Truth or Dare

April 21, 2011
By , everett, WA
The air was thick, sending shivers up my spine as I entered the cold, dark house. Now, truth or dare was not a matter of telling who your crush was or calling someone to ask if their refrigerator was running; it had become a game of who was the bravest and who was a coward, who was strong and who was weak. It had become a game nearly impossible to escape. It had become a game of life and death.

I stood staring at the inside of the mansion. There was a long stairway that lead to a second story. The wood was old and worn. To the right was the kitchen. The old countertops were about ready to cave in and the tile was either cracked or missing giant chunks. To my left was the dining room. A grand chandelier hung high over a maple table covered in dust. I took a deep breath, inhaling the stench of decaying creatures and mold. Disgusted, I took another step forward, possibly never to return.

Scared out of my mind, I walked over to the stairs. I carefully placed a hand on the rough wood as I took one step up. It creaked loudly and I backed off a little. I knew what my goal was and I couldn’t chicken out now. With that thought in mind, I closed my eyes and began sprinting up the stairs. I could feel them shaking as they collapsed beneath my feet. When I realized I couldn’t see where I was going, I flicked my eyes open to discover that I was already halfway up. I looked down to find a giant hole that lead straight to the basement and half the staircase gone. If anyone fell, they were sure to be a goner. With another deep breath, I continued up the last half of the steps at a casual pace, taking time to look at the portraits hanging on the walls.

The portraits were of all different people. Some were men, some were women, and some were families. The people in the portraits were odd-looking. Each one of them had a weird feature that stood out on their face. I also noticed that a letter was posted on the red velvet curtain that hung in the background of each picture. I found it odd, but didn’t think much of it. No sooner had I begun to lose myself in the peacefulness of the pictures, did I feel the ground beneath me begin to drop downward. I hastily hopped up the last few steps to safety. I knew that I had passed the first test.

As I caught my breath and took a second to relax, I noticed something move silently down the hallway. I stood frozen in place, as in I was literally frozen in place. In the enchanted town of Saranza, you tended to come across creatures unknown to the rest of the world. Objects had the tendency to vanish and re-appear before your eyes. Our town was small, with a population of a mere twelve thousand. We had abilities that others didn’t believe in; we were thought to be crazy. Others thought that it was absurd that we witnessed things they couldn’t imagine. The only reason for this was because they didn’t believe. They didn’t see what we went through and how true we were to each other. We were generally a people of peacefulness although there were times when our faith in our country and ourselves was truly tested.

A few days ago, one of the boys in my class was bullying my little brother, Pine. Pine had come home bruised and bleeding. His light brown hair was ruffled in various directions. The skin around his silver blue eyes was turning a shade of dark blue and his new pants had a giant tear at the knee, revealing blood and fresh scratches. The cuffs of his once pearl-white shirt were hanging limply at his sides. His maroon vest was draped over his left shoulder in pieces. Furious, I asked him what happened.

“It’s nothing, Blaze. Just forget about it, okay? I’m going to go clean up so Mom and Dad don’t find out. Please don’t say anything.” With that, he limped up the stairs. This had been the third time this week he had come home injured by Axel Wood. I couldn’t stand it any more. The next day, I approached Axel to have a little talk. He was in my class and about five times bigger than me. However, Pine was my brother and I wasn’t going to let Axel ruin his life.

“Hey A**hole, what’s you’re problem?”

“What’s my problem? I’m not the one screaming insults at you.”

“Oh, but you have no problem beating up my little brother?”

“Oh, he’s your brother! Well, if I had known, I would have become friends with him in order to hook up with you.” His sarcasm did not amuse me as he and his filthy friends broke out in laughter.

“Flattery will get you nowhere,” I shot back.

“Oh, feisty aren’t we?” He moved closer to me and placed his hand around my waist.

“Get your grimy, disgusting hands off of me.” I tried to move away, but he held a firm grip.

“Come on Blaze, we both know that this is an act. Go out with me and I will never touch your brother again.”

“Go out with you? Go out with you?” I couldn’t contain myself from laughing. “I learned my lesson once. I’d rather eat dirt.” A crowd of people had formed and the unified sound of ‘oooh’ filled the tense air.

“What if I dare you to?”

“I won’t.”

“So the dare master finally chickens out? Weak.” Axel and I had dated for two years. When I found out he had been cheating on me and lying to my face, I instantly broke up with him. He was devastated and tried to apologize. He did nearly anything to try and get me back but I couldn’t go back to someone like that ever again. Part of me missed him, but I didn’t want to be his rag doll so I held my ground.

“I’m not chickening out, jacka**, but I’m not about to make a mistake: you.” His face flushed in fury. His grip on my waist tightened as he pulled me closer to him. I knew what he was about to do, so I let him. He pressed his lips firmly to mine until his anger surpassed, finally releasing me from his clutch.

“Blaze please go out with me. I promise I will never lie to you again.” He was sincere and I knew it, but he had never treated me very well. It was all a game to him.

“I’d rather spend a night on the upper floor of the Teslocke Mansion.” His faced fused up again and I knew what was coming. The Teslocke Mansion was the most enchanted house in the town. It was filled with things that tested a person’s strength, mind, and abilities. These tests were not simple, though; they were complex and life threatening. Most people who entered the house never came out. On top of it all, each person’s tasks were different than anyone else’s.

“You’d risk death rather than going out with me again?”

“It was death going out with you!” Hushed whispers shot through the crowd.

“Fine. If that’s the game you want to play, then that’s the game you’ll get. But don’t let your pride swallow you, Blaze. I dare you to spend the night at the Teslocke Mansion. If you make it out alive, I leave your brother alone forever.”

“What do you get if I don’t make it out?”

“If you don’t make it out, I will have gotten exactly what I wanted.” The area became so silent that you could hear a pin drop. I knew I was good at accomplishing dares, but this was not just a dare, it was a death sentence. My pride had been the thing that carried me through each one, and I was going to let it get to me again.

“Deal.” The whispers picked up again as I began to walk away. Remembering something, I turned around quickly. “I’ll be there at midnight tonight. You can see me in. And one more thing,” I walked up to him, threw my arms around his shoulders and kissed him passionately. Butterflies flew in my stomach. I didn’t want to let go, but I had given him too much already judging by the way he kissed back. I pulled away with a snide: “Don’t miss me too much.” His mouth hung open as the sea of people parted to let me through. And that was how I ended up here, frozen to the ground.

The first task was much too easy: testing my speed. I knew that what I was about to face would not be something I’d enjoy. I stood stuck to the ground, waiting for what had slithered by. Suddenly, I heard someone singing a soft rhyme. It sounded familiar. My mother used to sing it to me when I was a baby, and her mom sang it to her when she was little. I had never met my grandma. She died the day I was born, which also happened to be the day she was born. It was ironic that I may have just stepped into my own death while the hymn of my grandmother surrounded me.

All of a sudden I was overcome with the desire to find the person singing. Forgetting I was stuck to the cold, dead, floor, I tried to pick up my foot. When I realized I wasn’t going anywhere, I was filled with rage. The song begin to grow louder and louder and I needed to find its source. I was going to go crazy if I didn’t. I screamed out loudly as the soft melody filled my head:

Buttercup baby, stay with me
My resounding love will always be
Near and dear to my heart
With every dare you try to part

Buttercup baby, stay with me
My resounding love will always be
Swimming through your beautiful head
Letting your dare keep you from bed

Buttercup baby, follow me
Into a life you dare not be
Where many things may unfold
And no more dares will be told

Learn to love and let go buttercup.

The lyrics stung my mind every time I heard the word “dare”. I had to complete the task. I had to win. I had been dared and I didn’t lose, ever. I screamed in agony as the song started over. I dropped to my knees and began clawing forward. I scratched and threw my whole body into the air until I hit the ground. The once strong desire had turned into a burning passion. My mind was quickly fading, finding its way into another me, one that wasn’t real.

The song continued to repeat itself until it was the only thing in me, the only thing I could hear. It felt like hours had passed and I’d been completely beaten. I had lost. I stopped fighting it and let go. Let go! That was it. Realization hit me. I began listening to the words of the song and I started to mumble along.

As I finished the last line, my eyes flew open. Hope filled me and I pushed up onto my feet. My stomach churned with anticipation as I built up the courage to take a step forward. It moved.

“Yes! Haha! I am still the master!” I shouted in excitement. With that I began to make my way in the opposite direction from which the song had come.

For a moment, I had forgotten where I was. Soon, the eerie feeling of cautiousness replaced the joy I had experienced only a brief second ago. The hallway was tight and dark. One light shone down from the other end of the hall.

‘That’s it. I found it. I really did win.’ I thought. ‘All I’ve got to do is get to it and Pine will never be touched by Axel again.’ My thoughts began to lift my spirits a little.

I had been walking for at least ten minutes and felt like I had gone nowhere. In fact, it seemed as if the light was getting further and further away. I began to think that I was going in the wrong direction, and turned around. Lo and behold, there was Axel with his mouth wide open. People were screaming my name and asking what it was like in the mansion. I laughed and smiled, before realizing that Pine was no where to be found.

“Pine! Pine! Where are you?!” Pine came rushing through the crowd. I went to go to him and was stunned when I found myself on the floor. Pine was gone. Axel was gone. The crowd was gone and I was alone again.

I put my hands in front of me and found a barrier invisible to the naked eye. I started pounding on the object, trying to get out. Then suddenly, the sound of glass shattering filled the open air. The wall became visible as shards of glass fell all around me. I started running only to find that the floor was dropping into the ground below me. I picked up my pace to try and out run it.

Glass continued showering down on me as I kept running. Small cuts covered my body, leaving splatters of blood everywhere. In the next instant, my grandmother’s song filled the enchanted hallway. As I tried to listen to the lyrics, like before, I found them to be completely different. The voice singing them sent chills throughout my body. It was deadly sounding. The scariest part of all though, was that when I looked forward, I saw who was singing: me.

I stopped running, now hoping I would fall into the floor. Everything stopped. The glass stopped falling, the floor stopped caving, and my cuts stopped bleeding. The only thing left was me, staring directly into the face of myself. The me I was staring at continued to sing.

Buttercup baby, stay with me
My resounding love will always be
Staring you right in the face
Getting ready to end your race

Buttercup baby, stay with me
My resounding love will always be
Following you into the dark
Of every dare in which you take part

Buttercup baby, follow me
Into a life you dare not be
You lived a life filled with pride
And now I think it’s time you died

You shouldn’t have sinned buttercup.

I was in a state of shock. I didn’t understand. What does that mean: “you shouldn’t have sinned”? How was I sinning? I was protecting my brother through what I do best. And then it hit me; pride, one of the seven deadly sins. My mind shot back to the moment in the courtyard when I accepted Axel’s dare. Dares were something I never failed at. My mind then raced forward to me losing my mind. Pride spoke loud and clear when I said: “I had been dared and I didn’t lose, ever.” It then jumped forward to a few seconds later when I realized I was still the best at it, regaining the pride I had just disposed of. Finally, I found myself staring right into the face of my weakest part: the prideful part of me.

Tears flooded my eyes. I wasn’t doing this for my brother, I was doing it to prove myself. The salty water dropped silently to the ground. I was giving up. I couldn’t keep going on like this. I had completely lost myself.

I crumpled to the ground and curled up in fetal position. Here is where I was going to die; alone and miserable, but peaceful and sorry. Instantly my mind began racing again. The vision of the pictures on the wall by the staircase floated into my mind. The letters: they weren’t just random, they spelled the word “sorry”. That was the moment when I was the most peaceful. That was the moment when I felt like I could take forever walking up those steps, just to feel at ease.

“I’m sorry!” I screamed it into the air. “I’m sorry!” At once, the house began to shake. The walls started to crash down. The floor was collapsing. Water came rushing from everywhere. Smoke filled the room. I thought out loud: “This is it. This is the end of my life. I wasted it only thinking about myself and what I could do, taking on the challenges that could have gotten me in so much trouble. I lost myself to pride forgetting who I really was. At least let my family know I love them.” With that, I closed my eyes and waited for the gates of H*ll to appear.

I could see a bright light through the lids of my eyes and I thought I was there. I slowly opened them to find people standing all around me.

“Is she alive?” someone whispered.

“She must be. The house never gives back the dead bodies.”

I gradually forced myself up off the ground as the cheers of students rushed through the crowd. Pine came running forward and embraced me in his arms.

“I knew you could do it Blaze! Thank you!” He looked up at me and smiled. I hugged him tight and gave him a kiss on the head.

“Anything for you,” I smiled back. All of a sudden the crowd got quiet again, as Axel, slowly made his way towards me. As he reached arms-length away from me, he stopped.

“I….I…. I….”

“Save it. I’m done doing things because you dare me to. I’m resigning from dares forever. You almost got me killed and you didn’t even care!” I could feel tears welling up again, so I turned away.

“But that’s the thing. I would have hated myself forever if you died. I’ve been so envious of you. Envious of the way you were able to love me and I just couldn’t do it. I’ve had so much anger at you that I lied to myself. I told myself that this would be easier if we could just thrust ourselves at each other, no strings attached. But at the same time, I had to have you. I wouldn’t be able to live if I knew someone else did. I just didn’t want to work at a relationship even though I longed for it.” He was crying. This was an emotion I had never seen from him before or even knew he had. I wasn’t going to go back to him because he gave some sob story. I grabbed Pine’s hand and started to walk away.

“I’m sorry!” He cried after me. I stopped dead in my tracks. Those words were so familiar to me now. How was I supposed to turn someone away who was experiencing what I had just gone through? I turned around and saw a little bit of hope flutter into his eyes.

“Tomorrow night, pick me up at eight. It’s your last shot.” With that, I turned back around and walked away.

“Blaze, wait!” He called after me.

“What?” I swiveled around to find him embracing me in his arms. He pulled my face close to his.

“I don’t want to wait till tomorrow night. I’ll take you out now.” He was sincere. He leaned in to kiss me as I quickly moved my mouth to his ear.

“Patience is a virtue, Axel.” I gave him a slight peck on the cheek, grabbed Pine’s hand, and walked home, happier than I had ever been.

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love-is-your-hearts-song said...
Apr. 27, 2011 at 8:45 am

this is great!!!

Keep it up! ;)

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