“Maybe we shouldn’t do this,” I whisper, “I don’t think this will be safe.”
My friend, Wade, rolls his eyes and keeps on dragging me along towards the rusty gates of the abandoned park.
“Maybe you should stop being such a pussy and live a little,” he replies as we reach the entrance.
The gates slowly swing open, as if inviting us inside. I give Wade a pointed look, but he ignores me as he enters the playground. I scurry right behind him and grab onto his sleeve.
“Why did you want to come to this haunted playground anyways?” I ask while my eyes dart around looking for any supernatural entities.
“I heard a rumor about this place,” he takes a quick breath, “I heard that the spirits of dead kids end up here and you can only see them at night.”
“Dead kids?” I repeat before I made the realization, “we came here to see your dead sister?”
“I know it sounds crazy, but I just have to see if she is here or not,” he says to me, “I need to see her again.”
I don’t say anything as I follow behind him. Our feet trudging through the overgrown grass and broken gravel. The dark shadows of the trees loom over us as the full moon peeks out from behind the leaves. Every once and a while, I think I hear the sound of small footsteps on the other side of the dense brush that surround us. I can see the top of the castle-like playset ahead of us.
I clear my throat before asking, “It was never confirmed if she was dead or not right?”
“I don’t know,” he answers sarcastically, “I think if she has been missing for a year now she would still be alive.”
“Okay dude, I was just asking. You don’t have to be like that, you know,” I respond quietly, “I know how much you miss her.
“You don’t even know the half of it. You don’t know of the long nights and weeks we spent trying to find her. All of the dead ends add up, and there will never be enough time to find an answer,” he paused for a second, “this is all I have. This is my last chance to see her. I’m so tired of searching and being disappointed. I just want to know.”
“I understand, but would it make you feel any better if you do see her tonight? What would you do?
“I’m going to ask her about the person that took her and kill them,” he nonchalantly says.
I turn to look at him, “That’s edgy and we both know you aren’t that type of person anyways. What will you actually do?”
He doesn’t answer me as his eyes focus on something in the distance. I follow his gaze and I can see a little redhead girl, in a light pink dress, sitting all alone on the swings. I can feel my heartbeat jumping out of my throat as I take a few steps back. I try to pull Wade back with me, but he breaks out of my grip and begins running towards her.
“WADE! STOP! THAT ISN’T YOUR SISTER!” I yell at him, but he doesn’t slow down.
I can see him approaching her and when she turns to look at him, he drops onto his knees and cups his face with his hands. His body starts shaking and I begin running towards them. I hear his quiet sobs as I approach and the little girl, who looks to be around 7-8 years old, starts to pat his head. She stops as soon as I wrap my arms around his curled back and pull him closer to me. He leans into me and puts his head into the crook of my neck, but his tears don’t stop.
“I’m sorry, Wade. I really am,” I say to him before turning to the girl, “where are your parents? Why are you here by yourself?”
Her light blue eyes begin to water before she says, “I live close to here. Please don’t tell my mommy that I’m here. I just wanted to play on the swings.”
“You shouldn’t be here by yourself. I won’t tell your mommy, but you should not do this again, okay? I’m going to bring you home.”
She slowly nods her head and I hold my hand out for her to grab. Wade is still crying as I help him up and we all begin walking back to the entrance. The little girl tells me that her name is Sophie and thankfully, she only lives a few houses down the street from the park. After I waited for her to enter her house, Wade and I silently sat in his car for a few minutes. His eyes were puffy from the crying and he kept looking at his hands.
“Wade,” I quietly say, “I’m sorry that wasn’t your sister. I can’t even imagine how you felt when you saw Sophie because they look so similar.”
After a few moments, he finally turns to look at me with his jaws clenched, “I shouldn’t have brought us here. It was stupid and I should have known better than to just believe in rumors. I’m done with all this bullshit.”
“Wade…I think it’s time for you to move on. You need to stop hurting yourself looking for her.”
“I fucking know, and I want to stop even if it kills me inside. I still make her breakfast in the morning and sit by her bed every night…I just miss her so much and my parents do too, but they have already given up searching for her. I just don’t want to lose my memories of her, you know. She is my little sister and I should have been there for her when she was in trouble.”
He stops talking as he starts his car and begins driving back to my house. We don’t speak for the rest of the car ride and I can feel the words get caught up in my throat. My nails bury deep into my palms and my mouth becomes dry. How desperately I want to tell him the truth about the night she went missing, but I know I can’t and even if I did, he wouldn’t believe me.
I sat up in bed and tried to catch my breath. Cold sweat soaked into my bedsheets as I looked up at the clock and saw that it was nearing 3 AM. I could feel the dryness of my throat and my eyes slowly adjusted to the streetlight coming in through my window. I blink a few times before I see a little girl walking barefoot along the sidewalk down the street from me.
I quickly got out of bed and raced out the front door of the house. I saw her in the distance, but someone…no, something is with her. It looked like a tall thin man, but completely shrouded in darkness. Its long, spindly fingers were holding onto her hand as they walked through the shadows of the surrounding trees.
“MELANIE! DON’T GO WITH IT!” I yelled but it was as if she couldn’t hear me.
I chased after them but as I got closer, I could hear her laughing as if it was speaking to her. They stopped walking when I approached, and they both turned around to look at me. Melanie’s eyes were completely white, as if she were blind and there was a faint light emanating above her head. She started giggling at the sight of me before turning away.
The shadowed creature had no face, but its whole body was covered in eyes. Hundreds of eyes, all with glowing red irises, that were slowly blinking at me. I could feel my body trembling as I stood there and it took me a moment before I spat out the words,
“What are you?”
I suddenly heard a deep, gravelly voice in my head that said, “I am Chaos. I am the Devil. I am Unholy. I am Fear incarnate, but you do not have to fear me, child. I will be waiting for you to find me. Find the ones who have met me before and join them in this war. This child will be safe with me.”
“What do you mean? What war? How am I going to find them?” I asked in frustration.
“One of them is close by.” It responded, “Seek him out and he will tell you everything.”
“Who is he? I just want my friend’s sister back…I don’t care about this war!”
“You will know him as the Sin of Wrath, child. I will not explain any further. They are coming.”
And just like that, the creature and Melanie quickly vanish into the shadows.
After a year of searching for clues and reaching dead ends, I got a mysterious note a few days ago telling me where to go. I will meet with him tomorrow and finally get some answers. Wade will never know that I’m trying to protect him from this. He doesn’t need to suffer anymore and I will take on the burden of saving his sister. It’s something only I can do and I am not scared anymore.