It was just after midnight. Alex had left hours ago, but he wasn’t actually gone. Caesar could feel it. It gave him the creeps. The camera was staring at him, watching his every move, as its little red indicator light seemed to light up the entire room.
Caesar’s parents were still cleaning up downstairs. He could hear them rummaging around along the creaky floors, but Caesar could barely hold his eyes open any more. The only thing keeping him up was the camera.
He kept staring through his window at Alex’s bedroom to see if he was up and watching him, but the room was dark. Occasionally Caesar caught himself talking to the camera and couldn’t decide if it was because of his nerves or if he was looking for some kind of assurance that Alex was keeping an eye on him.
After the way the day had gone, Caesar really didn’t want to be alone. He had thought of that earlier that day and was working on figuring out how to ask Alex to spend the night, despite the fact that they had only just met. Unfortunately, Alex came up with the camcorder idea before he could think of what to say.
“Next time we get walkie-talkies, too,” Caesar spoke to the camera. “Alex, are you there? This is really creepy. How do I know it’s actually you watching?” Caesar stepped back from camera and peered out the window then looked back into the lens. “If you’re there, flicker a light or something, okay?”
Caesar looked back toward Alex’s room, but nothing happened. “Crap,” he said to himself as he pulled off his shirt and dropped it on the floor. He then turned from the window and started walking toward his bed. He felt weird. Not like before, where it was something watching him from the darkness. He felt dizzy. In fact, he felt really dizzy.
Suddenly it was morning. Caesar could sense the light in the room and hear the birds chirping outside. His bed felt different this morning. It was softer and warmer than it usually was. The weirdest part, though, was that it smelled different.
Caesar opened his eyes and peered around the room. It wasn’t his. He was sure of it. There were posters of Yoda and the Millennium Falcon on the walls. Posters that he didn’t have. And then… something was beside him, breathing down his neck.
“Oh god.” Caesar slowly turned his head to the right. “Alex?”
Alex’s eyes shot open and the two stared at each other. Alex blinked. Caesar blinked. Alex rubbed his eyes, then moved his head back to allow his eyes to focus. Caesar stared back at Alex. Alex screamed.
“What the hell?!” Alex jumped out of bed and hopped across the room as if a mouse was attacking him. “Dude?! What the hell?!”
Caesar wasn’t sure what to say. He couldn’t explain it. In fact, he probably wouldn’t, even if he could. “I…”
“Shit, damn, what the hell?!” Alex jumped up and down with nervous energy. “Holy, oh my god! Caesar, the camera!”
Before Caesar could even sit up, Alex had already raced across the room and grabbed the remote control and turned on the television. As the picture lit up, the live feed appeared on the screen, which is when the boys saw themselves on the TV.
Alex slowly turned his head to look at Caesar, as Caesar stared in shock at the television. “What the hell is going on?” said Caesar as he slid out of the bed and crept across the floor. He kept his eyes on the television as he followed himself toward the camera.
It was sitting on a shelf in Alex’s closet. The slack from the HDMI cable had been neatly wound and the power cable was plugged into an outlet.
“Nuh uh,” Alex stood up and walked toward Caesar. “Rule number one: You keep your ghosties in your own house.”
“Yeah, because I planned this. Me and the ghost-pire set this whole thing up.”
“You know what I mean,” said Alex. “Now get back over here. I don’t want to watch this tape by myself.”
Caesar sat next to Alex on the end of his bed just as Alex started the recording. It started with Caesar sorting out his bedroom at around 10’O’clock, so Alex started to fast forward.
“I went to bed just after twelve,” said Caesar as he watched the screen. “Just ignore all the parts where I’m talking to myself.” Just then, Caesar saw himself take off his shirt on the screen. “Wait, right there!”
Alex pressed the play button. “Really?” he said with a slight grin. “You changed in front of the camera.”
“No,” replied Caesar. “Or, at least, I wasn’t going to,” he said just as he saw himself turn to face the camera and drop his pants. “This is messed up. I don’t remember doing that.”
On the recording, Caesar walked to the centre of his bedroom, only wearing a pair of red briefs, and stared out the window. It was at that exact moment that Caesar realized that he was sitting next to Alex wearing only his underwear. That part wasn’t so bad, as Alex only had on a pair of grey and black boxer-briefs. The part that freaked him out was the in-between. He would have gone outside like that.
“Shit, how long does this go on?” asked Alex. “This is crazy-freaky. You’re just standing there looking at my window.” Alex started to fast-forward again, but even after skimming over two and a half hours of time, Caesar still hadn’t moved. “Okay, well, I guess I’ll get dressed while we wait for something to…”
“Hold on!” Caesar jumped to his feet and moved closer to the television. “What the hell just happened?”
Alex looked back at the TV. The screen showed that the camera was now in Alex’s room with Caesar standing beside the bed staring down at him. “What the… What happened?!”
“I don’t know,” Caesar grabbed for the remote. “It just flickered to this all of a sudden, out of nowhere,” he explained as he struggled to rewind the recording. “See? Check it out.”
Alex stared at the TV, trying not to blink in case he’d miss something. On the screen, Caesar was still in his room, still staring out the window. Then, just a split-second later, he was in Alex’s room, staring down at him. “How the hell did that happen?”
Caesar couldn’t explain it. He wasn’t even going to attempt to. Instead, he looked up at Alex. “So, this means it’s a ghost, right? A vampire couldn’t possibly do this?”
“I don’t know,” Alex admitted. “I’m not even sure if a ghost could pull this off. Aren’t ghosts stuck in the home they’re haunting?”
“No idea.” Caesar continued to stare at the television. “I thought you were the expert.”
Alex sat back down. “Nope. I’m just making this up as we go.”
Suddenly, back on the screen, Caesar stepped closer to Alex’s bed and pulled the blanket off of him. After that he didn’t move again. He just stood there, right beside him, staring.
“This is really freaking me out,” said Alex. “What are you doing?”
“How should I know?” Caesar replied through a nervous voice. “I used to sleep walk when I was younger. Maybe I’m just sleep walking?”
Alex slowly shook his head. “I’ve never heard of people operating cameras in their sleep. It’s like you’re possessed or something. Maybe it’s like what happened to me yesterday?”
“Maybe,” Caesar said. “I dunno. This just feels different.”
“What do you mean?”
“When it happened to you, you didn’t move.”
“Yeah, but it was only for a second. Who knows what would have happened if I was like that for hours, like you.”
“You’re probably right,” Caesar decided, glancing back at the screen. “Wait, look. I’m moving again.”
The boys watched the screen closely as Caesar turned from the bed and walked toward the camera, stopped at the foot of the bed and turned, and continued that way until he was on the opposite side from Alex. Shortly after that, Caesar grabbed the blanket, got into the bed and lay down.
Alex grabbed the remote and started fast-forwarding again, but nothing happened after that. It was just them sleeping for the remainder of the night.
“Well at least you didn’t do anything embarrassing,” said Alex, pressing stop on the remote and turning off the TV.
“You’re kidding, right?” Caesar stood up to fetch the camera. “How did I get here?” he pointed out. “I would have walked outside, in my underwear, and somehow gotten into your room. What if someone saw me?”
“Yeah, like that’s your biggest problem right now. You still have to figure out how to get home without getting busted.”
“Ah,” Caesar frowned and glanced out the window, toward his room. “I didn’t even think of that.”
“Well, you can borrow some clothes, if that helps.” Alex offered and walked to his dresser before Caesar could reply and pulled out a pair of shorts and a tee shirt. “Here, these should work,” he said and tossed them on the bed.
Caesar grabbed the clothes and put them on. “Thanks,” he said. “Well, I guess I better try and make it home before anyone notices I’m gone.”
“Okay,” Alex slid on a pair of sweat pants. “So, should I come over later?”
“Definitely,” Caesar said in relief, as he had been expecting Alex to want to end their near-friendship after how this morning had turned out. “But, umm, what’s the best way to get out of here?”
“Follow me,” he said and guided Caesar out of his room and down the stairs. “If we can get you out the back door, you can hop the fence and pretend like you were in your back yard if you get caught.”
“Smart,” Caesar whispered as he followed in behind Alex toward the door.
As soon as the two were in the back yard, Caesar started to feel better. The dread of having to come up with an explanation to either his or Alex’s parents had been making his stomach knot.
“So what time’s good for you?” asked Alex, who had followed Caesar to the fence.
“Whenever you want. I’ll be home all day. Unpacking. Still.”
“All right. I think I have to go somewhere with my mom this morning, so I’ll come by after lunch.”
“Sounds good,” said Caesar as he awkwardly clawed at the wooden fence. “Uh, any chance on a boost?”
Alex gave a chuckle as he clasped his fingers together. “Ready?”
“Yup, thanks,” replied Caesar, as he placed his foot in Alex’s hands and pulled himself up to the top of the fence.
Out of nowhere, Caesar felt his weight leaving Alex’s hands, like he had been thrown into the air. The wind howled past his ears as the world around him seemed to slow down. Unfortunately, it hadn’t. Before Caesar knew what was happening, he felt himself crash-landing, belly first, against the thick, uncut grass of his own yard.
“Jesus!” Caesar heard from the other side of the fence. “You okay, Caesar? What the hell happened?”
“Ugh,” Caesar said in a huff as he tried to catch his breath. “Did you seriously throw me over the fence?”
“I didn’t do anything!” Alex’s said as he struggled to pull himself up to peer over the fence.
“I don’t know. It felt like you flung me over, like a catapult,” said Caesar as he slowly pushed himself up off the ground.
“You okay, though?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Caesar said, though he wasn’t completely sure. “So… see you later?”
“Yeah, for sure. Right after lunch,” promised Alex. “You gonna be okay?”
“I think so, yeah. I’ll let you know this afternoon.”
“K then. Later Caesar.”
Caesar then turned around and tiptoed toward his house. As far as he could tell, his parents were still sleeping, or at least there weren’t any lights on, so he crept across the deck toward the back door. When he got there, he cautiously peered in through the glass sliding door to see if anyone was around.
“Oh thank god,” Caesar said with a sigh of relief when no one could be seen in the house. With every ounce of caution he could muster, Caesar reached for the door’s handle and gave it a gentle tug and it gently slid open.
“What are you doing out there?” asked Caesar’s father, who was carrying a pile of boxes.
“Uh… nothing,” Caesar jumped in and closed the door. “Just looking around,” he said as casually as he could. “Why?”
“You missed breakfast,” his dad went on to explain. “Your mom’s been looking for you. She thought you had sleep walked your way into the street.”
“I’m fine. Just exploring a bit.”
“All right,” Caesar’s father dropped the empty boxes on the floor. “Let your mom know you’re alive and get yourself something to it. When you’re done, you can help me get rid of all these boxes.”
By one ‘O’clock that afternoon, the house was officially unpacked. All that was left to do was some minor sorting and cleaning, which Caesar had decided to leave for another day so that he could get cleaned up before Alex showed up.
But he didn’t make it. By the time Caesar got out the shower, Alex was already waiting for him. Even worse, he was stuck downstairs talking to his father. Worse even still, they were laughing.
Caesar slowly stepped down the stairs and peered into the living room. Alex was sitting on the couch with a glass of soda in his hand. His dad was going on about something, which was obviously hilarious, but Caesar couldn’t figure out what he talking about. Therefore, the only conclusion was that they were talking about him.
“What’s going on?” asked Caesar, announcing his presence. “What did I miss?”
“Nothing,” Caesar’s dad said as he tried to finish up a chuckle. “We were just comparing Star Wars to Alexander the Great.”
Caesar stared blankly. “And that’s funny how?”
“I have no idea,” admitted Alex. “But apparently it is. You should have been here. Your dad’s awesome.”
“Right… Well, okay,” said Caesar as he walked through to the kitchen to get a drink, but before he could get a glass out from the cupboard, Alex was already behind him.
“Hi,” he said happily.
“Hey,” replied Caesar as he walked to the fridge to get out some juice. “I was coming right back. You could have stayed and talked with my dad.”
“That’s cool. He was mainly just keeping me company until you came down,” explained Alex as he tapped his fingers on the counter. “So… anything else happen?”
“While I was gone. Anything, you know, interesting go down?”
“No.” Caesar hadn’t even realized. “Nothing, like at all.”
“Huh. You think it’s over?”
Caesar shook his head. “Definitely not. This is how it went yesterday, remember? Things got weird in the afternoon, when my parents weren’t around.”
“So you think it’s them? Like the ghost doesn’t like the adults?”
“Actually, I was thinking the opposite,” said Caesar as he started walking back toward the stairs. “Like the ghost doesn’t like us.”
“Hmm, I guess that makes sense.”
“Come on, let’s go upstairs and figure out what to do,” Caesar suggested. “Maybe play some video games or something while we think.”
When the two got to Caesar’s room, Caesar went right for the TV and turned it on. “What do you feel like playing?” he asked Alex, who was standing behind him.
“Dunno,” Alex replied with a shrug. “Do you have anything racy?”
“What?” Caesar laughed. “Perv, I don’t have nothing like that…”
“No!” Alex giggled and blushed. “I meant an actual race, like with cars or spaceships or…”
“Umm, I think so. I mean, not with spaceship, I don’t think.”
“Damn,” Alex sat down on Caesar’s bed. “Well what else do you have?”
Caesar skimmed over some of his game titles. “A bunch of shooters, a few fighters, some MMOs and a couple of racing games.”
“You have Halo?”
Caesar rolled his eyes. “That’s an Xbox game.”
“Well then I don’t know. Surprise me.”
“Okay,” Caesar grabbed a game at random and put in the console. “Looks like we’re playing Minecraft.”
“Oh! That’s a good idea,” Alex jumped off the bed and grabbed a controller. “We can build castles and destroy each other.”
“Okay,” Caesar was smiling ear-to-ear at Alex’s enthusiasm. “Like Under Siege?”
“Yeah, sure… whatever that is.”
“Cool.” Caesar laid stomach-down on his bed, facing the television and Alex sat down next to him.
“But we get ten minutes to build first,” Alex explained. “After that, there’s no rules.”
Caesar nodded. “Okay, so should I put it on creative mode?”
“No. We need more of a challenge.”
“Okay,” Caesar agreed as he set up the game. “Ready?”
The initial ten minutes went by far too quickly, leaving Caesar ill prepared with a barely-half-built castle. Alex, on the other hand, seemed to have done this before. His castle was 40 blocks tall with towers and the beginnings of a moat.
“I’m screwed,” said Caesar when he saw Alex’s castle. “How did you even get the brick? My castle’s made from dirt.”
“I built an oven,” Alex said plainly. “What, do you need more time?”
“No,” Caesar lied. “Rules are rules. I’ll just have to build a bigger bomb than you.”
“Thanks,” Alex giggled.
“For telling me your attack plan.”
Just then, out of nowhere, half of Caesar’s half-a-castle blew to smithereens. “Damn it!” Caesar chuckled. “Where’d you even come from?”
Alex shifted on the bed and laid down on his stomach, next to Caesar. “I’ll never tell,” he teased.
Caesar could feel the warmth of Alex’s body along his side, which he found incredibly distracting. Not in a bad way, except for the fact that it kept making him look over at Alex; at his smiling face and his hunched-up shoulders, and the way his back curved beneath his white tee shirt.
Whenever Caesar knew that Alex was engrossed in the game, he’d quickly turn his head to take another look. In the corner of his eyes, he could see the bottom of Alex’s shirt had bunched up a bit, revealing the smooth-looking skin of his back. Just a little bit, though. Just enough to make him want to continue looking. It was driving him insane, he was sure of it.
Every time he’d look, he’d notice just a little bit more. Like Alex’s black shorts. They were loose fitting and hung just low enough so that Caesar could see the black waistband of his underwear, which said “Fruit of the Loom” in white text that wrapped around his waist. Caesar wasn’t sure why it excited him so much. He had seen Alex in his underwear that morning, but didn’t think anything of it at the time.
Now things seemed different. A really confusing kind of different.
“I don’t think you’re even trying,” said Alex.
Caesar just about gave himself whiplash from turning his head back to the game so quickly, and it made him feel incredibly guilty. Like getting caught with is hand in the cookie jar. “I…”
“What are you doing?” Alex turned his head and looked at Caesar. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” Caesar nodded. “Just peachy.”
“Peachy?” Alex laughed. “What does that even mean?”
Caesar shrugged, feeling his face turn red. “Dunno. My grandma used to say it all the time.”
“And what do you keep looking at?”
Caesar’s face burned with embarrassment. “Huh? What?”
“You keep looking back at something. What are you seeing?”
Alex rolled onto his side and looked toward the other side of the room. “Seriously, what’s there?”
“It’s nothing,” Caesar struggled for an excuse. “I just keep seeing shadows moving. Probably birds outside or something.”
“Uh huh…” Alex looked over at the window then back to the direction where Caesar had been looking. “There’s no shadows. The sun’s in the wrong spot,” he realized. “For real, just tell me.”
“It’s nothing. I don’t know,” Caesar felt himself begin to panic. His brain was failing him. No excuses were coming to him.
“If you’re seeing things, I should know. What if it’s the ghost-pire thingy?”
“It’s not.” Caesar could have slapped himself when he realized he had let the perfect excuse pass him by. The more he thought about it, the more frustrated he became with himself. In fact, he was beyond frustrated. He was angry. So angry that it was even starting to make him feel dizzy.
“Wait a minute,” Alex peered over his shoulder. “Are you looking at…?”
Alex stopped talking mid-sentence. Even his face seemed to freeze with his mouth hanging open and his eyes half-closed. “Alex?” Caesar stared at the boy, but he didn’t reply or even move. He wasn’t even blinking, which was making Caesar’s eyes start to sting just thinking about it.
The air around him was beginning to drop in temperature and everything around him became quiet, and that’s when Caesar realized what was happening. The ghost had possessed Alex again.
Caesar waved his hand in front of Alex’s eyes then flicked his fingers to see if he could make him blink, but nothing happened. “Alex? Hello?” he whispered.
Caesar stared Alex in the half-opened eyes. They looked lifeless and fake. In fact, everything around him stopped feeling real. It was as if the entire world had suddenly been replaced by exact replicas, like life-sized models of the real world.
Out of nowhere, Caesar poked Alex’s shoulder. It still felt like Alex. He was still warm and his shirt still felt like a shirt.
“What the hell is happening?” Caesar got up off the bed and walked out into the hall. Everything was silent. The floor didn’t even creak under his feet.
He continued down the hall to the stairs and slowly went down into the living room. His dad was sitting on the couch with a book in his hand. “Dad?” he said as he approached his father. “Dad, can you hear me?”
But his father didn’t reply or move or even take a breath. And that’s when Caesar noticed something so insanely-impossible that he almost dove across the floor toward it. There, in the middle of the kitchen, was his mother standing next to the counter with a cloth in her hand and a glass floating in mid-air beside her.
Caesar cautiously approached the glass, afraid that if he went too fast it would hit the floor and smash. He was worried that if he touched it that it would break for sure, so he carefully tugged the cloth from his mother’s hands and wrapped it around the floating glass. Once he was convinced that the glass was sufficiently padded, he gently moved it back up to the counter and placed it beside his mother.
“There you go, Mom,” he said with an excited grin and gave her back the towel.
As soon as Caesar turned away, an odd feeling came over him. It wasn’t just excitement. It was power. It was like the entire world had suddenly become his playground. He could do whatever he wanted: mess with his parents’ heads by moving things around, explore a stranger’s house without them ever know, rob a bank, do anything to anyone... and he grabbed a pen from the counter.
“Anything…” Caesar ran back up the stairs. His heart was pounding and his mind was about to explode. He didn’t care, though. No one was able to see how nervous he was, how freaked out he was over what he was thinking. Nothing mattered.
Caesar stood in his doorway staring at Alex, who was still stuck mid-sentence on his bed. He moved closer, his heart thumping harder and faster with every step, until he slowly crawled onto the bed in front of Alex.
He sat there for a while, deliberating on whether or not he should go through with it. His mind kept telling him not to, that at any moment the world could go back to normal and Alex would catch him and get angry. Caesar really didn’t want to ruin their friendship. He didn’t have anyone else, and he really liked Alex.
But the temptation proved to be too great, and Caesar retrieved the pen from his pocket. After removing the cap, Caesar ever-so-gently leaned in toward Alex, the pen slowly moving closer and closer to his face until it made contact with his upper lip.
This was it. He was going to do it. Caesar was too nervous to laugh, but managed to prevent his hand from shaking too much as to not ruin the moustache he was drawing on Alex’s face.
Putting the cap back on the pen, Caesar took a moment to admire his work, then rolled back off of the bed to put the pen away. Except as soon as he stood up he got incredibly dizzy. So dizzy that he couldn’t keep his balance. The world was spinning too fast, and he fell down to the floor.
The very second he hit the ground, Caesar could hear the music from the video game again, followed by Alex’s voice.
Caesar could hear Alex moving around on the bed.
“Caesar? What just happened?! How did you do that? Where’d you go?!”
“Over here,” Caesar lifted his arm up and waved from the floor.
“Shit, dude, are you okay?” Alex jumped off the bed and ran to Caesar’s side. “Did it just happen again? Was I possessed?”
Caesar groaned and shook his head. His stomach was cramping, growling as if he hadn’t eaten in days. “I don’t think so,” he said and struggled to push himself upright. “It’s something else.”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh god,” Caesar gripped at his sides. “I’m so hungry all of a sudden.”
“Uh, okay. Can I get you something?”
“No!” Caesar said in a panic, looking at the ink moustache on Alexander’s lip. “I… I’m sorry.”
“Your face. I… drew a moustache on you. I’m so sorry.”
Alex touched at his face. “Huh? How?”
“It’s okay,” Alex sat down beside Caesar. “Just fill me in already. You’re killing me.”
“I don’t know. It was like time just stopped,” Caesar tried to explain. “Nothing was moving. No sound, no wind, nothing. At all.”
“Holy shit. That ghost’s more powerful than I thought.”
Caesar started to shiver and tried to curl up into a ball. “That’s the thing,” Caesar looked up at Alex, wanting to laugh at that stupid moustache but couldn’t find the energy, “I don’t think it was a ghost.”
“So it is a vampire then?”
Caesar shook his head. “No. I think it’s me.”
“That’s impossible,” Alex said dismissively. “How could it be you? You’re human, like me,” then he stopped to think about it. “You are human, right?” But Caesar didn’t reply, which freaked Alex out for a split second, until he realized that Caesar had fallen asleep.
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