Author’s note: some adult stuff briefly mentioned in the beginning.
Alice McCormick was born in 2003. Her father owned several businesses, her mother dabbled in society, and she was their princess. Their sole child. Spoiled, pampered, adored. Her childhood was spent being raised by nannies and getting whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted.
In her eighteenth year she fell in love with a man named Carlos Hughes. He worked as a repairman for her family and she would purposely break things so he’d come and fix them under her fluttering gaze. She wanted him so bad but knew she couldn’t have him… at least, not with her father knowing.
One night she called Carlos and lied, saying something had been broken and could he come fix it. He showed up to find Alice naked on the bed. He had never been much interested in her but her beauty overtook him and he joined her.
Alice’s parents were supposed to be at some society function but they came home early. Hearing noises from upstairs, Mr. McCormick ran up the stairs. He found the two of them on Alice’s bed and Alice couldn’t bear for him to know the truth, so she claimed it had been rape. Carlos tried protesting but Mr. McCormick shot him and buried him in the backyard.
For a year things seemed to be normal but Alice began despairing. She remembered how much she felt for Carlos–or thought she did. On the anniversary of his murder she snapped. That night her father woke up to find Alice by his bed, knife in hand.
‘You killed Carlos!’ she screamed, forgetting her own part in his demise. She stabbed her father to death and then her mother. Then she ran, never to be seen again…
“Wait, if she ran away how come her ghost is there?” Zaid asked.
“She came back, of course,” Ginny said primly.
“Or maybe she killed herself there. One story is she took poison and died over the spot where they buried Carlos,” Sam said.
“Poor Carlos.” Kiley added. “Getting hacked to death in the middle of getting laid.”
“Can you think of nothing but sex?” Blake snapped.
Kiley pursed her lips. “You’re the one who told the story, not me. I’m just mourning the poor innocent soul who wanted some and was murdered for it. Betrayed. I bet Carlos’s ghost killed Alice. I would.”
“One story is she roams the grounds looking for a man to be her ghostly husband,” Blake said in an eerie tone. “Or worse.”
“If I get ravaged by a bloodthirsty ghost, you’re so dead,” Sam muttered.
Blake laughed. “Who says she’d go for you? Apollo’s the only human looking guy here.”
“Ugh that’s it, I’m tired of walking.” Ginny folded her arms and began floating, leaving a trail of pink smoke. Sam caught my gaze and made a face at her back; I tried not to laugh.
After a few moments of quiet, Zaid spoke up. “How much farther is this place?”
“Oh, another ten minutes or so,” Blake answered and I realized he had started flying.
Zaid gave a groan and Romance said, “Twenty minutes more likely. Brilliant idea, Blake, walking through the dark woods as night descends four days before Halloween. Hopefully there aren’t any hunters roaming around.”
Blake stopped and spun around, eyes flashing. “You didn’t need to come. None of you did. Sam and I were fine by ourselves.”
I felt uncomfortable at those words, wondering if perhaps it would have been better without the big group. I would have preferred it, really, and I didn’t even know why everyone else came along besides Blake and Sam and I. We should have put our foots down and–
We all spun around at the sound of movement in the woods. Zaid moved a bit closer and sniffed the air before tilting his head, using his wolf senses. “I can’t hear anything else, it must have been something… falling. Maybe a branch under some weight–“
“Of what? All this heavy snow or wind?” Blake asked nervously. “Let’s just keep going. You lot should really turn back now if you’ve got any worries about it.”
We began walking again in silence (well, floating in Ginny’s case and flying in Blake’s). After about five minutes we were all very aware of the sensation of being followed. Zaid kept shaking his head, whispering that he couldn’t smell anyone around. A hand gripped my arm and Kiley pressed against me, shivering lightly. When I gave her a curious look she just smiled and pressed closer, boobs squashed against my arm.
A few more minutes found us at a road that stretched out in utter emptiness either way. No vehicles passed as we began walking, crunching through the dead leaves that lined the shoulder. We eventually got to a crossroads and that’s where we found out who had been following us. We turned down the obviously lesser-used road when we heard a slight yelp from a short distance away. We all turned and Sam shouted, “All right, whoever you are, come on out now.”
At first nobody emerged from the woods then I spotted a flash of blue among the trees. A few long-feeling seconds until Eidan crept out, a flush on his cheeks. “Y–you’re g-going to the… McCormick place.” It wasn’t a question. More of an accusation.
“Oh Watcher, go back to the school Eidan,” Blake groaned.
I hadn’t really spoken much with Eidan before. In fact, I didn’t think I had ever heard him speak until now. His voice was so quiet and soft, it could have easily been mistaken for the wind. I didn’t know exactly what he was but I figured he was an elf, especially since there seemed to be a bit of a resemblance between him and Eirene’s other father–the half-elf, Goose. Mostly due to the pointy ears, freckles, blue hair, and glasses more than anything else but still…
“You sh–shouldn’t be going there,” said Eidan. “You shouldn’t even be off school property–“
“Don’t give us a lecture. And don’t tell on us, else you’ll regret it.” Blake crackled his knuckles at that but Eidan didn’t seem at all phased.
Sam cleared his throat. “Eidan, look, we’re going to stay the night there. I don’t know why you followed us or waited till now to make your protests known… but… it’s a matter of pride we have to stay the night.”
“I didn’t realize where you were going till now.” Eidan’s gaze passed over each of us then he gave a quiet sigh. “I won’t tell–“
“There you lot are!”
A group of guys came down the hardly-used road, all doing their best to appear tough. “We had wagers on you chickening out,” the biggest one said with a sneer. “We definitely didn’t expect a huge gang. Can’t stay alone, fairy-boy?”
Blake puffed up, wings beating frantically. “You’re not alone either. My friends and I all decided we’d show you that none of us are cowards. Because I get the idea tomorrow night, you won’t be alone.”
A couple guys muttered quietly while the big one glared. “Fine. All eight of you have to last till dawn.”
“Wh–what?” Eidan looked horrified. “I’m not–they’re–we–“
“Of course!” Blake said, snapping his fingers impatiently. “We’ve seen worse at school than a few murderous ghosts. Apollo here even lives with a ghost.” I ducked my head, annoyance surging through my body at that. “Come on guys, let’s go.”
We followed the group of boys down the road. I looked over my shoulder at Eidan who hesitated before slowly trailing us looking quite unhappy. I slowed a bit till I walked next to him, reminding him he didn’t need to go with us. He mumbled something about being more afraid of what Blake would do to him than what awaited him at the manor.
And then the manor appeared before us. Dark, creepy, surrounded by dead plants and trees. In fact the only thing missing was it being on a hill with lightning flashing behind it. It looked scary. Very scary. I wanted to go back to the school and pretend none of this happened.
We went down the final part of the unused road and stood by the gate, all of us staring at the broken doors that were practically falling off their hinges. After some time I realized the local boys were talking, telling us that they’d be back in the morning and we needed to have proof of staying the whole night in the form of pictures. They gave us an automatic camera that would stamp the date and time on the corner when the picture printed out.
“Have fun, freaks,” the leader said before he and his friends marched off laughing.
Blake walked through the gates purposefully and headed up the creaking stairs. We followed since we didn’t have much other choice. He pushed open one of the broken doors and it swung easily open, banging hard on the inside wall. We jumped at the sound. Then Blake gave a nervous laugh before going in. Sam and I exchanged glances before going in as well. Once the last one of our group went past the door Blake swung it shut. This time it didn’t hang all broken but stood firmly in its place. Almost like it was… stuck.
“Okay!” Blake said and we jumped again. “I say we take a picture every hour. If anyone wants to actually sleep or think they can… well, er, that’s fine. But we shouldn’t split up. Let’s find a room to stay in. Then get some food cause I am hunnnnn-gary!”
We settled in what seemed to be a living room, filling it with as much light as we could from lanterns. There was a big fireplace and an entrance to a small conservatory thing. Sam and I pushed the couches back to give us room for sleeping bags but there wasn’t enough room for all of us, even with Eidan on one of the loveseats since he hadn’t brought a sleeping bag. Kiley put her sleeping bag next to mine. That’s when I realized that this would be my first co-ed sleepover type of thing. Not that I’d probably be getting any sleep, this place definitely had the biggest scare factor than anywhere else I’d seen before.
Blake unpacked the food he brought with him. Mostly sandwiches, chips, and bottles of pop. The sandwiches and pop were cool due to a spell Kiley had put on them.
“So, who’s up for some exploring?” Blake asked. Nobody said anything and he grinned. “Come on, there’s nothing here. Except for those jerks who are probably hiding out somewhere ready to give us a hard time and try to freak us out.”
“This place is haunted,” Romance said with a shrug. She and Eidan were seated on the couch, the only two who seemed to take the haunting thing seriously. “Whether you believe it or not. Alice’s ghost–“
“Can kiss my pixie dust,” Blake finished. “What’s she going to do? Pop out and go ‘boo’? Look, this place is creepy and all but you guys seriously believe that there’s a vicious ghost roaming these halls?”
Perfect timing, as something thumped upstairs. All of us jumped and most of us gave a yelp of some kind. Kiley squealed and dove for me, wrapping her arms around one of mine again, pressing her face into my shoulder.
Blake looked embarrassed but shook his head and said, “Probably an animal or one of the jerks. Who’s gonna come with me to check it out?”
“Splitting the group up just like you didn’t want to earlier, brilliant,” muttered Sam.
“I’ll go,” Zaid said and he and Blake went out to the main hall and up the stairs. As they went I realized that Zaid could see and hear ghosts. All the Fluff kittens could, due to the felinity from their father Max. He hadn’t mentioned it to anyone but I couldn’t blame him for not bringing it up after the way Blake made my grandpa out to be something more. Well, if Alice still remained here at least we’d have someone who could see her.
Scrrrcchc. A weird sound from the conservatory. Kiley held onto me tighter but Eidan assured us it was just the wind causing the branches outside to scratch against the glass. Jeez we were all jumpy and for what, a stupid ghost tale? My personal experience with ghosts pretty much was them not really being able to interact with the living. I’d heard stories, of course, of those that could… but perhaps they were just made up to scare people. In any case… if ghosts could interact with the world around them, the big companies would have found some way to make them work in factories or something.
“They’re taking a long time,” Ginny stated as the minutes ticked by. We heard nothing from upstairs. “I can’t even heard them walking around.”
“Zaid is a silent walker,” I said. “And maybe Blake is flying…”
Just then Romance screamed. We all screamed as well and Kiley’s hold got tighter. Romance pointed a shaky finger at the window. “I s-saw something…! I swear I saw something. Someone, outside, moving around!”
“Probably one of the locals,” Sam said unconvincingly.
“I know I saw someone moving around. They ran past the window.” Romance chewed at her bottom lip and soon a bright drop of blood welled up against her pale skin.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end and I whirled around, nearly knocking Kiley over. I expected someone to be standing in the doorway to the conservatory but the doorway was, thankfully empty.
“I can’t stand this darkness!” Ginny groaned. She folded her arms, bobbed her head, and light flooded the rooms around us–the whole house, actually. For a split-second I saw a shadow remain in the conservatory before it faded. Not fast enough for me to notice it, and to notice that it couldn’t have been a shadow from anything we could really see. It faded too slowly. Something was in there. Oh Watcher.
Then the sound of something… plaster or bits of wood falling in the other room. Sam went to look in the front room however before he even got to the doorway we heard Blake and Zaid calling for everyone to join them upstairs. It sounded urgent. Had they been hurt? We all hurried as fast as we dared up the stairs. I felt afraid as I went, not sure if it would hold our collective weight. But the stairs held and we got to the second floor. Following the voices led us into an old nursery. Blake and Zaid stood by an open doorway. Zaid frowned but Blake’s wings beat wildly with excitement, sending dust everywhere.
“A secret passage! Upstairs!” He pointed at the doorway. “There’s a ladder that goes up into the attic or something!”
“What makes it so secret?” Romance inquired.
Blake hesitated then said, “Fine, be that way–a regular passage. It goes up to an attic. Plus look… a nursery… think it was for when Alice was a baby or did she have a baby?”
I looked down at an old baby bottle at my feet. “If this was for when Alice was a baby then the McCormicks were extremely lazy cleaners.”
“Who wants to go to the attic?” Blake looked round at all of us but nobody said anything. “Aw come on, it’d be fun.”
“You’re a nutcase,” Ginny grumbled. “Let’s go back downstairs. We don’t need to explore this place and–“
We all jerked as something thumped above our heads. Something… or someone… was in the attic. Moving around. Making footsteps.
“Wh… why would the entrance to the attic be through the nursery?” I asked with a slightly cracked voice. I shuddered from fear as a breeze stirred up from no where. The windows in this room weren’t broken. The wind came from no where.
Eidan said something so quiet none of us heard him. He noticed we were all looking at him and after turning a slight shade of pink said, “I think… th-there’s a ghost up th-there. Something is up… there… but there’s no… physical form…” He broke off into silence and turned away, embarrassed.
“And what makes you say that?” Kiley asked. Eidan remained silent, going pinker. “Come on then, if you know something then you need to tell us.” Eidan just continued to turn colors and Kiley put her hands on her hips, opening her mouth to probably yell at him.
Sam came to his rescue. “He can talk to wind. Seriously, don’t any of you pay attention? Well, if there’s a ghost up there I say we skedaddle down–DAMN IT!”
That last bit was due to Blake going into the room and climbing up the ladder. Romance protested the idea but none of us really tried to stop him. I doubted we’d have been able to. Sam grumbled and followed Blake up the ladder and, after a second or two, I went up after him into the darkness. If Sam went, I went.
As soon as I got through the trapdoor it swung shut. I knelt down and tried pulling it open but it seemed stuck. “You guys okay down there?” I called, trying not to sound nervous. “Did one of you shut this?”
“No!” I heard Kiley. “I mean yes! I mean, yes to the first question and no to the second. Are you okay sweetie?”
“At the moment–“
I stopped as light flooded the attic. Errr, not flooded exactly. The ghost that stood in the doorway wasn’t really bright however since the entire place was dark it seemed like the ghost lit up the entire room. I stood up, moving closer to Sam and Blake.
“Come to take my Alice away from me?” the ghost hissed angrily. “You’ll pay for this!”
“We–we–n-no! No, th-that’s not–we’re not–” Blake stammered. “Apollo, ghosts can’t hurt us–right?”
The ghost answered him by flashing through the air and grabbing Blake by the throat, lifting him off the ground. Sam and I screamed and tried attacking the ghost; our hands just went through him. The others downstairs began screaming too at the sound of our screaming. Blake gagged, kicking his legs and beating his wings, trying to stay floating. The ghost threw him down and he slumped, unconscious.
The ghost whirled to face us. “People always come to try and take my Alice from me. I’ll kill you! Just like I killed her parents!” The ghost flashed towards me and Sam. We tried to run back to the trapdoor, in the other room I tripped over the dollhouse but Sam grabbed my arm and yanked me along. Unfortunately we had no where to go.
Something hard hit me in the back and I wheezed out, iciness creeping down my spine as the ghost–Carlos?–held onto me from the inside. I held onto Sam’s arm thinking how stupid we had all been to come here because of some stupid dare and now we were probably going to die. At least, Blake, Sam, and I would die. Hopefully the others would get out of here safely enough. Maybe even Sam. Not me. I could feel the ghost’s hand going through my body towards my heart.
Dad, I’m sorry.
Then came the sound of splintering wood.