Jonas gets up every morning at 6:45 to the sound of his mom calling his name, “Wake Up Jonas! Time for breakfast!!” And every morning after breakfast, he gets ready for school. At 7:20 he leaves his house and prepares for the long walk to Juniper High School.
Every day Jonas takes the same route. He gets to the end of his street, turns right, and follows down the long road to JHS. After his right turn, he passes the orange House. Nobody seems to like the orange House. It gives off an odd vibe. Everyday, as Jonas walks by it, there is a man standing in the middle of the yard, staring at him. He doesn’t only stare for a few seconds, but as long as Jonas is in his view. Jonas feels the man's dark, black eyes piercing his back when he passes the orange House. He always knows when they watch him.
Today was a odd day. Jonas wakes up to his mom's voice at 6:48 and leaves his house at 7:24. Off schedule. It makes Jonas feel weird. He prepares for the man's stare as he turns the corner, but today, no one is there. Jonas is curious why that is, but not curious enough to go and find out. He keeps walking, still feeling the man’s black eyes watching him. He walks faster, feeling an odd darkness surrounding him. As he proceeds, he starts to hear the sound of footsteps behind him. He looks back, but there is nothing there. Footsteps, louder and louder. Again, he looks back, nothing. He breaks into a sprint, his backpack bouncing off his back and his phone swaying in his pocket. Suddenly he feels a huge shove to his back. He falls to the ground, hitting his head on the pavement. Everything goes black. He loses consciousness.
He wakes up in a white room with a small television in the upper left corner. His head throbs with searing pain. There are some sort of tubes and wires connected to him. His head hurts too much for him to think. Then a young woman walks in.
“Nice to see you’re finally awake! I’m nurse Daniella. How do you feel Jonas?” He doesn’t answer her question. More throbbing.
“Can I talk to my mom?” Jonas asks quietly. The nurse nods as she walks towards the door.
A while later his mom walks in. As she comes closer to embrace Jonas in a hug, he can see she had been crying. “What’s wrong mom?” he asks. She closes her eyes. She always closes her eyes when she doesn’t want to tell him something. He knows this. “Come on mom you can tell me!” he proclaims as he pokes her arm.
“Umm. Well,” she blows her nose. “The doctors. They say that you are severely injured. Your brain took serious damage.” The words hit him hard. He doesn’t know what to think. He can’t think. “But I know it’s going to be okay.” She says as tears run down her face. He knows she is lying. “What happened to you?”
“The man! The man at the orange house. The one who is always watching me. He came after me and pushed me down,” she starts to cry harder and harder.
“Jonas. No one has lived in that house for over thirty years. How many times have I told you that?” He shakes his head as his mom stands up. She rests her hand on his arm for a few seconds, then walks toward the door. She looks back at him, tears running down her face. He can see; she is scared for him.
A few more uneventful days pass in the hospital. Nurses walk in every once in a while to bring Jonas food or ask how he is doing. Today, his mom comes back in,
“It’s time to leave Jonas. Help me get your things.”
“Does this mean they finally realized hitting your head shouldn’t hold you in the hospital for six days?” Jonas says sarcastically. His mom stops. More tears. She looks him in the eyes,
“No. This is when they realize that you don’t have much longer to live.” The life in the room is drained. Jonas doesn’t know how to respond. He doesn’t know how to do anything. He can’t move. The words are gone before he can say them. He doesn’t know how this all could lead to him…dying.
They eventually make it back home after a long, silent drive. Jonas goes straight to his room and falls onto his bed. He closes his eyes. Darkness. He is awoken to the sound of his mom calling his name “Wake up Jonas!” Time for breakfast!!” He looks to his clock, it reads 6:45. There seems to be nothing wrong. His head no longer hurts. He sits in his bed, confused for a few minutes, but he eventually stands up and gets ready. He walks out to his mom making eggs, “Good morning, Honey. How did you sleep?”
“Okay…I guess. Have the doctors called at all?” he asks her. She turns off the stove and looks at him with a puzzled face.
“The doctors? What doctors?” she replies. Jonas shakes his head as he looks to the floor.
“I had such a weird dream. It felt so… real,” he says. She looks at him; confused. He can tell she is going to ask more questions, so he looks to his non-existent wrist watch, “Shoot! I’m going to be late for school!” He says as he runs to grab his bag. He walks back past his mom who still has a puzzled look on her face. He kisses her on the cheek and walks out the door.
He looks to his phone and it’s 7:20. He is perfectly on schedule. He rounds the corner, looking at his phone. He keeps walking, head down staring at his screen. Suddenly, he stops. Then he feels them. The black eyes.
Watching. Staring. Piercing. He looks up and turns his head but he does not see anyone. He keeps looking. Then he looks in the window and sees the man, sitting at the window, still. The pair of dark voids meet Jonas’ eyes. Jonas stands there, for what seems like a lifetime, staring into his eyes. Until the man cheeks start to rise into a smile. But Jonas knows: this is not a friendly smile. It’s a petrifying one. Jonas is frozen in his place.
Suddenly, the man rises from his seat and moves from the window. Jonas cannot handle this anymore. He moves from the sidewalk and storms towards the house. He approaches the door and lifts his arm and bangs at the door. Knock knock knock. He waits, but no answer. Again, Knock knock knock. He starts to hear a chuckling from inside. Knock knock knock. More chuckling, but still no answer. Now Jonas is mad. Knock knock knock knock knock knock knock…
Jonas opens his eyes. He’s back in his bed. Now It is dark outside. Knock Knock Knock. “I’m coming!” He hears his mom say in an angered tone. He hears the door open. Then a loud scream. He runs from his room to the front door where he sees his mom, lying on the ground, whimpering. A man stands on the other side of the door, just looking at her. He looks closer and sees that he is an officer. “I’m sorry ma’am, the doctors couldn’t save him,” he says to her. Jonas runs to his moms side, putting his hands on her arms.
“Couldn’t save who?” he asks looking at the man. The man doesn’t look at him or reply. “What is happening?!” Jonas yells, looking at his mom. She doesn’t react to him either. “Someone answer me!!” Still, no reaction.
Tears start to fall from his face as the man closes the door and walks away. His mom just lays there, crying and crying. He sits next to her, also crying. He looks into her eyes, trying to get her attention. Her eyes don’t meet his. She seems to just look right through him. Then he realizes. It can’t be. No...No. This can’t be happening. No. Please! Jonas thinks as he stands up. Looking to himself as he starts to drift away. NO! Then he hears it again, the chuckling. He looks behind him, the man stands there. The sound of his chuckling fills the room. Suddenly he stops and looks Jonas right in the eyes.
“Welcome to the other side.”