Author Topic: untitled story part 1 (any title ideas would be appreciated)  (Read 453 times)

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   In the rougher parts of St. Petersburg, formerly Leningrad there is a game played by some of the more intriguing locals. It's not a game of skill or physical ability, but one testing your mental fortitude; it's a well guarded little secret by those who play it, well till now. I've been haunted by the events of the last time I've played, and so I'm breaking the silence.
   I was first turned on to the game by a co-worker, he and I went to the same school but didn't speak much to each other. He was a grade or two above me, one of the "cool kids". He'd been working at the fast food eatery for a few months by the time I got hired on. As we worked shifts together we started talking, eventually become friends. Not the real close kind of friends you spend time with, just the type of friend you know when placed in close proximity. It was about a month later when winter break started that he mentioned it for the first time, the game.
   From what he told me originally is that there was an old office; nestled in the back of a building that hadn't been used for a decade or two. The building itself was in the rougher parts of town, it hadn't seen any major renovations since before the rise of communism. During those times it had been used by mobsters to extort rations and other various black market deals. Now it sat vacant as far as anyone could tell, but the other spaces where still active. The alleyways near the place still had the occasional dead body found there. Usually from drug overdose or things the local papers listed as "Unknown" cause.
   He told me the office itself was just a small simple room, with a single chair centered inside waiting. It's in this chair that the game takes place, for those who sit there between midnight and 3AM. He told me that his oldest brother discovered the game when he was in high-school and played it. Eventually telling their other siblings and making them play it. By the time my co-worker was in junior high, it came down to his turn to participate.
   Supposedly if you make your way into the office just before midnight, taking your seat in the darkness alone; the game can begin. Shutting your eyes, slowly pressure like someone grasping your shoulders will build. As time goes on the weight will grow, slowly and steadily as a tingling sensation jolts up and down your spine. You'll then begin to fell more hands grouping at your body. Whatever you do, don't open your eyes and stay calm. At the end of the three hours; a small box will be left at your feet.
   According to his siblings if you sit there for the three hours, you win. Your prize inside the small box left in front of you. From what they know each box will contain a similar prize, solid gold pieces of a puzzle. They don't always fit together and are for some sort of three dimensional object. Possibly even for multiple different puzzles, as none of them have been able to fully finish one.
   I initially passed this off as him trying to impress or spook me, be he kept insisting that the game was real. Thinking it over in my head for the rest of the shift I supposed it could be real. His brothers and sisters had probably found the place and used it to smoke pot or drink. Making up the game with their friends to initiate the younger siblings to the secret. With the real "gold" being in on the secluded little space all the cool kids go to shoot the shit.
   On the following day to my surprise he brought a few blocky gold pieces. Claiming that they where only a small amount of the ones he's "won". This only served to unsettle me, who had enough money to give out these prizes and why? In my mind this "game" took on a sinister aspect, was this how some sick bastards lured in teens to grope and prod to their liking? My stomach churned at the idea, especially when thinking of how frequent bodies turned up in the alley nearby.
   I don't quite remember how, but eventually he talked me in to attempting it. Weather it was the idea of the gold or the sheer curiosity of what was going on. By now we had became closer friends; spending time outside of work or school. I even me a few of his siblings, who insisted that the game was well worth succumbing to curiosity. They even showed me their pieces of puzzles, various shapes and sizes, but gold nonetheless. I asked if so many of them had played, and played multiple times; why didn't they have a finished puzzle. They only chuckled, noting that they aren't handed out in order. If they where, then other players clearly had the majority of the pieces.
   They all took me to see the infamous building, and the office inside. It was old, and must have served as apartment at one point. It still showed signs of the odd little flat here and there. The ground level served as various shops and businesses. Pawn shops, convenience stores and even a barbers lines the main street.
   Nestled between the convenience store and the barbers was a reinforced glass door. It led to a simple landing and a staircase. We walked through the building, making our way to the third floor. They gestured to a plain wooden door at the end of the hallway. It was the door to the office that now sat nearly abandoned, with it's rare late night visitors. Seeing the door only made my arms weak, and palms sweaty.
   My mind returned to the thoughts of creeps waiting in the darkness. Eagerly awaiting for those brave or stupid enough to enter. Ready to grope and prod at the technically willing individuals, indulging in their own sickness. They took notice of disdain growing on my face. Reassuring me that as long as I kept my eyes closed and stayed relatively calm, I'd be fine. Ensuring me that later tonight will change my perspective on the situation.
   I recall working going normal, with just me and the manager for the better part of the shift. I didn't dwell on thoughts of the activity I'd be engaging in that night. Work distracted me, that is until the closing shift cashier came in. After my shift I sat in the lobby, eating my meal and contemplating. Questions raced through my head over and over again. Who ran this game and why? Was I really going to go through with this nonsense?
   I was finally on the verge of being in the "IT" crowd, the cool kids. Would not going through with this ruin it for me? I was looking for things to kill the time as all this kept lolling over in my head. I decided to go into the convenience store there on the street. I tried to get some information on the building and the area from the clerk; but they seem'd to know nothing more than I did.
   "You remember where to go right?" one of his elder brothers said; as they came up the sidewalk to the door I'd been waiting in front of.
   Nervelessly I crocked out "Y-y-yeah... it's the last door on the third floor right?" fidgeting my hands, glancing between the three of them.
   "Good, we forgot to mention. From here on you'll be on your own, we cant come with you to the door." my co-worker said leading me through the door and shutting it behind me.
   The gravity of the situation hit me, why cant they come with me?  Perhaps this was all a joke. They where going to wait till I was good and scared and then jump out at me. Then we were all going to have a good laugh and I finally be one of the guys. The idea that it was all some elaborate joke eased me allowing me to continue.
   Through the glass they gestured for me to make my way up the stairs. In this lighting the landing looked different. The only light coming from a bulb protruding from the wall, halfway up the stairs. That single bulb flickered dimly with every other step, the only sound that of my feet hitting the steps. The only sign that anyone still used the building where cigarette buds littering the floor. As I reached the first floor the air grew stagnant and musty. The stench of mold permeated the air, I wondered why I didn't notice it in the day.
   The third floor hallway was darker than the other, no windows for moonlight to brake up the shadows. I tried feeling for a light-switch on the wall nearest me, but it was useless. Deciding that it wouldn't have made much of a difference if the lights on the other floors was anything to go off of. I checked my phone as I headed to the final door at the end of the hall. It was 11:45PM, the game was growing closer than it had ever been before.
   A feeling of unease returned as I reached for the doorknob, what if I backed out now? How would they know, unless this was all some sort of prank. If that was the case I'd probably lose my newest friend, and my only chance to be cool. What if I waited on the stairs returning to them after, and it wasn't a prank. What would the people behind this do if they found someone so close to the room but not in it. Not to mention they'd ask to see the puzzle piece, if any doubt was in their minds.
   Ignoring all the feeling in my gut, I headed into the room closing the door behind me. All I had to do was get through this once and put it all behind me. The idea of being able to pawn off or sell the gold to someone was just a bonus. I made my way to the chair sitting solemnly in the room. It was like one of those chairs from a science lab at school. A hard acrylic seat and matching backs, with hollow metal legs.
   Here in the room the smell of mold was stronger, as if it was the origin point. There was something more, a coppery metallic seemed to singe my nose hairs. I finally closed my eyes and relaxed, and at nearly that same moment a pressure weighed down upon me. Heavy and sudden it reminded me of being a child in family photos; fathers hands resting on my collar bone.
   A tingling bolted up and down spine, chilling me to my very core. I scrunched my face in discomfort, attempting to further close my eyes; they way a child does when afraid in the night. I wanted to flee, to jump up and push past the other person in the room. Not stopping till I was back at the bottom of the stairs, with my friends who surely would understand. The pressure on my shoulders swelled, with a crawling sensation manifesting in my skin. Hands seemed to grasp my ankles, cementing me to the spot.
   Another set of hands began to crawl across my body, caressing me gently. More hands grouped at my forearms grasping with immense strength. Suddenly a sharp prodding under the back of rib-cage hit me. It felt as someone was reaching up inside me, routing through my organs searching. Sheer panic flooded me, had I been duped? Was my co-worker and his brothers  bringing me here to harvest my organs? Did they work for the black market and that's how they obtained the gold; to further lure people into the trap?
   Bile churned in my stomach, I'd been played by someone I called my friend; someone I had gotten close to only to be stabbed in the back. I'd most likely end up just another body in the back alley's of St. Petersburg. Labeled as a victim of a mugging or as "unknown death" by people on their payroll. However if I sat here calmly there could be a chance I make it. I could make my way to the convenience store and make sure an ambulance can find me. That I could hopefully tell someone what happened and who was involved so it couldn't happen again this easily.
   The grips tightened once more, now even more hand where moving across me as they pleased. Some clawed across me, painfully dragging nails down my arms and back. While other hands teased, gently rubbing finger tips on my chest and thighs. Sudden hot flashes raged across my body, while a rough grasp cupped my groin. Then a dull crushing weight hit my sternum, and it seemed like something was pulling at my rib-cage. Rattling it like an enraged prisoner, eager to escape.
   How many people where there in this room? From the feeling it had to be at least ten or more people, both males and females. Nails clawed furiously, the gentile caresses turning violent like the rest. A voice then whispered into my ear"Thanks for playing with us." It sounded like an unattractive husky woman attempting to be more alluring than she probably was.
   Stunned and horrified, I could only sit in silence paralyzed with my eyes shut tightly. I don't know how long I was sitting there, but it felt like hours. I didn't come to till my phone went off in my pocket. It was my mother texting me, worried where I had been and if I were okay. The time was 4:25AM, I returned her text with a call sobbing. I begged her to come to the area I was at and that I was scared out of my fucking mind. She stayed on the phone with me as she rushed to my location. It was here that I realized if something had opened me up, I would have bled out by now. I then noticed the small jewelry box sat by my feet, inside it was a small golden puzzle block.
   I met my mother outside the convenience store, still shaking from the experience I just went through. She rushed at me embracing me, glad to see her precious baby was safe. Her touch only worsened my condition, it caused me to vomit and pass out. When I awoke I was in the hospital being poked and prodded all over again.
   The doctors ran blood tests to see if I had been on drugs, while psychologist listened to me retell the incident. Due to my hysteria the wanted to keep me for a couple days. Looking over my mental state, while prescribing me anti-anxiety medication. The lead psychologist wrote it off as a normal reaction for someone with un-diagnosed anxiety reacting to a cruel prank gone wrong. After a few days they let me return home as long as I stayed on the medicine.
   Returning to work a few days after being released, there he was. He looked haggard and unkempt, I was surprised they let him work looking like that. I couldn't hold back my anger, I lashed out at him then and there. He was apologetic, spouting some crap about running off because some guys tried to mug them. My anger at him only grew, if it was the truth then it meant he had left me there at that damned building. We worked the rest of our shift  in silence.
   Afterwords he approached me "Hey man, I know your mad at me and you have the right to be... Can I at least explain myself to you?" he asked sincerely.
   I wanted to explode on him all over again, but I decided to hear him out before giving him what he deserved. He wasn't very coherent, from what I gleamed the game originated back when Czars held power. Supposedly they played and forced others to play for their own personal gain. The areas where usually placed of great pain and grief; if the nobles couldn't find one they made one. Who knows how many surfs they killed in attempts to make a suitable place.
   The exact amount of games and players where unknown. One player kept a journal detailing their personal experiences. According to some of the entries, it was believed to be owned by the mad monk Rasputin. I didn't buy his bullshit at the time. He produced a small business card and told me it was for a support group for other players. I'll never forget those last words he said to me.
   "You know there's a way to cheat the game..." his voice grew soft "If you can un-focus your eyes, there's no need to shut them."
   He left after that, and I never saw him again; he committed suicide that same night. I received a sealed letter in a manila envelope a few days latter. In it he expressed remorse and urged me never to play the game again. He insisted that I go to the support group and try to make the best of my life. He also told me that any anger I felt was justified, and that he was leaving me his pieces. There at the bottom of the envelope were thirty small golden shapes. With one large flat piece the size of a child's palm rested in the pile of mixed blocks.
   Week's passed and the idea of calling the support group lolled in my mind. I wanted answers to what was going on and weather for better or worse I called them. They gave me the time and place of the monthly meetings, and I was shocked to hear they where held at a civic center. I knew I had to commit to this and get answers.