top of page

a series of tickle fiction by

MainTitle_LG_GrayText.png

chapter 5

the boy in the closet

september 2009
san diego, CALIFORNIA

        The blades of helicopters whipped against the winds, creating a sound that emulated the rapid fire of a machine guns. Police sirens were a constant. So were the screams. Signs everywhere read: 

quarantine: class 2       

        The mysterious infection had infiltrated San Diego proper, and, consequently, chaos ensued. Quarantines were set up. Another city west of The Line locked down. Those attempting to flee were required to navigate GUARD-controlled checkpoints. Anyone deemed "Infected" was not allowed to leave. Kyle Carter--Jake's younger brother--was one such individual.
        “No. You’re wrong! He can’t be infected!!” Kyle's mother screamed at the indifferent soldier, her eyes swollen with tears. Her cries were barely audible over the protests of the civilians around her.
        “I’m sorry ma’am, there's nothing we can do," the GUARD officer responded. "Your family may voluntarily elect to remain in the city with your son, but he will not be allowed to leave the QZ."
        “Check him again!” Kyle's father said.
        “Sir, you and your family will need to move aside and--"
        “Check him again!"
        The officer, against his better judgement, leaned forward to look closely into the hazel eyes of the terrified fifteen-year-old standing in front of him. Kyle shifted his gaze towards the ground.
        “Son, I need you to look at me," said the GUARD soldier.
        “It'll be okay,” said his older brother--Jake--from beside him. He tousled his brown hair and attempted to smile.
        “Kyle, listen to the officer,” his mother implored. Many civilians were beginning to shout impatiently from behind them. Kyle turned to his brother, then to his parents, and finally to the officer.
        “I'm doing this one more time and one more time only," he said and reactivated the small device in his hand "I have a son too." The devise looked like a taser. On the end opposite the grip were two small notches. "Again, you might feel a slight tickle," he said and pressed the notches against the side of Kyle's neck.

        Bzzzzzt. The device sent a pulse into the boy's skin.

        Kyle, who had not reacted during his first test, now underwent a very evident change. He yelped and pulled away, grabbing at the irritated spot on his neck. Then, he began to spasm.

        "Kyle?" Jake gasped.

        "What did you do to him?" Kyle's father shouted.

        "He's infected," the GUARD soldier shouted. "I need backup at Gate Three," he spoke into his comms device.

        "No! No!" Kyle's mother ran towards her son, but Kyle suddenly opened his eyes, limbs still jolting erratically. His pupils had severely dilated.

        "My boy." She gasped and held her hands to her mouth. Jake felt the immediate urge to cry. 

        "Kyle?" Jake asked again, cautiously approaching his brother, who had resumed some control over his body. He slammed his eyes shut and grasped at his head. 

        That's when the screams came.
        “Sir!" shouted another GUARD officer.

        As two more helicopters hammered overhead, a crazed woman broke through a wall of civilians only a few yards back. She pounced on a man in his mid-twenties and began to violently tickle him. He screamed with involuntary laughter. The people nearest the sudden outburst were terrorized and fled in waves towards the barricade. Dozens began breaking through as the soldiers started to lose control of the situation.

        "Run!" Jake and Kyle's father ordered. He took hold of his wife's hand and darted through the checkpoint.

        Civilians fell. Soldiers fell. Barricades fell, and as they did, the flood of bodies was greeted by a resisting barrage of bullets, fired at random as the people wielding guns were also attacked by spasming, writhing Infected.
        Blood fell.

        Jake pulled his brother to the ground, looking up just in time to see his mother and father reel back as their bodies were struck. More Infected rose up with howls and roars.         

        The gunshots and screams continued.

present
november 2009
ANAHEIM, caLIFORNIA

        "Jake...I'm-- I'm so sorry," I said. Hearing about his past, what happened to his parents and to his brother, did make me feel some sympathy for him, and for the infected boy still roaring at us from inside the master bedroom where we'd left him.

        “No, I’m sorry. I shouldn't have lied to you. I should have told you about Kyle." Jake wiped the tears from his eyes and shook his head. "I’ve been traveling with him since we lost our parents. His infection wasn't that serious. Not at first. I actually thought that, I dunno, maybe he wasn't going to be affected. Not like the others. I mean, it's been almost two months." He laughed miserably.

        "Two...months?" I frowned. That wasn't right. The longest time from infection to turning was no more than two days, according to the news. "He was infected two months ago?"

        Jake nodded. "Yeah."

        "And how long was it before he...?"

        Jake sighed and hung his head. "It's been getting worse and worse. Harder to keep him under control."

        "But...how is that--? I mean, once a garg turns, they don't...revert."

        "That's the thing." Jake cleared his throat and sniffed. "I've been...letting him tickle me, and I think... I think it's helping him. Or, at least, it's slowing down h-his condition. Plus, I'm able to get the recordings from it--my laughter. It's a win-win."

        My eyes widened. "No. No way."

        "I'm telling you, Andrew. I'm a lot closer to this thing than you think. I understand it better than most people. And I think that if I can get Kyle to L.A..."

        "Why not just call GUARD?"

        "You know why," Jake said. "If I report him, they'll just take him away."

        I wanted to ask him how he was so sure they wouldn't just separate him from Kyle once they arrived at the outpost, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. Instead, I asked him another question: "So, you've been letting him tickle you?"

        He nodded.

        "And... you haven't been... infected?"

         "No," he says. "I make sure that I'm always well-clothed. Socks. Long-sleeve shirts. You know--the infection can't get through clothing."

        "Sure..." I said, though I wasn't convinced.

        We heard Kyle banging against the closet walls again, probably using his legs, as his arms were still tied above his head. 

        “Listen, Andrew. If you feel that this situation is too dangerous for you--” Jake started, and I turned to him.

        “Jake, I don’t… know…” I said.

        “You can leave, if you’d like. I mean, you can stay here for the night, but first thing in the morning, if you want to just… leave, you can…”

        I considered everything. It wasn't like I was any safer back at my place, or out on the streets. At least Jake provided some sense of security, even with the dangerous baggage that came with him. Still, I wasn't quite sure what to do or how to feel. "We'll see, Jake," I said after a moment's pause. "I like you, and who knows where I'd be right now if you hadn't come to help me? But, harboring a gargalite--even if it's your brother--it's-- it's not...safe. I mean, based on what you told me earlier--and seeing Shay turn--I know that the gargalites really aren't who they were. The infection changes them. I mean, how do you even know that Kyle is still... Kyle?"

        "I just do. He's different, Andrew. I'm telling you." Jake looked at me. "And he's my brother. I love him. I can’t just leave him behind. If I abandon him, he’ll be at risk of harming others or...w-worse."

        “I know, but--”

        “I’ve made my decision. Made it a long time ago. Like I said, I won’t blame you if you want to leave. If you want to stay though, just know that Kyle will be with us.”

        I let out a long breath. "I need some time. To think about this."

        "Of course."

        "And to be honest, I'm not a hundred-percent convinced that I'm safe here, even with Kyle tied up. If he gets out..."

        "He won't." Jake made sure I was looking him in the eyes. "I promise. I've had a lot of practice with him. Believe me." He rested his hand on my knee. "You're safe."

4 months ago
July 2009

        “Shit," I muttered, turning up the dial of my radio as I sped into my neighborhood, listening to a reporter on the news:

        “At least twenty more incidents have been reported in the last two days," said the female reporter through the speakers of my car. "There are no leads or suspects at this time. Whether or not this a direct result of the pandemonium striking the West Coast is still up for debate. Experts in the medical field are beginning to fear that these attacks may actually be symptomatic of a possible contagion that..."

        I stopped paying attention to what the reporter was saying as I drove up to a yellow barrier comprised of strips of CAUTION tape. This fragile, newly created wall was running across both lanes of the street, blocking the road that led to my cul-de-sac.

        “What?" I pulled over and parked illegally at the curb. I jumped out of my car and broke into a jog, now in route to my street. That mid-summer sky, tangerine and blue--colors that clashed with ominous foreboding--seemed to loom over the world like a suffocating blanket. The season was appropriately hot and dry.

        "Má. Dad," I muttered with determination under my breath. Against the instructional signs on the street corner, I ducked beneath the tape and ran towards my house. A few police officers began shouting at me.

        “Hey! Stop!”

        “No, it’s okay, I live here!” I turned and reasoned, but they would not listen. I saw the metallic flash of guns appear.

        I halted. “Whoa, whoa!” I held up my hands.

        “Freeze!”

        “Listen, Officer, I--”

        “Didn’t you see the signs?" said one of the cops. "This area is under lockdown!"

        “But I live here," I repeated. "My parents live here! I just want to see if they're all right!"

        “What's your name, son?” The cop suddenly seemed intrigued. He slowly lowered his gun. His partner, however, remained firm, weapon pointed right at me.

        “Andrew," I stammered. "Andrew Adler."

        “Adler… and your address?”

        I told him, almost in the manner of an automaton, and I directed their gazes towards my distant home near the end street. It stood, warm gray in hue against the cold bronze skyline, idle and alone. The cop began to speak into a walkie clipped to his vest, repeating the information I'd just given him to an unknown source. After a few seconds, he tapped at his earpiece. I glanced at the cop's partner, who was still staring me down with grave intensity.

        “Isaac and Gloria?” the first cop finally asked.

        “Y-yes. They're my parents,” I confirmed.

        The cop’s voice dwindled away--volume and power fading in unison--and he closed his eyes. The other officer finally lowered his gun. I started to feel a horrible sinking in my stomach.

        “Where are my parents?” I was growing unimaginably impatient and desperate to be with the ones closest to me. 

        The cop sighed and approached me. He paused a moment before relaying to me the news that would forever change me: “Son, I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but your parents were reported dead this morning following an evac near The Block. It was a car accident. I'm sorry."

        The phrase echoed over and over in my mind at least a dozen times, and every time the words recycled and filtered into my brain, they were rejected. “Wh-what...?"

        “My condolences. You need to come with me."

        “No…”

        “Son, if you come with us, we can get you to--"

        “No, no, no... No!” The words exploded from my mouth without warning, and I turned and started running towards my house. I didn’t see my dad's red Pontiac in the driveway. My father was in love with that car.

        "Hey!" the cop shouted. "You can't--!"

Soundtrack: Andrew witnesses the Infected firsthand."Beat" by Takafumi Wada
00:00 / 00:38

        And then he was interrupted by a strange sound. It was like the synthesis of a howl, a roar, and a screech, and it cracked across the quiet neighborhood. I nearly tripped over my own feet trying to stop, a strange force of terror and curiosity overtaking me. I turned around.

        A woman, about fifty or sixty years in age, was sprinting towards the officers with a stamina and determination I did not think possible. Her mouth was strangely agape, a wild look in her eyes. Her posture was crooked. Her step was clumsy, but quick. The officer that had spoken to me, now shouted at the oncoming woman: "Ma'am! Stand down! We're armed!"

        "Fuck!" his partner yelled. He turned his gun on the woman. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

        The lady lunged at the policeman, leaping at least three feet in the air at a few yards’ distance from him, and she landed upon him. The hit was powerful, and he fell back, hard against the asphalt. His gun went off and I instinctively dropped to the pavement. 

        “Oh, shit…” I breathed.

        The woman dug her bony fingers into the cop’s exposed armpits and, to my outright abashment, she began to... tickle him...

        What...the fuck...?

        At least, that's what my brain processed from the scene I was witnessing. So...the pandemonium was... true? I thought. This was...real? I only had a fraction of a second or so to see what was unfolding before me, but the cop yelled out and began to laugh, just as several bullets entered the woman’s skull. She fell over dead. The other officers, the evacuating neighbors, and myself all stood around both victims in unified silence.

        After several long seconds, I just shook my head, released a lungful of air and tried to pull myself to my feet. My legs were shaking. My throat began to sting and my eyes began to water. “M-Má?" I stammered, stumbling towards my house. "D-Dad... Haley..."

        Was my sister dead too? I suddenly felt so alone. So vulnerable. So frightened. The image of the woman attacking the police officer kept replaying over and over in my head.

        “Oh my god..." I moaned. "Oh...god..."

        Another crazy cry rang out, seizing my spine, sending shivers down my back. 
        “There's more of them!” another cop yelled. Bystanders who had been watching things unfold around me began to scream and flee as another random civilian tore into the area with a similar screech and began bounding towards the people nearest them.

        “No. No f-fucking w-way…” I wheezed, my body threatening collapse. “W-what the fuck is happening...?" A gunshot. A screech. Screams. Another gunshot. Another screech. More screams. Like a rhythmic pattern of terror, and with each passing second, the rhythm grew more powerful, louder, fiercer, more penetrating, reverberating through me to my very core.

        As I managed to make it to my front door, I couldn't help but look back one last time to survey the horrifying scene in front of me--my neighborhood descending into absolute madness.

present
november 2009

        My consciousness backfired into the present as the remaining sound of gunfire continued to ring loudly in my ears. Jake had returned to the master bedroom, and I was now on the couch alone. He had retrieved for me a blanket and a pillow before he had decided to deal with Kyle--calm him down. I turned to the side, finding it difficult to get comfortable, despite the sofa's softness. My eyes fell upon a little black box on the coffee table. 

        I gasped.

        The ring. I must have removed it from my pocket when I'd first arrived. I had completely forgotten about it. It already seemed like it was from another lifetime, and truly, it was. I reached forward to touch it, hoping that it would act as some sort of totem that would prove to me that this entire world was merely a dream layer deep within my subconsciousness. Hearing Jake’s voice from the master bedroom stopped my fingertips from touching the case.

        I could hear muffled sounds from down the hall, but I tried my best to drown them out:

        “C'mon, Kyle, please calm d-down….”

        A long heavy growl.

        “Fight it…please…”

        A snarl.

        Kyle must’ve been growing more monstrous by the minute. I assumed that he was so desperate for the sound of laughter, that his savage symptoms as a gargalite were completely overrunning whatever humanity Jake swore he had left. 

        I couldn't ignore this. I got up from the couch and wandered back down the hall towards the bedroom door. I could hear Jake continue to try and communicate with the tickle monster beyond.

        “Okay, Kyle, I’m going to let you out.... I know you don't really remember who I am yet, b-but you w-will... j-just take it easy.”

        The gargalite hissed eagerly. I approached the door and just stood there, waiting. Horrified. A very strange commotion followed:

        “No K-Kyle, n-not y-yet…heehee….” Jake began to giggle madly. His shaky laugh was joined by the sounds of clanking metal and splintering wood. After a few more seconds, the gargalite let out a monstrous roar and I heard a loud thud. Jake began to howl with instantaneous laughter. It was cute and boyish at first, but then his panicked giggles became deep guffaws, which then turned into something desperate and scared. And beneath his crazed amusement, I heard another sound--a strange, almost lulling purr. Kyle? He sounded almost like he was in a state of ecstasy. This scared me, but despite my fear, my mind started ordering me to enter the room and stop the insanity. What was I supposed to do? This was what Jake wanted, right? He assured me he had everything under control.

        “NOT MY FEEHEEHEET! NO, NOT MY FEEHEEHEET!!!!!” Jake continued to wail. I began to back away from the door.

        This kind of tickling was not one that I typically favored, as someone who had a love for it. I'd studied tickling a lot growing up, and I knew that a normal physiological response to being tickled was due in part to the unification of both pain and pleasure receptors sending corresponding messages to the brain. But there was no pleasure in the sounds that Jake was making; there was only pain.       

        As Jake shrieked again, the gargalite’s animal-like purring started to emulate something more along the lines of a teenaged male reaching orgasm. The sickening knot in my stomach twisted into an implosion of sudden nausea, and I sprinted away from the room as fast as I possibly could, heading straight for the front door of the apartment.

        I'm sorry, Jake, I thought. I can't do this. I can't be complicit in this. When I opened the door, however, I was greeted by the mouth of a gun. 

        "Shit!" I shouted, and I fell back with a loud gasp.

        “You!” I looked up and saw a young woman, brown skin and dark features. She looked to be about my age, maybe a little older. She was dressed as a soldier from her protective vest down to her combat boots. She rushed forward and outstretched her hand, offering to help me up.

        “What’s going on…? Who are you?” I asked.

        “Agent Ramirez, with GUARD." She flashed me a badge.

        "GUARD?"

        "We know that there are gargs in the apartment," she continued, pushing past me. "Where's the threat?"

        I was dumbstruck. “Why did--? H-how--?”

        “The laughter. Where's the threat?" she repeated. "Eric!" she called to someone behind her.

        A tall, built young man, adorned in a similar outfit to Agent Ramirez, suddenly rushed in. He bore a slight resemblance to her, but his facial features indicated that he was a bit younger. He was carrying a similar weapon.

        "This is my brother, Agent Ramirez," said Agent Ramirez.

        "I--"

        "Eric," she said to her brother. "Go find the victim. Put down the threat."

        “What are you doing?” I asked, watching the male newcomer head down the hall, gun at the ready. He was obviously following the sounds of Jake's laughter.

        “Come with me,” the other Agent Ramirez instructed, but I ignored her.

        “Wait, no! What are you doing!” I repeated.

        "He's going to subdue the Infected," she explained. Her brother cocked his weapon.

        "You mean kill him?" 

        "If I have to," said Eric.

        "No! You can't!" I said.

        Eric stopped before reaching the hall and turned around. “Why not?” He raised a brow. "Jules, you think he's also one of them?" he asked his sister. "Aren't they, like, a hive mind, or some shit? Isn't that what Brian said?"

        "What the hell are you talking about?" I asked.

        “We’re not falling for your bullshit." The agent named Jules now cocked her weapon and pointed it at me. "You and your little garg friend in there are not going to infect anyone else! Do you hear me?"

        "I'm not a gargalite!" I shouted, putting my arms up. "The kid there--the one laughing--he saved me from some gargs earlier! I know what it looks like, but he-- he's letting himself be tickled..."

        Jules cocked her head and furrowed her brow, but she didn't drop her weapon. “Of all the sick lies... Stage Ones are usually clever, but--"

        "I'm not infected!" I said again.

        “Wait, Jules." Eric suddenly held up his free hand. "Shh. Listen." 

        We both quieted and turned to him. The argument that had ensued upon these strangers’ unexpected intrusion had prevented us from noticing that Jake’s laughing screams had ceased.

        Silence.

        “We may be too late.” Jules sighed.

        "Too late? What do you mean?” I asked

        “Eric, find the victim and take out the garg.”

        “No!” I ran after him. Jules shouted something at me from behind, but I didn’t care. I couldn’t let this guy kill Kyle. We both raced to the bedroom door at the end of the hall. I continued to plead with Eric, but he was insistent and armed, and I knew I was powerless. Surprisingly, neither of the GUARD soldiers fired at me, despite their loud, consistent warnings. We approached the doorway of the master bedroom, and Eric burst onto the scene. As the three of us poured into the room, we froze up.

        Kyle, the young infected adolescent, was still hunched over his motionless older brother. Jake's body had been bared. His shirt was torn, his socks removed. 

        "What the hell?" Jules whispered.

        "Jake," I gasped.

        Kyle was spasming and twitching, his eyelids fluttering. He grappled backward and started to moan, emitting sounds that were similar to cries of pain or mourning. Through his agony, we could all make out the uttering of words. The same words, over and over and over.

        "S-sorry, Jake. S-sorry, sorry....s-sorry..."

        Jake didn't respond.

        Eric raised his weapon again and pointed it right at Kyle's head, and this prompted the garg to look up at us, as best as he could through his spasms and twitches. When he opened his eyes, there was a clarity about them. His pupils were dilated, but not like they were before. They were almost...normal.

        “S-s-so sorry….

Author's notes: 

This chapter was first posted on a tickling-focused forum back on August 6, 2010 and has since been edited and revised multiple times. 

Last updated December 7, 2023.

WHAT READERS HAVE SAID ABOUT chapter 5: 

"You create suspense and describe things so well. Even if this story had no tickle aspect to it, I would still be hooked. Wow, just wow.

newsboys6

"Oh my... Very intense storytelling, and an extremely touching cliffhanger. You're doing a great job here."

kumorifox

"It seems to me that you put a lot of effort and feeling into these stories. You're very talented."

darkzodiacking

YOUR RESPONSE

Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment!

lg_logo_full_white.png
  • Instagram
  • DeviantArt
bottom of page