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It seemed no one else heard it. 

It was a piercing, yet gargled scream. It sounded like something out of those horror movies my friends seemed to love so much, but I hated. I woke up with a start to the insane sound. It went on for what seemed like a minute or two. The whole time, I just sat in my bed, wondering what the heck was happening.

It stopped. I came to my senses. I grabbed my cellphone and turned it on, ready to call 911, but decided I should wait before I did. I looked through the open doorway of my room into the hall, before noticing I shouldn't even be able to do that. I always kept my bedroom door closed. I thought that maybe I had just forgotten to close it last night before I went to bed; I sometimes play games on my way to my bedroom, so maybe I was in the middle of a Pokemon battle or something- but then, wouldn't I have fixed it after lying down and realising the room was not yet completely dark? 

There were no lights on in the hall, most likely because Mom and Dad had turned them off before they had gone to sleep. But after that scream, wouldn't they have woken up, and would be running to make sure I was ok, and to figure out what was going on? I inched to the door, and shut it quickly, hitting the light switch as I did. The light came on, but sputtered and flickered as if I hadn't changed the lightbulb in forever, but it had been replaced just last week, so there was no reason for it to do this.

I grabbed my flashlight which I also kept next to my bed and exited the room. The faint light from my room hardly lit the hall. I made my way down the hall towards my parents' room, and also towards one of the two lightswitches on either side of the hall. I flipped the lightswitch, and just like in my room, the hall light emitted a faint light. I wondered to myself what in the heck was going on here.

I stepped into my parents' bedroom, flipping on the lightswitch. This time, nothing happened, so I used my flashlight to illumiate the room. My parents weren't here. Something felt very, very wrong. 

I turned around and went back down the hall in the other direction towards the living room. I went down the stairs, using the flashlight to make sure I didn't accidentally misstep. Once I got to the living room, I turned on the lightswitch, and instead of barely or not working, the lights came on like normal. I discovered that the kitchen lights had the same status. 

What I didn't discover, however, was where my parents were. I sat down on the couch and turned on the news for some background noise. The lady was talking about some new old folks' home that was built on the other side of the town's residential area. The noise comforted me, but I was still unnerved by my parents seemingly not being in the house. They didn't leave any kind of note, they didn't text me, nothing. I was a bit scared. I liked being alone; I was the shyest kid in my class, on my bus, even. I didn't talk to anyone or really even look at them. Being alone was fine, but this was just getting creepy. 

I decided to call them. I called my mom's cell- nothing. Same with Dad. Maybe, wherever they were, their phones were out of charge... or off... or... broken? Well, I thought, maybe before their phones shut off, one of them left me an email or something. When they couldn't reach my phone and they knew I was home, they usually sent me an email. 

I sat down at the computer and turned it on. I didn't have anything in my emails, except for a few YouTube and Wikia notifications. I concluded that wherever Mom and Dad were, I couldn't reach them, and there really wasn't anything I could do. I looked at the clock, and it said it was 1:35 in the morning. I wasn't sure what they were doing, but I decided I would wait until they came back. 

One of the emails was someone on my 3DS friends list asking me if I wanted to play some Animal Crossing: New Leaf. I got up to go to my room and get my 3DS, figuring I'd check my friends list, and if they were still on, we'd play some Animal Crossing. When I turned around, though, I found that my 3DS was sitting on the coffee table, with the three 3DS game cartridges I owned, Pokemon X, Mario Kart 7, and of course, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, were sitting on the table right next to it. 

Now, this was odd because I usually keep my game cartridges in a pocket within my purse. Why were they all out here? Also, I hadn't noticed these on the coffee table when I sat down to turn on the news. I didn't believe in magic. These couldn't have just appeared here. 

I laughed out loud. "Oh, come on, guys. Seriously? It's not even April Fools' Day! Was this about me drinking a whole gallon of milk on New Year's Eve?"  I expected my mom and dad to pile out of the broom closet or something, saying something along the lines of, "We got you good, didn't we, Ruby?" or, "Maybe next time, you'll drink some water!", but nothing happened, except for my dog walking in, wondering what all the commotion was about. I sighed.  

"Hey, Shadow," I said, greeting the four-year-old black lab. I slumped down on the couch and patted the spot beside me, inviting him to sit down.

I picked up the 3DS and popped in New Leaf. I turned it on and checked my friends list. Sure enough, the kid who had messaged me through YouTube, NathanPwns, was on, playing New Leaf. I went to play New Leaf after noticing that he was the only one on. Actually, he shouldn't have been on. I shouldn't even have been on. It was 2:00 in the freaking morning! 

Once I got on, we started messaging each other through the little device you get. We said hi, and then I asked if I should go over to his town, or if he should come over to mine. He said I should come over to his. 

I went over to his town, and then we walked around a bit, making small talk. Since I had really just gotten the game a few days ago, after checking the stores, I decided to go to the hairdresser's. I used an online guide to get the hairstyle I wanted. Happy with my new look, I decided I'd just go and chat with him. He had Club LOL, so I decided to go there. He followed, seeming to want to stay close to me for some reason. It didn't bother me, though. I was glad for the company. 

The music in the club, in addition to the droning of the news and the soft breathing of Shadow beside me made me feel better, but there was still the unsettling feeling that something was wrong. 

I told Nathan, "I think someone's pranking me or something." He replied, "O rlly?" 

"Yeah," I continued. "My parents disappeared or something. They won't pick up their cellphones either." 

"OMG rlly?" He asked. 

"Yeah," I answered. 

"Me too!" He said. "They're not in their bedroom, and you can't find them anywhere?" 

"Yes!" I replied. Somehow I knew that he wasn't pretending. "WTH is going on here?" 

"Idk," He replied. "I'd feel safer if we were actually talking. Want my cellphone number?" 

I already knew about the "some-people-on-the-internet-are-creeps" thing, but I'd checked this kid's videos on his YouTube channel before. He had about the same level of expertise I did when it came to making videos, and I had the strong feeling he wasn't lying. 

"Yes," I said. "I'd feel safer, too. What is it?" 

I called him. 

"Hello?"  a boy's voice answered. 

"Hi," I said. 

"Is this... Ruby?" He asked. 

"Yes... is this Nathan?" 

"Yes." 

The conversation continued. We put each other on speakerphone while we played Animal Crossing together. We went to Tortimer's island and played for a little while. 

We started talking, and it turns out we had both had the same experience. Waking up to the same horrible scream, having the same light problems, the same unshakable feeling something was wrong. 

After a while, my phone started ringing.

"Hey, I've got a call," I said. 

"Me, too," Nathan replied. "Maybe it's our parents." 

"Okay, well, I'll talk to you after. Okay?" 

"Okay." 

I hung up and answered the other call. I recognized the number as my mom's. I was overjoyed.

"Hey, Mom!" I said, completely enthusiastic. "Aw, man! I woke up, and I heard this scream, and you guys weren't here, and the lights got all creepy, and I'm playing Animal Crossing!"  Just then, I realised how stupid I must've sounded. 

"Uh, let me start over again-" I said. 

"I'm very unhappy with you," Mom interrupted. She sounded really angry. "You are in a lot of trouble, young lady."

"W-what did I do?" I asked, stuttering. "What's wrong?" 


"You know what you did." This time, Mom's voice seemed off, like when you sing a song slightly out of tune. 

"No, I don't," I said. "You're creeping me out. Just tell me what I did." 

"You know what you did!" Now, it was deeper. It sounded like a huge creature was trying to do an impression of my mom or something. 

"Um, no, I DON'T!" I said, with a more persistent tone. "TELL me!" 

"YOU WILL BURN!", the voice, that I was now sure was not my mother, screamed into my ear right before a beeping tone played, saying that I had lost connection with who I was talking to. 

I set the phone down, and hugged Shadow tightly. He had been asleep until the screaming phone had awakened him. He looked around, then at me, and laid his head back down again, sure that nothing was wrong. The beauty of ignorance, I thought to myself. He was so lucky.

My cellphone rang again. It was face down, so I couldn't see who it was. Was it that... that... thing? Was it trying to contact me again? I reached over, my hand shaking, and... 

It was Nathan. 

I picked it up fast. "Nathan?!?" I asked quickly. 

"Ruby?!?" His voice answered, shaky. 

"I answered, and it was Mom, and..." I trailed off. My voice was shaky too. 

"And then she went crazy! I don't know what I did wrong!" he answered, panicky. 

"W-what state do you live in?" I asked. 

We lived in the same state. 

"What city are you in?" He asked. 

Same city, too. 

"What's your address?" 

We were down the street from each other. Six houses divided us. 

"Can... can I come over?" I asked. "I've got a dog... Shadow... He'll protect me on my way over..." 

"Y-yeah," Nathan said. "I've got a dog, too His name is Lightspeed... I'll be waiting on the porch. Hurry over!" 

"Wait!" I said. "D-don't hang up!" 

We stayed on the phone while I packed some things. I stuffed my 3DS, its charger, and my game cartridges into my purse, then took the contents of my purse and emptied them into my backpack instead. I packed a bunch of dolls and a few tangerines and sodas as well as some doggy biscuits for Shadow.

"C'mon, Shadow!" I said, getting him off the couch. "We're gonna go for a trip!" I said, in the most cheery voice I could manage. I felt anything but cheery. 

Shadow ran alongside me once we got outside. He was alert, as if he could sense I was freaked out. Where was that earlier? I thought to myself.

Nathan met me halfway with Lightspeed alongside him. Once we came within five feet of each other, we both hung up, put our phones in our pockets, and hightailed it to Nathan's. There was a unspoken understanding between us that we had to get to safety as soon as possible. Even the dogs seemed to understand, as they ran next to each other without stopping, look of determination in their eyes; determination to get us to safety. 


We got inside. Nathan closed and locked the door, and I practically dove onto the couch. Lightspeed started licking my face like he'd known me forever; Shadow was standing guard near Nathan, making sure that he was safe as he locked the door. 

Nathan sat down next to me, and we both just sat there, holding our respective pets. 

Finally, I spoke up. 

"What in the hell is going on here?" I asked. 

"No idea," He replied. 

We calmed down. 

"So, uh..." I asked. "Want to play some New Leaf?" 

I expected him to turn and look at me like I was crazy. After everything we'd just gone through, I just wanted to play some Animal Crossing? I guess we were both shocked, though, because he just said, "I'd love to."  



That morning, both of our parents came to Nathan's house after a late New Year's party. They were confused when they saw me on the couch with Nathan, so me and Nathan explained that we'd both woken up and couldn't reach them, so we called each other and I'd went to Nathan's house with Shadow because I was creeped out. We left out the details. Turns out, we ride the same bus and go to the same school; the only reason we hadn't met until now was because Dylan was just like me- He was shy, and he kept to himself. The fact that we had met over the internet was just a crazy, unbelievable coincedence. Our parents thought we had already met each other, so nothing really happened. My parents took me home for breakfast.  

Phone

Oh, hang on, I've got a call.



That was a month ago. Me and Nathan are really good friends now. Neither of us are quite sure just what did happen, but we figure lingering over it won't do much for either of us. I decided to write this down after getting home from playing at Nathan's house. When I left, Nathan got a call as he closed the door. Then, about twenty feet from his house, I heard some screaming and thrashing, but it was probably just the horror movie that Nathan had turned on right before I stepped out the door. I just thought that maybe he had it up too loud. I texted him, telling him to turn it down, and a few seconds later, it quietened down, so I kept on my merry way. 

Well, looks like I'm finally done. I guess I'll go play Pokemon or something... Oh, hang on, I've got a call.

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