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It's More Than Just a Nightmare

'Poor, helpless little child...let's play a game.'

I awoke to deafening screams and something cascading down my cheek, slowly dripping down my neck. My eyes fluttered open. It was dark, with the exception of a flickering red light in the distance. My heart was just about to leap out my chest. "Oh God....please...." I lifted my hand to touch my face, but the realization that my hands were restrained behind my back struck me like a hammer to a nail, dead center. A voice rang through my head, "Don't worry child...it'll only hurt a lot."

There was silence in between her words. "Trust me, I'll make you beg to be put out your misery. Oh, but that's no fun, is it?" There was another pause...if I wasn't already crying, I sure was now.

Did she actually think she was soothing me with her words? She sure did act like she was...

Her laugh erupted inside my head. 

"Poor, helpless little child...let's play a game."

"A...a g-game?" I asked out loud, noticing how hoarse my voice was for the first time. 

"Yes...a game. If you get three strikes," she let her words linger. "You're out!" She spoke softly, but in a tone that could cut through the toughest leather. 

"H-how do I.....keep from getting strikes?" I asked, to hear for myself, if I was actually considering going along with the game.

She laughed a devilish laugh. "Do you actually think you have a choice? You must participate...but winning isn't a must."

She's in my head...She can hear my every thought. It was enough to make my blood run cold. And if participation is a must, I need answers. 

"How do I keep from getting strikes?" I asked once again.

"We are the hollow. I speak from within," a single hushed voice spoke, echoing aimlessly in my head. "I am the siren. I am many. I long for a vessel, one pure....whether it's the solitude of hate or the sanctuary of hope. Host the tortured souls that'll torment you until you break...Piece. By. Piece." This time, several voices spoke, strained to the softness, yet they were with emptiness.

I was confused, still. I was frightened.

"What does that mean?" I asked, but before I received an answer, I jolted up in a familiar surrounding, my room. I sighed with relief. "It's just a bad dream." I rubbed my eyes, trying to comfort myself.

"Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc." Laughter echoed inside my head. I brought my legs to chest, hugging them close to me. I just wanted to evolve into nothingness.

I looked up, trying to find something to free my mind, but instead I found words completely covering the whole face of the wall, reading "Strike 1" scribbled in dripping crimson...blood. I hid my eyes and began to shed tears. I looked up again, just to see if I was imagining things before...

A little girl was sitting in front of me, holding a teddy bear. It was missing an eye and the head was cut to where only a few threads held the head intact, in her arms. She tilted her head to look at me and grinned ear to ear, flashing her an inhuman amount of teeth. I feigned a smile at her. What harm could she possibly caus-—She broke my train of thought when a giggle broke from her. Her beautiful sea foam eyes turned into beady black pits.

"Did anyone ever teach you not to judge a book by its cover?" She had the softest voice I have ever heard. It was beautiful...she set her teddy bear in my lap and crawled behind me. Great, right out of sight.

She pulled the hair pin out of my hair, making my caramel hair act as curtains for my eyes. She pulled my hair back and started to braid my hair, being a little more rough than what I was comfortable with....Of course this whole situation was going to be fucking uncomfortable and utterly terrifying.

"You know, I have always wanted a solid setup," she stopped toying with my hair and let it fall against my back and started to trace the most noticeable vain of my arm with the tips of her fingers. "What a beautiful complexion..." she wrapped her arms around me and inhaled deeply. "Smells nice too..." she leaned down and slowly licked the crook of my neck...

Well isn't this just...lovely.

I squeezed my eyes shut, hoping for this all to end. "Ashton, Ashton...Ashton!" a familiar voice called me back to reality. I opened my eyes to find my Aunt Martha looking at me with concerned eyes. I laughed nervously. "I heard you talking to someone," she narrowed her eyes at me.

"What are you talking about?" I feigned innocence, hoping she wouldn't see right through me. My heart skipped a beat, and I slowly leaned to the side to see if I wasn't just paranoid. The words on the wall were as noticeable as day. How could she not have noticed when she walked in? My Aunt Martha turned around to see what I was looking at.

She turned back around, facing me, with an expression that almost hurt to see. "I understand you think you're all grown up and can do as you please, but you live under my roof and as long as you do, you follow the rules and keep no secre-" the little girl I saw earlier was now taking the sleeve of her white gown and trying to rub away the blood scribbled on the walls.

I must've been gawking, because my aunt stopped talking and looked where I had directed all my attention. The little girl giggled and put a finger to her lips. "Are you alright?" my aunt asked, concern painted over her words.

"Oh yeah, yeah I'm fine," I waved dismissively. She sighed and turned on her heel and in moments, she was out of sight. I curled up in a ball and hoped for sleep to come to me once again.

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