The teens turn and stare at Anthony. He doesn’t look at them. Instead he runs his hands against a nearby wall.
“Ten years ago there were three kids who were supposed to go through the initiation. Just like us. And it was going great. They had grown up together since they were two. They had back snacks and treats and everything.”
“Wait.” Val interrupts, “This doesn’t have to do with anything with Old Tom does it?”
The teen nods his head slowly.
“Yeah. It was Tom and his friends Brianna and Taylor. They had gone just at sundown. But just before midnight a late night jogger heard screaming. They could see the three teens bagging on the windows and trying to get out. Of course the jogger ran up and tried to get them out but none of the doors or windows could be open. The kids told her that they were hearing things in the house. That things were being moved around. Finally a blackness filled the windows and they could see and hear things happening inside the house. Loud screaming and anger. Finally shadows filled the room and the jogger couldn’t see in. The last they heard was “destroy the symbol. Destroy it!”
“What symbol?” Chloe looks at the black marking, “This one?”
“I don’t know.”
“What?” Jacob frowns, “What do you mean you don’t know?”
“The police finally got there, the house had resumed its empty-like state. They were able to open the front door with ease. Painted on the upper hallway were two different symbols. This one and one shaped like a ‘U’ with three blocks sticking out from below it.”
“How do you know so much about this?” A smile breaks across Val’s face, “Oh you’re pulling our leg, aren’t you? Mike has you working another angle? Right?”
He shakes his head, “This is the truth. That jogger was my mother and my father was one of the cops who investigated.”
“What happened to the kids?”
The teens turn in surprise to Dani. Her eyes stare intently at Anthony. He almost takes a step back from the intensity of her gaze.
“What happened to them?”
“Two died. The last one left town.”
“Why?” Val crosses his arms, “Did the town suspect them of doing something?”
“Nope. She just ran away. Never came back. Last anyone heard of her was that some relatives took her in down in New Mexico.”
Dani and Chloe look at one another.
“Nice story. Still doesn’t mean anything.” Val says as he looks at the symbol, “So you’re telling me we can’t just scratch this symbol and be done with it?”
“No.” He takes a deep breath, “I’ll admit that I may be overthinking it. And it might be Mike just remembers the story too and is using it to mess with us.”
The brothers nod their heads in agreement.
“He’s an idiot for things like this.” Jacob mutters, “A big stupid guy who goes for the laugh without realizing that it might be in poor taste.”
Chloe scoffs as she marches towards the stairs, “This is definitely in poor taste.”
“Whee are you going?” Val yells.
“To find that idiot and get him to undo whatever he’s done so this stupid thing can be over with.”
The girl disappears around a corner, leaving the others to look dumbly at one another.
“What’s her problem?”
“I think she has a test and she was hoping to study tonight.” Jacob answers, “She is close to getting a perfect grade but the last chapter of history has been tough for her.”
Val gives his brother an odd look.
“What? I notice things. Okay?”
The teens troop off after Chloe. They had gone three feet when a terrible scream filled the house. The very walls and floor trembled at the sound and they fell to their knees. The scream passed like a gale, consuming heat and biting against their flesh. The scream faded and the teens looked to each other.
Dani leaped to her feet and ran after her sister.
Her action broke the frozen lock on the boys and they followed suite. They hurry up the stairs. They reach the landing when they hear a second scream. It was quickly followed by the sounds of blows and muffled cries.
All three boys skid around the corner and they find Dani kicking and punching Mike. He raises his arms to protect himself. His words drowned out by the Dani’s yell. At their feet, Chloe lies on her back with a gash in her arm and leg.
Anthony goes to Chloe while the brothers pull Dani back.
“What the heck?” Mike growls as he rubs his arms, “I didn’t do anything! I heard her scream and found her like that!”
“Liar!” Dani spat.
For a moment Mike is at a lost for words. Her eyes were wide with anger. After a moment, she settled down. The boys release her and Mike braces himself for another attack but it does not come. Instead he looks to Anthony.
“She’s just been knocked out.” Anthony reports, “And the wounds are not serious.”
Dani breathes a sigh of relief.
The brothers turn on Mike.
“Explain.” Val growls
“Now.” His brother finishes.
“I have no idea what the frak is going on. I thought you two were getting back at me for that joke with the milk.”
“You didn’t do something to the lock?”
Mike shakes his head in confusion, “What lock?”
“The doors and the windows. You didn’t do anything to them?”
“Uh. No. I was talking about the lights.”
“What?” Now it is the brothers’ turn to be confused, “What about the lights?”
“They’ve been flickering on and off.” He looks around for a moment, “And I swear that the switches keep switching what they control.”
“Did you get hit on your head because that makes no sense. At all.”
He throws his hands up, “Hey. I’m just telling you what I know. What’s been happening to you?”
“Oh I don’t know. Screams, doors locked, and windows won’t open.”
“But they’re not supposed to do that.” Mike protests, “My uncle makes sure of that! He keeps this place in good shape to make the tradition as safe as possible!”
“Your town is weird.”
They look in surprise as Chloe sits up. She winces in pain and looks at her arms and legs. Anthony helps her to a sitting position.
“What happened?” Val asks, “Did something attack you?”
“Or someone?” Dani bites out.
“I said I didn’t hurt her!”
“He didn’t.” Chloe interrupts, “I came up the stairs and I tripped.”
Dani notices her eyes flicker, “What is it?”
Chloe makes a face, reluctant to share. But the teens stare intently at her, “Well I think tripped.”
“What do you mean?” Jacob mutters, “You think you tripped?”
“Well. It felt like the ground was pulled out from underneath me.”
“Like someone pulling the rug from your feet?”
“But they’re aren’t any rugs.”
“I know but that is what it felt like.”
“Great!” Val mutters, “I say we break a window and call this whole thing off.”
“Agreed.” Jacob and Mike say together.
They look at Mike in surprise.
“What?” Mike says, “I keep losing stuff in this dumb house. I set the fake witch’s circle downstairs then I came up here to make a fake ritual and all of the sudden the lights are going off and things are disappearing and I don’t like being messed with.”
He glares at the brothers.
“They were with us.” Anthony says as he bandages Chloe’s arms, “The whole time.”
“Where did you get the bandages?” Jacob asks.
“I always have some in my pockets.”
“This is starting to feel like a bad movie.”
Anthony grins, “Don’t go breaking the fourth wall.”
“Fine.” He turns to the rest of the teens, “So we go break a window and get out?”
He gets nods from the teens in agreement.
“Think you can walk on that leg?” Anthony asks Chloe.
“Yes.” She says as she pulls herself up. She winces slightly as she tests her weight, “See fine.”
The teens troop down the stairs. Dani falls back with her sister. Her eyes look over her arms and legs. Chloe notices her sister’s stares and smiles.
“I’m fine. Really.”
Dani looks towards the boys but they are examining something on the wall of the stairs. She tugs her sister to put them a few steps behind the others.
Chloe shuts her eyes, guessing what her sister wants to talk about. “Dani. No.”
“That woman Anthony was talking about…”
“We don’t know.”
“But could she be the same woman?”
“I don’t know!” She opens her eyes, “Not without a photo.”
“Hey Ladies.” Mike calls, “Uh. I don’t suppose any you can read Latin.”
“Because someone has. And it wasn’t here when I came up the stairs.”
To Be Continued…