The eerie sound of creaking wood fills my ears as I watch my bedroom door slowly open. “Hello?” I say, my voice shaking so violently that it is barely audible. I sit up in my hard, wooden bed. I desperately want to check to see if there is anything at the door, but I am too afraid to move. I live in my house on my own. It is an old, Victorian-type house that was built in 1921 on 2nd street in the town of Deer Town, Florida. As far as I know, nothing out of the ordinary has ever happened at my house. I haven`t heard of any deaths that occurred here or anything like that. If anything similar to that had ever happened before I lived here, it would`ve been in the records when I moved and I would know about it right?
I rise up from my bed, skeptically. After about a minute of silently sitting on my bed out of pure fear, I have finally grown enough courage to check to see what`s causing my bedroom door to open. As I make my way to the door, I see nothing but my own long, black hair partially covering my horrified expression in the hallway mirror. I turn from my bedroom into the hallway and make my way down the steep stairs into the kitchen. There is still nothing unusual that I can spot. I decide that I am just freaking myself out, and start to get myself ready to go to work at the New Island Free Press. At this point, I am extremely excited to go to work. I can get out of my house and maybe forget about the noise and motion that I saw earlier. Maybe I will be able to go through some old files and see if there was actually something that happened at my house that I don`t know about. I brush my teeth, put on my glasses, and brush my stick-straight hair into a ponytail and hurry out the door.
After a fifteen-minute drive I finally arrive at my office at the New Island Free Press around 8:50 in the morning. I log into my desktop computer and, since I am a journalist, I check my emails to see what kind of stories need to be published. My eyes go directly to a story about a hit-and-run occurring on 94th street in the town of Tyville, Florida. Tyville is only about ten minutes away from my home in Deer Town, so even though I don`t know the people involved, I know of the town very well. It was a blue car with the license plate number of 476GTH, and the person hit was a boy who was an estimated twelve years old. The boy, whose name I can`t say because of the fact that he is a juvenile, was declared dead on the scene. According to witnesses, the car was going way too fast for conditions and was swerving all over the road. The driver was probably drunk, I think to myself. The suspect has not been found yet.
There was also a sports story to be written about a high school football player by the name of Jack Bowers in Deer Town who got a full ride scholarship to go to the University of Wisconsin, Madison because of a combination of his amazing football record and stellar academic success.
I walk down the hallway to my boss`s office to tell him that I would voluntarily write both of these stories. As I approach his door, I gain sight of a sign that reads, “due to unspecified circumstances, Carl Mancaster will be out of office until further notice. Details will be shared when more information is known.” “Hmmmm… this is weird,” I mutter to nobody in particular. This kind of behavior is very out of the ordinary for Carl. There has only been two times in my fifteen years at the Free Press that he has not shown up to work: once when his mother passed away and once when he was deathly ill with influenza. I decide that I will just write the stories anyways, since they were emailed to me. The whole time I am researching and finding out details to include in the stories, I can`t get those words on that sign on Carl`s door out of my head. I am very anxious to find out more details, as I am extremely concerned about my boss.
I write the two stories about the hit-and-run and the football player earning the scholarship with no major problems. It took about four hours to completely finish both stories. After finishing, I take my coworkers to a picnic for lunch where we eat turkey sandwiches, salad, and Cheetos. Upon returning from lunch, I complete some cleaning around my office, and by the time that is done it is around 6:00 p.m.- time to go home.
I drive back to my Victorian house. When I arrive, I go to the living room to watch some television. Even though today wasn`t a hard day, I am extremely exhausted. I end up falling asleep at about 7:30 p.m. with the television and all of the lights throughout the house still on. I sleep very soundly through the night without any major disturbances.
I wake up in the morning to the same eerie creaking sound as yesterday filling my ears and the movement of my bedroom door opening once again. This time, though, I swear I see a white figure in the doorway. I desperately want to hide under the blankets that are on my bed and stay there forever. After sitting there in complete silence and no movement whatsoever for about five minutes, I just barely convince myself to finally roll out of bed and check to see what is going on. As I make my way to the hallway I don`t lose sight of the white figure. As I get closer, I can begin to make out some features of said figure that seems to be of a girl. She looks quite young, maybe 16 years old at the oldest. Her eyes and nose are large, and her lips are pursed. She seems to be staring into blank space, but as soon as I look into her eyes, she disappears without warning.
I am extremely terrified. So scared in fact, that my body is shaking so bad that it is barely able to move. I consider calling the doctor to see if there may be something wrong with me that is causing me to see and hear all of these crazy things. However, I decide against this because it just sounds silly. I mean, this can`t be real. I continue getting ready to go into work, performing the same routine I do every day. I brush my teeth and hair and put my contacts in, just as I did yesterday. Ecstatic to get out of my house and free myself of the horrified feeling I have, I bolt out the door. I get into my blue, 1994 Honda Civic, and head to the New Island Free Press. When I arrive, I check my email, just like I did yesterday. This time, there is a few different stories that need to be written today, but for whatever reason, my eyes focus on one headline. It reads: Remains of Tiffany Johnson Recovered.
Tiffany Johnson is a girl who was believed to have been kidnapped twenty years ago. She would be twenty- eight years old today, but was only eight at the time she disappeared. She was out playing kickball one sunny day in April in her back yard with her two brothers. When her brothers came inside the house for the night, Tiffany stayed outside to put away the ball and the bases they were using. When she didn`t come in after a while, her mother, father and brothers called her name and looked for her for a long time. However, they got no answer. Having no idea where she could have gone, her mother panicked and called the police. The police have never been able to find any sign of her and were never able to find a suspect, so the case kind of got pushed under the radar.
That is, until yesterday, when her kidnapper turned himself in. He told the police that he had the intention of kidnapping Tiffany and taking her home with him to keep her safe, but when he saw a car coming down the road he panicked and pushed her away, killing her when her little head hit the curb with too much force. I look up the case and do some research on the mystery of Tiffany Johnson in order to locate some specific details to provide in the story that I am writing for the newspaper. When my eyes come across the name of the kidnapper and killer, I nearly fall back in my chair, gasping. The name of Carl Mancaster pops up in front of me on the screen of my desktop computer, right next to the word killer. I can`t believe it! My boss, the man who watches and controls my every move, is the killer of Tiffany Johnson and the cause of a mystery that has pending in my home town for twenty years. How could this be? It can`t be true. I sit still in my swivel chair in my office for about 5 minutes. My mouth remains wide open from my gasping and I am so shocked that my body refuses to move. I begin to feel sick to my stomach, and I can`t see anything around me because I am so dizzy.
If that wasn`t enough information to cause a heart attack, the location of the killing is even more alarming. The address reads 330 2nd St., Deer Town, Florida. This is MY EXACT ADDRESS. This means that one of the biggest mysteries in the state of Florida happened right in my back yard, and what`s left of the body of Tiffany Johnson still remains at my house.
I race home, still feeling sick to my stomach. Sure enough, there are half a dozen police cars and detectives digging holes all over my yard. “I found her, I found her!” screams a big, round cop who had a very deep voice. He means that the twenty-year mystery was finally solved. He has found the decomposed body of Tiffany Johnson.
I can`t take any of this anymore, and start sprinting to my house. My stomach is so uneasy that as soon as I get through the door, I throw up all over the floor of my living room. I begin to think about all of the weird phenomenons that have been happening at my house in the last few days. The oddly creaky floor, the door to my bedroom opening with no explanation, and the white figure of a girl that I saw this morning. All of this makes sense to me now. It is the ghost of Tiffany Johnson who has been wandering my house all along, trying to get me to notice her. It occurs to me that she hasn`t been meaning to hurt me or scare me. She just wants someone to notice her and find her. She must know how scared and worried her parents are, as they have not known where she has been for twenty years. Thinking about all of this makes my stomach even more upset, which makes me feel even dizzier than before. The floor of my kitchen beneath my feet feels like it is going to come out from under me. I begin to fall, and the world around me goes black.
I wake up about 10 minutes later to the sound of the police talking in my back yard. I start eavesdropping on their conversation, hoping to hear more details about my boss and what he might be in for in terms of jail time, etc. Their voices can barely be heard, but I overhear one of the officers saying “Mr. Mancaster was found dead this morning. He heard about the case coming “out of the water,” so to speak, and took off in a blue car with the license plate number of 476GTH, and apparently was involved in a hit-and-run, causing the death of a twelve-year-old boy just yesterday. He must have known that he was not going to get away with anything, and was found hanging by a rope in his parent’s basement at about 3:30 this afternoon.” Upon hearing this, I bolt up to my bedroom and start bawling. It is so difficult for me to hold in my emotions and thinking of all the losses that the small town of Deer Town, Florida has experienced lately causes me to break down. The community will never be the same.