“Attack of the Slumberer”
“The Day the Kids Were Cannibals”
Two Stories by Aaron Roberts
Attack of the Slumberer!
By Aaron Roberts
It prowls early before sunrise. When the world is still drenched it darkness, it stalks between the streets, looking for its next victim. Every day, I feel its eyes searching for me, but I always avoided its gaze.
I knew it was there right away. It was sitting at the edge of my bed like a shadow with two tiny orange eyes staring at me, glowing like a par of candles. When I opened my eyes, I saw the monster smile a grim, wicked smile.
“Hello, Michael!” its voice sounded like the crashing of waves on a distant shore: Terrible, yet somehow subduing. The blood in my veins froze in their tracks. In the back of my mind, I subconsciously muttered: Oh no, it’s him!
I grabbed my sheets tightly, pulling them up to my nose, trying to cover the monster from my sight. But it was no use. No matter how I tried to look away, my eyes were still fixed on his smile. No, not now. I can’t…
Suddenly, the monster sprang up and went—no, dashed—to my bedside.
“It’s been a while, Michael!” he said, “I was starting to think you forgot about me.”
I glanced over at my clock. The numbers 6:45 flashed on the screen. It was almost too late, I didn’t have time to…
“Did you really think you could avoid me for so long?” the shadow bent its head mockingly, “You know what happened to everyone else who thought that!”
I already knew what happened to the monster’s last few victims, of course. The sagging eyes. The blank, empty look stuck on their faces. The grayness of their skin. Everyone knew it when they saw it. And just by hearing the monster talk, I could tell I was starting to slip, too. His cold voice, like an air conditioner, slowly forced the heat out of the room, giving it an icy chill.
There were a million things I could’ve said then, but my mouth could only form one word.
This seemed to please the monster. His eyes glowed happily.
“Why?” a chorus of laughter cracked from his mouth, “Well, you need to ask yourself that, Mike. Why did you stay up until three playing Call of Duty when you had school today?”
My stomach dropped. The memory of countless hours of online matches flashed through my mind, playing with the volume down so Mom couldn’t hear. But I only played a few matches, so I surely didn’t stay up too late…right?
I saw the clock again: 6:59. The the sun had begun to shine into the room by now, but the monster still remained a black form. I was almost out of time. I needed to hurry…
“Please,” A pleading began to pour into my voice. “Don’t do this. I really can’t afford to miss again, I—”
But it was too late. Even as the words left my mouth, the monster sprang forward and dug his claws into me, and the world began fading to black. I drifted off into the void, back into the realm of sleep. The slow droning of my fan began to fade, until…
I flung my eyes open, and immediately something felt wrong. The whole room looked different. Light was seeping in through my curtains, and the monster had somehow vanished from sight. My eyelids drooping nearly themselves closed, I glanced over at the alarm clock again.
Just then, the voice shouted again outside my door, and this time I recognized it, even though my ears felt like they were stuffed with cotton.
“Michael, get up! You’re gonna miss the bus! Don’t tell me you overslept!”
It was Mom. I sat up in my bed, and that’s when I realized what had happened.
The Slumberer had struck again!
The Day the Kids Were Cannibals
By Aaron Roberts
I could tell something was wrong before my eyes even opened. A few minutes ago, I’d been sitting in the back of Baxter High’s gym, watching America’s so-called best and brightest dancing to school-approved pop hits. I’d stood up and walked to the bathroom…and my mind went blank. What happened? Somehow, I didn’t remember. The bag on my head was just the icing on the “What the fuck?” cake.
Then, I heard a voice. “It’s time, my sisters.”
The blood froze in my veins. I tried to pull the bag off my head with my hands, but they didn’t obey the command. I was stuck, lying on some kind of hard surface. What was going on?
Then, that same voice spoke again. It seemed familiar.
“Tonight, on this sacred night of the Baxter High prom, we will honor Satan with this, his favorite offering! We shall drink her blood, for that is what Satan wants.”
Shit. I struggled against whatever was holding my hands, but they didn’t budge. I felt myself sweating a cold sweat in that sticky-hot room. Images of all the nights I spent with Jarred lying on the couch watching scary movies flashed across my mind. Images of the two of us cuddling together late into the night, long after his parents and his sister, Miranda, had gone to sleep. I remembered laughing at the idea of being kidnapped by a cult. That’s bullshit, I thought, Cults like that don’t exist in real life!
But now here I was, strapped down in some dark room, with someone about to offer me to the Devil. On prom night, no less! If I weren’t about to die, I actually might’ve laughed. And to think, this was the second time my life would end tonight…
“In so doing,” the woman continued. I noticed how high her voice was the more she talked, and it almost sounded like it was on the verge of cracking at the seams. “We can guarantee our spot with him in Hell. Amen!”
A series of “amen’s” echoed throughout the room. There were other people in the room. But how many? Who knew where this awful, nightmarish cult was holding me? Was I taken by some kind of fiendish death cult on the way to the bathroom? That’d be my luck…
“Do you have any last words, Jenny?” the woman said.
My heart hammering in my chest, I did the only thing I could think of, the only way I could keep my dignity as the seventeen-year-old senior I was…I started crying.
“Wait!” I yelled, choking back tears, “Please, wait. Let’s talk about this!”
The woman laughed, and a chorus of laughter followed. In any other situation, this would’ve been so embarrassing, but right now I didn’t care.
“Talk about what, Jenny?” she mocked, “About how your date stood you up? About how I found you stumbling in that bathroom, crying like a baby? This the best way your night could end, really.”
I stopped struggling. “How do you know about all that?”
The bag was suddenly yanked away, and my eyes were flooded by a bright light that forced my eyes to squint and look to the side. I was lying on a table, I noticed, my hands tied to the ends, and my feet legs were dangling off it.
“Satan sees all, Jenny,” the woman standing directly over me said, “And we’re his followers. That’s all you need to know.”
A cluster of other shadows appeared around her. They were all girls, wearing long hoods that covered their eyes. None of them looked familiar…except for the woman in front of me: She was short with frizzy brown hair tied into a pony-tail tucked underneath her hood. The tiniest hint of a pink hoodie spilled out from her robe, and I saw the glint of a necklace dangling from her neck…
I guess things couldn’t have gotten any worse by that point. Considering that this was the second time my life was ending tonight, that gives you a good idea of how my night had been going. And I thought getting the text was enough. You know, whenever Mom and Dad talked about the afterlife, they always used the most descriptive language possible: The Grim Reaper rising from the ground, sickle in his hands, pulling your soul from your body with the sharp blade, like farmers do to crops. Or angels coming from the sky, arms spread out, singing like the old church Nativity plays. But to tell the truth, none of those things happened. It was a text message that ended my life. Baxter High was busy dancing to “Cotton Eye Joe” when it happened, and I had been sitting to the side, when the text struck. Just like that, I was dumped actually on prom night. I stood up and stumbled to the bathroom, and I swung open the doors. It took splashing water on my face for the reality to hit me, and I started tearing up. That’s it! I was done.
Then I looked up at my reflection, and that’s when I saw the girl in the mirror. Standing in the back, poking her head out from behind a stall. The girl wore the same long, gray hood over her eyes. I turned around right as she began to raise her arm, clutching what looked like a club in her hands. When she saw me, she pushed the door open…
“What are you doing—” I yelled as she threw the weapon down towards me.
Thwack. And that’s all I remembered. But now, I knew what happened. Miranda had attacked me in the bathroom, and somehow they dragged me off to wherever we were now.
I glanced back down, away from the light. For the first time, I noticed where I was lying: my legs were dangling off the side of a cafeteria table, just missing their seats. On the far wall, I saw a sign hanging against the wall: Today’s lunch special: Chicken and Dumplings with Mashed Potatoes and Carrots. Above it was a variety of posters, all washed out by the light. I knew exactly where I was. This wasn’t some secret cult compound far away from home.
My ex-date’s little sister was sacrificing me in the school cafeteria. The prom was still happening next door, most likely. Suddenly, my racing heart started to die down. I locked eyes with Miranda, and for the first time, the words on my mind spilled out in a torrent.
“Miranda, what the fuck? What even is this?”
Miranda dropped all pretense, then.
“Jenny, why are you making this so difficult?” she muttered, dropping the knife, “Look, I just want Satan to know how much I care for him. Is that too much to ask for?”
I blinked, confused. Nothing about this made sense. Of all the times I’d seen her, Miranda acted like a typical twelve-year-old girl. Not like some cultist.
“Why?” was all I managed after that shock of a statement, “Why would you even want to meet the Devil? I remember seeing you guys in church. What about ‘fire and damnation’ sounds good to you?”
Miranda shrugged. “You know what? I’m tired of all the adults of this world telling us how to live. It’s not fair that I can’t serve Satan if I don’t want to! By drinking your blood, I’m going to show them that they can’t tell me what I can’t do. They won’t be able to ground us anymore once we join with the Devil!”
The other girls nodded in agreement, and I couldn’t help but feel a hot anger building up in my gut.
“Bullshit!” I muttered, “You’re telling me I’m going to die just so you can act out?”
Miranda took a step back, her eyes opened in alarm. Whatever cultish nonsense she tried to pull was gone.
“No,” Miranda said, “No, it’s—stop talking! I—”
Of all the cults that could’ve taken me, I thought, I had to be taken by the one run by a bunch of little girls. The thought was laughable.
“Just cut the crap,” I tugged at my arms again. This time, I felt the straps budge slightly. Just a little more force… “Look, I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to be here right now while you play your little fantasy, so please, just let me go, before one of the teachers comes in and stops you.”
Miranda looked down, her curly hair falling on her place. All of the girls’ eyes fell on her, away from me. I worked on my restraints again, silently trying to force them off from my sides. Meanwhile, something seemed to snap for Miranda. She stomped her foot in frustration.
“You’re ruining my ritual, Jenny! Shut up!” she whined, like a little girl after her mom didn’t let her eat a cookie before dinner.
She took out another knife and began to mutter her incantation again.
“Oh, Satan. Please let us join you in the afterlife after this offering…”
Another tug at my arms. This time, I felt one of the binds loosen enough. I took one more look at them—what were they, tape? I couldn’t tell. Finally, Miranda eventually reached the end of her incantation. She raised her knife, ready to strike, and that’s when I made my move. In one swift motion, I swung my right hand around and struck the knife away. The force sent it flying out of her hands, until it crashed loudly on the far wall.
The other members quickly tried to grab me, but there was one fact they were forgetting, and that was the fact that I was much bigger than them. I clamored off the table, and ran to the nearest cafeteria door. Quickly, I threw myself against it, trying to force it open, but it didn’t budge. The impact threw a deep pain down my shoulder, and I stumbled backwards. In the time that took, the others had caught up with me. Miranda grabbed another weapon from her friend, and when she got close, she threw her arm in the air. My attempts to move were moot. This is it, I thought, I’m getting killed by a bunch of kids. Not how I thought I’d go…
I turned, and for a second Miranda and I locked eyes as she raised her arm and brought her weapon down. My eyes closed, I braced for the impact. There was a loud clank, and a quick sting on my arm…and nothing else. I looked back at Miranda, and that’s when I lost it: She was holding a pizza roller. The thing had clanked against my arm, but it was blunt. I looked at the other girls, and that’s when I noticed what they were really holding. What I thought were their knives were nothing more than butter knives and pizza rollers. That was too much for me: I couldn’t take any of this seriously anymore. All at once, the fear and sadness this night had produced melted away in a swarm of laughter. Without thinking anything more, I threw open the gym doors and walked down the hall, slamming it behind me. I took out my phone, pulling up the last message in my contacts.
I typed. “Hey Jarred. We need to talk about your sister…”