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
Daniel had been having that dream again. He was trapped. Trapped in a concrete bunker of a room, with men in hazmat suits all around him… There was another man. With a suit. And a briefcase. What was in it…
He woke up. A bead of sweat dribbled down his forehead, his heart beating in his chest. He never got to find out what happened in those dreams.
Daniel pulled the sheets off of himself, bringing his legs to the side of his bed. There was an outline of sweat on the bed. He sat, breathing for a moment. The dream was never so vivid. This time, it was like there was another layer. He had never noticed the walls were concrete before.. And he had never woken up like that. He put his hand on his chest, as if to stop it’s pounding heart.
He shook his head, and swiftly stood up. He went over to the dresser across from his bed, tugged it open, and grabbed a pair of shorts from the messy drawers. He shoved it shut, making a loud slam that made him wince. He had a habit of not being careful when he got distressed like that. Maybe breakfast would calm him down a bit..
He quickly made his way down the stairs, and into the kitchen. It was comforting in a way. The fuzzy, warm sunrise light pouring in from the window, the gently parted curtains, the fridge with magnet after magnet plastered onto it, the spotty granite countertops… Food. It was his comfort in life.
He pulled the fridge open and selected from a variety of yogurt, going with a peach flavored cup. He then snatched a granola bar from the pantry, crushing it up before spreading it onto the yogurt. He then grapped a few small peach slices from the bowl on the table next to the sink and plopped them on top of the cup.
He dipped a spoon into his breakfast, taking a bite as he ran back upstairs. As he ate, he sorted through a mass of papers on top of his desk. He snatched up a particular piece, and then shoved it into the thin bag at the base of the wooden leg of the table. He quickly zipped it up and then set it down gently. He looked at the time.
OH SHIT! He scrambled around for a second, before shoveling the yogurt into his mouth and tossing the backpack around his shoulders. He raced downstairs. The bus wouldn’t wait for him, and it came in only a minute! He ran down to the door, and stopped.
He forgot his watch. Shit! He ran back and snatched it off of the table, before practically falling down the stairs and stumbling out of the door, before sprinting as fast as he could down the walk and towards the green stop that now felt like his own little heaven.
Written by OakenFerret on 11 September 2022
The bus was only just before him, thankfully. Nobody else was at the stop, it wouldn’t have waited for him for a moment longer had he not made it. He scrambled onto the bus, before slumping into a seat.
Daniel let out a sigh of relief, the doors of the bus shutting and the vehicle slowly beginning to move again.
Soon, he arrived at school. The campus was actually rather pretty, especially on days like this. It was a shame that everyone there had to be there at 7:30, prime time for absolute misery. Almost everyone had bags under their eyes, some that looked like they could reach down and touch the ground like weird purple blobs.
Slowly but surely the students trickled off the bus, Daniel among them. He was oddly awake today, even with the early time and his lateness to the bus stop, he had slept quite well. Apart from the end of it, that is.
The school stood in front of him, the sun casting long yellow rays that highlighted the red bricks and white pillars that made up its exterior. As Daniel went up the concrete steps, his mind drifted back to his dream.
It was a little odd. Dreams always were. Recurring ones especially. The reality of it this time was… Disturbing. It had never been in such vivid detail, it was like it was just a shred away from reality, even though it seemed like it was foggy in a way, like dreams always were.
He began walking through the halls. Early in the morning they weren’t as busy just yet. Only clusters of people forming against the lockers, or on the benches at the side. There was the occasional poster that was plastered onto the wall, each of which had become little more than a pattern on the wall and had overstayed their own dates.
An out of place bright green poster caught Daniel’s eye. He stepped closer to take a brief look at it.
HILL HOGAN HASHH! TONIGHT AT WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT O CLOCK COME AND GET SOMEEEEEEEE
Daniel’s expression scrunched up. Not a single word of that made any sense. Whatever. He had better things to do than.. Whatever that was. If they put a poster up in the school they would probably get busted anyways…
He quickly made his way down the hall and into his class. His day began with a delightful dose of Chemistry. In spite of it’s difficulty Daniel did like the class. Though his classmates, with bags under their eyes that reached the floor, didn’t seem to share his enjoyment.
In a few short minutes the bell rang, and tardy students piled into the classroom. The lesson began. The teacher then started to write on the board. Daniel stared eagerly, waiting to see what the full lesson was about.
A vision invaded his head. He saw a concrete wall form around him, before a strange, green glow filled it. A figure was in front of him, wearing a blank white cloak with gloves and a slit to see through.
The figure took a step closer. Daniel gulped.
It was like he was being… Called to.
Written by OakenFerret on 12 September 2022
He abruptly woke up, his head shooting upwards and his eyes blinking into focus. His breaths came in short gasps as he struggled to bring his attention back to the board, which was now covered with equations, chemical bonds, proteins, and a number of sketches in varying colors.
He quickly looked at the clock. A full hour had passed. He scrambled to open his notes, searching for the last page he had written in before and began to write whatever he could get down. The hands on the clock ticked, filling his ears with an incessant tick, tick, tick, tick.. Tick…
The bell rang. Daniel sighed, flopping onto the desk. How unlucky could he be to have fallen asleep… Now he would have to catch up, and that would just suck. He only have a few minutes between classes though, and knowing this he quickly packed up and walked off.
He yawned. When did he get so tired..? Ugh, he should splash his face with some water to wake up a little, he thought. He went into the bathroom and turned the tap on, letting the water pool in his hands for a moment before splashing it onto his face. The cold water woke him right up. When he looked to the mirror though, his own face hardly greeted him.
His eyes had purple bags under them, his skin looked pale and worn, not to mention how the vessels under it seemed to struggle to bring color to his face. His lips were the same as the rest, looking dry and cracked.
He splashed some more water on his face, dried himself, yawened again, and then left the bathroom. Several more yawns plagued his walk, a tired tear being wiped from the corner of his eye as he walked into his second class.
This time, the period passed uneventfully. History was the easiest subject usually for Daniel, and today was no different. Aside from the looming exhaustion he felt, it was a quick and easy block.
Soon, it was lunchtime. Daniel scurried to the outdoor seating, where a table was waitng for him. He and his friends usually liked to sit together, they were lucky to have a lunch period together. Since the time was split into a few parts, it was rare for a whole group to be together.
“We. Are. NOT going to that stupid fucking bum bash or whatever the hell he called it.” Pammy said.
“Why not?! It’s test week, why do you not want to go to it? It’ll be fun! Maybe. Either way it might be a good way to relax! There’s no way there is’t at least one person selling drugs-” Gassan replied, before Pammy interrupted with,
“Ugh, you? Disgust me.” Gassan rolled his eyes. They were giggling together though, and Jake and David were having their own conversation on the side that Daniel couldn’t quite make out.
He sat down and unpacked his lunch. David gave him a little wave, making Jake turn around. He smiled and spoke.
Written by OakenFerret on 13 September 2022
“Ah! Good to see you Daniel. You look.. Tired. Sleep alright?”
“Ugh, no. I had this weird nightmare.. I thought I was fine but it hit like a mule.” Daniel replied, considering the strange snap back to reality he had earlier.
“Woah, weird. Hope you get some rest soon.. Pam and Gass were talking about that poster that got taken down. It was some knid of party advertisement thing, think it might be a good way to chill a bit?” David said.
Daniel thought for a moment. It sounded like it would be shit. Well.. Sigh. What’s the worst that could happen, right? He was pretty confident that the party would get broken up.
“What about if we all just hang out instead?” Daniel suggested. Pammy and Gassan had stopped their conversation, and now turned their heads to Daniel.
“Oh! That sounds *way* bettter.” Pammy said, “Right, Gassan?” She gave him a nudge. He sputtered for a moment, before he sighed and nodded.
Daniel smiled, before starting to eat his lunch. Packed in his bag was a small sandwich consisting of cheese, turkey, a sort of tangy sauce he put together and pickles. He also made sure to pack a bag of chips and some grapes too.
Soon, he was off to his third period class. Everyone had agreed upon a time for a little get together. Daniel sighed. It would be nice to relax a bit…
He sat down at his seat. Ms. Meyer was, similar to her lemon namesake, very sour. As much as Daniel wanted to be a decent student and not insult her… She wasn’t exactly a sunshine-y person.
The late bell rang, and she went and shut the door. Her eyes quickly scanned the room, before she started to write down all of the people that were missing. A knock came at the door.
“WHAT.” She said curtly. A student meekly wiggled around her and into the classroom, before looking towards everyone else and rolling his eyes. He quickly went to his seat, and the teacher slammed the door shut behind him.
Daniel propped his head up with his arm. This was going to be a very.. Very long class..
Daniel opened his notepad. He looked up at the teacher, who was already furiously sketching notes away on the board. He tried to keep up, writing as fast as he could. Everytime he looked up, it seemed like an entire paragraph would materialize on the board.
He had only barely finished getting everything she had written down before she slapped a pile of papers onto his desk. He started to look through it hastily, seeing about 7 full pages of dense, tiny writing. The last page was an essay question.
He started to read through it quickly, trying to compare his notes to the text. The words seemed to melt together like cheese on the page, and the lack of proper spacing made it all the more difficult for his brain to digest. The work felt like chewing a huge chunk of fat on a steak.
By the time the bell finally rang, his brain felt sore. His eyelids were even droopier than they were in the morning. Half of the class stumbled out of the room like zombies shambling after their missing brains, and the other half went out more like slugs that recently took a bath in an ocean of salt.
Daniel was of the latter.
Written by OakenFerret on 14 September 2022
Thankfully, he had a study block next. Since he drove to school, he was allowed to sign out and leave early instead of lingering. Today, he needed that option. Who would’ve thought that one class could take the little steam he had so easily..
He yawned as he slowly made his way through the crowds of people. If he didn’t get a nap soon he might just pass right out..
After what felt like an eternity of driving (That was actually only 7 minutes), he arrived home. He made his way into the house, missing the lock with his key twice before actually managing to insert it into the doorknob.
Inside, he sighed, and plopped onto his bed. At long last, his heavy eyelids gently closed, and proper sleep found him.
Daniel woke up with a start. He was in a darkened room, the smell of an old basement permeating the air. A light clicked on above him. He took in his surroundings quickly. Inside was a small, uncomfortable bed that he was sitting on. The mattress felt like little more than a bag of springs. The color looked similar to cream, but time had made it a nasty yellow that was unpleasant to look at. There were thin sheets that he hadn’t realized he was clutching onto. Across the walls were small pieces of paper plastered onto the dusty, crumbling concrete.
Daniel woke up. He could feel his heart pounding as if it were trying to escape his chest. His entire body was overheating, and pools of sweat spread from his knees and chest. His throat felt like it was going to close at any moment, leaving him struggling for air.
His head snapped around to look at the clock. It was 6:39. Just before the party… Ugh. He quickly tossed the sheets off of him, before going into the bathroom. His body still felt so hot…
Written by OakenFerret on 15 September 2022
Daniel made his way into his next class. He was as tired as he was yesterday, not to mention how tired he always was walking into class every day. Feeling spry and alive was a rarity when he was in school.
He set his things down on his desk, pulling out a notepad and pencil. The teacher went up to the board and started to write, just before the bell rang. Once again, tardy students piled into the class. The teacher wrote a little faster.
His mind drifted to yesterday. His brain was a little foggy from the morning, trying to think about what had happened after he left for the party. It was all rather blurry.. Daniel shook his head. He couldn’t afford to lose focus again, especially in a high level chem class. He began to take notes as the teacher scribbled away.
He figured that as he continued, his brain fog would clear up a lot. Unfortunately, quite the opposite happened. As he took more notes and tried to absorb more information, his head got more jumbled and foggy. Thoughts conflicted with each other. His chair grew uncomfortable in every position he shifted to. His eyelids felt heavy, and his lungs like lead were filling them.
Daniel tried to recall more about what happened the night prior. He had gone to the party, yes, but then… He had arrived, right. Yeah.. Then they had had a little to drink of course, then.. Right, they started to do some games and stuff.. Which ended up as truth or dare…
When Daniel came back to the classroom, it was empty. He looked around, confused, before scrambling to pack his things up and go and see if he could find his friends to ask them about what had happened yesterday.
He didn’t manage to find them, but he knew he would see them at lunch. In the meantime, he went to his next class.. Math.
He sighed as he piled his things onto the desk, and began to open up his notes. For the time in between classes he tried to decipher what he had written yesterday. The majority of which was nonsense you would expect from a tired person. This included scribblings about horses, a little doodle of the nightmare he had yesterday, and something about a lion for some reason.
He sighed, flipping to a blank page. Clearly this would all be useless. Right as he did, the bell gave a ring, and class began.
As terrible as it was, math class went by quickly, and it was soon time for lunch. After packing everything up, Daniel quickly went to the outside tables to find his friends.
Sitting at the tables was everyone, just like yesterday. But.. It was off. Everybody was completely silent. All of their food was sitting, untouched in front of them. There wasn’t any steam coming off of any of the previously hot cafeteria food.
Written by OakenFerret on 16 September 2022
Daniel spotted a small spot on the side, most of the bench was taken up by David. Daniel expected that he would scoot over a little but.. Nothing. David didn’t move a muscle. Daniel poked him a little, before sighing and sitting with the little room he had. He feebly started to eat, looking at everybody’s almost lifeless eyes.
Daniel started to try and figure out what had happened last night again, ruminating about the game of truth or dare. He remembered some weird ones coming up, I mean, of course there were some. They were all at least a bit tipsy after all. But didn’t they do something a little more.. Dangerous? Weird? The words didn’t come to his head very well, but the image of the night prior began to finally come to him..
The chain link fence snapped as David used his dad’s bolt cutters to cut a hole in it for them to crawl into. They were all a little drunk of course, after all, what good would a party be without a little alcohol?
They made their way through the tall grass, which rustled in the intense wind. The lights in the compound were all shut off, although the looming silhouettes of the lamp posts still made shapes that almost seemed to move. Maybe that was Daniel’s nerves talking.
Gravel crunched as a car made a turn, coming out towards the chain link fence. Gassan gestured for everyone to get down, as its headlights came on, illuminating the fence that moved to the side as it approached. After only a few moments, it was gone.
The group continued inwards.
Soon, they approached a large, concrete building. This was the center of the compound. It looked… Well, exactly like you would imagine a military base would really. Large, colorless blocks of concrete with holes that could generously be called “Windows”, and a series of large lights that looked like they could illuminate the entire compound with just one turned on. There was what looked like the entrance there as well, the moonlight illuminating it just barely enough to see two double doors with what looked like heavy glass panels and metal reinforcements.
“What are they hiding in there?” Pammy said. She spoke for everyone, curiosity permeated their minds. They began moving further in, taking a look at the huge door.
Gassan unzipped his bag, and pulled out a T shaped thick metal tool with an edge like a crystal. It was a tool designed for shattering glass. With a quick smack and a loud crash, the windows came down, and the group snuck inside.
Each of them switched on their flashlights, beams of light shining and making the inside of the dark hallways visible. It seemed… Bleak. There was barely anything aside from a few doors on either side.
Daniel felt something touch his shoulder. He nearly leaped out of his skin, turning and shining the light into Pammy’s eyes.
“Ow! Jeez dude don’t be such a scaredy cat.. Look.” She pointed towards one of the doors that read, “BASEMENT. LEVEL 03”
Written by OakenFerret on 17 September 2022
Naturally, it took only a moment for them all to start walking down the stairs. After all, nothing bad had ever happened in a story about people going into a mysterious basement in the middle of the night. Either way they were far too drunk to actually think.
The smell of an old basement permeated the air.
Daniel suddenly awoke, his head throbbing and his vision blurry. His mind swirled, not to mention the horrible pain that came from what seemed to be a lump on his head. He groaned and tried to blink, but his vision was hesitant to clear itself. He tried to figure out where he was and what was going on, and tried to feel around him, but his fingers were completely numb. He wasn’t even sure if he was moving them at all.
He could hear fuzzy murmurs of voices, as if someone was talking to him through a veil. They sounded... Inhuman, in a way. Perhaps that veil wasn’t a physical one so much as something greater..
Words flared, searing into his mind like the sun goes through your eyes when you close them on a sunny day. It felt like his mind, not his brain, was being branded with a hot iron.
ONE OF US.
Daniel’s ears rang with loud screaming that he soon realized was coming from his own mouth. Howls of immense pain bellowed forth from his throat. Suddenly, the pain subsided. The last of his screams finished echoing in the room. He sat, panting for a moment, before he took in his surroundings.
It was the room.
The room. That room, where he kept finding himself. The very same concrete, with all its crooks and crannies. All of the paper pasted onto the walls. The very same bed, that he was now buckled onto with leather straps binding his wrists, chest, and legs.
He didn’t need to struggle against his binds to know it would be futile. His heart was racing though, and he could feel adrenaline pumping through his veins. He had to do something. He couldn’t just sit there! Fortunately, he didn’t have to wait.
A door on the left side of the room creaked open. The door itself was massive and metallic, it looked like it was nearly as thick as his head. Reinforcements made of a dark steel lined its outside. Clearly, they wanted to keep something out. Or in.
Two men stepped through the door. One of them was wearing a brown suit with a sort of unclean white undershirt. He was balding, but his hair was a healthy brown color. There were noticeable bags under his eyes. The other was much less discernible, wearing a white Hazmat suit with an opaque glass pane for him to see through along with yellow gloves and what looked to be some kind of briefcase.
Daniel gulped. Breaths came to him in short, curt bursts that began to make him feel lightheaded. Or maybe that was the lightbulb that had just turned on. Or maybe it was just something about the air.
Written by OakenFerret on 18 September 2022