The Time When Things Were Normal

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My life was like any other high school student... Until it wasn't. I was a junior and one of the certified "losers" at my school. But then again, it wasn't so bad, considering my friends were too. We didn't care though since we wouldn't want to be a popular prick anyways. It was better off on the lower social class. No one who you called your friend judged you for what you liked, or what you wore. Of course there was still drama and problems, but nothing like how it was "up there". I even had this one really good friend... But she's dead now. And it's all my fault. It started at the end of April, I think. Spring vacation had just started for the week and I remember filling my calendar with absolutely nothing except homework on Sunday. Of course I was actually going to do things, like gaming and hanging out at a friends house, but nothing special or anything. But something seemed wrong that Friday when we got out of school. I had felt like I was being watched as I got on the bus to go home. But of course it was nothing, I had convinced myself. And of course, it was probably just stress. But that would be pushed aside, my best friend was coming over along with a couple of other people who I considered to be my friends. When I got off the bus, however, the feeling of being watched came back. I walked down my street, which was a little farther away from town and in a wooded area. I shifted the straps on my backpack and glanced at the forest line. I became aware of my breathing suddenly and shook my head. I was being ridiculous, surely. I calmed my breathing and nerves and walked the rest of the way home with the watching feeling in the back of my mind.

When I got home I dropped my backpack and started cleaning. My parents wouldn't be home until later that night so it was up to me to do whatever I needed to. I finished cleaning at around four and texted my friends to come over. I flopped on the couch and shut my eyes. Something felt off. I couldn't quite say what but... I got up and ran a hand through my hand quickly as I heard a knock on the door. How long was I on the couch? I answered the door to see my best friend Maria. We smiled and I let her in, shutting the door behind her.

"Where's the food?" She asked. I laughed and shook my head.

"Is that seriously all you can think about?" I asked. She gave a half-heated shrug and grinned.

"Pretty much," she replied, looking through my cabinets. There was another knock on the door and my friends Sean and Bri stood there. I let them in and the evening began on a downhill roll.

We all watched two horror movies with the lights off, the shades pulled, and popcorn between all of us. After the second one ended Maria shot up with a mischievous look in her eyes.

"We should play manhunt," she said. Sean and Bri shot up and agreed but I was hesitant. I checked outside the blinds and saw that it was pitch black.

"I dunno guys..." I said. "It's pretty dark and there's probably animals or... Something." Maria rolled her eyes.

"That's the best time to play manhunt," she said. "And if there are I'll karate kick them in the face!" I continued to look out the window. I don't know I why I wasn't totally for this, not like I'd get in trouble or anything since no one was around. Something was coming, that's all I knew. Little did I know that I was right. And it wasn't anything good.

"Fine," I let in. "But we won't stay out that long." Everyone cheered and we got glow sticks from my room and head out behind my house and into the woods. We cracked up the glow sticks and shook em up, a slight illumination spreading around us.

"Who wants to go first?" I said. Sean volunteered.

"I will," he said and started counting. We all glanced at each other with devious grins and headed off. I jogged into the woods instead of going at full sprint like Maria. There were tree roots and other things sticking out of the ground and I didn't want to accidentally trip and break something. I hid under a low brushing tree branch just as Sean yelled that he was looking for us.

Manhunt was great and my uneasy feeling went away and time was forgotten. Several games were played, my winning some, Maria, Bri, and Sean winning others. It was my turn to hide again while Bri was counting and I ran in the woods. The glow stick in my hands lit up a small area around me, the light bobbing up and down with my footsteps. I got to a strange clearing and stopped to catch my breath. There was a huge moss covered stone sphere in the right corner of the cleared lot. I heard a distant yell and I knew Bri would come looking for us. I decided to hide behind the moss sphere, crouching down behind it and settling my breathing. I squinted at the stone. There appeared to be some sort of etching into it. I took my glow stick and held it up to the etchings. There was something written in a language unknown to me across the stone. I traced my finger along the foreign etchings, mouthing the sounds they seemed to make. Then my eyes drifted to the bottom and something inside my chest twanged. In crude etchings was the words, Don't Trust Them. I couldn't stay here. I got up and ran back the way I came, yelling out for my friends to run. Then I tripped. But it wasn't on a tree root. It was something pure white and smooth looking. I scrambled up and turned around to see what the white thing belonged to. Then it became clear. Slenderman stood there, his white tendrils moving spastically behind him. I knew what Slenderman was, although I never believed it was real. To the side and behind him were three other beings. Two dressed in similar orange hoodies, one with the hood up, and the other wearing a mask. The third one in a grey sweater with straps and stripes all around it. He wore a blue hood with goggles and a mask that covered only his mouth.

"Holy..." I backed away and got ready to run when a deafening static filled my ears and I bent over in a muted scream, my hands covering my ears.

"You... Will be put on a trial," a deep voice said in my head, cutting through the static. I was to busy trying to clear my head to even begin to comprehend what he meant, it felt as if my head was going to explode. "The trial... Will test everything within you... Will you die from the first encounter...? Or live to beat another?" The static started to fade and I could begin to stand up again. "Tomorrow will be the first." It said. I stood more straight this time and looked at it in fear before running for my life through the woods.

Branches whipped at my face like daggers and I ran into something again. It was Maria.

"We have to get out of here!" I yelled. Everyone looked at me at first with amusement, then their eyes widened and they started coming towards me, like I was a wounded animal.

"What's wrong...?" Bri said, her hand outstretched towards me.

"I'll tell you later, we just have to get inside!" They all nodded and I started running again before Sean caught my hand.

"Now hold on a minute," he said. "Whatever it was, it won't get us in a group like this. We'll walk, get you to bed because something obviously has you shaken up, and it'll all be forgotten in the morning."

"Yeah," Maria said. "It'll be all over in no time." They were wrong, they were all wrong. But I couldn't do anything about it so I let them walk me the rest of the way home. When we got to the driveway, Maria led me to the door and shoo'd away Sean and Bri.

"You guys can go home, I got it from here," she said. They nodded and got in Sean's car and left. I opened the door with an eye roll.

"You can stop treating me like I'm some child," I said, on the verge of snapping. Maria led me in, closing the door behind her.

"We're just worried, that's all," Maria said, leading me up the stairs to my bedroom. "Now go to bed and forget about it. It'll be better in the morning." She left me in my room to go to her own car and drive home. Why were they all reacting like this? I know what I saw and they hadn't even asked what I had seen. I didn't even bother changing to go to bed, I just fell on my mattress and stared at the ceiling. Then it hit me. What trial?

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