February 8, 2012
I can picture that night, still fresh in my memory. The lights cut gashes into the darkness as my heart raced.

Earlier that week, I had been invited to a birthday party. When I was ready to leave for the party, I had my running sneakers, my phone, my house key, and a gift. I wore black shorts and a black t-shirt. Dark apparel is best for Manhunt.

At this point in my life, Manhunt had become a favorite game amongst kids my age. It’s a harmless game; a more grown-up version of hide-and-seek, except you p[lay in teams and it is always played in the dark of night. When the sun goes down and the weather is right, the kids come out to play. And I arrived ready to play that night.

When I arrived at the party, though, my preparation seemed useless. I came inside the house to see a few of my friends, and a lot of people of whom I have never seen. Despite this, I wasn’t going to let insecurity control my night, so I got over my inhibitions, and went straight to the small circle of people that was forming around a small TV.

As I began to feel more comfortable, I was thrown another curveball. Everyone decided to go outside to hangout and wait for the sun to go down The silhouette of a biker rolled slowly down the road. The mysterious figure dismounted his bike and approached us. As he walked into the dim light of the porch, I could make out the features of his face. It was Brandon.

Brandon was a bit annoying to say the least, but somehow he had weaseled his way into coming to the party. So there he was.

Finally it had gotten dark enough to play. Much to my dismay, since Brandon and I had been the last two to arrive, we would be the first “team” to stay back to count while the rest of the gang went out in search of the best hiding place.

Brandon and I began to look, and after nearly twenty minutes of searching and finding less than half of the “hiders”, Brandon decided he was done searching. We all gathered around the empty parking lot of an abandoned plaza, where Brandon set something mysterious on the ground. When he lit a match, I could see the firecrackers placed neatly on the asphalt. He lit a match, which illuminated the firecrackers placed neatly on the asphalt.

“Brandon, that looks like a terrible idea,” I tried to tell him.

“No, this looks like a great idea,” he said. “This is far more fun than playing tag.”

In the dim light of the match, I could see the fuse light, as it began to dwindle immediately. And then, in an instant- it went off! BAM!

The sound left my ears ringing, and it took a few seconds to recover. Inexperienced with fireworks, I was not ready for the noise. I was almost calm when- BANG! This time it was louder.

I yelled at Brandon. “It’s late, someone will hear you!”

Ignoring me, he continued his work, and took out more firecrackers. He opened the metal mailbox of the building we were standing in front of. He put the firecrackers in before I could try to stop him.

I covered my ears to brace myself for the noise, but it still came as a surprise. This time was even louder than before. The noise penetrated deep into my ears, through my hands, and left my ears ringing for a long time.

I knew instantly that someone in the neighborhood had heard it. I was angry that I had inadvertently become a part of this “game” that was disrupting the neighborhood, destroying property, and possibly getting me in trouble. For something I wanted no part of!

I was starting to get a headache, and nervousness mounted in my stomach, making me sick. We gathered once again to start back up in the search of the two kids left to find, but we stopped when we saw the red flashing lights coming closer, and the sirens screaming. My heart sank as the cruiser stopped in front of us and the headlights were blazing in my eyes.

The officer walked over to our group and asked us if we had been vandalizing the building behind us. We all said no. It was the truth of course, we hadn’t touched the building at all, but our nervousness had put us all on edge. The fact that we had just been setting off fireworks just feet away from where we were now standing made us all a little defensive. Then, he told us to place our hands on the hood of the car.

Since we were underage, fireworks would get us all in trouble, and we all tried to hide our guilt as we were lead to the squad car. The officer asked us if we had ever gotten into trouble with the law before, as another police car pulled in next to the first.

The newest officer said a few words to the first, and then walked over to the building. The first officer told us to take our hands off of the car, and form a line in front of the driver’s side window. He entered the vehicle and pulled open a laptop.

When the second officer returned from his inspection of the building, he concluded that there was no damage done. Thankfully we hadn’t caused any major problem, but the officer with the computer still took our names and entered them into his laptop.

To this day, when I think of the fear and the stress that the situation during Manhunt had caused me, it gives me plenty reason to situations like this in the future. Every time I hang out with a group of friends, I picture the lights, cutting gashes into the night, and the pain that it caused me to envision my life taking a wrong turn in just a flash. That image is one I plan to keep in my memories to remind me how much I want to keep that an image, and not reality. I never want to forget who I am, and more importantly, who I am not.

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