The three teens slowly walk down the street. Chloe and Dani lead while Anthony follows behind with his own camera recording. The redhead glances over. Dani is nervous but not outright panicking. The teen decides it is a good thing.
“What now?” Chloe asks.
“I need to give you two your own cameras.”
“Seriously.” He smiles, “My dad said that when he did his tradition they had to keep a journal.”
The girls exchange surprised looks.
“What? You two really thought we were making it up when we said everyone in town had done this? The house has been built here before the town even got out here.”
“Well, we just thought Mike was pulling our leg. Being a jerk.”
“Oh he may be arrogant and little too in love with himself but he loves traditions and learning about them. I think it has something to do with his dad.”
“Yeah, long time history professor.” He digs around in his bag, “Come on. I know I packed them.”
Again the two teens exchange surprised looks.
“I know, I know.” Anthony laughs, “The guy who goes to the football games in body paint and football jerseys holds a doctorate in history. I had asked him why he is so different when it comes to sport games and he said because of interests. He wants Mike to be interested in history. But he also wants to show Mike that he is interested in his life as well.”
Anthony shrugs as he hands them two small cameras. Although equipped similarly to his own camcorder, the devices are smaller and not as powerful.
“Your welcome. Let’s get this over with. We got a little over ten hours to watch mice scurry across floorboards.”
“You don’t like mice?”
“Well. We shouldn’t see too many.”
“How do you know?” Dani mutters as they get closer to the house.
“I’ve done some research. Talked to the adults that have done this as kids. Most of them say that they just sat around drinking pop.” He laughs, “I actually know a couple who did their homework.”
“Oh great. This is exciting.”
The three teens reach the end of the driveway. They stop at the same time without planning it.
To Chloe, the house looks old and broken down. Several windows are broken and the grass has not been cut in a very long time. The black windows give the house an empty, forlong feel and look to it.
To Anthony, the house is full of opportunity. Photographing an abandoned building is one of the things he always wanted to do. The age of the house can be seen in the worn steps and damaged siding. But it also holds a lot of history.
To Dani the house is familiar. A sad little building that fell from grace a long time ago.
“Well. Ladies first.”
Chloe glares at him.
“Joking.” He steps onto the small footpath. The two girls follow him.
A cold feeling flows over them. Chloe shivers and looks around. To her, it seems like the shadows have somehow deepened. The redhead glances back at the street. She rubs her eyes and looks again.
“Chloe? What’s wrong?” Dani calls.
She hadn’t realized she stopped walking.
“I… Just. For a moment it looked like the lamp post was further away.”
Anthony and Dani glance down the street. The small dim light source looks as it always has. Across the street, they can see Mike sitting in his car. He waves at them.
Chloe frowns and turns her attention back towards the house.
“Your friend annoys me.”
“Oh. He’ll grow on you.”
“I doubt it.”
“Anyways. Shall we?”
The three teens stand on the porch. Anthony kneels and looks at the key. Dani looks around the front of the house. Chloe watches Anthony as he draws out a lock picking kit.
He glances up then smiles as he returns to picking the lot.
“You don’t seem to be surprised.”
“Should we be?”
“Well. Most people question why I am able to pick locks.”
She shrugs, “We can pick locks too.”
“Trial and practice.” She replies, “Dani? Where are you going?”
Anthony looks over and he sees the girl walking towards the edge of the porch. She is facing the woods. Her body stiffens and her hands balled into a fist.
She takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. Dani turns back to them with a smile on her face.
“Sorry. My mind drifted. How are we? Can we even get in?”
“Almost…” Anthony murmurs. The lock clicks, “Got it.”
“Let the fun times roll tonight.” Chloe says as she pushes the door open.
It creaks. The teens flip on flashlights and walk into the house itself. The girls step into what appears to be an old hall. Off to the right is an empty room. To the left appears to be a dining hall. A wood table stands at the center, covered in dust.
“Cozy. A real fixer upper.”
Chloe scoffs, “Oh please.”
“I don’t know. Just pick a room and chill for the night.”
The three teens walk further into the room. Anthony turns and shuts the door. It closes with a loud bang. Both girls jump at the show. They stare at him. He shrugs.
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to do that.”
“Well, a lot of the kids like the living room.”
“Why is that?”
“Oh. But it’s warm out.”
“True but at least that place will have a place where we can light and fire and save our batteries.”
“Don’t really care.” Chloe turns to her sister, “What do you think?”
“Alright, Anthony. Lead us to the living room.”
The teen nods his head and walks down the hall. The floors creak and groan beneath their footsteps. Paint peels in long curls. The wall and ceiling are stained yellow with age. Here and there, a forgotten painting or photo hangs on the wall. Thick dust covers the images.
“How old is this place?” Chloe says quietly.
“I don’t know. Maybe fifty or a hundred years ago? I am not really sure.”
“Feels old.” Chloe takes a deep breath. The air is thick and musty smelling. A silence seems to weigh on the house, “Feels very old.”
“I don’t know about that.” Anthony replies as he turns a corner, “I do know that this is the living room. I’d avoid the kitchen though. Mice tend to go there.”
“What do we do about the bathroom?”
“Outhouse out back or the public restroom in the park. There is a path that leads from the backyard to the park.”
“How do you know so much?”
“I like to do my research before I get into things.”
“I see. That would explain the good grades.”
He grins, “Can’t help it. I am a book dragon.”
“Or a nerd.”
The teens laugh and a low creak echoes through the house. Their laughter dies as they listen to the house groan.
“Yeah.” Chloe notices Anthony’s voice has lost its mirth.
“What is it?”
“Well. A few years ago something happened. No one really knows what went on. Just the mayor, the chief of police at the time, and the kids involved. I do know that it was the only time the police showed up to stop the tradition. The kids never talked about what happened. Neither did the parents. All we know is that two of the kids died and the house was covered in graffiti. Ever since the house has been strange.”
“Strange? How?” Dani asks quietly.
“Odd noises. Odd lights. Kids say that the house has a lot of noises.”
“How would they know?”
“Well. After everything went down, older kids wanted to go with their siblings. To make sure they stay safe through the tradition.”
Anthony chuckles weakly, “I’m sure it was just bad luck and bad rumors. Sorry for bringing it up.”
“No worries.” Chloe pulls out a deck of Uno Cards, “Anyone up for a game?”
Dani and Anthony smile as they settle down on the floor.