I found my iron rod pretty quickly, I picked it up no problem.
Now what? Neither of us could hear anything and we had no idea what to do next.
"What should we do now?" asked Luke.
I sighed. "Back down to the kitchen, I guess."
He was nearest to the ladder so he went down first. I took my time
going over there and started to climb down after him. I found him
standing at the bottom, staring at that door again. This part of the
building hadn't been very well explored, and I started becoming certain
we should look in that room. As I reached the bottom, I wanted to say
so to Luke, but he just disappeared.
I heard banging. I panicked. "No Luke! Where'd you go?"
"Sorry Tanya!" shouted Luke apologetically. "I'm in here!"
The door opened by itself. The room was just empty, nothing
interesting. Luke was standing in front of the window, looking quite
relaxed. I walked over to him.
He smiled sheepishly. "This was where Robert first saw me. He came in 'cos he
saw me looking through this window." He turned back to look out. "When
no one was with me, I'd stare out this window, watching the world go
by. This neighbourhood really is peaceful, you know." I looked behind
me for no reason. I think I was just bored of seeing nothing out the
window. I found it odd that the door to the room was shut, I never
heard it close. Luke was silent for a while, thinking about something
maybe. "I also saw Robert leaving with Alicia out this window," he
explained quietly, regretfully. "I tried to warn him. Back then, I
recognised her, but I didn't know she was my sister. Robert said he'd
come back. He never did.
"She's gonna get you, too." When he said that, he had sounded so
mechanical. At first, I hadn't realised he had changed the topic.
"What?" I stupidly asked.
"You saw the blood through the peephole. So did Robert. So did
Terrance. And Tristan. And Mike. And Carl. And they all left with the
same woman. I watched her take them all with her from this window. She killed them all, and more."
I was shaking again. Earlier Luke had promised me that nothing would
happen, that I was being silly when I was predicting my death. Now he
was so certain that I would die no matter what. "I'm a girl," I said. "She's
only killed boys. Why would she kill me?"
"I don't know," he answered simply, reminding me of an office-boy know-it-all. "The door never lies."
I was trying hard to fit this-Luke-now with that-Luke-earlier. "You said
you'd make sure nothing would happen to me," I pleaded. I was really on
edge. He still stared out that window, not even twitching.
"And nothing will, because you will do as I say," he said reasonably. "I can see her coming."
"Huh?" Alicia? Here? Now? It couldn't be true! I wandered over to the
window. Sure enough I could make out a woman approaching the front
door. She seemed to be carrying something. Suddenly I came alive. All
the thoughts going through my head: what I had learned, what all the
ghosts wanted to do, what I still needed to learn.
I still wanted to know how and why she picked her victims. I still
wanted to know why Ray's body was never hidden. Some sick part of me
even wanted to know her motive, but I decided soon after that knowing
her motive was not the top priority. I watched her quickly hurry away
from the door. It wasn't a scared hurry, just an easy jog to fetch
"Luke I-" I gasped when I looked up at him. This was not
the Luke I knew! He resembled a fresh corpse. He slowly swivelled his
head, like a robot. His eyes were so lifeless. The room temperature had
also gone down a few notches. I tried to control my shaking. "Luke I'm-
I can't stay here."
"You have no choice," he said robotically.
I quickly paced along the room, trying to figure out a way to reason
with him. But I saw something that kept me on edge: sourceless shadows.
They were just pinned at random spots in the room. I could tell ghosts
were watching me, and more were gathering in the room. I looked back at
Luke, who hadn't moved. At all. Not even a twitch.
"I won't leave with her!" I blurted. "Everyone she's murdered she took
away with her, so I won't leave." He didn't react. I took some shakey
breaths. "Please Luke, there are some things only she knows. Just let
"NO MORE TALKING!" I somehow lost my balance and fell to the ground.
Angry-zombie-Luke was back. Out of nowhere all the blood had appeared
in all the right places, exactly how he had died. I could also hear
that clanging, it wasn't loud but it was clear. clang...clang...clang... Who was doing it? "She won't kill anyone else!" he hissed.
I felt small and helpless. I must've sounded it too. "I came here to
find out what happened to Ray, remember? I still don't know why she
dumped his corpse out front and ran. We still don't why she
had to be the one to let out boys like Carl and kill them." He just
glared at me, clenching his fists all the while. "You can turn
invisible. I'll find out the answers for you. I won't get in your way.
Just silence. He didn't say anything, he didn't do anything. I sat and
shivered. Nothing seemed to happen. clang...clang...clang... I then
heard something. A voice. Was it...female?
I looked up at Luke again. "She's calling out my name," I realised. "She'll get suspicious if I don't go down."
The clanging stopped. At first I thought Luke wouldn't answer me, but
then I heard the door swing open. I scrambled up as quickly as possible
and rushed out of the room, which was getting even more filled up by
shadows. I was surprised to find a light outside. It was a flashlight,
on the floor. Of course, Luke had dropped it when he teleported into the
room. I picked it up happily. My hands were full again.
I ran down the hall. I stopped at the top of the stairs. I saw the
front door standing open, a pile of stuff on the floor, a number of lit
candles standing at various places. A woman was lighting some more
candles. She also had a large flashlight, which was lying at the bottom
of the stairs and lighting up the pile of stuff and the door. The woman
had ashy-brown hair and dark eyes. She was wearing a dark-coloured
long-sleeved dress, with a coat over the top. She seemed to be
inspecting me but she looked, well, normal. She looked a bit too
skinny, like someone who never eats enough, and her facial skin looked
a bit rough, and her eyes were a bit stern. Wow, no one could ever
guess she was a killer.
"Tanya," she began. "I'm Alicia. I'm glad to see you're alright."
The door slammed shut. That was the loudest slam I had ever heard. I let out a shakey breath. "Now we're both trapped."
Alicia looked freaked by the door slamming, but when she turned back
around and spoke, she sounded like it was normal. "Normally I can let
myself out with an opening spell, but this time I hope to banish the
trapped spirits of this place. I hope you have nothing against Wicca?
It would be good to have some help."
I looked at the pile of stuff. "That's what that stuff's for?"
"Yes, they're all components."
I nodded. I started going down the stairs. "How is it you know my name?" I knew the answer already, but I had to play dumb.
"Earlier in the night I saw your father. I didn't want him to endanger
himself, so I convinced him to let me in to find you and bring you back
"And you came here to banish the ghosts?"
An embarrassed smile appeared on her face. "Well, actually, I've been
aware of the spirits in this place and their potential danger for some
time. To make sure no one fell victim I cast a special mark here. I'm
always informed when someone enters this place, so I come to set them
Angry thoughts littered my brain. I was glad I had reached the bottom
of the stairs, it meant I could keep my head down as I reached the
floor. "So it's like a magical security camera?"
"Well, I've never done a spell before, so what do you need me to do?"
Alicia smiled gratefully. "Well first we have to move everything into a
different room, but there's quite a bit here so we'll both have to make
I swapped my iron rod for the huge flashlight she had, while she
carried a bunch of candles and a lot of chalk. The room we went into
was where Luke and I had sorted through documents earlier in the day.
In there she placed more candles and I helped light them. While placing
the candles there was a point when she gripped my shoulder, trying to
keep her balance it seemed. I thought nothing of it. The room started
looking pretty yellow-orangey, although the higher you looked, the
darker it got. Whatever Alicia was doing, it definitely involved her
seeing the floor.
"I can only apologise for taking so long," said Alicia when we
collected the stuff for the final time. "I couldn't help wonder what
kind of things you could be seeing in this place."
"Well you're here now," I murmured. "You have no idea what I've seen."
With our arms full of stuff, we went back to the room. "I had this
weird dream of a wrecked house, I saw myself as a zombie, and I saw the
most horrible, horrible creatures. They were all bandaged and moving
weird and covered in blood. And did I mention the shadows without
sources?" I paused as we laid all the stuff on the floor. I put my
hands on my hips. "You know what the scariest ghost was?" She looked at
me expectantly. I swallowed, I was getting nervous just thinking of
him. "That executioner, with the axe."
She flinched. I swear I saw her eyes widen.
"You've seen it too?" I asked.
"Many times," she answered in a quiet, shakey voice.
"What is it? What caused it?"
She let out a breath as she picked up some chalk. "A product of someone's guilt and despair, I'm sure."
Huh? What did that mean? I was pretty sure I was understanding dead
people better than alive people at that moment. I watched her as she
slowly started drawing a circle with the chalk. I shivered and blew
out a pile of vapour. I could sense Luke was getting restless. It was
now or never; there was no point in me acting dumb anymore. I clutched
"Alicia, can I ask you something? And can you answer me honestly?"
She looked up at me in surprise. "Of course."
"The last body you brought here, of a teenage boy, why did you leave
him near the door instead of in the cellar with all the others?"
I think she suddenly turned deranged. The way she looked at me made me
think that she would pull out machine guns and fire them all over the
place while crying any second. And then she stood up and straightened
herself. Was she going to answer? No. She hissed something-I have no
idea what-and then something slammed me against the wall. And I was
held there. I couldn't move. I was glad I wasn't holding anything.
Alicia giggled. "You know. You know too much."
I forced myself to talk. I just wanted to run away from her. "Tell me
why! Why did you leave my boyfriend's body outside the cellar!"
She sneered. "Boyfriend! At least you had one!"
She started whimper. "I had to work so much, so long, for so many
hours, in terrible terrible places. No one respected me. No man would
come near me!" At this point I think she wanted to cry. "I had to use
my precious little brother. He was the only one who showed me
affection. His was the only company I could look forward to. He was the
only one who could give me release." Alicia sighed dramatically. "I never meant to kill him!" she screeched.
She collapsed onto the floor, clutching her head. I still wanted to
know, so I never let up my questioning. "But you did kill him. You
wrapped up his body and took him here, left him in the cellar. I bet
that security spell you cast here was to prevent people from finding
out! Any young teenage boys you lured to your house."
Alicia looked up at me again. This time she looked confident. "I assure
you, that didn't happen often. Very few boys managed to trap themselves
in here. Most of the time I sent children away."
"And that last boy? Your last victim?"
She looked almost happy and peaceful as she said this: "He was walking
by himself on a dark night. I lured him by asking for the time and he
met his fate. He was mine, all mine. What a day. But then I had to bring him here...again...and like
always I heard that clanging throughout the whole house. I wanted to
reach the cellar but there he was! I had to run, but the door was shut.
I barely made it out." She slowly stood up, pressing her hands against
the wall as if she was climbing up it, but she really needed the
"The executioner was waiting for you in front of the cellar." I sounded so calm. "Is he a product of your regret?"
She looked at me desperately. "Why should I
regret? Such sexual pleasure is a right." She laughed bitterly and
turned around. I couldn't help compare her to an addict in denial. She
went back to drawing her circle.
I fidgeted. I didn't want to think about what she was possibly
planning. How annoying, I needed to scratch my neck. My right arm felt
like it was being dragged through tar but I scratched my neck. Oh, that
felt good. Wait. I had moved my arm? My head was leaning a little forward
too. I couldn't do that seconds ago. I lifted my left arm and found the
same result. Alicia started playing around with some bowls.
"What do you plan to do with me?" I asked. "Was Luke right? Will you kill me?"
She froze. While I had spoken, I had shifted my legs forward. She spoke
so so quietly, so sadly. "I assure you; this will be the last time I
use dark magic. The final time. These spirits can never find rest, and
neither can I. I have to get rid of them. And I need your blood."
She wanted me to be her sacrifice? That's what I was hearing. I tensed
up. Seriously tensed up. I was preparing myself to push a boulder and I
growled with the effort of pulling myself away from this stupid wall.
"What did you do to me?!?"
"I placed a sigil on your shoulder. You're under my control." She sounded pleased with herself.
Luke appeared right in front of her. Alicia looked up at her little
brother; mouth open, body frozen. I stared at him, too. He was a
corpse, blood in all the places she had cut him. But this time, he
looked sad, so sad. In fact, I could see tears. "I understand now," he
whimpered, "I understand." I was curious about what he was going to
say, but I also wanted to get to Alicia. I waded through the invisible
quicksand just at the thought of throwing her a few punches. I still
didn't know how I could do this, considering she was holding me in
place just now. "I never knew that my sister was lost, I was so
oblivious. You're not Alicia, you're someone using her."
I stopped. I could see bloody hands reaching through the floor. Heads
started to phase through the floor, following the hands. I shivered. It
had turned so cold. I looked up and saw hands and heads struggling
through the walls. I could see some faces just then. I could recognise
some; they were the corpses I had seen, but these faces were not dead.
All these boys looked beyond pissed.
Alicia was shaking her head. "I was never lost. I made a mistake, can you ever forgive me?"
Luke was looking stoney. "Whoever you are, you made me like you. To free myself, I need to free my sister too."
A bloody hand grabbed her arm. Alicia screamed. She was suddenly a
cornered mouse, fidgeting and crawling everywhere as she looked for a
way out. But she was surrounded. The ghosts who had emerged from the
floor were crawling towards her, reaching for her. Others were still
emerging. The ghosts from the walls were limping along like genuine
zombies. I think all the victims had turned up, just to grab Alicia.
But while Alicia was scrambling and looking all over for a way out, I
was also searching the entire room and twisting every which way. Every
so often I passed through a ghost and a part of my leg would get frozen
or something, but that didn't bother me. I wanted to know where Luke
had gone. He had just disappeared.
"Tanya! Help me!" screeched Alicia.
I stopped moving and locked eyes with Ray. He just stood there, bloody,
oblivious, staring at me. I couldn't believe I was seeing him like
this. It made me hate Alicia all over again. "Why should I?" I asked
with clenched teeth.
I was standing directly in front of her. I watched her squirm as more
ghosts grabbed her and held her down. It wasn't long before she stopped
moving altogether. Something froze her. I stared at her nonchalantly,
wondering why she was looking at me so desperately, and why some of the
ghosts had started grinning. But she wasn't looking at me, was she?
Breathlessly, instinctively, I turned around.
How did he get there? The executioner was standing before me, wielding
his axe, standing in front of the wall like he had marched through it.
I could see him so clearly. He was tall, muscular, but through his
helmet he could see everything, even if I couldn't see his eyes. He was staring right at me. Where was
the clanging? It was so silent. He took a step towards me, but he
didn't threaten me. He took another. I knew who his target was. I
closed my eyes.
My only active sense at that moment was hearing. I could hear some of
the ghosts moan, I could hear Alicia scream, I could hear the
executioner walk right through me, but I didn't feel cold. She screamed
and screamed, and screamed her loudest when I heard something hit the