Chapter 10

I ran frantically, shaking all the way. I could hear my loud footsteps in the hall. I tried to find the stairs as quickly as possible and ran up them, trying not to trip and fall. I was so scared and frantic I didn't realise someone was calling my name at first.


I ran to the top of the stairs and saw someone hurrying towards me. It was Luke. And he was having trouble seeing. But then, he didn't have a flashlight.

"Tanya! I'm so sorry! I just thought about this room! Then I was there! Then I wondered why you didn't answer! Then I realised I was really in the room! Then I had to find my way here in the dark 'cos I didn't actually know where the room was!" He'd spoken real fast. He had to stop, almost as if to take a breath, but then he remembered he wasn't breathing. "I'm sorry."

"Oh-okay, it's okay," I stammered. "Uh, why don't we go to that room together? Was there something you wanted to say? Or something?"

Luke seemed unsure, but he nodded. "Yeah, okay. Um, can I have the flashlight?"

I laughed when I gave it to him. We both went back to the room with the painting in it. I didn't see or hear anything else and he didn't seem to either. That was fine with me. I just wondered what more info and clues we could learn, or what we were about to learn. We entered the dark room. I couldn't even see the outline of the painting it was so dark, I had to look directly at it with my headlight beam.

Luke concentrated on the painting for some time. "Christine Rauber," he eventually said quietly. "That was the artist's name. She was the one who moved away and who's brother got insane."

"Did Robert ever explore the house?" I asked quietly. I seriously wondered how Luke could've known about the painting and why Robert would tell him all this.

He shook his head. "I found it, but the painting was under a blanket. One time, Robert was late, so I wandered around out of boredom. I found this room. I was trying to lift the blanket when Robert found me. I don't know why, but I just couldn't touch the thing. I remember him teasing me 'cos I could hold the Polaroid after all, but I couldn't hold a blanket. When he uncovered it, he was amazed by this painting."

Somewhere in this mansion, a door slammed shut. We froze. We looked at each other.

"A door slammed shut," I said tightly.

"It was a ghost," said Luke, trying not to be scared.

"Does that mean you want to talk to him, then?" I asked, partly hopeful. He shook his head. I was suspicious of the dark space through the doorway. "Kitchen."


Knowing our destination, we ran out of the room as fast as we could.


Back in the kitchen, we regathered some of our nerves. I picked up my bottle of water, ready to drink it. It wasn't as cool as it was. With a sheepish smile, I held it out to Luke. He knew what I wanted it and took it without hesitation. After a moment or two, he passed it back to me. I had cool water to drink.

At this point in time, I had no idea what we should do next. "I have no idea what to do," I admitted.

"You've seen the entire right wing of the house, how about we explore the left?" suggested Luke.

"How about we go over what we know first?" I suggested. "One, you're the first victim and Ray's the last. And Robert's the second. Two, every victim is a young male. Three, whenever I sleep, I have weird dreams."

"How can you know that? You've only slept once."

I fiddled with the bottle in anxiety. "Before we met, I got knocked out for some reason. That was the first time I saw the executioner. Um, where was I? Four, the creatures that try to attack me are weird, bloody, bandaged, things. But at least here they're ghosts. Five, you keep remembering a lot about Robert."

"I can't help it," he said defensively. He crossed his arms and stared out of the window.

"You really don't remember watching someone hauling a body to the cellar?" I blurted out stupidly.

"I really don't."

"It must be something else you react to, then." I tried to think. What had Luke told me, and what hadn't he? "How did your parents die?"

"Didn't I tell you? Car-wreck."

I suddenly thought of that ruined bedroom in my dream, with the ruined kingsized bed and oil on the floor. Huh, so the dream was trying to tell me something. "And your sister? She works a lot?"

"At least back then, yeah. She had to take 2 jobs at least. A cleaner, an assistant at a bookstore. I think she also worked in a mall as something, either with those jobs or instead of one."

I remembered that floating uniform. A polo shirt and a skirt I think it was. That must've been the bookstore.

I swallowed. I was afraid to ask this. "Luke? What house did you live in? It wasn't a one-storey with a cellar, and kitchen at the back, was it?"

He looked at me in surprise. "Yeah. How did you know?"

"The house in my dream," I said, really tense. "It musta been yours. Were your walls in your bedroom baby blue?"

He looked at me uncertainly. "Yeah." He got nervous and looked out of the window again.

"What's your sister's name?"

... "Don't know."

"Well what's your last name?"

... "Don't remember."

This was really weird. "What did your sister look like?"

... "I really don't know. Why are you asking me all this?"

"Luke, she did something to you."

His hand was gripping the sink.

I was unsure what to do. "Or was it her that did something?"

"She did something." His voice scared me. He had said that in a demonic growl. "You have no idea."

I was really shaking. "She-uh-she shouted at you? Beat you? What?"

He wouldn't answer. He just gripped the sink harder. So hard I thought the sink would snap.

"Luke? What is her name?"

I saw a trickle of blood slide down his gripping hand.

"Luke? Please stop it! You're scaring me!" (Like I somehow scared Ray.)

He suddenly let go of the sink, as if he was startled. He shakily looked at me. "Tanya, I..." He looked around him, as if looking for something. "Sorry, I dunno what happened." He shook his head, eyes pleading with me. "Please don't make me remember. I don't know what happened, but it can't be good." He looked sad, distraught even. "It could be useful. But it's painful. Why can't I help you more? Why can't I be free?"

I couldn't do or say anything. I didn't know what to say. And where did the blood on Luke's arm go? "Didn't anybody, ever, come into this house after Robert?"

"They must've, I just don't remember them. I still don't get why!"

I thought about what little I knew of ghosts. "Some ghosts have a routine, or others have some kind of restart button. Like, a trigger that they can't control."

"Could it be in this kitchen?" Luke asked.

I shrugged. "You do seem to like being here, so why not? I still don't know what it is though."

I remembered once more how scared Ray was of me. Then I thought of the executioner. Something didn't add up. I was certain the executioner wanted to kill me. But the prime suspect is a woman, a ghost's sister no less.

I let out a huff. "What the hell does that executioner have to do with all this?" Luke looked at me. "Blood drawings, fine. You're a ghost, your body's here, fine. I learn your sister's a prime suspect, we just need proof. A name would be nice. I can kinda guess what those creatures are. Maybe. I still haven't a clue. But the's a weird illusion version thing of a character in a painting."

"Which was of a real person," Luke added.

"It still doesn't explain why he's here though." I slumped. This was annoying. I had learned a lot, but there seemed to be 2 big mysteries.
© Ruth Hüneke 2009