Keith could hear her footsteps, she was walking right outside his room. He turned towards the door and tried to bolt it but stopped himself from doing so, fearing that the sound might draw her attention towards himself. As the sound of her footsteps faded away, he slowly moved away from the door and tried to come up with a plan of action. He knew that she was not going to stop until she caught him and his friends but there was no way that he could leave the house without alerting her to his escape.
He scanned the room for a good place to hide. If he hid in the bathroom, he wouldn’t able to run if she found him and the closet would mean the same. He looked at the bed.
As he crawled under the bed, he thought of his fifth birthday party. He had hid under this bed and none of his friends had been able to find him. His friends used to call him the ‘Master of Hiding’, but this time his pursuer was a grown woman and he knew that underestimating her would be huge mistake on his part, but the bed was his safest bet, as there was the possibility of escaping from the other side if he is caught. He made sure that he was completely under the bed, with no limbs poking outside. Just as he was making sure that the sides of the bed were properly covered with the blankets, he heard her voice.
“I found you.”
And that’s when Sarah screamed. Her voice seemed to come from downstairs. Keith stopped himself from going after her. There was no point to it now, she was beyond saving. Keith was angry at himself for leaving Sarah alone, he was dead against separating from his friends, but Daniel had convinced the others that they would be able to hide better this way. And now she had Sarah. Now there were just Daniel, John, Alex and him left.
“Where are you guys?” She sang. “I am coming for you. Sarah won’t open her mouth but I will find all of you.”
Keith could feel his heart beating furiously against his chest. His felt hot all over his body and his palms were sweating profusely. It was getting a little too warm under the bed, but he did not dare move an inch. Suddenly he heard something come crashing down in his parent’s room. God no. His friends were still inside the house. And now he could hear her climbing the staircase.
“Tsk… tsk… Who’s there? Is it you Daniel or is it my dear Alex?”, her crooning voice was growing louder every second. “Come out now, I know you are here.” She stopped right in front of his room, Keith held his breath. He slowly lifted the blanket in front of him and saw her feet blocking the light at the bottom of the door and pulled down the blanket immediately. He heard the door squeak as she opened it.
He heard something metallic fall. It was again from his parents’ room. She closed the door and he could hear her running to the next room.
“No, she found us. Run Johnny…”, I heard Daniel warning his brother. Keith let out a gasp. “No...No…No… You can’t do that.” she taunted them.
“If I find you… then you are mine.”
And just like Sarah, he couldn’t hear Daniel or Johnny anymore over the sound of her laughing. Daniel, you idiot, thought Keith. If he had listened to his own advice, he could have saved his brother.
Keith wondered whether he should try an look for Alex, but decided against it.But he knew that moving out when she is in the next room, would be foolishness. He would make his move once she goes downstairs. In all probability, Alex would have gotten out of the house, given that she is the smartest of them all. But Alex was his best friend too and he knew that there was no way she would ever leave without him.
He heard the door to his room, open once again. He didn’t move a muscle, not even to peek from behind the blankets to check where she was. Save for the creak of the opening door, he couldn’t hear anything. It seemed awfully loud in the deathly silent house.Then he heard footsteps, she seemed to be moving towards his hiding spot. Keith closed his eyes. He could hear the blankets being moved in front of him.
“Here you are!” whispered Alex, “ I have been looking all over for you.” Alex opened his eyes to find himself face to face with his best friend. Relief flooded over him. He knew that she would come for him and he would have done the same for, if he had gotten a chance to.
“We need to leave, Keith. Now.”, she said urgently. But all colour drained from Keith’s face when he remembered that their pursuer was in the next room and that’s when they heard her.
“I know you are in there. There is no point in hiding anymore.”
They could hear her moving towards Keith’s room. “She heard us. There is nowhere to run.” Keith could sense panic rising in her voice. They turned towards the door.
“Don’t make me come in.”
Alex looked at him and gestured towards the door, and pushed him to hide under the bed. Before Keith could stop her, she had already reached for the door.
“I won’t hide anymore. I give up. You found me.”
“Good girl. Now the only one left is Keith. And I know where he is.”
Keith could feel his heart, which had for a moment returned to its original pace, pounding again. Alex was gone too. She had surrendered herself to save him. He couldn’t give up now. He vowed to make sure that he won’t let her sacrifice go in vain. No.
“You are in there. Aren’t you Keith? I know Alex, she wouldn’t have come out, unless…. she was trying to save you.”
“Come on out Keith. You are the last one. The game is over. I have all your friends.”
Then it hit him. He had forgotten that all his friends had been captured by her.The fact that he was the only one left standing, made him realize that he did not need to hide anymore. It didn’t matter. He removed the blankets, came out from under the bed and stepped outside the room.
Keith emerged smiling from his hiding place.
“So much for your strategy Daniel. I win.”
Daniel was smiling at him, but he looked annoyed at losing the game. Then he turned towards his brother, Johnny, “If you hadn’t knocked over that glass, I could have won the game.” Johnny stuck out his tongue at him and laughed heartily. Sarah and Alex joined in.
Keith looked at Alex and said, “You are the bestest friend in the world, Alex.” She replied,”I know. I am. But next time, you are going to cover for me.”
“Deal”, promised Keith and turned to his pursuer.
“Mom… You are an excellent seeker, but no one can win against Keith, the Master of Hiding.”
“Oh yes… my little boy. Now that we are done with the games, shall we go and cut the cake. Daddy is waiting downstairs. Come on now, let’s waste no more time after all, you don’t turn eight everyday.”