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The road trip was short, boring and forgettable. I'm sitting in the car seat, not thinking about anything in particular, just watching field after empty field roll by, the crops that once grew there were long harvested and taken away. fog covering anything more than 10 yards away. I look over at my older brother. He's looking out of his window, his face turned away. He snores, asleep. “Are we almost home?” I ask. “We're almost there, be patient,” my mother replies, not looking up from her little novel she bought at the Walmart 3 hours back. I drift off, thinking about the few days I had left of my uneventful summer vacation. That was the absolute worst summer ever, I think, I fall asleep on the cold, wet window.

I open my eyes to see the off-white tiled ceiling of my room.

My parents must have carried me up here after we got home.

The bed creaks and groans as I lift myself off it and onto the gray carpet flooring. My room is as bland and uninteresting as I had left it, the old wallpaper was still free of posters or photographs, as if I expected there to be any change, the tears in it exposed dirty plaster, as yellowish-pink as I had seen it last. I walk up to my desk and open up my laptop. No internet connection. Huh, I think, I wonder if dad didn't pay the bill, or perhaps there was a storm, maybe it knocked the internet out. I decide to wait a bit longer. I try to get into a book, but everything slips through my mind without leaving the slightest hint of any sort of meaning behind. I check my laptop, still no internet. I wonder what George is doing. I step out into the upstairs hallway and enter my brother's unkempt room, clothes and trash litter the floor.

“Geeooorggee, I'm boored!” I whine.

“Get out of my room,” he says, his head turned towards the wall, away from me.

“Let's play Monopoly!”

"No."

I huff, and I walk out of his room.

I'm walking downstairs to ask my dad about the internet. out in front of the dining room, I see my father, sitting on a chair close to me, turned away, reading the paper. “We won't have internet for a while, okay? A huge storm hit our house while we were away, and another, larger, one is coming tonight, you'll survive without your facebooks for a week,” he says. “Fiiiine.” I say, disappointed, my dad didn't even look at me as he spoke, like he didn't care about me, i'm probably overreacting. I was really looking forward to catching up with my friends over the computer, but I guess not.

I trudge up the stairs and as I close the door of my room, it hits me, not the door, but a strange thaught. I haven't seen anyone's face for a really long time.

I suddenly feel like something is very, very wrong. It's nothing, nothing. I'm being silly. But I know that something is strange. Perhaps it's just a lack of closure. Babies can't understand that that if something is out of sight, it's still there. I'm not a baby, I'm 13. I'm too old for that, my parents, my brother, they still have faces, nothing has changed, my dad still has his blue eyes, his square, no, his smooth jaw, no, no, why can't I remember this? My brother has blonde hair, like my mother, no wait, my mother's hair is… something's wrong with my memory. I open up the laptop and click on the MS paint icon. 5 seconds later, I don't know why I counted, the window opened. I draw a face with my touchpad and look at it once it's done.

2 dots for eyes. 1 line for a mouth. A crude circle for a head.

How is it that the human mind can perceive 2 lines and 2 dots as a human face?

The face seems to be staring at me. A cruel distortion of a human being. A disgusting blob of lines and dots. I can't look at it anymore. I close the program and the laptop.

I feel so, so alone.

I look out of my window to see if I can see someone, anyone. No, the fog and darkness of the night prevents me from seeing anything more than 3 yards away from the house, thunder crackles in the distance, rain is coming. I remember seeing people on the road trip, at the museum, no, the beach, no, it was at my grandma's hou- NO! WHY CAN'T I REMEMBER ANYTHING? I scream inside my mind. Are my parents and my brother even real? Are they just horrible monster people? Hollow shells designed to keep me in captivity, to keep me in this house forever? A completely irrational thought. My parents might be horrible beasts, disgusting, tentacled monsters. I'm being silly, I'm being irrational. But what they're doing isn't rational. It's just a coincidence, nothing is wrong. Everything here is wrong. Everything. I'm going down there. I'm going to make them turn around.

The stairs creak and groan like starving beasts, every groan in the house suddenly sounds like a scream. The kitchen door was once an inviting sight. I think it was. But now it looks like a gaping mouth, waiting to swallow me whole. I take a step, the floorboard creaks. That sound would’ve been normal before, but now it was like a voice, a voice screaming to alert the things in the kitchen of my presence, or to persuade me to head back to my off-white room. I keep on walking, every sound, every creak, an agonizingly loud signal of my location. The door is right in front of me. I reach for the doorknob.

It's going to be okay. Everything will be okay. I turn the cold, brass doorknob and open the door.

The kitchen is a boring off-white color, like everything, everything in this house. That color hurts my eyes, it’s so harmless and monotonous that it just looks wrong to me.

My mother is standing by the sink, washing the dishes.

She's turned away from me.

My father is sitting on the table, still reading the newspaper.

He's turned away from me.

My brother is sitting by a shelf.

He's turned away from me.

I make a quick decision.

“Hey guys! Look at me! Look at what I can do!”

My father doesn't answer.

“That's nice.” my mother says. She doesn't turn around.

My brother walks out of the room.

“Turn around and look at me, dad, please.” I say.

silence

I take a step towards my father.

What am I doing?

I take another step.

What am I going to do, force him to turn around?

I take another step.

my father is... fine.... he's fine.

I take one more.

I'm right behind him.

“Dad?”

His chair creaks.

My father is turning around.

It suddenly feels like my ears are being blown off my head with a million tons of dynamite,

A massive flash of light blinds me and everything goes white, then black.

The power goes off completely, and I'm plunged into total darkness.

or am I blind?

Was that lightning? It was right in front of the house!

“Dad? Mom? George?!”

No answer.

“Dad, where are you? Mom?”

No answer. am I hearing things right?

Something is watching me. I don't know what it is, but it's close.

I start to back away, the feeling is too strong, my ears are ringing. I don't know where I’m going. My room, I need to get to my room. My room is a safe place.

I run, knowing where my room is, roughly. Those things are not my parents, they are empty facsimiles of them. I smash into a table, something falls to the ground and breaks. I know where the stairs are from here. I trip on the steps, my forehead smashing against the cold wood, the edge of the stair slicing a gash into my skin, but I need to escape the things, so I keep running. I feel the cold metal of my doorknob, and the warm blood running off my forehead, I throw the door open. I can't see anything but the outline of my window. Rain falling hard against the glass.

The ringing is beginning to go away, and I can hear heavy footsteps coming up the stairs.

I feel around my room, looking for something, anything, to defend myself with. My hand grasps around a metal object, a small lamp, good enough. I hear the footsteps in my room, the thing is coming closer. I run up and swing the lamp towards the things face. “Honey, are you here?” I hear its voice, but it's too late to stop.

THUNK

The lamp smashes against its face and I hear it fall to the ground.

The lights come back on.

I look down at the puppet made to look like my father.

His face is completely normal. It's my father's face. My father’s normal, wonderful face.

His blood stains the floor, slowly spreading, the only bright color in this bland, off white room.

-wolfox, 3/21/2017

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