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“To be a part of the group you have to do it,” the three girls mocked. “No one has ever made it back out before. If you do this, you would be the talk of the whole school. You’d be popular.”
Her suavity enticed me. I was new to town and I really wanted to fit in and be popular. But was is worth it? Staring up at the abandoned mansion from fifty feet away, I was already intimidated. It was an unbelievably enormous house. The paint was peeling off the wood and the windows were broken, like someone had punched through them. Abandoned rakes and toys littered the yard and I could see a rusty old truck tucked behind the house. It seemed as if the mansion had once belonged to a bustling family, but had abruptly been abandoned.
“Just one night,” one of them said to me again. “One night in there alone, and you can hang with us.”
“I don’t know, guys. You said no one came back.”
“They probably just went home and cried to their mommy and moved. But you, I think you have potential.”
The minutes ticked by as I tried to reach a decision. However, I pushed down any further doubts and accepted their test. After all, what was the worst that could happen?
One of the girls nudged me forward and I started toward the mansion. What once was a driveway was now just a faint path that led to a wrought-iron fence. At first it wouldn’t open, but with a little more effort I was able to pry it ajar with a shrill creak. I looked back at the girls for encouragement, but they had vanished.
I continued onward, picking up some trinkets along the way: a rag doll that had seen some child play, an old pocket watch that had stopped time, and a photograph. The photograph showed what looked like two young men. They were wearing identical suits, but it was impossible to tell if the boys were twins because the face on the right was burned through with a lighter, leaving a black ring atop his shoulders.
Thunder cracked above, pushing me in the house, so I bundled my findings in the crook of my left arm and headed toward the front porch. The concrete steps were cracked and splitting, and the railings had rusted and fallen over. Reaching the front double door, I suppressed a giggle and the urge to knock. How silly would it be to knock on the door to an abandoned house?
The doors opened to a huge living room. One couch, a love seat, and an old rocking chair faced an open fireplace that was burnt black. And sitting on the dusty hardwood floor was a bear skin rug. On the mantle of the fireplace were family photos. The photo farthest to the left was a picture of the same two boys in the picture which I now held in my right hand, but instead of a grassy landscape, it seemed as if they were at a prom; the boy on right with a girl under his arm, the other with a countenance that showed pure hatred. The pictures continued to the right of the boys growing up and I couldn’t help but notice that the boy on the left was always angry. Angry at his brother’s wedding. Angry while his brother danced with his wife at a Christmas party. Angry while standing next to his brother and pregnant wife. Angry while watching his brother play with his daughter who was holding the same doll that I had in my hand. But what unsettled me the most was the last picture. The boy on the left was actually smiling. . . but while the wife and daughter mourned at the coffin of their loved one.
Just then I heard what sounded like a man’s cough.
“Hello?” I asked.
I set the doll, pocket watch, and photo in the rocking chair (while avoiding the stare of the bear) and set out to find the source of the noise I had heard. The rain had started coming down hard as I walked through a kitchen that had all mint condition stainless steel appliances and a dining room with only one, broken chair. I then found myself in a long hallway. There were seven doors to choose from so I chose door lucky number seven at the end of the hall, on the right.
I opened the door and walked in. The bedside lamp was on. The bed was unmade and recently slept in. There were dirty dishes on the desk in the corner. And there were more pictures of the twins, the face on the right always burned out.
Someone is living here, I realized. Someone who is angry and obviously hated his brother. I’m sure if he found me in here, I’d be dead. I had to get out of the house, but I couldn’t leave early or I wouldn’t be able to hang out with the girls. I would leave and then come back in the morning and stand by the front gate like I had never left.
Leaving the bedroom, I closed the door behind me and left out the back door just to see a little bit more of the house; a mistake I wouldn’t get the chance to regret. As soon as I stepped out the door I screamed.
On a wire clothesline hung four girl’s bodies. Blood dripping into buckets, stab wounds in the back, and missing hands and feet. No, not missing; they were on a bloody table with an assortment of butcher’s knifes.
I rushed down the back steps to get a closer at the girls, realizing that they hadn’t run home to their mommies, but had been captured and killed. These actions were equivocal to me, but I knew that I was next.
“Look what the girls dragged in this time,” a tremendously deep voice said.
I whipped around to find a six foot man and I stared in shock as he cocked his head at me. The blank mask upon his face hid his expression while he picked up one of the butcher knifes.
The back fence was too high for me to jump so I rushed around the side of the house. But what if he was going around the other side, waiting for me at the creaky front gate? I looked at the fence again, sizing it up, when I noticed a hole just big enough for me to crawl through. The rain had made the hole muddy and as I crawled through, the fence tore off my right sleeve. I got up and ran, weaving through hundreds of trees. Should I yell for help? No, the man would hear me and know where I was. But what if I was close to the road or a house? They could save me in time couldn’t they? I knew I had to give it a try.
“Help!” I screamed as loud as I could.
“No one’s going to help you now,” the man’s holler echoed back, making me turn around.
I couldn’t see him, but I knew he was close. I ducked under some low branches and leaped over a rotting log. My legs felt like jello and my chest burned. I really didn’t want to, but I couldn’t help but to stop and breathe. Not seconds after, he grabbed me around my waist and pressed the tip of his blade into my neck.
“You’re mine now,” he breathed into my ear.
I kicked him in the shin and I slipped away as his grip loosened in pain. I ran left, and then right, and then left again trying to escape my attacker, but he was behind me once again.
I ran, and I ran, but I couldn’t run anymore! I collapsed on the soaked ground from exhaustion and cried. I knew I couldn’t escape that hoary mask which dissimulated the true identity of my tracker. I had failed the test.
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