Her father had resolved the matter that night by nailing the window shut. He had no explanation why it was coming open when it was even difficult for him to move. He had walked around the house to make sure there wasn’t anyone messing with the girls. Finding no sign of anyone and no ladders, he went for his nail belt and called the problem solved. Unfortunately, none of the girls felt any better, and now their father knew something was not right under their roof. He recalled the real estate woman with her hand shoved through her sunroof window and waving goodbye “By the way,” she had hollered as she headed down the drive “the place is haunted!” Thank god the girls were out of earshot. He chuckled a bit when he’d heard it but now he wondered. Real estate agents were required to give full disclosure. She would be liable for any unpaid fees and rents on the house had she not told them.
Regardless of what Penelope had seen in the toy room, she wouldn’t be kept from playing there. With the house full of morning noise she felt better about braving the two large glass doors and the icy cold room. What her mother had said about the dead being unable to hurt the living helped. She guessed it was the idea that it was all so out of her control and unfamiliar that made it scary.
She glanced around the room and ignored the sense of unease that came upon her. She played with the dollhouse and listened to her sisters arguing over the tv, this seemed normal enough that she got comfortable with her surroundings.
The phooka stared out her from the large pile of toys where it had been forced to hide. Escaping through the portal at this point might only get him lost forever, so better to wait her out. At least these people weren’t prone to letting their animal roam this part of the house, but it was one of the worst, icy cold and making his nose want to run. He hadn’t been able to approach the young girl the day before because she had been frightened so badly by what he could only assume had been a ghost. He watched the terrified girl back her way out of the room feeling behind her for obstacles. When she reached the opposite side of the living room her skin had gone completely ashen, and she slid herself sideways down the wall into the kitchen where he lost sight of her. Yes, she was the one he needed to be talking to, the one he had been told would be here to help him.
He watched her play because he had no other option, he would wait a day or so until the right moment arose to bring her into his confidence.
The day went on fairly uneventful. Penelope spied on the boy across the lane while she wondered about the property and he actually came and introduced himself – but only to be invited into their barns to play in the hay. He was a little younger than her and a bit of a smart alec, not someone she would readily choose to hang around with. He was kind of snobbish, like a know-it-all.
In any case, they had some fun jumping from the upper landing of the big barn into an old pile of dry hay that lay heaped on the floor. It made her nose tickle and her skin itch, but it was worth it. The boy stayed and played until Penelope’s mother called her in for dinner and he left for home not bothering to say goodbye. She decided she didn’t much care for him at all.
Dinner was a bottom round roast and the steam from it permeated the air with the smell of melted butter, roasted onions, garlic, oregano, and basil. There were medium sized red potatoes that were broiled with the roast, their skin just starting to peel and too hot to open just yet and butter. There was broiled celery which was the best smell of all. It was good to have a dinner like this after being so hard at play and the meal made her groggy.
The sisters headed straight upstairs when they finished, knowing they still had another hour to kill before they were expected to be in their beds. Penelope sat on her bed coloring in her notebook while Lorraine sat on her bed writing something. It was better to keep to themselves than risk the possibility of an evening squabble. They always fought and they always got yelled at – and they always tried to be good.
Victoria suddenly burst into the room clutching the doorknob with eyes wide “You guys have to see this!”
Penelope and Lorainne rolled their eyes in unison and padded across the rough boards to their sister’s room.
Victoria had entered first and motioned them quickly toward her bureau. “Can you believe it!” she whispered loudly “They did it all by themselves!”
On the top of the bureau was a plain piece of paper where a pile of crayons lay. The strange thing her sister was pointing out was the way they had melted and swirled altogether kind-of beautiful on the paper.
“You shouldn’t be playing with lighters like that!” Lorraine scolded.
Victoria looked perplexed and then angry “No duh Lori, I didn’t! I told you they did it on their own!” She grabbed the paper, peeling it from the wood and shoved it towards them. “There’s a ghost in my room, it melted these crayons just like it was opening the stupid window the other night!”
From the far corners of Victoria’s room, the shadows leaned in, stretching their long, tentacle-like arms out to embrace her. They writhed about in hunger, devouring Victoria’s fear and anger. She could feel the chill of them as their long reach wrapped about her. The color began to drain from her face “I’m telling you there is something in here!”
Penelope could feel the hairs on her arms begin to stand and the room went cold. She scanned the room quickly, her eyes darting over the dark mist in the corners behind her oldest sister. They were all but invisible, their presence managing to suck the life straight from the air they were breathing. Her head started swimming with the lack of oxygen.
Lorraine was almost yelling at Victoria, claiming it was her fault the crayons had melted that way and that she was just trying to scare them. But she wasn’t, Penelope grabbed at Lorraine’s sleave, shaking her head in disagreement.
“Get out!” Victoria hissed at her sister’s “I don’t know why I bother telling you anything!” she had moved towards them, the weight of her body backing them out of the room. Slam!, went her door and it bounced back off the latch.
Penelope could swear that, just then, she saw a dark mass swirl behind Victoria and the slightest sound of a sinister giggle echoed in her ears. There was definitely something in that room. She knocked on the door with no success. Victoria was hurt that they seemed not to believe her. The tentacles squeezed tighter and she began to sob. “I’m sorry!”
Penelope’s faint voice traveled into the room but was lost before Victoria heard it. She was shaking and could only make out her own sobbing. Penelope turned on her heal and retreated back into her own room. The dizziness left her before she had cleared three strides toward her bed. These events were exhausting and had them all pressed tightly to the edge of their comfort zone.
She settled back into coloring in her notebook for the better part of an hour before Lorraine killed the light without warning. “Thanks!” she muttered under her breath.
She dropped her notebook to the floor and placed her pens on top of it. She hated when the lights went out and the dark came creeping in. The place seemed to fill with an uneasiness and she would always feel like there were eyes cast down upon her. It made her spine tickle and shiver. She pulled her blankets up tight to her chin. She could still sense the presence in Victoria’s room, it was like a despair that reached through the hallway and settled upon her. She prayed she would fall to sleep quickly.
The floorboards creaked and snapped as the old house settled, adding to her unease. And then came a feeling she couldn’t describe. There was a quickening of her heart and a cool rush of air on her face, her brow began to bead with cold sweat. Panic was upon her and her eyes darted about the darkness of the large room. Every crevice seemed to swirl in a deeper darkness. She began to count in her head, ninety-nine, and backward. It was a trick she had recently learned that helped to calm her nerves before bedtime. But she was struggling to focus on the numbers and instead peered frantically out into the empty space before her. Something was there just outside of her vision, she could feel it. Her skin went to gooseflesh and her ears began to ring as the old farmer stepped out from the closet grinning.
His frame would have been seen as a stitch taller than the doorframe. A black mass that pulled in the darkness around him, he leered at the girl, happy he frightened her. He hated her, hated them all. He spun the handle of his ax in his hand and stepped toward her, the floorboards creaked feeling the empty weight of him. His mouth went dry with a bloodthirst, he wanted to kill them. A slight breeze caught up his mass and he swirled apart, vanishing.
Penelope was frozen in a fetal position, terrified to move. A slight breeze brushed her cheek and she startled, sitting up straight, still gripping tightly to her blankets. Lorraine was already asleep when she whispered loudly to get her attention. She was alone with this thing and she could feel it close to her. She peered over the edge of the mattress to the space between it and the floor, she sensed it was hiding. She looked to her sister’s bed and it seemed like miles from her in the shadows. She wanted to jump to the safety she felt was there in the moonlight that spilled through the window. But she just sat there for what seemed like forever.
There was a pounding of her racing blood in her ears and she shifted uncomfortably on the bed. She peered down toward the floor again and could make out the shape of a large weathered hand as the farmer reached for her. The air was sucked from her lungs and the ringing raged even louder. She stood up straight in her bed in a flash and kicked off from the wall. She was too terrified to think but she landed squarely on her sister’s bed. She couldn’t hear her sister grumble in complaint.
Penelope’s eyes were fixated to that spot between her mattress and the floor. Her mouth went sticky and dry and her throat hurt liked she had swallowed a softball. She was freezing and numb. She climbed clumsily over her sister and sat with her back to the wall, shaking. the moonlight catching her face and arm.
She felt sick in her stomach… she had seen him.
Published by M.R. Goodhew
Michelle Rene has been involved in the publishing industry for over twenty years as an author, copywriter, illustrator, and designer. She is an Indie Author Advocate who volunteers her time to give back to the Indie Author Community and is also a writing consultant.
As an author of non-fiction, Michelle Rene writes books to help independent authors develop their platforms, discover their brand, and create the right look that will draw readers to them. She discusses how to navigate social media and addresses marketing tactics.
For the author who sets up their web presence independently and does not wish to hire a designer, her books offer a wealth of start-up information, graphic design templates, video tutorials, and give crucial insight to the designers thought process – which assists in the creation and design of the author’s platform.
Michelle Rene also writes fiction which falls under several genres. She is currently working on a book that involves conspiracy theories…you’ll be hooked…