TW: Horror, seizure-like behavior, blood, and gore.
The eighth grade school day was sweltering hot, and James was fast asleep on his desk. Even in sleep, he muttered unintelligibly, fingers twitching and brow furrowing. His teacher didn’t bother to wake him, fearing the behavior that would surely ensue. James was a strange child, and was often the victim of relentless bullying and teasing. The mutterings grew louder, until some of his fellow classmates shot him nervous sideways glances. He had been diagnosed with Schizophrenia at a very young age, it being the closest possible explanation for the things he heard and saw. Even though the simple explanation brought comfort to those who knew him, it was obvious that the diagnosis was a mere guess. The doctors had been utterly confused by James. There was a sort of… unsettling feeling about him. Something inexplicable. A sort of… staticky feeling. He never smiled, and spent most of his time staring and whispering. He had fits sometimes, body seizing and eyes rolling. The doctors diagnosed him with Epilepsy soon after the first seizure, but they knew that wasn’t quite right either.
After an incredibly dull lesson on square roots, class ended. With the rusty ting of the afternoon bell, James awoke, sitting straight up in his chair with a hiss. He hated sleeping in class. Today was the twenty-seventh of May, and he couldn’t afford to sleep. He couldn’t afford to miss the opening. Robotically, James hoisted his bag over his shoulder and walked out of the classroom, blank eyes flickering from student to student, looking for the twins. He didn’t have to wait long. The classroom’s exit suddenly darkened, blocked by two hulking figures. They were the school's two largest and most cowardly bullies, Jacob and Hunter. The pair were twins, equally rich in wealth and stupidity.
“Why the rush, Jamie?” said Hunter with a smirk. They always called him by that infuriating pet name. James merely watched, cocking his head.
“Off to see the ghosts?” mocked Jacob. “Little shit. Did you forget? You owe us allowance,” he finished, holding out his grubby hand expectantly. James never had money, and the twins knew it. His failure to pay was merely an excuse for them to beat him. But, this time was different. The twins could feel it, a certain… staticky feeling, brewing in the air. James could feel it too. It was time. The small, no, miniscule window of opportunity had arrived. A chance to turn the tables. A chance to reverse the curse. He grinned, an unsettling sight. The twins had never seen him do such a thing before, and they stepped forward, balling their meaty fists in fear.
“No funny business, Jamie. Remember what happened last time you tried to scare us? Wasn’t so fun, was it?” Hunter teased, lifting his chin with pride. The jab had the opposite effect, and James’s horrific smile grew wider. He remembered that time clearer than day. It had almost worked, and was worth the brutal beating he’d gotten afterward. The staticky feeling grew more intense, urging him to hurry. Holding up his hands in submission, he said something entirely unexpected.
“I have the money,” James said with a gleeful giggle, pointing outside, past the school yard. The unsettling grin stayed plastered on his face. The twins narrowed their eyes in unison.
“Follow me,” James giggled, now practically jumping in excitement. The pair stepped aside, following James as he stumbled down the stairs. He beckoned once again, giggling raspily. Hunter and Jacob followed, smirking. They gave each other a knowing look. The pair was ten times stronger than him. If there was money, they’d take it. If there wasn’t, they’d have fun. Simple as that. Wherever James took them, it wouldn’t give him an advantage big enough to prevent them from taking what they wanted. They strode after James, hardly caring as he walked miles past the school, past the suburbs, and into a large, abandoned wheat field. It was this moment when the two bullies realized something was off.
The itchy wheat rubbed against their skin, leaving golden hairs covering their shorts and t-shirts. They could hardly see James any longer. The stalks were uncharacteristically tall, and seemed to grow taller the farther they walked. The staticky feeling grew, making the hair stand up on their necks. An unsettling chill settled on the pair, despite the heat of the day. Jacob started to panic, realizing that James had gone missing.
“We said no funny business, James!” Jacob shouted, tearing through wheat stalks, trying to find James. Hunter was more cautious, and carefully tip-toed through the field, trying to find an explanation for the supernatural feeling which had enshrouded the area.
Much farther in the field, James’ grin widened, making his face hurt. They felt it too, he thought. The static. The scratchy, haunting feeling. The voices would surely come next. He’d done it.
Jacob and Hunter searched, panic increasing. It wasn’t until the first voice rang out, however, that they truly began to lose their minds. A shriek sounded, making their ears ring. The two stopped in unison, trying to find the source of the noise. When there appeared to be none, the two went berserk, voices of all sorts swirling in their heads.
“JAMES,” yelled Hunter.
“JAMES, WHERE ARE YOU?” screamed Jacob, insides curdling in fear. A new voice caressed his ear. Hello, visitor. Has James brought you? Good for him. Good for him. I always liked that kid. The voice cackled.
Possesed by pure terror and adrenaline, Jacob blindly sprinted, running faster than he ever had before.
“JACOB, WAIT!” cried Hunter, tearing after his twin.
After what could have been hours, or possibly only seconds, they reached a small, circular dirt clearing. Panting, scared, and covered in itchy wheat, the pair was furious, especially when they saw a clean and complacent James sitting cross-legged in the middle of the clearing, fingers tapping a short and impatient rhythm.
“Late-late-late-late-late,” muttered James, now twiddling his thumbs. Enraged, Jacob ran at him, scratching shoes making red puffs of dirt. Then, just as Jacob drew back a fist, James opened his mouth, his tongue lolling and pitch black. Jacob stumbled back to his twin, repulsed.
“Now, dear, I think they’re actually slightly early,” said James. But, the voice wasn’t his. It was an old, scratchy woman’s voice.
“Bah. Might as well get the whole thing over with,” said a second voice, this time the deep sound of a man.
“Take? Which take?” muttered another, this time James’ own voice.
“Now, James, you know how to check,” said the woman again. Hunter and Jacob stood, frozen, watching James’ mouth in horror and fascination. Then, there was a horrible ripping noise, and Jacob and Hunter howled, clutching their arms. The flesh on their left forearm had been, well, unzipped. But instead of blood, all that oozed out of the wounds was a thick, muddy substance. Hunters’ was a sickly, grotesque mustard yellow, and he stared at it, terrified and transfixed as it dripped down his arm. But, Jacob on the other hand, began to shriek. His wound oozed black. A frightful, horrendous black, which crawled and dripped like hundreds of newborn spiders.
“There you have it, James dear. It’s him,” the crone said. She clucked her tongue.
“Good thing you got him in time. It’s so rare to find a specimen like this one on time,” she finished. Then, with a sigh, James collapsed, mouth shutting. The wounds on Hunter and Jacob’s arms disappeared with a dark flash.
“What did she mean, Hunt? What does she mean, it’s me? What do we do?” Jacob babbled, panicking. Then, behind them, James began to convulse. His eyes rolled back in his head, the red veins sharply contrasting against his ghostly pale face. He collapsed to the ground, body jerking. Then began the screams. Oh, the screams. They were as high pitched as a whistle, and as freakish as a pig’s squeal.
“I don’t-I don’t-what do we-” stuttered Hunt, unable to get a hold of himself. The staticky sensation that had shrouded the field seemed to grow stronger, until it was an audible buzzing. Hunter and Jacob swatted at their ears, panic overcoming their senses. They were so panicked, in fact, that they didn’t notice as James’s body went limp. They didn’t notice as James stood, like a puppet on strings, and raised a trembling hand in Jacob’s direction. They didn’t notice until a wailing, horrid shriek of a thousand voices sounded.
“FREE!” screeched James, pointing at Jacob, eyes and face whiter than a sheet. The static turned to a roar, and Jacob screamed. He screamed, and kept screaming. He fell to his knees, begging, gabbling unintelligibly. All Hunter could do was stare in horror. Time stood still as James froze, a horrifyingly triumphant expression pressed into his face. Thick, dark liquid began to pour out of James’s mouth, trailing down his shirt and pooling in the clearing. He retched, and more fluid poured. The sickly black liquid didn’t end, continuing around the dirt trail. It boiled, burning the edges of the clearing, but couldn’t seem to pass the soil of the circle. Coming to his senses, Hunter yelped, jumping into the cover of the wheat. He moved to grab Jacob’s arm, but quickly yanked his hand back. Jacob’s skin was burning hot, at least one-hundred and fifty degrees. So, all Hunter could do was watch yet again as the dark puddle reached Jacob. Slowly, it crept up his shirt, soaking his body. It burned, ignoring Jacob’s pitiful whimpers as it pooled in his mouth. He swallowed, and swallowed, and swallowed, until there was no black left. And, just as the last drop disappeared down Jacob’s throat, the two in the clearing collapsed.
Hunter cried out, running through the field. Tears burned in his eyes, and he hardly noticed as he sprinted for at least a mile to the twins’ house.
“It’s- It’s Jacob, he- they-” Hunter blubbered, sobbing. His parents, shocked at the display, tried to calm him. The only thing they were able to get out of him were a few words. He repeated them over and over. Jacob. Burn. James. Voices. Liquid. James. Voices. Liquid. Burn. Jacob. Now hysterical, Hunter’s father and mother told him to lead them to Jacob. He did, leading them back to the innocent golden field. The window had passed, and the staticky feeling and the voices were gone. Upon seeing the field once again, Hunter screamed, and took off in the opposite direction.
Exchanging terrified looks, the pair trudged through the wheat until they found the clearing. The mother shrieked, her voice carrying across the wheat field. There lay Jacob, asleep, muttering and twitching. James knelt next to him, patting his back and whispering soothing words.
“How did he get this far?” screamed Jacob’s mother, collapsing on her knees. Jacob’s dad ran out of the field, undoubtedly trying to find help.
“I told him, with his Epilepsy and all, that he wasn’t to leave school without an adult! I can’t- I can’t believe this,” she said shakily, looking at James. James stood, looking ashamed.
“I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have let him get far. I sent Hunter to get help, but-” he started, looking mournful.
“Don’t worry dear, I’m glad you tried to help. You can go home now, I’ve got it from here,” she finished, dismissing him with a wave. He stayed, however, watching Jacob mutter nonsense and convulse with an air of confusion. He stayed all the way until the ambulance came, where he caught a ride back home. His parents embraced him immediately, crowing with pride over his heroic actions. He took their praises in stride. But, once he was alone, he sat, furrowing his brow. He couldn’t remember the last three hours. He couldn’t remember much of anything, really. Only his friend group, soccer practices, and birthdays. Important things. Had he hit his head? Feeling around his hair, he found the small, circular bruise that was beginning to appear from his violent seizure. Of course, however, he had forgotten the occurrence. Relived, he stood. Yes, that must have been it. He’d hit his head. Shaking off the panic that had begun to rise, he returned to the kitchen and the happy embraces of his family.
The only individual who remembered the entirety of the situation was the unfortunate Hunter. He lost his mind in the following years, becoming almost as utterly insane as his twin. The unfortunate pair, they were called, recipients of pity wherever they went. James, meanwhile, lived the life of a normal boy. The only remnant of the past he had lived was the black, thick blood which pumped through his veins, freed of its inhabitants but inescapable.