Max fumbled around with his red ball for what seemed like hours. Just rolling it around in his hands, examining every bit of surface as though it contained the meaning of life. And to a toddler, perhaps it did contain the meaning of life. He took it everywhere he went, never playing with it; only examining. From time to time he’d drop the ball and he stare at it confusedly as though the ball had tried to escape. But the ball would always sit there and wait, almost as if it were asking Max to pick him up again. And Max would.

One day, the red ball rolled under the sofa. So Max crawled over and peaked underneath the sofa and there the ball was, sitting lonely in the back. He tried to crawl under but was much too big so he just reached his arm under instead. Max’s arm was much too short to reach the ball, yet he strained anyways to reach it. He strained for minutes, not crying as a normal child would. In fact, he made not a sound until his mother came and scooped him up, at which point he screamed and cried at the loss of the ball. For hours on end Max wept. He wept until his body could weep no more and he feel asleep from sheer exhaustion.

That night as Max lay asleep in his crib, a gentle moonlight shown through the window and cast onto the floor. Suddenly though, as if beckoned, Max awoke and stood in his crib. Looking over the side on the floor in the cast moonlight was the red ball. He stared at it for a while, unmoving, simply perplexed by the mysteries it must hold. Then, after moments of watching, Max attempted to climb over the rail of crib. It was difficult, but after some attempts, he was able to lift himself over the top. Max fell headlong to the floor and snapped his neck. As his last moments of life flickered away on the cold wooden boards, he saw the red ball slowly roll by and settle itself deep underneath the crib.

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3 thoughts on “Max and the Red Ball

    1. I wrote that one shortly after my daughter was born. I wanted to write something that would bother a parent. So I chose an implied supernatural element and tied it with something innocent that a child loves, in this case the ball. So the terror in this story can be taken two ways. The first being that there’s something out to get your child and you don’t know about it and can’t stop it. The other is that terrible things just simply happen and that death can come at anytime to anyone. When I wrote it, I was honestly thinking demon possessed ball leading a child to their death. But I did intentionally keep it vague so that it makes the normal mundane seem frightening as well.

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