I wrote this story my sophomore year of highschool. It is all based on real events except for the end, which I wanted to be happier than it would have been had it been exactly true.
A calm stream, trickling softly over jagged rocks… I sighed with pleasure as the cool water flowed down my arm, its touch like that of an angel. The only light was the thin beam that shone in under the room door, illuminating the puddle on the floor. I could see my dark reflection staring up at me from that other world, somewhere between heaven and our own. He was crying tears of joy that created little resonating waves of happiness, visible to the earthly observer.
“This is unreal.” I said blissfully, choking on my joy like it was poison.
“I told you, Troy.” said Fred, smiling his I-told-you-so smile. Fred was my best friend. He was trustworthy. He never taunted me for being myself. He was just the best. Fred had always backed me up through the good times and the bad, ever since I’d met him two years ago.
Before high school I would always convince myself that I was innocent, kind and honest. Troy: the nicest kid around and the perfect home-schooler. That’s what everyone would say about me, smiling when they saw I was listening. I would laugh inwardly every time… partly because I enjoyed the praise and partly because I knew it wasn’t true.
My friends all lived close by. I didn’t exactly get out much in those days… there was nowhere to go, no one interesting to see… nothing to do outside of my little, 3-mile-radius home school world. It got boring sometimes. It got so boring that one year my friends and I decided to spice things up a little bit. ‘Nothing bad.’ We all agreed. ‘Let’s meet up, at midnight, once a week. Just for fun.’ So we did. Once a week, at midnight sharp, we would roam the streets, treading softly and pretending to be ninjas on a mission to assassinate some unknown, middle-eastern tyrant. “Watch out for the spotters!” I would always say, referring to the dim, green circles cast on the ground by streetlights. I was 12 years old at the time.
One rainy, February night, everything went completely awry. As we walked carefully down the street, we noticed a faint humming sound followed by two bright, pupil-less eyes that glared at us mercilessly. They had found us. Someone shouted “scatter!” and off we went, caught up in the moment and the thrill of finally being discovered. I ran without thinking until my legs could no longer carry me farther, down alleys, over fences, through bushes, still careful to avoid the lights.
I stopped, panting, the rain chilling me to the bone in the frigid winter breeze. I looked up to survey my surroundings carefully before making my next move, as per ninja protocol. But the ninja very quickly disintegrated into the little boy named Troy when he realized he had no idea where he was. I turned slowly in a circle, hoping to find something recognizable. After a few moments, I finally admitted it to myself, in a whisper: “I’m lost.” I blinked a few times, with intent, vaguely hoping that the image in front of me would become replaced by somewhere familiar. Everything became blurry. “You’re lost.” The words were written on the stop sign, reflected in the puddles, shouted out to me through the car horns: “You’re lost.” I realized I was crying. My legs felt weak and I awkwardly brought myself down to hug my knees, drenched in rain. I shut my eyes, trying to think and decide what to do next, but my thoughts were constantly interrupted by a deep voice. I couldn’t hear what it was saying at first… “Waffles and fries?” “Awful to lie?”
“Open your eyes… open your eyes.” I did as I was told.
And there was Fred, smiling his I-told-you-so smile, reaching out his hand like an angel sent to guide me home. That is exactly what he did. In essence, it was what he had always done for me whenever I felt down… or lost.
Two years later, there I was in my room with the lights out, Fred grinning down at me. “Troy!” I heard my mother calling from downstairs. “Troy, are you up there?”
“Clean this up.” Fred said quietly. I grabbed the towel hanging on the closet door for this very purpose and mopped up the puddle on the floor, then quickly threw on a hoodie and leaped onto my bed.
“Troy?” my mother said again, being a rather repetitive person. She deftly opened my room door and flipped on the lights. ‘Oops.’ I thought, frustrated. ‘The lights.’ I stared blankly at the ceiling, ignoring mom’s suspicious eyes.
“What’s going on?” She asked. “I thought you were having a friend over?”
“Yah.” I said, keeping my eyes glued to the ceiling. “Me and Fred were just hanging out. What’s the big deal?”
“Fred and I.” She corrected me. “And I wasn’t making a big deal out of anything. I would like to know who Fred is, though. You keep on talking about him and I’ve still never met him.”
I shrugged, glancing around surreptitiously, surprised to see Fred gone. This was the first time I’d actually had him over. I thought today I would introduce him. “I guess he left.” I said quietly.
My mom just shook her head. “Sometimes I worry about you, love.” She said. “Come down for dinner, I made you pasta. And leave the lights on, please.” She left, leaving the door slightly open. I sighed and rolled out of bed, wincing a little at a pain in my arm. I groaned when I saw a stain on the wood floor, thankful that my mother had not seen it.
As I ran to get a wet rag and came back to clean up more thoroughly, I almost fell. The world flipped upside-down for a split second before twirling me back up in a flash of light. I blinked a couple of times, trying to clear my eyes and my head as I scrubbed the floor. That weird pain in my arm began to throb. “Troy.” said a deep, whispery voice from behind me. I glanced back quickly. There was no one there. “Troy.” Louder, in front of me. I fearfully twisted my head back around. Nothing but the wall. “Troy… Troy…” I kept my head down, whimpering, scrubbing harder than ever. Liquid was oozing out of the floor, spreading out over the whole room, drenching me and bubbling up to splatter in my eyes. “Troy…”
“Shut up.” I whispered, closing my eyes. “Please shut up.” My hand slipped and I fell face first into the liquid… straight through the floor, into a freezing, dark sea, where I floated helplessly and unable to move. “Troy…” I wanted to scream at the voice to leave me alone, but there was no air. I felt a hand reach down and grab mine. An icy-cold, bony hand, like the hand of Satan. The last thing I remember is being jerked up violently through the pitch black. “Troy…” Then there was silence.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
“These symptoms are indicative of mental trauma and intense adolescent stress.” says Dr. Child in his choir-of-hell monotone, as my mother nods and gives me sympathetic looks. “It could simply be an episode, a way for the mind to cope with the emotional distress of some past event. It could also be something much more serious, I’m afraid…” I stop listening.
‘This is unbelievable.’ I thought to myself, frowning inwardly. ‘The dumb quack thinks I’m crazy! Dr. Child…’ I shook my head, inwardly again. ‘Sounds like “codename: pedophile” to me.’ I chuckled and my mom gave me a sad look. It must have been a bad time.
As the adults droned on, I occupied myself with a drawing of a brontosaurus on the wall, right above Dr. Child’s head. It was a large drawing, colored deep red (almost maroon). The dinosaur had a stupid smile on its face that I recognized from somewhere. Its head was pointed up towards a clock, as if it were trying to read the time… I heard the clock ticking and subconsciously began to bob my head to the beat. The brontosaurus began to count, “1… 4… 17… 2… 6…” I didn’t blame it for being a little off; it was just a dinosaur after all. “7… 9… 11…” I traced the numbers quickly with my finger through the air as I heard them. “3… 21…” Dr. Child and my mom were looking at me. Their mouths were moving but I couldn’t hear anything except for the brontosaurus’ terrible counting skills. “90… 73… 42…” Mom looked a little angry with me. ‘I can’t hear you.’ I thought, a little glumly. But the counting suddenly stopped.
“Did you hear what Dr. Child said, Troy?” I heard mom ask, as she reached out to grasp my hands. There were tears in her eyes. “Are you alright with the tests, honey?”
“They won’t hurt.” said Dr. Child apathetically. “They won’t take long. It’s very important that we make sure before beginning medication.”
“Make sure of what?” I asked quietly.
My mom looked confusedly at Dr. Child. “Weren’t you listening, dear?” she said softly, gripping my hands more tightly. “There might be a… a problem with your brain. Dr. Child is not sure, but he’s afraid that you might have-“
“6… 8… 14… 18….” I felt my mother’s hands slip out of my own as she covered her face with them. That conversation was getting boring anyway
* * * * * * * * * * * *
A bright, white light. Not bright like close-your-eyes bright… just illuminating. And white men as well, all around me, whispering words that brushed over my ears like a breeze. I cannot see them very well. They blend in with the all-white backdrop. “Troy…” I hear them say. “Troy…” Their faces become clearer… wait, those are masks. All I can see is their eyes, most of them bright blue like the sky. One of them has a pair of green eyes. He motions for the rest of them to leave, then turns to look straight at me. He removes the mask.
“Hi Fred.” I say.
“Hi Troy.” Fred is frowning his I-told-you-so frown. “Why did you let them do it? Why did you let them tear us apart?”
I shut my eyes. “I don’t know what you mean.” I say softly. “I really don’t.”
“Yes, you do, Troy.” Fred says, a touch of anger tainting his calm voice. “You let these men kill me.”
“I didn’t know.” I say, shaking my head slowly. “It all happened so fast.”
My eyes shoot open in surprise when Fred grips my throat and draws a knife, his face twisting into a raging, grotesque form. “You left!” he screams. “You left, Troy!”
“Shut up!” I scream back, pulling his hand off my neck. “Leave me alone, Fred!”
“I’ll be back, Troy! You know I will!”
And then everything turns blood-red.
It has been four years since that day. I haven’t seen Fred since then. Occasionally I can still hear that brontosaurus counting, still see the liquid oozing up from cracks in the ground. Apart from that, life is just a dream of normality. I walk through it with no great degree of caution, knowing that one day I’ll wake up. That’s when Fred will return, smiling his I-told-you-so smile, holding a knife behind his back.