There’s a rumor going around these parts.
The man stopped at the corner to rest, gasping for breath. His legs were screaming from exhaustion, but the expression on his face was one of pure delight. In his right hand was a bag filled with cash, thousands of dollars of it.
An impossible rumor.
He was safe now. They’d never catch him here. He was completely home-free, and no one would ever know what had just happened. Except the victims, of course, but they had already been forced to swear not to tell. They were much too afraid to do anything about it, anyway.
A rumor that rarely anyone ever believes – at their own risk.
Still smiling, the man sauntered into a dark alleyway as if it were a bright, lit up road. It didn’t scare him in the least. Most of his job took place in alleys just like this one, in dark places where so many people failed to look.
Some say it begins with a single whisper. One that comes when you least expect.
The voice came out of nowhere: “And where are you going in such a hurry?”
The man jumped, then looked around frantically. He couldn’t get caught now, not when he was so close! But…
There was no one else in the alley but him.
At first, it seems like only a figment of the imagination.
He must’ve just imagined it.
But it’s not.
“I asked you a question, you know. You might as well respond.”
The man’s eyes widened, and he spun around, peering into the shadows. Still no one. But he pulled out his gun, just to be safe.
Am I going crazy? he wondered, eyes darting around the seemingly deserted area. There was absolutely no sign that anyone else was there, so, feeling silly, he shook his head and began moving again.
“Hello? Hey, are you ignoring me?”
He froze, icy fear running down his spine. Spinning around yet again, he saw no one – but this time heard a soft chuckle from off to the side.
“Who are you?!” he shouted, convinced by now that it wasn’t just his own imagination. “Stop playing games with me and reveal yourself! I’ve got a gun, you know!”
The chuckle evolved into full-blown laughter. “What do you mean? I’m right here – just look to your left.”
The man’s eyes slowly traveled to the left. Nothing.
“Quit it!” he bellowed, on the edge of panic. “Reveal yourself!”
“Hmm? What? Oh! Oh, right. Sorry about that.”
Once you realize it’s real, however, something else happens. Something that should be impossible.
And then, to the man’s absolute shock and terror, there was suddenly somebody there. Someone who hadn’t been there just a second ago.
He stopped breathing.
Metal gleamed softly in the moonlight, and the man’s hands shook with fear as he realized it was a scythe. The gun came up, aimed directly at the hooded person’s face. “Wh-Who are you?! Stay away from me, or I’ll shoot!”
“You’ll shoot me? But I haven’t even done anything to you yet.” The boy blinked at him, pushing back his hood to reveal his face. He looked just like any other boy in the world, and that made the man relax a little. Maybe he’d just imagined not being able to see him.
But then, what he said next changed everything.
“I don’t like attacking people. And I think kidnapping is even worse.” A scowl appeared on his face. “Unlike you.”
The man stepped back, but his expression was one of fury. “You… How did you… They swore not to tell!”
“Oh, they didn’t.” He waved it off casually, the blade of his weapon reflecting the man’s wide eyes. “See, me and my friends, we know things. Things that you could only ever hope to know. But that’s not important right now.” His eyes narrowed. “I’m only going to ask once. Where is Lindsay Argentum?”
The man gripped his gun so tightly, his knuckles turned white. “I ain’t telling that to some snot-nosed kid! Quit trying to play Hero and hop into bed where you belong!”
“So we’re gonna do this the hard way, huh?” The boy pulled up his hood and reached for his scythe, his fingers gripping the handle but not yet bringing the weapon to the front. There was just enough of his face left visible for the man to see him smile. “Okay. More fun for me.”
But before he could do a single thing more, the man fired his pistol, emptying every last bullet at the kid in front of him. At point-blank range.
Every single law of physics agreed that he should’ve been killed instantly. But…
The kid stayed standing.
With the bullets floating inches from his nose.
The smile on his face didn’t falter for a single second as he raised his head toward the rooftop above the man and called out, almost lazily, “Thanks, partner! What took you so long?”
“Wh-What… How… How could…” the man stammered, but he couldn’t say anything more. Mostly because he had suddenly been yanked off his feet, into thin air.
He shot upward with a shriek, to the sound of the boy’s laughter, and dangled in midair before yet another person. One who was sitting on the roof and seemed to be controlling his involuntary flight with nothing more than her mind.
The man stammered something unintelligible as she flashed him a smile that was both innocent and terrifying at the same time.
“Gee, mister, hasn’t your mother ever told you that shooting and kidnapping people is a no-no?”
The man fought to speak, but no words came out. Just a strange, whimpering noise.
“Anyway, like my partner down there said, we of the Half-Life Dream are very interested in knowing the current location of Miss Lindsay Argentum. So I’m gonna give you a choice, seeing as I’m so nice and all.” Her smile lost all trace of innocence and become fully terrifying. “Tell us where she is, or take the fast way down. What’ll it be?”
The words flew out of his mouth faster than he could believe, his vocal cords suddenly freed by the “choice” she was giving him. “She – The girl’s with my partner in our warehouse on Maple Court! It’s the truth, I swear it! Here, you can even have the ransom money, just p-please don’t drop me!”
The girl’s expression didn’t change, but all of a sudden, he dropped like a rock. A scream tore itself from his throat as he grabbed at empty air, but he stopped four feet from the ground and slowly drifted downward until he was hovering just above the cracked asphalt. Eyes and mouth both wide open, he watched as the girl hopped off the roof and drifted down, calmly plucking the bag of money out of his hand.
“I knew you’d see it my way,” she said cheerfully, then skipped out of the alley after her partner.
The man’s boots thumped hard on the ground the second she left. He lost his balance, pitching forward and hitting the ground face-first. The shock of this, added to all the other things he’d seen that night, finally proved to be too much.
He passed out almost instantly.
There’s a rumor around these parts.
Rarely anyone ever believes it, but there are some who do.
It states that those who go too far with things that should not be done will one day hear a whisper and see things that should be impossible.
No one knows who does these things, but there is a name sometimes told, a name heard only by those who have seen the people who cause these impossible events.
They are sometimes referred to as The Half-Life Dream.
… Do you believe it?