A Game of Hide and Seek
The sun was setting down on a somewhat normal Tuesday,
spilling fiery orange highlights in the darkening blood-red sky, and three
students were discussing the assignment handed to them for history class, dusty
books piled on top of the other on a wooden table, in a musty old library.
“How about World War 1?” The boy named Erik said as he blew strands of black hair away from his eyes, flipping through yellowy pages of a worn out book. His group partners shook their heads. He shrugged and picked up another book. “American Revolution?”
His reply was negative. One of the girls with golden hair, Alice, leaned back on her chair and sighed heavily. “This is so boring! Can’t we do something else?”
“Like what?” The boy asked.
“Like hide-and-seek for example.” The other girl said. He snorted.
“Hide-and-seek is for babies, Patricia. That game is lame. Right now we have to find a topic and research about it.”
“This is what I get for being paired up with the class president.” She groaned. “I shouldn’t have skipped the track practice.”
Erik scoffed at her. Patricia glared at him. A fight was about to ensue when suddenly, Alice jumped up from her chair and slammed her hands on the table, sending a stack of books toppling down the ground. “I got it!” She exclaimed. “Let’s do a research about the abandoned building at the third hill of Avenue 4! I heard that there were still restless spirits in that building!”
“That,” Erik said, “is actually an excellent idea.”
Patricia raised an eyebrow. “So we do it tonight?”
Alice nodded. “The sooner the better.” She added with an ominous tone, “And besides, tonight is a full moon. Strange things happen on a full moon.”
“Tonight it is.”
The full moon hung low in the sky as thin clouds enveloped it like claws over a grey face. The dim light reflected upon three teenagers walking on the crooked pathway, flickering lampposts guiding them up the hill towards their destination. The wind moaned around them as silver reflected leaves rustled like sinister whispers.
“Late Tuesday evening on January 23rd, a mass murder happened in the freshman class of Sunrise High. Not much information has been revealed by the school, but it is to be believed that only one student has survived the massacre. Up until this day, no one knows for certain who killed the teenagers and why.”
Erik breathed out in wonder, his hot breath forming a mist that curled up in front of him, only to be whipped away by a draft of icy air. He folded the crumpled piece of paper he had ripped off an old newspaper and tucked it in the pocket of his red sweater. He looked at his two companions. “That happened two years ago. But most people didn’t know that there was a legend in that school.”
Alice tilted her head. She asked, “Legend?”
Rubbing his hands together for warmth, he began telling the story. “A long time ago, there were two students that were bullied in Sunrise High. They were freshmen. The teachers did nothing but go on as if nothing had happened. One day, on January 23rd, they were bullied in the rooftop when one of them fell. The other reached out her hand, but the bullies held her back, forcing her to look at the deformed body of her friend. No one ever mentioned what happened.”
Eric shivered and his voice fell into a low whisper. “Because of that, she committed suicide. A few days later, the people who bullied her got into an ‘accident’. As the New Year passed by, the opening ceremony of the school was held. And in front of the whole school, words painted in blood appeared on a wall saying:
Each year, the freshmen will be given a trial. They have to sacrifice one person from their class. If they are unable to sacrifice one person, then everyone in that class will die except for one. It will be a ritual that will be held until deemed fit that the school has learned its lesson. If you try to close down the school, all students will be killed. No one is to mention this trial to anyone. If they do, that person will die.
The name of the trial?
From the Sunrise Witch
Panic swept throughout the school. There were no ins and outs in that situation. They tried telling people outside of the school, but true to the witch’s word, the people who spoke about the trial died gruesome deaths. And so each year the students sacrificed a classmate. But their guilt was so heavy that most of them killed themselves. Yet those who moved on buried their secrets inside them.”
“But,” Alice said, “What does that have to do with two years ago?”
Eric pursed his lips and said, “Two years ago, the freshmen class refused to sacrifice their classmate. And so with that, they were all killed except one. But it was later revealed that another student had survived. So there wasn’t one survivor, but two.”
He turned to the girl on his right. “Well, what do you think Patricia?”
“I think that this is not really a good idea,” Said Patricia as she shuddered in the bitter wind, with her dark hair whipping around her moonlit accented face, giving her an appearance similar to Medusa in the Greek mythology as they walked down the cobblestone street towards the second building of Avenue 4. “You never know what’ll happen after dark or in abandoned buildings. Especially when something as creepy as that happened.”
“Well, it was your idea.” Erik snapped.
“It wasn’t mine.” Patricia said back. “It was Alice’s.”
Erik turned around and glared at the short girl behind him. She looked up and meeting his dark orbs, her mouth curled up into a grin much like the Cheshire Cat. Before Erik could give her a scolding, she pointed at a building in front of them.
“We’re here.” She said.
Exchanging glances, they hurried towards their destination. A few minutes later, they stopped in front of the rusty iron gates. Looking up at the abandoned building, Erik’s throat went dry. The gale howling through the school sent strange echoes within the hallways, making his hair stand up at the ends.
Two years ago, it was a splendid white building with elaborate columns standing in both sides of the gilded gates, wide steps leading up to them with a vast garden after that. Floor-to-ceiling windows decorated all the first to fifth floor of the school.
Now it was rundown and left in desolation. The building creaked and groaned as the howling wind grew stronger and blew inside it through the cracked and broken windowpanes. Its walls had fissures running up to the roof and it was overgrown with ivy creeping up at its side. It might look terrifying from afar, but it was much more daunting up close.
“There’s no turning back,” Alice said softly. “Let’s go inside.”
They silently tread forward on the overgrown path, the shadows of the garden playing around the moonlight that basked the place in a silvery glow. The trees’ spindly branches reached up into the air like thin twisted hands as the wilted rosebushes rustled, scattering its dark petals along the wild grass like miniature children playing a game of tag.
“You know, I’m having second thoughts about this.” Erik hissed as the three of them stood in front of the carved ancient oak doors of the school.
“Just open it! It’s too late to turn back now.” Patricia said. Sending her a dirty look, he took the handle and twisted it. Despite its old age, the door swung inwards, breathlessly. They peeked through the gloomy hallway and slowly stepped inside. Erik took out his flashlight and clicked it on. The beam cut down the arched hallway like knife on butter, dust floating around the air as they slowly went inside.
The door slammed shut as the flashlight suddenly died, the darkness enveloping them in an ominous embrace.
“What happened?” Alice asked as she clung to Patricia’s arm. Erik hit the flashlight several times in his palm. His hopes rose as it sent off a dim glow, but then flickered out. He cursed.
“Low battery.” He said.
Out of nowhere, a bloodcurdling shriek rang around them. Chills trailed down their backs as they drew closer to each other for a sliver of comfort.
“Let’s get out of here!”
They sprinted towards the door, but unfortunately, it was locked. A grandfather clock suddenly began chiming and doors began to rattle in their hinges.
They ran down the hallway, not caring where they were headed. Suddenly, Patricia pulled them inside a classroom, closed the door and collapsed on the floor. They panted heavily, their nerves still on high alert from the adrenaline rush.
As their beating hearts slowed down, Erik looked around and realized they were in the classroom. He stood up and surveyed the room. “This…” He looked at the two girls. “This is classroom 268, isn’t it?”
Patricia nodded. “What about it?”
“The murder happened in this room. It may have been cleaned up, but the metallic smell of blood is still here.” Erik went towards the shattered window. “This was where one student decided to jump out, but fell and was critically injured.”
“You seem to know a lot about this incident.” Patricia said as she stood up and dusted off her pants.
Erik shrugged. “My dad was the one who managed this case.”
He looked out the window but then suddenly cried out as a shard of glass cut his palm.
“What happened?” Patricia asked as she went to him. He held out his palm as thick red blood trailed down his hand and dripped on the floor, staining the white marble floor.
Erik shrugged. “Got cut. Do you have a Band-Aid?” Patricia looked at the wound, watching in a trance while the blood’s flowing down. She didn’t move as it fell in a rhythmic stream. Erik frowned, “Uhh, Patricia? You okay?”
“Band-Aid won’t work.” Patricia said as she got hold of his hand. His eyes grew wide as a sense of foreboding grew inside him. Goosebumps broke all over his arms as he watched her bring his palm to her mouth. Her warm breath blew softly on his fingers, sending tingles all over his body. His took a sharp intake of breath as she dragged her tongue across the trail of blood and swallowed it, licking her tongue across her lips. Erik was disturbed of Patricia’s strange new behavior as he snatched his hand away from her and backed away towards the door.
“What the hell are you doing, Patricia?!”
“Why? Is it wrong?”
“Wrong?! It’s more than wrong!” He cried. “It’s downright creepy! What the hell is going on with you?!”
“Nothing’s going on with me. I feel perfectly fine.”
Erik scoffed. “Yeah right. You’re acting strange. You know what, let’s just go home.”
“No one’s leaving this school.” Patricia said in a dark voice. Cold perspiration dripped down his spine. He had never heard this kind of tone from her before.
“Patricia,” he said softly, “this isn’t like you at all. Snap out of it.”
“This isn’t like me at all?” Patricia sneered. “That means you don’t really know me that well, Erik. And I thought you’d have remembered by now.”
She took a step forward. He took a step back.
“Do you think all of this is a coincidence? Coming here on January 23, the school door bolted shut, coming inside room 268?” Her eyes scanned over the room with a strange melancholic gaze and looked back at him. “Are you telling me you forgot?”
Erik frowned. But then he thought back on what he read before coming in the school.
Today was January 23. 2 years after the incident.
There was pounding in his brain, as if there was something that he was missing. Either a clue or…a memory.
Erik’s eyes widened as Patricia’s words registered in his brain.
Did you forget?
“Hi, I’m Alice.” A girl with golden-hair stuck out her hand. “You’re a freshman as well? You must be Eric.”
“How do you know?”
She tapped on the sticker in front of the Sunrise High logo. She smiled. “It’s written there, just like every freshman. I’m in the escalator system.”
“Escalator system? What’s that?”
“It means that I’ve been here since Sunrise Prep, Sunrise Elementary, and Sunrise Middle School. I’m automatically registered in the school.”
“Welcome to Sunrise High, Eric. I hope we all get along together.”
That memory was from two years ago. Right before his accident.
Missing the trial day. On January 23.
“You’re the Sunrise Witch.”
Patricia smiled and clapped. “Nice deduction, sleuth.”
“Why’d you kill all of them!?” Erik shouted at her as he finally reached the door. Alice moved behind him, clutching on his shoulder. He grasped the metallic handle.
Patricia ignored his question as she took as step forward. “Why don’t we play a game?”
He grew startled at the sudden question that came out of nowhere. “A game? What game?”
“I don’t know.” Patricia said. “You decide.”
“Hide-and-Seek.” Alice spoke up from behind Erik. “On the count of 300.”
“Then,” Patricia said as she covered her eyes. “Let’s play.”
And with those words, Erik grabbed Alice’s wrist as he tore open the door and sprinted down the hallway. They ran past rooms and jumped down staircases as they dashed as far away as they could from Patricia.
Patricia removed her hands from her face, her blue eyes glittering in the light. She looked down on the floor and smirked as she followed the drops of blood. “You might be Hansel, but instead of finding the way home, you’ll find yourself in the witch’s house.”
Walking down the hallway, she began humming a simple tune. Her melodic voice was carried out through the school as she glided down the staircases, her long fingers trailing the cold banister.
“Give me a life, just one will suffice.
On January 23, who's time will it be?
one soul for all, all souls for one,
this is the decree of the Sunrise Witch.
But if you cheat fate and to helpers you speak,
Then you lose the game of hide and seek.”
Erik bolted the door shut as he slid down and rested his head on his knee. Both he and Alice were breathing heavily. He contemplated what he just discovered. “Why Patricia of all people? Does that mean that she’s actually a ghost? But how can she be a ghost yet be solid at the same time?”
Alice didn’t give him a reply and he didn’t expect any from her. He was too preoccupied with his thoughts to notice Alice standing up and opening a shelf. Only when he heard the sliding of smooth metal against metal did he look up. His blood went cold. “Alice, what are you doing?”
“President, we’re playing hide-and-seek, aren’t we?” Alice said as she slid her hand along the smooth shiny surface of a butcher knife, her reflection gazing back at her. Erik stood up and drew away. She looked up at him. “But who’s ‘It’?”
Fear gripped his heart. He whispered, “It is you.”
“Nothing less from our president.” She said as she swung her knife back and forth, its metallic surface catching the light, with ease. “But did you know? There’s more to that incident from two years ago.”
Erik grew confused. But then he remembered Patricia’s leg injury and Alice’s vague past.
His eyes widened. “Y…you’re the other survivor? But why are you siding with Patricia?”
Alice’s eyes clouded over and she smiled a mad smile. “So that I can kill you.” Her smile disappeared and morphed into a murderous glower. “It’s either you or me. There must only be one survivor.”
Erik bolted away, but Alice threw her knife and it sunk deep through his leg, sending him toppling on the floor. Erik let out a chilling scream as blood gushed out from the wound. Alice walked towards him and brandishing out another knife, she flipped him over and sat on top of his chest, her eyes wild with madness. Slowly, she slid her weapon through his left arm, watching the blood spilling out the opening. She leaned down to his ear and whispered; her breath hot on his rapidly cooling skin as his life streamed out of his body.
“President, let’s play a game.”
The lock clicked open and Patricia stepped inside. She looked at the remains of what was once human but was now undistinguishable. She looked at Alice, whose face was splattered in red like freckles. Alice stared back at her.