It's a darker tale and may not be for everyone . . .
I looked out the window and along the laneway watching the fireflies dart back and forth through the trees. A calming breeze drifted through the window rustling the curtains, leaving a chill on my skin. The air was crisp but invigorating and I felt like I could go out and run about 5 miles without batting an eye. I dared not though as the beauty of the twilight was deceiving.
With my eyes shut I could hear the rain begin to fall and I heard a howling sound off in the distance. I shut and locked the windows, drawing the drapes across, then crawled into bed.
Some time passed when suddenly, without warning, the entire house shook. I bolted straight up in bed and looked at the clock - It was flashing 12:30 am, the power had gone out. I glanced at my wrist watch which read 3:15 am.
In the distance I heard a loud crash and glass breaking. Someone or something was in the house. The flashing of the clock provided my only source of light and in a moment it went out. I sat in complete and terrifying darkness.
The floor in the hallway creaked and I immediately felt that I needed to run – but where! I sat frozen in place, listening as the creaking sounds came closer and closer until it stopped just outside my room.
My mind was flooded with ideas of what to do or where to run. I was paralyzed with fear, until the house shook once again.
The lights flickered and everything around me began to crack and heave. The bed lurched forward and I was thrown to the floor just as it began to give way. There was no where for me to go, but down. Everything went black.
My eyes flashed open and immediately cinched shut again, as the glaring light filled the room. Hesitantly I opened my eyes again and memories of what had happened the night before flooded back. I was struck with terror. Where was the intruder who had been outside my bedroom door? My eyes darted everywhere but all I could see was destruction.
There were broken pieces of wood and glass along with a whole assortment of my personal belongings all mingled together in what had become a mash up of the main floor and the basement. Even though I sat among this destruction, I myself felt fine – other than fear over where the intruder had gone. I shifted my weight and shoved my mattress slightly aside so that I could sit up. I swept a hand across my forehead to wipe away the sweat I cold feel running down my cheek. To my surprise it was blood from a cut at my hairline. I traced my fingers over it and pulled out a small piece of glass that must have been from the window in my room. The one I had been looking out of only hours before. As I wiped away the blood with the sheet from the bed I noticed that the air was just as crisp and invigorating as it had been last night. It gave me the strength and courage to climb out of the rubble. I stood in the spot near where my window had been and looked back down on what I used to call a home. I saw nothing of the intruder and assumed that he or she must be buried in crumbled house. Hopefully they were buried enough that they would be unable to get out, at least until I was able to get some safe distance away.
I turned my back on my former home and looked to the laneway. There were no fireflies at this time, only blinding sun.
A rustling noise alerted me back to the destruction of the house. The intruder was on the move.
Retreating back behind a tree, I watched in silence, waiting to see the terrifying figure that had stalked my home the night before. My fears were solidified as the being was more horrible that I had imagined. Struggling to stand and find its bearings the being stood at about 4 feet tall. The innocence of its appearance was its greatest weapon as it usually left its victims completely defenceless and therefore open to its attack. It ran under the shadow of another nearby tree. Sunlight left these beings dazed as it burned their skin and blurred their vision.
The being turned swiftly as if something in the distance caught its attention. A small dog from the house down the lane had gotten loose and it approached the being with a sense of familiarity, its tail wagging excitedly. It was drawn to the beings deceitful innocence and in a moment it was no more. I turned away in horror.
My neighbours’ house was just up the lane, about 200 feet or so. I couldn’t see for the rolling hills and trees, but I decided to try and make my way there. The being was still busy with its breakfast as I inched my way in the opposite direction trying to keep cover among the trees.
As I made my way over the first hill I could see my neighbours home clearly. I couldn’t see any other living thing, which made me feel safe and I decided to make a run for it. I took one last glance in the direction of the being and its prey. My body went numb and I gasped - the being was gone. Only the lifeless dissected remains of the neighbours’ dog were left behind.
Frantically I looked in every direction and ran for the front door of the house. Everything seemed eerily still, except for me as I ran. Leaves and twigs crunched under my feet, my heart pounded and my mind raced.
There was still no sign of the being as I came up to the door and grabbed a hold of the handle.
“Daddy?!” called a voice inquisitively from behind me. I pushed through the door and turned to see my daughter smiling a devilish blood stained grin. She was standing several feet away, at a point where the driveway met the road.
I instinctively slammed the door shut and braced my body against it as I tried desperately to catch my breath.
“I love you Daddy, let me in. The light it hurts
” Said a small voice from the mail slot below. me.
I turned the latch on the lock and ran for the kitchen at the back of the house. These neighbours, I knew, had a panic room in their basement. They were prepared for every attack that the beings made.
I took the basement stairs in two steps. The door to the protected room was closed and locked, meaning that someone had to be inside. I pounded on the door, loudly whispering “It’s me Nathan, your neighbour. Let me in. Please let me in!”
A small scope extended from the top of the door and angled down toward my face, then scanned the room and stairs behind me. In a moment it was gone and the door slid open.
I wasn’t yet in the panic room, just a holding area. After the door closed behind me I was given entry to the inner sanctum.
“We warned you that you wouldn’t be safe.” Said my neighbour Sam as he sat on a chair next to his wife Becky. Becky said nothing; she just sat staring at the floor, a single tear rolling down her cheek.
“I’m sorry that I didn’t believe you.” I nodded toward Sam.
“No one wants to believe that their child is an animal.” He paused. “A monster.” He rephrased.
How did we get to this point I thought to myself. All a parent wants is what is best for their children. We want to make them happy, keep them safe. Now we, the parents, needed to be kept safe from out own children.
For years parents had been giving in to every little thing – we spoiled our children letting them play more and more computer and video games. Their eyes grew weaker and smaller. The slightest bit of sunlight burned their skin so badly that bandages had to be applied.
One day all the video, TV. and computer screens went blank. The children’s eyes widened and they peered in even closer. Suddenly colours, images and sounds began to play. Blinding and deafening to any adult eyes or ears.
Whatever it all was, it left our children only recognizable to us on the outside. Inside something so terrible had occurred, effecting a change so frightening that we knew our children were not our children anymore.
There were parents and others - grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends - who believed that the children were still in there, somewhere. So they continued to live with them, hoping that medication, discipline and love would bring them back. Those people did not survive.
The rest of us either locked up our children or set them outside. My neighbour and I chose to place our children loose outside hoping that maybe the sunlight one day would somehow bring them back to us. We thought somehow this was more humane than locking them away in a cell to die.
Unfortunately the sun did not cure them. They just ran and would hide until the night came – then no one was safe.
My daughter, as I knew her to be at one time, was a beautiful vibrant girl. Like all the other children she fell into the trap of always wanting more. More lights, more sounds, more buttons to push. She was swept into a world that wasn’t real and she never returned. A shell of her was all that remained.
No one knew exactly where the message that all the children saw played from, or who had created it. Why?! It would be a question that we would have for the rest of our lives. All we had to go on was speculation and the leading theory was that it was a game gone wrong. Instead of making our children slightly more addicted to their gaming products they went too far and destroyed our children. In destroying them, they destroyed themselves and the world fell into chaos. Parents everywhere were left to deal with the destruction, mayhem and devastation that swiftly followed.
Men, like my neighbour Sam, were at an advantage. He knew a little about a lot of things, namely computers. He built the safe room with cameras all over his house, in and out, so that he and his wife could keep track of their children. Though they were trapped inside, they strangely were still able to somewhat keep their family together, albeit in a very unorthodox way. It was a very unfortunate illusion.
I watched the array of monitors that Sam had attached to cameras throughout his home. Everywhere, in every room, I saw destruction. Broken windows, furniture, clothes and keepsakes strewn about. In one small room, the bathroom I saw what appeared to be a leg dangling over the side of the tub. As I noticed it I remarked to Sam, “What is that?!” I leaned in more closer and Sam zoomed the camera in. The lights gave a flicker and then it all came into view.
“It’s James . . .” Sam stopped. “Last night he was here with your daughter and some of the other kids from around, they were playing house.” He paused again and looked at Becky. “I wouldn’t let her go to him. That’s why she’s like that.” He stated glancing grimly in her direction.
I looked over at Becky as she still sat staring at the floor. My gaze returned to the monitor and then to Sam. “What Happened?”
The drain in the bath was clogged and he thought he could vacuum it out. It’s just that that old thing wasn’t meant for water – he placed the whole thing in there and got in with it.” Sam turned away. He sobbed quietly as he moved to sit next to his wife.
It seemed impossible to think that a parent wouldn’t go to their child in need. The reality was if Becky had gone, she never would have come back.
Apparently as James was passing, a tremendous energy was released from him and from all of the children. It’s what had initially shaken my house the night before. The children or beings as we sometimes call them, especially when we don’t know them, were frightened and they scattered.
This is why my daughter Amy had come home and when she couldn’t get in she became angry. One thing that we observed was that when the children became angry or frustrated widespread devastation would follow. Amy’s anger must have caused my house to crumble to the ground.
Sam and Becky were lucky to be alive. It probably helped that the house and panic room were reinforced with steel and concrete.
I reached for the monitor that was focused on the bathroom, where James lifeless body lay, and switched it off.
Sam held on to Becky’s still and silent body. I could hear him cry and tell her that he loved her.
“Things will be ok.” He said to her almost as if he were trying to convince himself. I stared at them huddled together, and tried to believe in his words myself.
Sometime later I awoke; I had managed to steal a nap. Sam and Becky too, had found the comfort of sleep and the two sat together as they were before I had drifted off.
I looked to the monitors, and all seemed quiet except that it was getting darker as night was beginning to fall.
I switched the bathroom monitor back on and stared for moment.
James was gone.
I panicked – where could a lifeless boy go?! Had one of the other beings – maybe the one that had been my Amy – taken him somewhere? If so where?
Many questions filled by mind as I frantically scanned the monitors.
Sam shifted awake, “What’s wrong?” He said as he came over to my side.
“It’s James; he’s not in the bath tub anymore.” I replied.
“Maybe he’s alive!” Becky finally spoke from across the room. She moved toward the door but Sam quickly stopped her from opening it. She struggled a little professing that she needed to be with her son.
“That’s not our son anymore Becky!” Sam shook his wife to bring her back to some form of reality. Becky gave up her struggle and again took position sitting staring at the floor. When she seemed settled enough again Sam came to sit with me again and we both scanned the monitors.
“Wait! There.” Said Sam motioning to the monitor focused on the living room.
The room was mostly dark, only the outline of shapes could be seen moving quickly about, until suddenly all movement stopped.
“What do you think they are doing?” I asked Sam.
“I don’t know.” He replied. “It can’t be good though.”
In a moment a light appeared in the room – the television was on.
“We haven’t had television in months!” He said a little confused.
All that appeared on the screen was static. The light it created though showed the eerily illuminated faces of the children as they stood holding hands in front of the screen. Two faces stood out to me, one was Amy and the other was James. Sam motioned for me to be quiet. He looked back to Becky, still staring at the floor looking lost.
The light from the television went out. Moments later the screen for the computer in the office down the hall flickered on and like the television it was just a hollow glow.
The children now gathered in the office and seemed to be anticipating something as if one of their favourite shows or games was about to appear. Nothing was happening – just stilled silence. My own anticipation was growing – my stomach was in knots. Something had to happen . . . and hopefully it wouldn’t be too terrible. I swallowed hard and breathed in deeply. Both Sam and I inched slightly closer to the screen.
The stares of the children became more intent and the computer monitor glowed ever brighter. The television came back and all the lights and other electronics in the house began to flicker. The children began to scream, we could hear it through the monitors in the basement as well as echoing down the stairs. They began throwing tantrums as it seemed what they wanted was not there. Suddenly they just stopped altogether, something that Sam and I, and now Becky too, seemed to find unsettling. Turning slowly they focused their attention on the camera that Sam had positioned to monitor the room. What followed next was a sound so ear piercing all of which seemed to be emanating from the children.
Sam, Becky and I instinctively covered our ears as we continued to watch the screen. Every screen seemed to burst into flame including those we were watching in the safe room. We covered our heads and fell to the floor. Everything went silent.
There were no more monitors for us to see what was happening in the rest of the house, or even outside. Sam quickly extinguished the small fires that had ignited all around us.
We sat not knowing what to do next. We seemed to sit for hours, and heard not a sound outside the double doors and thick walls that surrounded our cell.
Hours turned into what seemed life 2 or maybe 3 days. Finally, with no food or water left to speak of we decided that we had to emerge from our cell.
When we did we were shocked to find that nothing remained. The house was gone and the trees that had been around the house were gone too. In fact for miles around you could see no vegetation at all – just a blank lifeless landscape. How we managed to survive in the tiny little room, I do not know.
Sam, Becky and I surveyed what was left of the house. The computer room was now crumpled into the basement and it was there that we found several small figures, laid out together side by side.
Becky soon spotted the figure of her son and ran to him. Sam didn’t even try to stop her, there didn’t seem to point anymore. She knelt beside him and swept him up into her arms.
I saw Amy too, but couldn’t bring myself to go to her. We held our heads in silence.
“Mom.” Cried a small voice.
James coughed and his mother held him out before her so she could have a look at his dirtied face. Her eyes filled with tears and her whole body began to shake. Sam positioned himself around her to steady her hold on their son.
I felt fear, but it quickly diminished as something, and I can’t quite tell what it was, just felt different. The deadly innocence that once seemed to fill James – to fill all of them – seemed changed. It seemed to have vanished.
Amy and the others all awoke and none seemed to have any idea of what had happened, or how they had got there.
“Where’s Mom?” asked Amy. “We were supposed to watch a movie together.”
I stopped in my tracks. That was what they were to do together just before all of this chaos began. It was when the movie started that the strange message appeared on the screen.
I couldn’t tell Amy the truth. For months after the message, Amy’s mother tried to bring her back; she cried and prayed day and night for her “child” to come back to her. All that remained was a shell, a vicious shell that eventually killed her. Killed my wife and Amy’s loving mother.
How could I tell a child that her mother was dead and the she had done it? I was barely able to look at her myself at this point, but somewhere deep inside I felt that this “being” truly once again was my Amy.
I looked to Sam, Becky and James. Then I looked to the line up of other children standing among the desolation that remained.
“Why don’t we see about finding a home and something to eat?” I said.
“Sounds good Dad” Said Amy “But we already have something to eat.”
The children parted to reveal their tasty meal. Our family cat lay stunned on the ground at their feet. The children turned and tore into it as though it were feeding time in the lion’s den.
Sam and Becky looked in horror, frozen with fear as James smiled innocently back at them.
That was the last time I saw any of them . . . alive at least. The life I had known; my wife, my daughter – they were all gone.
The future seems bleak but I am determined to keep living and will remain on the run until I find answers. I hope to one day find an end to this nightmare.