Beginning of the End Edit
It was just after noon when Rick looked out the living room window on the second floor of his house and stared at the driveway. He knew exactly what was going to happen in mere hours and he dreaded to think of it. The autumn-coloured leaves that tumbled from their branches and danced in the wind only discouraged Rick more, as it was the ideal weather for that day and there was no sign of that changing in the evening; it’d still be a clear sky at six and it’d stay that way the whole night through. Rick knew exactly what was to come and he didn’t like it one bit. The crisp air, the blue cloudless sky and the dancing leaves all meant that there would be a swarm of trick-or-treaters out in the evening, most of which will drop by his bare house regardless of the lack of decorations, and knock eagerly as they await their sweet goodies. They’d be dressed as their favourite superheroes or princesses or cartoon characters and they’d all stare up at him with wide eyes that glistened in the porch light, twisting his subconscious into giving in and scrounging his home for anything that’d resemble a Hallowe’en treat. Rick shuddered at this thought.
Rick hated Hallowe’en ever since he was young. The idea of decorating his house with fake corpses and tombstones of plastic seemed ridiculous, not to mention being scared out of his wits wasn’t exactly what he thought of a ‘good time’. Despite his many protests, his parents (though mostly his mother) insisted that he go trick-or-treating since they didn’t want him to feel left out. He wanted to be left out. Nothing about this holiday appealed to him. It was only when he was in the eighth grade when he gained a slight bit of interest but that was only because of the risqué costumes that wandered the halls. The girls who once dressed up as a delicate princess now had dresses that barely touched midway down their thighs. Despite the initial intrigue, Rick was quick to criticize the appeal of a cop that wore a prostitute’s uniform that mocked the profession of upholding the law. He wasn’t the most popular of students back then.
This indifference continued on as he grew older. The costumes did get more creative as he entered college yet he never did find it in him to dress up. He would wear his dark hoodie, jeans and a grey shirt and whenever he was asked where his costume was, he’d give some half-assed response such as ‘I’m a non-transformed werewolf’, ‘I’m a not-dead-yet mummy’ or his greatest lie ‘I’m possessed by a ghost’. He’d make a new dumb idea every year whenever someone asked. It didn’t help that he’d constantly be pestered by his best friend David about Hallowe’en preparations. David was far too excited about the holiday and the whole ordeal of decorating and costumes and the works. Despite the clear disinterest in the subject, Rick was always victim to the constant banter about why Hallowe’en was “so much fun” and why he should “really consider dressing up one year, just for the hell of it”. David’s lucky that he and Rick had known each other for years. Had that not been the case, Rick would have wrung out his neck years ago from an over-enthusiastic response to the newly sized “Jumbo” candy boxes.
Enter David Edit
The tedious wait until the parade of trick-or-treaters swamped his house continued undisturbed until 3 PM. In that time, Rick cracked open a beer, sat comfortably in his recliner and mindlessly watched the big game that was featured on the sports network. At what seemed like the stroke of four, there came a series of knocks from the front door. The knocks weren’t like the ones a normal trick-or-treater would do. No, these ones had a pattern to them. A pattern only one person would do every time they visited Rick’s house: David. Reluctantly, Rick got out of his leather recliner, put his beer on the coffee table and went to the door as he fixed his hair. He didn’t want to look like too much of a mess. After all, he hasn’t seen David in person for the past several months. And as soon as he opened the door, Rick wished that David waited another day to come by. A disappointed expression stretched on his face as his palm engulfed his forehead.
‘David,’ said Rick, shaking his head. ‘Just what in the hell are you wearing?’
‘What? You don’t like it?’ David examined himself, turning his body to see whatever angle he could. As he raised his arms on each side, three more blue sparkling tentacles attached to one another by string rose with them. His neon blue unitard was visible as the jeans he was wearing were halfway down his butt and he used a belt to keep them there. Gold chains hung from his neck and a flat-brim baseball cap was taped to a comically large head that resembles a blueberry with a face. The wide smile was made of white mesh which David used to see through. Through it he could see Rick with his arms crossed with a blank expression.
‘I might like it better if you describe what kind of dumbass costume you have on this year,’ Rick replied. He knew he should’ve said it to sound less insulting but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it.
‘I went all out this year, Rick. I’m a hip-hop octopus. A hip-hopctopus, even. What do you think?’
‘It’s…certainly something, I can tell you that much.’
‘Don’t think I forgot about you. Now I know you hate Hallowe’en but I think I made a costume that you won’t complain too much about. Come with me to the car, it’s in the trunk.’
Rick sighed heavily. Why was David still so insistent on having him wear a goofy costume? Rick followed him anyways, rolling his eyes and trying to fake intrigue to what would surely be the death of his dignity disguised as a tacky sack of itchy cloth. David unlocked the trunk and opened it. Rick knew David was grinning from ear to ear inside of his blueberry-shaped headpiece. Rick’s frown dropped even lower as he saw the costume laid out before him in the trunk of David’s 4x4.
‘Out of all the costumes to make your case for Hallowe’en…’ Rick mumbled as he blankly stared at the obnoxiously coloured onesie perfectly folded before him. The shade of pink could blind someone at night and beside it was a helmet painted the same freakish hue, with googly eyes and papier-mâché tusks glued appropriately onto it. Laying on top of the onesie was a pair of flipper-shaped gloves that David surely thought would be the icing on the cake.
‘I made the headpiece myself. Well, I bought the helmet but the tusks and everything else was done by yours truly! Michelle even had time to help with this costume and the one I’m wearing,’ David exclaimed happily, holding his headpiece to demonstrate his point. Poor Michelle, Rick thought to himself. Of all the men to be attracted to for two and a half years, why did she choose David? Then again, if she survived two Hallowe’ens with him and still wanted to live together each day, she was a real keeper. Rick picked up the onesie and glared at it.
‘Fine,’ Rick finally said. ‘If it will shut you up, I will wear this ridiculous costume. I’ll just be the only 29 year old on the planet dressed up as a pink walrus.’
David’s face, Rick was sure of it, lit up from behind the mesh smile of the octopus head and raised his hand, along with three more strung together, for a high-five. The two of them had their moment and David locked his car as they walked into Rick’s house. Closing the door, Rick told David to make himself at home and went into his room to go change into his straitjacket of a costume. He knew he was making a mistake but it was the only way to make his friend get off his back about Hallowe’en. As he cursed whomever he could think of under his breath, Rick pulled the onesie over his clothes and zipped it up, buckling the helmet to his head last. He took one good look in the mirror and struck a pose. I look like a complete idiot, he thought to himself.
The Rumour Edit
Entering the living room with a beer in his hand, Rick handed it to David with his flipper gloves on and sat in his recliner. David couldn’t get his ‘thank you’ out of his mouth before bursting into laughter at the sight of his friend dressed up as flamboyantly coloured marine life. Rick stared at the television, chugging his half-finished beer until it was gone. The two of them sat there making small talk between commercials about how they’ve been over the past few months. It wasn’t until the last two minutes of the final quarter that David changed the subject to something more interesting.
‘Hey Ricky, do you remember back in the fifth grade when that Darrel kid made that demon rumour around Hallowe’en that year?’ David was now leaning over the armrest towards Rick, his blueberry head removed and sitting in the seat next to him. Rick turned in his direction, a second beer in hand.
‘Barely,’ Rick said as he cracked the cap off the bottle. ‘I remember you really getting into it and you couldn’t walk home alone for weeks because you were scared. Why bring it up now?’
‘Well, it just came back to me the other day and I did some digging around. It turns out that Darrel’s myth is actually real!’
‘It was probably just some scam bullshit made up for fun. Besides, who would buy into that stuff? Next thing you’ll be telling me is that there’s a faceless man who kills kids in the woods or that there’s a teenaged psycho Leatherface rip-off on the loose.’
‘What I’m trying to say is that everything Darrel said back then matches up with the article I read. And there were many people who knew and even experienced it themselves. Do you know what this could mean?’
Rick thought for a moment and took a sip from his beer. ‘What could it mean, David?’
‘It means that there’s a grain of truth to this. I say we try it out ourselves. Look, there’s even a ritual guide and everything on this page. I bookmarked it on my phone.’ David reached into his sagging jeans and pulled out his cellphone and showed Rick the page he was talking about. Sure enough, there were many steps on how to supposedly summon this demon figure and even had an in-depth description of it.
“There are many of us who decide to test fate and superstition by using an Ouija Board,” the article read. ”However, there is a well-kept secret about this board that has remained hidden for many years. What started as a playground rumour quickly began to unfold into a mythos of a powerful demon known as Kura. While he may show up randomly during any Ouija Board session, he will be guaranteed to appear at your board with the following steps. However, there have been many people who have come out and said that this has led to some incredibly dangerous side effects so proceed with caution if you dare.”
‘This all sounds like a load of crap,’ Rick stated, leaning back into his chair. David was reading behind Rick’s shoulders and he moved back as the recliner went down. Despite being skeptical, Rick decided he’d humour his friend and continue reading the article. Besides, if the rest is as poorly written as the opening paragraph, it could be fun to mock.
“Kura’s true powers have never been documented yet many interviews with witnesses have claimed that he has the ability to create powerful nightmares, move objects telepathically and even possess things such as house pets and even humans who have summoned him. According to myth, Kura is a soldier of Satan who has been tasked to bring mortals into his realm to serve his overlord. His presence has been felt as early as the 14th century around the globe as there are many works of art that depict the same shadowy figure. Each work shows Kura as a shadowy mass that resembles a human but he has pointed ears, claws and bright yellow eyes, all capped off with an eerie grin; his clothing varied in each region. He is described to be a ruthless killer and merciless spirit that will torment or murder his chosen victims at his leisure. Should you accept the risk and attempt to conjure Kura to your presence, here are the materials you’ll need and the steps you’ll have to do. May God have mercy upon the souls who venture forth.”
The article listed things such as candles, a knife, an Ouija board, drops of blood, the usual kinds of things you’d expect at some form of satanic ritual. Supposedly, it was how you arranged said items that summoned Kura so Rick and David were careful in what they selected and how they were placed on the living room floor. It shouldn’t have taken more than half an hour but the constant flow of trick-or-treaters caused the two men to be distracted and have to cater to the needs of the children at the porch. Rick never went to the door, however. He made David take care of the “little snots” while he gathered the supplies from the basement. Rick wanted no part of this Ouija Board Satan-summoning ritual but he decided he’d give some form of Hallowe’en activity a go after never doing so in the past. After all, what else was he going to do that night?
The Ritual Edit
The two costumed men had to wait until there was no distractions to begin the ritual. This meant they had to kill time until just past 9:30 PM, when all the little trick-or-treaters were home devouring their loot from that night. Rick turned off the lights as David lit the candles. The red flames illuminated the room just enough so vivid shadows could creep in the flame’s dancing motions. There were six candles placed in a 10 foot wide circle shape in the center of the room. Each separation of candles was filled by a fine line of salt that encased Rick and David inside the circle, along with a smaller circle of salt around the board. To leave this circle as the ritual happens or while speaking to Kura supposedly leads to extreme consequences, according to the site. On the four corners of the Ouija board, drops of blood must be placed by each of the participants, which Rick and David reluctantly did. They looked at each other before starting the chant of Kura.
‘You know I think this is absolutely stupid, right?’ Rick wanted to get his point across to David but the pink onesie he had on did not help his case in trying to be serious.
‘Yeah, I know,’ replied David, nodding his head.
‘And you know that I think you’re stupid for dragging me into your ridiculous fantasy, right?’
‘Yes, Rick. I know,’ David sighed. ‘But come on, just have a little fun this one time. Can we just enjoy a Hallowe’en without me having to drag you through it?’
Rick looked at his friend for a moment. Concern was on David’s face, he noticed. Could it be because of how Rick was acting or because he genuinely believed this Ouija board set-up would actually summon a demon? ‘Okay. Let’s get started,’ Rick said, shooting his friend a weak smile. David grinned and seemed a bit more relaxed so they set their plan into motion.
‘Kura, Kura, hear my pleas. Come into view where no one sees. Where truth is blind and so is fate, come into form in your real state. I am a pawn of your dark sin, take refuge in my presence so it can begin. Your sought-out powers are needed here. Release it upon me and show the fear!’
The chant seemed to echo in the room once the final phrase was spoken and the candles looked to have gone out for a very brief moment before relighting themselves. The two men looked at each other and then around the room. Nothing appeared to have changed; the air wasn’t heavier nor did they feel chills of any sort. David still seemed a bit worried of the uncertainty of the whole thing but Rick was just as skeptical as when it started. They decided to sit and wait for a few minutes in the darkness for any sign of paranormal activity. Yet no such thing happened. The room remained unchanged.
‘Well, that was fun,’ Rick said to break the silence. ‘I’ll admit, there was a bit of a rush during that chant. Good idea suggesting this, David. But it’s getting late and this damn onesie is getting really uncomfortable. I’ll be right back.’
David nodded and sighed, discouraged by the failure to summon anything. He watched as Rick got up and walked into the hallway to get changed. Rick rubbed his face with his hand as he suddenly reentered the living room, seeing David in the midst of getting up.
‘That was quick,’ David pointed out. ‘Didn’t you say you were changing out of your costume?’
‘I did…’ Rick said. He looked down at himself and noticed that he was still in his onesie. Rick’s eyes widened as he walked back into the hallway only to reenter the living room instead. His heart pounded and he ran into the hallway. As he turned the corner to enter the extra bedroom, he stubbed his toe on the doorframe and tripped. To his horror, he toppled back into the living room where David looked at him rolling on the floor from inside the circle.
‘Come on, Rick,’ David said exhaustively. ‘You don’t have to pretend that the ritual worked. Trust me, I can take it. I’m old enough to know it wouldn’t work. You were right the whole time.’
‘I’m not faking it,’ Rick said between closed teeth. He got up after nursing his big toe briefly as David was about to pick up a candle to burn it out when the flame suddenly shot up two feet and almost burned him. He reeled his arm back. Rick was just registering what occurred when a clap of thunder interrupted his train of thought. David jumped and was about to walk to the curtains but Rick stopped him and checked himself. The open curtains revealed a black void to them, which turned bright for a very small amount of time before a loud boom of thunder radiated from the nothingness. Rick didn’t want to open the sliding door to explore any further. He just closed the curtains and stepped away. The flames swayed unnaturally and the air got cooler. David’s eyes became wild as they fell upon Rick who was just as confused.
‘W-why is it s-so cold now?’ David stuttered out as his teeth began to chatter. He never was a fan of the cold, Rick thought to himself. Rick was about to answer when the sound of scraping wood cut him off. He flung his head back and forth looking for the source of it when he saw David, mouth agape, staring down as the planchette laying on the Ouija board crept its way towards the letters. Rick walked back quickly into the circle to watch the planchette move on its own to spell out a phrase: “I-M-H-E-R-E”. David began to shake a little, clearly not expecting this playground rumour to actually have worked. ‘W-who’s here?’ The planchette flung around the board quickly. “M-E”, the board replied. Rick’s heart dropped as he realized who “me” was: Kura. He actually came. They successfully summoned him.
‘There’s no way this is real,’ Rick told David, whose two arms and six tentacles were crossed on his chest to comfort himself. ‘We have to be dreaming this, don’t worry David.’ The wood screeched again as more letters were quickly pointed out. “T-H-I-S-I-S-R-E-A-L” was what it spelled out. ‘We may have summoned you somehow but that doesn’t mean it actually happened. Crazy shit goes down all the time in dreams yet they never really happen.’ The planchette moved even faster to spell out “Y-O-U-A-R-E-M-I-N-E-N-O-W”. ‘That has nothing to do with what I said! Look at me, I’m arguing with a board! That’s it, I’m done with this!’ Rick began to storm to the door separating the living room to the main entrance. David couldn’t stop his friend once he made up his mind and watched as the planchette created another phrase: “T-O-O-L-A-T-E”.
As Rick wrapped his hand around the doorknob, the door itself vanished, being replaced by more drywall. In a blind rage, Rick slammed his fist against the wall yet only managed to hurt himself. He turned around quickly to face his aggressor. “What do you think you’re trying to prove by being a smartass, you little shit?’
‘Uh, Rick…I wouldn’t act like that if I were you,’ David said quietly, his voice teetering. He could only stand in his spot, the only place he felt secure, as he attempted to calm his friend down. The board scraped against the planchette as it made the phrase “W-A-T-C-H-Y-O-U-R-S-E-L-F”. Rick was now in view of the board’s face to make out the messages.
‘Oh yeah? I think it’s you who better watch himself, pal.’ Rick stomped until he was leaning over the board. ‘First you mess with me, put me in some limbo state and then have the audacity to put my friend at risk along with me? Why I ought to smash you into pieces!’ He picked up the board and slammed it against the coffee table, cracking the board down the middle. He then hit it repeatedly until it split in two yet continued to hit it until multiple smaller pieces went flying from the impact. After getting that out of his system, he dropped the board on the table and turned behind him to look at David. What he was greeted with was a white wall with David nowhere to be seen. Rick quickly glanced at his surroundings to find a made-up bed, medical machines and a desk in the same dimly lit room as he was. He immediately got worried for David. He left the room and entered the hallway of the newly manifested hospital.
Each footstep Rick took on the white tiled floor echoed down the abandoned halls. There were multiple windows lining the wall to the left of him but he could only see darkness through them. He felt as though he had been in this hospital before. It looked like any other medical facility but Rick felt uneasy walking through the halls, as though he had done the very same thing before. The only source of light were the rows of florescent lights lining the ceiling that ominously flickered occasionally. Rick checked every room in hopes of finding David quickly but he gradually got more disappointed whenever David wasn’t found. Each room was decorated with cobwebs and the occasional group of flies or spiders but there was nothing out of the ordinary. After scouting the entirety of what appeared to be the third floor, he found a stairwell and climbed to the next. Laying on the ground right in front of the door was a thin black flashlight. Rick knelt down and picked it up, thinking he could use it later. He put it in his pocket and entered the fourth floor.
The door slammed and locked behind Rick as he jumped a little from the sudden noise. He tried in vain for a moment to open it again but it was clear he was stuck where he was. The lights overhead gave just enough light to see where he was going so his search began without delay. He checked each room as fast as he could, his heart racing and mind thinking of all the worst outcomes. The occasional boom of thunder roared outside the building from the void. They seemed to be getting closer. Despite not finding David, Rick at least knew that the situation could be far worse, considering the information on that website David showed him. Don’t worry David, I’m coming for you, Rick thought. After a large clap of thunder that made Rick cup his ears with his hands, the lights went out and left him in the now pitch black hallway, alone in the dark.
Rick quickly scavenged the flashlight he found earlier out of his pocket and shone the narrow beam down the hall. It wasn’t much, but it at least gave him some form of comfort. He continued to walk and check each room but he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was started to be watched. Rick then added looking behind him to his routine of room searching. After a while of this, the hallway began to smell terrible, like rotten meat that was left unattended in the freezer. Rick began to feel nauseated and against his better judgment, went to find where the stench was coming from. He walked quickly down the hallway and turned the corner as the odour grew stronger. Despite all the rooms looking the same, Rick was able to locate the one that had the source of the terrible smell. He peered in and lit up the room with the flashlight, gagging at what he had found.
Laying on the bed was a dismembered corpse of a woman dressed in a tattered hospital gown looking to its left side. Its eyes were missing, the hair stuck together in a greasy mess and the skin was shriveled like a raisin and discoloured to a rusted brown. The right arm was on the floor next to the bed, sitting a pool of crimson liquid Rick recognized instantly as blood. A swarm of flies were gathered next to the arm while another circled the corpse itself and another colony that claimed the legs of the deceased patient that were stacked on the chair in the left-hand corner with the cushion of it stained red. Something was pulling Rick closer to the body. Something about it felt familiar. He felt as though he had seen that robe before, the hair, the room itself before becoming a horror show for him to witness.
‘You have found someone, have you not?’ A raspy voice echoed down the halls. It sent chills down Rick’s spine as he heard it. ‘Yes, I can see into your mind’s eye while you are in my world.’
‘Who are you? What do you want from me?!’ Rick was yelling at this point, he couldn’t take it anymore. He just wanted out of here, wherever here was.
‘You know who I am, child. After all, you were the one who summoned me. Did you not desire to witness my abilities?’ It must be Kura, Rick thought to himself.
‘That doesn’t answer my question!’
‘Your answers will come in due time, child. Your feeble mind could not possibly process all of the information.’
‘Try me.’ Rick’s voice became more irritated.
‘Do you wish to know why there is nothing but black beyond the windows of this facility?’ The boom of thunder rang out again as if to jog Rick’s memory. Rick didn’t answer. He was waiting for the explanation. ‘You are in my world now, boy. This is where you get to play my games by my rules. All you have to do is go along and make it enjoyable to watch.’
‘You’re twisted,’ Rick muttered under his breath. ‘Why me though? What did you do to David?’
‘Do not worry,’ Kura’s disembodied voice hissed. ‘Your friend is in good care for he was not the one who stepped outside of the boundaries the two of you set up.’ Rick’s heart sank as he realized his mistake; of course, how could he have been so stupid? He left the circle when he thought the ritual didn’t work. ‘Does that finally ring a bell? That is why you are being subjected to these nightmares. You are no longer safe. You are mine.’
‘What nightmares? You’ve done nothing but be an inconvenience! What kind of fucking nightmare involves blindly pacing the halls of a hospital?’ Rick kicked the arm on the floor across the room in frustration. Just then, he heard a voice crackling in an attempt to speak. It wasn’t Kura this time. It was coming from the bed. The corpse began to sit up and gaze at Rick with its empty sockets. Its teeth were decayed with many missing. It began to form its own sentence as Rick stood there, unable to move and think of what to do next.
‘R-R-R-Rick…why di-didn’t you ssssssssssssstay by…my…sssssssssssside?’ The voice was feminine and Rick dropped to the floor, his heart shattered as he understood where he was. The hospital was now identified, the halls became nostalgic and the corpse had a name to him: Mom.
A Way Out Edit
‘Why am I even here?’ Rick shook his head and slammed his fist against the floor. ‘Why? Why? WHY?!’ He ran out of the room and sprinted down the hallway as fast as he could, ignoring all the familiar sights. He needed to get out. He wanted to be away from here.
‘Running away again from your mother? Tsk, even when given the second chance to stay by her side as she dies, you still leave for her to greet death alone,’ Kura’s voice grew with malice. He wanted to let Rick know of his mistakes.
‘Get out of my head!’ Rick screamed, running faster than he ever has. At the end of the hallway, he could see a door. Praying that it was unlocked, Rick continued his sprint towards his salvation. Yet no matter how fast he ran, he wasn’t getting any closer to his destination. The walls began to morph and don piercing yellow eyes and white fang-filled grins that glared directly at the helpless man running in place. The grins began to laugh menacingly as they mocked Rick. Multiple voices began to speak over top of Kura’s demented laughter.
‘Hey Ricky, want to come to the Hallowe’en party at Madeline’s this Saturday?’ David’s voice asked him from when they were seventeen.
‘Come on, can’t we just go to one haunted house? It’ll be so much fun,’ Rick’s ex-girlfriend Nadia preached when they were dating at age twenty-three.
‘Rick, honey, I want you to go out and have fun on Hallowe’en. If you won’t do it yourself, then do it for me, okay?’ That was the voice of his mother when he visited her in the hospital ten years ago, when Rick was nineteen. The voices repeated over one another then faded away so new voices could speak. Rick winced and push himself beyond his breaking point as the many voices of himself flooded his ears.
‘David, seriously, enough with that crap. I’m not going and that’s final,’ Rick replied right away back at David.
‘You can go if you want. I don’t think being scared out of my wits should be considered “fun”,’ Rick stated, effectively making a rift in the relationship.
‘I’m sorry, Mom…,’ Rick solemnly said to his ill mother, walking out of the room as the sight of her in pain was unbearable.
Rick screamed out at these unwanted flashbacks and saw the door getting closer. Enraged, he slammed his body against it and the door flung open. Rick went flying and fell into a puddle of dank mud upon impact with the ground. The stench was just as bad as the hospital corpse and he picked himself up, doing his best to wipe off the mud on his face and hands. He scanned his surroundings and realized that he was now transported to a dark grim swamp. The sky was still completely dark with the occasional streaks of lightning brightening it up to be followed by the crash of thunder seconds later. There were many puddles of mud and skinny leafless trees scattered about. Rick’s flashlight did a poor job of lighting the area but it was better than nothing.
‘Foolish man,’ Kura’s voice radiated from the darkness. ‘You cannot escape here without my word.’
Rick should’ve known better than to think the door would lead him to freedom. He glared up at the dark sky and raised his middle finger in an attempt to give Kura a piece of his mind. Rick then pressed on to try finding some way out of the swamp and to track down David. He waded through the disgusting mud and focused on his end goal.
The swamp itself was ominous. The wind blew through the bare trees and whispered in Rick’s ear. It began to become difficult to distinguish what could be a person or what was a tree. There were many times when Rick thought he saw something move at the corner of his or a tree spontaneously grow in the distance, though with such a dim flashlight leading the way, it could have just been his mind trying to occupy itself. He wandered aimlessly though the humid mud until he took a break to sit on a log that bobbed in the murky water.
Rick began to contemplate how David was doing. If he couldn’t save himself, Rick thought, he could at least try to save David instead. He shouldn’t have been so hard on him. If, no, when they get back home, Rick promised to be more open to the idea of Hallowe’en. His fear of personal survival shifted to his best friend, who he imagined was in the same predicament as him. He hoped so, anyways. That or David found his way back to the real world. He didn’t want to think of his friend not making it. Rick got up from the floating log and began to wade once more to find David.
Rick wasn’t sure whether he’d be searching for minutes or hours. Time just seemed to disappear as a concept and with the sky being blacked out, he couldn’t use the sun or moon’s position to make a rough estimate. All he could do is stray in the darkness of the swamp since his flashlight’s batteries died a while back when he was going through a thorny shrub. Things were getting worse quickly; his legs were aching, he had cuts along his body with the fabric of his onesie torn and his eyelids began to get heavy. He knew it’d be a terrible time to fall asleep so he kept going, praying that he’d find some sign of salvation soon. However, the urge was becoming too strong and he collapsed in the mud, laying on his back and let his drowsiness consume him. Just as he was about to drift off, he heard something coming close. He shot up and was ready to attack when he came eye to eye with whatever was lurking through the shrubs. He was blinded by the flashlight they were carrying.
‘Get away from me!’ The figure jumped back and picked up a branch to use as a weapon. It had five arms yet it only grabbed things with the top two. It appeared to be in the same condition as Rick. Rick rubbed his eyes so they could readjust and realized who the aggressor was.
‘David! David, calm down! It’s only me,’ Rick called out, his hands out towards his friend. David dropped the stick and ran to his friend, hugging him in a way Rick has never seen David do. Though Rick didn’t care, he was just glad he finally found his buddy. They patted each other on the back and rejoiced that they found each other.
No Going Back Edit
‘Excellent work,’ Kura spoke out. Rick assumed this voice was once again disembodied so he wasn’t expecting to see bright yellow eyes peeking from the darkness. A devilish smile stretched across Kura’s face that reflected light from David’s beacon. ‘I am glad to see the two of you finally found each other. The game was really starting to get boring after a while, with your spirits beginning to lower.’
‘Cut the crap and let us out of here,’ Rick snapped back.
‘I could let you both free, however that would not be interesting.’ A flash of lightning illuminated the swamp and allowed Kura to be seen completely for a brief moment. His body was lanky and distorted, all coloured a dark green hue. His ears were pointed and he had gashes all over him. His fingers were clawed at the end and his teeth were just as jagged. He stepped out of the trees and moved towards the two men.
‘What is it that you want?’ David said as he stood tall, trying to not look fearful. Kura merely laughed at this and continued to approach him.
‘Though both of you would make excellent pawns, I think that I will only need one for my purposes. As such, one of you must die so the other can return to your realm. Decide which of you it is.’ Kura’s grin twisted as he cackled to himself. Rick and David looked at each other in horror. One of them had to be sacrificed to make it back home alive. There was so much at stake for both of them.
‘Rick…you should go back,’ David regretfully said. ‘I was the one who caused this to happen and it wasn’t fair to drag you into it. All of this is my fault. You should be the one to go home.’
‘You’re wrong, David,’ Rick answered back. He placed his hands on David’s shoulders. ‘You have Michelle back home. You have a career and a lot of potential. I’m sorry for being such an asshole to you for years and I really think that you should go back. Just make sure to tell people I died in an awesome motorcycle accident, okay?’
David timidly smiled and embraced his friend again. He started to cry as he knew what he had to do next. Rick understood his choice and was ready for it. However, as he hugged David, he noticed his hand beginning to transform. It began to turn green, his nails turning into claws. His heart began to pound as control of his hand slipped from his grasp. His arm raised and made its way towards David’s neck. Before he could warn David, Rick’s newly mutated hand was now stopping any form of air from entering David’s lungs. The claws began to dig into the skin, splitting it and drawing blood. David made vain attempts to struggle his way out of Rick’s grip but he was losing the strength to do so quickly. His body began to sag to the ground as Rick’s transformation began to take over his whole body. His teeth were now jagged, his ears pointed and his blue eyes melted into a sickly yellow. David tried to get some quick breaths in but would only swallow his own blood instead.
‘Rick…why…?’ David’s final words bubbled past his clogged throat as his body crumpled into a heap at Rick’s feet. Rick stared at his now deceased friend and felt no remorse. His transformation was complete.
‘I just want to make something clear,’ Kura spoke in his raspy voice. ‘There never was a choice. As you left the circle of salt, you unwillingly chose to be the next pawn. You left that security measure and now must pay the price. Henceforth, you shall now go by the name… Kura PT.’
‘Kura PT,’ repeated the monstrous version of Rick. His mind no longer held memories of his home, David, his world. He no longer wanted to go back. ‘Kura PT…I am Kura PT. I am KuraPT. I am kurapt. I am corrupt.’