Mkay, so, I re-wrote this and decided that I'm going to make it into a full-blown story. I realize I have two unfinished stories right now, but I will update on them soon! So, without any more delay, here is the first chapter of RED!


RED

First Night

It had started out as a normal, quiet Friday night.

My best friend Erika sat on the end of my futon while I was at my computer desk, sipping at some coffee, and researching psychosis theories. She was fiddling with the nail polish she was maneuvering over her nails, which was a bright bubblegum pink.

I looked over at her and sighed. "Could you please do that somewhere else? It'll stain if it falls."

She rolled her eyes at me. "Cer, you really need to stop worrying, you'll give yourself wrinkles."

I stuck my tongue out at her as she headed for my tiny apartment bathroom.

I had moved to the town of Silver Falls, Wisconsin about two years ago. I was seeking my fortune, also known as I got kicked out of the house to go get a job. I literally had all my things packed into the bed of my old '87 Dodge, and I was desperate for any kind of work.

That's where Erika came in.

Her mom was, and is, the manager for the largest diner in town, The Greasy Spoon.

Disgusting name, but it grows on you.

When Erika first met me, I was stuffing my face with her mother's wondrous home cooking, and she sat right down and introduced herself. She mentioned my overloaded truck, and asked if I needed a job. There was an opening for a bus girl, and she would be more than happy to give it to me.

I openly refused.

I didn't think I needed her charity, and I thought I could find my own job, one that paid better.

Needless to say, I failed horribly. After two weeks of living out of my truck, I was desperate. Thankfully, the position was still open, and it was happily given to me without question.

We've been best friends ever since.

Both of us enrolled in the same college, a local university with good education but not so many expenses. However, I couldn't pay for the dorm fee, so I just got an apartment across town. It was small, with one bedroom, bathroom, a small kitchen connected to a slightly larger living room, and a tiny guest bedroom. But it was home to me.

Erika, of course, entered the girliest sorority she could find, the Pink Ladies (gag), and I continued with my studies as per the norm.

I was sipping at my coffee and scanning an interesting thesis on sleep deprivation when Erika dashed back into the room, almost causing me to choke on my caffeinated bliss.

"OH MY GOD! I just thought of something I wanted to show you!" She squealed.

I cleared the coffee from my lungs, giving her one of my best death glares. "Is it worth killing your bestest friend over?"

She snorted. "Aw, don't be such a drama queen, Cer. Now scoot."

I moved my swivel chair to allow her access to my laptop. She quickly searched up several urban legends on Google, clicking on one that made my eyebrows raise.

It opened onto a black webpage, covered in red writing. The words Hitori Kakuranbo: Myth or Fact? were scrawled in Chiller handwriting across the top of the page.

I rolled my eyes. Oh, this looks promising.

Erika poked my shoulder. "Go on, read it!" She was bouncing on the balls of her feet like a kid at Christmas.

I rolled my eyes again and turned back to the computer screen, only to be interrupted by her again. "Out loud."

"Will you just let me read, for Christ's sakes?!" She held up her hands in surrender. I huffed and turned once again to the screen.

"'Hide and Seek Alone…'" I read aloud.

"'Originally started in Japan under the name Hitori Kakurenbo, Hide and Seek Alone is a fast moving phenomena with Japanese and Korean college students. The game begins with a ritual, consisting of a stuffed animal used as a type of vessel, as well as a 'weapon', such as a knife or scissors."

I gave her an odd look. "What?" She shushed me. "Keep reading!"

I sighed. "The player may use something not as dangerous, such as a pencil or a needle. You must follow the directions as listed below. The directive of the game is to…'"

I paused, re-read the page, then glared at my best friend over my shoulder. "Oh for the love of God… really Erika?"

She looked at me innocently. "What?"

I gave her a blank look. "The object of this game is to basically make contact with the afterlife. Why in the hell would I want to talk to the dead? Especially when said dead person is with a sharp object and is hunting me?"

She shrugged. "I thought it might be fun! You know, since you're here all alone usually. I mean, I invite you to parties and stuff, but you'd rather stay here by yourself."

I rubbed my face with a hand. "That's because all the parties you go to are for fraternity and sorority members only. Besides, I don't drink."

She poked me in the side of the head. "Soooo? You're in college! Eventually you need to loosen up a little. You don't really let yourself have any fun. All you do is study and work. You must get lonely sometimes, right?"

I sighed, silently agreeing with the lonely part. "What part of 'college student' don't you understand?"

She stuck her tongue out at me. "Still, you should learn to have fun every once in awhile." She bounced back to the futon, laying out flat. "Besides, it's not dangerous if you give the doll a toothpick or something."

I stared at her, a confused expression on my face. "I still fail to see how allowing a lost soul to wander my house in a stuffed animal while I hide in fear is 'fun.'"

Erika sighed. "It was just an idea. You don't have to." She looked at her watch. "I gotta go, my roommate will think I died in a ditch if I'm not back soon."

She walked to my entryway and I followed her. I leaned against the wall as she slipped her shoes on, then reached for the door. "Just think about it, okay? Who knows? It may even be fun!"

With a wave and a wink in my direction, she was gone.

In the resounding silence that followed her departure, I questioned the so-called 'urban legend'. Maybe it was true, but maybe it was codswallop.

As a sensibly-minded woman in her late teens, I was keen to decide that this so called 'game' was utter bullshit.

"There is no way in hell I'm gonna go through with it." I strode back to my computer, fully intending to close the window and forget this nonsense.

But when I moved the mouse to exit, a small thought wriggled into the back of my head.

But what if it works? What If you can communicate with the dead? I pursed my lips, looking at my clock.

1:29 A. M.

The ceremony had to begin at 3. I have enough time to prepare the ceremony if I hurry. I can use Gran's cross as a protection spell. And there's some herbs in the cabinet I could-

I let loose a loud growl and ran my fingers through my hair, resting my elbows on my desk. Am I really thinking about doing this?! Am I that desperate for entertainment?! I could go watch a movie for Christ's sake!

After a few moments of deliberation, which was mostly me arguing over the morals of playing Hide and Seek with an inanimate object, I sighed, giving in. It wasn't like I had anything better to do, right?

Besides, what could possibly go wrong?


An hour and twenty-three minutes later, I had set the stage for the game.

My small bathtub was filled with warm water, all of my bath products had been moved under the sink for easy access. I wouldn't need them until tomorrow night, anyways.

I had made salt lines over all windows and in front of both the front door and the sliding glass one that led to my balcony. I had also smudged the apartment with white sage as an extra precaution. The instructions highly suggested it, in case the spirit wanted to hang around for a while.

I had found a small flashlight buried in one of my kitchen drawers, and decided to hold onto it so I wouldn't be stumbling around blind when I wanted to end the game. The guest's closet was to be my hiding place, since I could lock both the guest room and closet doors. Funny how mine lacked that defense.

After the majority of the preparations were done, I had made a bottle of salt water to carry around. Knowing my luck, if I made a cup, I would spill it and be screwed six ways to Sunday.

I also had a sage sprig in my pocket from my downstairs neighbor, an elderly lady that happened to have an herb garden in her window box.

As I searched for a 'vessel', I fingered my grandmother's silver cross. She had given it to me right before I had gotten kicked out. She had told me it would protect me, and I never knew that woman to lie. Besides, better safe than sorry.

I dug through my closet, looking through several boxes of crap my mom had sent with me when I left. After rummaging through pile upon pile of baby albums, I found something that looked promising. It was a stuffed cat toy, probably from Goodwill going by its' condition.

The fur, which had probably once been a deep black color, was spotted dark grey with dust. Its eyes were two dark green marbles, lifeless and unseeing. It almost felt like they were looking right through me. I shuddered as a chill went up my spine. "Oh Jesus, now I'm just freaking myself out."

I quickly cut open the toy, removed the stuffing, and replaced it with uncooked white rice. I chipped off three of my nails, as directed, and sewed the cat back up with red thread. I wrapped the excess three times around its torso and tied it off.

I was almost finished. Now all I had to do was name the thing. I held the black fuzz ball in my hands, trying to think of a name that wasn't too stupid.

"Hmmm…." I glanced at the red thread. "How about Akai?" The blank green marble eyes stared back at me. What was I expecting, an actual answer?

I nodded. "Akai it is."

I grabbed the tiny torch from the sink and stuck it into my back pocket. Then I began the process of walking through my apartment, turning off all the lights as I went until only the bathroom was lit.

I walked past my bedroom, catching sight of my T.V. as I passed. I remembered a tip from the webpage: T.V. static can pick up on a ghostly signal if a spirit is close. Wanting to take every precaution I could, I doubled back and decided to turn it on, unplugging the cable hookup so static covered the screen.

Finishing this, I walked back into the bathroom. I picked up the cat and held it up to eye level. In order to initiate the game, you had to announce yourself as the first player. I rolled my eyes.

Reduced to talking to a stuffed cat for entertainment. How low can you get?

"For the first game, Cerise is going to be it." I said this three times. Then I placed the doll into the water-filled bathtub, making sure it was almost completely submerged so the rice would soak.

I quickly left the bathroom, going into my darkened bedroom and grabbing the small sewing scissors I had chosen as a 'weapon.' Hey, if this shit actually worked, there was no way in hell I was gonna die! I waited for a bit, counting to ten in my head, then went back to the bathroom.

I knelt down and stabbed the cat in the shoulder, watching it bob in the water.

"I found you Akai!" I stood from my kneeling position, backing up to the light switch. Now I had to initiate the other half of the game. I gulped, a sudden dread settling into my stomach.

"Now Akai is it!"

I said this three times, just like before. But this time, I booked it out of the bathroom after I flicked off the light, making sure to quietly close the door and lock it. I snuck into the closet, locked it, and clutched my water bottle for dear life.

I breathed slowly to calm my racing heartbeat, enjoying the rush of adrenaline coursing through my veins.

Holy balls! That was so intense! And nothing even fucking happened!

I mentally squee'd, then caught myself. Holy crap… Maybe Erika was right… Maybe I do need to have more fun.

I tried to calm myself down, afraid I would get too energetic and make a noise. It got to the point where I was bouncing up and down in my crouched position like a little kid playing tag. My energy finally went away after several minutes of bouncing.

My senses went into overdrive after that, every fiber of my being tense with anticipation. From the way Erika had talked about this game, I figured there would be immediate activity after I was in my hiding spot. So I sat, listening for anything unusual, ready for whatever fate threw at me.

Pure silence buzzed in my ears.

I sat in the same position for over an hour, feeling like a complete idiot for even believing my lovable-but-ditzy best friend. I bit my lip, gently sitting down on the floor cross-legged to rest my aching knees.

I set my water bottle beside me, careful to keep it quiet, and waited. For a noise, movement, anything.

Hours seemed to pass me by, and I fiddled with my Gran's cross to pass the time, the familiar cold metal keeping me somewhat sane in the ringing quiet.

I glanced at my watch. 4:56.

I sighed, berating myself on my stupidity and gullible nature. Of course it didn't work. It was just some stupid Internet prank some kid posted to scare the shit out of pe-

A faint static sound rang throughout the apartment. I blinked in shock.

..HUH?

"There's such a sad love, deep in your eyes

A kind of pale jewel, opened and closed

Within your eyes.

I'll place the sky

Within your eyes."

I froze.

David Bowie's As the World Falls Down was playing softly, the music carrying through the air vents into the guest closet.

But that's impossible. The TV isn't hooked to cable! I took a deep breath, calming myself.

Maybe it's just interference from a radio down the hall or a satellite station. Or I could have forgotten to turn off my iPod dock. I do do that sometimes… There were several possible explanations for the music.

Then why had it been so quiet earlier? I bit my lip, shaking off the sounds as coincidental.

There's gotta be a believable reason for it, Cerise. You're just freaking yourself out…

Thud.

Thud.

Thud.

My eyes bulged. What in the name of sinfully tight pants was that?!

Thud.

Thud.

Thud.

I bit down on the inside of my cheek, trying to keep from opening the door. My inane curiosity was piqued, along with my body's desire to move out of its statuesque position, but there was no way I was moving from that spot.

I paid attention during horror movies. I wasn't going to end up like those bimbos that decide its safe when the killer's right outside the door.

Besides, there wasn't a snowball's chance in Hell I was going to open the door to whatever was walking around my apartment.

What if somebody broke in…

Thud.

Thud.

What if it's some psycho rapist or murderer?!

Thud.

Thud.

WHAT IF THEY'RE RIGHT OUTSIDE THE CLOSET RIGHT NOW?!

Thud.

Thud.

The thumping had gotten quieter, which could be either a good or a bad thing.

There was definitely someone, or something, walking around my apartment. Only they were doing it very, very slowly. Just the thought of it made bile rise in my throat. I swallowed hard, praying it didn't make any sound.

Using the air vents, I could hear whoever it was moving about my home, getting closer and closer with each passing second. They seemed to start in the kitchen and were working their way to my current hiding place.

Chillax, Cerise. You may be freaking out over nothing. It may just be one of the neighbors. Like Earl upstairs. You know how he comes home late at night from partying. Or it could be Tanya, coming to collect your-

Scritch…

rent…

The scratching had come from somewhere nearby, probably from outside the guest room. Quietly, I scooted back further into the closet, hiding behind some boxes filled with crap my mother had thrown into my car. Funny how some useless junk could be what keeps you hidden from a possible psychotic killer rapist ghost-thing.

The bedroom doorknob jiggled, and more scratching followed, sounding more intense than before. I silently praised myself for thinking to lock both doors.

I clutched the water bottle in one hand and twirled Gran's cross in the other. Maybe she had a good gig going with religion. If I survive this, I thought, I'll start going to church regularly from now on…

The scratching and the music got louder, only the song had changed. Now it was Within You.

"…Everything I've done, I've done for you

I move the stars for no one

You've run so long, you've run so far…"

Why was this… whatever it was… so hooked on David Bowie?!

"Your eyes can be so cruel…"

The music and the voice suddenly dropped in pitch. It sounded nothing like David Bowie. It was almost another person entirely.

"Just as I can be so cruel…"

The sound made all the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Goosebumps ghosted over my skin, and I began to tremble. I was in trouble. I don't think it's a burglar… I don't even think this thing is human… at all…

I started to cry when the music suddenly went to static, the volume steadily increasing until it was almost deafening. I could taste blood from where I had bitten open my cheek. My body was shaking, and silent tears trailed down my cheeks.

Why did I think this was a good idea?!

I mentally cursed Erika for being such a bad influence on me. I will NEVER listen to what she classifies as 'fun' EVER AGAIN! I curled into a ball, hugging my knees to my chest for some sort of comfort.

As the static continued to ring through the vents, a noise started to filter through. It was a voice. A man's voice. I couldn't understand what it was saying at first, but as the static got louder, words began to filter through.

"I …want… you…

need you…

Why… are… you hiding…?

From me…?"

My heart was pounding in my chest. What the fuck?! I couldn't handle this craziness much longer. My bullshit tolerance level was becoming dangerously low.

"I …want… you…

desire you…

Come… to me…"

I felt my eyebrow twitch, most of my fear condensing into a ball of frustration and fright-driven rage. Who the flying hell does this jackass think he is?! Coming into MY home, even though I kinda invited him here, and trying to fucking flirt with me!? Is he serious?!

"Mine…

You are mine…

My…

Cerise…"

I growled in my throat, the water bottle crackling in my fist. THAT'S IT!

Hands trembling, I uncapped the water bottle, taking a huge swig. Holding the water in my mouth, I unlocked the closet door with a tiny click.

The TV shut off instantly.

I almost swallowed, but restrained myself. Pulling the tiny flashlight out of my back pocket, I clicked it on, and swept it around the room. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, yet, I peeked around the corner.

The door was wide open.

My heart rate shot up like a fucking rollercoaster.

Keep it together, girl! You can do this! Remember, he called you his, the cocky son of a bitch!

My hands trembled as I swept the flashlight across the bedroom. It was clear that something had been in here. The bedcovers were tossed off the bed, splayed in the middle of the floor in a wrinkled heap. The dresser drawers were all flung open haphazardly, and pieces of clothing were strewn everywhere.

When I walked to the doorway, I found several claw marks surrounding the doorknob, which was hanging limply from the woodwork, a single screw holding it in place. Well that's a fantastic sign…

I inhaled through my nose, then walked through the apartment, searching for the doll to end this madness. I started in the bathroom, following the water droplet trail into my kitchen, through my living room, and back into the guest bedroom.

Still no doll.

I mentally cursed. How in the hell did it just disappear?!

I walked by my bedroom to see the desk chair spinning from side to side, its back to me. My body instantly froze. I slowly entered my bedroom, taking in the disheveled bedclothes and closet. Several new pieces of clothing were torn to shreds, causing my irritation level to skyrocket.

My desk was no better. My coffee cup was smashed, it's contents dripping onto the floor. Papers and books cascaded over the sides like a waterfall. /I shook my head in awe.

How did I not hear any of this happening?!

The swivel chair regained my attention when it suddenly stopped moving. I could tell there was something sitting in it.

Something small and furry.

My suspicions were confirmed when it finally moved, turning in my direction. I had to clench my jaw to keep from screaming.

I knew it!

On the seat was Akai.

The doll was sitting in a position that wouldn't have been possible for the regular toy. Its legs were jointed at the top, so you could only move them forwards or backwards. But here it was, lounging on my chair like the fucking Queen of England.

It sat straight up, with its head resting on its left front paw, while the back legs were crossed and bent where knees would have been. It held the sewing scissors in its other paw, which was sitting on its lap. The tail swished from side to side lazily, and its eyes.

God, its eyes…

They were no longer the bright plastic green of a stuffed animal.

They were red.

Its mouth opened in a grin, revealing a realistic set of feline teeth. "I found you…"

I stiffened, goose bumps appearing on my skin. That voice! It was the one that had called out to me from the static.

Akai must have seen my surprise, because he chuckled. "You seem surprised?"

I tried not to snort. Oh no, it's perfectly normal to have a fake cat stuffed with rice and nail clippings walking and talking around my apartment. Silly me, I wanted to say.

Instead I shrugged.

He clicked his tongue at me. "It's rude to not talk to a guest in your home."

I raised my eyebrows, looking at him like he was nuts. Actually, to think back on the entire night, this whole situation was nuts. But I didn't need a possessed talking cat doll acting like a smartass to remind me of that. Screw you, I thought.

I turned away to leave the room, when the door slammed shut and locked by itself.

I pivoted slowly on my heel to turn back to Akai, who dusted off his paws nonchalantly. I gave him a look that screamed: What the hell did you just do?

He sat up, keeping his legs crossed. "I suppose you thought that this entire façade was a hoax, am I correct?" At my nod, he shook his head. "The stupidity of today's youth never ceases to amaze."

I glared at him, tempted to flip him the bird, then caught sight of the sewing scissors he still held in his hand… paw… whatever.

Akai stretched out in the chair, his tail swishing from side to side. "Well, what most people think is that this ritual is a hoax, and that nothing bad will come of it." He checked his claws (the hell did he get fucking CLAWS?!) as he continued. "What they don't know, however, is that the entire thing is far from being a hoax. It s a sort of summoning spell, created so that spirits can once more roam the living plane."

He glanced up at me, a smile on his face. "Most people can't even successfully complete the preparations, but you did so in record time." He pointed at me with the sewing scissors. "Although, the ritual usually only allows human spirits to cross through the border, your specific ritual allowed something far more powerful to enter this world."

A large grin formed on his face. "More powerful… and dangerous."

My pale face must have been an incentive for him to continue.

"To be specific… a demon," he flexed his claws, "Namely…. me."

Oh.

Shit.

"And you, my lovely one, have just granted me a one way ticket to freedom." He clapped his paws at me. "Brava for you."

Without warning, he leapt from the chair and landed at my feet.

I jumped backwards in fright, dropping my flashlight in the process. I caught my foot on my rumpled bedspread and fell on my rear. Before I could get back up, the blanket suddenly flipped up over me, capturing me in a thick net.

I pushed at the blanket, trying to find a rip or busted seam in the fabric.

But no dice. I was trapped.

"Ah, you look so adorable trapped like that." Akai's muffled voice came from right in front of me.

I growled in my throat and leapt for his voice, but the blanket prevented me from going very far. It suddenly began to tighten around my form, forming a stifling cocoon.

I almost panicked, but by wriggling my body around, I managed to find the end of the blanket and get my head back out, thankful that I hadn't swallowed the water yet.

I found myself face to face with Akai. He smirked and looked down at my lips, then seemed to pout. "You still have that awful stuff in your mouth?"

I inwardly cheered. Now's my chance! I spewed the brew directly into his face, drenching his fur. I gulped in a breath. "I won, I won, I wo-"

The possessed comforter wrapped around the lower half of my face before I could finish. My face paled.

No way…

Akai still stood in front of me, dripping wet. But he wasn't angry. Or frowning.

He was smiling.

SHIT! Shitshitshitshitshitshitshit!

"Well done, Cerise." He pet my hair back from my forehead, even though I jerked away from his paw. "You've just given me a most precious gift."

I trembled in fear. I knew what happened to the people that lost the game. The website had made it explicitly clear.

I was going to lose my body to this… demon…

Oh God…

I closed my eyes. Goodbye, cruel world!

I tensed for a tugging or ripping sensation, my mind preparing me for the worst possible pain imaginable. I prayed the take-over wouldn't be as painful as I thought.

I heard a whoosh of air, my hair flying all around my face.

I winced.

This is it… I braced myself for a descent into Hell, or a whirlwind of madness to consume me.

A warm, wet appendage that felt suspiciously like a tongue suddenly stroked my face. I opened my eyes in shock.

A head full of soaked black hair met my vision. I blinked to clear it away, but it didn't move. Am I already dead…?

Something rumbled near my face. It sounded suspiciously like purring…

A gasp escaped me when the head raised up and deep red, human eyes met mine.

"Hello, Cerise…"

Well, SHIT.


Holy balls…

While I was re-writing this, Hide and Seek by SeeU came up on my play list. This song was inspired by Hitori Kakurenbo, and the mere fact that it just so happened to play while I was writing just scared the shit out of me.

O.o

I no longer feel safe in my own room…

Please review so you'll know I made it 'til morning!