The Fear Trials

'Hello. My name is Shal. I’m ten years old, and I need to tell this before I either die, or curl up in a ball and never move again.'

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    The setting was one I hadn’t seen before. It was a small room, with a ring of doors. Worry began to make me uneasy. I knew the wrong door could hold just about anything. There were ways you could die in the Fear Trials, and they were never pleasant.

The fear that these Trials caused wasn’t always natural. Often the fear we felt was enhanced somehow.

I gulped, then started towards one of the doors. The worry began to grow. I backed away. It relaxed.

One of the advantages of manipulated fear was that if you were careful, it was easy to detect. If irrational fear started rising in me, chances were good that I was heading towards something dangerous. The door in front of me was giving off serious ‘worry’ vibes. Strong fear behind that one. Keep going.

I tested the next door. There was nothing. No irrational surges. My stomach twisted, but that might have just been me. I decided to throw caution to the wind. I placed my hand on the handle. I closed my eyes, and with a quick tug I opened it.

When nothing happened, I opened my eyes. No monsters. Just a plain, long hallway behind it. Letting out a breath of relief, I kept going.

 

Okay, let’s get this out of the way. All of you are saying: What’s so scary about the Fear Trials? All you did was open a door! Well imagine going through a dark building at night, knowing anything behind any door might kill you. Imagine knowing that your only way of escape is to go deeper into the building, where there are worse nightmares. Scared yet?

No, I doubt I could even begin to try and replicate the fear we go through. All I can do is describe it. Well, believe me, what happens next will show you.

The small hallway took me through into another empty room, with a circle of doors in the middle this time. The walls were mirrors, reflecting the doors, and my own, scared face back at me a hundred times over. I studied the doors. I felt nothing at each of them. No irrational fear. Just the normal, natural kind. It was getting harder. Wonderful. I began to wish Lili were here. She would have been able to find what was safe and what wasn’t. She had a knack for those kinds of challenges.

Once again taking a risk, I opened one.

For a minute, there was nothing. Then twenty-four pairs of red eyes blinked on in the darkness.

I screamed, feeling the terror wash over me. It was a fearling- one of the spider like monsters that lived inside the Fear Trials.  It came at me, and I desperately dove out of the way. I wasn’t thinking about escaping now. I was just focused on surviving.

Of course, just to make things worse, then the walls started melting, the mirrors slowly oozing down. My heart raced faster, and I had to choke back a soft sob. Now this is fear. This is the true terror of the Fear Trials.

I dodged a sizzling flow of molten mirror. I did my best to evade them, while also trying to  keep the flows between me and the fearling. Where the mirrors had been, there was nothing but darkness.

I accidentally backed up against one of the doors, and it swung open.

OopsI thought. Accidents usually aren’t harmless in the Fear Trials. Sometimes they’re harmless, but more often than not, I end up paying for them.

I felt something against the back of my neck. Something metal. Then something softer. I froze, knowing that I had just made a fatal mistake.

I had backed myself into a fearling.

I screamed, trying to bolt, trying to get away, but I was too slow. It grabbed me with it’s metal legs, and shoved me into its mouth.

And then it ate me.

 
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