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A Day of Nightmares
As the heavy thunking grew louder, Theo’s breath hitched in her chest.
Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God! She thought. Don’t find me please, don’t let him find me! She tried to will her legs to stop trembling as she pressed closer to the wall behind her. There was a thud that made her jump, then clap a hand over her mouth. The handle on the door jiggled and tears stung the corners of her eyes. Her breathing quickened as the door opened slowly, creaking loudly. Something fell against her and she screamed, but it was quickly cut short. A hand was clapped over her mouth.
“Theo, shh,” came a voice. She looked down; she knew that accent. It was the British transfer student, Sid. He pulled his hand back and sat up, kicking the door closed with his foot. In the moonlight from the small window at the top of the room, Theo could see the blood matting Sid’s hair. It came from a cut on the side of his forehead and ran down his ever-paling face.
“Sid--!” She gasped. “Oh God, you—You startled me!”
“Shh,” he muttered. “ ‘e’s still there.” Theo crouched down and grasped his arm. As she started to pull him up, they heard that thunking grow even louder and both froze. They held their breaths, waiting. The sound was right there, that man or monster or whatever he was--- he was right outside the door and they knew their deaths were upon them. Then… the thunking passed. It faded out down the hall and Theo finished pulling Sid up quickly. He stood on his feet a moment before grasping her arm tightly to keep from falling.
“We need to find Billie and Jim and get out of 'ere,” Sid whispered. Theo nodded.
“Y—Yeah, of course. We should stick together.” She put one hand to the wall and started forward in the dark room.
Theo stopped and looked back; Sid had moved out of the moonlight. Her eyes strained to see him but she could barely make out his figure, hunched over on the ground. One of Sid's hands hit something metal and he grasped it, standing and turning to her.
“Aw'right,” Sid said, returning to her side before stepping ahead of her, one hand on the wall. His right hand clutched the metal thing tightly. “Stay close to me,” he instructed. Theo grasped onto the back of his shirt lightly. The two of them moved along in the dark, in silence. Sid was breathing heavy. He's hurt badly, Theo thought as she stumbled along behind him. She tripped over something on the ground and knocked him over, falling on top of him. They both landed with an 'oof'. Whatever she'd tripped over rolled away.
Theo quickly pushed herself up and sat back. Sid was slower to sit up, but once he was on his knees, he crawled forward, his free hand groping for the thing Theo had tripped over. He found the piece of plastic and grasped it, pulling it forward. He could tell by the handle that it was a flashlight. He flicked the switch up and the light came on. He turned the light on Theo.
Theo sat there, wide, cat-like eyes staring at Sid. Her brown hair was a mess, her coat and face dirty, her skirt torn and her boots scuffed. She had a small cut on her left cheek.
“You found a light? That's... really helpful,” Theo whispered finally.
“Actually, you found it, Theo,” Sid corrected and chuckled.
“How can you do that?” She gaped.
“Laugh like that. We're stuck in this house and-- and we could die. Billie and Jim might already be dead and who knows who else that... that monster has killed!”
“Come now,” Sid started rationally. “Theo, we're going to get out just fine. I'm sure Billie and Jim are fine. Perhaps they're already out and 'ave called the coppers?”
Theo fell quiet before standing. Sid stood as well and turned his back to her, pointing the light at the ground and beginning to walk. Theo followed him closely, grasping onto the back of his shirt once more.
“Don't look,” he commanded suddenly, but it was too late. Theo had seen that hand on the ground, saw the wrist and the arm attached to it. Her eyes followed it to a rather gruesome scene. It was a whole body, half the face was melted away but half of it was still there. As her eyes followed it more, she saw the skin from the stomach was torn open and the insides were missing. Theo gasped and covered her mouth, shuddering and feeling sick.
And then there came a low groan and the sound of chains rattling. Theo dropped her hands and backed up against the wall. “Oh God--” she whimpered.
“He...lp... me...” came the groan. Sid grabbed Theo's arm.
“ 'Old this,” he said, putting the flashlight into her hands. Theo looked to him wildly but clutched onto the flashlight. “Point it t'wards the sound.” Theo nodded and did so, but the light jumped around-- she was trembling. Sid put his hand on hers a moment and Theo looked down. Sid's knuckles were bloody, meaning he must've punched something rather hard. She looked back up to him as he pulled his hand away and moved into the darkness carefully.
“H...elp.... me...” came the groan a third time.
“Where are you?” Sid asked gently. “Talk to me.”
“You.... he... lp... me?” the voice asked.
“Yes, of course. 'Ow did you get 'ere?”
“Bait? Keep talking,” Sid instructed, wandering in the dark still. Theo moved the light when she heard chains rattle. She pointed it to a far corner-- she saw the chains on the wall, saw them being pulled forward by someone with faded red hair. Sid came into view and the red-head looked up. The chains rattled as the red-head tried to pull forward.
“Wait,” Sid could be heard saying. He stood and walked away, causing the red-head to whine loudly. “Shh, it's all right, I'm looking for a key,” the black-haired male informed the prisoner. Theo stepped forward, moving closer to Sid and the captive. She watched her feet and accidentally bumped into a table. She turned the light to the table and looked over it. There were a few dusty old notebooks, a teacup that still had tea in it, and a moldy piece of bread that even the rats wouldn't touch. Papers with drawings were also on the table, along with various diagrams and two large textbooks. And then, something glinted in the light and Theo grabbed it. She lifted the small, dirty thing.
“Sid, I found a key!” She gasped, turning to him and the captive. As she started to walk forward, Theo put the light on Sid and stopped. His skin was paling still, his black hair sticking to the right side of his face. She couldn't see his right eye through his hair and the blood from the cut, which she could see was worse now than she had originally thought. His brilliant hazel eyes looked dark now and he didn't look healthy in the slightest.
“Wot are you waiting for?” Sid asked, walking towards her and taking the key.
“Sid... are you... y'know... Are you all right?” Theo asked softly.
“I'll be better once we get out of 'ere,” Sid replied with a sweet smile. Theo felt reassured, only slightly, by his words and smile. Sid turned away and walked back to the captive, who whined and leaned forward.
“Now,” Sid began to ask as he crouched before the prisoner. “Who are you?” He began to unlock the locks. The locks were around the captive's neck, wrists, ankles, and waist. The red-head watched Sid.
“W...who... am I?” the captive echoed.
“That's right.” The last of the locks was undone. Sid slipped each one out of it's hole and pulled the cuffs away. The chains fell to the ground and Sid stood. “Come on, now.” The redhead whined and tried to stand but couldn’t get to his feet. Sid had picked the metal thing back up and started to walk back to Theo.
“W—Wait…” The redhead whimpered. Sid stopped and turned back to him.
“Wot?” he questioned. The red-head lifted his arms.
“He can’t get up,” Theo whispered. Sid sighed and walked back to the red head. He crouched down, his back to the other male. “Put your arms around my neck,” Sid said. The redhead did so, mumbling something.
“Wot was that? I can’t ‘ear you,” Sid said with a sigh.
“N—Name… L—Lleu…” The redhead whispered.
“Lleu. Right. ‘M Side, she’s Theo. Now, keep quiet.” Side pulled the redhead up onto his back and stood. Then, Sid and Theo went back to walking around the room. They found a flight of stairs. As they started up the stairs, Sid gripped the metal pole tighter in his hand. Theo followed behind him, the light of the flashlight pointed at the ground. Sid stopped suddenly and set Lleu on the ground. Lleu whimpered audibly and latched onto Theo’s arm. Sid walked on ahead.
Theo inhaled shakily and followed him, her heart pounding in her chest. She was terrified and nervous, feeling nauseous. Ahead of her, Sid had stopped once more in front of a door. He lifted his right hand, holding the metal pole ready to strike. His left hand reached for the door slowly and rested on the doorknob. He twisted the knob gingerly, then yanked the door open swiftly. All time stopped as light flooded in on the three of them. They were quiet as Sid stepped into the hall. Theo and Lleu followed slowly.
“It’s… so bright,” Theo breathed once they’d stepped out of the basement and into the hall.
“Yeah…” Sid agreed. He started down the hall, walking lightly and being cautious.
Lleu gave a low whine, shrinking from the light. Theo pat him and he looked up to her. She smiled at him. The red head was about as tall as her and rather thin. His skin was paper-white from lack of sun, his hair dull and lackluster. His wild eyes held animalistic qualities—hungry, ferocious and a longing for freedom.
“It’s okay,” Theo whispered a reassurance, petting him.
The three continued down the hall. The hall was well-lit, the floors carpeted. Theo and Sid tracked dirt and mud on the carpet. Suddenly, Sid fell against one of the mahogany walls.
“Sid!” Theo gasped. He leaned on the wall and held up one hand. Theo moved closer to him and Lleu whined again. There was a loud creak and all three froze. Then, Sid staggered forward and grabbed the handle of the nearest door. He pushed it open and fell into the room, Theo and Lleu running in after him. Theo closed the door once Sid had moved out of the way and Lleu sat against the door.
“Theo?” A girl gasped. Theo whipped around to find that, sitting on the bed in the far corner, her best friend Billie was indeed alive.
“Billie!” Theo cheered and ran to her and hugged her. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, are you?”
“I’m all right, but Sid’s hurt,” Theo said softly. The two girls directed their attention to Sid, who was collapsed on the ground. Both of them got up and went to him quickly. Theo lifted his head and put it in her lap as Billie began to clean his wound. Luckily, she always carried a mini-first aid kit with her in her purse. Sid groaned weakly.
“It’s okay, Sid. Billie’s patching you up,” Theo reassured him. Sid looked up, his eyes holding a dark and distant look to them. She moved his hair out of his face slowly. He flinched away when Billie put some peroxide on the cut on his forehead. Theo tried humming when there came a sudden thud against the closet door. Both girls jumped, Sid tensed and Lleu let out a low growl, shifting so he was sitting on all fours, akin to a lion ready to pounce.
Billie got to her feet slowly and went to the closet door, standing so she could hide behind it after she opened it. She grasped the handle and yanked the door open. The next part happened so fast it didn't seem possible. A body fell out of the closet and landed on the floor with a thud-- Billie screamed and fell backwards. The moment after that seemed to last an eternity. Silence reigned supreme and then Billie started forward. The body was lifeless, the denim jacket stained with blood down the back. Billie covered her mouth as she reached out two fingers and poked the arm. Slowly, she turned him over. It was her boyfriend, James-- Jim.
“O—Oh dear Lord---” she gasped, eyes welling with tears. Jim's face was slashed beyond recognition, but his eyes were open and visible. There was a white film over his eyes already, tinting the usual brilliant blue. Billie let out a small whimper before covering her face with her hands and sobbing. Those soft sobs shook her frame and all her best friend could do was watch in stunned horror.
“I'm sorry,” Theo whispered across the room. Billie just shook her head. Suddenly, there came a pounding on the door. Sid struggled to his feet and grabbed the metal pole, ready to use it. Lleu jumped away from the door, still crouched on all fours, and stood beside Sid.
“Get back, I'll take that bugger,” Sid muttered to the two girls. Theo got up and ran to Billie, hugging her and pulling her up at the same time. She pulled Billie along to the bathroom and slipped inside with her. She let Billie go and closed the door most of the way, peering out through a crack. She watched as the door to the room was hacked open with an ax-- an ax! Her heart sank and her mouth watered. She was going to be sick from her fear. But she couldn't move.
The person holding the ax was shadowed but Theo could tell from one glance-- that petite figure was a woman. But that doesn't make sense-- Theo's mind raged at her, telling her that it was wrong, that shouldn't have been a woman, the heavy thunking from before was from combat boots, this lady she could see was too small. Suddenly, Theo's mind blanked. Her eyes saw the ax swinging for Lleu or Sid but catching neither.
That it, until Sid's movements became too sluggish. Theo could swear she heard the ripping of his sleeve, the tear of the flesh-- and then Sid screamed. He fell backwards, dropping the metallic rod and gripped his fresh wound.
“He won't make it,” Theo heard Billie whisper. Billie was up, going through the drawers in the bathroom. Finally tearing her eyes from the scene, Theo turned to face her best friend, who had found a large, old hairdryer.
“She's mine,” Billie almost snarled. She pushed past Theo and ran out into the bedroom, swinging the hairdryer by its cord. Theo whipped around but froze in the door way. Billie had hit the petite woman with the hairdryer, knocked her off balance, but had only bought them a little time. Sid was on his hands and knees, pulling at a floorboard. Somewhere in the back of her mind, Theo wondered what he was doing but the thought didn't make it very far.
Sid was up again, grasping a small handgun in his hands. He fired off two shots, both piercing the petite woman's leg. She screamed and toppled to the ground, then started to pull herself towards him. He stood, leaning against the window and fired another round into the woman's shoulder. The woman hissed and snarled and swung out the ax. Sid jumped up as best he could-- and then he was gone, out the window.
Theo screamed before she realized she was doing it. She ran forward, grabbing the metallic rod Sid had dropped. She swung it at the woman in a blind rage, hitting her once... twice... three times across the back. The woman fell to the ground. Billie ran to Theo and hugged her. Both girls were crying. Lleu scampered to them and stood, pulling them out of the room. The three stood out in the hall, in silence. Lleu let out a low whine before running off down the hall.
Theo wiped her eyes and began to follow Lleu, Billie trailing behind her. They managed to get back to the front door, where Lleu stopped. He just sat there, on his butt, staring at the door.
“W—What is it, Lleu?” Theo asked, going to him. Lleu turned to them, then scampered off into the living room. “L—Lleu!” Theo ran after him, Billie running after her. Billie stopped though and gasped. Theo turned around to see her friend, who'd frozen. “Billie?”
Billie was rooted to the spot, eyes wide. Blood was starting to stain the front of her shirt. There then came a sickening 'crack' and Billie's head was jerked backwards. She slumped to the ground. A large man stood behind her, a combat knife in his hand. He had broad shoulders and a pointed chin, accompanied with beady eyes. Theo let out a blood-curling scream and stepped backwards into the living room before turning to run. She heard the thunking of the heavy combat boots following her at a walking pace. Theo circled around to the kitchen, where Lleu was going through the drawers.
“Lleu! What're you doing?” She half-screeched. Lleu looked up to her and held up a key, then he growled. The man was standing in the kitchen doorway Theo had just come in from. Theo ran and stood beside Lleu, trembling. This is it. I die here. I die tonight. And I wanted to do so much. Oh God, please, please, don't let me die. I don't wanna die! She thought and heaved a dry-sob. The man approached them slowly, grinning wildly.
The glass of the window shattered. Theo and Lleu remained still, rooted to the spot. The man cried out and gripped his arm, cussing a storm. His assailant climbed in through the window, a gun in hand.
“Oi, ya lil' bugger! Go die in a ditch!” Theo turned to look at the one who spoke.
“Sid!” She half cheered, half said in relief. Sid, not even looking to her, gave a small wave of his hand.
“You sunva--!” The man snarled. Sid fired off one, two... three more rounds. The man fell to the ground with a thud that shook the building. Sid fired another round into the man's head for good measure.
“Take that with you,” he said and turned to Lleu and Theo. “Aw'right, let's get outta 'ere.” Theo shook her head and ran to Sid, hugging him.
“You're alive!” She cried. “I-- I thought-- I thought you--”
“Yeah, lucky break, I guess,” Sid replied, patting her on the head. Then, he returned her hug. “Now, let's go.”
The three walked to the door. Sid's arm was around Theo's shoulders, his tough guy act failing. He could barely seem to stand. Lleu opened the front door with the key he'd found. They stepped out into the night and started down the path that led to and from the house. Sid's sleek black car was where it had stalled. The three walked to it.
“Oi, Lleu, 'elp me,” Sid mumbled. He pulled from Theo and went to the trunk. He opened it and brought out a red container filled with gasoline. Lleu nodded and followed Sid. The two men walked back up to the house. Theo waited by the car, shivering. It was a lot colder than she remembered. And she was tired, she just realized. She sank into the passenger's seat, eyes closing. Suddenly, she could see the lights through her eyes and she looked up.
Halfway up the path, Sid and Lleu were standing, watching the horrid house burn. Theo couldn't help but smile as she watched them, then hopped out of the car and sprinted up to them. She stood beside Sid, who smiled down at her. The three of them stood there in silence for five minutes.
“W...What about.... me?” Lleu suddenly asked. Sid looked down at Lleu, then to Theo. Theo looked up at Sid, then looked to Lleu.
“Well, you can come stay with me or you can stay with Sid,” she said with a smile.
“You've been locked in there for awhile, right?” Sid asked. Lleu nodded and the raven-haired male continued. “Then you'll need to get adjusted to life 'nd all. We'll 'elp you. For now, come with me.” Sid turned and walked back to the car, Theo and Lleu following. Sid got into the driver's side, Lleu jumped into the back and Theo slid into the passenger's seat. Sid turned the key in the ignition and the car sputtered to life. He backed up and drove away from the house before glancing to Theo.
“'Ey... er... Theo... After I get a bit fixed up, why don't the three of us 'ead on over to the town's 'Alloween party?” he suggested. Theo looked up at him with a sly smile.
“I thought you didn't like parties?”
“ Eh... I'll get used to it,” Sid replied with a laugh. Theo smiled softly.
“I'd love to.”
“What's a party?” Lleu asked. Sid and Theo looked at each other and then both laughed. There was a lot to do-- they didn't consider what they'd have to tell Billie and Jim's parents, or explain where they'd been for the past three hours. Sid didn't think of how he'd explain the gash on his arm or the cut on his forehead-- or the strange cut on his neck, which looked odd for a cut. The three went to enjoy the rest of their All Hollows' Eve, even though their views on life were completely different now.
However, miles away, that old house was still burning. Standing in front of the house, gazing upon the flames with a cold hatred in his eyes stood a man. He lit a cigarette and turned away from the house, scoffing and saying,
“At least the boy got the curse...” And then shook his head, drawing heavily on his cigarette. “Never have the puppet do the puppet master's job.”
High in the sky, the full moon shone on the beautiful Halloween night. The next morning would bring the sun and the clouds and a fairly normal day, for the day of Nightmares, as Sid, Theo, and Lleu would come to call it, had passed.
Park City, Utah
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"The unprepared rebel dies in the fire."
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"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them" - Walt Disney
Great job SARA!!!