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Old 09-10-2013, 07:21 AM
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Default Netherland


NEtherLand: Chapter One

“Why are you just lying there in the dirt?”

The boy opened his eyes and looked up at a young girl who was standing over him. Her red hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail and she wore a large purple sweater and blue jeans. Her green eyes spoke of concern, and the way her head was cocked to the side was almost comical.

The girl was roughly twelve years old, which was about the same age as the boy.

“I… Um…” The boy sat up on his elbows and looked around. He was on a playground that looked vaguely familiar. “I don’t know.”

“Let me help you up.” The girl held her hand out to the boy who took it. Her skin was cold and felt clammy. She helped the boy to his feet, and dusted off some of the soil that was on his leather jacket. “There you go.”

“Where are we?” asked the boy.

“I’ve no idea.” She walked over to a swing set and sat down on the leather strap that was attached to two chains, which hung from a rusted cross beam. “Let me ask you a question. Do you know what your name is?”

The boy laughed, “Of course I do.”

“What is it?” she asked.

“It’s…” The boy frowned and looked at his feet. He thought as hard as he could, but nothing would come to his mind. He ran a hand through his shaggy black hair and huffed. “It’s funny. I’m having a hard time thinking of it.”

“That’s what I thought,” said the girl. “I cannot think of my name either.”

“There has to be some explanation.” The boy sat on the swing set opposite to the girl and gently rocked himself, dragging his feet in the dirt. “Maybe we are dreaming? Maybe you aren’t even real.”

The girl looked cross at the boy. “I’m not a dream.”

“How do I know that?” asked the boy. “I’ve only just woken up a few moments ago. I think that’s exactly what a dream person would say.”

“I cannot be a dream. I’ve been walking around this city for days now. If anything you are a dream.”

“Well, I know I’m not a dream.”

For a moment the pair sat in silence, except for the squeaking of the rusting swings as they swayed backwards and forwards.

“So have you seen anyone else these past few days, or just me?” The boy looked around himself. “I ask because this town seems a bit quiet. There is nobody anywhere – except us.”

The girl shuddered. “I’ve seen others.”

“Ok….” The boy sat there looking at the girl expecting her to continue. After a moment he decided to prod her a little. “Did they know their names?”

“I didn’t stop to ask them,” she said. “They aren’t… they aren’t normal.”

“Aren’t normal?” asked the boy. “What do you mean?”

The girl chewed on her lower lip, and furrowed her brow. “A few days ago I woke up in a hospital. There was no one around. I went outside, and there was no one there either. There was just a whole bunch of empty streets.

“After a few hours I even got bold and went into people’s houses. There was no one there either. There weren’t even pictures on the walls – just furniture. No food in the cupboards, or drinks in the refrigerator – but that wasn’t so bad, because I haven’t been hungry or thirsty at all.

“Finally I noticed something weird….”

“Not being hungry or thirsty for days wasn’t weir d enough?” asked the boy.

The girl glared at the boy. “Do you want to hear my story or not?”

“Sorry. Go ahead.”

“There isn’t any sun here,” she replied. She held her hands up towards the sky, and spread her arms wide. “There is only this half-light. The days here are only just brighter than twilight. And look at this fog everywhere. It’s impossible to see more than a football field’s length in any direction.

“But this half-light, I discovered, is daylight here. When night comes it gets very dark. And that’s when the other people come out.”

The way the girl had said “the other people” made the boy’s skin tingle. “What’s so different about these people?”

“We need to get going,” said the girl. “You are lucky that I found you when I did. It will be night soon, so we need to find a place to hide. The sooner we get going the better.”

Now the boy was becoming slightly alarmed. Clearly the girl didn’t want to talk about the others very much, but her urgency at finding a place to hide startled him. What was so bad about these other people that inhabited this town?

The girl grabbed the boy’s hand and said, “Come on. Let’s go this way.”

They made their way across the playground towards an old house that had blue siding, and a clay tiled roof. The house was a two story building, with porthole windows in the attic.

The girl grabbed the door handle and turned it. The house was unlocked.

“We have to find the hatch for the attic.” The girl pulled the boy up the creaking stairs to the second floor, and frantically looked up and down the hallway. “There it is!” She pointed to a thin white string that hung down from the ceiling. A white plastic bulb dangled from the end of the string, making for a tiny gripper.

The girl walked under the string and tried to reach it, but it was too high. She went into the nearest bedroom and shouted, “Come help me with this!”

The boy walked into the room and saw her standing next to a small wooden nightstand.

“Help me push this under the attic door so I can reach the string.”

The boy grabbed one side of the nightstand and pulled, while the girl pushed. After several push and pull steps, the piece of furniture was positioned in the correct spot. The girl jumped on top of the wooden stand and grabbed the string.

The attic door slowly creaked open as the girl applied her weight to the plastic bulb, revealing a dark area above. The attic door had a wooden ladder built into its frame, which folded in half so it could be neatly tucked away.

The girl swung the ladder out and away from the attic door, and handed the lower half to the boy to hold. She jumped down from the night stand and pushed it backwards a few inches so the ladder could reach the floor.

“Help me get the nightstand back in the other room,” she said.

“Why?”

“Because if they come in this house and see a piece of furniture under the attic they will know we are up there.” The girl rolled her eyes at the boy.

“Whatever you say, boss,” said the boy, saluting her.

Once the nightstand was back in its original place, the pair climbed the attic ladder. The girl bent over the rectangle hole in the ceiling. She pulled the ladder up, shut the attic door, and pulled the drawstring up through its tiny hole so no one could pull it from below.

The boy looked around the attic. It was full of boxes and insulation. Cobwebs dangled from the rafters, and dust covered almost everything. “What now?”

“Now we wait until morning comes,” said the girl, “and make as little noise as possible. We don’t want to draw attention to ourselves.”

The boy stood there looking at the girl. “This is crazy. You’re acting crazy.”

“I tell you what.” The girl walked over to the boy and poked him in the chest with her bony finger. “You go ahead and leave. I promise that you’ll regret it. Or you could stay and look out of one of those windows there. Once you see what happens at night you’ll be apologizing for calling me crazy.”

“Fine,” said the boy. He took off his leather jacket and tossed it on the ground. He glanced out of the nearest porthole window that looked out over the playground they had just come from and saw nothing.

“I’m glad you’ve decided to stay.” The girl opened a box that was marked “blankets” and pulled out several thick quilts. “You are a bit annoying, but I could use the company. I’ve been pretty lonely these past few days.”

The boy walked from the window and sat down next to the girl. The minuets passed like hours. Each second seemed to drag out longer than the one before it. The dim light that came in through the windows slowly began to fade, casting long dark shadows in the attic.

“Hello?” called out a voice from outside. “Is anyone out there? Can anyone hear me?”

The boy and girl locked eyes.

“Someone’s out there,” he said. He jumped up and looked out of the window.

Down below a young girl, probably about ten years old, slowly walked down the street. Her hair was blond and in tangles. She wore a blue sundress, and flip-flops.

“Don’t say a word,” said the girl, who was now standing at his side and looking out of the window. “It’s too late for her.”

“What do you mean?” asked the boy.

“Watch.” The girl pointed out of the window. “They are already out. I can see them moving in the shadows.”

The boy scanned the surrounding houses, and then finally saw movement between one of the narrow spaces that separated each building.

A small boy walked from the narrow and waved at the little girl. He wore all black, and looked as white as death.

“Hi!” she squealed. The little girl ran towards the boy, but then suddenly stopped after she had made it about five feet.

Slowly, the girl began backing up. Suddenly five more children dressed in black appeared out of nowhere.

The boy pulled back from the window, and sucked in a large gasp of air. “Look at their eyes,” he whispered.

The children dressed in black had burning red eyes, which looked like sulfur dripping from their sockets.

The girl stood next to the boy at the window, her face drawn and knowing. She knew exactly what would happen next. “I’ve seen this before. Now they will take her.”

“Take her where?”

Before the girl had a chance to answer, the children in black grabbed the girl. Some took her by her blond hair and others by her wrists and ankles. She screamed in fright and kicked at her attackers.

The children in black drug her off into the shadows. Her screams slowly faded until they were nonexistent, and silence returned to the world outside.

“What was that?” the boy asked in a trembling voice. “Where did they take her.”

The girl walked back to her pad of blankets and sat down. “That was what happens if you stay outside after nightfall. I don’t know where they took her, or what they will do with her. All I know is they always drag their victims away.”

The boy continued to look through the window. The children in black were now everywhere. Some played on the playground, and others just wandered around aimlessly. Their many red eyes burned in the darkness like giant fireflies. But something else caught the boy’s attention: in the distance, through the fog, was a shimmer of white light. “Hey. Come look at this.”

The girl returned to the window and looked out.

“What is that light way over there to the east?” The boy looked at her and shrugged.

“I don’t know,” said the girl. “It’s where I have been headed these past few days. Now come away from the window before they see you.”

The boy walked to the blankets the girl had spread out and lay down next to her, who fell asleep quickly and began gently snoring. The boy didn’t sleep at all that night, but instead listened to the shrieks and cries from the ghoulish children below.

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