Chapter 1 – Never-ending Nightmares
Someone wakes up in a dark room with two doors. One has a glass design of a naked male with blue flowers surrounding him while the other has a design of a naked female who is surrounded by red roses. The unknown individual walks through the female door and is presented by another set of two doors with one label yes and the other no.
“Do you know who you are?” a feminine voice asks.
The individual walks through the “Yes” door and a girl with markings on her body grabs the person and throws them into a pit of hands that grab them and pull them in while sinking them into a deep abyss.
A woman wakes up in her bed, sweaty and afraid.
She shakes off her feelings of fear and says, “Just another damn nightmare.”
She takes her medication then throws away the empty bottle.
“And these shitty medications don’t help.”
Her name is Rose, she’s twenty-five years old, and isn’t really anything special. She works as an accountant at a bank while living in an apartment in a city called Hillside City. She doesn’t talk to her family and only has one friend a man by the name of Richard. Today is another normal day for work so she gets dressed and walks to her job. Along the way, things get strange as the morning sky becomes cloudy and the city foggy. The people who rush to work in cars, buses, and on foot see to vanish in the fog leaving Rose to walk the streets alone and confused. She tries to ignore what’s happening and keeps walking forward. Further into the fog, dark figures are seen on the edge of the fog but don’t physically appear. What can only be described as a rusty machine is heard as Rose continues her way to work and as she gets closer, the fog seems to consume her, but as she enters the bank, everything goes back to normal. Rose checks outside to see if everything is normal and she sees the busy people that she was supposed to be seeing and the other people who walk the streets but didn’t. She then immediately goes to her desk and takes her medication again that she keeps in her desk in case of emergencies.
Richard, a close friend of Rose, who has brown eyes, hair, and wears black clothes, with a red tie, approaches her and says, “Hey, how are you doing?”
“Just fine. You?”
“Really? Because I just saw you taking your pills. Don’t you take them at home?”
“Yes, but a normal dose doesn’t help.”
“Well try not to overdose alright?”
Suddenly, three armed robbers disguised in clown masks come in, shoot the guards, and demand money. Everyone including Rose and Richard get down as one of the robbers explain that they’re robbing the bank to get revenge on the government.
One person gets up in protest and says, “Then why involve us in it you pieces of shit?! You’re not only gonna hurt them, but you’re going to hurt us as well!”
The person gets shot in the leg and the crowd screams in fear.
The robber then says, “Now if anyone else wants to end up being shot then you have permission to speak.”
‘These guys are such assholes’, Rose thinks to herself, ‘Thankfully I actually have something to deal with them.’
She pulls out a high-powered magnum that she carries around in case of emergencies from her desk and crawls under her desk as she aims at the robbers’ legs and shoots them with one bullet that knocks down all of them. Once they are down, the crowd pounces on them, knocking their weapons away and beat them up. One of them activates an explosion that blows up certain parts of the bank like some of the walls and the ceiling. Everyone in the bank scatter as they leave the bank just as the police arrive. They pull out the robbers of the collapsing building and arrest them.
Rose watches her only source of income be destroyed right in front of her and feels the anger and headaches she has get worse.
“Well this is turning out to be a great day isn’t it?” says Richard.
“If great means absolutely terrible, then yes. Today is a great day.”
Rose starts to walk away and Richard follows her.
“Oh come on. Something like this always happens in this city.”
“But did it really have to happen to our job? I mean really as if I didn’t have enough to worry about.”
“That’s how it is though. Some people think only for themselves and end up ruining the lives of others.”
“Hey since I didn’t really get a chance to get breakfast, do you want to eat without with me?”
“Sure. I got nothing better to do.”
The two go to a nearby diner and sit down and order what they want. While waiting for their dishes to arrive, Rose doses off and wakes up in a dark area with the dinner table and chair she sits at still there except there is a lighter and a flashlight.
‘Where the Hell am I?’ Rose thinks to herself as she picks up the lighter and flashlight, ‘Is this another nightmare?’
She wanders the abyss with the flashlight on as rain falls from the empty sky. She follows dark marks on the ground that seem to be arrows that lead her to a maze-like area made of corroded concrete. Movement can be heard in the maze as Rose moves forward along with the shadows of what look to be monsters can be seen moving away from her as if they are stalking her. As Rose keeps moving through the maze, the noise of movement grow louder and louder until it suddenly stops. Rose stops walking as she looks around and when she turns around, she sees a horrible looking monster that has the face of the robber’s masks and chains that go through its body. It swings at her as soon as she looks at it and breaks the flashlight that she is holding, which hurts her arm and causes her to run. She runs away from the monster as it chases her. It moves considerably fast despite the bullet wound in its leg, but Rose manages to get away with enough sharp turns. Rose sits down on the floor and takes a quick rest while holding her arm.
‘Ah! That thing really hit my arm really hard’, she thinks to herself.
Rose searches for her magnum on herself, but can’t manage to find it.
‘Damn it! I thought I still had it with me. Did I lose it? Whatever I just have to worry about getting out of here.’
She uses the lighter to light her way as she makes her way through the maze. It doesn’t give as much light as the flashlight, but it’s better than nothing. After making her way further into the maze, she stumbles into the monster again. She jolts back a little but quickly notices that it hasn’t noticed her yet despite being so close to it. It moves closer to her, but she tries to keep the same distance away from it as it moves past and away from her.
‘So that’s how it is. I just gotta keep a good distance away from them with the lighter, but I still can barely see anything.’
After a little more wandering, she finds a sees a light ahead and starts to run towards it and as she does, she hears the sound of footsteps chasing her. She picks up her pace as the light grows brighter and the footsteps grow louder. The bright light envelops her as she continues to run, giving her the hope that she’s escaping. As Rose thinks she’s at the exit, she looks behind her and sees the monster that is chasing her. It isn’t the monster from before. It’s something different, something indescribable. The monster reaches out for Rose and grabs her shoulder.
Rose wakes up in the dinner she was at before with Richard.
“Breakfast is here,” says Richard.
“Oh…cool,” Rose says as she shakes off what happened.
Chapter 2 – Another Day, Another Nightmare
As they eat breakfast, Richard says that, “So anyways. We’ve lost our jobs.”
“Thanks for reminding me, captain obvious.”
“So what are you going to do?”
“I doubt that the other banks have openings for accountants so we can’t get back into the positions we studied for in college.”
“Oh God don’t even mention college to me.”
“What? You still hate that?”
“Of course I do. I always told you how much I hate people going to it and not getting the jobs they want or when they do they get jobs that don’t pay that much.”
“Speaking about that, we should probably get a desk job in the meantime.”
“Man I hate that kind of job.”
“Like being a bank accountant is any different?”
“Hey, at least we got paid more.”
“But who am I kidding I guess. We need a job to support us in the meantime. Maybe they’ll be a bank accountant job so we don’t need to worry about the desk job.”
Rose stares out the window while thinking about anything else she can do to fix the situation she’s in, but nothing comes to mind.
Richard interrupts her thoughts, “That was a really brave thing you did you know.”
“I guess so. I was just doing what I thought was right.”
“Well, it was right. I mean, I wish I had your magnum.”
“Why? It’s not like you’ll use it often.”
“I know, but it’s still handy to have especially in a city like this.”
“I guess you’re right.”
The waitress brings them the receipt.
“Hey, this’ll be on me,” says Richard.
“Thanks. I gotta go home and get some rest.”
“You do that and don’t forget about what I said about the medication.”
“I know I know, you tell me all the time.”
“There’s a reason why you know.”
“I know. Thanks for caring about me.”
“See you later!”
Rose leaves the dinner and a girl, with purple hair and a pink shirt with a butterfly on it, approaches her.
She says, “Hello there stranger. I overheard you talking about medication. Now you know that over the counter medicine doesn’t work that well so may I offer you something better?”
“Suuuurrrre, but who are you?”
“My name is Maria and I can get you the best medicine in this city.”
“How? What are you some kind of drug dealer?”
“I like to think of myself as a “street pharmacist”.”
“Here,” Maria gives Rose a piece of paper with an address on it, “Come to this address later this afternoon if you’re interested.”
“And what if I’m not interested?”
“And listen to your girl friend?”
“He’s not a girl!”
“He sure sounded like one with the way he talked. How long have you known him anyway?”
“I uhhh…a while.”
“See? That crappy over the counter medication is guess what? Crap. It’s making you forget things.”
“Won’t your medication do the same thing?”
“Maybe, but it’ll definitely make you feel better.”
“Hmmm, I’ll think about it.”
Rose goes home, changes into casual clothes, and thinks about what to do.
‘I could be applying for a job now…but I already have a copy of my application on my computer. All I have to do is send it out and I’m good. Maybe going to see Maria is a good idea. I do need a better kind of medication so I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try what she has.’
Rose goes to the address where Maria is supposed to be and she finds her waiting outside. Maria smiles at her and gives her a hug.
Maria says, “I know you would choose the right decision. Come in my friend.”
They go into the house and there’s a person by a curtain with a list of sorts in his hand.
He asks Rose, “What’s your name?”
“The Stranger,” Maria interrupts.
“Hey, that’s not my name!”
“It’s your name here,” She whispers in Rose’s ear, “We don’t use our real names just in case the cops hear us outside.”
“Alright, so what’s your name here?”
“I know right?”
They go past the curtain and see a small marketplace set up inside the medium sized house full of people buying medication. Maria gets in front of the line and gets Rose a small bottle of their own medication, which enough for a week.
“Thanks,” says Rose.
“How much do I owe you?”
“Nothing. It’s on me.”
“Oh…you sure? I can pay you now if you want.”
“No, it’s fine. What I want is your number and address. I’ll give you mine too.”
“We’re friends now, aren’t we?”
“Uh, I guess.”
They exchange info.
“So do you want to stay for the party later tonight?” says Maria.
“No thanks. I gotta go home and get some rest.”
“Alright, I understand. Good night.”
Rose leaves the building, goes home to her apartment, and applies for a job at a nearby office building and other banks. She doesn’t get a response from the bank, but she does get an interview at the office building. She hasn’t tried Maria’s medication yet just in case any of the jobs do drug tests and there happens to be something illegal in the medication. Once there, Rose’s college degree, experience at work, and sympathy for losing her job get her the job. At her first day of work, Richard runs into her when she’s working.
“Hey there,” he says.
“Hey, I didn’t know that you worked here.”
“I just got the job.”
“That’s awesome. I guess we can’t be separated right?”
“Haha, that’s right.”
“Alright well, I’m going to get to work. I got lots to do.”
Rose works hard throughout the day and thinks to herself, ‘Now I know why Richard wanted to avoid this job.’ Since her coworkers aren’t the nicest and the work can be really tiring. ‘At least at the bank it was quiet and all we had was Richard and I working as accountants.’
At the end of the day as Rose leaves work, she sees Richard.
“Hey Rose!” he says as he runs to catch up to her.
“Now do you see why I didn’t want this job?”
“Yeah, I was thinking that to myself earlier.”
“We definitely need to get better jobs.”
“Did you see if any banks need accountants?”
“Yeah, but I haven’t gotten any responses and the ones I have say they don’t need people like us.”
“It looks like we’re gonna have to get used to this.”
“Or we could go back to college if you’d like.”
“Oh God no! I still haven’t paid my debts yet and I have to worry about my apartment bills among other things.”
“Alright then. It’s just a suggestion.”
“It’s a terrible one that you said because you know that it pisses me off.”
“You’re such an asshole!”
Rose and Richard laugh together and go their separate ways as they go back to their apartment rooms. Once Rose get ready for bed, she decides to take Maria’s medication. The nightmares she’s been having, haven’t been changing so she hopefully thinks this will changes things. In the dream, she wakes up at her job, but the lights are out and it’s night time.
‘What the? Did I accidentally fall asleep at work?’
This thought instantly goes away as she sees the monster from before with another one of its kind walks through a door and into the office space and look around the area, but they don’t seem to see her despite the amount of light in the room.
‘Hmm. Maybe the medication is actually helping…hmm?’
Rose notices that she has her magnum with her.
‘It’s defiantly helping.’
She checks the gun.
‘I only have three out of six bullets, but this is plenty.’
Rose then takes aim at the closest monster and shoots it in the head. It is not fazed by the first bullet, but the second one is what puts it down. The second monster has seemingly vanished when Rose looks around for it.
‘That’s right. You better run away. Now, where’s the exit.’
As she looks around the office building for the exit, she finds her coworkers looking like weird monster like-people who are chained to the desk with their eyes lids pulled open as they continuously work. Rose avoids them and enters the bathroom to see if there’s anything there and in it she sees a bloody handprint on the mirror. She goes up to it and as she touches it, it grabs her and tries pulls her in. She resists and eventually pulls out a rusty pipe from it.
“You’ll need it,” a voice says.
“What? Who’s there?”
Rose doesn’t get an answer, but the monster she shot down before barges through the door. She shoots it, but like before, it doesn’t go down in one shot so Rose instead beats it down with the pipe. It falls down and violently shakes on the floor as it makes noises distorted by the blood coming out of its mouth and eyes. Rose runs away and is now in a different office space than the one she was in before she entered the bathroom. There’s a window at the other end of the room that is lit up and the second monster from before is patrolling this room and Rose’s magnum is empty so she decides to sneak around it. She tries to use the cubicles as cover, but her nightmarish coworkers don’t like this and they scream out, which gets the attention of the monster. Rose runs for the exit with it directly behind her and as she gets to the exit, it tackles her through it. She wakes up in her room all sweaty and out of breath so she gets up from her bed, but as she does the monster from her nightmare punches a hole in her chest from behind. Rose wakes up again in the same state, but no monster attacks her.
She throws her elephant plush at the door and says, “I can’t fucking take this shit anymore!”
She stares at its eyes that are staring back at her and gets up to pick it up.
“I’m sorry,” she says as she holds it.
Chapter 3 – Finding Relief
There’s a knock at Rose’s door and when she answers it, she sees Richard.
“Hey what are you doing here this early?” Rose says.
“I was thinking that…ummm.”
“You got our plans for this weekend?”
“No, I was thinking you should go to the psychiatrist.”
“I’m sorry if it seems that you’re crazy, but it seems that this is the best way to get rid of your nightmares since your medication barely helps.”
“Hmmm, you may be right.”
“Here,” he gives her a piece of paper, “Call this number and schedule an appointment. I know this guy he’s pretty good.”
“I’m sorry I forgot, but how long have I known you?”
“Alright. Thanks for reminding me. Again sorry I forgot.”
“It’s fine. Hey, you still have your elephant plush?”
Rose notices that she’s still holding her elephant.
“What did you name it again? Elephanty?”
“Yeah,” Rose embarrassingly says because of the name.
“Ha! Well, I think it’s a cute name for a cute elephant,” Richard pets it, “I’ll see you later.”
Rose looks at the piece of paper Richard gave her then there’s another knock at the door.
“Hi,” says Maria.
“Maria? What are you doing here?”
“I stopped here to see how you’re doing.”
“I’m fine thanks. How are you?”
“Alright. Did you try the medication I gave you?”
“I tried it last night.”
“It helped a little I guess.”
“Good. Do you want to hang out?”
“Uh maybe in a little. I gotta set up an appointment.”
“With the psychiatrist right?”
“Right. How do you know?”
“I heard your conversation with your friend, but I couldn’t catch him for some reason. He must be a fast walker.”
“I don’t think he is. Anyways I gotta make this appointment.”
“If you think it’ll help, go ahead. Just text me what time and where you want to hang out, I got nothing to do.”
“Oh, and cute elephant plush.”
Maria smiles as she pets it.
Rose closes the door as Maria leaves. She makes the appointment for tomorrow and arranges for Maria to meet her at the park in the afternoon after work. When she arrives, she already sees Maria waiting for her on the park bench.
“Hi, Rose. So what do you want to do?”
“We could go to the Shopping Strip.”
Rose and Maria go to the Shopping Strip, a collection of different shops, stores, and restaurants that go on for more than twenty blocks.
“You know it’s weird how nice places like this are so nice, but others are really bad.”
“Aren’t most cities like that?”
“Yeah, but most don’t have hills on one side and an island on the other.”
“My dad used to work on that island when it used to be an amusement park.”
“Really? That place was one of my favorites to go to as a kid. What was his job?”
“He used to be a security guy and he also fixed the rides and animatronics.”
“Wow, he really knows a lot doesn’t he?”
“Yeah. He even taught me how to use a magnum and how to defend myself.”
“He really sounds like a badass now.”
“He’s awesome. What about your family?”
“What about them?”
“How are you with them?”
“I could care less.”
“Because they do the same to me. All they wanted me to do was be their nurse and take care of them when they grew old.”
“But isn’t that what you’re supposed to do anyway?”
“Yeah, but they made it seem like I was born to take care of them so I ran away from them. They made me feel like a tool and nothing more.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“You don’t have to be sorry. To give them credit though, I wouldn’t be helping people like I am now if they aren’t the way they are.”
“You mean a “street pharmacist”?
“Damn straight. I’m surprised you remember the name I like going by.”
“Well hey, what are friends for right?”
The two shop around and eat dinner out together until late at night until they decide to leave.
“I had a great time today, Rose. Thank you.”
“No problem. Let’s do it again sometime.”
They say their goodbyes and go back to their homes. On the next day, Rose takes the day off and goes to the psychiatrist as planned. She sits in a comfortable chair as the psychiatrist tries to help her.
“So can you tell me what’s troubling you?”
“The nightmares that I’ve been having and the stress in my life.”
“Do you remember what happens in your nightmares?”
“I’m always being chased by these monsters that have the faces of the masks that the robbers who attacked the bank I work at. I always have my magnum with me in these dreams including a flashlight, lighter, and a rusty pipe, which is the only weapon that seems to kill them while the magnum only slows them down.”
“I heard about a bank being attacked a while ago. I’m sorry for the loss of your job.”
“It’s fine. I’m working at as a regular accountant now.”
“So do you know why this rusty pipe is the only weapon that kills the monsters?”
“Have you ever killed someone with that weapon?”
“Alright. Well, I have an exercise that might help. Close your eyes and imagine the monsters. The real robbers that the monsters are based on are in a hospital in jail so you don’t need to worry about them so I’ll help you fall asleep to face the fake ones.”
The psychiatrist puts Rose to sleep with hypnosis and she dreams of being in an empty gray space with a question scratched in the wall above her which says, “What is the way out?” There’s also a sliding puzzle with letters on it in front of her, which is supposed to be her answer. She can’t move, but she can move the puzzle pieces by looking at them to try to form words. As she attempts to solve it, the monsters from her dream hit her from behind with their fists. Every hit hurts tremendously, but it also removes a letter from the puzzle, which makes it easier to solve. Rose moves the pieces as fast as she can while enduring the pain. She gets hit over five times before the answer becomes clear. “Let go” is the answer and as she solves it, she wakes up feeling refreshed despite the pain she felt earlier.
“How are you feeling?” the psychiatrist asks.
“I’m feeling better. Thank you.”
“There’s no need to thank me, it’s a pleasure to help people. Don’t forget to come back the next time you have those kinds of nightmares. Your condition might be good now, but it could change later especially with all the stress you have.”
“Ok. I will.”
Rose leaves the psychiatrist, goes home and calls Richard.
“So how did it go?”
“Better than expected.”
“Good to hear. So are you finally going to sleep well?”
“Definitely! You wanna hang out tomorrow?”
“Awesome. I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
Nighttime arrives and Rose goes to sleep without taking either her medications she has and dreams about being on one of the hills outside the city on a bright summer day. She has a picnic prepared for her friends and here they come. Richard and Maria arrive in the same car and Maria goes to join Rose while Richard unloads the car. Suddenly a car comes out of nowhere and crushes Richard and the grass beneath Maria become spikes and impale her. Rose is shocked by what is happening as the sky turns red and the once green hills turn black as everything around her dies. The ground beneath her gives way and Rose falls into the ground and arrives in a prison with what look to be naked people with black markings on them in prison cells.
“It isn’t over. Far from it,” a mysterious yet familiar voice says.
Rose doesn’t get a response so she wanders the prison until she comes across a door with five panels missing so she searches the prison for them. She finds the first one labeled “D” near a person playing with a dead body as if it was alive. Another labeled “A” is found in a room with a dead person with a caved in face while another stands above them with a bloodied prison bar. “B” and “D” is found in a room with a person turning their skin inside out and the last labeled “A” is found in a room with a frame that seems to be giving light to someone standing in front of it. Rose puts the panels in order she found them in the door, which unlocks it. She goes through it and it leads it to a staircase that goes to the ground floor and on it she chooses to go through a door that seems to be the exit. The door bursts open, knocking back Rose. A person who looks like Rose walks out the door with the same markings that the people in the prison have. Her eyes are black bloodshot and she looks to be pissed.
“Fucking idiot, you’re going the wrong way!” the other Rose says.
Rose runs to the other door as the other her chases her. The way into the door suddenly now has spikes, fire, and crushing traps that Rose avoids as she makes her way to the exit. She gets out of the prison and is back at the hill she was previously at. The other her finally catches up to her by tackling her. It gets up and picks up Rose by the neck.
“You stupid bitch. You’re not done yet,” the other her says before throwing Rose down a never-ending hole.
Rose then wakes up in the morning feeling as if the treatment she went through didn’t help at all.
Chapter 4 – Together Forever
Rose grabs her phone and calls Richard.
“Good morning sunshine. Did you sleep well?”
“Oh, I see. Well, it’s to be expected. You usually need to go there more than once with a condition like yours.”
“That shit’s expense though!”
“Well, maybe you need another solution.”
“And what might that be?”
“Have you ever thought of being in a relationship?”
“…Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
“Not really. I’m just saying you might need someone in your life to help you.”
“I don’t know.”
“Just think about it. Are we still good to hang out today?”
“Cool. I’ll see you later then.”
Rose and Richard meet each other in the afternoon. They go to a nearby park to do stress relieving exercises.
“You know this barely helps right?” says Rose.
“Right, but it’s better than it doing nothing.”
“Oh come on, admit it. You’re just doing it to try to impress the ladies aren’t you?”
“Well, you have to do more to impress.”
Rose uses her foot to extend Richard’s stretch, which makes him do a painful split.
“Pain isn’t funny!”
“It is when it happens to someone else.”
“Really? I didn’t know that.”
Richard turns Rose around, who is on the ground, and stretches her legs behind her back as if he was doing a wrestling move.
“Ow ow ow!”
“Hahaha! You’re right! It is funny!”
“Oh fuck you!”
They continue to stretch and do exercises until they decide to rest by eating lunch underneath a tree.
“So is anything new going on?” asks Rose.
“New as in?”
“I don’t know. How’s your family?”
“What family? As far as I know, I don’t have one.”
“Oh, I’m sorry I forgot-”
“Those assholes and everyone else always doubted my ability to do things and look who proved them wrong. I can live by myself without anyone’s help.”
“You know everyone I seem to know has a bad family or views them as bad?”
“Really? You’re friends with someone then just me?”
“I feel bad for them.”
“Well her name is Maria and she’s a “street pharmacist”.”
“You mean a drug dealer?”
“She likes going by the title “street pharmacist”. She makes her own kind of medication with a few of her friends to help people in need.”
“You need to watch yourself around people like her. You remember the trouble I had to go through to get drugs for certain people at our college parties.”
“Yeah and that was stupid for you to do.”
“And what do to you think it is for you?”
“It’s not like that. Maria is a really nice person and-”
“Hey, I’m not saying she’s not a nice person I’m just saying to watch yourself. Alright?”
“Speaking about college, do you remember what we did there?”
“How can you not?! Booze, babes, and a huge fucking hangover…from studying a lot. But if you’re asking about what we learned, I barely remember shit. I swear we wasted two semesters or more on classes that we needed to take to get the degree, but those classes didn’t teach us crap that we needed for the job.”
“I hear ya.”
“Hey didn’t I say that I hate talking about college?”
“So why are we talking about it?”
“Because I love bothering the shit out of you.”
Richard stares at Rose’s smiling face for a second.
“Fuck you bitch.”
“No, fuck you bitch.”
The two play fight with each other for a while until it comes time to leave. They laugh over their fight and say goodbye to each other as they head back to their apartment rooms. Rose falls asleep and is sucked into her bed without her knowing and she awakens on a small patch of grass at night outside a maze made of thorns. There’s no way to go besides into the maze because she’s there isn’t any ground around the spot she’s standing on so she walks into the maze of thorns. She checks to see if she has anything and she has the usual items she carries in her dreams; a lighter, flashlight, rusty pipe, and her magnum with six bullets that seem to refill with every dream.
‘Damn this maze is tight and the thorns don’t help either.’
She uses her flashlight as she usually does for now until thinks a monster is nearby. Suddenly she hears a yelling sound from above and sees a ceiling of thorns fall down from the sky, which makes Rose duck and forces her to crouch to get through the maze.
‘God this sucks!’
A crackling noise is heard in the distance and Rose quickly switches to her lighter.
‘Maybe I can use my lighter to get rid of these thorns…Nah, I’ll just end up burning myself alive. Now, let’s see what new monster is coming for me.’
Rose carefully makes sure to not make the lighter touch the ground or the thorns as she goes through the maze and keeps an eye out for whatever is lurking in the darkness. The maze is more cumbersome to walk through now and the ceiling seems to be pushing itself closer to Rose. A shadow is seen in the distance that keeps making paths by breaking through the thorns by darting through them. Rose decides to go through these paths while keeping her lighter in one hand and gun ready in the other. The shadow continuously gets closer and closer every time she seems it pass by her until she sees exactly what it is. It looks like the other her, but its eyes and mouth are stretched out and the mark on its chest and back are different. As soon as it knows it’s seen, it runs away back into the maze.
‘Good. It’s too shy to directly attack me.’
But not shy to attack at all, as Rose makes her way further into the maze and she fails to turn to face it fast enough. It transforms into a giant mouth with big teeth and a tongue that grabs Rose’s leg and tries to pull her in. She shoots it’s throat a few times before it lets go and scurries away. Rose then picks up the pace as the monster as increased its aggressive nature and approaches her more frequently.
‘There! The exit!’
She sees that the exit of the maze and also the monster behind her. It doesn’t run away even though it’s noticed so Rose gets the idea to light the maze on fire to make it collapse on the monster. Everything around her starts to collapse and burn at a fast rate, but Rose manages to crawl out of and onto her bed.
She sighs then says, “Just another crazy nightmare.”
“It was an exciting nightmare!” a cartoony voice says.
Rose looks around her room and doesn’t see where the voice could’ve come from. All she sees is her plush elephant, which seems to be staring at her.
Chapter 5 – Bigger Problems
As Rose recovers from her newest nightmare, she receives a call from her mother.
“Hello, how have you’ve been doing?”
“Alone with nobody to care for me.”
“Goddammit, mom you know why that is. Is this why you called?”
“No, it’s not. I wanted to see how you were doing.”
“Since when did you start caring about me?”
“Since you were born my dear. Why do you give me an attitude?”
“Because you kicked me out of the house for a stupid ass reason!”
“I did no such thing you kicked yourself out!”
“How? By trying to help our family’s financial problems?”
“No, by not giving enough time to visit and take care of me.”
“Mom, the job I had was very busy. I’m sorry I couldn’t find a whole lot of time to be there, but I tried to visit you at least once or twice a week, but that’s not enough for you because you put yourself on a fucking pedestal because you’re my mom. Am I right?”
“No one not even dad tried hard enough in your opinion because you ask too much of a guy that worked his hands to dust and what’s this bullshit that you cared about since birth if you didn’t call me or anything after I lost my job?!”
“It’s because I was busy upstate.”
“What? Too busy drinking and looking for men. Pfft. Please do me a favor and never call me again if you really care about me. Goodbye.”
Rose hangs up her phone and throws it at her couch. She doesn’t like talking about her mother as before her mom lost her job, she was a pretty nice mom, but after that, her mom turned to drinking and looking for others to care for her because she didn’t think her friends and family did enough. Rose’s father tried his best to help her find a job, but jobs were hard to find in the economic situation in the country so the family grew poor and couldn’t have fun vacations or travel, but they did barely manage to get up thanks to her father and his job as a car mechanic. There’s a knock at the door and Rose answers it to see Maria.
“Hi there,” Maria says.
“Hey. Come in.”
Maria enters the apartment and looks around.
“You can sit if you want. You don’t need to ask.”
“Are you alright? You seem mad.”
“It’s fine. I just talked to my bitchy mom.”
“Really? And I was thinking that you had a happy family since you seem so nice.”
“My dad is the reason I’m any kind of nice.”
“The guy who taught you how to use a gun taught you how to be nice, alright.”
“I’m serious. Even though there’s something weird about him, he’s a really nice guy.”
“I can’t wait to meet him one day.”
“I can’t wait to visit him. He’s just busy now and he said he’ll call me when he’s free.”
“So what’s brings you here today?”
“I was just stopping by to see if you needed a refill if you know what I mean.”
“Oh, the medication? I occasionally take it so I’m still good for a few days.”
“Do you want to hang out today?”
“I uh sure,” Maria says in with a surprised expression.
“Nothing. It’s just that most of my friends are all business and “other” related so it’s kind of weird to me for someone to ask me to hang out as a normal thing, but anyways sure let’s hang out.”
The two hang out for a while on the town and discuss current events, TV shows, music, and games until night time when the two part ways and go home. At home, Rose takes a look at her phone and realizes that she missed a call from her dad so she immediately calls him back and hopes that she isn’t bothering him at work.
“Hey dad I’m sorry I missed your call.”
“It’s fine Rosey. How are you doing?”
“I’m good, you?”
“Good now since I’m hearing your voice. I’m sorry I haven’t had the time to answer your calls and set up a time so we can be together.”
“No, it’s fine dad don’t worry about it. I know how busy you are.”
“Alright, but I still feel bad about it. So how’s Elephanty by the way? Is he taking good care of you?”
“Haha, he’s good. He tucks me in at night and keeps the monsters away.”
“Hahaha good to hear! I’ll talk to you later Rosey. I had a big day at work today so I’ve got to get some sleep.”
“Ok good night. I love you, dad.”
“Love you too Rosey.”
Rose hangs up the phone and feels better after having talked to her dad.
“I’ll protect you “Rosey”. Just as your father did,” a cartoony voice says.
The voice seems to be coming from her plush that is sitting on her bed, which is strange because it wasn’t there when she left. Rose goes to sleep and like every night, awakens in another time, but this time the entire space is lit up with a giant monster that is sitting on at the end of the maze and holding a bottle of alcohol.
‘Holy shit. Well, that’s different.’
She quickly runs through the maze while the monster yells out and attacks Rose. The attacks are slow, but they are powerful enough to break not only the maze walls but the floor as well. While going through the maze, there are levers in certain rooms that Rose pulls, without knowing what they do, that pour liquor into the monster’s bottle and distracts it for a while as it drinks it. Another monster comes out of nowhere and tries to seemingly stop it from drinking, but it ends up getting hit with the bottle. After getting to the end of the maze, Rose sees that the monster is blocking the exit.
“Fucking fat piece of shit, move!”
The monster from before gets up and stops it before it attacks Rose and pulls it out of the way, letting Rose leave the nightmare and enter back into her room. She gets up from her bed and goes to the kitchen to make breakfast, but she is quickly tackled by the other her.
“You have to stop this nightmare!” it says, “Stop living in this cycle!”
“What are you talking about it? Get off me!”
“You keep living this so-called normal life and if you don’t do anything to change, your stress will destroy you.”
Rose then wakes up after wrestling the blankets off her.
“What the Hell was that crazy bitch talking about?”
Chapter 6 – Someone New
Rose goes to work as usual on a weekday, but on this day so is approached by a random coworker at break time.
“Hey there,” he says to Rose.
“Nothing. Is there something you need?”
“No, I just wanted to talk to you.”
Rose blushes a little.
“You’re usually alone and don’t really talk to anyone.”
“I talk to people. There’s my friend Richard who works here.”
“Richard? I didn’t hear of any Richards working here.”
“You haven’t seen him? He wears a dark gray shirt with black pants and a red tie. He also has brown eyes and hair.”
“Nope. Doesn’t ring a bell.”
“Weird. I usually see him every day. So why exactly are you talking to me?”
“Because you seem to be the most normal person here and you look cute.”
Rose blushes again.
“What’s your name?”
“Rose, what’s yours?”
“Travis, it’s nice to meet you.”
“Same to you.”
“You wanna hang out after work?”
After work, Rose gets together with Travis and go out to dinner at a nice bar restaurant.
“So how long have you worked at this job?” Rose asks.
“Not too long, but long enough to know most of the people.”
“I only started to work here a week ago after the place I worked at got destroyed.”
“You mean you worked at that bank that got blown up?”
“That’s amazing that you survived that.”
“I guess, but it sucks that I had to find a different one because of it.”
“Did your friend Richard work there with you?”
“He did. We went to college together.”
“Oh, so do you have a lot of friends?”
“Nah I just have two. What about you?”
“I don’t really have any. I mean I have a really big and supporting family, but friends are a thing I’m lacking in.”
“Really? It’s the exact opposite with the people I know.”
“That’s weird isn’t family supposed to be good by default?”
“Yeah and so are friends, but it isn’t always like that with some people.”
“That’s true, isn’t it? Wow, I didn’t expect to learn something today from someone I just met.”
“Well hey, friends teach each other things too you know?”
“I know now.”
The two split the bill and leave the restaurant.
“Tonight was nice,” says Rose.
“You want to hang out again sometime?”
“Sure. I’d like that.”
They say their goodbyes and go back to their homes. Rose goes to sleep and awakens in a field of roses in morning daylight. As she looks around, she notices the other version of the other her in the distance. She draws her magnum and slowly approaches it as she watches it wander around the field. The monster seems to be searching for something, but it also doesn’t seem to care for Rose who it probably already saw. Another monster rises from the roses, one that looks like a male version of the other, and they seem to like each other. One of their arms and legs fall off as they connect their bodies to one another. The two now one monster walk off in the distance.
“Aww it looks like someone has a crush,” someone says behind Rose.
She then wakes up in bed with her elephant right beside her.
Chapter 7 – The Ugly Side of a Best Friend
Another day, another day of work is ahead of Rose today as she does her daily routine, but today she notices something different. Her elephant friend seems to be following her around today with it appearing in buses, store windows, and in the hands of the homeless people she passes by on the streets. She tries to ignore this and say to herself that she sees it because the plush is a popular one. This mindset gets Rose through most of the sightings of her favorite plush until she sees it at work, sitting on her desk. It stares at her as if it was expecting her and its eyes seem to follow her.
Travis puts his hand on Rose’s shoulder and asks her, “You have one of those elephant plushies too?”
“I do. I’ve seen them everywhere.”
“So did you just buy that one? I saw you walking in with it.”
Rose nods her head sideways.
“You were. I saw you carrying it when I got here.”
“Hmm. That’s weird. I thought I left at home. Anyways, my dad got this for me when I was little.”
“Really? Did you give it a name?”
“I – uh…yes. It’s…Elephanty.”
“Elephanty huh? That’s a cute name.”
Travis smiles and walks away.
“You think he’s cute don’t ya?” a dark voice says.
“Well, he can’t have you.”
“What are you-”
Rose looks around and doesn’t see anyone who could’ve been talking to her. She looks down at her elephant and it seems to have darkened and its eyes are staring dead at her. She then puts it down at her desk as she keeps an eye on it and it keeps its eyes locked on her. After taking a shower and eating dinner, she goes to bed.
“He can’t have you!” a dark voice yells as the ground shakes, “I won’t allow it!”
Rose wakes up in a padded room with a demented version of her elephant. Its appearance is split in half, but its overall look is that of a butcher.
Confused and shocked, Rose says, “El…Elephanty?”
“That’s me and you’re mine.”
It pulls a huge cleaver out of its back and swings at Rose. She backs up and takes out her gun.
“You can’t leave me. You won’t leave me. I’ll cut your legs off before you do so you can stay with me forever,” the demented elephant says.
Rose empties her gun into the monster, but it isn’t affected at all by it so Rose uses the rusty pipe on it. The pipe is able to block and deflect the swings by the cleaver and Rose even manages to bring the monster down with a few good hits that she manages to get in.
As Rose stares at the bloodied monster that was her first best friend, it says to her, “I love you, Rose. Please don’t kill me.”
She somehow feels sympathy for the nightmarish monster and walks away from it. A door appears in the room, which leads to her job. Elephanty gets up and follows Rose.
“I’ll protect you no matter what Rose. You’re my bestest friend.”
“Uh alright then.”
As Rose goes through the building, there are switches that change the floors in the building so she can get to different parts in it. The switches are activated by answering =, =/, =?, or =?! to some questions such as; help___inconceivable, monsters___me, and suicide___possible answer. A new monster appears in this nightmare that is made by of nightmarish versions of her coworkers that are all part of the same body, but they fight for the top as they claw and tear each other of their own body.
“I’ll handle this,” Elephanty says as it walks in front of Rose, “You’re not gonna hurt my best friend!”
Elephanty fights the monster with its cleaver and chops it up into pieces.
“See? I told you that I would protect you.”
“You don’t need to thank me. This is what best friends do for each other.”
Its already big smile widens as it attempts to show a comforting smile.
“What? Am I too creepy?”
Rose manages to find the key to the exit after shifting the building for a while and wakes up next to her elephant plush who is back to normal.
“That was so much fun! I can wait to do it again!” it cheerfully says.
Or at least mostly normal.
A Catholic self-published author that writes to entertain and teach. Writes mostly horror, fantasy, and short story fiction.
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