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Don't Pass Go...
The remote lay in no-man’s-land. The buttons were worn, the printed symbols on their plastic surfaces nearly all the way faded. On either side sat two young women, no longer children but still too young to be adults, their eyes glued to the flashing television set. Outside, a storm raged. The angry clouds hurled rain drops down from the heavens at the roofs of the suburban neighborhood below.
With a clap of thunder and a flash of lightning, the television set went out with a pop.
“Now look what you’ve done,” Marley snapped at her twin sister as she reached for the remote.
Naomi slapped her sister’s hand away, leaving behind an angry red imprint. “The deal was that I had the remote until eleven thirty. My cell phone says it’s still eleven fourteen.” She took up the remote and pressed the power button. When the set didn’t come back on, she jammed down the button again, this time with an angry grunt.
“The power’s out, you idiot,” Marley muttered. “It’s not gonna work.”
“I knew that,” Naomi huffed as she let her arm go limp. The hand that held the remote fell lazily against the couch cushion.
The two siblings sat in silence in the dark a few moments. Each wondered what they were going to do next. A flash of lightning illuminated the small living room and Marley’s eyes sparked with an idea, as if charged by the tremendous electric current outside.
“Why don’t we play one of Dad’s old board games?” she suggested.
“That is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard,” Naomi said.
Marley crossed her arms over her chest. “Well, if you’d rather spend the rest of the night sitting on your butt in the dark, you’re welcome to do so. But I’m going up to the attic to try and find Monopoly.”
Naomi watched as Marley stood and brushed her bangs out of her face. She listened as her twin rummaged around blindly in the kitchen as she searched for a flashlight. By the beam of light that suddenly cast shadows against the far wall, Naomi deduced that Marley found their father’s electric torch.
“Are you coming with me or not?” Marley asked as she paused before she ascended the stairs.
“I am not going up there with you to get a stupid board game,” Naomi said.
Marley shrugged, “Suit yourself, you big chicken,” she said over her shoulder as she jogged up the steps.
The insult echoing in her ears, Naomi jumped to her feet. “I am not a chicken!” she shouted after Marley. At hearing no response, Naomi sprinted up the stairs and rounded the corner, so quickly that she didn’t have time to think as a body emerged from the shadows with a boo!
Marley doubled over with laughter as she flicked the flashlight back on. “You should have seen your face!” she said as she gasped for air in between fits of laughter.
Naomi, not finding it funny at all, snatched the torch out of Marley’s hands. “I wasn’t scared,” she snapped. “You’re being so childish, Marley. C’mon, let’s just go up to the attic and get the stupid board game.”
Marley followed Naomi down the hall and watched as her twin pulled down the ladder that led up to the attic. The entry way was a black hole leading up into the abyss above the ceiling, made no less ominous by the feeble beam of the flashlight directed into its gaping mouth. The sound of rain pounding against the roof was even louder, almost comparable to the powerful beat of their school’s drum line.
“You go first,” Naomi said as she thrust the torch in Marley’s direction.
Marley, undaunted by the attic, took the flashlight from her sister and stepped up onto the ladder. The wooden rungs creaked as she hefted herself higher. Marley poked her head into the attic and scanned her immediate surroundings. The flashlight’s beam shed light on boxes of stored holiday decorations.
“What’s it like up there?” Naomi called up from where she stood alone in the hallway below.
“It smells like Grandma’s house,” Marley relayed. She set down the flashlight and braced her palms against the unfinished floor of the attic as she lifted herself off the ladder and into the attic.
Naomi tensed as Marley completely disappeared from view.
“Marley?” she called up.
Worried for Marley’s safety, but wary of another sneak attack, Naomi forced herself to climb the ladder up into the dark attic. Once inside, the stacks of boxes morphed before Naomi’s eyes into horrid monsters with razor sharp teeth and claws. In a split second of illumination from a lightning bolt, the monster from Naomi’s imagination became heart wrenchingly real, and a crack of thunder made her let out a scream of pure terror.
“God, Naomi!” Marley’s voice washed over Naomi like warm water as her sister appeared from behind a stack of boxes and shined the circle of light upon her. “Chill out, will you? I think I found where Dad put the board games.”
Still shaken, Naomi rushed forward to follow Marley past the Christmas decorations to their old bedroom furniture set. Painted pink with butterfly embellishments, the old bureau, desk, and wardrobe had decorated their childhood room. Naomi calmed a little at the feeling of familiarity.
“I think Dad either stuck them in the wardrobe or the bureau,” Naomi said.
“I’ll check out the wardrobe while you look through the bureau,” Marley offered.
Another roar from the storm made Naomi step an inch closer to Marley. “We only have one flashlight, so we can only search one at a time.”
Marley sensed her sister’s fear and smiled. “Okay you big chicken.”
The two opened the wardrobe and searched the inner drawers, but found only old socks with girly lace trim and outdated hair accessories. Halfway through their search of the last drawer, the flashlight flickered once and gave out. The pair was submerged in darkness.
Naomi flung her arms around her sister, trembling.
“Now what do we do?”
Scared, but not wanting to show it in front of Naomi, Marley swallowed her fear before she answered, “We’ll just go back downstairs and get another flashlight.”
“How are we supposed to find the way out?” Naomi whimpered as she squeezed tighter.
“We’ll just follow the light,” Marley said as she pointed to the faint illumination that fell across the floor.
Naomi popped open one eye. “That light’s not coming from the hallway. It couldn’t be. The power’s out.”
In unison, the girls turned away from the direction of the attic’s only entrance and exit to face their old pink bureau. Peeking through the small cracks between the doors and the main body of the piece of furniture was a blindingly white light; pure as fresh snow, unlike any form of illumination either of the twins had seen before in their lives.
“What is it?” Naomi whispered, enchanted by the unearthly glow.
Marley stepped forward, her socked feet making no noise against the floor as she crept towards the bureau. With one quick, fluid motion, she reached forward, flung open the bureau’s doors, and threw herself back into Naomi’s arms. When the two sisters found themselves still alive, both slowly opened their eyes.
The entire attic was lit up as if it was midday. The light was purer than sunshine, almost like the light that Marley imagined heaven would be lit up with. The source of the mysterious glow was a floating orb of white luminosity that hovered above a stack of old board games that rested in the bureau.
“It’s so beautiful,” Marley whispered. She extended a hand to touch the orb, but Naomi caught her sister’s elbow firmly.
“Don’t touch it,” Naomi ordered. “You don’t know what it is.”
“You just want to touch it first,” Marley complained as she jerked out of Naomi’s grip.
Naomi shook her head. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this. It could be dangerous.”
Marley ignored her sister’s warnings. She inched forward, her arm extended. Naomi’s protests caught in her throat. She knew nothing she said would dissuade Marley from doing what she desired most—and that was to touch the glowing thing that hovered mysteriously in the air above a dust coated Monopoly box.
“Marley,” Naomi breathed, the only thing she could manage to voice. She, too, was enchanted by the ethereal glow. Without a second thought, Marley closed her fingers around the orb of light. For a split second, it looked as if everything was going to be okay.
Then Marley screamed. The blood curdling sound ripped from her throat as a blinding flash of light scorched Naomi’s retinas. Deafening thunder joined in the pandemonium. Then everything was eerily silent.
Naomi blinked once, twice, and a third time before her vision returned. The flashlight they had discarded blinked to life, giving Naomi just enough light to see that Marley and the mysterious orb of light were gone.