Short Story Collection: Hidden Fears
I Know You Are Awake
“Click, click, click,” went the sound of the mouse. “Mhmm...” murmured the thirteen-year-old boy while he was searching something on Google.
“Jason,” said his mother, who had snuck up on him:“What are you doing on the laptop?”
His eyes widened. Quickly, he hid his mother’s credit card while at the same time trying to cover the screen with his hands. His mum softly peeled his hands off the screen and spotted her credit card on the table.
“What is this?” she inquired in a persistent voice.
He hesitated but then answered her question. “I was looking for a fun and spooky board game for my sleepover this weekend.”
His mother sighed and put her hands on to her hips.“You should have asked for my permission instead of sneaking around with my credit card!” she said sternly.
The boy twitched at his mother’s gentle voice reproaching him. Moments later she relaxed and said:
“Here you go, just this once, sweetie...”She gave him the credit card and walked off.
Jason was annoyed. His mother was ‘oh, so sweet’ every time he had done something wrong. He was raised in a family where everything was done correctly in a wrong way. His mother was always too nice, too fake and never told anyone what was truly bothering her... but sometimes this also had its advantages. Jason excitedly went back to search for a board game. Half an hour later he ended up on a highly unusual site. It looked like an online antique shop, but the home page was plastered with symbols and rites to rituals. When he clicked on the menu and selected board games, a selection of exceptional and weird board games appeared in different languages. The only name of a game he could actually pronounce was: “I know you are awake. Let your imagination take over...” When he saw the ‘add to cart’ button, he immediately bought it.
Days passed when finally, the package was delivered to his house. His mother signed the notify letter of acceptance and gave the package to her son.“You better be grateful,” she declared in her sweet voice and left Jason on his own per usual.
Jason decided to wait for his two best friends before opening the package. It was early in the evening, when they arrived for the sleepover. The trio decided to sit in the living room while his parents were working in the study room. Here they were, anxiously sitting around the package when Austin chose to open it. It was a shiny box with sinister drawings on it. The three boys stared at it in fascination at the box till Conner encouraged Austin to open it. Austin looked hypnotized while he revealed the what was in the box. The boys stared at the contents. There was a small, round item that looked like a base to create a hologram, some game instructions, a board, two dice and game figures that looked like oddly enough exactly Austin, Conner and Jason. Jason stared at the figures startled:
“They look just like us!” Astonished as the kids were, they inspected the game further till Jason picked up the instructions and read it out loud:
1. You must never play the game!”
The kids laughed uneasily.
“2. Create an evil monster with your imagination using the hologram.
3. Every time you throw the dice you must draw a card and this card will lead to your fate.”
“Are you sure we are allowed to play this game?” Conner asked, alarmed. blank-faced Austin said:
“Let’s just start by creating our monster and then we will see.”
Jason, frightened, yet intrigued, agreed. Austin pushed the button on the base of the hologram and a light appeared. Austin tried to talk to the hologram. Thinking of a monster from an old movie, the hologram already visualized its gruesome shape. The shape kept changing as the three boys created a monster with their thoughts. Things got tense. Somebody had to start the board game... so Austin drew a coin from his pocket and asked heads or tails to the others. By all means, Jason was the one who had to start the game. He threw the dice: 8. He took the figure that looked most similar to him and put it on space eight, then drew a card from the pile.
“I know you are awake,”said the card, and the monster of the hologram reared its ugly face towards him. The kids gasped. Austin was the first one to react since the others were paralyzed by fear. He quickly threw everything they had spread out on the floor back into the box and closed it.
“Personally, I don’t feel like sleeping over anymore,” he uttered and was close to wetting his pants from all the excitement.
“Me either,” Conner replied.Half an hour later, both of the boys were picked up by their parents and Jason was sent to bed.
“Sleep well Sweetie!” His mother said, and kissed his forehead. This annoyed him as he wanted real comfort from his mother but had never received it. It seemed like his mum was playing a game of perfection. Everything had to be in place and perfectly executed. His dad, on the other hand, had been ignoring him since he was born and never paid him any attention. Whenever he asked his dad a favor he was rudely dismissed before he could even express what was on his mind. Jason often felt he had no parents. Sometimes, while lying on his bed, he would think of a life with different parents or simply no parents at all.Tonight, Jason dreamed of some divine being loving him, when he suddenly heard the staircase creak.
He tiptoed to the door and peered through the keyhole. The dim light from the kitchen barely illuminated the creature that was creeping up the stairs. Jason tried to withhold a gasp as he could see its distorted, sleek face. It had long teeth, which were filed into points, and deep eye sockets where small reptilian eyes were resting. Instead of a nose they were two oval holes. The beast had a crooked back where every single spine was bulging out of its glassy shark skin. Awkwardly, it lifted its long, thin legs step by step. Its razor-sharp claws sunk into the hardwood floor as if it were butter. The beast’s long arms were dragging behind. The closer it got, the more similarities it had with the monster Jason and his friends had created during the game. With every step, it got closer. Jason became aware of what the creature was dragging up the stairs.
Dangling with their hair out of its gruel hands, clashing against the stairs, grinned the two decapitated heads of his parents... Jason clasped his mouth to smother a scream. The last thing he saw was the monster’s creepy smile while it crouched towards the master bedroom. Jason desperately wanted to flee, but he knew he was lost. There was no way out. His room was located on the second floor, which meant if he tried to jump out of the window, he would probably break some if not all of his bones and the concrete below. The only option he could think of was to pretend he was fast asleep. He tiptoed to his bed, covered his body with his blanket and waited, his heart pounding against his chest. He wanted to stay awake till dawn, but his eyelids eventually became heavy, and his mind went into a restless sleep. Hours passed when he suddenly woke up hearing the noise again. Frightened, he raised himself out of his bed and glanced at the door. It was wide open! He turned around and looked; something was scribbled on the wall, painted with blood:
“I know you’re awake.”
He wanted to scream but couldn’t make a sound. Jason couldn’t move and as he stared paralyzed at the shadow emerging from under his bed. A giant claw with long fingers and filed nails slowly grabbed his waist, pulling him under the bed. The last thing he heard was a snarling whisper next to his ear:
“Isn’t that what you wanted?”
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