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 was taken aback by their behavior, more because they appeared almost zombified and not very attentive to things that were going on around them. If there was a fly buzzing around in the room somewhere, he doubted any of them would notice it over their uncanny focus on him. Answer the question, that seemed to be the unwary contract held between him and these puppets that were his friends. Maybe they were tired and exhausted after their respective weekend activities, but Danny had a hard time trying to justify those darting glances between each other like a conspiratorial borg hive mind.
"You guys okay?" Dan asked, hoping that this might be one last spark to yank them back onto the road of sense, but no dice.
"Truth or dare, Danny boy?" Jake intoned almost without any inflection, his hair still smelling of lingering traces of a bit of grime and sweat. At least that part of him was normal, as well as the mild scent of latex or rubber on his skin from the inner liner of a high end fursuit.
He quickly saw by their behavior that he wasn't going to get anywhere until he played their little game, whether these were actually his friends or not remained to be seen. It wasn't an easy choice to make either, as he knew what they were waiting for, expectantly ready for a hinge to snap like a spring on a mouse trap. "Dare." There, he said it. He let the genie loose.
"Was that so hard?" Pammy made a flourish of her arm like a cheer and chuckled, drinking from a pink sports bottle and looking around at her friends in on the secret. "So, who has a dare?" It seemed a rhetorical question, only one thing was on the mind of these pleasant imps.
It was hard, but only because Daniel had that voice in the back of his head that told him this was all wrong, but he couldn't put a proper face to those nagging feelings. They were obviously up to something, but his birthday wouldn't be around for several months. "We dare you to-" Jake paused, licking his thin lips as he savored the following moment like a morsel set before a snake.
Daniel was waiting on edge for them to continue. As much as he dreaded what was going to follow, a part of him wanted to get it over and have things back to normal. When Pammy finished his previous sentence, an odd bluish twinkle in her eyes that appeared and vanished so quickly that he wasn't even sure it was there in the first place. "Remember (indistinct unrecognizeable phrase)". Those words were like a trigger, well the latter one was because he'd never heard it before and yet something came rushing into his head. Memories. Lots and lots of disjointed memories that weren't his and couldn't make any sense. It was if he were remembering the past life not of another person, but an animal with a completely different set of senses.
Before he knew what was happening, his mind was rushing through a strange vocabulary he had never used: people, places, and things that never existed before. Except, they did, more real than he could possibly exist as though he shared a body with two souls. "What did you do?" He gagged out, collapsing and trembling on the floor like a seizure as they gathered around him and bundled his pathetic body in a big comfy blanket. They knew this would happen, and they were prepared. "You do not remember, Dan, but you will soon." Gassan said soothingly, rubbing his back like he were comforting an addict out of a hellish bout of withdrawal. Maybe it was, as his hangovers never felt this terrible and he hadn't taken anything more illegal than a few stim pills for studying late overnight.
Written by FluffyPony on 01 June 2015