“The balloon man lives in the sky. He watches the children as they let go of their balloons. He always catches the balloons. He keeps them until the children need them again. He knows all of their names. He knows everything about them.” I attempted to scare my little brother with my crappy made up story.
“You’re dumb. The balloon man isn’t even real,” Jack replied. He ran out of my room and slammed the door behind him.
I sighed. Oh, well. Our parents weren’t going to be home for another 4 hours, so we had plenty of time to kill. The scary story didn’t work, so it was time for plan b. I walked to Jack’s room where he was already playing on his Nintendo DS.
“Let’s go, loser. We’re going to Wal-Mart.”
Jack continued to tap a multitude of buttons on his game. He glanced at me and continued to play. “Why do we have to go there?”
“It’s a surprise!” I put on my best big sister smile and held my hands together as if to say “pleeeeease.”
“Fine, but only because I know you wouldn’t leave unless I said okay.”
On the way to Wal-Mart, we were both quiet. It was 8pm, but the sun was still out. It was comforting. I looked to the side and saw Jack leaning his head against the window. Jack is 10 years old and he pretty much hates me. As soon as he entered the double digits, I was no longer the cool older sister in his eyes. I missed the old him that adored me. He was growing up.
When we got to Wal-Mart, I headed straight for the birthday aisle. It had the best hellium balloons.
“Okay, kiddo. Pick your favorite balloon and I’ll pick mine.”
“Are you kidding,” Jack asked. “The stupid balloon man is not real.”
“Then why are you too chicken to pick out a balloon?”
“I’m not a chicken! I just think balloons are for babies.” Jack stood next to the balloons with his arm crossed. He didn’t seem like he was going to budge on this.
“Fine! I guess I’ll have to be the cool one and get TWO balloons. I’ll still save you one.”
I grabbed two Dora the Explorer balloons and began to walk away.
“Wait! I want the Spider-Man balloon instead!”
So the trick was Dora. I put down the balloon and grabbed his. There was the little scamp that I missed.
When we got home, Jack pulled his balloon out of the car. He happily walked to the front door and waited for me. I unlocked the front door and we ran staright to the backyard.
“What do we say when we let go of the balloons?”
“Well,” I began, “We have to say the chant. He won’t know who we are if we don’t say the chant.”
“Okay, so what’s the chant,” Jack impatiently asked.
“Repeat after me: Balloon man, balloon man…”
“Balloon man, balloon man…”
“Take me away.”
“Take me away,” Jack mimicked.
“Come for me again…”
“Come for me again…”
“Some other day.”
“Some other day.”
“Now you have to say your name. My name is Skylar.”
“My name is Jack.”
We released the balloons into the sky and watched them until they disappeared in the night. Jack looked at me. “Well that was dumb. I’m going to play video games.”
I patted Jack’s head and he ran inside. It was worth a shot. I sighed and turned to go inside. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move in the backyard. When I whirrled back around, nothing was there. My imagination was playing tricks on me. I walked inside, closed the door, and locked it behind me.
It was around 11pm when I decided to go to sleep. I passed by Jack’s room and he was passed out with his Nintendo DS on his chest. I put a blanket over him and turned off his light. While trudging towards my room, I heard a voice hiss, “Skylar!” I looked around, but nobody was there. I quickly walked into my room and shut my door. My parents would be home in a little less than an hour and I didn’t have time to worry about shadows or voices. I was exhausted.
I woke up at 2am on the dot to the sound of glass breaking. Panicked, I hopped out of bed and ran to Jack’s room. When I looked in, he had the covers over his head and he was sound asleep. When I peeked in my parents’ room, it was empty. Where were they?
I ran back to Jack’s room and slammed the door. Unfortunately, I had left my phone in my room and had nothing to help me contact my parents. Great. It was incredibly silent in Jack’s room. I didn’t even hear him breathing.
When I crawled to his bed, I heard small whimpers. “Jack?” The whimpers grew louder, sounding more panicky when I held out my hand to touch Jack. They sounded like they were coming from the closet. Just as I was about to turn the handle on the closet door, Jack sheepishly asked, “What are you doing?”
I turned to look at his bed and what sounded like a group of children laughing came from Jack’s closet. Started, I fell backwards. While trying to get up, I stumbled until I fell back on Jack’s bed. Rubber squeaked from under me. The bed was filled with balloons. A voice sounding like it was too close for comfort hissed “Skylar!” I hopped out of bed and ran towards the bedroom door. As I opened that door, the closet squeaked open and balloons spilled out of it.
I screamed Jack’s name as I ran towards the front door. Jack yelled from the kitchen, “Skylar help me!” I was torn between leaving and saving my little brother. “Please, Skylar!” Now it sounded like he was crying. I was convinced: I needed to save him.
Grabbing the closest thing next to the door, my parents’ umbrella acted as my shield and doubled as my weapon. Nothing could prepare me for what I saw. The lights in the kitchen were out, but candles aligned the counter tops. Hellium-filled balloons covered the ceiling. There was a chair in the middle of the floor with a card on it. Thick, red liquid was smeared on the walls. It smelled like cotton candy and death. Slowly, I walked up to the chair and picked up the card. My name was on it. On the inside it said:
Balloon man, balloon man
Take me away
Come for me again
Some other day.
My name is Skylar.
I dropped the card and a cold hand covered my mouth. The thing hissed, “Skylar!” All of the candles blew out.
This story came from the sentence “the ballon man lives in the sky” randomly popping into my head. The story basically wrote itself from there. ‘Til tomorrow… (: