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In the Attic
“This place is haunted, you know,” Alec said.
“Really?” Paige asked.
The Abney twins had just ran away from yet another foster home; it only took them one week this time. The Carters probably hadn’t even noticed that Alec and Paige were missing from their beds; it was only 3:00 AM on this cold midwinter day.
“Yeah, some kid died here from child abuse. According to the locals, she takes out her revenge on whoever stays in this house,” Alec paused, “I doubt it.”
Paige nodded at her brother and brushed her dark brown bangs out of her eyes. Her hair was too short to tie back, but long enough to get in the way; it was maddening. Paige set her worn backpack on the ground and pulled out a lone bobby pin. Walking onto the peeling oak wood that constructed the porch, she approached the door cautiously, in case someone really did live there.
Placing her ear against the molding wood of the door, she couldn’t hear anything. The house was completely silent. She raised her bobby pin and began to pick the lock; as soon as she started, the door knob fell off of the door and rolled off the porch into the dew covered grass. Glistening, the brass orb stuck out majorly, as if it refused to go unnoticed. However, both of them knew that a rotting old house would behave that way most times, so any policemen probably wouldn’t think much upon stumbling across the old house. Placing the bobby pin in her pocket, Paige pushed gently on the door, causing it to creak open slowly.
Signaling the all clear to Alec, she entered the house with her fists up. She was prepared to punch anything that moved, like she had done before. It wasn’t the first time that they had broken into an abandoned house, in fact, that’s what made the Abney twins famous.
Moonlight spilled into the house, creating long shadows down the illustrious front hallway. A light appeared as Alec found some candles and set them ablaze with his lighter. The house was covered in dust, cobwebs, and white sheets. Spiders hung from the ceiling, waiting for the flies that clung to the chipped stain glass windows. There were holes in the grand staircase from years of termites weakening them, removing every trace of varnish.
“It sure looks like a haunted house,” Paige said after glancing around.
“And we look like two ordinary twelve year olds,” Alec pointed out.
“I guess you have a point,” Paige admitted, “But I can’t shake this feeling that someone…or something is watching us…”
“You’re just nervous, you need to relax,” Alec insisted.
“Yeah,” Paige agreed, exhaling a deep breath.
Alec smiled at her and shut the door behind them. He grabbed his bag and took out two drinks, passing one to Paige.
“To us?” Alec asked, opening up his drink.
“To us,” Paige agreed, drinking her root beer.
The soda always seemed to settle her nerves after a getaway, the unspoken reason behind their tradition. Whenever Paige was nervous she wouldn’t calm down for a while, and neither of the twins liked that. The thunder crackled as lightning struck, scaring Paige a little but one comforting smile from Alec snapped her out of it.
Alec pushed his sleeve up to check his watch and he frowned a little bit.
“Its 3:34 AM,” Alec said, “We need to find a spot to sleep.”
Ever since they had been caught sleeping in plain sight, the Abney twins would always find a hidden place to rest. That way the police couldn’t find them if they searched the house or building they were staying in. For the most part, it had been quite the successful method, though neither of them cared to mention it out loud.
The twins grabbed their bags and walked up the stairs; even though they were treading as lightly as a mouse, the dusty wooden boards creaked and groaned like a herd of elephants were using them. When they reached the top Paige’s nerves returned as she saw an open door at the end of the hall; she could have sworn she saw someone move but Alec waving a hand in her face made her forget all about it.
“Paige,” Alec called from further down the hall, “There’s a bedroom over here- we can lock it.”
Smiling at her brother, Paige tiptoed after Alec, casting her shadow across the hall. She passed three doors until she entered the last door in the hallway; it was already stood ajar. Alec was inside spreading out their sleeping bags on the cold wooden floor; the dark blue fabric almost blended into the floor, the very reason that they had chosen to swipe those ones. Looking up from his task, his eyes seemed to warm to an even richer chocolate brown when he saw Paige walk in.
“I was afraid the so called ghost had gotten you, Paige,” Alec explained sarcastically.
Paige frowned at the mention of the ghost but wouldn’t admit to Alec that it bothered her. She was a runaway; she couldn’t let a silly superstition get to her. No matter how scared, she couldn’t be a coward.
“Ghosts can’t hurt people. They’re transparent,” Paige argued, “right?”
Alec pondered this for a second before answering, “I’ve never met a ghost before and I never will because they don’t exist.”
“You’re right, I think I need some sleep,” Paige told her brother.
Paige climbed into the sleeping bag and tucked her arms under her pillow. She drifted off to sleep for what felt like a few seconds before a rush of cold air woke her up. She looked at her right where Alec’s arm was sprawled out, the funny little birthmark on his elbow quite prominent. It looked almost like an arrow, pointing towards the tiny yet shiny band on his wrist, the small aura of it providing a dull light. According to the watch it was 4:07 AM; she had only been asleep for about half an hour.
When Paige saw that the door was open, she started to panic. She remembered Alec closing it right after she lied down so it didn’t make any sense that it would be open. There had to be some logical explanation, something that would make sense; Paige knew that the laws of science wouldn’t allow it to be so.
“It’s an old house. The wind blew it open,” she muttered to herself.
Still, Paige contemplated waking up Alec. She could tell him that she woke up and the door was open so she freaked out. He would shake his head, smile, and tell her to go back to sleep. It would be pointless to do so, even if it did tempt the twelve year old a little bit.
“Just one peek,” Paige mumbled, as if Alec could her hear and watch her back. But he was sleeping; if Paige went then she would be all alone, no one could help her. Dire consequences weren’t on her mind very long, as the terrified curiosity began to take a stronger hold on the young girl. Silently, Paige slipped out of her sleeping bag and held her breath; waiting to see if Alec would wake up.
When Alec remained asleep, Paige stood up and walked up to the door. She started to stick her head out but she couldn’t do it. She leaned against the wall and sank until she was hugging her knees. She was scared, terrified, and horrified all at once; what if something really was out there, she thought, what if the ghost was real? All of those rumors, the awful stories about the mysterious deaths in this house, they would have become fact had the ghost been present. And worse, Paige thought morbidly that Alec and she could very well become the next in a very long list of people; the possibility of death overwhelmed the young girl, like the stray spark igniting a large fire.
“I can’t do this,” she whispered to herself, “I just can’t.”
What are you scared of? Alec would have asked; an old wives tale? We’re runaways, we aren’t scared of anything.
“What am I scared of?” Paige asked herself, “Ghosts are transparent; they can’t hurt me.”
Paige found the courage to stand up and craned her neck around the wall. The hallway was completely empty except for a rusting old ladder on the other side of the hallway. Not a single cobweb covered the brass bars, without even the telltale begins of one in sight; the Abney twin tried to push it out of her head, to convince herself that her mind had played tricks on her again. Eventually, Paige calmed down her frantic heart, while concluding that she could not have seen the ladder earlier from where she was standing and where she was going. The ladder seemed to lead to the house’s attic, but the peculiar thing was that it was not covered in dust, dirt, or grime.
Paige walked outside of the room, attempting to not focus on the way her footsteps echoed at the slightest movement, and lightly tiptoed over to the ladder. Grasping the brass sides, she hoisted herself up and climbed. Now that she was touching the ladder, she was positive that there was no dust on it.
“Must have been blown off by the wind,” she whispered with wide brown eyes.
Paige reached the top of the ladder and climbed through the rectangular hole. Lightning struck, making Paige jump and almost hit her head on the low ceiling. Biting down on her tongue, a small squeal of surprise had been stopped just in time, leaving the girl shivering. Frost shone on the glass panes of the windows, allowing Paige to look out into the expansive lawns; in its time, it must have been quite picturesque, she noted. However, the slopping hills were overgrown, with all of the boundaries lost in the maze. Judging from the dark clouds in the sky, the young girl expected that heaping amounts of snow would bury the hills even more; a covering of ice would not doubt settle on the roof of the house. Dark storm clouds continued to come closer, a good number of them blocking out most of the sky from sight; it had the unnerving feeling of being chased. Every three seconds, the room was illuminated by the lighting, the vast booming sound echoing to no end, but Paige’s shadow never left.
Looking around the dusty attic full of antiques, Paige heard a soft sound. It might have been breathing, but Paige had a feeling that wasn’t it. But she knew one thing, which defied all logical reasoning that she had trained herself to live by over the years. The realization of it hit the girl like a sucker punch, making fresh tears spring to her eyes, though Paige quickly blinked them away; Alec didn’t like it when she showed weakness. But Alec wouldn’t have enjoyed this either, had he been present.
Paige was not alone in the Attic.
Looking towards the source of the sound, Paige saw a dim outline of a young girl the next time lightning struck, casting an eerie glow around the room. Her eyes widened and she would have screamed if she didn’t catch herself in time. Millions of possibilities ran through her head, going faster and more extraordinary, in exact time with the furious strikes of light. And while Paige hadn’t moved from her initial spot, nor made any sort of sound, she knew deep down how lucky she was. For she was alone in the attic, without a guiding force, the only savior fast asleep, with the very thing she had been the most afraid of. Without even realizing it, Paige let out a deep breath, thinking that the other occupant in the room hadn’t noticed her.
The ghost moved her head, slowly, in the direction that Paige was standing.
She had long hair tied back in a braid; little ribbons tied on at the ends, and wore an old fashioned dress. While she didn’t look exquisite at all, the slight dark patches, which may have been bruises or freckles, gave the ghost girl innocence; she couldn’t have been older than eight years old. The ghost girl smiled at Paige and walked over to her; each step she took could not be heard- but the slight wind caused the dust to vanish. A tingling feeling shot up Paige’s spine, letting her senses register what her mind refused to believe; this being, an ethereal force, couldn’t just be shoved aside. The ghost girl knew that as well, tilting her head slightly, flicking her wrist as if she didn’t have a care in the world. Instantly, a heavy wooden latch slammed shut, drawing Paige’s gaze quickly for it; she couldn’t recall opening it at all.
Knowing the dull realization must have sunk in by now, the ghost girl leaned in close, a taunting smile tugging at the corners of her lips. Paige felt chilled to the bone, each breath of the ghost feeling stronger than a ghastly December wind. Gulping, all Paige could make her body do is watch, as the girl whispered into her ear.
“Let’s make this quick.”