The bell rang unleashing three hundred frenzied students into the corridors. They trashed their lockers, threw papers in the air, and stampeded out of the high school for their three months of freedom — time for family vacations, summer work, camping with friends, and parties. But for three fifteen-year-old girls, it is experiment time.
Eve wrapped her long, dark, wavy hair into a ponytail. Her white sundress with baby blue flowers flowed with the summer breeze, showing off her light brown, toned legs. She stepped on the school bus’s first step. Her white sandals made her pastel blue toenail polish stand out. She wiggled her toes before she took the rest of the steps.
Eve scanned the bus seats and found her two friends. The first was Gia; her glasses hid her hazel eyes. Her teenage acne held her face prisoner. She kept her auburn hair in a bob, inches above her chin line. The petite, light skin girl wore nothing but the latest rock band T-shirts, relaxed-fit jeans, and black tennis shoes.
Kay was the opposite, her nose always in a book. She kept her blonde hair up in a ponytail, and her blue eyes matched Eve’s dress and toenail polish. Her white peasant skirt with matching white embroidered top and sandals took you back to the flower power era.
Eve sashayed her way to the seat behind her two best friends. She noticed the boys ogled her, and the girls despised her for her looks. Eve’s Blackfoot heritage shined through. No one could figure out why someone like her viewed Gia and Kay as sisters, while everybody else made fun of them.
Eve slid into the seat. Gia took her earphones out of her ears, and Kay closed her book. They both turned towards Eve, who had a mischievous smirk on her face.
Gia rolled her eyes. “What do you have up your sleeve, Eve?”
The grin on Eve’s face widened.
Kay placed her long, slender arm on the top of the seat and rested her chin. “What is it, Eve? Come on, now.”
The bus driver put the bus in gear, and the students felt the wheels turn below them. They cheered and waved at the school and hollered. “Bye!”
Eve drew her blue baguette purse to her lap and inched the flap open and placed her hand inside. She dug around her bag until she found her android phone. She brought up her search engine app where the page she viewed earlier remained. “Look at this.” She handed her phone to Kay and Gia.
Kay‘s eyes lit up as she snatched the phone from Eve. “Creepypasta, love this stuff.”
Gia grasped the phone from Kay. “Don’t hog it.” Gia placed the phone in the middle of the top of the back of her seat. “One-Man Hide and Seek.” Gia glanced up at Eve. “You know this is just a short story?”
Eve nodded, her grin still glued to her face. “Have you seen the videos on YouTube?”
Kay situated herself on her side of the seat she shared with Gia. “I have.”
Gia darted her gaze from Eve to Kay. “And they are all fake, and most are stupid.”
“Yes,” Kay raised her index finger to the side of her face. “Thoughts have power. If enough people believe in it, it can manifest itself.”
Gia tilted her head towards Eve and glanced at her. “You want to try this, don’t you?”
Eve nodded and scooted up the seat and leaned closer to the girls. “It will give us something to do tonight. My parents are leaving and won’t be back until tomorrow afternoon.” Eve’s eyes shifted from Kay and Gia. “You both are still spending the night?”
Both girls nodded.
Gia pointed to Kay, “I am staying at her house, and she is staying at my house.”
Eve nodded. “Good.”
Gia rolled her eyes. “What about your neighbor? Isn’t she supposed to check in on you?”
Eve nodded. “Yeah, she’ll check on me before she heads to bed around nine or ten.”
Gia’s grin grew across her face. “Cool.”
Eve leaned back. “Great. I’ll get everything ready.”
The bus came to a halt at Eve’s bus stop. “See you all around seven tonight.”
Eve lived in a two-story house. The interior of her home was simplistic. The main floor was an open space, with modern, and contemporary soft palette furniture. Family pictures and art pieces adorn the soft, white walls, with track lighting on the ceiling.
Eve, Kay, and Gia waved at Eve’s parents. They said their goodbyes, have fun, and did not worry about us phrases. Eve closed the door, clutched the girls’ arms, and headed to the kitchen where everything thing they needed lay.
Gia gazed at the materials on the kitchen table. “What did you tell your parents about,” her right hand reached out in front of her, palm facing the ceiling. “all of this?”
Eve shrugged. “Art project.”
Gia rolled her eyes. “Go figure.”
Kay dashed to the table. “Let’s make certain we got everything.” She took out her cell phone from her Hobo bag and brought up the short story. “Now,” she placed her index finger on her chin. “One stuffed doll with all its limbs, check. Rice, check. A universal needle and a spool of crimson color thread, check. Nail clippers, check. Knife and scissors, check.” Kay paused and gestured to Eve. “Why a knife and a pair of scissors?”
Eve shrugged. “I couldn’t decide which I wanted.”
Kay nodded. “O… kay. We’ll use the knife.” She spun back to the table. “Three glasses of saltwater, check.” She turned to the girls. “Which bathroom are we using, the one downstairs or one of the ones upstairs?”
A small bathroom was under the stairs that led to the second floor. On that floor, there were four bedrooms. One bathroom between two of the bedrooms, and the other, the master bathroom was in Eve’s parents’ room.
Eve motioned to the bathroom under the stairs. “We’ll use that one.”
Kay and Gia nodded.
The three girls each took a chair at the kitchen table and seated themselves.
Gia grabbed the small black and white panda bear and drew it near her heart and patted its head. “Poor, little Pandy.” She pulled the bear away from her and slammed its face on the table and grasped the Chef’s knife. Gia raised it over her head and stabbed the bear in the back. “Die, Pandy, die.” The knife went into the bear and Gia sliced it open, and cotton spilled out. She snatched the cotton and pulled it out. Her elbow on the table she raised her arm, palm facing the ceiling. “Rice.”
Kay held the rice to her chest. “You don’t have to be so brutal about all this.”
Gia shrugged. “Don’t want to damper the mood.”
Kay motioned for the bear. “I’ll put the rice in, and Eve can sew it up.”
Gia rolled her eyes. “Why?”
Kay clutched the bear and pulled it towards her. She poured the rice into the bear. “It’s supposed to be a ‘One-Man Hide and Seek’ and we’re doing a ‘Three-Girls Hide and Seek.” I figured all of us, to make it work, should have a part in putting the host together.”
Gia huffed and waved her hand. “Fine! But what’s the rice for?”
Eve glanced at Kay’s phone. “Rice symbolizes the insides, plus it says it attracts spirits.”
Gia tilted her head from side to side. “And the thread, why crimson?”
Eve tapped on Kay’s phone to move the page up. “The crimson thread symbolizes the blood, and it seals the spirit inside the bear.”
The girls clipped a few of the fingernails and placed them inside the bear. Eve sewed the bear’s back with the crimson thread. When finished, she used the rest to wrap around the bear.
Eve looked at her light blue fingernails, her pinky nail clipped. “The sacrifices I make for this group.”
Gia and Kay rolled their eyes when a knock came at the front door. Eve tiptoed and looked out the peephole. She turned back at her friends. “It’s her, my neighbor.” She waved at the girls. “Hide.”
Eve opened the door. “Yes, Miss Ling?”
Miss Ling waved at her from the doorway. “I’m just checking on you. Everything all right?”
Eve nodded. “Everything’s great.”
Miss Ling pointed to Eve and peeked over her shoulder. “What will you be up to tonight?”
Eve waved her hand in the air. “I’m watching a few old horror movies from the seventies.”
Miss Ling nodded. “If you get scared, you come on over.”
Eve nodded, and Miss Ling wobbled back to her home.
Eve closed the door and locked it. She turned to her friends who tiptoed out of the kitchen. “Now, we wait until three in the morning.”
The clock chimed three times. The girls held Pandy and said their names. “Eve, Kay, and Gia are it. Eve, Kay, and Gia are it. Eve, Kay, and Gia are it.”
They scrambled to the bathroom where they filled a bathtub full of water earlier. They placed the rice-filled panda bear into the tub. As it floated, they turned off the lights in the house, turned on the television, and hid. They counted to ten with their eyes closed. When finished, they returned to the bathroom with the same knife Gia used to split the bear open. The three girls grasped the handle, stabbed the bear, and broke the thread that wrapped it at the same time saying, “We’ve found you, Pandy.”
The girls took a part of the bear and together as a team raised him out of the bathtub, saying “You’re the next it, Pandy.” They placed him on the counter next to the toilet and dashed out of the bathroom and back to their hiding places and took a gulp of salt water.
They held the saltwater in their mouths while they tiptoed back to the bathroom. Gia swallowed her saltwater and gasped. Kay’s saltwater dribbled from her mouth onto the floor, and Eve spat hers out. The television channels clicked through before it turned off.
They had their phones on them and turned their flashlights on. Arm in arm they tiptoed through the house. Gia felt a hand wrap around her ankle. “Guys, something…”
Kay and Eve spun around and reached out. “GIA!” But she vanished, her blood spattered on the light gray tile floor.
Eve and Kay’s breaths became heavy. Kay glanced at Eve. “What did we do wrong?”
Eve trembled and pointed to her mouth. “The saltwater.”
Kay nodded as tears rolled over her red cheeks.
The girls found themselves by the closet door when they heard a noise upstairs. They both shifted to the sound and stared at the stairs.
The door behind Eve slammed shut. She turned and lifted her phone to eye level. She grasped the door handle and twisted it. The door creaked open. Blood splattered over the coats, walls, ceiling, and the door. Eve slammed it shut.
Eve did not know what to do. She rushed to her hiding place, but the glass of saltwater disappeared. She sprinted to where her friends hid, and theirs vanished.
Eve squatted behind the couch, knees to her chin. A sharp pain penetrated the nape of her neck, and everything went dark.
Her eyes fluttered open, her phone at her side with the flashlight still on. She sensed something on her chest. She reached for her phone and shined it in front of her. There was Pandy, perching on her chest. A low growl vibrated his rice-stuffed body. The Chef’s knife in its hand. A female’s voice shrieked in Eve’s ears. “I win, I win, I win. Now, I have found the perfect host!”