's 2013 Horror Write-off:

"The Papercraft Dragon"

Submitted by VeePickle

Every once in a while I would remember that papercraft was one of my hobbies. I guess one would never really guess that, given that there wasn't but one little paper foldable in my room, covered in dust at the backmost of my desk. But I had an appreciation for papercrafters; how they could take blank, boring paper, print something on it, fold it, and have created a pretty, artistic, and utterly free desk toy.

There were so many paper artists that had come up with brilliant uses for paper. They made elegantly simple geometric figures, incredibly complex 100-fold figures, and some of these paper sculptures even featured articulation. But the papercraft I was always interested in, by far, were the optical illusions.

I was fascinated by optical illusions when I was little. It seemed so strange to think that that grey square on the checkerboard was the same grey as the other square. So strange that stairs could go up forever in a loop. That a rabbit and a duck could look the same. That I could see a triangle even if it wasn't there! Then I realized that it's just a way of fooling the eye; there was no magic here. It was only trickery of the brain and eye and nerves. Still, the creativity involved in coming up with these illusions (somebody had to) interested me.

Papercraft was an easy way to create 3D optical illusions. I found a cute little dragon piece that was to be folded in such a way that it could 'look' around at you no matter where you were in the room, using a sort of hollow, inverse head. Having nothing much to do on a Saturday night, I gathered up the materials to craft the papercraft. Cardstock, bent paperclip for scoring the folds, scissors.

I finished it. It was pretty simple. I put the dragon up on my dresser, admired my work, and then started to bob and weave my head around the sculpture to see if it functioned; certainly enough, he followed me with his face and eyes. I didn't remember the little preview on the website I downloaded him from showing him this hungry looking, though. Then again, the one on the website was green, and mine was blue, so I figured I just had a different variation.

I put it in a bad spot, though. The corner of the dresser provided adequate light for the illusion to work, yes, but he was a focal point whenever I would walk in the room. I would walk in from dinner, and he would be right there, sizing me up for his own dinner. Still, though it would occasionally freak me out, I figured that would be worth it enough if one of my friends walked in and were similarly scared.

One day I showed him to my friends. They thought he was 'sorta neat.' I wasn't even sure if they saw the illusion. It was disappointing to say the least. But while I had him in my hands and waved him about in attempt to show off his surreal head tracking, I noticed something strange about the scores and folds. After my friends had left, I took him back off the dresser to examine him.

The piece was built in such a way that the folds of his head could be un-inversed; I could just take out the tape, refold it, and his head would be 'full' instead of 'hollow.' This removed the illusion, and thus his ability to hunt you. It was comforting to know that if I ever got too startled by his apparent voracity, I could just 'turn him off.'

Then something even stranger.

His folds, again, had something else hidden in them. I could again refold his head to an entirely new shape, beyond the 'hollow' and 'full' states.

This new head shape was so far removed from the others. His head wasn't hollow or full or anything. I don't know what it was. It somehow seemed to change his printing. He had a new face. A new, hungrier, drooling face. His jaw was no longer just a contour drawn by my printer. Instead, it was a fully articulated, separate piece, with teeth that I didn't remember cutting from the sheet. I didn't cut those from the sheet. I know I didn't. The jaw hung open limply, and would jostle a bit if you were to shake him.

Inspecting the teeth, running my finger along them, the jaws slowly closed shut. Any semblance of looseness in the jaw before was gone, replaced by determined, unhurried clenching. I watched in awe as it closed around my finger, and felt it begin a chewing motion. I ripped my finger out of its jaws, folding away the teeth and leaving them stuck out to the side. Though it was easy enough to get my finger out, and I suffered only a few papercuts, the impossibility of the event caused me to shrill in my throat and drop the dragon to the floor.

I noticed he wasn't blue anymore. And his skin didn't have a texture of printed cardstock. He was black, and his printing of carbonous texture. It was as though this 'side' of the craft wasn't made with my printer. It seemed like it was hand drawn with charcoal. It wasn't paper anymore either. It wasn't anything I would call paper.

I picked it up again, grasping it about its paper-thin neck as though I could choke a creature with no trachea. I took out the tape again and folded it feverishly until its head was in its 'full' state. It was blue again.

Nauseous, I stumbled downstairs and out the back door. Somehow in the time I had been messing with the figure it had become night. My friends had only left at 3 PM. With a tense arm I threw the dragon into the rolling garbage bin, and walked as quickly as I could back into the house. The clock said it was midnight. Tomorrow was school. I was supposed to be in bed. I never did my homework.

In my panic I stopped to notice the clock. It wasn't real. It wasn't three dimensional. It wasn't of geometry. It wasn't of anything I would call geometry. It was an illusion. My eyes went to the microwave, the refrigerator, the knife set. They were all just optical illusions. I started to bob and weave my head around these items, and discovered that each only seemed real from certain angles. Tricks of the brain and eyes and nerves.