by Norman Fagan

Billy Masters sat quietly at his desk with his back to the door, reading a comic book called "Eerie Tales of the Haunted Mansion." His sister, Sarah, was standing on the other side of his closed door, listening intently for her chance to slip into his room. She turned the handle slowly, then quiet as a mouse, tiptoed up behind Billy and grabbed him by the shoulders.

"Gotcha!" she shouted.

"Aaahhh!" Billy jumped up out of his chair, tearing his comic book in half. Sarah burst out in mocking laughter. Her face turned blood red, she pointed and jeered at her brother as she spun on her heel and walked out of his room. Laughter echoed down the hallway.

"I’ll get you for that Sarah, you wait and see," he shouted. A moment later, his father tapped on the door, then entered the room. "She scared you again, didn’t she?" he asked.

"Yeah," Billy said with his bottom lip protruding sulkily.

"Well, don’t fret son. I’ve got something here that will cheer you up," his father pulled a present from behind his back.

"Is this for me?" asked Billy.

"Happy early birthday son, now you can get some payback," his father hugged him. Billy followed his dad to the front door, where his mom and sister were waiting

"Sarah, look after your brother while we’re out and NO FIGHTING!" said Mrs. Masters with a stern eye

"Yes, Mom," Sarah tilted her head to one side, staring at her brother, as she moved off down the hall. Billy hurried back to his bedroom and sat down on the floor to unwrap the present.  What could it be? He could hear Sarah banging around in the kitchen.  She filled the sink and absently washed the dishes, silently chuckling at getting Billy so good. She was shaken from her reverie by a clatter from the living room.

"Billy, what was that noise?" she called out.  Nothing - only silence. Sarah threw down her dishtowel and stomped down the hallway to see what he was up to. The living room was a mess, paper and plastic everywhere. The front door stood wide open. Rushing over to the door, she peered out into the growing darkness. Casting her eyes about the neighbourhood, Sarah caught some movement by the bushes across the road. Then, Billy popped his head up, stuck his thumbs in his ears, then wiggled his fingers at Sarah.

"Nah, nah, nah, nah, you can’t catch me," he chuckled loudly.

"Billy, stop fooling around and get back in the house, right NOW!" Sarah watched her brother run behind the long hedge and disappear up the street.

"BILLY!" she shouted, slamming the door behind her AND pulling her sweater tightly around her as she followed her brother up the darkened street.

Mom will ground me, if he’s not home when they get back, she silently lamented. Then up ahead in the shadows, she spotted a dark silhouette.

"You’re going to get it Billy, when I catch up to you," Sarah fumed.

"What’s the matter Sarah, your weight slowing you down?" Laughter echoed from up the street. Sarah’s eyes flashed with anger, and she relished thoughts of pummeling Billy into the ground. Suddenly, she saw him run into a darkened house at the end of the block. She was panting and her side ached, but she followed as fast as she could. Sarah stopped in front of the house Billy had run into. Her eyes widened, as she gazed upon the abandoned house that everyone knew was haunted. Sarah stared at the dilapidated place and began to tremble. Her eyes caught sight of a dark, shadowy figure at the entrance to the house. It darted inside, then Billy cried out.

"Help me, Sarah, Aaahhh!" Billy screamed. Sarah heard a crashing sound, then silence.  Her breath came in short bursts and her hands were trembling.  She glanced around hoping to spot a passing car or a police patroller.   She didn’t dare leave her brother to seek help. She rubbed the goose bumps off her arms, and took a wary step toward the haunted house.  Swallowing her fears, Sarah reluctantly made her way up to the front door, which stood ajar. She pushed it slowly open and the hinges squealed. She cringed for a moment then called softly for her brother.

"Billy, It’s Sarah, where are you?" she squeaked.   No answer. Sarah, tiptoed down the hall, but the floorboards creaked her presence and she flinched. Stopping dead in her tracks, she listened closely to the sounds around her. Sarah gritted her teeth at the thought that something or worse, someone, in the old house had heard her.  Wind howled and whistled through cracks in the windows. Daunting shadows danced on the walls, and silhouettes of unknown creatures appeared at every turn. Sarah groped her way through the abandoned house.  Then something in the shadows, dropped down from the ceiling onto her skin. Her eyes bulged and she screamed.

"Eeek!" She flapped her arms around frantically. The leggy spider flew into the air. Sarah ran her hands wildly through her hair and she moaned, “AY yay yay yayay,” clutching her chest "I hate this place. I hate it!" she whispered, taking two steps forward and slipping on something thick and gooey that stuck to her running shoe like gum, and she prayed that’s what it was. As she scraped her shoe across the floor, cold chills ran up her spine from the brisk breeze that blew down the hallway. She could feel goose bumps tweaking her arms again, and she drew a deep breath to rustle up her courage before moving forward.

High-pitched whistling screamed through the house. A thumping sound echoed from the room at the end of the hall. Cautiously extending her toes forward, Sarah forced herself to investigate. Creeping down the hall Sarah could feel her heart pounding, her pulse racing. She was hyperventilating. She stopped and leaned against the wall, taking slow deep breaths and trying  to focus and get control of herself.  Darn that Billy!

There’s no such thing as ghosts, get a grip.  You’re fifteen and practically a grownup, she thought. As deep rumbling sounds shook the walls, Sarah felt the house move and bit into her lower lip until the metallic tang of blood flowed over her tongue.  Sarah jumped away, fearing the walls were alive. Her face twisted, her lips curled back, and true fear penetrated her soul as terrifying shrieks pierced the door that stood before her. She clapped her hands over her ears as the unworldly creature howled.

"Stop, please stop," she cried out. The house went silent; Sarah lowered her hands and wiped away her tears. She reached out for the handle and the floor creaked on the other side. She pulled back, licking her lips.  She reached out again, and door swung open on its own, hinges squeaking. Sarah jerked at the sound, but she stood in the doorway and in a low warbling voice, called out for her brother.

"Billy, are you in there? Please answer!" Sarah pleaded for a response. The light of the rising moon shone through the window.

Sarah inched further into the room, cautiously casting her eyes about. A dark figure jumped out from the shadows; Sarah screamed. She was knocked off her feet, and they both went crashing to the floor. The impact knocked the wind out of her. She panicked, gasping, but managed to slip her arms up under its chin, pushing the thing back. A ferocious howl pierced slimy lips. Yellow fangs dripping with saliva glistened in the light. Sarah screamed for help. The creature snapped its wicked jaws at her, and her strength was draining, but thoughts of her brother burst from her heart and gave her the inner strength to battle the beast from hell.

"Where is my brother?" she hollered. Sarah clawed and bit at the fiend. She pulled her legs up under the creature and with her feet, catapulted the beast through the air. It crashed hard onto the floor and rolled into the wall with a loud thud! Sarah rolled to her hands and knees and focused her attention on the monster. The moonlight shone through the window and her eyes widened as she watched the creature scramble back onto its feet. It was hideous, completely covered in thick brown hair with inch-long fangs. Two horns protruded from its skull, and it rose on two legs, like a man. Sarah shook her head in disbelief that her assault left the monster uninjured.  The creature stood their staring at her, bobbing its head, from side to side. Something seemed familiar. She looked deep into its bright blue eyes and screamed at the top of her voice.  "Aaahhh!"

Searching the floor around her, Sarah noticed an old wooden bat lying in the corner. She scrambled to her feet and snatched it from the ground, attacking the creature, swinging wildly.

"I’m going to kick your ass," she yelled. Sarah's eyes screamed vengeance, as she sustained her assault on the beast. It ducked and darted out of the way. Sarah swung again and the bat clipped the creature’s head. It screamed in pain. The bat struck the wall and broke the plaster. She grunted as she pulled to wrench it free, sweat pouring off her brow. The creature saw the fire in her eyes, and knew that she was bent on its destruction. It tore from the room and skidded down the hallway. Sarah screamed as she yanked the bat free from the wall, an evil grin on her face. She dashed from the room, the bat held tightly in her fists. Fumbling noises echoed from the hallway. Then a crash followed a thud. Sarah rushed through the darkness and the creature howled in fear as it crouched near the entrance, crying out to her, reaching up to tear off its hideous mask, revealing the terrified face of . . . her brother.  

"Sarah, no! It’s me, Billy," he cried out, shielding his face with crossed arms.

Sarah stepped forward into the light, and flashed her evil grin at him, then spoke in a haunting voice, "I know, Billy, I know!"

Norman Francis Fagan was born in Brampton, Ontario in 1964 to parents John and Catherine Fagan. He holds a diploma from the Toronto School of Business in Banking Fundamentals. His hobbies include collecting plants, sports cards, stamps and antiques. Norman has been published at the following places, Cautionary Tales and soon to be published at The Cynic in November. Contact Norman.

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