familiar sound crept into Alex’s ears. Curiously, it made Alex’s heart race. It narrowed his throat, making it very difficult to swallow.
At first, the sound blended in with the crackling of twigs and rustling of leaves as Alex was carried along the forest floor. However, it soon became apparent that there was a different sound, a more distinct sound, a sound that was not natural. Alex realized that it was the rattling of chains, small chains; chains that did not belong to any ghost. They belonged to a human. Alex knew exactly who that human was.
A boy in Alex’s school wore a chain. One end was always attached to the boy’s wallet which rested in the back pocket. The other end clung onto the boy’s belt. The boy was not really a boy, more like a man—a big man, and his name was Damian Dermite.
Alex realized at that very moment he was being tricked. He was being carried into the woods by Damian and his gang of idiots who were simply playing a brutal prank on Alex and Daisy.
The helpless sensation that had once taken over Alex turned into a raging fury. The muscles in his body tensed. The overwhelming need to scream took over. “Put me down Damian, right now! You low life, useless piece of scum!”
Damian stopped in his tracks and let go of Alex, dropping him hard to the earth below. A sharp pain bolted up Alex’s spine and back down to his feet as he bounced off the ground. The momentum of Alex’s weight carried him over a short ledge, rolled him down a slope and into a small ditch. Shaken and disoriented, Alex stumbled to his feet and gathered himself.
Damian chuckled. “You should have seen the look on your face, dude.” He walked down the ledge toward Alex. “It was hilarious, totally hilarious”
“Are you…insane? How was that hilarious? I thought I was going to die. That was not funny at all!” Alex brushed some leaves off his sleeve. His jaw clenched. “Where’s Daisy? What did you do with Daisy?”
Damian stepped toward Alex, and scowled. His mouth twisted open revealing his yellowy teeth. “Relax dude, it was just a joke. She’s probably up at the creepy house by now, I guess. Why?”
“Why? What do you mean why? What’s your problem?” pleaded Alex, scanning his surroundings. “She’s probably freaking out right now.”
“You like her, don’t you? You’re in love with her.”
He eyed Damian for a brief moment, stepped back and ran up toward the ledge. “I need to find her. And, no, I’m not in love with her!”
Damian’s awkward smile faded as he watched Alex disappear up the hill. Twigs snapped and echoed through the woods as Alex scurried about in all directions. Alex’s breath shortened; he didn’t know where to go, didn’t even know where to start. A brief moment of silence filled the air.
“Damian?” cried Alex from afar. “I’m lost!” His voice cracked. “Where on earth are we?” He knew that all Damian really wanted was an excuse to laugh. Alex’s mom used to say that bullies were usually angry or sad about something and the only way they could deal with it was to find an outlet. It was safe to say Alex was tired of being that outlet.
“I’m coming,” replied Damian as he reached the top of the hill. “We need to go that way,” he added, pointing up toward another steep incline.
“Are you sure?” Alex scratched his head. “Which way is the road? If we go to the road it will take us to the house.”
However, before Damian could respond, a loud, piercing scream careened through the trees.
Fact # 9: Kaylee Cooper’s Scream
The last time Alex ever heard someone scream was Kaylee Cooper in the playground at school. That recess, Alex had decided to hide from her behind the dumpsters by the parking lot. At that point, he’d been getting tired of her tagging along wherever he went. He gave up spending time with his friends, just to get away from Kaylee. However, as he sat on the blacktop that afternoon, waiting for the bell to ring, he heard a startling scream. Right away he knew it was Kaylee Cooper. As he peered out from behind the dumpster, he saw her by a row of trees, stomping her feet and covering her ears.
At the time, Alex figured she was simply trying to get attention, but when he asked her later on that day, she simply said: “Amber and I got in a fight.”
There were times since then, when her scream echoed in his head. It still gave him shivers, every time.
Alex made a mental note to add fact number nine to his list.
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