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Boys & Girls Come Out To Play. CH 3 The First Game

by  Shnarkle

Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2009
Word Count: 2766
Summary: This is the third chapter in first draft form. It immediately follows on from the end of chapter 2, and had me kacking myself!

The First Game
Laura’s scream from downstairs cut through William like a shard of ice in his heart. Leaping from his bed he took the stairs two at a time shouting, “Mum, mum, what’s wrong?” taking the last four steps in a single bound. Racing across the hallway into the kitchen he came to a shuddering halt as he saw his mother sat slumped and dazed on the floor, her back supported by the thin arched wall between the kitchen and the dining room. Her legs were splayed out in front of her and she held her face in her hands, sobbing uncontrollably. The handset from the wall mounted phone swung back and forth where she’d dropped it, firing a plastic concussion each time it hit the wall.
“Mum, what’s wrong?” he said again, panic now beginning to rise in his voice. His mother looked up, her face deathly white, “Oh Will,” she shuddered opening her arms. Will rushed forward to be enveloped in his mother’s warm, safe embrace; with his ear pressed to her chest, he could hear her pounding heart betray the utter panic she was obviously trying so hard to hide. He realised that for the first time in his life he was experiencing real, raw fear. He’d always been able to rely on his parents to protect him, to keep him safe; but now he knew that his mother was as frightened as he was, and was in no position to offer the protection he craved.
His mum eased him back from her embrace and held him by the shoulders at arms length. “Will, you were right about the girls; your father and I heard them just now whilst we were on the phone.”
“Oh God, mum, what’s happening;” William breathed in a tiny voice,”I’m really frightened; when’s dad coming home?”
“It’s probably someone playing a nasty practical joke on us, Will. When your dad gets back tomorrow he’ll know what to do.” William could tell that his mother was trying to comfort him, but the look of fear in her eyes only made him feel more vulnerable. “Anyway, I’m going to call Auntie Susie and see if she’ll stay with us tonight; you know, keep us company.”
William helped his mother to her feet, and then went to get a drink of juice while she telephoned her sister.
“We’re in luck.” announced his mother as she hung up the phone and smiled at William. “Auntie Susie’s on the train home from work. She’ll get off a stop early and come straight round; should be here in about half an hour.” William could feel the sense of relief in his mother’s voice that she would now have some support during the night ahead.
William liked Auntie Susie. She was a few years younger than his mother, but there was no mistaking that they were sisters. Auntie Susie was one of those people who seemed permanently happy, and no matter how fed up you were, she would soon have you laughing.
She bustled breathlessly through the front door, dressed in her business suit and carrying a battered old briefcase. After kisses all round Susie and his mother settled themselves on the kitchen high stools with a good, stiff vodka and tonic each, and banished William to the lounge whilst they discussed what had been going on.
After half an hour of idly flicking through the most boring magazines he’d ever seen that his parents kept under the coffee table, William crept back into the kitchen to hear his mother say, “look, Suze, you’ve been working all day; please feel free to take a shower and find a change of clothes from my wardrobe.”
After a few more minutes of boring adult talk Auntie Susie took herself off upstairs for a shower, giving William a chance to quiz his mother.
“What does Auntie Susie think, mum?”
“Just like I said, Will, someone playing a nasty practical joke. Susie is going to stay the night to make sure everything is alright. OK?” William didn’t answer, so his mother bent down and playfully tweaked his chin, ”OK?” she said again.
“I suppose so.” mumbled William, still not at all convinced by this practical joke theory that they were trying to sell him.
Fifteen minutes later Auntie Susie walked slowly into the kitchen, freshly showered and wearing a dress that she’d found in Laura’s wardrobe. William did a double take, his eyeballs almost out on stalks and his mouth open in shock; abject fear prickling at his scalp. Taking two steps backwards he shouted, “Mum, that dress; look at the dress!”
Laura looked up, “Goodness, Suze, where on earth did you find that thing?”
“In your wardrobe.” said Auntie Susie with uncharacteristic coolness. She was wearing a long dark floral dress featuring hundreds of tiny blue and purple flowers, finished in white lace at the high collar and hem.
“That’s the dress the girls in my dream were wearing!” shouted William in terror, now hiding behind his mother, “Take it off, take it off now!”
“Quiet brat!” growled his auntie menacingly, “I like it.”
“Susie!” exclaimed Laura shooting her sister a shocked glance.
“Mum, mum, please make her take it off now!” wailed William.
In his blind panic William felt his mother shake him gently by the shoulders, saying, “Will, Will, calm down. All this has made you hysterical. It’s only a dress; although for the life of me I’ve never seen it before.” William caught Auntie Susie’s cruel grin straighten just in time, as his mother turned to her and said, “Where did you find it, Suze?”
“Just hanging at the back of your wardrobe.” came the dull reply. As if the conversation was now finished, Auntie Susie walked into the lounge, sat in an armchair and began combing her wet hair.
William and his mother left her to it, remaining in the kitchen to discuss the dress.
“But it’s exactly the same dress, mum, honestly it is.” William was jumping up and down he was so agitated.
“Look, Will, it must just be a coincidence and be an old dress of your grandmother’s I’d forgotten I had.” William could see that his mother was equally uneasy at the turn of events, but was trying to put a brave face on it for his sake.
A few minutes later they heard Auntie Susie’s bare feet padding on the wooden floor of the hallway, and as she entered the kitchen William let out a piercing scream. Auntie Susie had her hair in plaits, with little blue ribbons at the ends.
“Get her away from me, get her away from me!” he screamed, “She’s looking more like those girls than ever; they had plaits too!”
Auntie Susie just stood there, smiling a strange smile at him. Will’s mother rounded on him and shouted, “Look, Will, for God’s sake get a grip. Women put their hair in plaits all the time; you’ve seen me do it myself hundreds of times.”
William could take no more; he burst out crying, and pushing past his still smiling auntie, ran upstairs to his room, slamming the door behind him and threw himself onto his bed, sobbing hysterically.
Twenty minutes later he heard a soft tapping at his door.
“What!” he demanded in his most petulant voice.
“It’s Auntie Susie, wouldn’t you like to come and play a game, William?” William’s blood froze in his veins. His auntie’s voice sounded strange through the door; phased almost. Cold. And he had certainly heard that kind of phrase before.
“No, go away!” he shouted.
“Come on, William, come out and play.”
“Just go away, go away and leave me alone!” He could hardly believe his own imagination, but it almost seemed as if his auntie was slowly turning into one of the girls. He began crashing his heel down onto his bedroom floor, screaming, “Mum, mum!” at the top of his voice. Within seconds he heard his mother’s footsteps on the landing outside his door, “It’s OK darling, I’m here.” she opened the door, Auntie Susie was nowhere to be seen.
“Keep her away from me, mum; please” William begged.
“Who, Susie? She left about fifteen minutes ago. She said that she’d obviously upset you so much that she’d better go.”
“Mum, ten seconds ago she was knocking on my door and asking me in a weird voice to come out to play!”
“Look, Will this has all been too much for you. Come on, your dad said you had to sleep with me in our bed tonight; get yourself settled down and I’ll bring you a hot milk and one of those sleeping tablets the doctor prescribed for you, and we’ll go off to sleep together. OK?”
“OK.” said Will with a shuddering sigh. He gave his mum a big hug, and then padded off to the bathroom for a shower, got into his pyjamas, then entering his parents bedroom snuggled down in the cool crisp sheets of the huge bed to wait for his mum.
William blinked his eyes open; suddenly wide awake. He glanced up at the bedside alarm clock which bathed the bedroom in an eerie blue glow. 2. 55 AM. Again. Well, he thought, at least he hadn’t had nightmares this time. With a contented sigh he turned over to cuddle his mother; and came face to face with the girl with the red ribbons who was lying on the bed next to him.
“Hello, William,” she said in her strange phased voice, “Would you like to play a game?”
William catapulted himself off the bed with a terrified yell, and landed in a heap on the floor. Jumping up, his heart pounding in his chest, he flattened himself against the wall to get as far away from the girl as possible and shouted, “Where’s my Mum, what have you done with her?!”
The girl slowly got up and stood across the bed from William; bathed in the light from the alarm clock she looked even more frightening than in his dream.
“She’s already playing the game with us, William. Come and join us.”
The bedroom door opened of its own accord and William followed the girl across the landing to the spare room. The girl walked into the room and took up a position at one corner of the bed. The other two girls had done the same, and the fourth corner was occupied by Auntie Susie, who stood rigid with insane staring eyes, and drool pouring from the corner of her mouth and dripping off her chin in thin strands like spider silk. William gasped in horror at his auntie, but before he could register the full truth of her transformation, the girls began to sing a sort of nursery rhyme in their strange discordant voices.
“Round and round and round she goes, and where she stops, nobody knows.”
“Round and round and round she goes, and where she stops, nobody knows.”
A movement at the edge of William’s vision caused him to look up, and catch his breath in disbelief. His mother was spread-eagled, face down, like a human starfish, floating about 20 centimetres from the ceiling; and she was spinning round and round as if in response to the girls’ singing.
“Will!” she screamed, eyes bulging with terror, “Get out; get out of the house now! Run!”
For a second William was frozen to the spot, but as the adrenaline kicked in to his system he turned and fled from the room, taking the stairs in two bounds and landing in a heap on the hard, wooden hallway floor. Picking himself up, and with thick, rapid sobs bursting from his throat he ran to the front door; shot back the locks and wrenched the door handle down. Nothing. It was stuck fast. He could still hear the unnatural singing from upstairs, now combined with his mother’s pleas for mercy as he took a deep breath to steady himself and check that he’d unlocked the door properly. Still the door wouldn’t budge. Almost sick with panic he ran to the kitchen, threw back the bolts on the back door and pulled on the handle. He was trapped. No way out. No escape from the unspeakable horror that was unfolding upstairs. He stood with his back to the garden door; his breath rasping in his throat, head pounding with fear, arms and legs shaking with the massive injection of adrenaline. Then something snapped inside him. His terror turned into a burning, all consuming rage and hatred for the foul creatures that were torturing his family. He was the only one who could save his mother and auntie from the evil being perpetrated upstairs.
Wrenching open the knife drawer, William grabbed the largest kitchen knife he could find, and brandishing it tightly in his right fist, ran back up the stairs. Bursting into the spare room, he took two strides to reach the girl with red ribbons, and whilst screaming, “Leave my mother alone, you bitch!” plunged the knife with all his strength deep into the middle of the girls’ chest.
There was a sudden silence, punctuated only by William’s laboured breathing, and his mother’s whimpers coming from the ceiling. The girl slowly looked down at her chest, to where William still held the knife’s handle; then turning her cold, black eyes on him, she said, “You can’t kill the dead, William.”
“Kill the dead.” echoed the second girl.
“The dead.” said the third.
William’s auntie cackled insanely at her corner of the bed. William ripped the knife from the girls’ chest, a narrow slit in her dress the only reward for his endeavour. The girl looked across to Auntie Susie.
“But you can kill her, William.”
“Kill her.” said the second girl.
“Kill.” said the third.
The three of them began chanting in their weird, discordant voices, “KILL HER, KILL HER, KILL HER!” their voices getting louder and louder and making William’s head spin, “KILL HER, KILL HER, KILL HER!” they bellowed. Then the room was suddenly awash with strange eerie whispering and muttering to join the cacophony of noise; the whispering getting inside William’s head and commanding him to, “KILL! KILL! KILL!”
William woodenly began advancing on his auntie, the knife gripped so tightly in his outstretched hand that his knuckles had turned white. He felt as if he were a puppet, his arms and legs controlled by strings held by some malevolent entity, forcing him closer and closer to his auntie.
Amid the swirling madness and chants of, “KILL HER, KILL HER!” Auntie Susie suddenly dropped to her knees, and with fingers curled like talons, ripped the front of her dress asunder, baring her naked chest.
“KIILLL MEEEE!” she screamed maniacally, as her eyes rolled in their sockets, “KIILLL MEEE! Feast on my still beating heart and drink of my hot blood!”
The madness and horror of the room had reached a crescendo, but through the noise and the evil voices in his head William could hear his mother screaming, “Will! Will! Stop! Don’t do it!” With his last ounce of self control William roughly cast the knife away; at the same time his auntie lunged at him from the floor to rake his eyes with her fingernails, and in one blurred movement William picked up a heavy brass candlestick from the bedside cabinet, raised it high above his head, and brought it crashing down on Auntie Susie’s left temple.
She fell face down on the carpet; out cold and with blood pouring from the deep gash that William had inflicted. The three girls moved from their positions around the bed and formed a semi-circle around William as he shied back against the wall; the bloodied candlestick still in his hand.
“That was a good game, wasn’t it, William?” They said in unison. “We’ll play another one tomorrow; perhaps daddy would like to play. Sweet dreams, William.” The three of them then appeared to fuse into one before William’s eyes, with that one gradually fading so that after a few seconds there was no trace of them at all. With a scream, William’s mother dropped from the ceiling to land heavily on the bed, knocking the wind out of her. But William didn’t see or hear any of this. His sensory and nervous systems had shut down in a last ditch attempt to protect him. He just stood leaning against the wall, still holding the candlestick which dripped his auntie’s blood onto the carpet, and stared unseeing and uncaring into blank, empty space.