Illustration by KKC Bauder
* * *
Angeline opened her bedroom door just a small slit, startling, amazing light pouring in through the crack from the hallway light. She slinkily placed one foot out into the hall, hoping her parents were asleep...
"Angey!" her father bellowed. "Get back in that bed!"
Ah, well. Not asleep, then.
She quietly slipped back in her room, trying to figure out where her parents were in the house so she could escape. After forming a mental map, she silently edged out of her door.
"Angey," her mother moaned in bed, "listen to your father. You're not going to that house."
Angeline trudged back into her room once again, slamming herself onto the mattress. Her parents were so strict, so stern. No this, don't do that, do what I say. The reason she wanted to escape the house was because of her friend Cathy. Cathy was so lucky.
Cathy's favorite holiday was Halloween. Her parents were filthy-rich, so every year they bought and set up the ULTIMATE haunted house. Angeline wanted to go. She wanted to be scared, she adored a scary movie or creepy adventure. She had sucked up to Cathy for years, obeying her every whim, just to see that haunted house.
And then her parent's droned on and on about how she couldn't go and things got complicated.
Angeline ripped some paper out of her diary and got a pencil. She drew a huge square. She labeled all the rooms and wrote down where her mom was. Then she put where her dad was. She eventually figured that if she snuck behind dad's chair, went across the kitchen somehow, snuck across the living room, got the keys, smuggle them back across the living room with a miracle, unlock the door, and finally stealthily evade and elude her parents, she was out.
And that was exactly what she was planning to do.
She dived from her room to little Annabelle's (her sister) and lied prone. Nothing. Not a peep. She pressed her back to the wall and edged across it down the hallway. There was her dad, in a chair facing the opposite way. She crouched to the ground, and carefully squeezed in-between the chair and the wall.
She accidentally shoved the chair forward a millimeter. She saw her father lurch at the incident.
"Dadgum chair," he mumbled, and reclined it.
The headrest pushed against her nose hard, making it go numb. Her head was wedged between the chair and wall.
Angeline painfully removed her head from the tight spot, and kept on crawling. She was finally on the other side. SHE WAS RIGHT NEXT TO DAD. She could hear his breathing, but he was reading a book. ‘THE FATHER'S GUIDE TO RAISING CHILDREN’ was the title.
She stifled a snicker, and grabbed a small penny. With expert precision, she aimed the penny at a picture on the wall with it between her thumb and index finger. She got flicked the penny with all the power in her tiny digits, and it fortunately hit the picture and made it fall.
"What in devil's blazes?" yelled father in surprise when he heard the crash.
Angeline winced. That was the picture of Aunt Margaret. If her parents found out, she would pay. She hurried to the kitchen and then rushed to the living room.
She snatched the keys off the hook and scampered into the kitchen. She hid underneath the table.
Then her mom walked in, yawning, "Need a glass of water."
She saw her mom go to the sink and drink, and then she left.
Angeline was already running to the door. She could run past her dad, maybe...
No, she needed a diversion. But it would have to be drastic.
Angeline hid behind the couch. Her father was sitting on his chair, the picture frame already neatly repaired. She threw her voice in a falsetto of her mother (she was a ventriloquist).
"Fred, dear," she mused. "Will you come here, darling. Our favorite show is on. You know, CAN YOU MAKE IT IN THE ARMY."
"That's not our favorite show," he responded, puzzled.
"Oh, I meant that other show... eh... you know, the one YOU love... POP STAR DRAMA."
Her dad jumped up, eagerly rushing to her room.
"It's on at this hour? Oh well, can't wait to see if that model Michelle makes friends with that snob Dana... "
Angeline whisper-laughed hysterically.
She quickly sprinted to the door and unlocked it. She opened it….
"Could've sworn you called for me," grumbled dad as he entered the room. Then he caught sight of Angeline.
"Angey!" he shouted. "GET IN BED! I'm escorting you there young lady."
Of course, that is not the end of our story, because it is not scary, and would be an overall boring story.
Angeline was lying in bed now, angrily swearing at the ceiling. She was so close. So close. If only… Then an idea sparked in her mind and roared into a full-fledged fire. ‘I can go through the window!’ she thought. She grabbed one of her knives (she collects knives that have drawings and words on them) and walked over to the window.
She jammed the blade into the crease between the window and the sill. The knife quivered, but stuck. It went in with a clean stick. She pushed forward and down on the knife. The blade pushed up.
PUSH! PUSH! ALL YOUR STRENGTH, GIRL.
The window yielded under the force and up it went. She climbed out, falling into the wet grass. She rushed to Cathy's house.
* * *
She arrived, panting, ribs aching, and finally said, "Hello Cathy."
Cathy invited her in, and said simply, "Enjoy the show, Angeline."
I will, thought Angeline. She entered the house while Cathy greeted the visitors that didn't arrive yet.
Angeline was surprised to see no one was inspecting the halls. She went up the tall staircase. A headless man jumped out to greet her. She flinched, but didn't jump. Angeline went on the path, going down the hall. There was only one way to go. No other path.
Monsters of all kinds jumped at her on every corner. On one wall, hands ripped through the wallpaper, blindly reaching, their long nails brown with dirt. Skulls with flesh-hooks roamed the halls. Giant trolls with cleavers stood silently, and Angeline wasn't sure they were mannequins.
All of the creatures looked so realistic, not one looking fake. But they had to be fake. A few of the mutant creatures chased her down the hall. Now, those were people. Dummies don't chase. She thought all of this was fake until...
A human was at the end of the hallway. He was small because of the distance. He was just a regular person. Nothing scary. He wasn't even wearing a shirt, just his pants. But as she got closer, Angeline spoke to him.
"You're not scary," she said.
The man shook his head.
"Yes I am," he said.
Angeline was surprised. No bleeding cuts, no ripped off heads, just a real man in his real skin and bone. There was no doubt that the flesh on him was real. Texture, smell, look, it was all real.
Angeline was even more surprised when the man ripped off his arm and said, "You think I'm scary?"
Angeline had no doubt that the man had ripped off his limb. It was REAL. She screamed as he put a burlap sack on his hand with the intact arm and grabbed a chainsaw.
He yelled, "You think I'm scary now?!" in a thundering, raspy voice, a voice thirsty for blood.
He chased Angeline through the hallway and out to a path that ran through the forest in Cathy's backyard. Finally, he had disappeared.
Angeline sprinted through the forest, trying to block out all the blood, gore, and horror going on around her.
"It is real!" she screamed as a man with a sledgehammer aimed for her. "It's not fake!" Her voice withered out and her throat felt sore.
Then, the sledgehammer connected with her shinbone, shattering it as she ran through the forest. She felt a splitting pain in her leg, and screamed as she went down to the soggy soil.
"It isn't fake! It isn't fake!"
Then, total darkness.
She woke up with agony. She was tied to a board. A bone was sticking from her lower leg, punched through the skin. Cathy was staring at her, patting the man with the sledgehammer.
"Very good, Arno. Now, go get another one."
Angeline watched as Cathy playfully tapped her leg with her finger, bringing excruciating pain to Angeline.
"You know, Angey," Cathy said, as in a speech. "Everyone haunting this house has been a visitor once. They came here, died, and haunted it. So, yes, it isn't fake. Arno, he's Bobby Starford."
She paused, allowing Angeline to remember.
"From seventh grade?" she asked.
"But, you didn't die from his hammer. But I will not kill you. Oh, no. You will haunt this place as a ghost, but a live one. You just need to get scary."
Cathy stopped toying with Angeline's leg, and gave her a mirror. There Angeline was, but with a burlap sack over her head, gray fluid slithering out from the eye and mouth holes.
"I AM scary," Angeline shrieked.
Then, Cathy made blue magic shoot out of her fingers, and soothed Angeline's leg. No more pain, but the bones still showed.
"Wouldn't want you to not be able to chase visitors. But it still looks scary."
Cathy cackled. "Now, Angeline, are you ready to haunt this house?"