Horror in the suburbs – boy, 8, trapped in basement for days, the headline reads of the article I hold in my hand. I cannot bring myself to read the rest because I know what happened. The stale air, the banging on the door but no one to answer my call, the sound of breaking backbone and the raw smell of fresh blood, it could have been hours ago rather than decades. I start crying and while my tears flood down my face I start to look around. The room is very bare, only a single bed in the corner by the window, opposite of a small table and chair and a shelf with books and comics right over it. I walk over and notice a pile of comics on the table. Without thinking I grab the comic on top of the pile.
Right past the table is a little recess with a toilet and a wash basin. I would expect a mirror as well but there is none, only the faint lines where one must have been in the past. I turn around once more and see a reinforced door. Fear floods through me and I run to the door and not to my surprise I cannot open it.
“Only the strong will survive and thanks to me you did. I will always protect you and will always be there for you in the darkest hour and in the light.”, the voice echoed through the room with an animalistic growl. I turn around again trying to find the source of the voice but I am all alone. “Get Out”!” I shake the door but nothing happens. In my despair I start hammering my fists on the door like I did all those years ago but time I neither have Yeti nor do I know where I am. Exhausted I give up and sit down on the bed. If only I knew where I am.
I shiver when I realise that this is indeed where I am and while I try to remember how I got there I hear a shrieking laugh.
“I told you I will look out for you!”
“Who else? Or did you expect any of those humans to even care for you? Your mother? That woman left you alone for days with that psychopath and his friends. You heard him laugh, you heard him eat and drink but he never answered your call to open the door until it was too late. He deserved it! I died for you and he died for me.”
“Yeti, why am I trapped again?”
“Don’t worry my friend I’ll get you out. Just wait and see!”
“I love you Yeti. You are my best friend.”
“I know. Now sleep”
When I wake up I am no longer in the room. I hear an alarm and instinctively run. There is a door right in front of me but I do not know the code to open it. Frantically I type a few numbers.
“Remember the comics? Type in the order of the issues you had on your desk!”
“I don’t remember”
“Yes you do. Just go back to the beginning!”
The sky above me is bright, the crisp air enriched with the musty notes of slowly decaying leaves, and I actually feel better than ever before. Free from the shackles, free from the past, only the future ahead, I run humming one of my favourite songs
If the hints didn’t help you, maybe your ears know what the sock is cooking.
I stop to catch a breath. I kept on running for what must have been an hour after the voices chasing me faded away in the woods behind me. My naked feet step on a manmade ground for the first time. The pile of golden brown leaves feels so soft and comforting under my toes. I look around at what seems like the outer edge of a village. A smooth pastel pink fills the cool autumn evening sky as the sun goes down giving a nostalgic tone to the city skyline over the horizon. Only now I understand I had forgotten the colours of the sky. The irony of being back in the free world on this specific day has me smile to myself, when this riddle comes to my mind:
It all depends on how you feel
Tender as cotton or hard as steel
The time here expands and shrinks
Endless but with all the kinks
I may look real, but I am not
If you are in luck, I will be hot
When you’re not here, I am usually forgotten
But I can make it feel like you’re wrapped in cotton
Sometimes I’m good, at other times I’m bad
While with me you may feel the best you’ve ever had
Swimming across seven seas or an ocean
Flying over mountain tops with devotion
Because everything here shatters
There is nothing that matters
Deep in the darkest alleys of your soul
Here there is no failure and no goal
Still smiling to myself I notice that the first toddlers have started running around enthusiastically with their baskets still empty. The costumes have changed so much since the last time I had gone out on All Hallows Eve.
A group of children with lanterns and baskets in their hands walk past me. One of them turns to me and screams at the top of her squeaky childish voice “TRICK OR TREAT!?”. I look at her and her homemade costume puts an awkward smile on my face.
“What creature are you?”
“I am a dead bunny!” she answers.
“But you look too alive for a dead bunny…”
“I am a zombie bunny! I cannot die anymore!” she replies, showing me her teeth “, and what are you?”
I look down at my dirty white gown-like uniform.
“I am the ghost of an old lady. I come back once a year on this day to look for my long gone bunny friend. I am so glad we met tonight.”
The End ?!?! …
Does anything ever end, anywhere? …