EXCERPT FROM THE DEAD GAME
Linda found herself at a carnival. What is real or a nightmare?
That night Linda found herself caught in a nightmare that she couldn’t escape from, even when she willed herself to open her eyes. She was afraid that it wasn’t a nightmare, but a sinister game that had gone wrong. She didn’t know how she’d gotten herself into it or how she was ever going to get out.
The nightmare had begun with Linda passing through the magical door at the diner—but it wasn’t the diner anymore; it was a remote house that she’d never seen before. The house was dark and dreary like End House, but it wasn’t End House.
She heard the sounds of waves crashing against the house. She couldn’t believe that she was a prisoner in another house by the ocean. She didn’t know where she was or what day it was. She didn’t even remember how she’d gotten here. She just remembered following the little girl through the door: she’d been curious to see what was on the other side.
On the other side of the door, Linda found herself at the same carnival that the little girl from the village had visited, except this carnival was much louder and the people were leering at her, trying to force her into their tents. The fat man was waving his pudgy arms at her as he got closer and closer. A clown came at her with his balloons and howled at her. A man began throwing his knives in her direction, but luckily, kept missing. She ran away and ran behind the tents to the colorful booths of the carnival.
She chose the Fun House. She stepped into a room full of mirrors that made her multiple reflections appear distorted and unreal. She couldn’t figure out why she’d run into the Fun House if in every horror movie the victims were always portrayed as being terrorized there. She hoped this wasn’t another game of The Dead. She was determined to locate an exit, but found only mirrors and more mirrors; they made her dizzy. Her distorted reflections stared back at her—as if they were distinct entities, united against her, instead of her own creations.
She ran until she crashed head-first through a mirror, into a dark place with no beginning or end. The whole experience felt unreal to her—as if she were lost in a different dimension. Behind this mirror, she encountered a man with a white mask and empty holes for eyes, laughing at her. When he touched her arm, she realized that he was real and not just a reflection.