“Hey be careful, okay? I don’t want another earful from your mom” I watch as Simon flings himself from the different branches of the huge oak tree in the middle of the park. Dad had wanted me and my stepbrother to get along after the new marriage, so I brought him to the park. What else do ten-year-old’s like to do? Now that I’m eighteen, remembering what I liked to do when I was ten was a lot harder than I had originally thought. I take a break from watching Simon swing around like a wild monkey and look down at my phone. There was nothing particularly interesting until I had gotten a text from Jane, my closest friend.
Jane: Kiara, have you seen all the buzz about the mysterious birdhouse-clocks appearances?
Kiara: Birdhouse-clock appearances? What’s so exciting about a birdhouse-clock?
Jane: From what I’ve read of different posts and threads, they seem to literally appear out of thin air.
I didn’t know what to say back to that. I obviously didn’t believe it, but Jane isn’t the type to make up stories or feed into conspiracies. I decide to try and look for these posts myself, but before I could even tap the search bar, I hear a crowd of voices start to gather in one spot. I look up from my phone towards the commotion and see a group of eight or nine people gathered in front of a tree a head of me. I can see them talking, but I can’t make out exact words, nor can I see what they are staring at.
“Simon, stay here, okay? I’m gonna go see what’s going on.” He gives me a nod from up in the tree as I make my way over to the crowd. I close half of the distance, when I can begin to hear them clearer, and I can see what they are all looking at. It was a birdhouse-clock. Make out of what looked to be a very light wood. It was beautifully constructed, yet the way the sun shone on the house almost made the wood look transparent, like a foggy glass instead of wood. I couldn’t tell if this effect was because I was too far away, or if it was made from some weird material. That’s when the sound of an older man began to ring in my ears.
“And I want to know who put this here! I’m sick of people cluttering up the park with unwanted items.” I was still a good distance away from the crowd, but his voice was loud and clear. I could see a young woman turn to him shaking her head.
“I told you, no one put this here, I saw it come out of nowhere. One moment I look up from my book, and boom, there it is. I was sitting just five feet away.” She was not just talking to the old man, but the others who were in the crowd as well. I feel the urge to continue moving closer to the birdhouse, but I freeze at the sound of a gong. People in the crowd move back a step, showing me that the gongs, in fact, came from the clock itself. I use my phone camera to zoom into the image of the clock. The gongs signaled that it was 3 o’clock, and a little crystal pendulum was swinging below it. Then the door of the birdhouse swings open and the gongs stop. I wasn’t sure why, but I could feel my heart begin to race as the sickly feeling of dread began to dance around me. It’s quiet. Not a single sound could be heard. There was no sound of the wind blowing through the leaves, or of the grass rustling together. There were no sounds of birds, bugs, people. Nothing. Nothing could be heard other than the dying sound of the gong’s echo. A chill ran down my spine and I could feel a sweat building on my brow. Suddenly a greenlight shines within the birdhouse, through the door. It was a bright emerald green that shone so brightly, it was almost like looking into the sun. I squeezed my eyes shut, and that’s when the sound of life in the park came back. I let out a breath I didn’t even realize I was holding, and felt my body relax. A scream suddenly pierces my ears, causing my eyes to shoot open. The light from the birdhouse was still shining, but it was not nearly as blinding as it was before. I look toward the direction of the scream to see the old man floating in the air, screaming for help.
“Holy shhii…” I hit the record button on my phone and film the old man. He was about 20 or 30 feet in the air, flailing around, trying to tug at something in the air. When I zoomed in on him, I could see that there was some sort of arm wrapped around his waist. I could tell that the grip was getting tighter, and tighter as his waist began to shrink. He was screaming and yelling, his face getting redder by the second. Soon he wasn’t the only one. People where getting squeezed and flung around by these invisible arms, all yelling and crying, struggling to stay grounded. I’m frozen into place by shock. I need to run, I need to get away, but my legs won’t move. A body gets flung in my direction. It’s the older man, or at least I think it was. His body is mangled so bad I can’t believe he was standing just 100 feet before me just minutes ago. I can feel the hot sting of tears burn my eyes and roll down my cheeks while fighting the lunch I ate an hour ago while it tries to leave my body. More screams fill my ears followed by other horrible sounds. I can’t think straight, its too foggy in my mind. I begin to mutter out loud, to try and hear something other than the screaming.
“What’s… what’s happening? Why is this happening? What about-? Oh my god, Simon!” I whip my head back over to the big tree I had left Simon in. Suddenly, I could feel my legs again as I make a full dash over to Simon. I look over my shoulder, and a few of the people that didn’t get grabbed first began to follow, but I could see faint signs of the arms following as well. I begin to run faster, feeling the pressure of those quick, transparent, snake like arms following behind those who got away. I look forward and I’m almost at the tree, I begin to yell for Simon.
“Simon! Simon! Quickly get out of the tree and run to the car! Simon!” I can see him begin to descend the tree in a panicked rush. I look back one more time to see if the others were still following, but the arms had gotten to them. They were gone and now the arms were coming for me. I face forward and run with all my might. I can see Simon running to the car in the parking lot, he made it past the split between the grass and concrete barrier.
“Come on. Please. Please let me make it.” If anyone or anything can hear me, please don’t let me die here. Please! I grunt as I run at top speed, but I can feel a presence behind me. My back and neck burn like I’m about to be touched, but when I hop over the tiny concrete wall that separates the park from the parking lot, the feeling disappears. I land on my feet, but my legs give out and I fall. I look back at the park, barely able to catch my breath. The hands didn’t stop chasing me… they were gone. I took a moment to look around, and squinted as hard as I could, but the arms were gone. I slowly stood up, my legs sore and unsteady, and looked out into the park where the birdhouse-clock was. I could still see the shine of the greenlight, even from the parking lot, but I still could not see the hands. Everything was still visible. The splatters of blood and bodies were still there, although they now resembled large specks due to the distance. I can also see other people getting attacked and running, but I just can’t see the arms anymore, or at least I couldn’t see any signs of them being there. I look down, and notice I still have my phone clutched in my hand. I shakily raise my arm and dial 911. While it rings, I make my way over to my car where Simon is clutching the passenger side door.
“Due to the high volume of emergency calls, there is no one available to answer your call at the moment, please hold.”
“I should have figured. If this kind of thing is happening all over…” I stop myself from finishing the thought. I just can’t say it out loud. I unlock the car and Simon and I quickly enter.
“Kiara, what’s happening? Are those people going to be alright?” I look over at Simon, his body is trembling, eyes wide with fear.
“Uh- well I me- uhm” Damn. My stuttering is making it worse, even Simon could see that I was just as scared. I take a deep breath and try to control my fear. I reach out and put a hand on his shoulder.
“Let’s go back home, okay?” He slowly nods before clipping in his seatbelt. I reach to start up the car when my phone starts to ring. I whip it out hoping the police called back, but its Jane. I answer immediately.
“Oh my god Jane. The birdhouses are possessed by like, killer hands or something? What the hell is going on? Are you okay?” I try not to raise my voice too much, but I couldn’t help myself.
“Hands? Is that what you saw? Kiara, listen to me, apparently every birdhouse is different.”
“Different?! What do you mean different?!” My mind is racing, and my heart begins to pick up speed once more.
“Just listen Ki, like I texted you before, I’ve been seeing these things all over social media. Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, you name it, but the crazy part is, all of the birdhouses look different and the… thing that the green light summons is different according to the birdhouse.”
The green light. My mind flashes back to the gong of the clock and the blinding flash of the green light coming from the inside of the birdhouse.
“Right, there was a green light in the birdhouse at the park too.” I reach for the startup button and turn the car on.
“Wait, are you in the car? Where are you going? You’re not thinking of going into the city from the park, are you?! It’s a literal death trap!” Jane yells through the phone. I take a deep breath and look back over at Simon.
“I got to get Simon back home to his mom… and I want to see my dad.” My voice trembles, I can’t shake the fear caused by the probable truth of Jane’s words. We’re both quiet for a moment before Jane sighs in the phone.
“This is stupid…. but I’ll help you with which birdhouses are where if I get info on them.” I feel a warmth in my chest knowing Jane is here to help, even if it’s just a little.
“Thanks, I really needed that.” I put the car in drive and slowly cruse over to the exit for the parking lot. I look down the road that leads in into the city full of tall buildings and most likely, hidden birdhouses. I reach over and squeeze Simon’s hand.
“Alright… here we go."