IC: Bryce Cliff
"Eggs, milk, butternut squash..." The sandy-haired teen read the list aloud as he walked down the street. It was late in the evening, so he could only read off a few items at a time whenever he passed under a street light.
"How on earth did Mom forget the milk?" the young girl by his side asked with a sigh. "I was complaining to her all morning that I couldn't eat my cereal because we were out of milk."
"The world doesn't revolve around you, Marie," the boy said with a slight chuckle. "Mom's had a busy day; you can't blame her for forgetting about it by the time she made it to the store this afternoon."
"Yeah, I guess you're right," Marie shrugged. The two siblings walked in silence for a bit. "Hey, Bryce, are we going to get something for Mom while we're out?" Their mother's birthday was in a few days, and neither of them had bought her anything yet.
"Of course," Bryce smiled, glancing down at his sister. "I've been saving up to get her a necklace from the jeweler's, but I thought tonight we could pick up a box of chocolates or something. And the night before her birthday, we should get her some flowers."
"Oh, that'll be so lovely!" Marie grinned, barely able to contain her excitement.
The two arrived at a crosswalk and Bryce glanced back down at the grocery list as they waited for the light to change. "Let's see... butternut squash, lettuce... Mom really forgot a lot, didn't she?"
"Bryce, I think there's something wrong with the lights," Marie said.
The teen looked up from his list to see that the crosswalk sign had somehow glitched -- various segments of the digital display were lighting up sporadically. The stoplights were also freaking out as the red, yellow, and green lights blinked in a seemingly random pattern. "What in the world...?"
"Bryce, look out!" Marie shoved her brother to the ground as a ghostly hand tried to grab him.
Bryce looked up in horror as the thing that had tried to attack him grabbed Marie instead. It looked like a ghost, except its skin (if you could call it that) was white and flowing, although ragged at the edges, like a torn sheet of cloth. It had a gaping maw full of sharp teeth. But the most disturbing feature was the creature's black, soulless eyes. If its skin was a ripped sheet, then its eyes were empty holes, and Bryce felt like he was staring into a void.
As the ghost drifted off with his sister in tow, Bryce finally regained his senses. "Marie!" he screamed, scrambling to his feet and chasing after the creature. The ghost flew down the street tirelessly, ignoring Marie's kicking and screaming. Bryce ran as fast as he could. He was slowly catching up to the ghost, but he knew that he couldn't keep up this pace forever.
The ghost turned down a narrow alley and easily floated over a chain fence. "You're not getting away that easily," Bryce muttered, continuing to run at full speed. He jumped onto a trashcan to propel himself over the fence. He landed hard on the other side and had to take a second to catch his breath before chasing after the ghost once more.
The ghost reached the street at the other end and fled into an adjacent alley. Bryce turned the corner just in time to see the creature and his sister vanish into a portal. The teen didn't have time to think. The portal was rapidly closing, and he knew what he had to do. Not dropping his pace, Bryce ran at the portal in full force and dove in.