Bogleech.com's 2013 Horror Write-off:
" Do You Remember "
Submitted by Hare Trinity
We were sat upon the sofa playing video games. Warm sunlight streamed through the window and lit up the little motes floating about in the air. There was a lull in the conversation during which my mind had begun to wander and, after a while, I spoke up.
“Mm?” My friend glanced from the screen to me.
“I was just thinking... Do you remember a show on TV, when we were little? I don't remember talking to any other kids about it at the time, but one scene really sticks out in my mind: There was an enormous cavern with a giant throne in it. I can't really remember who sat on it, but he would send out these gas-creatures at night to attack people. He used to really scare me. I'm not sure if I imagined it, but I remember him feeding people to a pit of monsters and-”
“Dreamstone,” my friend repeated. “It was a kids' cartoon? About little fuzzy green people protecting a magic rock from troll-things? It wasn't so bad...”
“And he KILLED people?”
“Well, his little minions, maybe...” My friend shrugged. “Cartoons got away with more in the 80s and early 90s. Definitely sounds like you mean Dreamstone though. Also had a Dumbledore kind of guy with no legs and his little dogfish friend, right?”
“Yeah, that sounds familiar...” I replied, sheepishly. I thought maybe it was some arty animation I'd caught, but apparently I'd just admitted to being scared of the villain from a kids' cartoon. I fell quiet and we continued the game. I struggled to pick up a nearby bag of crisps but it turned out to be empty, so I threw it back down. I wasn't really hungry anyway.
Time passed. I spoke again, “Hey, do you remember a game? It was like Mortal Kombat but everyone in it was disfigured and crazy. There were scientists watching as you beat each other up. One of the people wasn't really human at all, more of a beast, and I remember being worried that he was going to attack my gran when-”
“It was a PlayStation game. You played it here for a bit. It gave you nightmares or something, either way you told your parents and mine took it away from me. You were such a twat...”
“But I checked for a PlayStation game that looked like this and couldn't find one, are you sure tha-”
“It was never released,” my friend interrupted. “You had to get it bootlegged. Mine didn't even have all the origin stories... Or endings, whatever; I looked up what was meant to be the story once and it was just more confusing.”
I tried to shift on the sofa, feeling uncomfortable. First it was a kids' cartoon villain, next it was a game that had freaked me out that had resulted in my friends' copy being taken away.
“So you should be, I was doing well!” He didn't sound angry, but I still felt bad.
Silence yet again. It seemed deafening. With some effort I picked up a nearby bag of crisps, but, finding it empty, I threw it back down and glanced at the window,. The dusty glass looked cold and white in moonlight. I was glad the louder noises had stopped, but it would be nice to hear birds again... Still, they weren't around for every season. I turned my attention back to the conversation and sought to revive it.
“Speaking of weird imagery, I had a dream once...” I reminisced. “I was a little kid watching the cartoons and a strange man was on the screen. His skin was green or blue, I think, and he'd just used something on himself to make his hair grow, but it had gone wrong and all this hair was pouring out of his scalp, and he was just laughing as it filled the screen, and as I watched I swear it started to spill out onto-”
“Tales from the Cryptkeeper.”
“No, this was a cartoon...” I insisted.
“Tales from the Crypt was live action, Tales from the CryptKEEPER was a cartoon, and it was awesome!” my friend exclaimed, his wheezing getting worse again. “I downloaded the episodes recently and they were just like I remembered them, with a few others I'd missed. Lots of puns...”
I frowned. “Starting to get the feeling all my childhood horrors were off the TV...”
My friend grinned through the next coughing fit before replying, “Hey, at least you know that red-eyed thing was from a book.”
“You mentioned it before, don't you remember? Some story about a shapeshifting monster, black with red eyes?”
The story sounded eerily familiar. I felt a chill go up my spine and let go of the packet of crisps I'd been picking up. “Was that a book...?”
“Sure it was. Moon of something.”
“Oh. Gomrath. Of course...” The chills subsided. I wasn't sure why I was so on edge. Maybe because it was so hard to lift my arms, which left me feeling defenceless. Not like I could run anywhere. I looked down at my lap. I was sure something was off, but the game controller was the same as my friend's, and I'd already bothered him about my hands. It wouldn't do to bring that up again as, while his reminding me of mittens had reassured me that I was normal, his three digits surely made the game harder for him to play.
“What about that dream you had?” I asked, staring at the black screen ahead of me. “The one with the kids being kidnapped by demons?”
“It wasn't a dream...” My friend shuddered a little but kept tapping at his controller. “Little kids getting dragged under their beds, even as their parents tried to save them, and forced into slave labour by demons...”
He paused. I looked to him to see him stifling another coughing fit. He regained himself and continued, “Turned out that was from the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon.”
“Ah, right.” I couldn't think of much else to say. I checked the bag of crisps near me but it turned out to be empty. Looking around the room, my eyes fell upon the game console. It was too thickly covered in yellow powder to be certain, even in the warm sunlight, but I was pretty sure its light wasn't on. Didn't it need a light to be on?
My friend was talking. I hadn't noticed, but he'd started talking about the Star Wars spinoff cartoons. I decided I should wait until he'd finished before asking about the sofa. I thought it should be a different colour. Maybe it needed a wash.
“Penny for your thoughts?” inquired my friend.
“Uh...” I looked about the dark room. “...I swear I was about to ask you something, but now... I don't remember...”
“Funny how that happens, isn't it? And for some reason reconstructive memory can never make you feel that you've remembered the right thing, heh... Now, come on, we'll never finish this game at this rate.”
Squinting through the motes that were highlighted by the morning sun, I pressed a few buttons of the controller on my lap.
“Mm?” my friend responded.
“Do you remember going outside?”
“Pfft, come on, mate. That stuff only happens on TV, remember?”
“Yeah...” I tried to sound sure, but something felt really very wrong. I couldn't shake the feeling that my friend's certainty was misplaced, that he'd answered wrongly. After some deliberation, I challenged him.
“...You're SURE that Dreamstone had a big dragon dude feeding little people to fish-things?”
My friend turned his head to look at me, the movement causing the large, brown, bulge of his right eye socket to belch forth a puff of powder. He gave a lopsided but confident smile.
“I'm sure. Now come on, stop letting your memory play tricks on you and let's beat this game!”
I nodded and looked back at the blank screen. Everything was fine after all.