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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Action/Adventure · #2311282
In the new year, Rosa will not be afraid.
New year, new me,” Rosa whispered. Even the quietest sound amplified and echoed in the huge, stone halls of the old castle.

Rosa’s resolution this year was to stop being afraid. If she were brave, no one would be able to tease her anymore. So, naturally, when her friends invited her to explore a real medieval castle at midnight, she had to say yes. After all, she wasn’t afraid of it—not the spooky castle or the rumors of hauntings, or even the threat of getting caught.

“This way,” Mark said, darting down the hall.

Christine giggled and followed him closely. Their flashlights barely put a dent in the darkness surrounding them.

Only Jason lagged behind. Rosa turned around every so often to check on him, and every time, he was running his hand along the wall or muttering to himself. Apparently, he came only because he was interested in the history of the castle.

They arrived at the end of the hallway. In front of them were large, wooden doors, embellished with gold. Mark and Christine didn’t hesitate to pull the doors open, and Rosa stepped inside before she had time to be afraid.

Torches lined the marbled-gold walls, but the room was empty. Rosa shuddered, and her friends followed her inside.

“There are more passageways,” Christine said, walking around the edge of the room.

Everyone but Rosa investigated the decadent yet empty room. Rosa stood, frozen, by the door. Something felt wrong about this place. The hairs on her arms and the back of her neck stood straight up, but she forced herself to be brave. She was resolved to not be afraid.

Still, the feeling nagged at her. If this castle had been abandoned for centuries, why were the torches lit in this room?

“Something’s not right,” Rosa said.

“What, are you scared?” Mark teased. His voice echoed across the room.

“No, but—”

A shriek rang out, louder than most anything Rosa had heard before. Christine ran out from one of the passages. She dropped to her knees to catch her breath.

“What is it?” Mark asked.

Christine breathed heavily, but managed to get one word out. “Bats.”

Mark laughed. “Bats? That’s what’s got you frightened? We thought you’d seen a ghost or something.”

Three bats flew after Christine. In only a couple seconds, they grew large and pale. They were human. They hissed and showed fang-filled mouths—definitely not human.

Now, everyone followed Christine’s example, screaming and running. Except Jason. He seemed to be in some sort of a trance, studying the walls. Rosa shoved aside her fear and ran back into the room, despite the creatures inside. She grabbed Jason’s hand and dragged him away from danger.

“Come on,” Rosa shouted at him, “we’ve got to get out of here.”

Jason snapped back into reality. He glanced behind him. His eyes widened, and he ran as fast as his legs could carry him.

Rosa looked back, too. The creatures were getting closer. In that instant of distraction, her feet lost their rhythm. She stumbled and fell to the ground.

She winced as sharp teeth pierced her skin, and she fell unconscious.

Rosa sat on the stone floor, arms crossed. Her body felt uncomfortably still now, without her heart thumping away in her chest. It certainly was quite a change, being a vampire like the others.

She rolled her eyes. New year, new me.

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