty spoke up for the first time after the episode on the porch. He seemed to be back to normal; for now at least. I turned away from what I was looking at to see what had caught his eye. “What is it, dude?” as I turned I saw that he was pointing to a large stain on the hardwood floor. I could see that the stain had obviously been there for a while and had since then been tried to clean up. It looked to be a large puddle of some sort; however, I couldn’t put my finger on what it would be. “What is it?” I said looking over to Dusty. “I think it was blood.” His voice was soft; nearly a whisper and those words made me freeze. I could feel a cold breeze drift by my face and our breath suddenly became visible. The hand of fear was beginning to take a grasp on my heart as the blood in my veins ran cold. “I think we need to-” Dusty wasn’t behind me. This didn’t make any sense. I knew he was just there and there was no way I wouldn’t have heard him travel through this rickety, old house. “Dusty!” I called out. All I saw that showed he was even once there was the flashlight. It sat straight up on the decayed, broken, hardwood floor illuminating the ceiling. I bent over and picked it up so I could continue my adventure through the house. “This isn’t funny, dude!” I walked out of the living room and into the kitchen. The putrid smell of rotten, moldy food invaded my nostrils and I nearly puked. Holding back the vomit I continued on. It was nearly impossible to concentrate. My best friend just went missing in some shitty, old house and I was terrified beyond belief; I just wanted to go home. I began to feel hysterical the further I ventured into the house. As I exited the kitchen I scanned the next room with my flashlight. Seeing a large table with plates and utensils I assumed it to be a dining room. I shined the light over each seat; one by one. Empty. Empty. Empty. I jumped back in fear and stumbled over something in the floor dropping my flashlight. There was a man sitting in the chair at the very end of the table. I only got a small glimpse of him but it was enough for me to know he was dead. That’s when it hit me. I didn’t smell old food. What I smelled was this man. The smell got the best of me and I leaned over and puked on the floor. After an immense amount of coughing and gagging I mustered up enough strength to grab the flashlight and stand back up. My hands were trembling and the light shook as I shined it on the man. His skin was as dark as the night sky that stood over me. His eyes were glazed over and the pupils that lied within his eye were extremely dilated and matched his skin tone. The hair that may have once been on his head was now thin and white. I took a look around the rest of the room and noticed a staircase ahead of me to the right. Dusty has to be up there. I thought to myself. I took a few steps forward and began to get the feeling of being watched. It wasn’t just an eerie feeling either; this felt as if someone was standing right behind me, glaring at the back of my head. I stood there isolated in fear unaware of what I should do. I began thinking to myself. The stairs are right in front of me. They could lead me to Dusty and ultimately to safety. Then again; it could lead to my ultimate demise. What if this isn’t just a feeling? What if there is someone or something behind me waiting for me to make a choice so it can strike? All the sudden I feel a cold breath on the back of my neck accompanied with the same putrid smell as before. I closed my eyes and told myself, “This isn’t real, this isn’t real.” Another breath rolled onto the back and fear began to fall upon me like cannon balls from the battlefield. It has to be Dusty just playing a trick. It has to be. I refused to believe that anyone else living was in this house. The only sounds I could hear were the whistling of a gentle midnight breeze and the thumping of my heart against my rib cage. I felt a bony hand run up my shoulder blade and then clutch my shoulder. I jumped forward and screamed. “This isn’t funny, Du-” I turned and my flashlight was pointing at nothing more than an empty dining room. At first I felt relief until I shined the light over the chair that once held the man. He was gone. The only thing that was left was looked to be dirt and something small and white placed neatly on the plate; a note. I felt my heart cower into the confines of my gut. My eyes widened at the sight as I stared in disbelief. I swallowed hard thinking of what to do next. My mind was racing. I can run. No, no, no. You can’t leave Dusty behind. I’ll go for the note! But what if that man, if that’s what it would be called at this point, comes to get me. I have to decide. Run? No. Hide? I can’t! I mustered up the strength and took my first step in the direction of the note. The floor sang a song of creaks and moans as I stepped. I hoped it was muffled enough not to attract the attention of the man. I grasped the flashlight with both hands to help my hands from trembling. Fear had struck me and I was breaking out in a cold-sweat, my heart throbbing in my gut as I walked. The note was now only about a foot away so I decided to reach out for it. My hand shook as I inched toward the note that lied on the plate. The plate was freezing cold as my fingertips brushed against it. I saw a shadow quickly shift over my hand and I retracted making sure to grab the note as I did so. My heart was still pounding and I was beginning to worry about going into cardiac arrest. Holding the flashlight in my mouth I unfolded the note. On the note was a paragraph that seemed to be written very hastily. The handwriting was sloppy and it was nearly illegible. If you’re reading this note I’m already dead. You must leave the house as soon as possible or you too will suffer the same fate. I thought he would get better as time went on but I was wrong. The newspapers didn’t know the whole story because I didn’t tell them; I didn’t want others to hear about what he was really doing here. He was never sick, never needed my care. I told the papers that just so they would leave me alone. They were searching for a breaking news story and I refused to give it to them. It was very hard to hide the bruises and cuts but I managed. All he ever wanted was another slave. He did me in just like his wife before he beat her to death. He was a sick, sadistic man with an unimaginable amount of strength. In his final months, though, he had become weak and I knew that was when I would end this hell on earth; this real life nightmare. It was Halloween night in 1989 when I did it. I found the rat poison under the cabinet and stirred it in with his liquor. He never saw it coming. After just two sips the glass dropped to the floor shattering into many tiny pieces. He held his throat, coughing and gagging trying to make it over to me before falling at my feet. He reached up to try and pull me down but the life drained out of him too soon. That was it; he was dead and I was free. I didn’t know what to do with the body so I just hid it upstairs in the master bedroom’s dresser. I couldn’t drag him and bury him; I was too weak. I was free; or so I thought. About a month later I figured his body would be a bit lighter so I decided to bury him in the back yard. The color drained from my face when I saw the dresser was opened and there was no body; footprints led from the dresser to the door leading downstairs. To this day I still haven’t found him; however, he must still be in the house. I hear the bumps and cracks of this house only caused by the weight of someone walking around. He isn’t walking, however. He is stalking. I can feel him in the night whenever I try to sleep and every morning when I wake up. He’s here and there is nothing we can do. I could see there was more to the note; however, the bottom was mostly covered in blood. I dropped the note to the floor when I heard a huge crash from upstairs. “Dusty!” I shouted and went full speed up the stairs. Upon reaching the top I was greeted with a hallway that had five doors. There were two on each side of the hallway and one more at the end of it. There was a bright light shining through the bottom of the door at the end. Instincts told me to go in; however, I was still shaken from the event that occurred only moments ago downstairs. I started the journey down the hall; my feet seemed to weigh a ton. The second floor was eerily cooler than the previous one. When my hot breath met the midnight air a large cloud of fog rolled from my lips and then dissipated as it rose. I was now halfway to the door and was contemplating leaving; with or without, Dusty. I saw two shadows moving around in the room and was taken aback by it. One seemed to be walking backwards and the other seemed to be getting dragged across the floor. I began to back up and leave then all the sudden from the room at the end of the hall I heard a loud BANG. “Dusty!” I yelled. Fear, and hate coursed through my veins and I booked it to the door. I wasn’t going to let this thing hurt my friend. I slammed my shoulder into the door, not even checking if it was locked. It flew open and the doorframe splintered a bit. I was taken by surprise when I stepped in. The room was completely empty except for a large bed against the far wall and the dresser that was beside me on the far wall. It was eerie to see this room in such pristine condition. The rest of the house was about to cave in, it seemed. The only thing that contrasted the cleanliness of the room was the muddy footprints leading out of the room from the dresser. How could there be footsteps leading out of the room? Still hidden by the masquerade of malice and hate I stomped over to the dresser to open to doors. When I opened them just the slightest something fell out on top of me. I hit the ground the hard and the breath was knocked out of me. After catching my breath I opened my eyes to see what had landed on me. Out of shock I pushed a large burlap sack off of me onto the floor. I got up to my feet and wiped myself off and began to examine this sack. It was about six feet long and had a strange shape to it. There was blood dripping from one end of the bag into a puddle that was beginning to form and permeate through the white carpet. I was getting very nervous at this point. I took a step towards the bag and I hear a loud moan, however, this moan wasn’t from the house; it came from the sack. My eyes widened and my vision was fixed on the sack. My breathing became heavy and labored. Another moan rang out; this time louder. I took a step back and whatever was inside the sack started to wiggle, and squirm. The moans now seized but were only followed ear-piercing screams of someone in complete anguish; enveloped in fear. They were manly screams; very deep and baritone. As the realness of the situation set in I realized who was in the sack. “Dusty! Are you in there?” I crouched down by the sack ready to open it as soon as I heard his voice from within. “It’s me, it’s me!” his voice was shaking and I could tell he had been crying. There was no telling how long he had been in there. “Alright, dude. Stay calm. I’m gonna get you out.” “Hurry, I can’t breathe!” My hands were trembling but I managed to untie the rope that held the bag shut and help Dusty crawl out. When he made it out he just laid on the floor trying to catch his breath. All the color that was once in his face was now gone. It was a pale white like that of a ghost. I examined him as he laid there and I could see the blood permeating through his jeans and even into the carpet under him. ”Dude, what happened to your leg?” I asked with honest concern. I pulled his pants leg back and I could see that something had snapped his ankle. The bone stuck out of and it was a strange contrast against the dark red of his blood. He took a deep inhale and spoke in a weak and scratchy voice. ”We have to get out of here man. This-thing- nearly killed me. It has black skin and cold, heartless eyes. He snatched me up and stuffed me in here. I tried to fight back but he was too strong. The nails on his fingers are like razors. I want to go home, Mitchell. I want to go home.” His voice began to shake and I could see the redness in his face caused by the screaming and crying. The fear that was developing in me was a type I had never experienced before. This wasn’t like seeing a spider in your bathroom or a snake in your backyard. That kind of thing was petty compared to this; this was true terror. I took my friend by the hand and with all the strength I could I muster I pulled him up to his feet. ”Ahh!” He screamed out in agony when pressure was put on his ankle. ”Lift your foot up and put your arm on my shoulder; I’ll get you out of here.” We walked slowly over to the door leading out of the bedroom. He was heavy and no matter how much he tried to help we still struggled to keep a steady pace. ”We’re almost there, dude. Just a few more steps and we’re out of this-” The door swung shut with a loud BANG! Strangely enough I wasn’t scared. The only emotion that filled my veins at this point was anger and hate. I didn’t let the fear take me over like before. I suppressed and stayed strong for my friend. “It’s just a few more steps. We can do this.” When we reached the door the same ominous feeling I felt downstairs fell back over me. I knew that thing was behind us waiting for the perfect time to strike. My hand was trembling and no matter how much I tried to suppress the fear it continued to fall upon me. The doorknob was in my hand and we were one step closer to getting out of this Hell on Earth. I turned it; locked. I couldn’t suppress the fear any longer. I tried wiggling the knob; I turned it back and forth in a desperate attempt to shake it loose. Click. The door opened into the long hallway I had once ventured through. I was relieved but that feeling; I couldn’t shake it. “Leaving so soon, are you?” A deep, hoarse voice came from behind me. It had to be him but there was no way. He was dead. I know he was. “Your friend is hurt. There is no way you can make it out of here. You might as well leave him and save yourself.” The words hit the heart of me. He was sadly right. There is no way we can get out of here. I have no way of sending Dusty to get help. This ethereal being that stood only a few feet behind me had powers that could kill us both. I wasn’t going to give up. I had to get me and Dusty through this. “I’m not leaving him here!” I shouted back over my shoulder, “I’m the one you sent the note to. Why did you take him?” I heard his crusted lips part as a sick smile flowed across his black, leathery face. “I knew it would get me closer to you. You would have left without him and you know it! You’re weak; a coward!” I could feel his cold breath travel all the way from the other side of the room. I couldn’t stay in this room any longer. I had to escape. I pulled Dusty up on my shoulder and whispered to him. “You have to try to run. It’s our only chance.” He looked up at me; his face was white from fear and he struggled to speak. “Let’s do this.” With a strong push from both of us we started running down the hall. Our strategy was to treat this like a three-legged race to keep as much weight as possible from Dustin’s foot. We made it about halfway down the hallway before we heard the man scream out at us. “You can’t leave!” All the doors on the hallway swung open and slammed shut repeatedly in unison. The sound thundered through the hallway and was nearly deafening. “You have to stay!” Dusty and I approached the stairs with the same look of touchiness and we were both breaking out in a cold sweat. I looked over at him and then behind to check the status on the monster that we had angered. There was no sign of him and all the doors had stopped slamming. It was quiet; you could hear a pin drop. I looked back at Dusty; he was panting, just as out of breath that I was; the sweat was dripped down our faces. “We just have to take one step at a time, dude.” I assured him. He nodded and we started down the stairs. I would get on the step and he would follow up as carefully as possible. The silence was more terrifying than anything I could imagine. The darkness was beginning to fade and the sun was peaking over the horizon. Have we really been here this long? We reached the bottom of the stairs and looked around at the lightly lit first floor. I could see the door from where we were standing. I let out a nervous chuckle and goofy smile. “Dusty! The door is right there! It’s just a few more steps.” I reassured him. He looked up and mimicked my goofy smile. He was panting hard and sweating. “What are we waiting for?” We were both smiling at each other before I decided our plan of action. “We will walk slowly to minimize noise. If we have to are you going to be able to run with me?” I looked at him with a worried look and a nervous, reassuring smile. He looked at the ground and sighed before he looked up and nodded. I felt very bad for him. I knew he was in pain and I could tell that he wanted to get out of the house as soon as I did. I decided to use the same “three-legged race” tactic we had used up stairs. Our movement was awkward and slow but it was our only way of getting the weight of Dustin’s leg. We were about halfway to the door when we heard it. “Did you really think it would be that easy?” That same raspy voice we heard just moments ago was now right behind us. I could feel his cold breath roll down my neck and send chills through my muscles the bone. His breath was rancid a smelled as if he teeth were rotting out. The voice dropped into a low whisper and I heard him intake a breath right by my ear. I closed my eyes and continued telling myself it wasn’t real. I could hear Dusty doing the same. “It’s lonely in the afterlife. I need a friend.” I felt his cold, leathery hand grab my shoulder. I screamed and instinct kicked in. I swung my fist back and the bare knuckles popped him in his jaw. “Ah,” he screamed out in pain and took a few steps back, “you little son of a bitch!” “This is our chance! Let’s run for the door!” We had perfected the motion by this point and although our movement was still a bit awkward we moved quickly. Just as we reached the door the voice roared out at us once again. “Not so fast!” With a lift of his hand a massive gust of wind swept through the forest and slammed the door shut hitting me in the nose and busting it open. The hit left me dazed and confused; everything was getting blurry and I felt weak. The grip I had around Dusty began to loosen and I started falling to the ground. Dusty reached out trying to grab me but it was no use. I hit the cold, hard floor with a loud THUD.I could hear someone screaming out but I sounded so distant. “Mitchell! Get up, Mitch!” The voice was echoing in my head and I was seeing double of the creature that was standing over me. “Come on get up!” The voice came again; this time it was louder. My vision was beginning to clear up and I could make out the voice; Dusty. I looked over to him; he was bending over to pick up an old floorboard. With a loud scream he swung it around and a rusty nail that stuck from it went straight into the creature’s eye. The monster stepped back and tripped over the coffee table falling to the floor; black goo oozed through his eye socket. “Come on while we still have the chance!” He reached out his hand and pulled me up to my feet. I was still a bit dizzy but threw my arm around him and we helped each other stay balanced. I reached for the brass knob and turned it; the door was unlocked and opened with a loud CREAK. The sun was just coming above the horizon and the light seemed almost ethereal as it shined through the trees. We stepped out on the porch and slammed the door behind us. Moving as quickly as possible we headed straight for the car. Dusty was limping and I could taste the blood that was dripping from my nose. When we reached the car I pulled out my keys, unlocked it and we loaded in like clowns. I jammed the key into the ignition and pushed it forward to start the car. The engine whined and vibrated until eventually turning on completely. “Hurry, Mitch!” I didn’t understand Dustin’s concern until I looked up from buckling my seatbelt. There, hidden in the shade of the trees was the epitome of fear. His eye was oozing the same black liquid and he had a look of pure hatred upon his face. I threw the car into reverse and slammed my foot on the gas. The tires shot of leaves, pine straw, and dirt before eventually gaining traction and moving us backwards. “Holy shit,” Dusty said aloud, “that’s insane.” Without taking my eyes off the trail behind us I asked what was going on. “He’s burning! The sunlight, it’s-it’s killing him!” I turned my head and saw the monster clawing at his body as smoke rolled off his appendages. I could hear his screams through my closed windows. “Good. Now let’s get the hell out of here.” After a little more reversing we reached the main road. We were finally out of that forest and we were safe. I looked over at Dusty and then down at his foot. The blood had stained his jeans and there was dirt, leaves, and pine needles all over it. “We need to get you to the hospital. We can figure out what to tell my mom there. What are you going to tell yours?” He was staring out the window watching the forest past him by. “The truth I suppose.” His answer was blunt and struck me as odd. How the hell would they believe him? He looked over at me with a grin on his face. “I’m kidding, dude. I’ll tell her I tried to skateboard.” We both shared a laugh; the first real one in the past day or two. The tone didn’t stay too happy for long, however. Dusty turned his head back to the window. “Dude, what if comes looking for us? Like, what if he made back into the house just in time?” I looked over at him in disbelief and awe. “Don’t say shit like that, dude! We could have fucking died tonight! Just be glad we made it out. He’s not coming out to get us; he’s dead. For God’s sake we saw him burning and screaming as we left!” I was a little heated; however, my answer didn’t seem to offend Dusty. He looked over at me and then turned to the window. “Yeah, you’re right. Sorry I brought it up.” I sighed. “It’s alright, dude. Don’t worry about it.” After about an hour long drive we reached the emergency room and were immediately taken back. As a few nurses took Dusty to x-rays I was put in my own room for further examination. A doctor with a clipboard walked in and began talking to me about how I got a broken nose. “It’s not severe,” he said, “but you will have two black eyes for a while. We are going to have to put the bone back in place. It’s going to be painful; however, it’s the best course of action. How did you say you go it again?” I had to lie to him. There’s no way he would have believe the truth. “After my friend hurt himself on my skateboard we immediately got in the car and headed here. As I was driving a deer ran across the road and I slammed on brakes.” “That caused you to hit your nose on the steering wheel, correct?” “Yes, sir.” “You’re a lucky one then. We had a guy come in here just a week ago with the same incident. The bone went straight into his brain and he was DOA.” I thought that was a strange way for a formal conversation to go but I shrugged it off and just acted accordingly. I shook my head as if in shock and he just nodded and turned to leave the room. “A nurse will bring your friend by after he if fitted for his cast and she will clean you up and give you information about getting how long your nose will take to heal up. I nodded, thanked him and he walked out of the room. I had a feeling this emergency room was no different than the others as far as how long it takes them to do things so I decided to watch some television as I waited for Dusty. After two episodes of American Dad, there was a knock on the door. “Come on in!” I called out. A cute, young nurse wheeled Dusty in on a wheel chair. His leg was propped up and he looked drained. I couldn’t blame him. I was too. “He’s going to rest in here while we wait on the word about his cast.” She pulled the chair beside the bed I was sitting on and locked the wheels in place and then left without another word. “You alright, man?” He looked over at me, acknowledging my voice. “Yeah I’m doing alright I guess. My foot is really messed up though. You got your cell on you? I need to call my mom and let her know what’s going on and where I’m at.” “Yeah I got it right here.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone; a small note fell out with it. Our faces turned as white as the sheets I was sitting on. “Please tell me that’s the note from your locker.” I reached for the note and slowly unfolded it. Both of us were anxious and scared to see what was on the paper. There were only four sentences written in cursive on the very middle of the paper. You have vanquished the evil from his house. Your will power, quick thinking, and brute strength did not go unnoticed. Even though I was not there to see that bastard fall, I know I can now rest in peace. Thank you, Mitchell and Dustin. We both looked at each other and let out an enormous sigh of relief. Just like the previous note there was a blood stain that seemed to permeate through it. We brushed it off as nothing. “I guess it really is over, huh?” Dusty said. “Yeah I guess so. That is until our parents see the bill from this place.” We laughed aloud and shared friendly shove. “Alright, give me the phone. I really need to call my mom.” “Oh, yeah; here you go.” I handed Dusty my phone and he dialed his house number. It rang twice before someone picked up. It sounded like it may have been his dad. The voice was deep and baritone. “Hey. I got in a skateboarding accident and Mitchell and I are at the emergency room.” The voice came through but I couldn’t make out any words. “Yeah I’m fine. I’m getting a cast in a little bit. I’ll be home before dinner hopefully. I love you, bye.” He hung the phone up and handed it back to me. “You should probably call your mom, too.” I nodded my head and began dialing. “Hello?” My mom’s voiced shot through my phones speaker loud enough for Dusty to hear it. “Where the hell are you? I stayed up until two a.m. waiting for you! You better have an explanation!” After about ten minutes I convinced her that we came in late and tried not to wake her up. When she believed that I just told her about the “skating” accident that happened this morning. I also gave her the same excuse about my nose that I gave the doctor. “Well, okay; as long as you’re both fine.” I started to hang up but she called my name out. “Yeah?” I said. “When you get here can you leave your keys on the kitchen table for me? I think I’m gonna hold onto them for a while.” I let out a huge sigh and surrendered to her request. After the conversation I hung up the phone and let out a loud ugh out of exhaustion and aggravation. After I dropped Dusty off at his house and helped him up the steps I headed back to my house. I couldn’t help but replay the events that had just occurred all in one night. The afternoon sun was high in the sky and was beating down hard. I pulled into my driveway and was greeted by a very worried and caring mom. ”Mitchell, are you okay? How’s your nose? How’s Dusty?” I felt like I was being interrogated by the police. She wasn’t more than a foot away from my face while she asked me all these questions. ”Mom, I’m fine. We’re fine.” I reached in my pocket and pulled out my car keys, ”Here you go. If you need me I’ll be in my room. I really need some rest.” I walked up the driveway, into the porch and into the house. Upon entering I was greeted by my favorite Mainecoon, Missy. I reached down and petted her soft fur as she purred loudly. ”Hey, girl. Did you miss me?” I scooped her up and headed to my room, ”It’s time for a cat nap.” I said jokingly. I entered my room and shut the door behind me; everything was normal. I’m not sure why I expected different. I shook my head, let out a huge sigh before lying down in my bed. I could only imagine that Dusty must be doing the same. I closed my eyes and thought to myself, that was one hell of a weekend, before drifting off to sleep. I was woken up to the alarm from my phone cutting through the silence and belching out that obnoxious sound. I rolled over groaning and grabbed my phone. After turning off the alarm I threw my phone on my bed with a big yawn. Even though I had slept from the point I got home I still felt very exhausted. I begrudgingly lifted myself from my bed and headed to the bathroom on the other side of my room. The bathroom floor was cold and goose bumps spread all over my body. I turned on the hot water and got it to the desired temperature and then headed to my closet for some clothes. I found a shirt, underwear and, socks but no jeans. After putting the clothes I did find on my bed I walked through my house to get a pair of jeans from the dryer. The house was dark and very little light was shining in through the windows from the sunrise outside. When I reached the dryer a strange chill fell over me. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and I became more alert of my surroundings. My eyes were beginning to adjust just as I crouched down to the dryer. Without thinking I reached in and grabbed the first pair of jeans I saw and then headed back to my room and jumped in the shower. The entire time I was showering I couldn’t help but think about that man. His skin was so dark and unnatural. Every time I closed my eyes I saw his face. He had a large grin across his face from ear to ear and his yellow, rotting teeth showed through his crusted lips. He lets out a maniacal laugh and mouths the words you will always be my friend. I stepped out of the shower and dried of then started getting dressed. There was a knock at my bathroom door and I jumped. It seemed silly but I was still bit paranoid. ”Yeah?” I called out from the bathroom. ”The bus is going to be here soon,” my mom said, ”don’t be late.” I always hated riding the bus. It was loud and most of the kids on their were freshmen who thought they were all that. I finished getting dressed and slipped my shoes on, grabbed my backpack, and I Pod then headed out the room. I met up with my mom in the living room. She had a strange look on her face. She was smiling but it just didn’t seem normal. All she did was stand there in the middle of the living room with this almost sadistic smile on her face without speaking a word. Her pupils were dilated and they almost covered her entire iris. ”Are you okay, mom?” There was a shakiness in my voice as I spoke. This was just too weird. She still just stood there not saying a word with the fucking grin on her face. I was beginning to get hostile and started to yell. ”Mom! What the hell is wrong with you? Say something!” I began to shake her desperate to get any reaction. ”Mom!” I continued screaming and yelling but it all seemed futile. I heard the bus pass by my house but I didn’t care. I wasn’t leaving until I heard her say something; anything. Her evil grin finally surrendered and I saw her lips move slightly. She spoke barely over a whisper. I leaned in closer hoping out make out something. The words seemed familiar but it took me a few seconds to make it out. ”You will always be my friend.” I retreated back and stumbled onto the couch. My eyes grew wide and my heart began to lunge itself back and forth into my diaphragm. I could feel my blood run cold. All the sudden my own house seemed strange and unsafe. “Mom?” I managed to stutter out of my fear. She wasn’t speaking, blinking, or moving. I got to get out of here. I ran into the kitchen pushing my mom the side. She hit the floor hard and I felt terrible but deep inside I knew it wasn’t her. After snatching my keys off the kitchen table I booked back into the living room and out the front door. The morning chill sent a rush through my entire body but I tried to ignore it. I unlocked my car, jumped in and jammed the key into the ignition; luckily it started right up. I threw it into reverse and stepped on the gas. When my rear bumper reached the road I swung it around and headed to school. That was the only place I knew to go. “Everything will be fine when I get home,” I said thinking out loud, “hopefully.” I parked my car, locked it and headed straight to the school house. I didn’t want to talk to anyone and take the chance of hearing those words or seeing that smile again. I knew Dusty wouldn’t be at school for a while but I don’t think I could even look him in the eyes. As I walked I felt like a veteran of war. Flashes of that night kept repeating through my head. That maniacal laugh and repulsive grin flashed like an evil strobe light each time I closed my eyes. The commons that held most of the students was peppy and nearly deafening. I shoved and pushed my way through the crowd to make it to the red tape that was on the floor. Students couldn’t go past this point but I just needed to escape that claustrophobic environment. Sweat was rolling down my brow and I was breathing heavily. I just wanted to escape these thoughts. I wanted to eradicate the memories from that night. The bell yelled through the speakers and I started to push myself forward. My body felt heavy and my movements were sluggish. All I have to do was get through the day and I’ll be fine. The stairs were my worst enemy at this point and it took all I could muster up just to get up to the second floor to get to my locker. The halls were nothing more than a copy of the commons downstairs. The halls were just as loud and it unsettled me. I just wanted to be alone in silence. My hands were shaking and it took three tries to open my locker when I did my heart stopped for a second. No note. I sighed loudly and grabbed my Algebra II book from my backpack before shoving the bag into my locker. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply before heading off to first period. The entire time I was walking I worried about falling asleep in class and having a nightmare, or seeing that horrid face on someone else. I just kept my head down and headed in.After the classroom filled up and everyone took their seats and quieted down the teacher started to give instructions. “Everyone turn to page 211. We’re going to be doing the quadratic formula today.” I was halfway listening and didn’t really want to do anything. To be honest the only reason I was here was to escape my mom. I still worried about her. Hopefully she didn’t get hurt when she fell. Flipping open my book with one hand I wiped the sweat off my brow with the other; when I reached page 211 I thought I was going to faint. There’s no way. This can’t be real. No. There right in the middle of the book in between the pages was a small, dirty, folded piece of paper. All the sound drained out of the room and I looked around to make sure everyone was still here. Everyone was just watching the teacher speak while he wrote on the board. They were jotting down notes and everything seemed—normal. However, when I looked back at the book the note was still there. My hands were shaky, my heart pounded, and sweat rolled down my cheeks and the bridge of my nose. I reached and picked it up. I tried to think up some rational explanation but my mind was far from being rational at this point. I unfolded the note. It was stained with dirt and little bits of crumbled leaves fell from it when each fold opened. The final fold would reveal it all. My heart dropped. On the paper in giant letters were the words, “You can’t escape. You will always be my friend.” All the sound in the room rushed back into my eardrums. “Mitchell,” the teacher called out, “are you okay? Would you like to call home?” Everyone looked at me like I had completely lost and I felt like I had. I ignored his request and bolted from my seat leaving everything at my desk and ran out the door. I couldn’t deal with this any longer. I had to rid myself of this. My moves were spastic and I’m sure I scared the few people in the hallway with the sweat dripping from my face and the heavy breathing, but I didn’t care. I made it downstairs and headed through the commons out to the front of the school. The cold air cooled the sweat on my face and my hot breath rolled out of my mouth on a large cloud of fog. I took a second to catch my breath until the visions returned. Shaking my head violently I began to run to the parking lot to find my car. When I reached it I yanked the keys out of my pocket, opened the door and jumped in. I shoved the key into the ignition and started it up. Throwing it reverse I was a bit nervous to turn around and guide myself. As silly as it sounded I didn’t want to come face to face with that thing hiding in the back seat. I retreated to the rearview mirror and used it to guide me. After backing out straightened up my wheel and headed out of the parking lot. My body didn’t know where I was headed but my brain and heart did. I had to rid myself of all those memories. I had to drive for a while but I passed right by my house and headed straight for 451 Wagon Run Road. I saw the opening and slowed down as I approached it so I could turn in. Even the brightness of the morning sun was drowned out from all the tall ominous foliage. I took my car all the way down there this time. When I reached it I couldn’t do anything but sit there for a few minutes. I was taken back from the sight of this house. It looked like nothing more than an abandoned building but I knew the evil that his inside there. I reached in my pocket and pulled out my zippo. I looked at the silver casing. It reflected like a mirror and it was at this moment where I saw myself. My eyes were bloodshot and wide. I looked back up the house one more time before I stepped out of my car and headed to the house. I swung the front door open and looked around the house. The house looked the same as it did last night. Everything was out-dated and drained of all color. Fear was still in my veins but remembering what he did to Dusty masqueraded that with a stronger emotion; hatred. As I walked through the living room I flipped over the coffee table, broke all the legs off and set them up in a pile. I ripped the fabric from the couch and threw it onto the pile along with the cotton that spewed from the loose seams. The images continued to flash through my head but that only fueled me to continue this justifiable vandalism. I threw the couch cushions onto the pile and then continued on into the dining room. Using the same idea I ripped off the tablecloth then flipped the table and began to break apart the legs. The wood splintered and the nails flew out of the wall when I ripped down the drapes. Satisfied with what I had done I turned to the stairs leading to the second floor. It felt as if I was in a trance. It was like I wasn’t myself. I shook the feeling and continued my voyage to the second floor. When I reached the top of the stairs I was greeted with the same ominous sight as before. The only door that had a light on was the bedroom. My anger continued to hide my fear and continued to the room. The door creaked and hit the wall that stood behind it. I looked into this room and all was just as I had last seen it. The footprints were on the floor and the same sack that once held my best friend lied just across from me in front of the dresser which stood; its doors wide open. I took a few steps into the room and kept a vigil out for anything unusual. My plan was simple; start the fire upstairs and then continue downstairs. That’s the only way I knew to do away with these dreadful memories. I stopped in front of the bed, crouched down and sparked up my lighter. The smell of lighter fluid filled my nostrils and the fire gave of its residual heat. I stared at the flame with almost a lustful eye. This single flame would be my saving grace, my ticket have a mind that is no longer taunted. I slid the flame under the bed skirt and the fine silk lace went up in a blaze. I stood up and backed away to bask in the beauty; however, as I backed away I bumped into something. It was sturdy and stood tall. I hoped and prayed it was a wall. My heartbeat began to speed up as I felt that familiar cold breath roll across my neck. “I knew you would return.” The voice sounded just as terrifying as the first time my ears were punished with it. “Good friends always come back.” The fire was now all around the bed and was traveling up the sides of the bed. I knew that all I needed to do was make it outside and I could escape this horror. I could watch this house of Hell burn in the flames it was once spawned from. I gritted my teeth and spoke through them. “I’ll never be your friend.” I sent my elbow flying into his ribs with as much force that a teenage boy could muster and heard him cough and double-over. I turned the full one hundred and eighty degrees and faced him. It felt good to finally see him in real pain. I could see now that he was nothing more than a human just as I was. I swept my foot under his ankles and sent him plunging to the floor below my feet. I felt dominate and basked in the glory for a moment before hearing the fire swoosh as it engulfed the entire bed. The door was only feet away so I jumped over the man and headed straight to it. As I exited the room I heard him scream and curse my name. “Get back here you little, shit,” he yelled, “I’ll kill you!” I was halfway down the stairs when I felt him grab my shoulder, spin me around and grabbed me by the throat. “I told you that you can never leave!” His eyes were as black as tar and his grip was tightening. My feet lifted off the ground and vision began to blur. All the clawing, scratching, and kicking I did was futile; however I had one more idea. I heard a loud crash from the other side of the house and I knew that the bed had fallen through the floor. I only had one chance. I reached into my pants pocket and flicked my zippo open. Holding it up between us I turned the flint wheel; the lighter clicked, sparked and then generated a flame between the two of us. His eyes grew wide and I shoved the flame to his face. He screamed out in agony and released his grip to tend to the burning flesh. I fell back and tumbled the rest of the way to the first floor. The lighter landed on the floor next to me and the flame still burned. I jumped to my feet and scooped it up and ran to the dining room table. Turning back I saw that he was still screaming in agony and yelling out every curse known to man. I fashioned a torch from a table leg and the drapes. He looked up at me now. A look of disbelief and worry fell over him. “What are you doing with that?” His bony finger pointed to the torch I held in my hand; the flames danced to an unheard song and radiated heat with each flare. I said nothing to him and simply threw the torch his way with all my might. The torch struck him in the chest and caused him to fall back onto the stairs. He was beginning to be engulfed in flames so I took this opportunity to run to the living room start the final fire. As he screamed out in pain and hatred I could feel the heat radiating from his burning body; he was getting closer, I had to hurry. I grabbed a handful of cotton from the couch and lit it in my hand. The cotton flared up a blistered the tips of my fingers slightly. My hand retracted in pain and the cotton fell to the couch cushions below. A similar flare followed and I turned to face my enemy one more time. A raging ball of flames was running toward me and I did what instincts told me to do; I turned and ran. Busting through the front door onto the porch I stumbled and fell into the dead leaves that had fallen through the autumn season. Dirt and mud smeared across my shirt and jeans as I slid. Not wasting any time I scurried back up to my feet and hurried to my car. Swinging open the door dived into the car and started it up. The engine sputtered and started up; the man came running out of the house cursing my name. As he ascended the stairs off the porch he stumbled and fell to the hard ground that was covered with the dry leaves of the trees. Leaves around him began to burn and I threw the car in reverse then began retreating. After backing up a bit I turned my head around to make sure I was alone. The man lie there on the ground motionless. I felt no remorse or empathy. All I was doing was protecting myself; my friend.I continued backing up until I reached the road. From there I called Dusty. “Hello?” “Dude! I’ve done it. I’ve beat him.” I didn’t notice the excitement in my voice. “What are you talking about? Why aren’t you at school?” “You sound like my mom.” I joked, “Listen, this morning some weird shit happened. That guy we saw in the house took over my mom or something. She said something that only he would know and she had this maniacal grin.” I stopped to catch my breath and Dusty took the chance to interrupt. “Slow down, dude. What are you doing now? What do you mean you beat him?” He sounded worried. I laughed a little. “I beat him. I burned that house to the ground with him in it. You know what this means? We’re set free! We don’t have to deal with the nightmares any longer. He’s dead.” Silence commenced and then the line went dead. I looked down at my phone just as the backlight went out. I saw my reflection in my screen. I looked pale and my black eyes looked sunken into my skull. My cheeks were beginning to sink into my face as well; I looked malnourished. The smoke was billowing from the tops of the trees and I heard the sirens in the distance. I dropped my phone on the ground and began crying. “I had just escaped.” I said to myself. “I escape from one nightmare just to live through another one.” The police car and fire truck stopped in front of me and they commenced to their duties. The firemen ran down the forest with a fire hose and the police man ran up to me. “Are you okay? Do you know what happened here?” I looked up at him through my tears and mumbled to him. “I won. The fire will set me free.” My voice was shaking as I spoke. “Did you start this fire, boy?” His tone of concern quickly turned to anger. “Did you?” My head fell back down and I stared the concrete below me. “Yes.” I mumbled. He stood up and called it into the station to let them know they had found the culprit. He reached down and pulled me up from the ground and began to read me my rights as he cuffed me. My court case was a quick one and I plead guilty knowing there was no way I could go free. My parents still don’t understand what happened and they refuse to listen to my story. Dusty knows what we saw in that house and I suppose me and him are the only two that ever will. I’m not sure if he believes me, however, I did find out he was the one who called the police. He was a true friend so I think he was only doing what was best. Then again, maybe he thinks I’m crazy just as my parents do. I refused to take the insanity plea because I know I’m not. Am I? I will have plenty of time to think about this I suppose. Loneliness is really the worst part. My parent’s quit visiting and Dusty can only come when he isn’t bombarded with school work. Lucky for me this journal the prison has given me with keeps the bad thoughts of my past at bay. The therapy I’ve been going to has really seemed to help as well. The only thing I find strange is that the therapist swears that the police never found the body of any man. I refuse to believe such a lie! I know he is dead; I watched him burn. Perhaps she is the crazy one. Damn, there’s that smell again. I smell it all the time, however; I can never pinpoint it. I suppose I’ll ask the guard later if anyone has been burning anything within the vicinity of the jail house. It’s not a pleasant smell; more of a stench really. the familiarity of it is shocking. I know I’ve smelled it somewhere–maybe I’m just fabricating memories.
Original Author: DustyDavis