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A Scream in the Dark
“Where are we going Ricky?” The girl was walking a few feet behind two boys, who were walking fast, eager to get wherever they were going. She was a small girl, only eight years old, and they were both high school kids, desperate for a little bit of fun in an otherwise boring town. One of them, a tall boy with brilliantly golden hair, turned around to face his younger sister.
“I told you Bonnie, Peter and I are just going to check something out, you don’t have to come with us!”
“But Momma told me to make sure you didn’t get into anymore trouble!” she whined. “You aren’t getting into anymore trouble are you?” She eyed him suspiciously.
“Course we’re not!” answered the second boy, Peter. He was a little shorter than Ricky, but with dark black hair. “Now you just run along back home and forget about us.”
“I’m not going anywhere! Momma told me to keep an eye on you two so that’s what I’m gonna do!” Then she lapsed into silence, determined to fulfill her duty. Peter rolled his eyes at Ricky, who came to a sudden halt.
“This is it,” he whispered, in awe of the sight before them.
The house dwarfed everything else in the street. It was not only tall, but wide as well, taking up easily as much space as the three houses next to it. It was not particularly inviting, its lawn looked as if it hadn’t been cut since man walked on the moon, with the grass reaching up and tickling the windows on the bottom floor of the house. Off to the side there were traces of a once beautiful garden, filled with daisies and roses and flowers that most people had never even heard of. Now, though, weeds had grown out of the soil to strangle the life out of each of the flowers, leaving a tangled mess behind.
The house itself, once proud and charming, was now a mess. The immaculate white paint had started peeling long ago, and the blue shutters that had adorned each window now were chipped and broken, even missing in some places where the wind had blown them clean off.
“Wait a second,” Bonnie said, slowly catching on. “Is this the old Jefferson house?”
“Yes it is little sis, yes it is,” Ricky replied, still fixing his gaze on the house. “The Jefferson family used to live in this house here until one night 50 years ago. According to the legends, Mr. Jefferson went mad and chopped his wife and three children into little pieces with an ax. The neighbors heard the screams and called the police, but by the time they got there, Mr. Jefferson had already buried them under the floorboards in the house. The thing is, nobody knows where exactly. They tore up the house looking for the bodies, but they never found them, all they could find was a bloody ax. But people say that if you stay in there long enough, you start seeing things.”
“Amazing,” breathed Peter. “Let’s go!” Together, he and Ricky crept up the overgrown lawn towards the house.
“Wait,” cried Bonnie. “You’re not really thinking of going in there are you? That house is haunted!” Ricky and Peter stopped and turned back to her, both rolling their eyes dramatically.
“I told you before Bonnie, you don’t have to go with us!” said Ricky, sounding exasperated already. “Just go back home and tell mom we went for a walk!” Then, together, he and Peter both resumed their slow march to the front door. But as they reached the house, they were astonished to see that Bonnie had followed them across the field of overgrown grass.
“If you guys are gonna go then I have to, ‘cause I told Momma that I would watch you so that’s what I’m gonna do!” Bonnie said defiantly. The boys just ignored her and turned back to the house. With nothing left to do, Ricky reached his hand out towards the ancient brass door handle. It turned beneath his hand, making a gritty, rusty sound that made them all wince. Then, with a creak that seemed to echo throughout the whole neighborhood, the door swung inward, giving them all their first glimpse of the house.
All they could see from the doorway was a long, dark hallway. In the gloomy light flooding in through the open door, they could just make out the faded paint on the walls. It looked like it used to be a vivid red color, like that of a fine red wine, but now it had faded to a dull pink hue. The dark floorboards were rotting away, even gone in some places, and the whole place was covered in cobwebs.
Shaking slightly with anticipation, Ricky put one timid foot through the doorway and inside. His second foot was quick to follow, and soon he found himself standing alone in the empty house. He looked around for a bit, then turned back to his companions and teased, “Come on you wimps! I’m not gonna have to do this myself am I?”
White in the face, Peter hopped quickly over the threshold to stand next to his friend, then turned back to Bonnie expectantly. Seized by a sudden rush of bravery, Bonnie followed the two boys into the house, ready to pursue her brother into the darkness before them.
“Well? Are you-” Before Bonnie could finish asking if they were ready to go, she was cut off by two strange noises, one right after the other. The first was a loud slam! and the second a soft click. The three children wheeled around, horrified at the sight before them. The door, which Bonnie had left open, was now firmly shut. Together they ran back to the door and Peter threw his shoulder up against it, trying desperately to turn the handle and open the door. But with another stab of horror, they realized that the click they had heard had been the click of a lock, preventing them from escaping this dreadful house.
“Oh no!” moaned Ricky. “How are we going to get out now?” The others said nothing. Peter was now beginning to cry silently, while Bonnie was just standing there, speechless. Then, there was another sound behind them that sent chills down their backs and stood their hair on end: a child screaming. Peter let out a soft moan, while Ricky and Bonnie turned around slowly to see that the house had changed. The cobwebs were gone, they had simply vanished. The floorboards were whole again, and stained a deep mahogany. The vivid red had returned to the walls again, and there was a pale light shining from lanterns that ran along the wall. The house was exactly as it had been 50 years ago.
The screaming continued, but it seemed to be growing closer. Bonnie pressed her back up against the wall while Ricky began trying to break down the door. Peter’s cries now escalated into unrestrained sobbing as he sank into the corner, ignored by his two friends. The screaming persisted, growing steadily louder until it seemed as if it was emanating from a point right in front of them. Then it stopped, leaving a dead silence behind which seemed even more terrifying than the screaming, and Ricky and Bonnie soon found themselves gripping each other in terror of what would come next.
They didn’t have to wait long. Another scream, even louder than before, cut suddenly through the silence. At the same time, an ax came out of nowhere and spun through the air, embedding itself in the wall just inches from where Bonnie and Ricky stood, clinging to each other desperately. Together, they screamed and pressed themselves against the wall, as if hoping they would melt through it to the other side.
A door was thrown open a few feet from them down the hallway and from it ran a small boy. He looked to be only six years old, and he seemed to have a slight haze about him, as if he was a picture on a projection. They watched, half terrified, half fascinated, as he stumbled into the hallway and collapsed onto the floor. He promptly picked himself up, then sprinted down the hallway and faded slowly into blackness.
Bonnie and Ricky barely had time to register what they just saw when another person ran out of the same door. It was a man, tall and muscular. His face was contorted in a look of uncontrollable rage and madness that sent a shot of pure fear through the three children standing huddled in the corner. At his side, an ax swung back and forth, dripping blood onto the floor.
Poor Peter could take no more. With a light sigh, he fell, unconscious, to the ground in front of Bonnie and Ricky, and the ensuing thump caused the man with the ax to turn around to face them. Bonnie’s knees buckled and then collapsed beneath her, causing her and Ricky to topple to the floor, still clutching each other. Bonnie looked up and saw the feet of the man, slowly stepping towards her and Ricky. She shut her eyes tight, silently wishing that she could disappear from this awful place and wake up, safe and sound, in her own home again.
Clunk, clunk, clunk. The slow, steady steps of the man with the ax echoed throughout the hallway. Clunk, clunk, clunk. With each footstep, Bonnie felt her heart skip a beat. Clunk, clunk, clunk. Why had they come into this house? Clunk, clunk, clunk. Momma would wonder what happened to them. Why they never came home. Why they couldn’t be found. Clunk, clunk. The footsteps stopped, and with it, Bonnie’s heart.
* * *
“Hey, that’s the old Jefferson house isn’t it?” Brian was pointing at an old, worn down house that stood in front of them. Chris turned around to look at it too.
“Yeah, that is. They say it’s haunted you know!”
“Haunted? Wow, really?”
Chris nodded, “Oh yeah, apparently, some guy killed his family with an ax a while back and stuffed them into the walls!” He turned to look at Brian, who was staring, open-mouthed at the house. Chris continued, “And apparently, a few kids went in there about ten years ago to see for themselves. They were never seen again.”
“Wow. You wanna check it out?” Brian turned to Chris, an enormous grin spreading across his face.
“H*ll yeah! Let’s go!” And together, Chris and Brian set off through the grass up to the front door of the house, unaware of what lay in store for them.