You have just parked your bicycle outside the Vogt family’s house. It is 6pm and the snow-covered streets appear completely deserted. It is starting to get dark, so the lamps lining the street will switch on at any moment. You turn your attention back on the house and force the rusted gate open. It is amazing that someone actually decided to buy Mrs. Bennet’s house. You make a shrug. They probably haven’t heard about how Mr. Bennet went insane and killed his two children and himself with a sawed of shotgun. A cold shiver runs down your spine. The urban legend is clear in your mind; how people tell stories of hearing shotgun blasts and seeing odd flashes from the windows as they pass by the house. You don’t know of anyone who has witnessed these things. It is always someone, who knows someone else who has experienced it.
The main door suddenly opens, just as you raise your hand to knock on the door. The entrance to the house is blocked by two gaunt, expressionless people, probably Lucas’ parents. Light is spilling out from the house, giving the parents’ frames a sinister silhouette. “Julia, I presume?” asks the father nervously.
“You are late,” sneers Lucas’ mother, before you can reply the father.
“I’m sorry.” You look the mother in the eye. “It is only a couple minutes past 6.”
The mother is about to reply but then the father starts talking to her, in a harsh German voice. A fierce argument erupts. It seems like they have completely forgotten about you. The mother is crossing her arms and shaking her head while mumbling, “nicht mehr, nicht mehr. Bitte…”
The father grabs her shoulder less than gently and jabs a finger against her chest. You suddenly hear a door slam from within the house. The sound makes both of Lucas’ parents look at each other with unease. The father looks over his shoulder with an expression, as if the gates to hell, had opened up behind him. He quickly looks back at you. “Here, take this money in advance for your service. You get the same amount when we come back, at 11.”
There is no time to reply, before the parents walk as fast as they can towards their car. The vehicle speeds away and disappears behind a bend in the road. You look down at the bills in your hand in bewilderment. 300 dollars! And the dad said that you would get 300 more when they come back. The family must be loaded!
Your glee abruptly dissipates as your brain registers the extremely odd behavior of the parents. It was the first time you ever met them, as you have only spoken briefly with the dad on the phone, just a couple of days ago. You feel that there is something completely wrong, but you don’t know what it is. What you do know is, that you really need the money. And it would be extremely irresponsible to just walk away and leave Lucas to fend for himself.
You must decide, whether you want to go into the house and look after Lucas or just leave him and go home with your 300 dollars.
1 Go home or 2 Go into the house?
“Screw this…”. You walk up to the door and yell to Lucas, that you are leaving. You don’t even wait for his reply but close the door and return to your bike. There is no way in hell that you would wait five hours in that creepy house. It is much better to be safe than sorry.
You are feeling pretty good about your decision, all the way back to your home. It is not before you have brushed your teeth and are lying in bed that you think about Lucas. He is all alone and was supposed to be looked after by you. Maybe it is a good idea, to write a text to Lucas’ dad with a lie about your mom being at the hospital and that you are sorry but had to go. With a somewhat clear conscience after the message is sent, you snuggle down in your bed, watching some Netflix before you fall asleep.
You wake up the next morning and immediately check your phone, but there is no text from Lucas’ dad. A small icon indicates that he hasn’t even read your message. Guilt is weighing you down. Your mind wanders while in the shower and also while eating breakfast afterwards. You are just about to call Lucas’ dad when there is a hard knock on the door.
You slowly walk towards the main door, praying that it is just a friend or maybe your parents.
“Miss Anderson are you in there?” says a commanding voice. “This is the police, open the door.”
You quickly open the door and are met by two middle-aged police officers. They tell you, that an incident has occurred at the Vogt house and that you have to follow them to the station.
“It does not look good for you, miss,” says one of the officers.
You enter the house and are surprised about the state it is in. Other people would probably have invested some time and money in restoration of the old house. Maybe some modern furniture. It smells a bit of mold and the tapestry in the entry hall shows black dots of fungus here and there. You can hear sounds coming through a half open door to the right. There is a closed door opposite the half open door and a staircase leading to the first floor.
You slowly open the door to the room where the noise is coming from. It is a dimly lit living room; the only light source is coming from a battered old TV. The old furniture look like they belonged to the widow and heavy curtains are hanging in front of the windows. There is a boy sitting cross-legged on the floor in front, of the TV. The boy is already in his pajamas and he is watching what appears to be an explicit documentary about the horrors in concentration camps during WW2. The images are so disgusting that it makes your stomach churn. The boy on the other hand is watching with great intent.
You clear your throat. “Hello Lucas, ehm… My name is Julia and I’m your babysitter.”
Lucas makes no sign of being aware of your presence. You take a couple of steps closer, while speaking louder. Maybe he has some kind of hearing disability which his parents forgot to mention.
“Lucas, dear. My name is Julia!”
Lucas’ neck suddenly turns to the side with the speed of lightning. He looks deep into your eyes, his expression completely emotionless. Yet it seems like there is something lurking behind his dull expression. Lucas has shoulder long, white hair and deep blue eyes. He suddenly stands up, while not taking his eyes off you, showing that he is quite tall for a 7-year old. Your attention gets drawn back to the TV, showing prisoners being executed by a pistol to the back of their head, dumping lifelessly into a mass grave.
“I don’t think you are old enough to watch this, Lucas.” You quickly pick up the remote and switch channels until you find one showing cartoons.
Lucas just looks at you for a long time, then he says, “I want to watch the other program!”.
His face does not look as expressionless anymore. He has lowered his face while still keeping his eyes on you. Standing there in the dark living room, bathed in the light of the TV it gives him a rather demonic appearance.
Do you want to 1 force him to watch cartoons or 2 let him watch the documentary about the concentration camps?
You tilt your head to the side. “I am the grown-up Lucas. And I decide that a little boy like you should not watch TV with violence in it.”
Lucas opens his mouth slightly. At first you thought he was about to cry, but instead it turns into a vicious smile. “Frantz wants me to watch the documentary!”
You look around in bewilderment. “Who is Frantz?”
“Frantz is my friend. You better do what Frantz says. We all do what he says…”
“Come on, Lucas. Are you sure about that?”
“Frantz says you are a Fette Kuh!” screams Lucas.
You are taken a bit back by his sudden outburst. You must decide what to do, before the situation escalates any further.
1 Ask more about Frantz
2 Let him watch TV
3 Send him to his room
You completely ignore the comment and instead decide to ask about who Frantz is. You take a couple of steps towards Lucas, squatting down so your face is at level with his. “Who is Frantz? Is he a friend?”
Lucas seems to be a bit taken aback by this “Yes, he is my… My friend. Back from when I was living in Germany.”
“Oh I see. Can you tell me more about him?”
“He is the reason why, we moved to USA from Germany. Lucas starts rubbing his left shoulder with his right hand. “He is very old. He is from The Reich.”
Lucas doesn’t reply but turns around and walks back to his spot in front of the TV.
“He doesn’t like it, when I talk about him to other people. That makes him mad.”
It seems like Lucas accepts to watch cartoons instead, so you let the matter of Frantz be. The time is around 6:30pm so it’s a good idea to make some dinner. “All right Lucas I go make us some dinner now. Just call if you need anything, ok?
“Frantz says that I don’t need to eat dinner. He says that you should give me candy!”
There is a tone of menace in Lucas’ voice. The voice does not quite belong to a little boy. You bite down on your lip, being a little tired dealing with Frantz. “Just a second.” You head into the kitchen to check if there is anything in the fridge for you to eat. The kitchen is in same state as the living room, old and worn down. There is a gas stove and the kitchen itself, seems to be from the fifties if not older. You open the fridge and look inside. There’s a hint of something smelling very bad, maybe an old cheese. But hopefully, it is not the dinner. There is a plate with tin foil over it. The plate contains two steaks, some vegetables, potatoes and sauce poured over it. You go through the cupboards finding a pot to put it all in. It takes less than a minute before all the food is in the pot and in the oven.
You walk back into the living room where Lucas is sitting, at the same spot but is watching the documentary again. Lucas doesn’t take his eyes from the screen when he begins to speak. “Frantz says that I must watch this and that I can have candy instead of dinner!”
You make a deep sigh. You have to decide whether you will; 1 Force Lucas to eat dinner or 2 Force Lucas to go to his room.
“Listen to me young man! It is fine that you have an imaginary friend. But it is not ok that you sit there and watch this horrible program and not wanting to eat dinner!” You walk firmly over and turn off the TV.
Lucas just looks at you. “You shouldn’t have done that. Frantz says that he is very mad now. For what you have done.”
You completely ignore Lucas, dragging him less than gently towards the dining table and plant him on one of the chairs. “Sit there, until I bring in the food and we are done eating!”
“Frantz asks if he can join us for dinner? He says that he would like to talk to you. To make you understand.”
Will you 1 “invite” Frantz and set the table for one more, or 2 say no?
“Yeah all right. But then you promise to eat all of the vegetables, ok?”
Lucas nods eagerly. “I promise! Oh boy, I can’t wait for you to meet him!”
After setting the table for three people, you go back to the kitchen to get the food out of the oven. As you enter the hall leading into the living room, you notice that someone has been dragging mud into the hall. First you think that it must have been Lucas. But the prints are the size of a grown man and the footprints are leading into the living room and not out.
Do you choose to 1 Run away or 2 Do you dare to go into the living room?
This is all too much for you! You drop the steaming food on the floor. Lucas starts calling from the living room. “Julia, what happened? Frantz is very anxious to meet you. We are waiting at the table.”
You do not reply but grab your coat and pull your shoes on. A chair is screeching against the floor from within the living room. “Don’t worry. Frantz is coming to help you!” calls Lucas in a merry tone.
There is the sound of heavy boots, as someone slowly walks towards the hall where you are standing. You run to the entrance door and try to rip it open. It’s locked! You pull it a couple of times in desperation, but to no avail. The footsteps draw closer and closer. There is no lock, which you can normally switch on and off from the inside, only a keyhole, but no key! The sound draws closer and closer until there is no doubt, that you are no longer alone in the hall. The sound of a sad melody is being whistled behind you. You turn around looking at a hideous face so close that you can reach out and touch it. It is gaunt and extremely pale, with dark purple circles around the cold starring eyes. Frantz is standing in the hallway, wearing a long, black leather coat, black boots and what appears to be a high-ranking Nazi hat. He suddenly stops whistling and breaks into a smile showing his yellow teeth between his purple lips. “Ungezogenes Mädchen,” whispers Frantz. You barely get to scream before he reaches out for your throat and strankles the life out of you! The last thing you hear before you lose consciousness is Frantz saying, “es ist deine eigene Schuld, mein Schatz!”.
You are completely horrified by the footprints but keep telling yourself that this must be some kind of prank, that this isn’t real. You walk slowly into the living room and immediately spot, that there is someone sitting at the dinner table with his back to you. It looks like a man. He is very tall and broad over the shoulders. He is wearing a long leather coat with mud covered boots and some kind of black general’s hat. Lucas sits unaffected by the table, smiling. “I told you he was real, Julia!”
You are barely able to walk towards the table and put the food down. Then grabbing a chair opposite Frantz, now being able for the first time, to see his face. How you wish that you had just run for the door. Frantz looks like something taken out of a nightmare. His face is sickly white, with the skin stretched taught over the bony face. Dark circles surround the eyes and his thin lips as well. Frantz looks like he has been dead for ages. His pupils are the size of the tip of a needle. He does not say anything he just looks at you, with a calculating gaze, like he is trying to determine your worth.
“I have had a lot of babysitters,” says Lucas matter-of-factly. “But Frantz did not like them one bit.”
You keep staring at Frantz, too afraid to take your eyes off him.
“Frantz knows what is best for me. Do you understand?” asks Lucas.
You nod slowly.
“If you ever displease me or Frantz, your life will take the same turn as the ones before. Understood?”
You nod again, still not able to say anything.
“Good,” says Lucas. “Now be a good girl and bring me my candy!”
Several years go by, where you officially are babysitter to Lucas. The two people who said that they were Lucas’ parents, were former babysitters, which Frantz had assimilated into his and Lucas’ life. The male babysitter did something wrong one day and just disappeared. You don’t know why the woman must leave sometimes, but you are always summoned to be with Lucas. You never dare to disobey. It comes to the point, where you never make any plans or go on vacation. You are always ready for the call to come to be with Lucas. Frantz doesn’t take lightly on being disobeyed. One hour in the box made you do whatever Lucas and Frantz want from you, whenever.
The years go by, as you lose contact with friends and family, living alone in your house, waiting for the call.
You put your hands on your hips, giving Lucas a very stern look. “Stop this nonsense right now young man!”
“But…” says Lucas.
“But nothing! One more word from and y…”
The TV suddenly turns to the WW2 documentary again. You are just about to scold Lucas for changing the channel, when you notice that the remote is lying on the dinner table. “That’s odd…” You walk over and pick up the remote. No matter what button you press, the TV still shows the same program. “You are in big trouble now,” whispers Lucas. “Frantz is coming!”
You ignore him and walk over to the TV and rip out the cable, connecting the TV to the plug in the wall. The TV is still on, even with no electricity! Fear is running from the top of your head down your spine.
“There is no point in running,” screams Lucas. “He will catch you! He always gets what he wants!”
You start walking backwards away from Lucas who is screaming at the top of his lungs. “You shouldn’t have said no! He will put you in the box! He puts the naughty ones in the box!”
Just as you are about to turn around and make a run for it, you feel something hard strike against the back of your head. You fall against a chair, knocking it over. The pain is making it hard to focus. Something grabs your ankle and starts pulling you out of the living room and into the hall. It is impossible to find the strength to lift your head and see who is dragging you. But you can feel yourself being dragged up the stairs to the darkness of the first floor. A door is being opened. The person holding your ankle, must be immensely strong as he is able to drag something heavy out from under the bed with one hand while still clutching your ankle. Your vision is getting better now, and it looks like you’re in the parent’s bedroom. A putrid smell fills the room as the person opens the item which he withdrew from under the bed. There is a harsh sound of fat flies buzzing around. You suddenly remember what Lucas said, about being thrown in the box. You start to scream and kick. But it is to no avail. The person holding you starts to hum a melody while he slowly but determined lifts you off the ground and tries to arrange you in the big travel suitcase, which he had withdrawn. The smell is so strong that you throw up all over the place while screaming and begging for him to let go. The person starts to sing what seems to be a German lullaby. His voice is both rasping and wet at the same time. The louder you scream and try to fight him, the louder he sings. ”Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf. Der Vater hüt die Schaf…”
“Please let me go!” You are sobbing, begging for mercy.
“Die Mutter schüttelts Bäumelein…”
Your body is being pressed against something squishy in the suitcase. The buzzing of flies and the smell almost drown out the singing.
“Da fällt herab ein Träumelein…”
You try to fight against the strong hands, but it is impossible. You are suddenly packed tight together in the suitcase, with what appears to be a rotten corpse! You scream and kick while the singing slowly fades as the suitcase is zipped shut. Then the door to the room closes.
“Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf…”
You really don’t have the energy to be bothered by this kid. Sure, his parents gave a lot of money, but they didn’t tell anything about Lucas’ ADHD or whatever it is. Better to keep the kid happy, so you can tell the parents what an easy task it has been. “Sure Lucas, you can watch whatever you want.”
“That’s more like it” says Lucas, turning his attention back to the TV.
“Whatever…” You drop down on the couch behind Lucas, fishing out your phone and scrolling through Instagram.
An hour goes by. None of you are saying anything to each other, just minding your own business.
“I’m hungry,” says Lucas.
“Yeah, me too. I’ll go see if there’s something in the kitchen for us. Maybe your parents left me a note.”
“They are not my parents,” says Lucas.
You turn around looking at him. “Oh, who are they?”
“They are just babysitters. I don’t have any parents,” says Lucas while he holds his hands up, staring at them. “Frantz doesn’t want us to talk anymore about it.”
“No problem. I’ll go make us some dinner.” You are not bothered about this strange information, so you decide to just leave the matter be. There is something completely off about Lucas.
He looks at you with a menacing stare. “I don’t want dinner, I want candy!”’
You roll your eyes. Annoying little brat!
You can choose to 1 Give him candy or 2 Eat the candy in front of him?
“Whatever…” You walk into the kitchen and start rummaging around for some candy.
“Hurry,” squeals Lucas. “I’m hungry.”
You quickly find a drawer containing all kinds of candy. You grab something for yourself and then walk back to the living room, dumping some in Lucas’ lap.
“Thanks,” mumbles Lucas.
“No problem. What are you watching?”
“Oh, just documentaries about WW2. Frantz says it’s good education.”
“Do you always talk with Frantz?”
“Yeah most of the time. He is always around.”
You make an involuntary gaze around the room. “Where is he now?”
“He is just outside the house, on the sidewalk,” says Lucas and points to one of the windows. “You can look out and say hi. He wants to come in, but I told him not to.”
You slowly stand up and walk towards the window. “Why is that?”
“He can be real mean sometimes. Like the ones that came before you. Sometimes they disappear if we don’t get along, or he just puts them in the box.” Lucas pauses, then says “I don’t like the box at all. It smells!”
You are standing in front of the window now, willing yourself to move the drapes to the side. With one swift movement, the curtain is drawn. Big snowflakes are falling, and the streetlights are illuminating the winter darkness. It would almost look peaceful outside, if it wasn’t for a dark shadow looming near one of the lamp posts outside the house. You can’t see any clear details, but it seems like the figure is a tall man, with some kind of hat on.
“That’s Frantz,” says Lucas, not even bothered to look up from the TV. “But don’t worry. I have told him to let you go. You are too nice to stay here; watching TV with me and giving me candy. All the others only did that because they were too afraid of Frantz.
“So, he won’t come in?”
“Nope,” says Lucas. “Wanna watch some more TV?
The rest of the evening goes on with no further events. You are extremely frightened by Frantz, who is standing just outside. But Lucas who has now moved to the couch with you, keeps on reassuring, that he won’t come in, because you are his friend now. You walk up and look out the window again, but Frantz is nowhere to be seen, and you don’t really know whether it is calming or upsetting.
You hear footsteps at the door a couple of minutes to 11 and Lucas’ “parents” suddenly appear.
“Are you still here?” asks the man clearly surprised.
“Yeah….” You don’t really know what to say.
The man who you now know is definitely not Lucas’ dad walks in and lifts Lucas, waking him gently. “Lucas is it alright if I carry you to bed?”
“Sure,” mumbles Lucas. “Remember to call Julia next time.”
“Of course,” says the man giving you a frightful stare. He walks up the stairs, while the woman waits for you as you put your shoes on. She gives you the remaining 300 dollars and leans in close. “You have to leave as fast as possible,” whispers the woman.
“Sure, I’m going home now.”
“You don’t understand,” says the woman, fear rising in her voice. “You have to leave the country! Or Frantz will find you!”
You take a step back from the woman, who takes a step towards you. “Listen to me! If he likes you too much, you will be held prisoner here until you die! If Frantz or Lucas get mad at you, Frantz might kill you or worse! You’ll end up in the box!” The woman walks past you and opens the door. Then she pushes you out and throws your jacket towards you. “Go!” And then she slams the door shut.
The woman was so persuasive, that you immediately went home and packed your bags. You hadn’t even left for the airport, before your phone started ringing. It was Lucas’ “dad”. You picked it up once. “You have to come back now!” said “the dad”. “You have to come back, or I get thrown in the box!”
“I.. I’m sorry. I can’t deal with this I’m going to the airport.”
“No please don’t! Frantz has already killed Heather for warning you and he says I am next if you don’t come back right now. Please Julia, I’m begging you.”
There was some commotion in the background and then you hear Lucas’ voice. “Come back to play Julia. We miss you!”
You hang up, more determined than ever to leave the country. And never come back.
“You walk into the kitchen, rummaging through the cupboards and drawers to find the candy. It doesn’t take long before you have a plastic bag full of the stuff in one hand and a tomato in the other. You walk back to the living room and nestle down in the couch with the treats.
“Hey!” squeals Lucas. “Where is my candy?”
You smirk at him. “Oh, your candy is right here with me. But I got you this instead!” You cackle as you throw him the tomato, which lands in his lap. Lucas looks like he hasn’t experienced anything like this his entire life. His expression is a mixture of madness and surprise!
You laugh at him while you throw a piece of candy in your mouth. “That should teach you a lesson, not to be such a spoiled bra…”
You hear a whistling sound coming from just outside the main door.
“You shouldn’t have done that Julia. Frantz will come looking for you!”
“Kid… I don’t believe in this Frantz-guy.” The entrance door suddenly slams open. You almost choke on a gummi bear from the shock.
“He is here,” whispers Lucas.
You hear heavy footsteps as someone approaches the living room. You jump up from the couch, looking wildly for a place to hide or escape. But there are no other doors, and you are sure that Lucas would give your hideout away. You decide to run for one of the windows, hoping it can be opened. It would be no problem to jump out through it. You get to the window in a couple of seconds, but the whistling sound is getting louder, as if the person is already in the living room. You open the window and crawl through it, one leg outside and the other still in the living room. You are just about to swing yourself out, when you feel strong hands close around fistfuls of your hair. You are not able to do anything before the hands rip you back into the room, pulling out chunks of hair. You land face down, and before you can turn around, you feel the same strong hands grabbing your head. Someone is mumbling in German and that is the last thing you hear, before the hands break your neck.
You are more than done with this kind of behavior. You march in in front of the TV, blocking it completely. “What are you doing? Du fettleibig Schlampe!”
You have no idea what it means, but it must be some kind of profanity. You point a finger at Lucas. “Go.. To.. Your.. Room.. Now!”
He doesn’t move at all. He just smiles. There is something evil about this kid. You can’t exactly pinpoint it, but it is there. “Frantz is very mad at you, Julia,” says Lucas while staring back at you, right in the eye. “He is coming for you, just as we speak. You will not make it out alive. He will kill you or worse; put you in the box!” Lucas starts to laugh madly.
You are more than done with him. You take a couple of steps forward and grab him by his shoulders. “You are going to your room, young man.” And with that, you lift him easily off the ground and start carrying him up towards the first floor, where you think Lucas’ room must be.
You are half way up the stairs when the light in the hallway starts to flicker. Lucas is screaming, and he sounds more like a beast than he sounds like a 7-year-old boy. The light keeps on flickering and then it goes on and off with a couple of seconds interval. “He is coming,” squeals Lucas. “Frantz is coming for you!”
You get a sinking feeling in your gut. You have never met a child who believed so much in his own imagination as Lucas. You finally get to a door which has ‘Lucas’ written on it with wooden letters. You put Lucas down while still holding his arm, so he won’t run away. Lucas is not screaming anymore but cries while mumbling to himself. “He is coming for you. Frantz is coming.”
The light in the hall is still turning on and off. “Where is that damn switch!” Your attention suddenly gets drawn to an odd sound. You stop searching for the switch and listen intently instead. It sounds like the wooden staircase is creaking a bit, like something heavy is moving up the steps. You shake your head. There is nothing here. Yet fear is starting to take hold on you. This night is just getting weirder and weirder.
You have to decide whether you want to 1 Release Lucas and check the stairs or 2 Keep a hold on Lucas while you search for the switch to his room?
You immediately let go of Lucas. There is something awfully wrong here, and you are going to find out what it is, right now. You slowly walk towards the staircase, holding your breath in excitement. Lucas is still mumbling and whimpering, all the bravado in him completely gone. It sounds like he is saying something about running away. You try to ignore the whimpering boy as you draw nearer to the edge of the stairs. The light suddenly goes out. You stand completely still, not even daring to draw breath. There is utter silence for a moment, but then you hear the creaking of steps once again. It appears that the sound is no more than a couple of steps down the staircase away from you. Then the light suddenly turns on! The man climbing the staircase looks like he is taken directly out of a nightmare! He is dressed in a long, black leather coat, with matching boots and some kind of military hat. But it is his horrible face, which draws your attention. The taught skin on his pale face, appears to be stretched to its limits, on the brink of tearing apart. The skin around his eyes and his lips are sickly purple, the black in his bulging eyes no less than the size of the tip of a needle. His lips part in a horrendous mock of a grin, then he takes a step forward, his arms reaching out.
You take an involuntary step back, but then think better of it. You take a step forward instead and kick the intruder as hard as you can right in his chest. The kick has such a force that he falls back down the stairs. He reaches out to grab the railing, but his gloved fingers slip sending him crashing down the stairs. Your stomach churns as you hear a loud snap when he hits the floor. The light goes out again. There is complete silence, then Lucas speaks. “You are in real trouble now Julia. I am sure Frantz will put you in the box when he catches you!”
You can hear shuffling sounds from the bottom of the stairs followed by the groan from the steps, as Frantz starts to climb them yet again. The light flickers on and you scream as the nightmare slowly moves towards you. Frantz’ neck is twisted at an odd angle. His head is almost parallel with his shoulders. His eyes are filled with pure hatred. Then the light goes out again. Your mind is racing for a way to escape. But the only way is blocked by Frantz. The light turns on again, and you spot a window at the back of the hallway. You quickly run towards it and try open it. The old wooden panel groans against your effort. A distorted wail makes you turn around and look at Frantz who is walking as fast as he can, down the hall, his glowed hands in front of him. His head still pressed against his shoulder. Thin foam has gathered at the edges of his purple lips, which are drawn back in a vicious snarl. You turn your attention back on the window, pushing as hard as possible. It will only be a matter of seconds before Frantz reaches you. The window suddenly opens, and you are just about to fall through it. You quickly grab the windowsill, regaining your balance. Without any more time to think, you turn around still holding the sill, and ease yourself out into the cold night. You try and force yourself to let go, but you are scared about the pain that awaits from the fall. Frantz’ disfigured head appears in the window frame, and that is more than enough motivation for you to let go. Landing on the cold hard grass in the backyard sends jolts of pain through your legs making you crumble on the lawn. “Ich komme für dich, süßes Mädchen,” growls Frantz in a hushed voice before he disappears from the window.
You try and move your legs and are happy to feel, that you are able to stand on them. You quickly get up and start running. You barely register the frosty weather biting into your flesh. All you think about is that hideous face, and the hope that Frantz will never be able to find you again.
Frantz hasn’t found you yet. But it seems that the reason is not for a lack of trying. He calls you often, even though you have changed phone numbers several times. He even calls payphones close to where you are standing, whispering in German. One time you went to a restaurant and a waiter said, that Frantz was calling for a girl named Julia, and if there was anyone here with that name.
You have been on the run for many days. Your only hope is, that Frantz, whoever he is, will lose track of you when you get to the border leading to Mexico. But you are not sure, at all.
You keep a firm hold on Lucas while you search for the switch. “Where is the switch, Lucas?”
“Frantz says, that I am not allowed to tell you where it is.”
You give up talking to the boy, and instead decide to do the searching by yourself. There isn’t any creaking from the staircase anymore. It was probably just your imagination. You find the switch and are finally able to look into Lucas’ room. It is in no way what you had expected. It looks more like a WW2 museum than the room of a little boy. There are all sorts of German WW2 military paraphernalia. The only thing that indicates someone living in the room, is a little bed in the middle of all the antics. There even is what seems to be an original ‘ARBEIT MACHT FREI’ sign hanging above the bed.
You gasp. “Is all of this your stuff, Lucas?”
“Of course not. This is all of Frantz’ things from when he was a general in the SS.”
You don’t have time to reply before the light in the room turns off. Then you hear the door being opened from the hallway, where the light is turned off as well. The door closes softly. “Hab dich jetzt, kleiner Hase,” whispers the voice of a man.
“Frantz is here,” says Lucas.
You can hear something heavy, walk slowly towards you.
“In der Box mit dir,” whispers Frantz. He is so close that you can smell the stink of his breath. It smells of mold and dirt. You get no time to reply before something heavy hits you across the face, knocking you out.
You wake up with a terrible headache. Your entire face is throbbing, and it feels like your nose is broken. Your body is pressed together tightly and then you remember something about a box. You are actually inside one! And you are not able to move at all. Even though your nose is broken, you can smell a sickly-sweet smell all around you. There is something rotten in the box! You can feel soft, wet mush pressed against your back. This is all too much. You scream and kick, trying to get out of your claustrophobic cage but to no avail.
“You will die in there,“ says Lucas who is just outside of the box. “They all die in there sooner or later.” And then he walks out, closing the door behind him.
Maybe it’s better that Lucas actually shows interest in something educational. And WW2 is a great part of human history, shaping the world we live in today. You are also a bit tired and you don’t have the energy for all this fuss. There probably is a hint of autism in Lucas and it is better to just follow the rhythm of the parents, so everything is predictable and normal to him. You sit down on the couch and watch the unusually explicit documentary. There is no speaker in the program, nor any animations. It seems like the program is all handheld black and white recordings, of people living and dying in a concentration camp. The video quality is very bad, and the only sound is from the video itself when someone is yelling, or prisoners are being shot. There are no dramatic sound effects or music. It seems very odd. “Who made this documentary, Lucas?”
“Frantz, of course. It is him who does all the filming.”
“Who is Frantz?”
“He is my friend from Germany.”
“Your friend must be very old, Lucas?”
“Sure,” says Lucas while still watching the program. “Frantz was a general for the SS during the war.”
“Is he like your uncle or something?”
Lucas makes a quiet giggle. “Of course not. He is my friend. You might get to meet him later. He is very close by.”
“Does he live in the neighborhood?”
“Frantz says that you should stop asking questions,” says Lucas. His voice seems to be deeper than it was moments ago. “He says that you should follow me to my room.”
“What’s in your room?”
“You will have to see for yourself,” says Lucas as he stands up and walks slowly out to the staircase in the hallway.
“Lucas, where are you going? Come back.”
He does not respond but starts walking slowly up the stairs, one by one. He suddenly stops and looks back through the open door to the living room. “Frantz says, that he will be very mad if you don’t follow.” Then he turns his head back and continues walking up the stairs.
You have to decide whether you want to 1 Follow Lucas to his room or 2 Stay down here in the living room?
You make your way towards the hallway. It is very weird that Lucas talks about this Frantz-guy. On the other hand he is just a little kid, with an extremely lively, morbid imagination. As you get to the hallway, you get a glimpse of Lucas making a left turn at the top of the staircase. You slowly follow Lucas. There is an open door to your left at the top of the stairs, leading in to what appears to be some kind of museum. The room is crammed with all kinds of paraphernalia from WW2. There is a big Nazi flag on the wall, and there seems to be some dried blood on it. The rest of the room is filled with glass cabinets containing everything from medals to weapons. Lucas is sitting cross-legged in the middle of the room on a bed. There is a rusted metal sign which says: ‘ARBEIT MACHT FREI’ hanging on the wall above the bed.
You look around the room in awe. “Where did you get all these things?”
Lucas looks around. “It is not my stuff. All of it is Frantz’stuff. It’s from Germany. Frantz wants me to ask you something.”
You slowly walk into the room and sit down on the bed next to Lucas. “Oh, what is it he wants you to ask me about?”
“Frantz says that he thinks you will be able to take good care of me. He wants you to move in with us.”
“That sounds very nice. But I can’t live here. I live at my own place and you live here with your parents, remember?”
Lucas scoffs. “They are not my parents. They are just the babysitters I have now. I want you instead!” screams Lucas.
You get up from the bed while Lucas screams, “I want you! I want you! I want you!”
You hear the main door slam shut and then Lucas screams, “we want you! We want you! We want you!”
The light in the room and hallway starts to flicker before it goes completely out, and Lucas goes quiet at the same time. It doesn’t take long before you feel like there is someone or something else in the room with you and Lucas. You slowly walk backwards, to what you hope is furthest away from the door. Your back rubs against a cabinet and you remember that there were guns in some of them. Fear is making it hard for you to think. You are sure that you can hear something much bigger than Lucas walking around in the darkness. The light turns on for the briefest of seconds, but it is enough for you to see, a tall man dressed as an SS officer, standing a few meters away from you. The light turns off again. You lose your balance from the shock, falling backwards and knocking one of the cabinets over. There is a hiss from the man as glass shatters and items fall to the floor. You land on top of it all, searching for a gun. It doesn’t take long before your hand closes on cold metal. You aim the weapon left and right with trembling hands. A booming voice starts to yell in German; “Lass meine Waffe los, Schlampe!”
It sounds like the man is standing right in front of you! Panic takes over and you squeeze the trigger, aiming in the direction where you think the man is. Three successive flashes light up the room, but it gets dark so quickly that you aren’t able to see the man. Silence follows except for your whimpering. Then the light miraculously comes back on. There is no sign of the man, but Lucas is lying on his back in the middle of the room. You slowly crawl towards him fearing the worst.
Lucas’ eyes are open in surprise, his shirt drenched in blood. You have killed him! There is no sign of the dreadful man. No sign of him at all. You quickly drop the gun, grab your belongings and run away as fast as you can.
You are on the run for several days, as the state issues a manhunt for you. They catch you after a couple of days, tracking you via your purchases with your credit card. You get charged and convicted with first degree murder of Lucas, spending the rest of your life in prison. It keeps on nagging till the end of your days; who Frantz actually was? Why Lucas’ parents never went back to the house and were never found?
You don’t want to follow Lucas. This is going to be a long evening and it does Lucas no good in the long run, if he thinks that grown-ups will do whatever he says. If you follow him to his room, what will he make you do next? You look at the TV showing the awful program and decide to turn it off. You move back to the couch, sitting a bit with your phone. Your plan is to let Lucas be on his own for a while and see if he decides to come down to you, when he realizes that you won’t follow his every whim.
All the light suddenly goes off, making your telephone the only source of light. “Damn it!” You turn the flashlight in your phone on as you get up and make your way towards the staircase. “I think the power went off, Lucas. I’m going to see if I can turn it back on.”
“Don’t bother,” calls Lucas. “It is Frantz who is coming!”
You stop before you get into the hall. “Who is Frantz?”
As if answering your question, the main door suddenly opens. You hear someone wearing heavy boots walk slowly into the house.
“Hello, who is there?” you ask.
No one is answering. Instead you hear a person whistle a melody, while the footsteps draw closer and closer.
You have to decide whether you want to 1 Try and get out of the house leaving Lucas or 2 Wait and see who the person is.
You are not being paid anything close to making it worth risking your life. You quickly turn around and run to one of the windows in the living room, opening it with ease. It only takes a couple of seconds more, before you are out of the window and running in your socks down the street. You don’t even dare to look over your shoulder. Instead you just keep on running.
You try and call out again, even though your heart is beating like a drum and you are so scared that it is hard for you to breathe. “Wh… Who is it?”
“Ich komme für Sie,” says the voice who was whistling moments ago. You take an involuntary step back as the flashlight from your phone reveals a man in the doorway. The man is dressed in a long black leather coat with black boots and a black general’s hat. His face is hideous, like something taken out of a horror movie. He is skeleton thin and bone-white except for the purple circles around his eyes and thin lips. He gives you a mock of a smile as he slowly advances, while opening his arms wide. “Komm zu Frantz!”
You turn around to flee but he is too fast. You feel his hands grab around your neck, choking the life out of you. You try to fight him in a desperate attempt to make your escape, but he is too strong. You suddenly notice Lucas, who is watching it all from the hallway. “Help.. Me.. Lucas.” You stretch your arms out to him in a pleading gesture. The last thing you see is Lucas smiling while shaking his head. “You got what you deserved.”
You are more than done with Lucas’ misbehavior. It will do him good with a little timeout in his room. “I will not tolerate you acting like a naughty boy.” You put your hands on your hips to emphasize that you are serious.
Lucas turns his attention towards you, completely ignoring the TV. It seems like he is contemplating what you have just said and how he will respond to it. He puckers his lips taking his time. You are just about to scold him for not responding, but then he says “fine”.
It was a good call from your side giving him a timeout. It seems like Lucas is accepting the fact that you are in charge. You follow him from the living room and into the hall. Lucas takes a couple of steps up the stairs before he turns around. His expression seethes with barely controllable rage. There is a big vein in his throat and you can actually see it throbbing. “I only do this, because you are dead soon anyway,” says Lucas through clenched teeth.
You are a bit taken aback but quickly regain your composure. You have been called a lot of bad things during your career, so this isn’t new. The promising tone on the other hand, is very new.
“You will not talk to me in tha… Hey come back here I talking to you.”
Lucas is completely ignoring you, stomping up the stairs like a front figure leading a military parade. He slams the door to what you think must be his room. You think about what would be the best thing to do next.
You suddenly hear a crashing sound behind you! It sounds like the main door is being kicked off its hinges! You can feel bits and pieces from the door and wall rain over you. Just as you are about to turn around and see what it is, you feel someone push you to the ground. Strong hands grab your hair, lifting your head and arching your back. You start to scream in pain and surprise. You get a glimpse of Lucas standing at the top of the stairs looking down on you. He rubs his hands together and gives you a wide smile. “Frantz is here.”
That is the last thing you hear before Frantz smashes your head against the stairs.