by Madelyn T., Age 11 , USA
"I'm not going out this year. You guys go if you want, and bring me back something from the party (that part's less of a question), but I'm not coming." Jacob declared.
I shared a look with our other friend, Michael. Jacob had gone trick-or-treating every Halloween since the year he moved and we met in Kindergarten. He was never one to back out.
It had all been planned just weeks before. We were going to go out as the Ghostbusters, and drive to this big party at this huge old, decrepit mansion. It was perfect! Michael and I weren't letting him drop everything without an explanation, even though this argument had been going back and forth for half an hour and still we hadn't gotten one. We were both getting tired of hearing a different variation of "no."
"Yeah? Well, good luck finding someone to go out with next year. I'm out."
Michael growled at Jacob turned to leave school. I shook my head at Jacob's stung expression.
"This was going to be our best year yet. So I hope you enjoy sitting on your couch feeling sorry for yourself, because it IS going to be our best year ever, with or without you."
Just as I finished talking, the bell rang. I hurried away, without giving him a chance to respond, as he was swept away by Shadyville Elementary's entire Junior-hall-end-of-day-rush.
Michael and I had just finished suiting up in our costumes at my house when his phone rang. Michael rushed to pick it up, reaching over my figurine collection and nearly knocking them all over. "Careful with those!" I started to yell at him, but was interrupted by my own cell phone ringing. I picked it up just as Michael ended his call, and he waited until mine was over.
"This is Kylie! Hullo!?" The voice on the other end chirped. Kylie's parents were the ones who had just bought the house, and she was hosting the party while they were out for dinner. She had invited all of the grade 7's in our school.
"Uh, yeah. It's Hannah." I replied.
"So I called to ask you something. I knew you, Michael and Jacob were all coming as a group, and so I called all of you to doublecheck. But then Jacob never answered when I called. What's that about?" Kylie asked in an accusing tone.
I sighed. "It's nothing to do with you, I promise. It's just... we had a bit of an argument yesterday. He seemed a little bit on edge about everything all week, and then after today he finally decided he wasn't coming for sure."
She seemed to be chewing on the thought. There was some commotion in the background, and I heard her directing her parents to where she wanted the decorations before they went out.
"Look, just tell him that I wish he would come, and that everyone else in our grade is too, so it's not like he's got anyone else his age to hang out with." She finally answered back.
"Okay. If he still doesn't come though, don't be too surprised. It won't mean much coming from me. I could tell she was thinking again, because there was a click-clack noise on a table as she tapped her nails.
"Maybe it's all just easier if I call him myself. Then he won't suspect you were involved." She paused again.
"Yeah. Kay. Bye!" She hung up and I quickly explained to Michael what we had been talking about.
"Oh. She called me too, but all she said was "see you at the party" and "is your sister coming?"
I laughed at Michael and we walked out of the family room and down the front steps to the road. My Mom was waiting for us in the pickup truck. I hopped into the back behind her seat, and Michael hoisted himself up beside me. As we pulled away from my unlit house with the graves and ghosts in the front yard, I wondered what the sick, twisted feeling in my gut was, but the moment we turned onto the road to Kylie's house, I knew that something was going to go wrong.
The house was an 18th century mansion, and had undergone some repairs in the 1960's, but no one was allowed to change much because of how old it was. When Kylie's parents bought the house, they loved it's weathered stone arches and pillars, it's rustic tiled floors, so they kept it mostly the same too. Her parents were so enchanted that they went to a couple of second-hand stores to buy matching furniture and cabinets from the same time period. But tonight was the night where it was REALLY transformed into something new.
Now, decorated with skeletons and severed heads in the front yard, it's creaky balconies and spooky aspects really worked out in it's favor. The inside, however, was even scarier. They had an indoor haunted maze, a “historically” based tour of the house (though I'm sure that they made most of it up), and tons of “KEEP OUT” banners. Kylie was dressed up as Frankenstein's bride, and stood in the middle of what would have been the ballroom way back when the house was first made, dancing. Oh, yes, they also hired a DJ, if I didn't mention it. There was a punch table set up in the eastern side of the room, and a crowd was already gathered there, serving themselves and sipping from intricately carved plastic goblets. When she saw us walk in, Kylie curtsied to everyone who had been watching her dance, and excused herself to come greet us.
“It's so good to see you could make it!” She said, excitedly. Then her face feel and she frowned. “Ahh. No Jacob, huh?” I could sense the disappointment immediately. I was about to break the news to her when Michael spoke up.
“Yeah, well, he's probably at home wishing he was here but being to stubborn to actually come.” He responded bluntly. I elbowed him in the ribs and looked at Kylie.
“So you did call him, didn't you?” I asked. She sighed and inspected her fingernails. “I did, yes. It didn't go exactly how I planned. He seemed to be in a bit of a mood, and he said some not-so-nice things and then hung up without another word.”
I was shocked. So he really was hurt then, wasn't he? I was thinking about what to say to her when I noticed that Michael had already wandered off to the punch table. Kylie seemed to sense this too, and shrugged. “He might come later, but I'm not counting on it. I'll let you go though.” She turned back to the dance floor as I went to find Michael. I took one step and nearly doubled over. Gasping, I gritted my teeth and made my way over. Finally reaching Michael, I managed to hold myself upright. The feeling was back.
“Michael, something's wrong.” I told him.
“Yeah, I think so too! Are you okay? Should we call your Mom?”
I groaned. It felt like something was clawing it's way through my stomach, eating away at me from the inside. I teetered, and leaned against the wall beside the punch table. “Listen. Do you ever get this feeling that something's going to go horribly wrong?” I asked.
“Well sure, I guess. Why?”
I breathed heavily. I was going to sound crazy. “Because that's what I'm feeling right now. And I know that we need to do something, or people are going to be in danger.” He stared at me with wide eyes and drew his eyebrows together in a disturbed expression. Then much to my surprise, he laughed.
“Hahahahah. Good prank. Kylie's probably in on it too, huh?! Here, have some punch.” Michael said, and handed me a cup. He seriously didn't believe me! I pushed the glass away and stopped leaning on the wall. The feeling was gone, for now anyway. “Michael. This isn't a joke! Do you think that I would joke about-” I began, but he interrupted me.
“Stop it okay? This house is scary enough without decorations, and you're not making it any better!” he slammed the cup he was holding down on the table and stormed off to deliver a lecture to Kylie. Everyone in the punch line was staring at me like I was crazy. I wanted to leave. I turned to find somewhere to call my Mom so she could come pick me up. Just then, the lights went out without so much as a flicker.
The house was plunged into complete darkness, and chaos. I struggled to find Michael, willing my eyes to adjust even though I knew it was pointless; there was no adjusting to this kind of blackness. Through the random screaming I could hear Kylie's voice, so I followed it blindly. I bumped into twenty people along the way, murmuring “sorry” each time. Finally, I tripped on a piece of fabric and fell splayed on the ground. I was just about to give up when I realized it could have been the train on Kylie's dress that I'd fallen over.
“Hannah? Is that you? Michael? ANYBODY!!! Screamed the familiar voice above me. I jumped to my feet and felt for her hand. “Kylie! It's me, Hannah! I'm here. What's happening?” I said as I stood their getting my bearings. She breathed a sigh of relief.
“I don't know! Do you have a light or something?” She asked. Hmmmm... that was a good idea. Michael! He always insisted on having a box of matches in his pocket! (we always thought it was weird, but sometimes I guess it helps to be a little over-prepared.) I held my hands out in front of me and began to search for him. In retrospect, it was a horrible idea, but I was pretty desperate. I smacked someone in the face in two seconds. “OH MY GOSH!!! Are you okay? I didn't mean to, whoever you are!” I said in one breath.
A small voice came from where I had smacked them. “Yep. It's Michael. And it's fine. I don't think anyone can see in this.”
Relief flooded through me. “Do you still have those matches you always carry around?” I asked. I could hear him slap himself in the face. “Why didn't I think of that! Here you go.” HE shuffled around in his pockets and then felt for my hand. He dropped them in. I struck one and could immediately see two meters around me in any direction. I found Kylie just behind me, and she was holding four wax candles.
“We'll light each and place one in each and place them around the room. She gave one to me, Michael and herself, and left the remaining candle on the ground at our feet. I headed towards the left side of the room, but after a couple steps I stood frozen in fear. In front of me was a floating blue mass that hovered several inches off the ground. It had a somewhat human shape, but not exactly. It was sort of soft around the edges, like a photograph that wasn't completely developed yet. There was what resembled a long flowing dress, with a train that drifted lazily around, like it had a life of it's own. As I looked up, an elegant and refined face looked down at me. A tidy bun sat atop this thing's head, like a crown. It would have been beautiful, if it didn't have these glowing, cold, angry eyes staring down at me, and if I didn't know what it was. It was a ghost.
Finally I found my voice and shrieked. I swear I must have shattered half of the windows in the house as I sprinted away. I felt it follow me, right before it touched me with it's icy hands and lifted me off the ground into the air. Michael turned and pushed his way through the room to me. He called up as I flailed around aimlessly, screaming at the top of my lungs, even thought the ghost wasn't doing anything. “OH MY GOSH! I'll get help!” Was what he was trying to say, but what came out was more like “OH MY-AHHHHHHHHH!!!”
Then to no one's expectations, in walked Jacob. If I hadn't been so occupied screaming already, I would have called out in surprise. There was no time for pointing any fingers at anybody. We were going to need all the help we could get. “I didn't know this house was haunted!” Jacob yelled. He ran to us and looked up at my hopeless situation. Michael obviously had some questions and didn't seem thrilled at the idea of working with Jacob. He realized though, that the argument he was probably going to have with him could wait for the time being.
“Well, don't just stand there staring!” I yelled down to them through my panic. The ghost was dragging me around the room, dress flying, eyes glowing. Jacob's face lit up with an idea. “Vacuum!” He didn't have to elaborate; we knew what he meant. We all looked to Kylie she was just staring with her mouth open, and wasn't much help. Jacob came over to her and waved his hand in her face until she snapped to attention. She saw Jacob and her eyes went even WIDER, if you can believe me. He spoke slowly and clearly to her as if he was trying to explain something like algebra to a small child.
“Do you. Have a. Vacuum?” She blinked for a second, and then his words registered in her mind. “Uh-ummm y-yeah. In the supply closet next to the punch table. Jacob didn't spend any time waiting to give him permission to use it or ask him why. He found the one she was talking about and threw things out of the supply closet while he looked; a broom here, tape there, and then finally the vacuum! He wheeled it to the middle of the room and took the tube off the side. He aimed the open end at the ghost and nodded to Michael. He ran over and stepped on the power button. The vacuum roared to life, and we all heard the distinct sound of air being sucked in.
Since the ghost was from the 18th century as we guessed, it had no idea what the vacuum was or what it was going to do to her. This was all completely new, and altogether frightening for the ghost, and it began to shriek and twist . It tried to fly out, but it was too late. Jacob had already gotten her far enough in that she couldn't get out. It let out a bloodcurdling scream that left a ringing in my ears, and I could hear nothing else. Kylie came by the ghost and whacked it with a chair. Not suprisingly, but still very much to her disgust, it went right through and knocked me out of it's grasp.
I fell to the floor in a heap, unable to do anything but hope to goodness they captured it. I have no recollection of the events that followed, but this is the story that I have been told. After several minutes of fierce battling, Jacob managed to suck the ghost into the vacuum. Everyone at the party cheered (we had nearly forgotten about them at this point), and Jacob stood grinning with the vacuum above his head. It emitted a smoke that smelled like singed meat, and everyone was pretty shaken up for sure, but other than that things were good.
Everyone was picked up by their parents from the party, and not one of them believed a word any of their kids said. I was found unconscious on the floor, which I'm sure looked pretty suspicious to my Mom, but between her and Michael I was lifted into the truck and she drove us both home. I guess Jacob was picked up by his parents too, and he was smart enough to not say anything unusual about the party. My Mom was overjoyed when I woke up on the ride home, and everything from then on I do remember.
Jacob, Michael and I all got together that same night at my house and talked for hours about what had happened. We decided to never split up after that, and we agreed that Kylie had earned a place in our group too. As for the house, it was sold by Kylie's family. The vacuum has been taken to the dump (no one was too eager to keep it around), and the Gr.7's of Shadyville Elementary have been changed forever. Kylie's parents still don't believe her, even after they came home from dinner to find a smoking vacuum and the house in a mess. No matter what they tell us though, try to explain that we have “overactive imaginations” or that we were hallucinating, we know what happened was real. But for now, we were all done with the spooky business, and would NOT be wearing those Ghostbusters suits for a LOOOOOONG time.