The door to 3D bursts open as two gangly shadowed figures clamor in, pushing and shoving, each trying to get ahead of the other. The door slams shut behind them and a giggle sounds out, followed by a loud and rumbling crash accompanied by Nick yelling, “Ah! Fuck!” Travis laughs out loud in the dark and then glances back to the still closed front door. Fear comes back into his heart, and he begins groping around in the dark for Nick’s shoulders. “C’mon, man, get up!” Grabbing Nick by the collar of his jacket, he pulls and almost falls over himself.

Using Travis’s pants leg for a hoist, Nick drags himself off the carpet and pushes past Travis. “Get out of the way!” Travis yells when he thinks he hears a noise behind him and runs into the dark hallway to the bedrooms.

“Fuck!” Nick says again as he smacks into his doorjamb. Feeling his way through the dark, he reaches out for the door to the walk-in closet that connects his and Travis’s room. Entering, he thrusts himself to the floor and promptly begins burying himself under dirty clothes, laughing hysterically the whole time. Travis follows suit, but instead of making for the closet, he falls to the floor and rolls under Nick’s bed, carpet-burning his left elbow. “Aw, shit!” He tries to shove himself as far back as he can, pushing dirty shoes, a hair dryer, some clothes and God-knows-what-else out of his way. For a moment, he can hear Nick shifting around, and then, silence. Travis is so nervous, he hiccups another giggle. “Shut up!” Nick whispers harshly from the closet. “He’ll hear us.” Travis tries to lay still, listening to his heart beat against the floor.

The front door’s knob jingles and then the door creaks open and shuts again. Travis holds his breath and listens carefully with his head to the carpet. He waits for the dreaded footsteps in the hall, or a voice. But there is only silence. And then, after a moment, there is the sound of the bathroom door closing on the other side of the apartment.

“What’s he doin’?” Travis whispers.

“Shut up!” Nick says again. And then after a moment of silence he whimpers, “I’m scared.”

The door to John’s bathroom opens with a shudder.

“Oh God,” Nick whines.


Travis listens closely to the footsteps as they moved through the house. First, he can hear them on the kitchen tile, lightly. Then, the weak floorboard by the couch in the living room. The living room lights turn on and light from the ceiling fan lamps wash down the hall outside Nick’s bedroom. There is a horrific moment of silence broken only by a more horrific, splintering, maniacal laugh. Travis hears Nick in the closet scooting around, desperately trying to make himself disappear.

“Where are you?” John’s voice calls out pleasantly—as though he were looking for his kittens.

“C’mere,” he calls into Travis’s room. Travis silently thanks the first mystical being he can think of for giving him the foresight to hide in Nick’s room. “You know the rule,” John says, sounding a little angry. “No hiding from Daddy!” he cheerfully cries.

Travis sucks back a giggle, covers his mouth and makes a sputtering noise pressing the air between his lips by accident. Now the hall light comes on, and Travis freezes, holding his breath. Travis watches in terror as John’s loafers appear in the doorway and enter the room, bright light following him. “Where’re you hiding?” John asks sweetly. Slowly, methodically, John’s feet turn their toes toward the bed. John’s voice is serious, calm. He sounds enraged, and yet perfectly content with the rage, happy to be so angry. “You’re not hiding under the bed are you?” One at a time, John’s hands appear before Travis, and then John’s knees, and then… the horrible visage of John’s face.

Travis can’t suppress a yelp of horror as John peers beneath the bed. He can hear Nick yelling in response in the closet. John’s face is sickeningly white—freshly painted with skin-so-soft bath powder. Two baseball caps crown John’s head, one over the other, each bill pointing directly out to the side. “Daddy giveth and Daddy taketh away,” John begins to chant. “Daddy giveth and Daddy taketh away.”

Travis bats at John’s grappling arm and yells, “Help!” He smashes himself up against the wall underneath the bed.

John’s voice grows menacing. “Daddy giveth and Daddy taketh away!” He gropes for Travis and laughs maniacally again.

A loud clatter from the closet catches both Travis and John’s attention, as Nick struggles to free himself from the pile of clothes he’d been hiding in. Seeing that John was preoccupied with Travis, he saw it was his only chance to get away. But he stumbles. John hears him. Now it was over. John turns to confront Nick with a horrible grimace. “Where’re you goin’!” Standing, John immediately blocks the door to the bedroom and smiles. Then, speaking in a ridiculously calm, collected voice, his lungs heaving from exertion, “Daddy giveth and Daddy taketh away.”

Nick falls back and scoots into the corner of the closet, holding his index fingers in a cross as he tries to get away. John stalks the closet, though. “Daddy giveth and Daddy taketh away.” He enters the closet and slowly shuts the door, laughing horribly, like a man three months in the desert coming upon water. Nick can only holler in response, “Run Travis! Run! Get away while you can!”

Seeing it is his only chance, Travis drags himself out from underneath the bed hurriedly, and makes a break for the door, falling over himself a couple of times. As he runs for the front door, and outside to get away from the madness, the only thing he can hear is the resounding howls of terror of his one friend and crazed laughter from the other.