Chapter 1 – Fear Feeds It
“Guys! Wait up!” I yelled running furiously toward the top of the hill.
“Hurry up Brennan!” called out my friend, Monroe. We have been friends since we were both in diapers. Our mothers met at the grocery store and began cooing over the other’s baby. At the time we were too young to understand, but that encounter became the foundation of a lasting friendship. We hung out every chance we got. From toddlers drooling over squeaky toys, to various camping trips in the mountains. No matter what, we were inseparable and I couldn’t imagine my life without him being there!
I finally reached the top, but trying to catch my breath I quickly sat down.
“You good?” I looked up at Monroe as his grey eyes met mine.
“Oh yeah, climbing a giant hill in the middle of the night leaves me feeling free and wonderful!” I said sarcastically.
“C’mon Chicken!” mocked my rival Nyle. How we became friends is beyond me. Either way, he is the typical self-centered jerk who easily and frequently points out everyone’s faults and discrepancies. The dirt he had on me was among my multitude of fears. He took every opportunity to exploit this weakness amongst our fellow peers.
“Lay off Nyle.” chimed my friend Ace. The way he sticks up for me reminds me of Monroe. However, Ace has a taste for extreme and dangerous situations. He’s known for being the neighborhood daredevil. He often performs at the skate park with his flaming skull skateboard. First a kick flip, then an ollie, followed by other interesting tricks. Nevertheless, his name didn’t become prominent until he did a rail slide down the largest staircase in town. Standing at the top, it was at least 5 miles to reach the bottom. Okay, maybe that’s a clear exaggeration but, that’s what it feels like to me. Ace soon began to share with us his countless adventure stories. He and his father sky dived into the Amazon, snowboarded down Mt. Everest, and bungee jumped from old iron bridges. Things the average kid could only dream of experiencing but, he turned those fabrications into reality.
“Besides, why are we up here?” asked Ace.
“For that!” exclaimed Nyle pointing down the hill. I couldn’t see what resided below. I stood up when I saw Monroe’s hand stretched towards me.
“Thanks.” I said grasping his hand. He then pulled me up.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” scoffed Ace. “This is a bad idea.”
“What is it?” I asked looking at Monroe. He shrugged his shoulders as he joined the others. I followed behind, then our mission was in clear view.
“An old house?” I asked folding my arms.
“What? Scared?” teased Nyle. “You can go home to your mommy while the real men explore. We’ll fill you in about our discoveries when we get… Ouch!” He grasped his arm.
“What was that for?” he asked Ace.
“That’s for bringing us out here in the middle of the night and ruining our sleepover for nothing.”
“Come on. Where is your sense of adventure Mr. Daredevil?” He released his arm and pointed once again to the house.
“That place has been abandoned for 300 years.” Ace laughed loudly causing our eyes to turn his direction.
“Don’t tell me it’s another one of your legends.” He said.
Annoyed Nyle stomped his foot. “No, this is true. I heard it from my older brother.”
“Like the haunted dumpster on third street, or how could we forget the ghost puppy of Pine Park.”
“Okay, those proved to be false but, this one for sure is real.” Ace rolled his eyes and began to scale down the hill. I stayed towards the end of the line as we trailed behind him.
“Anyway, there was a family who lived in that house about 300 years ago. The father was a phycologist who dealt with many patients suffering from delusion. Many would call their suffering a curse which caused its victims to see their fears every waking hour of their lives. They blamed a middle age woman who apparently practiced the “evil arts”.” Ace blew off and registered a glare from Nyle. He continued.
“It was never proven but, the doctor had no trouble healing the patients. They would go in for a few sessions and come out completely normal. No one could explain his abilities to quarrel the inner demons of his patients but, no one questioned his methods. Until one day, his family mysteriously disappeared. The townsfolk heard this from a young housekeeper who showed up one chilly fall morning and found the doctor on his knees crying in the living room. She asked what’s wrong but, received no response. She got closer to him and he lunged at her. He held her wrists as she fought to escape. He yelled, “You have to help me. She’s hungry again.”
She kicked him and he released his grip. She rushed out of the house and ran for help. They arrived and found the home empty. The only thing they found was the phrase “Fear Feeds It” in blood on the wall near the doctor’s desk. The doctor nor his family were ever found. To add to the mystery, the woman who apparently cursed the doctor’s patients also vanished without a trace. The house was left abandoned and the mystery never solved. For years, people mysteriously vanished. It was speculated they visited this home and became the deranged doctor’s victim. Others say that the message was talking about the doctor’s helper. A monster of some kind able to eat the fears of his patients. It turned on him and consumes anyone who dares to enter.”
“That’s ridiculous!” said Monroe. We looked at the decaying structure before us. Three stories tall; the building showed the adversaries it faced. From storms to floods, this building stood somehow. The ominous aura that surrounded it suggest a type of enmity or just evil itself. Approaching the porch, a cold breeze brought the house to life. The boards creaked loudly, the window shutters crashed and the door suddenly swung open. Peering into the darkness, I could hear whispers. The soft voice of its inhabitants or maybe the doctor himself inviting us inside. Either way, I wasn’t going in.
“Brennan. How about you lead the way?” I turned to Nyle raising a brow. “Come on and man up for once in your life.”
“No way am I going in there.”
“What, scared of the dark?” Secretly I was afraid of the dark but, that was an understatement to my common sense yelling at me “This is a bad idea!”.
“No, I just think this isn’t a good idea.”
“Whatever, look. I will go in first and prove there is nothing here but mold.” He entered the house without hesitation. I wondered about his bravery or palpable stupidity. He may just find joy in making everyone else feel inferior to him.
“Should we go in after him.” asked Monroe walking closer to the steps. Ace shook his head.
“No, maybe we’ll be rid of that nuisance.” I knew none of us really liked Nyle but, I wouldn’t want to tell his parents he just disappeared. I followed Monroe on the porch as we looked into the obscure darkness.
“Do you think he’s…” I was silenced by a small echoing voice.
“Brennan.” It said. I looked to Monroe.
“Did you hear that?”
“Must be the wind.” he answered.
“Brennan. Help me.” It said once again.
“Nyle. Stop being stupid. It’s not funny.” Ace said joining us.
“Yeah, we have to go!” A loud crash inside startled us. Suddenly, a red substance splashed on the door post and the floor before us. I became rigid assuming the worst.
“Help me!” Nyle screamed from inside. I rushed toward the door and a hand reached out for me. I fell backwards staring at the hand gapping from the darkness. The red substance dripped from its finger tips. I immediately pushed myself away.
“Nyle!” Ace yelled as he helped me up.
“He’s gone.” The voice said. A light suddenly came upon the door; revealing Nyle with a wide grin. Mad was just a small fraction of how I felt. I was going to kill him.
“I got you good Chicken!” Nyle smiled. “Amazing what red paint will do. Once a loser, always a loser.”
“That wasn’t funny.” said Monroe.
“Because you were on this side. You should have seen his face.” I looked to Monroe and saw his phone producing the light.
“Admit it chicken. You’re too pathetic. I bet you’re scared of your own shadow.” I looked furiously at him. Thinking about my willingness to throw caution to the wind and save him. I threw that notion away as Ace helped me to my feet.
“Let’s go home.” said Ace clearly agitated.
“Fine, whatever.” He said. I was mad and ready to beat the funny out of him. I was about to pounce when a chill raced down my spine. Looking to Nyle, he was frozen. A look of pure fear plastered on his face.
“Nyle, what’s wron..” I began to ask when I noticed something on his shoulder. A pale and damaged hand. Its nails were long and sharp like a lions and it definitely wasn’t red paint gracing the fingers.
“Guys!” I looked to the others and they saw it too. They were frozen as well. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“Nyle, the jokes over.” said Ace trying to rationalize the situation. I knew better. Who else could have been inside. He could have planned it but, we were the only ones willing to tolerate him enough to be called his friends.
“I’m not doing this.” He said shaking. Then another hand came upon his other shoulder. We each stopped. Trying to unravel the predicament. Another hand grasped his leg.
“Guys! Help me! This isn’t a trick I promise!” He yelled fueled by desperation. Each of us still stood there apprehensive to act. His other calf was captured and was forced to the ground. My eyes widened as the hands on his shoulders were attached to nothing but the darkness itself. He looked up to us pleading with his eyes. He reached out his hand and I went to grab it. Before I took a single step, he was dragged into the house screaming.
“Nyle!” I yelled rushing inside. I couldn’t see a thing as I ran unsure of what lied within. I was guided only by his voice. Before I knew it, I tripped over something and hit the ground. After that, everything went black and not a single sound was heard.