Chapter 12

"It was filled with toys," Luke told me. He was pacing a little, I was still sitting in the same spot. "The collection was massive, there was little dust too. If someone finds it, they could make a fortune. But nothing helped us, so I phased back through the door and you weren't there. I could somehow make out an arrow on the wall, so I followed it to the stairs. I slowly climbed down the stairs and I found a newspaper clipping."

I swallowed. "I dropped that when I ran in here." I was quiet, but after all the crying I was still a little raw. "Could you pick it up?"

"No. I kept trying but my hand just phased through. Then I heard you shouting and...not knowing where to go I just thought of you. Then here I was and you were coming towards me like you wanted to kill me." ... "What did you see?" He said that last part quieter, almost like he was afraid to ask.

I swallowed. "I had read through the article. Your sister's name is Alicia." I watched him for a reaction. All he did was shiver. He never said anything. "After I read it, I saw another of those bandaged bloody creatures, with the completely bandaged heads, and clothes that somehow merged with skin. It was crawling down the stairs towards me. It blocked me off from you. So I just ran."

I slowly stood up. "You sure you've never seen one? Ever?"

Luke was puzzled. "Positive."

"Whenever I've seen one, you're never there. That last time we were forced apart."

He twitched nervously. "So?"

"You never heard me scream when I ran away just now?"

"No, really." He turned angry suddenly. "Wait, you think I'm controlling this? You think I shut that door, don't you?"

"I never said that."

"You're thinking it anyway! You think I'm controlling all this and setting all this up! I wouldn't do that!"

"I'm not thinking it! And your problem is you're too paranoid! And you don't believe me!"

"Don't believe you? I'm a fucking ghost! You don't know what I went through! You don't know what I'm feeling! Nice speech about how bad teenagers are! Try adults! Try family betrayal! You've just got a nice house, with parents, with friends, even a boyfriend! You ever been singled out? Huh?!? Ever been ridiculed for being a freak? Finding devil symbols on your locker?" He was really close to me now. "TRY GOING HOME! TRY FINDING A SANCTUARY IN MY OWN STUPID MESSED-UP HOME! I NEVER HAD ONE! I HAD TO DO EVERYTHING ALICIA SAID OR I FACED THE CONSEQUENCES! I COOKED! I CLEANED! I FUCKED HER!!!"

He stopped, shocked at his own admission. I could very clearly hear the clanging. Somewhere in this house, someone hit a metal surface with a metal weapon. We did nothing but stare into each other's eyes.

I swallowed. I was nervous. The sound had me on edge. "You hear it too?"

He nodded. He was just as on-edge as I was.


It stopped. We couldn't hear anything. Nothing moved.

"I...wonder if you're now free?" He asked shakily.

"What kind of logic is that?" I asked, letting out a lot of air. "You're obviously not, why should I be?"

He shrugged. "What else is there to learn?"

"Motive," I said.

He stepped back. "The only way to find out the motive is to ask her directly. I don't think we have that chance."

"Then we'll do something else," I decided.

"Like what?"

"You're coming with me. We're going to find a creature."

He stared at me for the longest time. I don't think I've ever seen anyone stare that blankly. "Is that what you want?"

I shivered. "Sorta." I actually didn't want to see one ever again, but I wanted to see one just once with Luke around.

So we looked around. We weren't too sure where to go at first, but we figured that one might just appear as we do our thing. So we went back upstairs to inspect more rooms, but this time, we weren't expecting any clues, we just wanted to kill time. The first room we checked this time had more paintings in it. These were a lot nicer: a painting of a house, a painting of a school and children around it. A couple of portraits too. They were worth a fortune, I'm sure. We checked another room and this one was a bathroom. But it had nothing in it, all the possible furniture had been pulled out.

We were going to another room when something made me stop. First of all, I could see we were getting nearer to the window, where that executioner had stood. But in the shadows, there was some shifting. Luke looked at me, asking without any words if I could see it. I just pointed ahead of me. It was slinking in the shadows. Normally I couldn't see it, but every so often the lights we were projecting brushed against a limb. As it slunk closer, I could see it wasn't acting like the others. This was walking, or at least trying to. It constantly leaned against the wall for support. The brushing of its hand against the wall made a noise, a kind of shuffling noise. Once its bloody body hit the lit area, it twitched forward. It didn't move forward, it just somehow teleported itself.

I backed away reflexively. Luke just stood there entranced. "You see it?" I snapped nervously. "The bandages, the blood, why's it holding his hip?"

"I don't see it," he said in wonder. "I don't see what you described. I see a corpse, a zombie. I know this boy."

"You see a boy?" I didn't get it, why did Luke see a boy?

"Yeah, he was trapped here, like you."

I was getting more nervous, the thing was looking right at me (ignoring my ghost friend) and it kept twitching towards me.

"Name?" I asked desperately. "He had a name, right?"

"Name?" Oh God, did Luke forget the existence of names all of a sudden? "His name? I dunno. He was scared. He hated the door. He said...Carl!"

The thing froze.


"What's happening?" I asked. "Does he recognise his name?"

Luke was just as confused as I was. "He must do. That's his name, Carl."

"But he's just standing there." He started shaking. This thing just started shaking and having a fit.

I could only watch as his body contortioned itself. His shaking arms, legs, head, just being thrown about in all different directions. I was also aware of a low howl just sounding throughout the entire building. It was creepy. The fitting creature started hovering. The body was still contortioning, but now it tried to resist against something. It got thrown against the wall. It was just pinned there. The howl had turned into a piercing scream. A really painful scream. It was so inhuman and high pitched. I could also see that the blood and bandages were disappearing, disappearing quickly. No, the blood was still there, but the patterns were changing. Clothes, real clothes were forming too. A face was emerging. The body was still shifting, trying to be free from invisible shackles.

Now I could see a boy pinned against the wall. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. This was the corpse that Luke and I found right at the bottom of the stairs to the cellar. The tanned boy with ginger hair. He looked just like it. Blood was in the right place, but oh my God his jeans were so ruined. They had been slashed open and his groin had a lot of blood. There was something else that was not on his corpse. Tears. He was screaming, like any human would. It was still painful to hear. He was in so much pain, but I didn't know what was causing it. The scream faded away and he just shuddered while crying.

He then said something, so quiet. "Please stop."
© Ruth Hüneke 2009