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“Come on Goth Girl,” Sunday teased. “Don’t you want to go hang out with the ghosts?”
“Leave her alone,” Demarius came to my rescue. “No one goes up there alone.”
“I will”. The words slipped out of my mouth before I even knew what I was saying. What Demarius had said was true. No one ever goes into the old Hart Mansion. I know that it seems all very clichéd to be dared into going into the town’s haunted house, but this is different. People go into the Hart place, and never come out. At least, as the story goes, Victoria Hart didn’t.
The story ends with Victoria, it starts back in the colonial days, when the town’s citizens built a meeting hall, where they would hold mass and have other important meetings. This was all fine and dandy, until more people started coming to the colonies; many years later. Soon the town was too big to use the building as the meeting hall, so they built a bigger one, but they didn’t want to waste the building. So it was decided that the minister’s son and his new wife would move in. Once they removed the pews the hall served as a relatively large home for the couple. They lived there and grew old, when they passed the home went to their eldest son, and he raised a family there, before passing it on to his son, who passed it on to his son, and so on.
The real trouble began when the home was passed on to a daughter: her name was Mary Elizabeth. Mary Elizabeth married a man named Jacob Hart. Jacob was not exactly an upstanding gentleman. He drank too much, was quick tempered, and had a very interesting vocabulary. Though Jacob Hart was not much of a man, he did have a lot of money. The old meeting house was now in a state of disrepair, and Mary Elizabeth knew that she needed Jacob’s money to keep her family’s home alive. The early stages of their marriage were happy. It seemed as if Mary Elizabeth had turned Jacob around; he drank less; swore less often; and, more often than not, kept his temper. Their happiness was short-lived though. Soon after the birth of their second son, Jacob lost his temper and murdered his wife. He hanged for the crime, and they were both buried on the property. The house then passed from one Hart to another, over time, but never since, has there been a wife who lasted. Each one died shortly after moving in. Jennifer Hart fell down the stairs and broke her neck. Rose Hart died of some strange disease, and of course Sarah Hart drowned in the bathtub. Over the years the house had gotten bigger and bigger, each owner adding a wing, a tower, or another floor.
The last wife to live there, Victoria Hart, didn’t die; she vanished. One day shortly after her wedding, she was in her room, and, moments later, she was gone. Some said that she was kidnapped, others said that she ran away, still some said that her husband James Hart, killed her, but no one was ever able to prove any of the theories. Eventually the case was dropped, but no one ever forgot.
James and Victoria had no children, and no one wanted to buy a place having that kind of history. So there it sits, year after year, empty of people, but still filled with the furniture and the deceased Hart’s possessions including, some say, their spirits.
“I can’t believe you’re doing this!” Nettie squealed with excitement as I pulled onto Monroe Avenue.
“Don’t make a big deal out of it,” My voice came out weak; pleading even.
“You don’t have to do this,” Demarius’ voice gave me confidence.
“Sure she does,” Nettie gave Demarius an annoyed looked. “If she doesn’t, then Sunday and the rest of them will never leave her alone.”
“As if she cares what Sunday Campbell and her preppy zombie followers think.”
“Of course she does, If she didn’t, she wouldn’t be here!”
“Will the two of you please stop discussing me as if I wasn’t here?” I growled. We pulled into the house’s brick drive in silence. As I shut off the car, I saw that Sunday was already there. She smiled a dangerous smirk that clashed with her blue denim capris and flowy pink top. Who wears beach clothes to a haunted house? I slammed the car door and walked over to her.
“Nice outfit, Malibu Barbie,” I scoffed.
“You’re one to talk,” She laughed tauntingly. “You wear sunglasses indoors.”
“Fluorescent lights hurt my eyes,” I scowled.
“So, what’s the deal?” Sunday asked.
“What do you mean?”
“How will we know that you went all the way up?”
“Oh, that.” I nodded. “I’ll take a candle in, when you see the light in the window; you’ll know I’m there.”
“Fine, but let’s make this more interesting.”
“Let’s say if you can’t spend 10 minutes in Victoria Hart’s room; the room she disappeared from, and you come running out of there like the chicken you are, then I get to dress you and do your hair and make-up for a week,” She gave that dangerous grin again.
“OK, but if I can do it, I get to do the same to you,” I tried to replicate the grin, but failing, glared at her instead.
“Fine,” she said through gritted teeth. I smiled, knowing she was imagining herself in my lovely black-on-black fashion. “Now get going. I don’t want to stand out here all night.”
I shrugged, and headed up towards the house. I had once thought that the mismatched appearance of the wood, brick, and stone parts of the house looked cool, now it looked formidable. The house looked like an angry warrior ready to go into battle with whoever crossed its path. I shook the thoughts out of my head as I reached the front door.
I looked back, and saw Nettie giving me the thumbs up, Demarius watching nervously, with his arms crossed; and Sunday not even watching, her eyes glued to her cell phone screen. I lit the candle with my The Nightmare Before Christmas lighter, opened the front door and stepped inside.
I found myself in the large room that had once been the church, was still decorated for the wedding reception. No one had ever taken down the bunches of fake flowers that decorated the room, and they were now wrapped in delicate string after string of spider webs. The corners of the room almost looked as if they themselves were designs on a wedding dress.
“Enough daydreaming,” I thought out loud. “I’ll just get up to her room, and get out of here.”
I followed the instructions up to the room. From the church room, I went through the hallway on the left, the one with the red carpeting. What I didn’t know was that there was a picture of each wife on the walls. Even though there was an obvious period difference between each picture, they all seemed to wear the same expression. It was a look of fear, as if they knew what fate awaited them, but it wasn’t just that . . . something in their eyes wasn’t right . . . knowledge maybe? A grim pleasure in knowing that whoever came here would have the same fate?
I shook my head, annoyed at myself for letting my imagination run wild. As I reached the end of the hallway there was a large wooden door. The door was ornately designed, with a
pretty heart design burned into it. I put my hand on the glass doorknob and turned it, finding a winding stone staircase. I followed the stairs, avoiding looking around, not knowing what kind of dead bugs, spider webs, or other creepy crawlies I might find there. As I reached the top step, I opened another door; identical to the other. I stepped into the tower room . . . her room. I walked to the window looking out, knowing I wouldn’t be able to see down, but the others standing on the ground would be able to see my candle. The room was gorgeous; a Goth’s dream room really. There were black lace curtains and tapestries on the walls. On one side of the wall, there was a huge bed with a dark wood frame, black spread, and red velvet pillows. On the other wall, there was a painted black vanity table.
I walked over to the table, and sat down; looking at the things laid out there. There were combs and brushes, powder puffs and lipsticks. It was weird to think that their owner was dead. That she would never again walk through that door, or put on make-up, or sleep on that bed, or brush out her hair . . .
I stared at myself in the mirror; my long black hair was wavy around my pale white face. A face I had seen so many times in my life, but something wasn’t right. I wore an expression that had never belonged to me. But it was a look that I had seen before . . . but where? Then it dawned on me. I was wearing the same look as the faces in the hall. As I stared at the expression on my face I noticed that my cheek bones were higher than those I was used to, and hadn’t my hair just been down? It was now pulled back into a tight bun. Looking down I noticed that I was wearing a dress that was a little old fashioned. Especially since I had been wearing jeans. When I looked back up I saw my own face again, but it was grinning. I wasn’t smiling. I’m sure if my face portrayed myself at that moment it would have been a look of total shock, fear and confusion. Looking into the mirror the body I had known all my life, got up against my will, and walked out of the room. Realizing what was going on, I pounded on the mirror, and screamed, desperate to break free, but all I saw was the reflection of her face doing as I was. I was no longer myself. I was in Victoria Hart’s body, and I was trapped inside the mirror!