Chapter 11

We went back out again. This time, I left the backpack in the kitchen. All I carried was my iron rod, my headlight on my head as always. Luke and I went straight back upstairs, heading to uncharted territory. I kept telling myself that I would not find the executioner standing there and waiting for me. It was bad enough I was shivering already. Luke walked along as slowly as I did. He was just as scared as I was, even though nothing here could hurt him.

Nothing happened when we opened the first door. The room was empty. No big deal. Wordlessly we went to the next room. Again, nothing. Nothing inside, nothing happened. I was still on edge though. Luke went to try another door. I just let out a breath and watched him. Again nothing. I wondered to the next door. I grabbed the knob and- hey! It wouldn't open.

I rattled the door a couple of times. "It's locked." I think he heard the disbelief in my voice. I stared at him. "Someone from that family musta locked that door." I laughed bitterly. "Why would they do that?"

Luke looked at the locked door. "There must be something in there."

"No shit." Wow, I was more frustrated with my situation than I thought. "Sorry. Anyway, you can go in there."

"I guess, but the flashlight can't phase through with me."

"Well let me hold it then, I have a hand free."

He reluctantly handed the flashlight over and phased through the door after just standing and, uh, focussing, I guess. I let out a sigh. I was alone again. I just looked around me, in an effort to not get scared and acted like I was waiting for someone in a café. In one direction I stared. Where did that drawing of an arrow come from? On a wall, made of blood, there was an arrow. It was pointing back towards the stairs.

I followed this arrow. I just walked along the corridor, wondering what I would find. At the top of the stairs, there was another blood arrow on the floor. It pointed down the stairs. I went down the stairs, making sure I did not look at the front door. I went down slowly, wondering what I would find. Half way down, on the wall on my right, was the final blood arrow, pointing down. I followed the flashlight down the old wall. The old wallpaper was still mostly intact, but right above the stairs, a corner hung out. I knelt down, tugging at the corner of this old wallpaper. It came away easily, and when I folded it back, something dropped out.

I looked around quickly. It just landed on the step below me. I reshaped my right hand so that I could hold the flashlight with the rod, then I picked up the article with my left. Holding it, I stood up again.

I had to unfold the clipping to read it. It was old, yellow and kinda crispy. I found myself staring at Luke's face, under the headline of 'Missing Local'. This must have been the article Robert gave him. More clues about Robert! Can't I learn about anybody else? Oh well. I read the article through carefully. It reported on the missing 17-year-old Luke Crowell, last seen leaving school at the usual time. His disappearance was first reported by his sister Alicia. Huh. So then I knew why her name was written on the wall. I knew who had killed Ray. I still didn't know why. I wanted to find Luke and tell him all this.

A thing was crawling down the stairs towards me! Right in front of me! Why didn't I hear it? I let out a scream and ran as fast as I could down the stairs. I had no idea where I would run to I just ran. I remember my left hand not holding anything, I had lost that paper clipping. I just ran through the darkness. I couldn't go upstairs. I eventually ran into a room and stopped.

It was like a freezer in there and I couldn't see far ahead of me, even with the lights. The door swung shut behind me. Seeing my own vapour, I realised my mistake. This was the room that I had seen the boy/girl doodle in earlier. I couldn't move. The air was so icy it forced me to stand where I was, no change in my position. Breathing wasn't nice either; the icy air clawed my throat and I was breathing heavily from running. I felt trapped.

I sensed someone behind me. I didn't dare turn around and look, I couldn't even hear who it was. I just sensed it. I felt the hair on my neck stand on end, it made me tense all over. I realised my lights were dimming, the room just got darker and darker. I could faintly hear some whispering. I tried to make out what it was saying, but it was so faint. Eventually the whispering somehow travelled to my ear. 'Watch the truth'

The mist that I kept producing started forming into shapes. It must have been glowing, how else could I have seen it? At first it seemed like 2 blobs. Then I could see that the mist had created an animation of 2 people kissing. No sound, just the image and movement. The mist developed more and I realised the 2 people were me and Ray. The Ray animation started exploring the body of the me animation, who eventually got the him animation to lie down. She started riding him. There was still no sound, it was like all their moans and yells were being mimed. They moved and moved and were reaching a climax.

The animated me threw back her head and reached for something. A knife formed in her hand. The animated Ray didn't see this, his eyes were still closed. She wouldn't, would she? In the throes of passion, she slammed the knife into Ray's pulsating body. He screamed. I still heard nothing, just my breathing. I saw myself stabbing him again and again and he was screaming in silenced agony. I gritted my teeth. This didn't happen! I saw myself grin as I went through the climax, rubbing my hands in his blood. I couldn't stop myself taking in more breath. Blood on my hands?


Lights started beaming in out of nowhere. I screamed, so loudly.


That voice. So frightened. The light, the light beams were from my headlight and flashlight. Luke was standing in front of me, he was really scared too. I was panting, my heart was beating rapidly because of my anger. I wasn't so cold any more. All my muscles ached. My left hand was clenched in a really tight fist. My right hand clenched the iron rod and flashlight so tightly. Both hands were aching. My jaw ached from being clenched way too tight.

Luke was shrunk back from me. "You're not gonna use that, are you?" I looked at what he was looking at. My neck was so stiff. My right hand was raised, almost as if I was gonna hit him. Was there something wrong with me?

I slowly, slowly sunk to the floor. I sat there, staring at my rod in shock. Was I really so violent? Was I going crazy? Was that the plan? I started panicking, I took in too much air. And I coughed. My throat still felt sore from the frozen air.

"Are you alright, Tanya?" I could hear Luke's scared voice. But I was still coughing. "Should I...uh?"

I was quiet, just staring at the floor. I had let go of what I was holding. "We're terrible, aren't we?" I asked quietly.

"What? Who do you mean?" He was just as quiet.

"Teenagers. We're despicable. We drink, we smoke, we take drugs, even if we do know it's bad for us. We just don't care. We lie to our parents, we skip school, we bitch behind our friends' backs, we judge people just by their looks and our priorities are all so selfish. We only care about clothes, movies, comics, video games and anything in pop culture that gets popular, while there are people in the world who live on so little, and we just forget. We have life so good, but we just abuse it. We should just be good. No sex, no junk food, just be obedient, get our grades, and get good jobs, go to college even. Why is it that we think such a life is so boring? Is it?"


When Luke spoke, he sounded very confident. "I never did any of that. It doesn't say anywhere that a teenager will do any of that. Did you?"

I looked up at him. I was so desperately hoping he wouldn't judge me. "I've bitched. I've used people, just to get a project done on time and to get people off my back. I've judged and avoided people just because of the way they look and dress. I've lied to teachers to get out of doing homework. I've played hookey a couple of times. I've drank. I'm not a virgin. I'm not going to make it, Luke. Something here wants me dead. I'm so selfish, I only came here 'cos I thought the cops didn't do enough when Ray's body was found. Maybe I should be punished."

"If you've got that stupid idea in your head from watching Friday the 13th and Halloween, let me tell you, ghosts don't work that way. You're a person, who's made mistakes, just like everybody else."

I looked at him despairingly. "How can you be sure? Virgins always survive. I'm not, even though everyone thinks I am. I didn't wanna be called a slut."

He knelt down in front of me. "Well, why did you have sex?"

My chin quivered. "It was our anniversary. Our 2-year-anniversary. Ray had the house all to himself and he invited me round. He cooked dinner, he made dessert, he played something on guitar. We got talking about our future plans. I felt so grown up, and I felt ready. I wanted to show him how much he meant to me."

Luke was shaking his head. "You shouldn't be ashamed of a good thing, Tanya. You made love to him. It doesn't make you a slut or whatever else you think. You should treasure the memories of that night."

"But that was the only time I did it. Him too. I thought we'd be together forever, at least another 50 years anyway. But just a few weeks later, we were at this house party. I was drunk. I shouldn'ta drank that much." I laughed helplessly. "I shouldn'ta drank at all. Ray brought me home to make sure I was safe. My parents told me that the next morning when I woke up. I called him to apologise for any embarrassment I caused him or whatever. But his mom answered the phone and said he'd never come back. That was when the missing persons' report got filed." I couldn't help it. I cried. I cried and cried, I just couldn't stop. Luke wrapped his cold arms around me so I could cry on his shoulder. "It was my fault. My fault."

"Stop blaming yourself," he ordered me quietly. "I know what it seems like, but you couldn't have known. Even if you weren't drunk I bet he would've taken you home."

I sniffed. "I'm scared. I want outta here."

"I know," he said quietly.

I just kept crying. It was all I could do. I then realised why I had come to that house, to find Ray's killer. It was to simply prove that I had no blame. I wanted to know for sure that I was not responsible for my own boyfriend's death. But I also realised I would never get rid of that feeling, even if I did know who killed him and why.
© Ruth Hüneke 2009