Everyone always warned the McLoreys’ mansion was haunted. Pickets jutted from the metal fence, towering over six feet. The bare trees rotted after fifty years of negligence. The house itself decayed. Green ivy crept up and strangled the walls while the paint peeled away, revealing dead wood underneath. Night or day, winter or summer, it always seemed as though a dark gloom hung over the house.
They’d say that the young couple that lived there was a match made in heaven. They had a fierce relationship – one you could only dream of having. Every day, the neighbors would watch them strolling hand-in-hand through the fields outside their mansion. When the lights were off in every house, theirs would still be on. They’d hear laughter so pure, it resonated into the night.
As the years went on, their bond only grew. They’d travel together every so often, yearning for adventure, for something fresh. The hourglass trickled, and the clock ticked away. Though they’ve only lived there for ten years, they realized the time melted faster than quicksand. The couple became desperate for more moments, memories, life.
A week after they returned from one of their escapades, something changed. At night, there were no longer any lights. There was no longer any laughter. There was no couple strolling in the field. The house was dark, silent, and empty. In this way, yet another week passed. The neighbors talked, and rumors flew. They snuck out on another get-away. They sold the house without notice. They contracted a deadly disease in Brazil. The neighbors twisted the gossip into wild tales until someone finally worked up the courage to check for themselves.
One knock. Two knocks. Three. No one answered the door. Worry wove itself around the town. The next day, the man tried again. One knock. Two knocks. Three. No one answered the door. Curiosity suffocated the town, so at the next town meeting, it was decided that he would pick the lock.
That was the first mistake.
The man returned to the house and unlocked the door himself. He was instantly thrown back by a rancid stench – the stench of death. A warning tugged at the back of his mind, but he waved the smell away as that of a stray raccoon that let itself inside. He searched the first floor – nothing. The house seemed to be in perfect condition – clean and tidy, save for some dust.
After a moment of hesitation, he started his way up the stairs, the steps creaking under his footfall. The rooms above were a mess. Shattered glass littered the ground, clothes were strewn across the floor, and the foul odor consumed the air. At the end of the hall, there was a single door. He jiggled the knob – locked. That wasn’t an issue, of course. All he had to do was pick the latch again.
That was the second mistake.
The neighbors never heard a scream. Some would say he’d seen a ghost, and some would say he’d seen the bodies. Either way, he’d never returned.
Needless to say, most people stayed away. But I wasn’t most people. I didn’t believe the stories.
And that was my mistake.
Five teenagers sat around a campfire. Four would stay alive. Three would support the dare. Two would tell the story. It happened one Halloween night.
“Are you sure about this?” they asked me.
“Of course,” I said. “It’s just a story. It’s just a house.”
But it wasn’t just a story. It wasn’t just a house.
One knock. Two knocks. Three. What a fool I was to even knock. No one had lived there for half a century. But by some miracle, the door scraped open. A chill rattled my bones. Cold. All I could feel was the cold. I stepped into the house, and the door slammed behind me.
It’s just the wind, I assured myself. I couldn’t back out now. I’d look like a coward.
The dusty musk tickled my nose, and I sneezed. It echoed through the house, lingering just a second longer than an echo should. Following in the footsteps of the story, I searched the first floor before making my way upstairs. Creak. Creak. Creak.
Stepping over the glass, I reached the door – closed, but unlocked.
I placed my hand on the knob, but just as I did, the door flung open on its own. A woman stared at me. I opened my mouth to scream, but no sound came out.
Pale, milky skin. Dark, waist-length hair. Eyes the color of black holes.
“He killed me,” she bellowed. “He killed me, then killed himself. ‘It’s the only way we’ll stay forever young,’ he told me. I hated him. He took away my life. Oh, but he was right. We’ve been together for so, so long. And now you’ll join us.” The woman grinned.
I stumbled out of the room. Her figure disappeared.
“Please. Help me,” a voice wept. My eyes darted around the hall, but I couldn’t see anyone. “Somebody help me. I was just checking if the couple was alright. Please. Help me.”
A slash appeared on the wall, followed by one across the carpet. Drips of red appeared on the ground.
“Help me…” The voice faded away. A shrill laughter took its place.
I staggered towards the stairs, tripping over my own feet as I ran for the front door. Locked. Locked. Locked.
A slit tore across the door.
I retreated. There were two voices now. Two voices laughed at me. Two voices backed me into a corner.
Two voices were the last I heard.
Two voices made my world go dark.
by Sasha T., Grade 9