Requiem Aeternam: Ghost Story

From the moment he saw the house, he could feel the wrongness about it.  The dark aura that engulfed the place was so strong that even Elly and the others could feel chills run up their spine as they approached.  The others were chatting nervously to each other, both excitement and fear bubbling to surface of each.  Edward filed in behind them, a sigh escaping as they approached the door.  He questioned himself for the 12th time why he was here.  He hated ghost houses, paranormal places, or any spooky spot of the like.  A quiet night, free from that which bumped in the night was perfectly fine with him.  Elly, on the other hand, was obsessed with anything that could give normal people the creeps.  Edward, having been her friend since childhood, always found himself dragged along on such adventures, much to his chagrin.  In school the pair was dubbed the “Eek” twins, both from their names, and for the screams that Elly’s expeditions seemed to elicit.  Edward always though Elly’s creepy hobby would make her ostracized from others her age, but somehow she wound up around a group of boys and girls that loved a good scare as much as she did.

Elly noticed Edward’s deep sigh, and her blond hair whirled as she spun around to face him.

“Don’t start whining now.  You’re the one that said you would come.”

“That’s…” Edward sighed again in resignation.  “Whatever.  Just don’t come crying to me when something scares you half to death in there.”  He could tell Elly was brimming with excitement at his statement, which only deepened his despair.

“Oh, I hope something does! It’ll be so exciting!”  Edward rubbed his fingers against his green and red eye.  His right eye had turned red when he was a child, something none of the doctors in the area could quite explain.  He felt it made him look like a freak.  The thought hadn’t escaped him that perhaps Elly kept him around for that exact purpose.

Elly put her hand on the great iron knob on the front door of the house, and with a loud creak, twisted it and pushed the door open.  The inside was covered with a thick layer of dust that seemed to kick up as they stepped inside.  The worn wooden floors bowed down between each of the floor joists, and creaked loudly with each step on them.  A great, or rather, formerly great staircase rose in the center of the large room up to the second floor.  Rusted iron railing lined the sides of the staircase, and ended in the remains of rusted ornamentation at each end.  The walls appeared to have been painted at one time, though the years had worn what might have been one color into an array of browns and grays.  A large chandelier hung from the center of the room, composed more of cobwebs than metal.  The others stood around coughing in the dust, but Elly stood in the midst of it, excited as a little girl on Christmas.

“Isn’t this fantastic?”

“Yeah, if you like emphysema.”  She shot Edward a fierce glance.

“Enough backtalk.  This place is prime hunting! I’m sure we’ll find that little girl’s ghost here easy.  Just hope I can get her on film…”

“Little girl?”  Rachael, a small, brown-haired girl a few years younger than Elly spoke up with a shaky voice.

“Yes…”  Elly turned and creeped towards her with arms outstretched.  “The story goes that the girl’s father lost everything in the stock market crash of the 30’s.  They say he went crazy after, gathering up a huge party of those who still had money inside the house.  He told them he was paying for everything with, unbeknownst to them, the money he had already lost.  When the party was just getting into swing, he locked the doors and lit the house on fire!  The problem was, that he forgot that his daughter was still asleep upstairs when the inside of the house burned up.  When someone else bought the house and rebuilt it years later, the ghost of the little girl still wandered the halls, searching for her father amidst flames that weren’t there!  They say anyone who touches her…turns to ash!”  With that, Elly grabbed ahold of Rachel’s shoulders, causing her to scream loudly, her voice bouncing around the large empty house.

“Elly, try not to scare the poor girl to death, at least not where I can hear it.” Edward said, exasperated.

“Aww, come on.  That’s all the fun here! Getting scared out of your mind!”  Edward walked to Rachel and put a hand on her head.

“Maybe, but you’re the one doing the scaring here.  I doubt you need to add to the ambience with a creepy place like this.”  Rachael shrank away from Elly and clung to Edward.

“Aren’t you Mr. Popular all of a sudden.” Keith chimed in.  He was red-haired jock on the basketball team at the local college.  Edward had a rather reasonable hunch he tagged along on these ventures simply to get closer to Elly.  He was always accompanied by Anna, or rather, Anastasia as she preferred people to call her.  If there was a stereotype of a ‘popular’ girl, then Anna was it.  Her personal and social appearance was paramount to her.  Voted homecoming queen twice, now the leading lady of a sorority, one couldn’t call her a failure in that regard.  Edward didn’t think she was a bad person, though too self-obsessed for his tastes.  Thus, it perplexed Edward why she would chase Keith if it meant following him into places like the one they were in.  Edward preferred to think of it as love being blind, rather than her simply trying to match herself with someone of equal social status.  Though Keith seemed to not notice, Edward knew her eyes had been burning a hole in the back of Elly’s head all day. As Edward glanced back in the direction of Keith and her, her face immediately shifted into a smile.  The action seemed so rehearsed with her it made Edward inwardly cringe.  Keith was grinning at him too, but in a much more amused fashion.  Edward wasn’t sure whether he it was because he found the situation actually amusing, or if having another woman than Elly beside him met with his approval.

“Damn it’s gonna be a long night.” Edward muttered to himself.

“All right everyone.  Fan out and search the place top to bottom.  If you find anything unusual, report back here at once.  We’ll meet back here otherwise at…11 or so.  Make sure to scope out the room that you want to stay in tonight.”

“Wait.”  Edward held up his hand.  “You’re expecting us to spend the night here?”

“Of course.  You of all people know all the good spook activity happens from midnight to four in the morning.  We’ll have to divide into shifts to see some good stuff!”  Edward immediately slumped over at the thought.  “All right, all of you, split up and start looking!”  The group, except Edward, cheered and some began scurrying down the long passageways of the derelict mansion.  Elly grabbed Edward by the arm and began dragging him upstairs.

“Come on, I bet that kid’s room was upstairs.  I can’t wait!”

“Hey Elly!”  Keith called out, but Elly had already managed to scurry up the steps with Edward in tow.  “Man that girl is quick.”
”Yeah, I bet she’s quick in some other areas too.” Anna muttered.

“Huh? Did you say something Anna?”  Keith said as he turned down to her.

“Nothing, nothing at all.  Come on, let’s go search for…whatever it is we’re supposed to look for.”  She grabbed Keith’s arm and led him down a hallway.  Rachael stood alone in the great room, frantically looking from passageway, not wanting to be left alone, yet too afraid to move.  Eventually she slumped into a dust-covered chair in the corner.

Edward grumbled under his breath as Elly scurried from room to room in the upper floor.

After an hour or two of searching through mostly depilated bedrooms, Elly opened a door at the end of one hall with a shriek.  Edward knew with a normal person, that shriek would be one of terror, but for Elly, it was of excitement.  Elly dashed inside as Edward peered in behind her.  The room was covered in dust and cobwebs, but had obviously been a child’s room.  The remains of children’s toys sat askew on shelves and filling a small box in a corner.  A small bed sat in one corner of the room, the sheets still pulled up on the bed, as if made that morning, though was still covered with dust.

“This is it!  It has to be!”

Edward picked up the remains of what appeared to be a wooden plane on a shelf.

“It isn’t that child’s room.”

“It might be!  You can’t be sure.”

“You said it yourself, right?  The inside of the house was burnt out from the fire.  This stuff would all have to have been put in afterwards, when they rebuilt the place.”

“That’s…well…true, but…” She scratched her head.  “Well, that kid’s ghost could still be taking residence in this room!  It probably attracted her here with all the toys.”  Edward sighed.

“No way, no how.”  It was Elly’s turn to grumble at him.  After some more searching in the room, Elly darted out of the room in search of more prospects.  After walking out of the room, however, Edward felt a sharp chill down his spine.  He turned around, but didn’t see anything in the room.  He cautiously turned back and followed Elly down the hall.

“Hey Elly, what happened to the last owners of the house?  The ones that rebuilt the place.”

“Oh them.”  She said as she darted into another room.  “The story goes that the police arrived to find the husband and wife dancing like madmen in the great room downstairs.  They tried to get them to stop, but were entranced by something, and had to be taken away forcibly and confined to a mental institution.”  Edward’s eyes bolted open.

“And you tell us this now!?”  As his words faded, he heard a soft, almost indiscernable creak of wood behind him.  He whirled about, but saw nothing.  He once again, even more cautiously, turned back.  Elly went on, searching more rooms, but as she continued, Edward’s right eye began to throb.  It was soft at first, but began pulsating harshly as they continued.

“Damn it, not again…”  Edward muttered.

“Huh? Did you say something?”  Elly peeked up at him.

“Nothing.  Just a headache.”

“Oh.”  She turned back.  As she did, Edward heard it again, the creak of wood behind him, louder this time.  His eye was pounding furiously in his head.

“Damn it…”  He muttered as he covered his right eye with his hand.  He slowly turned around, and didn’t see anything at first, but as he looked down the hall, he saw black smudge on the ground he hadn’t noticed before.  As he watched, the black smudged widened and darkened into an elliptical shape.  Then, another smudge appeared, this time diagonally to the first one, and in front of it.  Then another appeared, this time in line with the first one.

“E-elly.” Edward tried to keep his voice calm.

“Yeah?”

“I think it’s time to meet back with the others.”

“Is it?  Come on, we have to have more time.”  The smudges began to grow closer to Edward, as the air around him felt like it was getting warmer with each closing step.

“We need to go Elly.  Now.”

“All right, all right.  No need to get pushy.”  Edward’s hand slipped slightly from his right eye, enough to see bright orange light…and a face.  He reached into the room, grabbed Elly by the hand, and dragged her into the hall and to the stairs.

“Sheesh, do you have to be so pushy about it?”  Edward pulled her close and looked down the hall.

“Hey, what are you-”

“Shh.” He stared down the hall, finally this time with his right eye open.  The smudges were still on the ground, but whatever was there before had gone.  Her face forcibly buried in his chest, Elly pushed herself off slightly and looked up at him.

“You saw something?”

“Not sure.”

“My, isn’t this a cozy scene.”  They looked over the railing to see Anna and Keith staring up at the pair.  Keith seems unhappy, while Anna seemed oddly pleased.

“Why exactly are you two hanging over each other like that?”  Keith asked.

“No reason in particular.” Elly spoke up as she took a step away from Edward.  “Not like I particularly need one.  Ed’s like a big brother to me anyways.”

“Is that so.” Keith’s words floated in the air as everyone exchanged glances.  Edward broke the awkward silence.

“Anyway, it’s about time to meet up.  Gather everyone else here.”  As everyone gathered, they all talked about the spooky things that a few of them had heard.  Edward didn’t dare speak of what happened upstairs.  He didn’t want to encourage anyone to investigate it, especially Elly.

After sharing some snacks they carried in, the group began to shift off to pick out rooms to spend the night in.  Edward could see Keith scanning the group of faces, most likely for Elly.

“Does he really think he’ll be able to bunk up with Elly?”  Anna’s annoyed voice murmured behind him.

“Well, you have to give him points for persistence, at least.”  Ed looked over his shoulder at her when he spoke.  Anna’s expression rapidly changed to the eerie smile she always seemed to flip to.  “Though I’d have to give you points for that as well.”  Anna’s expression slackened at Edward seeing through her façade.

“Please don’t lump me in the same group with him.”

“But that’s exactly what you want to be, right?”  She looked from him to Keith before sighing slightly.  “Then you might as well follow him.  If you can keep him from Elly, maybe you’ll end up bunking with him instead.”  He turned and began to walk away when Anna’s voice stopped him.

“So what is the deal between Anna and you?”  Ed half-smirked as he turned to her.

“She probably thinks when I’m around, the spooks are more likely to show up.”  Anna raised an eyebrow.

“Why would she think that?”

“Because one oddity tends to attract others.”  Edward waved and started up the stairs.

Edward tucked his sleeping bag under his arm as he walked from room to room.  As he approached the child’s room again, he saw familiar smudges on the ground making prints leading out of the room.  By the size, they appeared to be similar to the shoes of a child.

“Ah, hell.”  Edward said as he rubbed his face.  Inwardly, he had hoped what he had seen earlier was just a hallucination.  “At least if I was crazy, I could write the whole thing off…”  He leaned down and rubbed a finger across one smudge and rubbed it between his fingers.  “Soot.”  He sighed.  “Damn it Elly, you sure know how to pick them…”  Hoping to avoid the hallway where the shoeprints led, he turned around and began walking down the hall.  He heard voices coming from the end of the hall.  He strained his ears to listen when suddenly something caught hold of his arm and yanked him into a room.  The door slid closed behind him as something come over his mouth.  He struggled against the unseen force as a voice came to his ear.

“Shh.”  He did so, and heard voices walking down the hall.  He recognized it as Keith and Anna.  They slowly stopped nearby, then dissipating somewhere down the corridor.  Edward turned his head to see who or what had grabbed him, but it was too dark to see.  He flipped on his flashlight and saw the eeriely lit face of Elly behind him.  He pulled her hand off of his mouth.

“You almost gave me a heart attack there.” He muttered as he tried to slow his breathing.

“Well, I didn’t want you blabbing as to where I was.”  Edward raised an eyebrow.

“And why is that, exactly?”

“Because I didn’t want him to find me.”

“Who?  Keith?”  Elly didn’t answer.  “Why are you hiding from him?”

“Several reasons.  I didn’t want him thinking he could bunk here with me, at least.”

“What’s wrong with being in the same room with the guy?”  Elly narrowed her eyes.

“Because I want you to.”  Both sat in silence, trying to contemplate that statement before Elly began to turn red and spun around.  “You’re the center of where the ghosts pop up, after all.”  Edward sighed.

“Is that all?”  Edward walked over to the bed and slumped down on it, sending up a plume of dust into the air.  Elly, however, stood facing away from me.  Just when Edward felt the need to interject, Elly finally spoke up.

“We’ll take shifts.  I’ll take the first one, you sleep.  I’ll wake you in an hour to switch.”

“That’s not a whole lot of beauty sleep for me.”

She snapped back, “Not like a month’s sleep could ever help you in that regard.”

“Fine, whatever.”  He unrolled his sleeping back next to the bed and slid into it.  Elly rolled hers out next to his.  Elly paused as she noticed Edward looking at her.

“What?”

“Nothing.  Night.”  Edward sank down into his sleeping bag and slowly drifted off to sleep.  His sleep was troubled and laborious, as it often was, especially so considering where they were sleeping.  By the time he awoke, he felt so disoriented he wasn’t sure whether he had been asleep only minutes or hours.  He shook his head and pointed his flashlight at his watch and flipped it on.

“3am?”  He scanned the room around him.  “Elly?”  He didn’t get a response.  He looked down at the sleeping bag next to his, but it was empty.  “Elly?” He called out again, this time, louder.  He rubbed his eyes and struggled to his feet.  As he stepped near the door, one foot smushed slightly, as if he had stepped into something powdery.

“The hell?”  He muttered as he turned the flashlight to his foot.  A black soot mark peered out from under his foot.  His flashlight followed a trail of them to the foot of their sleeping bags.

“Oh…shit.”  His right eye suddenly began to pound furiously, as if it was a second heart in his body.  He closed his eye and put his right hand over it.  He felt around for the door handle to the room and slowly slid it open.  As he leaned out into the hall, he could hear a noise.  It started faint at first, but as he turned towards the great room, it slowly became louder.  By the time he reached the end of the hallway, he recognized it as music.  He walked to the railing of the stairs and saw everyone in the group was awake and downstairs talking to each other and dancing.

“The hell guys? It’s three in the morning.”  He slowly walked down the stairs.  He picked Anna and Keith out of the group, and they were in the middle, dancing together.

“What are you two doing?”  But his voice found no response.  He poked Keith, then jabbed him in the side, but Keith acted as if he felt nothing.  As stood there, amongst the strange dancing group, Elly’s words began to click into place.

“The police found them dancing…”

The words echoed in his mind as he slowly pulled his hand away from his right eye, and slowly opened it.  No longer was it a group of teenagers and college students dancing together in a dilapidated room, but a group of affluent adults dancing together in a brightly lit, well-furnished room partying the night away.  His eye now smoothed into a solid throb as he viewed the scene before him.  To any other person, this would disturb them, but to Edward, this was an all too common occurrence when he was dragged on any of Elly’s adventures.

“One oddity attracts another.” He muttered under his breath as he closed his right eye again.  Once again, it became a room of young people dancing in an old room, the floor creakly loudly and shaking as they all moved.  He looked around, and saw everyone was here, save one.

“Elly…”  He thought a moment, and then looked back upstairs.  He knew where she had to be.  He climbed the stairs again, and walked down the hall to the room they had stayed in.  He could see the black prints on the ground, and followed them down the hall.  With each step, the air became hotter, thicker, and harder to breathe.  As he closed towards the end of the coordior, he began to cough, as if something nasty was filling his lungs.  He forced himself onward until he reached the end of the prints, the child’s bedroom.  He reached for the handle, but instantly pulled his hand back.  The handle appeared normal, but even from his fingers getting close, he could feel the red-hot heat radiating from it.  He kicked the door hard, and it flung open.

Elly sat in the room, quietly, with a wooden doll in her hands.  At first, she seemed oblivious to him, but then turned and looked up at him with a blank expression.  Edward, his skin seething, slowly opened his right eye.  The image of a girl sat before him, engulfed in flames, a subtle horror to her expression as she sat clutching a doll in her hands.  He heard no sound, but as her mouth moved, he could barely discern words from her lips.

“Daddy?  Daddy…where…are…you…”

The feeling of heat was so intense that every pore of his skin felt like it had already been set aflame.  Sweat poured off of his body as he fell to one knee before her.

“You’ve been alone a long time, little one.  It’s time your suffering was put to an end.”

“Daddy…”

“Don’t worry.  You’ll see him soon.”  Edward took his right thumb and sliced it against one of his own teeth, causing blood to bead up on the finger.  He traced a symbol in blood on his right hand and began chanting:

That no cry go unheard, no tear fall in vain, I make the vow.  Libera illa animus, Domine, de morte aeterna.  Requiem aeternam. Dona eis, Domine.  Amen.

They were words he knew all too well, words he learned the day his eye changed.  When they were spoken, the heat dissipated and the girl’s clear image came into view.  She smiled at him before fading into a sea of white.  Edward blinked, and found himself back in the old room, with Elly seated before him.  Elly sat half-lucid for a moment, before slumping onto the ground.  Edward picked her up and carried her to the great room.  As he entered, he saw the others unconscious on the ground.  He sighed.

“I’m not going to get one bit of actual sleep tonight, am I?”  He set about carrying Elly and the others back to their sleeping bags…or at least what he hoped was theirs.  By the time he was done, the sun had already crept back up over the horizon.  He was just about to lay back down in his own sleeping bag when Elly bolted upright.

“What? What happened?”

“You…fell asleep, I guess.” He offered.

“Dang it! We probably missed some of the best stuff!”  She put her head in her hands.  “Ugh, I never catch a break.”

“It’s a rough life.”  He snapped sarcastically as he laid down.

“You look terrible.  How much were up last night?”

“Quite a bit.  I seem to have trouble getting sleep inside of a haunted house, unlike some people.”

“Yeah, yeah, rub it in.  Ugh, my head feels like a fishbowl.”  Elly shook her head and staggered to her feet.  She stumbled about for a few steps and then fell over on top of Edward.  Edward grunted out as her weight flopped onto him.  Just then, the door creaked open behind them.

“What…are you two doing?”  Both heads spun around to see Keith looking down at them from the doorway.

“This…isn’t what you think…”  Elly offered.

“Rather intimate for him to be a ‘big brother’, ne?” Anna chimed in as she peered in behind Keith.

“I told you it isn’t anything!  You! Tell them!”  Elly barked as she pointed a finger at Edward.

“Just let me sleep already…”  He muttered, putting a hand over his eyes.

Even through the yelling and conversation around him, his eyelids felt heavy, and slowly drifted off to sleep.  This time, his sleep felt fairly dull, yet relaxing.  He dreamt he was playing with dolls with a small smiling girl.  It was a peaceful, quiet dream, and that is exactly how he liked it.

From the moment he saw the house, he could feel the wrongness about it.  The dark aura that engulfed the place was so strong that even Elly and the others could feel chills run up their spine as they approached.  The others were chatting nervously to each other, both excitement and fear bubbling to surface of each.  Edward filed in behind them, a sigh escaping as they approached the door.  He questioned himself for the 12th time why he was here.  He hated ghost houses, paranormal places, or any spooky spot of the like.  A quiet night, free from that which bumped in the night was perfectly fine with him.  Elly, on the other hand, was obsessed with anything that could give normal people the creeps.  Edward, having been her friend since childhood, always found himself dragged along on such adventures, much to his chagrin.  In school the pair was dubbed the “Eek” twins, both from their names, and for the screams that Elly’s expeditions seemed to elicit.  Edward always though Elly’s creepy hobby would make her ostracized from others her age, but somehow she wound up around a group of boys and girls that loved a good scare as much as she did.

Elly noticed Edward’s deep sigh, and her blond hair whirled as she spun around to face him.

“Don’t start whining now.  You’re the one that said you would come.”

“That’s…” Edward sighed again in resignation.  “Whatever.  Just don’t come crying to me when something scares you half to death in there.”  He could tell Elly was brimming with excitement at his statement, which only deepened his despair.

“Oh, I hope something does! It’ll be so exciting!”  Edward rubbed his fingers against his green and red eye.  His right eye had turned red when he was a child, something none of the doctors in the area could quite explain.  He felt it made him look like a freak.  The thought hadn’t escaped him that perhaps Elly kept him around for that exact purpose.

Elly put her hand on the great iron knob on the front door of the house, and with a loud creak, twisted it and pushed the door open.  The inside was covered with a thick layer of dust that seemed to kick up as they stepped inside.  The worn wooden floors bowed down between each of the floor joists, and creaked loudly with each step on them.  A great, or rather, formerly great staircase rose in the center of the large room up to the second floor.  Rusted iron railing lined the sides of the staircase, and ended in the remains of rusted ornamentation at each end.  The walls appeared to have been painted at one time, though the years had worn what might have been one color into an array of browns and grays.  A large chandelier hung from the center of the room, composed more of cobwebs than metal.  The others stood around coughing in the dust, but Elly stood in the midst of it, excited as a little girl on Christmas.

“Isn’t this fantastic?”

“Yeah, if you like emphysema.”  She shot Edward a fierce glance.

“Enough backtalk.  This place is prime hunting! I’m sure we’ll find that little girl’s ghost here easy.  Just hope I can get her on film…”

“Little girl?”  Rachael, a small, brown-haired girl a few years younger than Elly spoke up with a shaky voice.

“Yes…”  Elly turned and creeped towards her with arms outstretched.  “The story goes that the girl’s father lost everything in the stock market crash of the 30’s.  They say he went crazy after, gathering up a huge party of those who still had money inside the house.  He told them he was paying for everything with, unbeknownst to them, the money he had already lost.  When the party was just getting into swing, he locked the doors and lit the house on fire!  The problem was, that he forgot that his daughter was still asleep upstairs when the inside of the house burned up.  When someone else bought the house and rebuilt it years later, the ghost of the little girl still wandered the halls, searching for her father amidst flames that weren’t there!  They say anyone who touches her…turns to ash!”  With that, Elly grabbed ahold of Rachel’s shoulders, causing her to scream loudly, her voice bouncing around the large empty house.

“Elly, try not to scare the poor girl to death, at least not where I can hear it.” Edward said, exasperated.

“Aww, come on.  That’s all the fun here! Getting scared out of your mind!”  Edward walked to Rachel and put a hand on her head.

“Maybe, but you’re the one doing the scaring here.  I doubt you need to add to the ambience with a creepy place like this.”  Rachael shrank away from Elly and clung to Edward.

“Aren’t you Mr. Popular all of a sudden.” Keith chimed in.  He was red-haired jock on the basketball team at the local college.  Edward had a rather reasonable hunch he tagged along on these ventures simply to get closer to Elly.  He was always accompanied by Anna, or rather, Anastasia as she preferred people to call her.  If there was a stereotype of a ‘popular’ girl, then Anna was it.  Her personal and social appearance was paramount to her.  Voted homecoming queen twice, now the leading lady of a sorority, one couldn’t call her a failure in that regard.  Edward didn’t think she was a bad person, though too self-obsessed for his tastes.  Thus, it perplexed Edward why she would chase Keith if it meant following him into places like the one they were in.  Edward preferred to think of it as love being blind, rather than her simply trying to match herself with someone of equal social status.  Though Keith seemed to not notice, Edward knew her eyes had been burning a hole in the back of Elly’s head all day. As Edward glanced back in the direction of Keith and her, her face immediately shifted into a smile.  The action seemed so rehearsed with her it made Edward inwardly cringe.  Keith was grinning at him too, but in a much more amused fashion.  Edward wasn’t sure whether he it was because he found the situation actually amusing, or if having another woman than Elly beside me met with his approval.

“Damn it’s gonna be a long night.” Edward muttered to himself.

“All right everyone.  Fan out and search the place top to bottom.  If you find anything unusual, report back here at once.  We’ll meet back here otherwise at…11 or so.  Make sure to scope out the room that you want to stay in tonight.”

“Wait.”  Edward held up his hand.  “You’re expecting us to spend the night here?”

“Of course.  You of all people know all the good spook activity happens from midnight to four in the morning.  We’ll have to divide into shifts to see some good stuff!”  Edward immediately slumped over at the thought.  “All right, all of you, split up and start looking!”  The group, except Edward, cheered and some began scurrying down the long passageways of the derelict mansion.  Elly grabbed Edward by the arm and began dragging him upstairs.

“Come on, I bet that kid’s room was upstairs.  I can’t wait!”

“Hey Elly!”  Keith called out, but Elly had already managed to scurry up the steps with Edward in tow.  “Man that girl is quick.”
”Yeah, I bet she’s quick in some other areas too.” Anna muttered.

“Huh? Did you say something Anna?”  Keith said as he turned down to her.

“Nothing, nothing at all.  Come on, let’s go search for…whatever it is we’re supposed to look for.”  She grabbed Keith’s arm and led him down a hallway.  Rachael stood alone in the great room, frantically looking from passageway, not wanting to be left alone, yet too afraid to move.  Eventually she slumped into a dust-covered chair in the corner.

Edward grumbled under his breath as Elly scurried from room to room in the upper floor.

After an hour or two of searching through mostly depilated bedrooms, Elly opened a door at the end of one hall with a shriek.  Edward knew with a normal person, that shriek would be one of terror, but for Elly, it was of excitement.  Elly dashed inside as Edward peered in behind her.  The room was covered in dust and cobwebs, but had obviously been a child’s room.  The remains of children’s toys sat askew on shelves and filling a small box in a corner.  A small bed sat in one corner of the room, the sheets still pulled up on the bed, as if made that morning, though was still covered with dust.

“This is it!  It has to be!”

Edward picked up the remains of what appeared to be a wooden plane on a shelf.

“It isn’t that child’s room.”

“It might be!  You can’t be sure.”

“You said it yourself, right?  The inside of the house was burnt out from the fire.  This stuff would all have to have been put in afterwards, when they rebuilt the place.”

“That’s…well…true, but…” She scratched her head.  “Well, that kid’s ghost could still be taking residence in this room!  It probably attracted her here with all the toys.”  Edward sighed.

“No way, no how.”  It was Elly’s turn to grumble at him.  After some more searching in the room, Elly darted out of the room in search of more prospects.  After walking out of the room, however, Edward felt a sharp chill down his spine.  He turned around, but didn’t see anything in the room.  He cautiously turned back and followed Elly down the hall.

“Hey Elly, what happened to the last owners of the house?  The ones that rebuilt the place.”

“Oh them.”  She said as she darted into another room.  “The story goes that the police arrived to find the husband and wife dancing like madmen in the great room downstairs.  They tried to get them to stop, but were entranced by something, and had to be taken away forcibly and confined to a mental institution.”  Edward’s eyes bolted open.

“And you tell us this now!?”  As his words faded, he heard a soft, almost indiscernable creak of wood behind him.  He whirled about, but saw nothing.  He once again, even more cautiously, turned back.  Elly went on, searching more rooms, but as she continued, Edward’s right eye began to throb.  It was soft at first, but began pulsating harshly as they continued.

“Damn it, not again…”  Edward muttered.

“Huh? Did you say something?”  Elly peeked up at him.

“Nothing.  Just a headache.”

“Oh.”  She turned back.  As she did, Edward heard it again, the creak of wood behind him, louder this time.  His eye was pounding furiously in his head.

“Damn it…”  He muttered as he covered his right eye with his hand.  He slowly turned around, and didn’t see anything at first, but as he looked down the hall, he saw black smudge on the ground he hadn’t noticed before.  As he watched, the black smudged widened and darkened into an elliptical shape.  Then, another smudge appeared, this time diagonally to the first one, and in front of it.  Then another appeared, this time in line with the first one.

“E-elly.” Edward tried to keep his voice calm.

“Yeah?”

“I think it’s time to meet back with the others.”

“Is it?  Come on, we have to have more time.”  The smudges began to grow closer to Edward, as the air around him felt like it was getting warmer with each closing step.

“We need to go Elly.  Now.”

“All right, all right.  No need to get pushy.”  Edward’s hand slipped slightly from his right eye, enough to see bright orange light…and a face.  He reached into the room, grabbed Elly by the hand, and dragged her into the hall and to the stairs.

“Sheesh, do you have to be so pushy about it?”  Edward pulled her close and looked down the hall.

“Hey, what are you-”

“Shh.” He stared down the hall, finally this time with his right eye open.  The smudges were still on the ground, but whatever was there before had gone.  Her face forcibly buried in his chest, Elly pushed herself off slightly and looked up at him.

“You saw something?”

“Not sure.”

“My, isn’t this a cozy scene.”  They looked over the railing to see Anna and Keith staring up at the pair.  Keith seems unhappy, while Anna seemed oddly pleased.

“Why exactly are you two hanging over each other like that?”  Keith asked.

“No reason in particular.” Elly spoke up as she took a step away from Edward.  “Not like I particularly need one.  Ed’s like a big brother to me anyways.”

“Is that so.” Keith’s words floated in the air as everyone exchanged glances.  Edward broke the awkward silence.

“Anyway, it’s about time to meet up.  Gather everyone else here.”  As everyone gathered, they all talked about the spooky things that a few of them had heard.  Edward didn’t dare speak of what happened upstairs.  He didn’t want to encourage anyone to investigate it, especially Elly.

After sharing some snacks they carried in, the group began to shift off to pick out rooms to spend the night in.  Edward could see Keith scanning the group of faces, most likely for Elly.

“Does he really think he’ll be able to bunk up with Elly?”  Anna’s annoyed voice murmured behind him.

“Well, you have to give him points for persistence, at least.”  Ed looked over his shoulder at her when he spoke.  Anna’s expression rapidly changed to the eerie smile she always seemed to flip to.  “Though I’d have to give you points for that as well.”  Anna’s expression slackened at Edward seeing through her façade.

“Please don’t lump me in the same group with him.”

“But that’s exactly what you want to be, right?”  She looked from him to Keith before sighing slightly.  “Then you might as well follow him.  If you can keep him from Elly, maybe you’ll end up bunking with him instead.”  He turned and began to walk away when Anna’s voice stopped him.

“So what is the deal between Anna and you?”  Ed half-smirked as he turned to her.

“She probably thinks when I’m around, the spooks are more likely to show up.”  Anna raised an eyebrow.

“Why would she think that?”

“Because one oddity tends to attract others.”  Edward waved and started up the stairs.

Edward tucked his sleeping bag under his arm as he walked from room to room.  As he approached the child’s room again, he saw familiar smudges on the ground making prints leading out of the room.  By the size, they appeared to be similar to the shoes of a child.

“Ah, hell.”  Edward said as he rubbed his face.  Inwardly, he had hoped what he had seen earlier was just a hallucination.  “At least if I was crazy, I could write the whole thing off…”  He leaned down and rubbed a finger across one smudge and rubbed it between his fingers.  “Soot.”  He sighed.  “Damn it Elly, you sure know how to pick them…”  Hoping to avoid the hallway where the shoeprints led, he turned around and began walking down the hall.  He heard voices coming from the end of the hall.  He strained his ears to listen when suddenly something caught hold of his arm and yanked him into a room.  The door slid closed behind him as something come over his mouth.  He struggled against the unseen force as a voice came to his ear.

“Shh.”  He did so, and heard voices walking down the hall.  He recognized it as Keith and Anna.  They slowly stopped nearby, then dissipating somewhere down the corridor.  Edward turned his head to see who or what had grabbed him, but it was too dark to see.  He flipped on his flashlight and saw the eeriely lit face of Elly behind him.  He pulled her hand off of his mouth.

“You almost gave me a heart attack there.” He muttered as he tried to slow his breathing.

“Well, I didn’t want you blabbing as to where I was.”  Edward raised an eyebrow.

“And why is that, exactly?”

“Because I didn’t want him to find me.”

“Who?  Keith?”  Elly didn’t answer.  “Why are you hiding from him?”

“Several reasons.  I didn’t want him thinking he could bunk here with me, at least.”

“What’s wrong with being in the same room with the guy?”  Elly narrowed her eyes.

“Because I want you to.”  Both sat in silence, trying to contemplate that statement before Elly began to turn red and spun around.  “You’re the center of where the ghosts pop up, after all.”  Edward sighed.

“Is that all?”  Edward walked over to the bed and slumped down on it, sending up a plume of dust into the air.  Elly, however, stood facing away from me.  Just when Edward felt the need to interject, Elly finally spoke up.

“We’ll take shifts.  I’ll take the first one, you sleep.  I’ll wake you in an hour to switch.”

“That’s not a whole lot of beauty sleep for me.”

She snapped back, “Not like a month’s sleep could ever help you in that regard.”

“Fine, whatever.”  He unrolled his sleeping back next to the bed and slid into it.  Elly rolled hers out next to his.  Elly paused as she noticed Edward looking at her.

“What?”

“Nothing.  Night.”  Edward sank down into his sleeping bag and slowly drifted off to sleep.  His sleep was troubled and laborious, as it often was, especially so considering where they were sleeping.  By the time he awoke, he felt so disoriented he wasn’t sure whether he had been asleep only minutes or hours.  He shook his head and pointed his flashlight at his watch and flipped it on.

“3am?”  He scanned the room around him.  “Elly?”  He didn’t get a response.  He looked down at the sleeping bag next to his, but it was empty.  “Elly?” He called out again, this time, louder.  He rubbed his eyes and struggled to his feet.  As he stepped near the door, one foot smushed slightly, as if he had stepped into something powdery.

“The hell?”  He muttered as he turned the flashlight to his foot.  A black soot mark peered out from under his foot.  His flashlight followed a trail of them to the foot of their sleeping bags.

“Oh…shit.”  His right eye suddenly began to pound furiously, as if it was a second heart in his body.  He closed his eye and put his right hand over it.  He felt around for the door handle to the room and slowly slid it open.  As he leaned out into the hall, he could hear a noise.  It started faint at first, but as he turned towards the great room, it slowly became louder.  By the time he reached the end of the hallway, he recognized it as music.  He walked to the railing of the stairs and saw everyone in the group was awake and downstairs talking to each other and dancing.

“The hell guys? It’s three in the morning.”  He slowly walked down the stairs.  He picked Anna and Keith out of the group, and they were in the middle, dancing together.

“What are you two doing?”  But his voice found no response.  He poked Keith, then jabbed him in the side, but Keith acted as if he felt nothing.  As stood there, amongst the strange dancing group, Elly’s words began to click into place.

“The police found them dancing…”

The words echoed in his mind as he slowly pulled his hand away from his right eye, and slowly opened it.  No longer was it a group of teenagers and college students dancing together in a dilapidated room, but a group of affluent adults dancing together in a brightly lit, well-furnished room partying the night away.  His eye now smoothed into a solid throb as he viewed the scene before him.  To any other person, this would disturb them, but to Edward, this was an all too common occurrence when he was dragged on any of Elly’s adventures.

“One oddity attracts another.” He muttered under his breath as he closed his right eye again.  Once again, it became a room of young people dancing in an old room, the floor creakly loudly and shaking as they all moved.  He looked around, and saw everyone was here, save one.

“Elly…”  He thought a moment, and then looked back upstairs.  He knew where she had to be.  He climbed the stairs again, and walked down the hall to the room they had stayed in.  He could see the black prints on the ground, and followed them down the hall.  With each step, the air became hotter, thicker, and harder to breathe.  As he closed towards the end of the coordior, he began to cough, as if something nasty was filling his lungs.  He forced himself onward until he reached the end of the prints, the child’s bedroom.  He reached for the handle, but instantly pulled his hand back.  The handle appeared normal, but even from his fingers getting close, he could feel the red-hot heat radiating from it.  He kicked the door hard, and it flung open.

Elly sat in the room, quietly, with a wooden doll in her hands.  At first, she seemed oblivious to him, but then turned and looked up at him with a blank expression.  Edward, his skin seething, slowly opened his right eye.  The image of a girl sat before him, engulfed in flames, a subtle horror to her expression as she sat clutching a doll in her hands.  He heard no sound, but as her mouth moved, he could barely discern words from her lips.

“Daddy?  Daddy…where…are…you…”

The feeling of heat was so intense that every pore of his skin felt like it had already been set aflame.  Sweat poured off of his body as he fell to one knee before her.

“You’ve been alone a long time, little one.  It’s time your suffering was put to an end.”

“Daddy…”

“Don’t worry.  You’ll see him soon.”  Edward took his right thumb and sliced it against one of his own teeth, causing blood to bead up on the finger.  He traced a symbol in blood on his right hand and began chanting:

That no cry go unheard, no tear fall in vain, I make the vow.  Libera illa animus, Domine, de morte aeterna.  Requiem aeternam. Dona eis, Domine.  Amen.

They were words he knew all too well, words he learned the day his eye changed.  When they were spoken, the heat dissipated and the girl’s clear image came into view.  She smiled at him before fading into a sea of white.  Edward blinked, and found himself back in the old room, with Elly seated before him.  Elly sat half-lucid for a moment, before slumping onto the ground.  Edward picked her up and carried her to the great room.  As he entered, he saw the others unconscious on the ground.  He sighed.

“I’m not going to get one bit of actual sleep tonight, am I?”  He set about carrying Elly and the others back to their sleeping bags…or at least what he hoped was theirs.  By the time he was done, the sun had already crept back up over the horizon.  He was just about to lay back down in his own sleeping bag when Elly bolted upright.

“What? What happened?”

“You…fell asleep, I guess.” He offered.

“Dang it! We probably missed some of the best stuff!”  She put her head in her hands.  “Ugh, I never catch a break.”

“It’s a rough life.”  He snapped sarcastically as he laid down.

“You look terrible.  How much were up last night?”

“Quite a bit.  I seem to have trouble getting sleep inside of a haunted house, unlike some people.”

“Yeah, yeah, rub it in.  Ugh, my head feels like a fishbowl.”  Elly shook her head and staggered to her feet.  She stumbled about for a few steps and then fell over on top of Edward.  Edward grunted out as her weight flopped onto him.  Just then, the door creaked open behind them.

“What…are you two doing?”  Both heads spun around to see Keith looking down at them from the doorway.

“This…isn’t what you think…”  Elly offered.

“Rather intimate for him to be a ‘big brother’, ne?” Anna chimed in as she peered in behind Keith.

“I told you it isn’t anything!  You! Tell them!”  Elly barked as she pointed a finger at Edward.

“Just let me sleep already…”  He muttered, putting a hand over his eyes.

Even through the yelling and conversation around him, his eyelids felt heavy, and slowly drifted off to sleep.  This time, his sleep felt fairly dull, yet relaxing.  He dreamt he was playing with dolls with a small smiling girl.  It was a peaceful, quiet dream, and that is exactly how he liked it.

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