Being an orphan wasn't my fault. I had once had a family of four people, but that was two years ago, when I was eleven. The events that happened in between were just a blur of things I didn't understand, but only one event was seared into my memory. The one that changed my life.
It happened on a night in January. It was one of those cold nights, when snow is expected but there isn't any. Instead, there’s a huge storm that just goes on for hours. The wind blustered and the rain thumped on the roof of the house outside.
I was getting ready to jump into my bed when I noticed a hard metal object on my pillow. I picked it up and examined it. Ugh, I thought. It must be Jamie’s stupid toy. Why does he bother me so much? Jamie, being five years old, was a somewhat bothersome brother who always left me “surprises” in my room, something I was never thrilled about.
“JAMIE!” I called.
My mother must have heard me, because she walked into my room. “Dad’s putting Jamie to bed, honey. What do you want him for?” she asked.
“He left a flashlight in my room,” I told her.
“Just leave it on your desk and give it back to him tomorrow,” my mom replied. “Goodnight, sweetie.”
I did just that and climbed into bed. As I was about to fall asleep, I woke up with a start as light flashed. It's just the lightning, isn't it? I thought. I lay back down and started to drift off to sleep once more.
Suddenly, there was a flash of light again. This time I was sure it was not the lightning. I looked around my room, and quickly found the source of the light.
It was blinking on and off like a flashing exit sign. When I looked at it for a longer period of time, it stayed on. No doubt was it doing this by itself, because I knew for a fact no one was in my room. I was silently freaking out. Oh my gosh. What is happening? What is that? Someone help me! Fear was pooling into me at a rate like it was trying push my head under it and drown me. Still, the creepy flashlight stayed on, like it was expecting something.
Quickly looking away and feeling a mixture of intense fear and confusion, I rushed back into bed and hoped with all my hope that this was just a dream and that I would wake up any moment and it would all be over.
Was I ever wrong.
I finally started to fall asleep, and the last thing I remembered before that was the flashlight turning off with a soft click. As soon as my eyes closed, I started dreaming about something no one would even imagine dreaming about.
I was in a large room, but it didn't take any brainpower to realize it was a room I should not have been in. The walls were covered in cobwebs, but not the common, stringy little ones around a normal house. They were thick and long, and some stretched all the way across the room. The room was dimly lit with the flame of sconces all around me. The floors were covered in dirt, or some other disgusting substance I could not identify. A musty smell filled the room. The room could have passed for a monster’s living room, with worn tables, chairs, sofas, and other living room furniture. All were covered in cobwebs.
Am I in a haunted house or something? Why am I in here? This is a dream this time, right? I asked myself. Thousands upon thousands of terrified thoughts raced through my mind like a racer on horseback.
Just then, I heard faint screams, like they were far away but approaching quickly. I could make out screams from three different sources -- no doubt from people.
Minutes later, the screams sounded like they were right outside of the building -- or wherever I was -- and about to come inside and kill me.
That's when the last thought I ever wanted to think hit me like a huge boulder. My brain was slowly starting to recognize those screams. Could they be the screams of--?
I jolted awake, in a cold sweat. I was shivering to the core and my heart was pounding. I was surprised to find that it was morning. Cautiously, I got out of bed and rubbed my eyes to make sure I was still sane. I looked around and found my eyes lay on the location of the flashlight. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me when I didn't see the creepy tool.
I stared at the spot on my desk for a good minute, pinching myself periodically to make sure I wasn't in the midst of a dream. To my disappointment, I was not. I left the room and decided that I would check again when I came back upstairs.
As soon as I arrived in the kitchen, I knew something was terribly wrong. My mom was not preparing breakfast, my dad was not sitting at the table reading the morning paper, and my energetic little brother was not running around the kitchen with his trucks.
I was alone in the kitchen on a regular Wednesday morning, which had never happened. Ever.
“MOM? DAD? JAMIE?” I shouted. After calling out their names three more times, I gave up.
They simply were not home.
I ran all around the house, desperate to find my family. I figured I would do anything to find them. Anything. I was determined to find the people I loved the very most. I couldn't live without them. I didn't care about anything that would happen to me, as long as I found my family. I expected them to jump out of a closet and scare me and we would laugh and go on with our normal lives. When I arrived at my room, I sat on my bed, on the verge of tears.
Not them. Anyone else but them. They wouldn't leave me on this random, normal day. Please, please make this be a normal day. Why did they leave me? Did they leave me? Where are they? I frantically thought. I'm sorry for anything bad I did! Please come back and we can start the day over. All I need is them! I burst into tears, burying my face into my pillow.
Just then, something struck me, right in my gut. I remembered my dream from last night. Three people I was looking for. Three screams of terribly familiar people last night, all who I knew very well.
I looked up and around my room, breathing heavily. To my great surprise, I found the crazy flashlight on my desk again, shining its light around the room.
Finally, I thought. The flashlight might be a sign of something normal.
Looking at the illuminated part of the wall, I noticed something. It wasn't until a few seconds later that my brain realized that the ‘somethings’ on the wall were words, a message.
Flashlights do more than just light the way.