"I don't remember falling asleep, but the next thing I know I was walking down long, winding road. It was smack dab in the middle of nowhere, in an endless ocean of wheat. There was no one else around, but me. Even though I walked, I didn't feel tired. I walked for what seemed like miles, and even though menacing clouds loomed large in the darkening sky, and there was no sound other than the wind swaying and rustling the stalks, I wasn't afraid.
"Then eventually, I came to a crossroad where a huge oak stood in the middle of it. A girl about my age stood on one of the topmost branches, shoving something into one of the large tree-holes.
"She then turned and smiled. 'About time you showed up,' she said. Then she vaulted effortlessly off the branch, landing gracefully in front of me. I soon recognized her as Lyra Bisbee, a freckled-faced blonde girl that often hung out with Hoturu's bunch. She was something of an artist herself, though unlike me, she was mostly into doing fan art and portraiture of various wildlife. Despite her rather plain Jane looks, she was one of the popular kids.
"I guess it was because she was always cheerful and had a great sense of humor. It could also be that she had developed early and her family was very wealthy, the result of having constructed much of the architecture around the Murrelet area.
"'Hey, Lyra,' I said, somewhat surprised. 'It's good to see you.'
"'It's good to see you too,' she replied, 'just wish it was under different circumstances.'
"'Huh?' I said, utterly mystified. 'What are you talking about? What is this place?'
"'One of the in-between places, places between Urth and the Otherworld.'
"'You mean like Faerie?' I asked.
"Lyra shrugged. 'Or Hades. Who knows for sure,' a worried look crossed her freckled face. 'Anyway I got something to tell you. Something very important.'
"'You know that Mcclaren kid?'
"'I nodded, recalling that buggy-eyed, baby-faced brat who thought she was a Nipponese elf goddess forced into permanent exile.
"'She's in your house right now,' Lyra replied in a low voice.
"'But that's impossible! I was just there,' I insisted, though I felt cold chills race up and down my back. 'It's a pretty small house, not a lot of hiding places, and anyway, my parents would have spotted her.'
"'It's her spirit I'm talking about,' Lyra whispered hoarsely. 'The thing that she could send out of herself...that part of her that isn't human anymore.'
"'Well, what is she then?' I asked her, absolutely baffled. 'A demon? A witch? A tentacled-monster, space alien?'
"Lyra frowned. 'I think she's a damned fool,' she said finally, 'but she's a clever fool and that's what makes her even more dangerous. She's probably made a deal with somebody...or something, and this person/whatever only gave her a small amount of magic in exchange for a big chunk of her soul. That's why she acts like a total moron at times. Of course, it could also be due to hormones...'
"'But what's she doing in my house?' I interrupted. "Is she robbing the place?'
"My friend shook her head. 'No, she's planting something.'
"'What? A listening device? A hidden camera?' I was getting more paranoid by the minute. What did I do to deserve all the weird smerge?'
"'A ouija board.'
"'What for,' I wondered, utterly baffled. 'I'm not even into that kind of spirit woohoo stuff.'
"Lyra looked back over her shoulder. Following her gaze, I noticed off in the distance a tall, skinny figure coming toward us. It looked like a guy in a top hat wearing a dark business suit.
"'Crap!' muttered Lyra, turning back to me. 'Look, I'm don't have enough time left. But you got to find that ouija board and get rid of it.'
"'Not enough time left?' I stammered in bewilderment. 'What are talking about?'
"'Look, you don't understand,' Lyra replied urgently. 'That board's cursed, really cursed. I'm not telling you a load of garbage here. This thing's the real deal. It was built in Faerie, used by actual wizards in their ritual.'
"'So what's it doing over here then?' I exclaimed. 'And why is Lolly hiding that thing in my house.'
"Lyra shrugged. 'I don't know. Maybe it got stolen and was smuggled here. Lolly could have gotten it from the Black Market.'
"'There's a Black Market for Faerie Stuff?'
"'Sure,' she was watching the approaching top hat guy worriedly. 'If you ask the right people and got enough cash. But that's not important right now. What's important is you find that thing before it activates and invite Him in.'
"'Who's Him?' I asked anxiously. 'The Gray Man.'"'Worse,' Lyra turned back with a grim face. 'You can deal with the Gray Man, maybe buy some more time. But not his son, the Rose Prince. There're supposed to be nine sons, all princes and demons. But He's the youngest and most dangerous of the bunch. He makes the Marquis de Sade look like a wussy Ken doll.'
"'Oh,' I said as I absorbed this worrisome bit of information. I pointed toward the mysterious man in black. 'Well, is that Him there coming?'
"'No, that's a shinigami,' my friend replied. 'Don't worry. They're friendly.'
"I had no idea what a shinigami was, but 'friendly' certainly doesn't cover this guy. He reminded me of a super creepy Victorian undertaker I saw in a recent horror movie. Nevertheless, I stood my ground. I wasn't going to get intimidated by some damned dream monster, especially when I'm getting an important message from one of my friends.
"'Uh, Lyra,' I said, keeping one eye on the slowly approaching menace. 'You still haven't told the reason why Lolly's hiding that ouija thing in my house.'
"'She's jealous,' she explained, cause unlike you or me, without her precious Microsoft Paint and tracing paper to help her, she can't draw worth smerge.' She glanced up nervously as the shinigami shuffled to a halt just a few paces from us.
"I swear to gods it was that very same guy from that movie. He even had those same bright red tattoos on the back of his bony hands. They kind of reminded me of compass designs, only with wavy lines, like sun rays or maybe like octopus tentacles.
"Before I could study them further, my friend took me by the arm and led me around the oak. As soon as we were out of sight, Lyra turned to me.
"'Once you touch that board with your bare hands, you can't resist toying with it. Then He comes and pretends to be your friend, while slowly draining your soul, and in return grants the board's original owner good luck, magical knowledge, wishes and whatnot. Once you die, the Rose Prince would drag you down to whatever hell He came from, and the cycle starts all over again.'
"'How do you know all this?'
"Lyra shrugged. 'I read about it on Creepypasta and Scary For Kids. It's a pretty popular urban legend.' Then abruptly, she changed the subject. 'Once you find this thing, you got three choices on how to get rid of it.'
"I nodded. 'I'm listening.'
"'Take it to a graveyard at midnight on a full moon, bury it and don't ever look back.'
"'Uhh...yeah,' I said doubtfully, 'that might present a problem since it was stormy outside and there are really big trees crashing down all over back at my place.'
"'Throw it into deep running water,' said Lyra, ignoring my remark. 'Make sure you weigh it something heavy like rocks or bricks.'
"Okay, that might work, I though. Now if I could only get out to the river without being zapped by lightening or hit by flying debris or getting creamed by a car.
"'Cover it with salt or sacred oil, wrap it up tight with silk. Then bury it at a distant crossroad.'
"'Gotcha. Now if I could only find a crossroad that isn't paved over concrete.
"A sudden gust of wind swept across the field on our right, sending cloud of dust puffing over the road. The air around us became filled with black birds, thousand of them, their beating wings sounding like rain coming down.
"Lyra's face suddenly paled 'Whatever you do,' she stammered. 'Never touch that board with your bare hands, and never ever let the Rose Prince in.'
"'But what if someone else finds it before me?' I had to raise my voice over the black bird noise. 'One of my parents or my kid brother or sister?'
"'He'll still come after you...' Then I lost sight of Lyra in the cloud of birds, although she seemed to have vanished, melting away into the tree behind her. Her voice grew fainter and fainter, already it was far overhead with the wheeling birds and rushing wind.
"'Cause you're the one with great talent, and that's what demons like best in their prey.'
"The voice along with wind died away. Darkness rushed in and filled the entire scene, and I was suddenly whisked through the air.
"'When I came to, the first thing I noticed was that I was in bed fully dressed. I could of swore when I went to bed, I was dressed only in pajamas. My pants and shoes were caked with yellow dust, and my feet throbbed and ached.
"I sighed wearily as I whipped off the covers.
Great! I thought, stumbling out of bed. Now my dreams are becoming real. It's all going to be like those stupid Nightmare on Elm Street movies, except instead of Freddy Krugger, I'm going to be worrying about being whacked by that weeb Lolly Mcclaren!
"I shivered and stared around the pitch blackness. 'And what the hell was up with the freakin' temperature?'
"My room was ice cold and I could even see my breath streaming out. As I fumbled around the side table, trying to locate the lamp, I soon realized that there was another person standing near me in the dark. Of course, I couldn't see anything, but my fingers feeling the jumbled pile of books, sketch pads and drawing utensils with something soft that immediately withdrawn. It was cold and slimy like a dead fish. I could of sworn it was a hand. My skin instantly began to crawl.
"'Who's that?' I exclaimed.
"There was no answer, but at the same moment I heard someone moving away from me in the direction of the closet door. The footsteps were rather heavy and lumbering-sounding, and there was also a rustling of fabric as it brushed against the floor. In a split second my hand made contact with the lamp switch and I pushed it. The glare of the lamp illuminated an empty room.
My hair began to rise and I instinctively backed against the wall lest something should approach me from the rear. However, I soon recovered enough to cross the room and throw open my closet door. What greeted me was the most horrible odor I had ever had the misfortune of smelling. I had smelt the extreme BO before when that unwashed braggart Lolly was making a gawd-awful spectacle of herself in the school hallway, but that was only just a whiff. This was ten times as worse, this was sheer horrible horribleness. It reeked of rotten garbage, of mass death and wasting disease. For a minute I wondered if someone had died in that very space in the past, and what I was experiencing was a psychic echo. Just when I was thinking of running and rousing my parents, the smell faded as did the cold.
I spent the rest of a miserable night, seated in the middle of my room, clutching a hockey stick and flashlight, watching and listening for any other unpleasantness, but nothing else happened. "Shit I have school tomorrow" I got up to grab my bag from beside the bed. As I unzipped it I notice something dart in the corner. Slowly I picked up the hockey stick and turned. "Boo" my little sister "Angel don't do that" I exasperated "Why not?" "Because I'm feeling a little jumpy today" "Oh" she sighed "there was this weird lady in here" "WHAT" "Yeah she told me to give you something" "And?" "I tolded her to hide it somewhere in your room." "Where?" "Your holding it."