Is It Real?

‘Come on Liam, it’ll be fun,’ Jacob says loudly, over the noise of the theme park, walking towards the looming haunted house.
‘I’d rather not, you know how I am with these things.’ The group groans collectively, rolling their eyes.
‘Relax, it’s not like anything’s going to happen.’ I look up at the mansion contemplating my choices. I could either let everyone down or have nightmares for the next week. I sigh.
‘Fine. But I'm not going first... or last. I swear to God if something happens…’ Overwhelmed with triumph, the group cheers and I'm being pushed towards the mansion. What am I getting myself into?

We approach an employee, who tells us the rules and guidelines of the ‘experience’ (his words not mine). He then escorts us into a dimly lit corridor, where another employee dressed as a hotel receptionist sits behind a desk. I turned to thank the first employee but he had disappeared. If my heart rate was being monitored, I’m sure people would be more than concerned by now.
‘Come closer,’ she speaks in a whisper, drawing us towards her with her finger. We do as she says and quiet down, trying to catch every word. ‘The hotel is under lockdown. You need to follow the hall, and people will show you where to go from there.’
‘Thanks, Ma’am,’ Jacob says, but the lady hushes him frantically. Suddenly, two men burst out from around the corner, with fake guns and scream to put our hands up.
‘Up or I’ll shoot!’ We cooperate, glancing at each other and grinning. The men force us into a small room, locking the only door from the outside. The walls are bluish-grey and tiles line the floor. The room is completely empty, apart from 2 empty picture frames, hung on the wall opposite the door, and a cardboard box with a candlestick telephone resting on top.
‘Ok… that was a little scary.’ I say, assessing the situation.
‘No kidding.’ Jacob huffs, looking over at the rest of the group.
‘So we need to get out of here right?’ Liv asks.
‘Well it’s an escape room… what do you think?’ It’s a known fact that Jacob gets hot-headed when under pressure.
‘Ok, Jacob, you need to calm down, and we need to get out.’ I say. Leadership seems to always find me, even when I desperately try to run from it. ‘Jacob, Maddie, Eli, you go examine the box, Livvie, you’re good with old things, you go check out the phone. Brooke, you’re with me. We’re going to see if there’s anything with the frames.’

While everyone is scrambling to find a clue or something, without warning, the only door cracks open.
‘What happened?’ Waves of unease fill my conscience. Bullets rain through the open door. It all happened so quickly. Before I knew it, there was nothing but bodies around me. And then… then it went quiet.


25 was established in 1997, and since then we have successfully completed numerous short story and poetry competitions and publications.
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