This is how my brother died.
My brother, James, and I always loved to play tag in the woods behind our house. Even though it was just the two of us, we had a blast! We'd usually give each other enough time to go hide somewhere in the woods, and then the chase was on - and boy, was there a lot of hiding spots. Sometimes, I'd wait for what felt like hours until I heard my brother trampling branches and leaves. Since I was a fair sport (and sitting in uncomfortable positions for a long time wasn't something I liked to do), I usually came out and said "You got me!"
But James wasn't like that at all. He used to tease me because I'd have walked past his hiding spot several times, and it was usually something you didn't know could be used as a hiding spot unless you looked closely. For instance, one day he managed to hide in a pile of leaves... and right below that was a small den that some animal must have used in the winter. You see what I mean? He was a master at our game.
On the first day of Spring Break, we rushed out into the woods, ready to begin a great day of tag and the other nonsense children get into. Like usual, we used "Rock, Paper, and Scissors" to decide who was 'it'. I lost, of course, so I closed my eyes and waited a few moments while James rushed off into the brush.
And the game began! I ran off in the direction my brother had went, and this time I was determined to find him. NowI was going to be the master at this game. But as time went by, I started to give up hope. That's when I heard it - a sneeze, coming from my left. Knowing there was only one other person out in these woods, I crashed through them and came face-to-face with James.
It wasn't the best hiding spot that he'd had: It was a small opening in-between some trees with a bush blocking the rest from sight. My brother was sitting under a tree, his eyes on this vine that was growing on it.
"Got you," I told him.
He didn't respond at first. I was about to ask again, but he turned to acknowledge me and said "Okay." And that was it, apparently. He closed his eyes as if he were counting, and I rushed out to find a hiding place. I hadn't noticed anything weird then, but looking back on it now... it wasn't like James at all.
Over the course of the day, James became more withdrawn, not saying anything. Around our third playthrough, he even started carrying a 'spear' with that vine wrapped around it...
The final time we played, I hid in a tree. My brother had never acted like this before, you see, and it was starting to scare me. I stayed still for several moments, looking out into the forest to see if I could spot my brother. But... there was nothing. I could neither see nor hear him.
I looked down at the bottom of the tree and saw him standing there, looking up at me.
I froze in fear, not knowing what to do. I hadn't heard him arrive!
He started to climb up towards me, so I climbed either until there was nowhere else to go. And he continued up towards me, that spear on his back...
I looked at him, fear in my eyes, as he reached my level. He was still for a moment, then took the spear off of his back and pointed it at me.
I was confused as he started to climb down. I guess on some level he wasn't that violent, but I half-expected him to push me out of the tree or stab me in the gut. But he didn't - he just disappeared into the woods.
I ran home crying. I didn't know what to do. Mom was in hysterics and Dad went out to look for James, but it was fruitless. He was nowhere to be found.
...Until a few days later when they found him walking along the highway. They didn't know what was wrong with him; he didn't respond to any vocal commands, and he would try attacking anyone that got close to him. They hospitalized him, got him to calm down, but... He's never spoken anything since that day.
Mom and Dad look after him now. He lives in his old room, not really doing anything except staring into space. I come and visit him, see if he'll awake.
But seeing that vacant expression on his face haunts me all the time, because it makes me think... did I do this?