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
"Dare," Dan said shakily.
"Very well," Pammy responded, "your dare is to go to Area 50. You are familiar with Area 50, I trust?"
Jake jumped in: "It is a military complex on the outskirts of our town. It has been abandoned for a long time, though, so it will pose no immediate threat to you."
"It is nothing to be afraid of," said Gassan, "consider it to be something of a rite of passage."
"If you are truly afraid," said Pammy, "then we will accompany you."
Daniel stared at his friends incredulously. They had never acted this strangely before, and they had certainly never gone for childish dares before.
David appeared to sense his hesitation, and added, "perhaps Area 50 is somehow related to...Them."
Dan knew what that was about, and David was right. There seemed to be some connection between his nightly visitors and the military base. He couldn't quite place it, but the link was there. "Actually," added David, "all this talk of Area 50 has sparked my curiosity." He didn't sound the least bit like his curiosity has been even remotely sparked."
"I, too, am interested," agreed Pammy disinterestedly.
"As are we," said Gassan and Jake in eerie unison.
"Perhaps," Pammy went on, "we should go to Area 50 ourselves, whether or not Daniel is interested." The four of them stood to leave. Pam stopped for a moment, and asked, "Are you joining us, Daniel?"
Written by Zodiac on 02 June 2008
Daniel looked at his friends nervously. "Al...alright," Daniel said reluctantly, "I will go..."
"Nice to have you coming David," Pammy exclaimed. All David could do is let out a sheepish smile. "We will meet at Area 50 at 9 P.M. tonight, everyone can run by their houses and grab anything we may need. Flash lights, snacks, etc."
"I am just going to relax at my house until it is time" David said
"We'll I will see everyone then," Gassan said. Everyone soon dispersed and left to their respective houses.
Later at 9 Daniel met his friends at the base.
"Everybody ready to go in?" Pammy inquired.
"Yeah!" Gassan shouted.
"Let's do it!" As did Jake.
"Sure am" David said
"Unfortunately..." Daniel murmured.
David looked around and saw the front entrance directly ahead.
Far down to his left a hole in the fence could be seen.
And to his right a large tunnel could be seen. Though it was pitch black, so somebody better have a flash light.
Written by Shuusuke on 03 June 2008
The Welcome Wagon
Daniel headed toward the front gates of the sprawling complex. Curiously enough, they had been left wide open, presumably because any military secrets worth plundering were long since gone. The other four followed Dan a half step behind, in a perfect crescent. Daniel pulled a flashlight from his backpack and scanned the base. Directly ahead of them was a large, hangerlike structure, with an enormous double door out front. Behind the main building were rows of barracks, and beyond them, guard towers. There was also, off in the shadows, the silhouette of a staircase leading underground.
"Are you guys sure about this?" Dan called over his shoulder. "Guys?" No answer. He spun around, only to find that his friends had vanished. The distant, echoing thunder served only to amplify the silence. A dull panic began to rise in Daniel's throat. His friends were gone. He was alone in a creepy military base, and his friends were gone. Maybe they had chickened out and gone home...but he didn't hear them leave. Maybe he had gotten turned around in the darkness, and they were ahead of him somewhere, already within the vast base.
"Guys?" he called again, this time louder. For a moment, there was no answer, but then a noise came from the hulking arch of the main building. The doors shrieked open, and there were his friends again, standing against the building's illuminated interior.
"Took you long enough," called Pammy. "We've been waiting for half an hour."
Dan rushed to the open doorway. In his relief, he wanted to throw his arms around his companions, but Pammy's irritation made him change his mind. "What do you mean," he said, "you guys were right behind me."
Pammy's face quickly changed from irritation to confusion. "No," she answered, "we weren't. You called me and told me to have everyone meet here at 8:30."
Gassan cut in, "We were waiting outside, but we went in here when we heard the thunder. We called you, like, 8 times."
Daniel checked his phone. It was on, had plenty of battery life, and the display showed no missed calls.
"Hey," he said, "when I called you, was I talking funny? Like...like a robot or something?"
"Oh, that's smooth," David jeered, "Blame your jerkiness on your secret robot clone."
"No," Pam interrupted, "You did sound funny."
"Because I thought I was just with you guys," Dan said, "and you were all talking weird. Pammy, were you at your house at all today?"
"Not since about noon. I've been shopping, why?"
"Because, I was at your house. And I thought you guys were all there too, but if--"
"None of us were at Pammy's," Jake said, "as soon as you--or your evil twin, or whatever--called her, she called us and said we were moving the party here. Which I was totally cool with, but now I think something weird is up."
"You don't suppose," Gassan began, but then stopped. "Nevermind, it's stupid."
"Well," said Pam, in an obvious attempt to salvage a ruined party, "as long as we're here, why don't we poke around a bit? C'mon inside, I'll show you what we found so far."
Daniel stepped into the building, and was momentarily dazzled by the lights inside. "Whoa," he muttered, "How'd you get the power back on?"
"We flipped the light switch," Pammy answered nonchalantly.
They were standing in a sort of vestibule, a cramped space that belied the enormity of the building itself. Ahead of them was a small, unmarked door. To their left was a rickety-looking spiral staircase. It came up from an unseen basement, and disappeared into the floor above. Directly below them was a red square, painted onto the room's concrete floor. Stencilled onto the square, in white block letters, was simply "PROJECT ZERO." The line moved straight ahead for a bit, then turned abruptly and vanished under another pair of double doors.
Written by Zodiac on 03 June 2008
Go up the stairs