Twilight sees me playing a game on my cellphone while lounging on an old wooden stool at the side of our house. It is starting to get dark and I can hear the frogs singing at the nearby river.
I don’t pay attention to their kokaks or to the chirping crickets at the vacant lot, overgrown with weeds, near our house. Instead, I diligently man my troops and slowly kill everyone trying to get into my castle.
I must have already been playing for an hour when I hear a noise in our backyard. The strange rustle sounds like footsteps. They sound odd though. The footsteps seem to be that of an old man, dragging one of his foot along. I can also make out something scraping the ground, like a maybe a cane.
Because there are no other sounds around me save from the crickets and the frogs, I am unable to stop myself from getting scared when I hear the footsteps. I am home alone. My Mama and Papa are out for the night. They told me they’d be home by 10PM.
However, I can distinctly hear the footsteps from our backyard. They seem to be getting closer to where I’m seated.
I forget about my game. I do not notice my troops dwindling in numbers and my enemies getting nearer to my castle. I am oblivious to everything except the sound of those approaching footsteps. They were getting closer and closer by the second.
Goosebumps cover my entire body. I am suddenly overcome with a deep, chilling fear and I tremble. I could not breathe. My eyes dart from side to side. But I could not see anything. It is getting darker and those footsteps…they are getting closer,
As soon as I sense the footsteps right behind me, I turn around slow…
My mouth forming a silent O of shock, I see my little bicycle. One of its handlebars has a red balloon tied to it. I moan in fear.
The bicycle my Dad gave me when I was three years old with the red balloon tied to one of its handlebars is inching its way towards me…no one is riding it or holding onto it…
By this time, the footsteps seem louder and clearer. They were like drum rolls to my ears; they came banging and clanging…but, I still could not see anyone…only my bicycle with the red balloon, approaching me with deliberate slowness…
“Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!” I scream at last.
I close my eyes tight. I tell myself what I’m seeing is not real.
However, when I open my eyes again, I see that my little bicycle with the red balloon on one of its handlebars has stopped and is already right in front of me.
“Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhh! This is just a nightmare!” I bawl again.
However, no matter how many times I open and close my eyes, my little bicycle with the red balloon is still there.
After what seem like an eternity of screaming, my world dims and I pass out.
I was five years old when I last played with my bicycle. I was content to go cycling around the neighborhood on it.
One day, my friend Kenneth went to our house, bringing with him a red balloon. He said if I’d agree that we’d take turns riding my bicycle around the block, he’d tie the balloon to one of its handlebars.
We had the time of our lives. We enjoyed biking together so much we forgot our parents’ warning not to go to the river by ourselves.
We rode the bicycle until we reached the grassy vacant lot that led to the river. There, I decided to rest for a bit. Kenneth had the bicycle to himself, while I took a nap under the huge tree near the riverbank. I thought I’d just take a short nap, but I ended up sleeping for hours.
When I woke up, the sun was starting to set, and I could not see Kenneth or my little bicycle with the red balloon anywhere. I got the scolding of my life when I got home to my frantic parents who almost called the police to report me missing.
I no longer saw Kenneth after that.
I no longer saw him alive.
While I was sound asleep, Kenneth accidentally drove my little bicycle with his red balloon straight into the river. He was also five at that time. He didn’t know how to swim.
After what happened, I did not speak for almost a year. Even at a young age, I couldn’t help but blame myself.
I wake up screaming. When I open my eyes, my little bicycle with its red balloon was still in front of me.
After what feels like minutes of shouting, I feel a wet hand on my arm.
I cry out once more. This time though, I cannot hear myself.
My sight dims again, and my breath catches at my throat. I faint once more.
I am five years old again. I am slowly cycling my little bicycle with its red balloon into the river. I do not stop…even when the water has gone way over my head. Then, everywhere around me turns cold as ice.