Midnight. They always came at midnight. The chimes from the old grandfather clock in the den jolted Daniel out of his restless dreams. It wasn't the chimes that woke him so much as the knowledge that They were coming. It was the same horrifying ritual, every single night.
The room was illuminated by an eerie pale green glow. Three figures in haz-mat suits stood around his bed. One of them held a large briefcase, another held a gun, and the third--the apparent leader, from the way he acted--was making entries into a large handheld computer. Daniel tried to escape, to run, to even move, but some unseen force held him in place, as immobile as the bed itself. The leader looked up from his computer and signaled to the one holding the briefcase, who set the case down and began to open it. Daniel strained to see its contents, but couldn't from his position. If only he could move...
The leader reached forward, grabbed the bedcovers and--
The shrill blast of Daniel's alarm clock filled the room. He'd had that dream again, the same one he'd been having every night for nearly a month. Except that it didn't feel like a normal dream. It felt more like a memory, but one that had been partially forgotten. Anyway, Dan had more important things to worry about, so he pushed whatever it was aside for the moment. Today was the last day of school, finally. All he had to do was survive his last few final exams, and he'd be home free. He wasn't about to let a creepy dream get him down.
Dr. DiCaoz glanced over his biology classroom. "Is anybody still working on the final?" he asked tiredly. He paused for a moment, then said, "If everybody is finished, you may talk quietly amongst yourselves for the remainder of the period." As the class erupted in chatter, he went back to nursing his hangover.
Daniel loved his biology class. It wasn't just that he was good at it, or that it was the last class of the day. By some bit of luck or fate, he happened to be in the same class as his four closest friends, Gassan, David, Pammy, and Jake. Gassan, David, and Pammy had become absurdly popular since coming to high school. Gassan was Lebanese and therefore "exotic," David was a star swimmer, and Pammy was a cheerleader. In retrospect, popularity was an inevitability. To the other popular kids, Jake an avid follower of the Furry subculture (he called it a craze, but nobody else did) and Daniel, the introspective writer, were social liabilities. Still, Gassan, David, and Pam never let their newfound "friends" keep them away from Jake and Dan. Privately, Daniel was grateful that he had managed to befriend the four people who appeared to be immune to high school drama.
"So, what'd you guys think?" Pammy whispered.
"I'm pretty sure Dr. Di is a nutcase," Gassan answered quickly. He was met with a chorus of approval from his companions.
"Anyway," Pam continued, "are we having our annual Thank-God-The-Schoolyear's-Over party tonight?"
"I can't go," Jake said, "I've got a convention."
"I can't go either," said David, "My dad's taking me camping. He's on a back-to-nature kick."
"I'm visiting my grandma," Gassan said. Pammy rolled her eyes.
"Alright," she sighed, "when do you guys get back?"
"Sunday, but it'll be late."
"So," Pammy continued, "is Monday night alright with everyone?"
The days passed quickly. By the time Monday arrived, he had gone an entire weekend without his mysterious dreams. He was mostly relieved, but part of him wished the visitors would come back so he could find out what they were up to.
The streets were charged with an eerie calm. A summer storm was coming. As Daniel reached Pam's door, he couldn't help but feel a strange foreboding. Something was decidedly wrong. He rang the bell.
"Come in," called Pammy. Dan opened the door and found friend sitting on the floor in a tidy circle. They were all staring at him, an unsettling hunger in their eyes. "We are playing Truth or Dare," Pammy intoned mechanically. "Please, join us. Truth or Dare?"
"Please choose Dare," Gassan said, in the same unearthly voice.
"The Truth is never any fun," agreed David, still in the same tone. Throughout the exchange, none of the four took their eyes off of Daniel.
"Is everything alright?" he asked. "You all seem...different."
Pammy answered in the same monotone as before: "We are collectively unnerved at a series of recurring dreams we have been having. Perhaps you too are experiencing these visions?"
"Yeah," Dan said, "but I'm not acting that weird about it."
"Perhaps," Pammy said, "All will be made more clear if you answer this simple question: Truth...or Dare?"
Written by Zodiac on 31 May 2008
Dan can’t decide so quickly between the two relatively simple options, “Truth or Dare?” so instead he hesitates instead. He sucked in a breath. He felt the wind of the breath wash over his bottom front teeth and gather in the back of your throat. He paused for a second, holding that air while he thought before it all puttered out from between his lips. That one breath already helped him feel calmer, more in control in this bizarre situation.
Then, he started to fidget where he sat. One hand jostled over his knee, bouncing and picking at the skin before he started to shift on his butt, trying to delay the decision by getting comfortable instead.
“After all, I just got here! I gotta get comfortable first!” he convinced himself, mentally conversing back and forth between his two halfs.
He looked around the room, trying to avoid responding just yet. He needed more time still to process why everyone was being so weird. He looked out past the circle of his friends, all seated in a uniform shape. He looked past their unnerving stare and instead into the setting itself. It was a living room, the classic size with windows on either side of the corner. Though, curtains hid them from the outside world and blocked out any remaining strands of light that may have otherwise snuck in and illuminated the dim space. The walls were plain, bearing almost no design on the darkened shade of wallpaper. The furniture too was oddly the same, nothing seems to stand out. Nothing was old enough to cause disgust, but nothing was new enough to impress. The colors were all the same dark, dull shades that seemed to meld back into the wall. It was as if everything was made with the same design plate.
“It’s all so drab...” he murmured, only to himself as he eyed the furniture closer, noting that it was at least a modern design and the room was clean, though all cast in a dim, somber shade that aged it.
Squinting a bit, he searched for anything that stood out in the otherwise were dull scene. Then, gaze falling, he spotted something that seemed to sparkle out from the otherwise matte flatness of the room. There, on the zipper of Pammy’s backpack, ignored against the back wall something caught his eye.
Focusing, he saw the tag on her keychain featured a glittering unicorn charm. It looked so delicate, almost as thought it could be made of glass the way it glistened suspended there. Dan couldn’t help but stare at it for a long second before he suddenly gave a shrug and met Patty’s eyes. “Dare.”
Pammy doesn’t seemed surprised by the response, instead, she smiles calmly like she knew what he’d pick. Then, she gestures to the center of the circle where a glass of a thick, glinting, pearlescent liquid sits.
“Was that there before?” His brows furrowed together. He couldn’t imagine that he’d missed it when scanning the room, but how else could it have gotten there all a sudden?
“Your dare is to drink” his friend said tonelessly. She showed none of the usual excitement when administering a dare, but just let the words fall, dull and monotone from her lips. Dan crinkled his brows further. He couldn’t puzzle out what the game was here, but instead, he leaned towards the glass.
Plucking it up from the carpet, he inspected this daring object. It seemed harmless enough. It was in a plain glass with a faint sweet tinge wafting up from the contents. The liquid inside seemed thicker than a typically beverage. Instead of sloshing inside the walls of the container, it instead seemed to ooze inside.
Tipping it towards himself, Dan’s eyes scanned the surface of the thick liquid. The smell hit his nostrils, which flared at the sweet though faintly fruity aroma. Breathing deeper, the undertones seemed to bring with florally smells. “That’s weird...” he thought, though nothing about the beverage screamed danger. So, tipping the glass, he allowed the contents to begin to slide down over his tongue.
Barely any flavor crossed his pallette with the first gulp and with the second, the glass emptied. Setting the glass down, his brows knit again. “Was that even a dare?” he asked allowed, waiting for some signal from his stomach that they’d hidden something gross inside a mask of pleasant sweetness, but nothing came. It was though he’d only had a sip of water.
But then, suddenly, the room seemed to shift. The objects all seemed to shrink before his eyes. Dan blinked, trying to clear through any effect of that drink. Suddenly thinking it may have been spiked, he turned to his friends, but they seemed so much shorter than him suddenly.
“Guys? What is happening?” he asked, confusion clouding his mind before suddenly, his balance seemed to shift. Everything seemed off. The room wasn’t balanced and a discomfort began to flood his body. His bones seemed to be cracking. His entire body seemed to be shifting, flooded with alien sensations, but then, everything went black.
Written by Picklessauce69 on 23 April 2016