*CONTENT WARNING: Horror, gore, and references to suicide.*
“I would have to say…” Chad mused. “In the anthropology section of the Baillieu Library.”
A collective groan came from the entire group.
“You’re so gross,” Cindy said in disgust.
Chad held up his hands in defense. “Hey, you asked.”
“Is that the section with all the dinosaur books?” Seth queried.
“No, dumbass,” Bethany replied. “You’re thinking of paleontology. Anthropology is the study of humanity.”
“Well,” Chad said, raising an eyebrow. “She certainly got a good look at my Homo erectus that day, you know what I’m sayin’?”
“Nice,” Seth said, slapping Chad a crisp high five.
“Oh my God,” Cindy muttered passing the bottle to Sam, who was sitting next to her.
Sam smiled. Despite her initial reservations about coming to the gathering, she had to admit she was having fun. She knew it was dumb, but it felt good to shake away the stress of finals and just have some dumb fun. It felt like they were back in high school again, palling around like they used to. It seemed like ages since the last time they had gotten together like this.
Sam placed the bottle in the center of the circle and gave it a spin. As it spun, the glass rang softly against the wooden floorboards of the house.
The bottle slowly came to a stop. Everyone looked to the person it was pointing to – Lisa, the host of this little gathering.
Lisa leant back, resting both palms on the floor. She looked at Sam and winked. “Truth.”
Sam thought for a moment, then opted for her favorite type of question. “Marry, kill, fuck,” she asked Lisa. “Chad, Seth… and Cindy.”
“Hey!” Cindy exclaimed, giving Sam a playful shove, even though Sam could tell that she was happy to be included in the list.
“Yeah, now we’re talking,” Chad said, rubbing his hands together in anticipation.
“I wouldn’t get so excited,” Lisa told him. She turned back to Sam. “Obviously, I’d kill Chad.”
Chad gave her the finger.
She ignored him and continued. “I’d marry Seth for the endless supply of weed. And I would fuck Cindy’s brains out.” She said the last sentence slowly and purposefully, making full eye contact with Cindy, who was sitting directly across from her.
The small circle of friends was rendered speechless by her intensity. Even Seth, who usually had a comment for everything, sat with his jaw slightly agape, his blunt hanging loosely from his lips. Cindy and Lisa stared across the room at each other.
Finally, Cindy laughed, breaking the silence. She threw a small cushion at Lisa. “You wish, dyke.”
Lisa laughed. “Takes one to know one.”
Sam passed the bottle to Seth. “You’re up.”
Seth took a deep drag from his blunt, remove it from his lips, then spun the bottle.
When it came to a stop, it was pointing at Bethany. Everyone looked at her in anticipation. “Truth,” she said.
Chad groaned. Bethany stuck her tongue out at him.
It was a running joke in the group that Bethany, due to her prim and proper upbringing, had the most boring truths. Also, her cautious nature never allowed her to ever pick dare.
Seth exhaled noisy through his teeth, pondering. Then he asked, “What’s your biggest regret?”
Chad shoved him from the side. “Dude, lame.”
“Hey, sue me for asking real questions.”
“My biggest regret,” Bethany said, “is not killing my dad when I had the chance.”
For the second time that night, the group fell silent. This time, there was nothing playful about the silence. It was pure awkwardness and shock. Even Bethany sat there stunned, as if she too was surprised by the words that had just come out of her mouth.
They had all heard the rumors in high school, about what had happened to Bethany’s twin sister. About why she had killed herself. About what their father had done to her as a child. Yet no allegations had been made, let alone proven. Certainly, Bethany had never spoken up about it. When the man had passed from cancer, they had all attended his funeral to support their friend. Bethany and her mother had mourned as any family would after losing their patriarch. A photo of him had been framed and placed in the small shrine at their house, next to the photo of Bethany’s sister.
Presently, Bethany’s mouth began to open and close. “Uh, well, that’s—" Her confused utterings punctuated the uncomfortable silence.
Chad grabbed the bottle from Seth, glaring at him for destroying the mood. He spun the bottle with gusto, probably in an attempt to diffuse the awkwardness. Sam breathed a sigh of relief as the group seemed to relax.
The bottle came to a stop, pointing at Cindy.
Cindy stared at it for a moment before saying quietly, “Dare.”
“Yes!” Chad exclaimed and scrambled to his feet, causing Bethany to jump a little. She still seemed a little shell-shocked.
Chad stabbed a finger down at Cindy. “I dare you,” he said, with a twisted smile on his face. He moved his finger over to Lisa. “To kiss her. Slowly. With tongue.”
“Ah fuck off, man,” Cindy complained.
Seth pointed both index fingers at Chad in approval. “Yes!”
Lisa shook her head and took a swig of her beer. “Come on. Let’s get it over with.” She got up on her knees and began to shuffle towards Cindy.
“So keen! I love it!” Chad was practically beside himself.
Cindy stared as Lisa brought her face closer to hers. Perhaps subconsciously, she ran a tongue over her bottom lip. Lisa placed her fingers under Cindy’s chin, gently tilting her face up towards hers and slightly to the side. They both closed their eyes as their lips touched. However, Cindy’s eyes snapped open as Lisa closed her mouth around hers. Sam could see the tell-tale movement of tongues sliding against each other within the two joined mouths. Chad’s jaw dropped as he stood frozen on the spot. Cindy’s eyelids fluttered then closed again. She seemed to go limp, as if the strength was being drained from her.
Lisa pulled her lips back from Cindy’s. A string of spittle stretched between their lower lips as she withdrew, eventually breaking as Cindy exhaled slowly. As she crawled backwards towards her spot in the circle, Lisa opened her eyes and smiled at Cindy, who could only stare back. Chad sat back down heavily.
Seth said it for everyone. “That was intense.”
Sam was now having significantly less fun compared to just a few minutes ago. Something was off. First, there was Bethany’s confession, to which the girl still seemed to be recovering from. Then, there was this kiss, the forcefulness of which was way out of character for the Lisa that she knew. Sure, it had been a while since they had seen each other, but Lisa had never come close to acting like this in the past. And never before had their games of Truth or Dare been this intense. This scary.
Lisa took the bottle from Chad. “My turn,” she said cheerfully.
She spun the bottle. The sound rang out in the silence.
The bottle stopped. It was pointing at Chad.
Chad emptied the last of the beer from the bottle he was holding. “Fuck it,” he said. “Dare.”
Lisa regarded everyone in the group slowly, moving in a counter-clockwise direction. Chad sat, fiddling with the beer he had just finished, probably wishing he had more. Seth sat next to him, lighting up yet another doobie. Sam felt Lisa’s eyes on her and suddenly felt cold all over. She had an almost overwhelming urge to leave the house. Then, Lisa’s gaze moved on to Cindy, who blushed and looked away. Finally to Bethany, who was looking down at the floor, clearly not having fun either.
Lisa looked back at Chad. “I dare you,” she said. “To kill Seth.”
The next part happened very fast. Chad grabbed the neck of the beer bottle he was holding and brought the bottle against the floor, hard enough for the bottom to shatter. Seth had just enough time to say, “Oh.”
Then Chad was stabbing him in the neck with the top half of the broken bottle. A visceral jet of blood sprayed out across the room showering Bethany in crimson, as Chad stabbed him again and again and again.
Then it was over. Chad rose from Seth’s gurgling body, covered in blood. The top half of the bottle was still sticking out of his neck, or rather the mess that used to be his neck. Chad stepped backwards, his feet crunching against broken glass and leaving bloody footprints on the floor.
Sam wasn’t sure who started screaming first, but suddenly everyone was screaming. Bethany was wiping at her face and holding her hands out, as if to show them the blood. Cindy and Chad were stuck in a loop, with Cindy screaming, “What have you done?!” and Chad screaming back, “I don’t know!”
Sam stopped screaming abruptly when she caught sight of Lisa. Noticing that Sam had stopped screaming, the others stopped and followed her gaze.
Lisa was sitting on the ground, leaning back on her hands. She was watching all of them with a look of absolute glee on her face. The right side of her face was lightly spackled with Seth’s blood. But it was her eyes that were the true horror. They had turned entirely black. No white. No iris. Just pure black.
Lisa picked up the bottle from the center of the circle and held it out to Bethany. “Your turn,” she said.
Bethany stared down blankly at the bottle. In a daze, she began to reach for it.
“No.” Cindy whispered softly from her place in the circle. “No, no, no.” She scooted back on her butt, staring horrified at Lisa, seemingly trying to get to her feet but failing. Moving in this bizarre manner, she made her way to the exit of the room.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Lisa called after her.
The others watched in horror as Cindy finally managed to scramble to her feet. She stepped through the doorway of the room, into the adjacent hallway. As soon as her foot hit the floor outside of the room, her head exploded outward in a fountain of gore. Bethany began screaming again as Cindy’s lifeless and headless corpse collapsed to the floor just outside of the room.
“What the hell, what the hell, what the hell?” Chad was gripping the sides of his head, as if he were trying to keep his own head from exploding.
“I think we should keep playing,” Lisa said, making eye contact with Bethany. “Don’t you?”
Bethany stopped screaming. She looked across at the bottle Lisa was holding out to her. With a shaking hand, she accepted the bottle and placed it in the center of the circle.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Chad exclaimed incredulously.
Lisa’s head snapped in his direction and her smile faded suddenly. “Sit down,” she said. It was not Lisa’s voice.
Chad did as he was told.
Cindy spun the bottle. All four remaining players watched it spin. It came to a stop.
Lisa’s smile returned. “Truth,” she said.
Bethany’s lip quivered. Tears slid down her face, making trails in the wet blood that was caked on her skin. In a very quiet voice, she whispered, “Why are you doing this?”
Lisa laughed out loud. “Really?” she asked. “That’s your question? Not who am I, what am I, or how am I doing this?” She shrugged and shook her head. “Okay, whatever. Why am I doing this? I simply want to incentivize you.” She regarded the three people in front of her and a look of disdain crossed her face. “To tell the fucken truth. For once in your miserable lives.”
The room sat silent. Then Sam leaned forward and gripped the bottle with her hand. She glared at Lisa with sudden and angry determination and spun the bottle. As the bottle spun, she said, “Whoever it lands on, say ‘Dare’.”
Lisa smiled and her tongue quickly swiped across her lower lip. Sam could’ve sworn the tongue was forked.
The bottle landed on Chad. “Dare,” he said, uncertain.
“Kill her,” Sam muttered, pointing a finger at Lisa.
“Oh man,” Chad moaned and even as the words were coming out of his mouth, his body was turning involuntarily to face Lisa, who was sitting next to him. He raised his hands to her throat.
“Woohoo!” Lisa exclaimed as Chad’s hands clamped around her neck, his big thumbs digging deeply into the soft tissue.
They fell to the floor together, Chad straddling Lisa’s body. Her legs kicked and she gripped his wrists as her windpipe was crushed. Her eyes – her black eyes – bulged and she turned her head so that she was looking at Sam. Her smile widened to impossible lengths.
Then she lay still. Chad slowly released his grip and stepped backwards. He looked down at Lisa’s body, then at his shaking hands.
“What did you make me do?” he whispered.
“It was the only way,” Sam said.
Chad looked at Sam incredulously. He struggled to find the words before finally settling on, “You bitch.”
“Indeed.” Lisa sat up.
Everyone in the room screamed.
Lisa massaged her throat and looked at Sam. “You fucken bitch.”
“But, but—" Chad spluttered. “I killed you!”
“You killed Lisa.” The thing wearing Lisa’s skin – not-Lisa – raised her arms, palms to the ceiling. “I’m still here. Let’s keep playing.” She winked at Bethany, who burst into fresh tears.
Chad tried to back away but ended up tripping over Seth’s still bleeding body. He fell back and landed heavily on his ass.
“Get it together guys!” not-Lisa exclaimed, exasperated. “You’re not asking the right questions. I don’t think you realize what kind of opportunity you have here. The people in this room cannot lie. Isn’t there anything you want to get to the bottom of?” She looked at Bethany meaningfully. “Perhaps something about your sister?” She turned her gaze to Chad. “About the truth behind her death?”
Chad looked from not-Lisa, to the bottle on the floor. Then he looked at Sam. She made eye contact with him and shook her head slowly. Chad ignored her. He leaned forward and gave the bottle a spin.
It came to a stop, pointing at Sam. Everyone in the room turned to her.
She couldn’t say dare for fear of what Chad might make her do. So, she said, “Truth.”
Chad looked her in the eye and asked his question. “Is what you told me about Bethany’s sister true?”
Bethany stared from Sam, to Chad, then back to Sam. Not-Lisa clapped her hands together in delight.
Sam bit down on her lip as hard as she could. A tear ran down her face. Without wanting to, she shook her head and whispered, "No."
“My turn!” Not-Lisa grabbed the bottle and gave it a spin. Once again, it stopped on Sam.
Sam couldn’t take it anymore. She didn’t care what the ghoul made her do. She couldn’t take the judgmental eyes from Chad or Bethany any longer. So, she said, “Dare.”
Not-Lisa’s black eyes glinted with evil, her mouth twisted into a deranged smile. “I dare you,” she hissed. “To tell everybody here the truth about Bethany’s sister’s death.”
Sam’s heart sank. Her mouth opened involuntarily, and she wept as words began to tumble from it. “Bethany’s sister came to me a month before she died. She told me she loved me. That she’d always loved me. She kissed me. I didn’t know how to react. I was so young. So, I told Chad that she was messed up. That her dad probably did stuff to her as a kid. Chad spread that rumor. That’s part of the reason why she killed herself.” She looked at Bethany, pleading for her forgiveness. “I’m so sorry.”
“You fucken bitch,” Chad whispered in disbelief.
“That’s not all though,” not-Lisa said. All the humor had drained from her voice.
Sam swallowed thickly. “The main reason she killed herself,” she continued. “Was because I loved her too. And she knew that. But I couldn’t face that truth. No, that’s not true. I could have. I just didn’t want to.”
Bethany stared coldly at Sam. She had stopped crying. She held out her hand to not-Lisa. “Give me the bottle.”
Not-Lisa passed the bottle to Bethany, who never broke eye contact with Sam.
“You gotta believe me,” Chad pleaded with her. “I would never have said anything if I knew—"
It was too late. The bottle was spinning. Bethany ignored Chad’s pleas and waited for it to stop.
It stopped. It was pointing at the ghoul wearing Lisa’s skin.
The ghoul looked at Bethany. It grinned wide enough to reveal a set of yellow, rotted fangs. The teeth of a sick animal. “Dare,” it said.
Bethany looked at Sam, who was weeping with her eyes closed. She looked at Chad, who was shaking his head and continuing to plead with her. She turned to address the ghoul, who was eagerly anticipating her request. She spoke slowly and deliberately. “I dare you to…”
The mutilated corpses of Cindy Powell, Chad Musket, Seth Villanueva, and Samantha Green were discovered when the residents of the house, Mr. and Mrs. Woods, returned home from their vacation. Their daughter, Lisa Woods, is missing along with another girl from her friendship circle, Bethany Rogers. Police are offering a reward for any information pertaining to the whereabouts of these two girls.