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We had just moved into an old house a few miles outside of Albany, Minnesota. We had been forced to move out of California, for my mother had just lost her job, and we didn’t have the money to pay for our lakeside house in Sacramento. As if the long drive wasn’t enough, I had to listen to my two three-year-old twin brothers in the back seat of my mother’s midnight blue Cadillac. We had sold our truck right after my father died, so all of the items that were “too precious to risk getting broken in the moving trucks” were packed into boxes and forced to take up any extra space that we may have had inside the vehicle. To pass the time, I had gotten my iPod out of my purple duffel bag, and used it to tune out the sounds of my brothers playing with their new Iron Man action figures.
After what seemed like days of driving, we finally passed a sign surrounded by bouquets of colorful flowers and mulch. In elegant lettering it read Welcome to Minnesota. My heart sank when I looked out the car window to see the fields of crops surrounding the highway. There were very few buildings visible. Even the rural houses and farms were surrounded and hidden by trees and brush, making it look as if they were specs of green mold growing within the fields of the golden soybeans.
As I continued to scope out the neighboring areas of our new home, I spotted the top of what looked like three large stones sitting in a straight line in the green grass just beyond the outer trees surrounding our land. I looked at my mother, who had obviously not seen anything; she was singing along to an upbeat tune on the radio. When I looked back out the window, the stones had been engulfed by the trees, and were no longer visible. We had finally reached the entrance to the long driveway, which led to some unknown location within the shadows of the oaks. Goose bumps quickly covered my arms and legs and the hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up. We turned the sharp corner and started up the mile-long driveway. As we neared the dark abyss of the trees, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of extreme grief and hatred. Tears began to fill my eyes, for reasons unknown, and my body began to quiver in silence. My brothers were unusually hushed as well, and my mother was staring straight ahead, lips pursed together as if she was trying to hold back a river of tears.
After driving through a seemingly endless maze of foliage, we finally reached a clearing. The sunlight streamed into the windows of the Cadillac, causing all of us to shy away. We finally came to a steady halt in front of a huge house, which looked much like houses described in horror movies. It had everything: the dusty windows, the chipping paint, the old fashioned design, and, worst of all, the desolate location. My mother quickly exited the vehicle and proceeded to release my brothers from their car seats. As I stepped out of the car, I carefully analyzed the old manor. I listened around me. Not even a single chickadee sang its beautiful song. Everything was silent. Silent as death. The very thought made me shiver.
I grabbed my duffel bag out of the old Cadillac and started toward the front porch of the house. As I walked, the crisp, autumn leaves crunched beneath my feet, and the wind began to pick up, causing my silky brown hair to flutter behind me. As I stepped onto the porch, I felt a very chilling presence. I glanced behind me, but there was no one to be seen. My mother and brothers were already within the house, choosing their rooms and organizing their belongings. When I reached the front door, I stopped for a moment. I marveled at the intricate designs that had been carefully carved into it. It looked as though a story was to be told to anyone who laid eyes upon it. The images were separated into squares that were lined up in rows along the outside edges of the cherry-wood door. The only element that I could grasp was the figure of a small girl in a ruffled dress that looked as though she was from an entirely different century.
Creak. Thump. Thump. Thump.
My thoughts were interrupted. My feet froze to the wooden deck. My heart was racing. My body began to tremble uncontrollably. I whipped around and held up my fists, ready to fight off anyone who may cause harm. But there was nobody there. I let out a sigh of relief and shook my head free of my ridiculous thoughts. My hands quaked as I twisted the door knob, proceeding to enter a seemingly new world; an old Victorian-style world. I climbed the colossal staircase in pursuit of my new bedroom. With every step I took, the stairs creaked and moaned under my feet.
As I reached the main hallway, I could not decide in which direction to progress. After arguing with myself for a moment, I decided to take a right. I crept down the long hallway, glancing at old photographs that must have been left behind by the previous owners. As I walked, I began to hear strange noises coming from all around me, none of which could be explained or understood. I suddenly heard a faint murmur of a man’s voice, followed by a blood-curdling shriek of terror. The high-pitched sound sent shivers down my spine. I stopped dead in my tracks, and looked all around me in search of the source.
One picture of a middle aged woman dressed in a luxurious, red velvet dress caught my eye, and seemed to be staring straight ahead. I looked at the corresponding wall only to see a picture of a young, blue-eyed girl in a bright yellow dress staring back at me, much like the woman in the previous picture. I examined the photograph curiously and I spotted something. The photograph showed a single tear running down the little girl’s cheek. I backed away from the photo and swiped up my duffel bag from the red carpet. I took one last glance at the mysterious photo and continued down the hallway to a large room with maroon-colored wallpaper.
I dropped my bag in the doorway and explored what would be my new bedroom. As I investigated, I noticed that there was an old, beaten up desk in the corner that had not been disposed of when the previous owners had moved out, for the desk’s surfaces were coated with many layers of thick dust and parts of the wooden frame were rotting. I used my hand to wipe the dust from the surface of the desk, only to reveal some interesting markings. All over the desk’s surface were thin, jagged marks. It reminded me of the symbol on a Monster Energy Drink can; three parallel lines.
I was startled by the sound of someone knocking at my door. I whipped around to see my little brother standing in my doorway. Relieved that someone else was in my presence, I playfully ran over and scooped him up in my arms. I tickled his stomach, expecting him to break out in his usual bout of laughter, but strangely, not a sound escaped his mouth, nor did his facial expression change. His eyes were glazed over, and he was yet to blink. I quickly set him back on his feet and began to ask him if he was alright, but he showed no sign of acknowledgement. He turned around and walked out of my room, disappearing into the hallway. I listened to the sound of his gentle footsteps fade, until I could no longer hear them.
I heaved myself to my feet and turned back in the direction of the scarred desk. And though my curiosity lingered, I pushed it out of my thoughts and began to unpack my belongings. I noticed that my mother had brought some more things in from the moving trucks, and stacked them neatly right outside my doorway. I started by grabbing my pink journal off of the top of the pile. I used the small key around my neck to unlock it, and I opened my journal to the next blank page. Strangely, somebody had already written in it with what looked to be a red crayon. In large letters, it read KILL. And in the bottom right corner of the page, was a small heart. The fact that the journal had been locked was not the only thing that made this message disturbing. All of the letters and the heart looked as though they were created by a young child, for they were not fluently written. The message was baffling, and I didn’t know what to think of it. I laid my journal on the desk, and continued to unpack and set up my belongings.
After I had finally finished setting up my new room, I decided to go outside for a walk. I slowly made my way through the hallway and back down the creaking stairs. As I shut the door quietly behind me, I glanced around at the darkening sky. The sun was no longer visible as it set on the unseen horizon, but the rising moon still lit the clearing around our house. I started towards the dark woods, seeking a trail that would lead me to the unknown location that I longed to explore. As I shoved my way through thickening brush, I finally reached the edge of the dense forest. I tried to look around at my surroundings, but even the moon hanging in the star-filled sky could not further facilitate my vision. I stumbled over rocks and bushes, feeling the sharp edges pierce my bare skin, but I would not stop, for my curiosity drove me further. As I climbed over a huge boulder to rest, I noticed something glowing ahead of me.
I cautiously proceeded forward toward the strange glow. As I pushed aside weeds and long grass, they were finally visible. Revealed to me were three headstones, glowing eerily side-by-side. A feeling of grief, much like the feeling that had overwhelmed me just hours before, was present. Though I knew of the feasible risks of approaching the stones, my curiosity won me over once again. I crawled carefully through the tall grass and weeds, until I was kneeling not more than a few feet away from the ghostly graves. I squinted my eyes, attempting to decipher the letters that named the grave, but the glowing made it look as though the headstones were unmarked.
I reached out my quivering hand to lay a finger upon one of the mysterious stones, and as my fingers gently brushed the broken corner of the first stone, the glowing ceased, and all three stones appeared to vanish. The crickets were suddenly silent. And not a single creature stirred around me. My heart began to pound, as I was frightened by the experience, but my body remained still, frozen with terror. All of a sudden, I was violently pushed to the ground by an unseen force, and it felt as though someone, or something, had its cold hands grasping my throat. My mind raced with thoughts of revulsion and fear, and the unmistakable smell of blood quickly flooded my nose along with a faint scent of alcohol. After what seemed like minutes of struggling, I could breathe again, and I was able to sit up. I looked around as I gasped for air. I was alone in the night. Not a single creature stirred around me. I had finally caught my breath, when I heard a deafening shriek of a woman coming from an unknown source. My mind was now besieged by thoughts of depression and resentfulness, followed by yet another earsplitting scream. Everything went black around me. As I slowly regained my usual consciousness, I found myself lying there, sprawled out on the muddy ground. I rubbed my eyes, hoping to wake up from the bizarre nightmare, but soon found that what I had experienced was, in fact, very real.
I opened my eyes to a small girl standing before me, with her hands behind her back. She looked to be about seven years of age, and she was dressed in a bright yellow dress. There was very little contrast between the bright dress and her pale skin, making her look very delicate. She wore her hair in elegant curls, which were held back by a baby blue ribbon, reminding me much of a baby doll I had owned as a young child. The girl stood there, staring at me with her bright blue eyes, as if she expected something of me. But I noticed something beyond her innocent exterior. I realized that there was a dark story behind the girl’s juvenile face.
The little girl began to pull her arm out from behind her back, revealing a sharp, blood-soaked dagger. I looked up into the little girl’s eyes, which had transformed into crimson pools of blood. She raised the dagger, bared her teeth and let out a demonic screech as she pinned my shoulders to the ground, placing the dagger’s point on my neck and threatening to kill me, for I now knew her dark secret. I squeezed my eyes shut, releasing a single tear. I could not help but let out a cry of terror, which echoed in the unnatural silence. I could feel the pressure of the ghostly child on my chest, seeming to be squeezing the life out of me. I gasped desperately for breath, but I was being constricted of air. Constricted of life.
All of a sudden, the pressure was lifted. The sounds of the night recommenced, leaving all memories of the incident behind. But the soothing sounds of the night began to fade, and I was unable to move my body. I tried to open my eyes, but saw nothing but darkness. I slowly drifted into unconsciousness.
In my unconscious mind, I could hear desperate cries for help. I heard children screaming, and a woman crying out Please, please don’t do this, followed by a thud, and a cry of horror. Everything became silent, as there were no longer sounds being made by the woman or her children. The only audible sound was a faint sound of footsteps…
I opened my eyes to find myself lying on the soiled kitchen floor. I stretched all the muscles in my body, one by one, and then sat myself up against the old pine cupboards. As I put my hand gently on my aching skull, I noticed that both of my hands were soaked in freshly spilled blood, and one was gripping a dagger.