Come on, Jess! I triple dog dare you!
She stared menacingly at her little brother and back towards the abandoned house. He had been egging her on for weeks, challenging her to enter the house at the end of their street.
He thought she was scared. He was right. The house had been abandoned years ago and stood eerily quiet behind a wrought-iron fence. The paint peeled off the sides in long strips of white. The shutters banged in the wind while the front door, painted in black, stood closed, barricaded against childish pranks such as this.
Their parents would kill her if they found out she stepped foot in this dilapidated disaster but she had to shut her brother up. She told herself the rumors were just that. Rumors. Children hadn’t died. There was no serial killer. The Maniac, as they called him, didn’t exist. They were just stories and the building in front of her was just a house, nothing more.
With one last glare at her brother, she opened the gate and walked toward the house. As much as she tried to stop it, her heart raced. She had never liked scary things and this house was at the top of that list. She moved to the left where she could climb through a busted window. As she stared into the blackness, her mind raced with images of snakes and rats while her body shuddered in disgust.
Five minutes. I can do this!
She placed her hands on the edge of the window, hauling herself over the ledge. She landed with a thud and a cloud of dust cascaded around her. She coughed and gagged, not noticing the shadow that escaped the room in front of her. When her eyes adjusted to the dark, she looked around. The room was essentially bare, the furniture long ago taken away. She rose off the floor and moved from room to room, her fear slowly subsiding.
It really is just a house.
As if on cue, a noise stopped her. She looked towards the stairs leading up to the second floor, waiting for the noise to present itself. It was a whimper, perhaps from a cat. The noise drifted down from upstairs, the one place in the house she had no plans on going. The cat’s howls got louder and the animal lover within her pulled her upstairs.
There were two rooms, one to each side of the staircase. She opened the door to her left and peered inside a completely empty room.
What the hell?
She moved further inside, making her way to the window. Sitting outside was a beautiful black cat. It howled once, darting away. She laughed to herself, and happily realized her five minutes were up.
Time to go!
She didn’t notice the hairs beginning to stand on the back of her neck as she turned around. Her body felt him before her eyes could see the danger. When she laid eyes on him, her first impulse was to scream but no sound came out. Before she could think, he lunged at her but he underestimated her speed. She jumped to the right, bolting for the door. A hand suddenly grabbed her ankle, yanking her to the ground. She found her voice and a scream billowed from within her, ricocheting throughout the house. She kicked her foot, making contact with his shoulder. She escaped his grasp, running to the other room, slamming and locking the door behind her. She pushed up on the nearest window. It wouldn’t budge. She could see her little brother outside.
How did he not hear me scream?
She pounded on the window, crying and screaming for him to look up. Suddenly, she felt her hairs stand on end once again and she turned. He stood in front of her, knife in hand.
How in the hell did he get in here? I locked the damn door!
What she didn’t know was that the door had failed to latch. None of the doors locked, per his design. She stood painfully still, rooted to the ground in fear. As he moved toward her, she regained her strength and threw her arms at the window, breaking it into pieces and slicing her arm to the bone. She screamed one last time before his hand covered her mouth. The last thing she saw was her little brother running down the street for help.
He was already too late.
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