Imaginary friends

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Neither Erica nor Max will ever be the same after a ghost from the past pays them a visit and they'll find out that not everything ceases to exist once you stop believing in them.

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Chapter 1

They had found her sitting in a dark corner in her room, rocking back and forth as she stared at the bloody footprints that decorated her room. She was in a trance, not a single trace of emotion on her face and it scared the hell out of me. When mom rushed to her side she finally snapped out of that dreadful state, horror apparent in her eyes when she saw the bloody tracks everywhere.

It was on that day that Erica and I lost everything we cared about and we will both never again forget the horrors of Halloween.

Three years ago, when we moved here to this ordinary house in an even more ordinary street, I never would’ve thought that my worst nightmare would unfold between these walls.

I used to believe that there was something good in this world that pushed everything forward. That bad things would only happen to those that went looking for trouble and those immature thoughts were something I could hold on to when life seemed rough. Nothing bad could ever happen to me because I had a good heart and those that I love would never come to harm because of that, but at some point, everyone is met with the harshness of this world.

Erica was different in that sense, the complete opposite of me, which happened to work out quite well. People often think that family members with contrasting personalities would most likely clash, but that was not the case for us. Of course we got angry at each other from time to time, but I could always count on her. Our bond was unbreakable. I followed her wherever she went and she let me. She never thought of me as annoying and she always included me whenever she did something. She was the one that took responsibility to take care of me because Mom and dad were always busy with stuff I knew nothing about. Erica was the one who showed me the world and taught me things that I’ll remember forever. Everything was perfect in our little world, but that soon changed when I started to hear voices.

I may not have been an adult yet, but even I knew that hearing voices was not something positive so the logical thing to do at that time was to just ignore it. The voices had started as whispers, hardly present, but still noticeable to the point that it kept me up at night, telling me all kinds of things in repeat, facts I had no interest in in hearing.

She was lonely and felt the absence of love and attention to be the main reason as to why she was unhappy. She craved for it, like how people required the air to breathe. To her it felt like dying all over again, every night if she did not satisfy this need. She was hungry for love and would do anything to have what I have.

This she repeated over and over, for days on end, exhausting me more each passing day until, without a warning, the voice disappeared. Truthfully, at that time, after being lulled to sleep by a voice every night, I started to miss it. I suddenly felt so alone, also because Erica had been absent a lot lately. We had always shared a room, but she suddenly left. She did not tell me where she would disappear off to. “See, you soon.” She’d say. Just those words and a kiss on my head, nothing more, nothing less. She would reappear some time later and this went on for a while. Even though at first I didn’t understand, but as time went by, I started to notice a certain pattern in her parting and returning habit.

Because I had to miss her for five days a week, the loneliness started to weigh down on me. Mom and dad were too busy to give me the attention Erica used to provide for me, which I had always taken for granted. It was around that time that I first reached out to the voice that had been absent. I called out for it many times, for days and nights on end, but I was still alone in that big empty room. When dawn woke me up the next morning I had to accept the fact that the voice would not come back.

A few weeks passed by and when, at the end of the week, Erica got home she was in such an excited state that she completely ignored me, running straight up to mom to ask if she could invite some friends over that night for this year’s Halloween. After that she ran passed me again and nearly knocked over a vase as she darted to her laptop. She finally looked at me when I sat beside her. I couldn’t help but feel her excitement burning in my own bones. “If you don’t behave when my friends are here, I’ll just throw you out, got it!” She said, ruffling my hair before she started making some calls.

That evening I heard it again, even over the noise Erica’s friends made, and my whole body reacted to it, happiness just filling me up. That same night I had my first and only real conversation with the voice. I remember her saying that she was very happy to have found someone to talk to again after all this time, which confused me at first. She desperately sought someone to love because the loneliness was just unbearable. She envied my relationship with Erica and she wished to be able to have such strong devoted love. The voice appeared to take the form of a young girl as she hovered just behind Erica and when I continued to stare at it, I heard someone whisper how creepy I was how I stared at the nothingness. I continued my conversation with the voice on the other side of the room, away from prying eyes and after a while I realized who I was actually talking to as I remembered bits of a vague conversation, which made me even more curious. That night I learned that curiousness can be a very dangerous thing, especially when not knowing what you’re actually dealing with. Not everybody can be trusted and not everything is good by nature, I had to learn that the hard way.

I called her by her given name, which seemed to anger it. She went silent and she disappeared back into the void. The temperature dropped significantly, which only I seemed to notice.

The hairs at the back of my neck stood on end. Her voice was closer now, whispering in my ear.

“Do you know what is hidden here? If you listen closely you will hear. A monster born from isolation and loneliness. Test you it will until your body lays motionless. You have to be bold if it wants what you hold. A love so pure it can’t resist. A heart it seeks to quench its thirst. When dawn arrives it will be fed and fate decides who will be dead.”

Then a loud, shrill scream filled my ears, piercing my eardrums as I writhed in pain. It all escalated so quickly, I hardly had the time to react. One moment me and the voice were having a conversation, the next I felt something invade my body. It fought hard to repel it, but the voice’s shrill screams in my head pushed me to the edge. The pain went on and even after she had left my body and mind, I still felt like my insides were ripped apart. Then the lights suddenly went out and I heard Erica scream that something just grabbed her arm and I just knew.

I ran to them, my legs barely able to keep up as I jumped over things and people to get to her. My body did not react like I wanted it to but I was the only one that could hear the voice so I was the only one that could help them. In my hurry I stepped on people and knocked things over, but I had to be quick because Erica, unsuspecting of what was yet to come, did not stand a chance of resisting a possible possession.

Then the lights went on, a flashlight engulfing my form in the brightness before I was pulled off my sister by one of her friends. They didn’t understand that I only tried to help and they pulled me away, but I still tried to get to her. I screamed to let me go, struggling against their grip. It took three people to restrain me and when they did, they eventually managed to lock me out of the room.

The horror that I felt when I heard them lock the door behind me, not able to shake the horrid words that the spirit had just screamed at me. I clawed at the door, but it was in vain. I paced in front of the door for a few seconds when my knocking and pushing did nothing. I ran downstairs, nearly tripping over my own feet, to get to mom and dad. I pulled them after me, screaming at them that Erica was in danger. They got the door open easily and I quickly slipped back inside, hoping I wouldn’t see anyone’s body, especially Erica’s, lying on the floor somewhere in a puddle of her own blood and with a missing heart.

When I saw no trace of blood or anything for that matter, and did not see nor hear the spirit, I started to doubt it had even been there. I called out to the spirit, I even addressed her with the name Erica had given her when she was 5. Erica, who was at that moment too busy explaining why the door had been locked, didn’t even notice me searching her room for the evil spirit. Her imaginary friend from the past seemed to have disappeared in thin air. The chill atmosphere that had been present in this room minutes before had dissipated as well, but I was still wary, afraid it would suddenly attack again. While I was searching the room for any sign of that spirit, Erica was being grounded for irresponsible behavior during a breakdown and her friends were sent home.

She did not speak to me after that, she just gave me the silent treatment, which tore me apart on the inside. I didn’t want to ruin her party and make her unhappy and even though I saved her life, I didn’t quite feel like celebrating. She gave me one last dirty look before she turned around and pulled the covers over her head.

The next morning, as the sun introduced the dawn of a new day, my parents woke to the sound of a loud shriek that resounded through their silent house. They ran up the stairs and opened the door to the hallway. The first thing they noticed was the gory smell. The second thing must have been my body, which was lying motionless in the middle of the small space. My neck was broken, bended so far backwards it was only connected to the rest of my body by skin. My innards left a trail to the bedroom, where they found Erica still munching on my freshly removed heart when they opened the door. Her room was a mess, blood spilling everywhere. The tracks on the wall and ceiling fresh, the blood still dripping down onto the white carpet.

I died at the hands of the person I loved most in this world. The moment when Erica had closed her small hands around my neck, crushed my windpipe and snapped my neck like a twig, my short life came to an end.

They buried me in their yard the next day, the headstone saying: Here lays Max, not just a dog, but a true friend. May his unconditional love reach on into the heavens.

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