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
Rain began to fall, thunder echoed above, lightning weaved itself through the thick storm clouds. But it wasn't the rain that had woken the young man up, no. It was something else, another strange sound. Daniel had blinked his eyes a few times, he was trying to get adjusted to the darkness around him.
His room lit up with lightning, a silver flare followed by a roar of thunder. The wind racked a branch against the window, it caused him to startle a bit. He groaned softly and got himself up from his bed, removing bed sheets. The flat surface of his feet met cold floorboards, which creaked loudly upon impact.
He looked around the room, wondering what was going on. That strange feeling was still about, he couldn't shake it off. Was he possibly dreaming maybe? Something felt weird, the atmosphere and all. "Who's there?" Daniel would call out. He had to find out who was stalking him, who was there with him.
Suddenly two golden orbs peered through the darkest part of the room. The young man went tense. He scratched his head a bit and gulped. "If you don't show yourself, I'll be forced to call the police!" He warned. The figure in the darkness didn't move. Expect those eyes, they blinked slightly.
Written by Dalkr Moonfire Wolf on 05 December 2017
Daniel continued to gawk at the sight of the golden eyes peering back at him in dead silence. The only noises he could hear were the pattering of rain rapidly falling upon the roof of his house, the wind outside, and his own racing heartbeat. He wasn’t sure if this was some sort of dream or not, yet the coldness of the floor and the fact he was fully awake by this point told him, no, it wasn’t a dream.
“Who are you?” Daniel asked, his voice quaking.
He tried to make out the figure that the eyes belonged to, yet all he saw was pitch black. It was almost like the eyes were floating there, attached to the darkness in his room, a darkness not even a flash of lightning outside seemed to illuminate.
Daniel’s heart was pounding at the inner walls of his chest. He tried to keep calm, to not freak out, but it was growing difficult because the eyes just kept gazing at him, blinking every moment or so. If there was something in his room, something alive, with eyes like that, it meant he would likely not be alive himself for very long. And there was nowhere to run or to hide.
Daniel balled his hands into fists and stood as straight as he could. He wasn’t a fighter. In fact, he wasn’t exactly the tallest or fittest person, but, like hell was he not going to go down without a fight. He wouldn’t stand there helplessly and be murdered by whatever the hell this thing was.
“I don’t know who you are, but I’m warning you…”
They eyes shifted to the side a little, as if the black mass staring Daniel down was turning its head. There was an eerie, human look of amusement in them, or at least that’s how it looked to Daniel, though he was panicking and chocked it off to him being too full of fear to think otherwise. A deep, almost guttural, noise filled the room - but it sounded like laughter, or something close to laughter.
A shiver rippled up Daniel’s spine. He nearly fell from the surprise at the noise, but somehow managed to steady himself.
“What the hell…”
“You can relax, my friend.” A voice came from the shadow, from the golden, gleaming eyes, a very low, raspy voice that sounded distinctly feminine despite the growl beneath the tone. “If you were in danger, you wouldn’t be standing right now. Take a breath, and calm yourself.”
Daniel gawked. He was stunned, first by the voice and the fact it was coming from the darkness, and then, by the fact this wasn’t a dream. Was he going insane? He was starting to worry he might be, and that didn’t sit well in his stomach.
“Who are you?” Daniel asked. “WHAT are you? And what do you want?”
Written by Hollowpages on 14 April 2019
The figure chuckled, again an almost guttural noise. “Humans. How fascinating it is that some of you can be so terrified, while others are easily intrigued. I[‘ve seen many who freaked out even worse than you have, while others still have been the opposite. Nevertheless… let me try and ease your fears.” The figure slowly started to move from the shadows, and thus, began to take shape.
Daniel’s eyes widened. “What…”
Darkness became a physical form, a body moving on four legs. It had a long face, pointed ears, and what became quickly apparent was that it possessed not one, but nine tails flowing behind it, almost like a billowing gown. Then, color drenched the figure’s body, and within minutes, Daniel found himself gaping at the sight of a large fox, which eyed him with humanlike eyes.
“Does this form suit you more?” the creature asked, its voice softer now, silkier… and still obviously feminine. “As I said, you needn’t be afraid. Were you to be killed or eaten or what have you, again, we would not be speaking.”
Daniel needed a moment to gather himself. Several, in fact, to pick his jaw off the floor - first - and then to realize what the hell was going on. He was speaking to…
Daniel’s mind raced. “You’re… a kitsune?”
The fox cocked her head to the side, a look of amusement mixed in with a tint of surprise coloring her human eyes. “Ah, how curious. It isn’t often those I visit know of what I am. Yes. I am a kitsune, as you say.”
He knew. He knew because, in part, he’d grown up being a fan of Japanese anime, and he’d seen quite a number of shows that involved the kitsune, the legendary - and often deadly - nine-tailed fox creature that was either a monster or a spirit, sometimes even both. This fondness for anime had led to him growing to enjoy Japanese culture. That, however, was neither here nor there.
“But… but you’re…” Daniel couldn’t make himself finish as he pushed this aside and tried to grab onto reality.
“Not real?” She laughed again. “I assure you, dear boy, I’m very much real. My kind are real, in fact. We simply don’t reveal ourselves to humans unless we wish to, like now, for example.” She eyed him with a strangely thoughtful expression for a large, nine-tailed fox. “I’ve been watching you, Daniel. Watching, listening, learning. I feel you may be a good fit for me.”
Daniel frowned. “A good… fit? For what?”
“For a human host, of course,” the kitsune replied.
Daniel tried to steady his nerves. “Human host?” Immediately, his mind went to horror movies and all manner of stories about possessions. “Oh, God…”
Written by Hollowpages on 08 September 2019
But the kitsune chortled. “No, no. Not like that. If it were a question of taking over your body completely to do my own bidding, then I would do so without wasting my time on idle conversation. No, the type of host I refer to is… a more delicate sort of balance between us.”
“What?” Daniel asked. He couldn’t believe he was having this conversation, but, he couldn’t help but treat it more like a bizarre dream.
“My kind,” the kitsune said, “and those like us are limited in what we can truly do within your world.” She studied him for a moment. “To try and explain it in terms you’d best understand, we are… confined, you could say, to live on the outskirts of this realm. We can’t exactly show ourselves to the modern human, lest they turn their weapons upon us or seek to turn us into experiments. And yet, we long to live as you do. To be a part of this majestic society, to learn what humanity means, and so on.”
Daniel slowly started to understand, to some degree, anyways.
“Words alone can do little to describe to you what it’s like,” the kitsune continued, her tone turning oddly somber. “Imagine that you lived in a world with another race, a race whom you saw day in and day out being able to do things you couldn’t. To experience things, good and bad, on a regular basis, whereas you were stuck with the same mundane limitations.” She nodded as she said this. “That is what it feels to me, to my kin, to those like us.”
“There are more?” Daniel asked.
“Countless more,” the kitsune replied. “Many of your race’s myths and legends stem from truths or half-truths.” A glimmer flashed in her eyes. “But my point, dear boy, is that I wish very much to experience humanity. And to do so, we must do one thing: find a human host that is willing to serve as our vessel.”
“Vessel?” Daniel blinked, trying his best to remain calm in this strange, inhuman situation he suddenly found himself in. The word didn’t exactly fill him with a sense of ease, after all.
“Yes,” the kitsune said. “A vessel. To be a host to anything like me is a simple enough process: I would merge with you, my essence becoming a part of your essence. Think of it as an exchange; I gain the ability to do as you can, to see, smell, hear, taste, and feel all you do as though your body were mine, and in exchange, you gain some of my… benefits.” She smiled wide. “Your body remains yours. Your mind remains yours. I have no interest, nor power, to usurp anything from you, if you’re worried.”
Daniel stared at this massive fox, his mind twisting and turning with all this information. He couldn’t exactly believe what he was hearing - no, he was still struggling to wrap his head around it - but, after a moment, he couldn’t help but be… curious.
“Why me, though?” Daniel asked. “I mean… I’m not exactly the most interesting person around.” He paused. “And… I mean, I’m a guy, and…”
The kitsune giggled at this. “Precisely.”
“We have similar interests,” the kitsune said, a hint of mirth in her voice. “We prefer the female sex, for starters.” She winked. “But to answer the other part of your question? Your life is exactly what I want for myself, Daniel. I don’t want danger or excitement. I want something simple, something normal. And you just happened to be the one I felt drawn to.”
Daniel didn’t quite know how to take this. He still wasn’t entirely sure this wasn’t some elaborate dream, and while his mind was at war with him over this debacle, he started to relax and think a bit more clearly.
“How does this, er, host thing work?” Daniel asked.
The kitsune sat. “It’s not a painful or unpleasant process. You must allow me the privilege of becoming one with you, and in doing so, I shall. It’s not some fancy ritual like a fantasy movie, my dear. It’s more of a… physical contract. By giving me permission, you give me consent, and thus, I join you. However, if at any time you wish to reject or end our ‘partnership,’ we’ll call it, then I will be forced out of you. It’s an unspoken rule among those like me: we cannot force ourselves upon a human, nor can we force ourselves to remain within them.”
“I see,” Daniel said, a little surprised at this.
“If we did,” the kitsune continued, “then it would be dangerous and problematic. A human host who fights for their own mental freedom would cause a great deal of stress and strain upon us, and we would essentially weaken to the point where we’d likely perish or just get kicked out.” She shrugged. “At any rate… what do you say?”
Daniel hesitated. Despite his reservations and wariness, he was very curious about all this, more than a rational person probably should’ve been.
Written by Hollowpages on 10 September 2019