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Katherine

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A cold wet drop of water fell onto her eyelid. Her eyes fluttered open, she observed her surroundings. The sky was covered with light grey clouds that drifted across the sky. It was raining lightly. She sat up and noticed she was sitting in a patch of bright yellow dandelions, in a clearing of a forest.
She thought to herself, where am I? Why am I here?
Grade eight was about to end and time was edging closer to her fourteenth birthday. Her eyes shone bright blue but there was something hidden behind her intelligent, innocent eyes. She had long, light brown hair that fell right above her waistline, curling slightly at the bottom. Her hair was tied into two long braids that flowed over her shoulders. At school, she was one of those girls who were smart and beautiful, she was friendly to everyone yet many people disliked her. She was named after her mother who had passed away. Her name was Marianna.

She unclenched her fist and noticed that she was holding a crumpled piece of paper. She unfolded the note-it said,

...the forest. I'm sorry that I yelled at you, I just don't want to lose you, like I lost your mother. Love, dad.

It seemed to be only half of a note but Marianna didn't think much about it. She stood up and looked into the forest. It was dark and you could barely see the tree trunks. The cries of multiple animals howled through the forest. Marianna had no flashlight or food; she would die the second she steps into the forest. Along the path there was a small wooden sign that said nothing but, "Keep going."
Marianna looked back and shook her head,
There's nothing there for me and the only way is forward. So I might as well go that way.

Up ahead there was a mansion, all alone on a cliff by the ocean. The waves crashed against the rocks, causing mist to rise up from the edge. The mansion seemed new, it loomed over Marianna, creating shadows all over the front lawn. It was made out of dark blue bricks and the windows held no light. The door was made out of oak wood. Marianna saw that there was a note on the door. She ripped it off and read it, "Come to me room."
Now this was a puzzling situation, there was nowhere to go except for this house, unless she wanted to go through the forest. The house seemed to give off a strange aura. Marianna placed her hand on the cold doorknob and turned it. The door loosely swung open. Even though she would be breaking into someone's house, she desperately needed help, so she entered. Marianna convinced herself that since the note told her to go to this person's room, it would be an excuse if anyone caught her. She slowly walked through the dark, long corridor. The light brown hardwood floor was covered with a fancy red carpet that continued endlessly down the hall. The walls had several pictures on them. Each of them was a landscape with a small body-like figure in the background. After a while, she found herself in the dining room. The room was probably the size of four master bedrooms. The table was enormous and it was all set for dinner, but there was no one around. A few candles were lit on the table and the light was wavering back and forth. In the middle of the table there was a small book, Marianna picked it up and flipped to the middle.
"Once upon a time, there was a little girl who entered a house without permission. She was different and almost familiar. She couldn't get out and eventually she couldn't find the strength to move on. Cold, hungry, she fell to the ground. Life flowed out of her body and pain flowed out with her blood. She died. The end."
Marianna flipped through the pages and it kept repeating, "She died. The end." Beside each line there was a small picture of a little girl and when she flipped through the pages quickly, the face of the girl became deformed.

She slammed the book closed and stepped away from it. She spotted another book but this one said, "Diary" on the front. She slowly flipped it open and read the first page, "I'm all alone..." the rest was empty.

That's strange, she thought, and then she spotted another note on the wall, it said,
"Lend the cook a hand."

Maybe the cook has a key to the other door. Marianna entered the kitchen; it was in really bad shape. The ceramic tiles which Marianna assumed used to be white, were stained with black and dark red splotches. She bent down and examined it; the dark splotches were pools of dried blood. The walls had strange holes in them and the walls were also stained with blood. There were plenty of rats crawling on the kitchen floor. There was a bit of light from a candle and even though the house seemed nice from the outside, the rest was a disaster. Marianna heard loud chopping noises coming from the back of the kitchen, but there was no one to be seen. A knife was slamming down onto the cutting board but no one held it, the knife was just floating.

A ghost, Marianna thought. She approached the invisible figure, "I'll lend you a hand, sir."
A faint voice whispered in her ear, "Oh...Thank you."

Marianna felt a sudden jerk on her arm. She was pushed forward and and invisible force pinned her hand to the cutting board, "A hand was exactly what I needed."
A scream escaped from Marianna's mouth and she quickly pulled free from the cook's grasp. The cook snatched her left braid, the knife he held edged closer and closer. Marianna struggled until finally the cook sighed, "Oh well, your fine hair will have to do. I'm pretty sure it'll be delicious in my special human eye soup."

Marianna felt herself being pulled free fron the cook as he cut away her braid. She crawled her way towards the kitchen door, but the cook didn't let her off that easily. He pulled out a frying pan and hit her hard in the back of her head. "You're different..." He mumbled while sharpening his knife. Darkness took over Marianna and the ground welcomed her to close her eyes and fall into a deep slumber.

When Marianna woke up, where ever she was, smelled like the dead. She opened her eyes and saw blood; the whole floor was a pool of blood and there were piles of skeletons everywhere.

Oh God... I should have left when I had the chance, she thought.

Every one of the skeletons didn't have hands. Marianna was horrified but she had to keep going and find her way back. Marianna got up and searched for a way out. The room barely had any light in it and the door was locked. It wasn't long until she found two keys stuck in the ribs of a skeleton. Once she got out of that horrible room she carefully sneaked past the cook and searched for another door. When she found one, she used the other key to open it.
There were stairs. She quickly made her way to the next floor and searched every room. In one room, there were five paintings and another note on the wall.

"Liars." The note read and then the paintings started talking. They were painting of women with different colored dresses, blue, green, brown, yellow and white. They all looked similar but still different. They were standing beside a small table with three roses on them. They were just in different frames and wearing different colored clothes. Their dresses flowed all the way down to the ground, trailing behind them.

The blue one said, "Only the one wearing white speaks the truth."
The woman wearing green said, "Take seven steps north then eighteen steps west from my painting."
The one wearing brown said, "Take one step south and eight steps west from my painting."
The one wearing yellow said, "The one wearing green never tells the truth."
Finally, the one wearing white said, "The one wearing brown is correct."

These foolish gamed didn't trick Marianna at all, after a few second of thinking, she walked over to the green painting and took seven steps north, then eighteen steps west. There was a secret door in the wall. She crawled inside and saw a mirror and another diary on a desk, "My father and mother never loved me."

Marianna looked into the mirror. her summer dress was covered in blood, so were her bare arms and legs. There was also blood smeared on her left cheek. Her eyes held a new emotion, for someone who was always happy with her life; her blue eyes glistened with terror and sadness. Her hair didn't look light brown, it seemed a few shades darker on some parts from the blood splattered onto it. After the cook had cut her hair, one side was short while the other braid was still hanging over her shoulder. Suddenly, the image changed. Instead of showing her reflection, it was of another girl. Her eyes were dark brown and her hair wasn't as long as Marianna's and it was a lighter shade than hers. The girl in the mirror pounded on the glass as if she was trapped, "Give it back!" She screamed and then the mirror shattered. Marianna jolted back, dodging the shards and then she heard a huge deafening crash back where she came from. She crawled out of the secret passage and returned to the paintings.

"LIAR!" The women screamed. The woman in green had been slaughtered and where she was in the painting was all black except for the background. Marianna left that room and continued on. She saw a glimpse of the same girl she saw in the mirror but then it disappeared.

Where do I go now? I didn't find any keys so there has to be another way, come on, there has to be a door around here.
The moment she thought that while walking down the halls, a door appeared at the end of it. The door wasn't locked either, she opened it and walked through.

The next room was filled with books like a library and off to the side there were several small piles of books and another invisible person was sitting in the middle of it. Marianna was able to tell it was a little girl because when she talked to her, the voice was of a little girl, she said, "Do you have some rope? I need rope to tie these books together."

Maybe I could get a key or something. These games are just sick, whoever owns this house really loves puzzles. Perhaps I'm just being played and I won't ever be able to go back home...

Marianna quickly searched the other rooms for a piece of string. She went back to the room with the paintings. She politely asked them, "Excuse me, do you known where I can get some rope?"
The one wearing blue immediately said, "I have some!"
The one wearing white said, "Don't listen to her, I have rope."
The one wearing brown said, "Yellow has rope!"
The frame that held the woman wearing a green dress shivered and a weak voice said, "B...Blue..."

Marianna nodded and thought, all I have to do is lie every time I say something. SO technically I just have to talk in opposites.

She confronted the woman wearing blue, "You have rope, don't you?"
"Yes!"
"So you don't have rope?" Marianna asked.
"No!" The painting replied.
"Don't give it to me." Marianna said. The woman wearing blue slowly handed her a thick piece of rope and then she was silent. The other woman smirked and stared at me. Marianna left the room and went back to the library. She handed the rope to the little girl, she took it,
"You're giving this to me? Thank you. You can have this book in return."

It was another diary and a rose, a beautiful white rose. There was a desk at the back of the library. Marianna sat down and started reading the diary,
"I was always sick, I couldn't move from my bed."

The flower petals began glowing and it started talking to Marianna, "The little girl, hurry! Before she does it, save the little girl! It's your responsibility!"
Marianna was confused but she walked back to where the little girl sat. But there was only a fresh pool of blood. Above the pool of blood was a hangman's knot and a knife floating in the air. Marianna stared wide-eyed; the little girl had cut herself multiple times and then taken her own life away. Another door appeared behind her, there was a note on it. She carefully stepped through; there were plenty of flowers in the room. There were only three colors of flowers, red, lavender ad yellow, which was a horrible combination of colors.
Marianna was able to hear whispering in the room but there were no people. Marianna heard someone yell,
"Hey you, human! What are you doing here?"
Marianna frowned, "Who are you?"
"Don't answer my question with a question, idiot. We are the wise red grasses. We known all." One of them replied.
"I'm trying to find a person's room and get out of this house." She said.
"We know that very well. We also know you're hiding something. We just don't know what it is." They giggled slyly.
"Can you tell me a way out?" Marianna asked, she just wanted to go back home. She felt a stinging pain at the back of her eyes as she held in her tears.
"There's no way out right now, but there's always a way forward. Talk to the yellow flowers, complete their task to open that door." Their vines pointed to another door behind them.

I should leave now... She thought, but they said, there's no way out.

Marianna bravely walked over to the yellow flowers and said, "I'm here to do a task for you."
"Yes! Yes! I heard the red grasses talking about a human wanting to help us." They said gleefully.
"How did you know? I was only there a few seconds ago." Marianna said.
The yellow flowers pouted, "We have ears, it's not that hard to eavesdrop in this small garden." Marianna bent down to look closer at the beautiful flowers and asked again,
"What is this task you speak about?"
"First, have we met before? You seem familiar... The task is about the lavender flowers. They're the most beautiful flowers in the garden and we want them gone. Then, we'll be the prettiest flowers in the garden."
"I don't believe I've ever talked to a flower. What can I use to kill them? There are no weapons in this garden." Marianna asked.
"We don't know that." The yellow flowers said and then they stopped talking. Marianna sighed and went back to the red grasses and asked them how to kill the lavender flowers, they said,
"The only way is to drown them. But that's hard since our garden is all connected. If they drown, we drown and we don't want to drown. We like life, don't kill us."
"I won't drown you guys, don't worry." Marianna promised.

She sat down and started thinking of ways to drown the flowers without drowning the others. She looked around and saw a hose, a shovel and about twenty pots. She took ten pots and carefully started to dig out the yellow flowers. At first they protested but after she told them her plan they gladly went along with it. After moving the yellow flowers, she began to move the red grasses. They silently went along and didn't speak. The lavender flowers were completely clueless, once she finished transporting the yellow and red flowers, Marianna talked to the lavender flowers, "Hello."
"Hi there, did you come here to admire the beauty of the lavender flowers?" They asked gleefully, their voices soft as bells. Marianna smiled,
"Actually, I have some water for you. My name is Marianna, by the way."
"What's water? What's Marianna? Your presence... It's strangely familiar." They commented.

I see, despite their beauty... They're stupid, she thought. "Do you guys like water?"
"No! Yes! We don't know!" They yelled. Marianna smiled again and thought, this is going to be easier than I thought.

She grabbed the hose and turned it up to max then she stuck it deep into the dirt where the roots were. At first, the lavender flowers drank all the given water but after a few minutes, they began begging Marianna to stop.

All she did was stare at them.

Soon they started screaming. Their eerie shrills became muffled in the rising water. The water poured over the rim of the garden and when she shut it off, everything was silent. The lavender flowers were wet and wilted and most of the petals were pulled off of their stems. The yellow flowers were hopping up and down in their pots. They screamed in joy, "I heard it! Their screams were like music to my ears. She's dead! They're all dead! Thank you. Oh and in the next room. Don't get distracted."

They tossed Marianna the key to the next door and then they happily continued their conversation. Marianna pushed the key into the lock and turned the doorknob.
It was just another endless hallway. She walked forward, not straying from the path. A knife hurdled towards her, Marianna dove to the side and then her mind went blank, like a computer that just decided to crash on you.

When she woke up, her mind felt erased, she couldn't remember what she was doing. Marianna was sitting in a room filled with stuffed animals, they were all rabbits. Stuffed white rabbits with red eyes. Marianna picked up the stuffed rabbit and smiled, "Why hello there, Mr. Rabbit."
The stuffed rabbit flopped in her arms, but didn't speak.

"Ahaha, I know! It was hilarious!" Marianna said. She put the rabbit down on the ground and sat cross-legged, and then she continued her conversation with it, "You know. For some reason , I don't want to leave this place. After my mother died it was always my father and I. He didn't remarry another woman, we were the strong family of two. It was hard for him, working and trying to take care of a teenage girl all by himself. Maybe it's best if I stay here."
Tears began falling down her cheeks and then she stood up and muttered to herself, "What am I doing? Why am I here? Why did I feel to...empty a minute ago, almost happy? Like I wanted to stay here forever...."
The white stuffed rabbits moved closer to her, Marianna screamed, "Get away!

A window appeared behind her, an open window to the forest. Te cold air entered the room along with a few drops of rain. She ran towards it, but then she saw a hand grip the window sill. A low whisper echoed in the room, "Find the key. Where is the key? Let's play hide and seek."
Marianna hesitated but then noticed another hand on the window sill, she yelped and picked up a rabbit, "Where is the key?!" She yelled.
The rabbit obviously didn't talk, she screamed in frustration and then noticed in the corner of her eye a rabbit with a strangely large stomach. She looked at the window, there was a big head looming over the window. She picked up the rabbit and ripped its stomach open, it was filled with tissue to make it look fat.
She look at the window again, the creature's arms were in the room, Marianna spotted another rabbit with a fat stomach. She ran across the room and snatched the rabbit. She ripped open the stomach and a key fell out. She quickly grabbed it and searched for a door, but there was none, Marianna began to panic, she looked back and saw that the creature's feet were dangling on the sill. There were millions of stuffed rabbits, it was hard to tell if she was even standing in a room. Marianna dove into the heap of rabbits and searched for a door. Suddenly she heard a 'thump',

The creature must be in the room, I better be quiet. Marianna thought. She pushed away the stuffed toys, making sure she still had the key at hand. The thumping grew louder, she felt desperate and tears started falling, she didn't want to die. She wanted to live. A door came into view, Marianna shoved the key into the lock and turned. There was a soft clicking noise as the door unlocked.

The creature heard it too...

It started rummaging like a mad man through the rabbits in search for her. Marianna flew open the door and locked it behind her. She heard someone pounding on the door behind her, she stared at it for a minute and then ran away. She ended up in the same hallway and this time she didn't let anything stop her. Even when knives were speeding towards her, she stayed on the path. Every weapon passed through her and then disappeared. When Marianna got to the end of the hall, there was another diary in front of the door. She slowly picked it up and read it out lout,

"But then a little girl with cute braids came over to play..." She put the book down and continued through the door.

This is it, she thought, this is the bedroom.

The lights in the room were off, everything was dark, there was a window in the back of the room but the curtains covered it. In the middle of the room there was a bed, the blanket was kicked to the ground, the bottom sheets were covered in blood. There were puddles of fresh blood trailing to the darker side of the room. Marianna saw another diary on a desk in the corner of the room. She rushed towards the small diary and open it,

"We were great friends and we would always play during the weekends. So I guess it's time to play some more, right... Marianna?"

Marianna heard something forcefully dragging itself on the ground. A girl about the same age as her appeared from the darker side of the room. One of her eyes were gauged out and all that was left was a bloody socket staring into emptiness. Her other eye was covered by her short brown hair that looked black from the blood oozing out of her head. She had no legs, they were cut right up to her thighs.
The girl tried to speak, "Kha...the...rine..."

Then using all its energy, the girl crawled rapidly towards her, chasing her through the house. Marianna sprinted down all the floors but she never closed the doors behind her since the legless girl was right at her heels, there wouldn't be enough time. She would catch Marianna if she even stopped for a second.

She ran through the halls, the garden, past the paintings, the kitchen, the dining room and finally she swung the front door open and shut it behind her. It was raining hard outside.
When Marianna got to the patch of dandelions she woke up in, she noticed a piece of paper. Maybe she had dropped it. She bent over and picked it up off the wet ground. The ink was smudged but it was still readable,

"Please be careful when going to the forest, I heard strange things happen there and your friend, Katherine's house is near..." Marianna connected it with the note she had when she woke up, "...the forest. I'm sorry I yelled at you, I just don't want to lose you, like I lost your mother. Love, dad."

It all made sense now.

Behind her, she heard someone gasping for air. Marianna turned around. The legless girl was right in front of her. Marianna balled her hands into fists and punched the girl in the face. The girl staggered backwards but yet again she tried to continue on.

"Wow, you're really stubborn aren't you?" Marianna said, the legless girl fell into silence as Marianna continued to speak, "You should just give up, you know that body won't last long..." She moved towards the legless girl,
"Right....Marianna? You felt so sorry for me, when you saw me hopeless in bed, unable to move. SO I switched bodies with you, using my magic. For a day? Yeah, I guess I did say that, but you know, witches lie and besides, we're friends and friends are supposed to help each other. It won't be long now, soon that body will bleed out but instead of taking my life, it'll take yours."

The legless girl whimpered, "Gha...ith..."

"Hmm? Give it back? Now way, this body hurts much less and don't worry about your father. You're probably wondering if he'll miss you. There will be no difference."
A deep voice called out from behind them, "Marianna? Is that you?"

'Marianna' spun around and saw her father, "Dad!" She cried out, faking her tears to look as if she was scared. They embraced each other and then faced the legless girl. Marianna's dad trembled in fear, the legless girl dragged herself forward just a bit. Her dad pulled out a shot gun and pointed it at the legless girl.
"Stay away. I'm warning you."

"Da...Dadd...y..." The legless girl whimpered and moved closer, "Please..."

"I said 'stay away', MONSTER!" He screamed and pulled the trigger, not even knowing he had shot his own daughter, he took 'Marianna's' hand and they made their way back home.

She smiled.



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