By Sean McVeigh
Missed Parts I & II? No worries! Check them out on page 42.
“Alright, can we go inside now?” Michael said.
As they turned to walk back over to the buildings, they heard a sharp pop against the wall.
“Very funny, Jimmy.” Michael said. But when he turned around Jimmy was staring at him with a look of horror
“Wa– wasn’t me.” Jimmy squeaked.
“Look!” Andrew shouted.
A small rubber handball was rolling back away from the court’s wall. It rolled down towards the back corner of the court and seemed to fall off into the large dunes that had grown out beside the court.
“Who’s there!?” cried Michael.
“Oh, come on guys, relax,” Jimmy said. “It’s gotta be someone from school messing with us.
“Come on out!” he said as he walked over to the dunes. “You’re not going to get us that easily.”
As he approached, Andrew and Michael knew that this wasn’t someone from school. This was something else.
“Jimmy! Stop!” both boys yelled, seemingly in unison. But it was too late. In the blink of an eye Jimmy was gone. The boys couldn’t see where he went. No one had taken him. He was just gone. Vanished.
For a moment Andrew and Michael stood silent and motionless — paralyzed by fear and confusion. And then suddenly, another smack at the wall. The same rubber ball hit the wall and bounced slowly back to the same corner Jimmy had just been pulled into. The two boys, snapping back to reality, got up to run. They headed for the Main Road. The boys made it about 100 yards but again, almost in unison, stopped.
“We have to go back and look for Jimmy,” Michael said in a shaking voice.
“I know,” Andrew replied dispiritedly.
The two boys decided to come from the other side. Maybe they could see what was going on by those dunes, get Jimmy and get out before whatever was there saw them.
They came up slowly and silently, through the tall dunes, like a lion stalking a gazelle. As they got closer, they saw nothing. There was no trace of Jimmy, or anyone for that matter. Just the overgrown dunes and the ghostly gray handball court behind it. Andrew snuck up a little closer and was about 10 feet in front of Michael at this point.
“Wait here, Mike,” Andrew whispered, “I think I see someth—”
Gone. Just like Jimmy. And before Michael knew it, he was alone. He could feel the emptiness around him. Laying in the dunes next to the handball courts, he felt like the gazelle now. It was clear this was bigger than him. He needed help. He had to get back and tell his dad. Tell anyone.
After a few seconds — seconds that felt like an eternity to Michael — he decided he was going to make a run for it. He would get up and run straight across the handball courts. When he got to the Main Road, he would flag someone down and get help. He could feel the adrenaline pumping through him. He could hear his heart beating inside his chest. Michael sprang up and made a break for it. He dashed across a few dunes and was on the courts. He felt the cold wind whipping past his face as he ran.
“I’ll get help, boys,” he thought to himself, “don’t worry.”
Then it happened. Right in front of his eyes, he saw the cracks in the court open up wider as his front foot was hitting the ground. Michael tripped and tumbled forward at the center of the court, his head banged against the cracked concrete. He was in a fog. He turned to the right and rolling up next to him was a small rubber blue ball.
“Do you want to play some handball?”