Let's play a game.
Get a small group together, one as evenly divided amongst boys and girls as you can, or, all of one gender. Make sure to say whatever you need to say to each other before you start. After this, you won't get another chance. This game isn't for the faint of heart, and it isn't for the frail in spirit. If you do not think you can handle it, now is the time to back out.
Meet in any park, woods, or abandoned complex, as close to midnight as you can, on a night of the new moon. Be sure, where ever you choose to meet, that it is someplace you all know very well. You will need every advantage you can get. Everyone should be dressed completely in black, and everyone should wear a mask that covers their whole face. If any of you stand out from the rest of the group, or your masks don't cover your whole face, the game will be over quickly. To be extra careful, it is best that all of the clothes be new, bought that day if possible, and nobody be able to recognize each other. If you can guess who each other are, you've done it wrong and you should try again another time. Once you are there, do not speak to each other. Don't speak to anyone, not a single word. Plan it out in advance.
If you are all there, and you're ready to begin, place bowls, bells, or something that can make a ringing sound when struck, on the ground in a line. All of them must be identical, and there must be one for everyone participating in the game. We will refer to them as "ringers" from now on. Everyone must kneel on the ground and begin striking their ringer with some form of instrument. Sticks from the ground will work, and so will spoons, knives, or anything else really, as long as no one can tell who you are by yours.
The air will start to get cold. You might feel something brush up against you, or the wind shifting around you. Pay no mind to this. Just ignore it. Don't look up, and don't look around. If you see something moving in the shadows, ignore it. The soft ringing has called the spirits for the game. The movement, and noise will continue to grow the longer you continue the ringing. Don't stop until everything becomes silent and still again. If you stop before that, the spirits will close in on you and you will die a most pitiful death.
Once the ringing has stopped, the game has begun. If you've ever played hide and seek, then you should get the basic idea of the game. The rules are as follows:
- Do not leave the chosen area until the game is over. The spirits know what the specific area you chose is, and if they think you are leaving before the game is over, they will make you beg for death.
- The spirits can only know a player's name if they hear that player's voice, or if they see that player's face. They will try anything to get you to talk. They can read all of your memories, with the exception of your name, and may take the form of a loved one, or even (unknowingly) one of the other players. You might hear a familiar voice calling out to you, or face your darkest fears, but you must never speak or remove your mask.
- If a spirit is able to call a player's name, they will tear that player to pieces. The most horrendous death awaits one who loses this game. Their skin will be peeled from their still living body, and their limbs will be twisted and contorted in the most inhuman ways. As their last, gurgling breath leaves their body, the spirits will take their soul. They will be a spirit the next time the game is played. They may only earn their freedom by winning the game as a spirit.
- If a player faces a spirit, it may be forced to flee with a flashlight. The spirits fear the sun and will flee from the light, but be warned. This is a temporary safety. The spirit will return after a moment, when it realizes it has be fooled. The spirits do not like to be tricked, and they will be furious afterwards. After a few times, the spirits may not flee from a flashlight anymore.
- The game is over when either all of the players have been caught, or the sun rises.
At sunrise, any surviving players are declared winners. Congratulations, you may now remove your masks and speak freely. Winners of the game are, from then on, gifted with the greatest of fortune, and the best of luck. However, you may notice that not all the spirits have left after the game is over. Maybe you will see something out of the corner of your eye and turn to find nothing there. Maybe certain objects will not be where you left them. Maybe you will notice a few more things going "bump" in the night.
You should start preparing, because the real game has only just begun.