Smee by Alfred Burrage

Smee by Alfred Burrage

This is a short story in the genre of horror, which tells the readers about one sinister and mysterious game. Fourteen friends gather in a big house on Christmas Eve. Someone suggests playing hide and seek, but one of the boys categorically refuses. He says that he will never play hide-and-seek again, because he saw the death of a young girl during this game. He offers the others one interesting entertainment. Smee is a game for such large companies. Someone gets a piece of paper with the inscription ‘Smee’, but no one knows who it is. Then the members of the game start going from room to room and trying to find this mysterious conspirator. But sometimes it happens so that someone mysterious and sinister joins the game.

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Smee by Alfred Burrage

‘No,’ said Jackson with a shy little smile. ‘I’m sorry. I won’t play hide and seek.’

It was Christmas Eve, and there were fourteen of us in the house. We had had a good dinner, and we were all in the mood for fun and games – all, that is, except Jackson. When somebody suggested hide and seek, there were loud shouts of agreement. Jackson’s refusal was the only one.

It was not like Jackson to refuse to play a game. ‘Aren’t you feeling well?’ someone asked.

‘I’m perfectly all right, thank you,’ he said. ‘But,’ he added with a smile that softened his refusal but did not change it. ‘I’m still not playing hide and seek.’

‘Why not?’ someone asked. He hesitated for a moment before replying. ‘I sometimes go and stay at a house where a girl was killed. She was playing hide and seek in the dark. She didn’t know the house very well. There was a door that led to the servants’ staircase. When she was chased, she thought the door led to a bedroom. She opened the door and jumped – and landed at the bottom of the stairs. She broke her neck, of course.’

Smee by Alfred Burrage

We all looked serious. Mrs Fernley said, ‘How terrible! And were you there when it happened?’

Jackson shook his head sadly. ‘No,’ he said, ‘but I was there when something else happened. Something worse.’

‘What could be worse than that?’

‘This was,’ said Jackson. He hesitated for a moment, then he said, ‘I wonder if any of you have ever played a game called “Smee”. It’s much better than hide and seek. The name comes from “It’s me”, of course. Perhaps you’d like to play it instead of hide and seek. Let me tell you the rules of the game.

‘Every player is given a sheet of paper. All the sheets except one are blank. On the last sheet of paper is written “Smee”. Nobody knows who “Smee” is except “Smee” himself – or herself. You turn out the lights, and “Smee” goes quietly out of the room and hides. After a time the others go off to search for “Smee” – but of course they don’t know who they are looking for. When one player meets another he challenges him by saying, “Smee”. The other player answers “Smee”, and they continue searching.

‘But the real “Smee” doesn’t answer when someone challenges. The second player stays quietly beside him. Presently they will be discovered by a third player. He will challenge and receive no answer, and he will join the first two. This goes on until all the players are in the same place. The last one to find “Smee” has to pay a forfeit. It’s a good, noisy, amusing game. In a big house it often takes a long time for everyone to find “Smee”. Perhaps you’d like to try. I’ll happily pay my forfeit and sit here by the fire while you play…

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