I open my eyes and the first thing I perceive is the unsettling moonlight slipping in through the cracks between the filthy, navy-blue curtains. Pushing myself up from the dusty, certainly bug-covered floor, I take in the room around me. Large pieces of the wood flooring have rotted away or been viciously pulled up to create dark pits that bring out my anxiety. Peering into the darkness burrowing into the heart of the abandoned house, some feeling tells me that if I were to jump I would hit a dirt floor where two graves had been dug. Leading out of the living room I stand in, two framed doorways reveal a kitchen and foyer with a raggedy staircase leading up to the second floor. Eventually I notice the peculiar wind chime hanging from the ceiling between the doorways. Thin threads hold up shards of multi-colored glass that scratch each other in a breeze that I don’t feel. I move towards the hanging glass and reach out, mindlessly running my finger along the edges of one of the longer, magenta-colored pieces.
Lainey, be careful! I hear his sweet little voice arise from the back of my head. Not all of my memories from my childhood come back, but some of the missing pieces I never wanted to be recovered find their way to me at last.
My voice cracks as I speak. “Why am I back in this house?”
I can hear the sadness underlining my little brother’s words. “You promised me you wouldn’t forget, but you did it anyway.”
My eyes water and my face flushes as I turn around. “Danny, none of this is real. You are not real. I-” He stills appears as his seven-year-old self, the age he had been murdered in this very house by him.
From what I can remember, our parents used to go on monthly, week-long business trips together, although they never told us where or why they went. During these trips, they had our Uncle D’lester babysit us. Our uncle was known to have anger problems and questionable tendencies by nearly anyone who had met him, but I don’t think our parents ever thought he would hurt either of us. Yet, he did and had been doing so for a long time. That last night, my little brother saw how our uncle hurt me and, in seeing the bruising on my arms and legs, he tried to protect me. Uncle D’lester pushed him too hard. Danny’s body slumped between the floorboards and the walls as a small pool of blood started to trickle out from the back of his head. Our uncle turned back to me and bashed my head so hard into the wall behind me that it knocked me unconscious. After that, I woke up in a hospital with one of our neighbors holding my hand, my parents missing, and my brother dead.
Danny stands before me with swollen cheeks and the bruising and dirt covering his small form still clearly visible. “Danny, please. Our uncle is dead now. I got rid of him forever. Our fear should be gone.”
Danny looks up at me and tries to dry his tears with his sleeves, but it doesn’t help. He speaks in a much older voice now, how I think he would sound if he had lived to the present. “You don’t remember! You don’t remember, Lainey! You are still in danger! Over these years, I have heard you try to convince yourself everything happens for a reason. Well, that is true, but not always do they happen for good reasons. Sometimes the reason why things happen is because evil exists.”
“Stop!” I shout. “I just want this to end! Why did you bring me back here!”
Suddenly he seems frozen as he stares just over my shoulder. “I didn’t.”
“Then who did?”
A shiver runs through me as the light behind me in the foyer flickers on. The silhouette of a man holding a small knife and a woman holding onto his arm stretch across the floor boards beside me. They speak in unison. “Hello, sweet daughter.”
Aileen Pepple is an English/Theatre major. Her passion is for creative writing with a focus on horror and science fiction. One of her major dreams is to write and direct a series of horror short films, using all the knowledge she has learned at HCC.