Friday, March 12, 2021

Field of Dead Poppies

 *A story written by myself and my eight year old student, Evelyn as a follow up to ANOTHER student collaboration we created, The Cult of Forgotten Friends. The illustrations included here were also by Evelyn and are her copyrighted intellectual property. We hope to create a “kid friendly” creepypasta collection*

I was three years old when I met my imaginary friend, Poppy. Nobody really knows anything when they’re three, but somehow we all seem to know our imaginary friends shouldn’t totally freak us out. But Poppy did freak me out. 

I woke up in the middle of the night and she was just there; standing next to my bed. I gulped in a huge breath and choked on it as I scrambled up in my bed. She looked like maybe a ten year old or a little older. She was hunched over and crooked with thin twisted limbs, and long tangled hair hanging across her pale face. She flickered like an old TV and seemed like she was made of smoke. The only color I could see on her was small beady red eyes peering out between strands of messy hair. 

I opened my mouth and gathered a big breath, getting ready to scream the roof off the place; but then she lifted her finger to her lips. A long raspy “shhhhhh” escaped her lips sounding like a lonely desert wind. Something about the sound was enough to earn my silence. 

The other thing about being a three year old is that you believe anything people tell you. Poppy told me not to be scared. Even though her voice was fractured and seemed like it came through a long echoing tunnel, my heart started to slow down. She told me her name was Poppy and that she was my new imaginary friend. So, I believed her. 

How was I to know that choice would destroy me?

For a long time, Poppy and I were the best of friends. We played happily, many a sunny afternoon. Swinging and sliding in my backyard. Playing with my dolly house in my cheery and bright bedroom. 

My mother and father were special people, kind of magical themselves. Mother wore her hair long to cover her wolf like ears, while my dad also kept a long fringe of hair covering his forehead where two small horns grew. They were lovely people who laughed, sang, danced, and played every day. They encouraged me to be creative and imaginative so they loved that I had a friend in Poppy. 

The thing was, I always tried to convince them that Poppy wasn’t imaginary, she was very real! They always laughed and said, “of course she is, darling!” But, I could tell it was just one of those things grownups say to little kids that they didn’t really mean. It made it extra tricky because Poppy always stayed away whenever anybody else was near. I begged her many times to come and play with my parents too. She’d always just give a small, dark smile and say, “maybe sometime.” 

I refused to believe she wasn’t real, but I did think maybe other people really couldn’t see her. I’d inherited a kind of magic from my parents, myself. I had bright orange spirals in my eyes. I’d never known why they were there, swirling within my purple irises. They didn’t hurt, my eyesight was not hindered. But maybe that was their purpose; to reveal things to me that others cannot see.

One time when I was seven, my cousin Stephanie was over to spend the night with me. After an evening of food and movies with my parents, Stephanie and I retired to my bedroom where we played with my dollhouse quietly, so the adults wouldn’t know we were still awake. As we played in the dim light of the moon which poured in the window, a remarkable thing happened. 

A girl appeared, reclining on my bed. She shimmered into existence as if from nowhere. She looked like Poppy, in a way. Except a clean, happy version. A young girl with long dark hair tied up in pigtails. She was playing with a piece of string and smiling, weaving Jacob’s ladders with her fingers. 

I stared at her, perplexed. Was it another “imaginary” friend? Where was Poppy? Just then, I noticed my cousin Stephanie had stopped playing and was watching the girl on my bed. I gasped. “You can see her?” I whispered.

Stephanie gasped too. “I… Of course I can see her! She’s my imaginary friend, Kupcake Katherine! You mean… YOU can see her?”

My eyes flickered back to the girl. Kupcake Katherine looked my way, only just realizing I saw her. Her smile faded as she regarded me. “Yes, I can see her,” I admitted. 

Stephanie stared at me with her mouth gaping open. “I didn’t know anyone else could see her,” she whispered; her voice eerie in the still quiet air. 

The air seemed to buzz and crackle then, and then Poppy appeared next to my bed. She stood in just the same spot she’d appeared in the very first time I saw her. Her attention was fixed on the girl on the bed. Her face was drawn and long, even more shadowy and gloomy than usual. 

“Oh, there’s my friend!” I whispered to Stephanie. 

Stephanie looked all around. “You have one too? Where? Where is she?”

I pointed to Poppy. “There. Right by my bed.”

Kupcake Katherine had stopped playing her string game, and she stared at Poppy. Stephanie shook her head. “I don’t see her.” 

I frowned, still watching the imaginary girls. Why could I see them both, but my cousin only her own? Again, I wondered if my eyes were magic. 

The girl on my bed began to do something weird. Her chest began rising and falling quickly. Her cute face darkened into a dark frown. She started to flicker and glitch, like an old tv. 

“Katherine?” Stephanie whispered. “What’s happening? Why is she doing that?” Stephanie asked, only able to see her own friend. 

Poppy slowly began to climb onto the bed. Kupcake Katherine scrambled to get away from her, but Poppy grabbed her ankle and viciously yanked the little girl toward her. 

“Katherine?” Stephanie exclaimed again, sounding frightened. 

Poppy snatched Kupcake Katherine by her neck and lifted her into the air. Katherine gagged and choked, clawing at Poppy’s hand, kicking, and flickering wildly like a little flame in a drafty dark room. 

Stephanie began to cry and leapt up. All she saw was Kupcake Katherine flailing and suffering, seeming to float in mid air. “What’s happening?!” Stephanie shrieked, no longer caring about being quiet. “What’s wrong with Katherine?!”

I scrambled out from behind my dollhouse. “Shhhh!” I begged. 

Kupcake Kathrine was making desperate gurgling sounds and Poppy snarled like an angry dog. 

Stephanie grew more hysterical and ran to Katherine, reaching up to her trying to pull her down, sobbing hysterically and calling out. Poppy reached up and savagely shoved my cousin. With a shriek, Stephanie catapulted practically across the room. 

My parents came bursting into the room then. As soon as my bedroom door banged open, both Poppy and Kupcake Katherine vanished as if they’d never been there at all. “What’s going on in here?!” Called my dad, his voice full of fear. 

Stephanie was still on the floor crying and shaken up. But she must not have wanted to share with the adults about the world of our imaginary friends, so she hurried to share some story about sleepwalking and tripping and falling. After a short time, my parents were satisfied that all was well, tucked us in, and said goodnight. 

I don’t remember anything else that happened that night, but they thought that it was my fault. 

It was the night that our house caught fire. Miraculously, we all made it out alive, but the house burned to the ground. The thing of it was, my dad had tried frantically to find me among the smoke and the flames. Stephanie had still been in bed and taken out by my mom, but dad stayed behind to look for me because I was missing. 

They tell me that he found me in the kitchen. They tell me there were matches in my hand. I told you I don’t remember, and that’s the truth. If I set the fire, I had no idea why I did it. My dad was able to sweep me up and get me out the back door, just before the kitchen became engulfed in flames. 

After that, everybody treated me different. Nobody ever directly accused me of setting the fire, but it was one of those things; you could tell they definitely thought I did. They put me in counseling. They started to discourage me from playing with any imaginary friends. 

But, Poppy was around more than ever. She had become more pale and shadowy, with deep pits about her eyes. And she seemed more fond of me than ever too. After awhile it started to seem like things might go back to mostly normal, but then another terrible thing happened. 

I was in the third grade by this time. It was the first thing at the start of the school day, and I’d just come into the classroom. I was putting my things into my cubby. I placed my backpack in first and while I turned my back to wiggle out of my coat, my backpack tumbled to the floor. 

Being a little kid, I had a tendency not to get things zipped all the way, so something clinked on the floor as it fell from my book bag, but I didn’t pay it attention. But the next thing I knew, a girl named Hope from my class began to scream. 

You would think that someone was killing Hope. I turned slowly to see what in the world she was shrieking about. Imagine my surprise to find she was pointing at my feet, where a large butcher knife sat just outside my book bag. 

“Annie has a knife! Annie has a knife!” Hope bellowed. The teacher sprinted across the room. In fact, I’d never seen a teacher move that fast. She’d swooped over and jerked the knife off the floor, up, and out of the reach of any child before I could even take a breath. 

After that, they took me out of school. 

The principal was debating on expelling me. After all, everyone knows there is a zero tolerance policy for bringing weapons to school. But my parents just withdrew me before he could make that choice. 

I. Did. Not. Bring. That. Knife. To. School. 

I’m sorry, but I’m very sensitive about it. My parents never straight up accused me of being guilty, but I could see in their faces that they believed I did it. Maybe it was my magic eyes again, seeing what was really there. 

After that my parents demanded I stop talking about Poppy. The counseling started again and was numerous times a week. They put me on medicine that made me sick and lose weight. No one believed in me anymore except for Poppy, and I became angry. 

I got madder and madder at everyone; the whole world. After a while, I was pale and dark, shadowy like my only friend. The swirls in my eyes were still there, but they turned jet black, and my purple irises faded to grey. Poppy started to give me little ideas like cutting up my mother’s favorite purple dress, or stealing money from my father’s wallet. Things with my parents got worse and worse as I refused to reject my friend and by the time I was a teen, I was eager to get out of their house. They were just as eager to see me go. 

It was the night before my eighteenth birthday and I was set to move out the next day. I woke in the night and heard a strange noise coming from somewhere in the house. With a mind full of sleep, I groggily made my way into the dark hallway. My feet were cold on the wooden floors as I followed the sound down the hall and then down the stairs. As I came closer, I realized the quiet sound was singing. A soft, haunting song. 

And when I entered the living room, I found Poppy on my couch, softly crooning to my little puppy. It laid limp in her hands, it’s neck unnaturally bent. 

I was blasted by two realizations.

She’d killed my beloved puppy.

Everyone was going to think I did it. 

“NO! NO! POPPPPPPY! Why did you do this?!” I screamed, dropping to my knees. I fell on them hard and it hurt, but I hardly felt it. 

She looked up, startled, as she hadn’t heard me come in. My parents appeared then, rushing up behind me. 

“Who are you?!” My dad yelled. 

I gasped and reeled around to look at my dad. “You see her?”

He looked like a rabid dog who wanted to strike, but my mom pulled him back. “Of course I see her!” 

“That’s Poppy!” I yelled. “That’s her! I told you she was real!” 

Poppy vanished and our poor puppy fell lifelessly to the floor. 

My mom pulled on my arm and I stood, and then she pulled me into her arms. “Annie,” Mom said, her voice raspy and shaking. “That was not an imaginary friend. It was a poltergeist!” 

Together, my parents and I worked to bury our pup in the yard. All the while they kept telling me I could never speak to the entity called Poppy again. They now believed me that I had not been guilty of any of the incidents from the past; it was the entity. They tried to point out to me the havoc the entity had reeked on my life and that I shouldn’t want to be part of it anymore. Even my darling puppy was now gone, surely I would make a change now. 

I stood quietly to the side and watched as they lowered the puppy into the earth. I barely felt anything. I had liked the puppy, but I loved Poppy. She was the only friend I’d ever had, and the only person who’d ever believed in me, just as I’d always been the only one to believe in her. Now my parents finally believed, but only for a terrible reason. They never just believed me before even though I’d never told anything but the truth. 

The next morning I fled our home. 

It was a year of trouble. I chose Poppy, and choosing Poppy is a dark choice. My parents desperately attempted to rescue me from her clutches, but their attempts only made me angrier with each passing day. As such, they began to fall apart just as I did. Even though they never saw Poppy again, she managed to infect them with her darkness through the destruction of their daughter. 

At the end of that year out on my own, I had come to be filled with rage. My rage was like a fire and Poppy loved to pour gasoline on it. 

One dark night, I decided to return to the school where I’d last been a student in the third grade. First, I stood on the front lawn of the school and I stared at it, seething with fury. This was the place where nobody had believed me. This was the place where I’d last been a living person. This was the place where my soul had begun to die. 

Then, I broke a window and went inside. 

Alarm sirens wailed but I didn’t care. I strode with great purpose a short distance into the school’s cafeteria and then into the kitchen. There was a whole wall of gas stoves and ovens and I walked by turning igniter after igniter. I could smell the faint scent of natural gas pouring into the room. I sensed the room filling quickly with the flammable substance even as I heard police sirens screaming in the distance. 

I smiled. That should be enough. 

With a flick of my wrist, I turned on a burner, and then the kitchen that I was in exploded. 

Later I stood back in the schoolyard, holding Poppy’s hand, and watching the school burn. I watched as police and firemen raced about desperately attempting to save the building. No one even considered the chance someone might have been inside, so my death would not be discovered until well into the next day. 

Poppy is truly my sister now; forever. My face is pale and shadowy now, my eyes gleaming and red. We’ll never be apart and we’ve moved back home. 

We never let my parents see us, but we let them know we’re here. My father is growing bitter and angry, just like I had been when I was alive. My mother cries a lot and quietly begs me to come back to her. 

My parents can be with me again, and be with me forever. But there’s only one way and they’ll have to decide. It looks like it might not be long now before they make the choice and of course, we all know… 

Poppy is good at pouring gas on the fire...