Camping. Abandoned houses. Creepy kids.
|It all started with a camping trip.
Technically it had started when a letter had been delivered more than two hundred years previously to the family of Vignoles. The letter had been picked up by the youngest daughter of the three sisters that lived in the house; sealing the girl, and therefore the family, into the events of the events that would come to be. The girl, a small twelve year old with a nest of black hair, had given the piece of paper, sealed with red wax and an imprint of a raven, to her father in his secluded study at the back of the house. His face fell as he read it while reclining in his opulent writing chair.
In a forest, far later in history, there was a group of teenagers reclining on camping chairs in a clearing. It had rained the day before so when they had all woken up to sunshine they had found that every step would lead to a squelch and your hopefully non expensive shoes caked in a thick layer of mud.
Matthew had not been able to sleep with the water battering down onto the canvas so he had been keen to get out of the cramped tent; he had been disheartened when he had seen the mud. He somehow still managed to get his friends Sophie and Declan to come for a hike with him after breakfast.
After the rain of the day before the trio of teenagers were surprised by how hot the day had gotten by the time that they had travelled by foot for about half an hour, they were starting to complain from hunger. Well, Declan had been complaining, Sophie and Matthew had been trying not to listen to him.
“I think I saw a house or something, we could try asking them for food.” Declan told his friends while trudging along behind them, looking disgusted at the mud underfoot and the trees surrounding them.
“I have so many problems with what you just said.” Matthew yelled over his shoulder while walking in the opposite direction from where Declan had been motioning to.
“We don’t need to go begging for food from strangers. What we could need is directions to the nearest shops.” Sophie explained in the way that she always did, soft voice and not choosing a side.
“Exactly!” Declan exclaimed excitedly. “So, let’s go to the big fancy house and ask the, probably immensely wealthy, family where the nearest actual sign of civilisation is.”
“Big and fancy? I don’t like the sound of that.” Matthew frowned in a particularly pouty manner.
“Maybe we should just go back to the camp?”
“I’ll be dead by then!”
“Oh, shut up.”
“Could you two stop arguing for one second so that we can ask the fancy rich people where to go?”
It was around that time, when there was a decision made in the woods out in the middle of nowhere whether three teenagers would go knocking on a strangers door; that Abigale Wruck was alone in a park with a lit cigarette, a box of matches and a picture of her Mum. There was also a decision made in that park that would influence the lives of more than one.
Abigale had always been a rebellious girl, or so it had always seemed. It is said that a middle child is always more likely to feel left out, not the eldest one that is adored by their younger siblings, but also not the youngest, forever the small cute ones. She hadn’t originally meant to get a reputation as a bad girl but it was hard to get any attention when her eldest brother was running a company at a young age and her little brother was still a child, doted over by everyone they pass.
She had originally befriended Scottie to have her parents see her as more than just their nice-girl daughter. Scottie was really nice; he just didn’t seem like it to the average passer-by. Abigale was pretty sure that she had heard someone refer to him as thuggish, she hadn’t really ever thought that herself. Scottie had a big build and thick shoulders, a blue stripe in his black hair.
Friendlier than he looks, he introduced Abigale to her future closest friend Red.
Red wasn’t her real name, Abigale was about eighty percent sure that it was Charlie, she had unoriginally been nicknamed by their school body that name because of her unnaturally vibrant red hair that she had maintained ad treasured for the majority of the first year that she spent at the school. She had long since changed her hair to varying different unnatural colours that caused Abigale’s mum to start tottering around with a tight lipped smile making unpleased noises whenever she came within ten meters of the girl.
Abigale had been intimidated by the curious girl at first but grew very fond of her once Scottie had introduced them properly. She had almost instantly felt foolish for being frightened of the girl. Around the time of the camping trip that particular girl’s hair was newly shaven on one side and a bleached pale blonde on the other.
On that particular morning the two girls where reclining on the grass in the park while Scottie was off somewhere when Red looked up from her book and pointed out an intriguing passage that she had found; the page was embossed. In the position that Abigale found surprisingly comfortable with her back on the ground, legs on their bags and head on her folded jumper, she could hardly read the slanted script. She was visibly hesitant to take the book from her friend, knowing too well what would come of her if she handled the fragile old book too roughly.
“The raven calls at midnight? Isn’t that like all the clichés?”
“But it’s more than that.” Red had an exited expression that Abigale was all too familiar with, a recognisable hint of fascination encasing her eyes; it was the expression that she got when she was talking about any sort of gothic poetry. She wasn’t like a ‘modern goth’, (something that would get anyone a telling to if they were to refer to her as one of them, as Red would put it, wearing an expression that was very similar to one that you would get if you were smelling an awful smell) She was more just fascinated in the old sense of the word, ghost stories and dreary poetry. She was obsessed with finding ‘hidden meanings’ in the old texts. She had managed to convince herself that the secret to the supernatural world was written down by one of the old poets; she would talk about it to anyone that would leant themselves for any amount of time, she had once had a three hour discussion with an old scholar that she happened to come across on a train journey who had been reading Baudelaire. The pair remained in touch.
She did make a very convincing argument.
“Midnight has importance in so many of these, it can’t be a coincidence!”
“Midnight isn’t very specific…” Abigale tried not to sound too doubtful as to dishearten the girl. They were somewhat interrupted when Scottie came over from where he had been taking a call from his brother.
“How’s James?” Abigale asked, somewhat eager to change the subject from her failed attempt at another revelation.
“He’s fine, having fun with Matthew and the others, the usual.” His dark hair and complexion looking at ease and somewhat constantly uninterested whenever not sleeping. Abigale noticed the exact moment that he must have remembered something that his brother had told him.
“James said there’s gonna be a party.” His childlike excitement lighting up his face.
“Where? In the middle of a field in a tent?” Abigale scoffed and dismissed the proposal. They weren’t relenting though. Red never got to go to parties because she was usually grounded when the occasion arose. Or maybe Abigale would be grounded, Red wasn’t afraid to go to a party on her own, not that she didn’t appreciate her friend’s company, rather Abigale was the only ride that she had.
Hence the bargaining her to go to the party.
“But it’s not! They found this weird house; it’s completely empty and would be perfect for a party. We could all go trash the place and no one would ever know it was us.”
“I guess we could go…When is it?” she asked, her ever-present hesitance for the unruly returning at full force.
Suddenly, Scottie too seemed hesitant, at his obvious hesitation Abigale grew increasingly confused and worried. She’d sneaked out of her house more times than she could count for her misfit friends.
“What? When is it?” She was becoming increasingly worried and annoyed at her friend.
“This evening.” Scottie must have seen Abigale’s face drop because he hurriedly added, “It doesn’t matter though.” He said it so mumbled and fast that she hardly heard it.
“You know I have dinner with my mum!”
Scottie had in fact known that.
“So what are you gonna do?” Red asked, practiced disinterest clearly false. “Dinner or party? Not that that’s a real question. You don’t even like your mum.”
Everyone knew that she didn’t like her mum, it was kind of her thing, but a dinner with said mum meant that she was taking time out of her ridiculous schedule to bother to look her only daughter in the universe in the eyes.
You’d think that finding a massive house in the middle of nowhere would be easier. Abigale was squinting out into the dense woods while driving far more cautiously than anyone in the car was remotely okay with, as evidence by the fact that Scottie making comments from the back seat.
“What does it even look like?”
“A house? How would I know?”
“You were the one that invited us!”
“And you where the one to offer a ride, so I guess it’s your fault because you’re unable to have a vague sense of direction.”
“Couldn’t they have found an abandoned house where there’s streets?”
“Streets mean police, idiot.”
When they; Red, Abigale, Scottie, and Scottie’s younger sister Beth, got to the house that they had been arguing about. There weren’t any lights on inside the house that they could have seen from the car in the dimming light but there where a gallery of cars park in various hazardous places across the border of the property. They had eventually spotted a wall of smoke and tracked it to see the house sitting in an overgrown clearing, the smoke coming from a fire in what had once been considered a garden.
When the band of teenagers crept cautiously around the circumference of the house they found a bonfire at the source; a mound of half blackened wood shrouded in fierce fire. The burning of what seemed to be old furniture cast a sinister flickering orange light over its surroundings, elongating shadows and casting them against the outer back wall of the house.
Out in the yard of the same house some many years previously two young girls not as dissimilar to Red and Abigale as anyone involved would have probably appreciated. It had also been cold and with little light when they had spoken in hushed tones near an apple tree that they had spent many a day reading and dreaming under. Other than that the girls in the two scenes had very different circumstances that they were dealing with. The sisters were rushing about in the unmistakably morning light.
The sun was low in the sky as twelve year old Isobel carried a small bag of books and small toys that she would have liked to take wither to the funeral that they had been invited to. Her sister Madeline reassured her of the safety of the journey, as it was to be the longest journey that she had ever had to face. Madeline was carrying a box for their mother’s new hat that she had been planning to wear at the funeral. The older sister’s hair was piled and pulled back from her powdered face; her dusty blue dress was being knocked between her knees by the wind. Her grey jacket was new but looked muted and joyless.
Everybody had been so sad since they had gotten the letter. Isobel didn’t like it when people where sad but all her attempts to add joy to her family had filed and she had long since retired that frame of mind.
“I don’t even know her though.” Isobel complained in a whiny voice that her father would have reprehended her for. It took the young girl a further moment to realise that her sister didn’t have her hand on her shoulder anymore she turned around.
She let out a shrill scream.
The hatbox had fallen and had spilled out onto the grass next to Madeline’s red stained shoes, the dark splatters almost reaching the smaller girl’s arm.
The tree was stood grander than it had been when it had witnessed the sorry sight of that dreaded morning. It did not know the tragedies that where to come; the hooded man stood off to the side of the tree was another story.
Inside the house, not much warmer than the cold night, was packed with bodies. Abigale could smell the alcohol in the air; it was mixed with a strangely familiar scent and the unpleasant hint of sweat that came with a house party.
She saw, on the other side of the writhing bodies, some of the older boys where spraying the wall contrasting neon colours (some seeming to glow in the dark) and some of them had set up a sound system with portable generators. She was surprised, then, that she and her friends had not heard the noise from further away; the bass that she could feel shaking her bones.
Red was already off talking to a group of people that had taken the sensible decision to be almost as far away from the speakers as possible. What caught her eyes the most was where a girl who looked far too young to be there was hovering near the door way. Her expression was a mix of confusion and vacancy.
She had started towards the girl, who was looking as out of place as Abigale felt, when Scottie dragged her off to see his brother James and his friends who were heading up to a spot on the roof. They all looked very pleased with themselves, as several of them had been the one’s to find the house in the first place. This boy Declan kept recounting the story as Matthew rolled his eyes.
“And then knocked on the door, and I was convinced that when it opened up and no one was there that it was some sort of sign. You know, like spiritually.” He recounted excitedly.
“That’s rubbish!” Mathew interjected loudly #from the other side of the circle of teenagers. “You thought that it was a ghost! You would have run if it weren’t for me and Sophie blocking your exit… You screamed really loud.” He didn’t seem very angry at all, as Abigale may have thought he would have been, he was more humorous and emphatic.
It was quite a while before she got a chance to escape; she had intended to find the girl that she had seen earlier in the evening but after a quick search it appeared to Abigale that the girl had vacated the premises. It didn’t take much, while in her second circuit of the gardens while avoiding fire and stepping on discarded drinks bottles, when she accepted a drink and sat down on an antique looking chair in front of a, mainly orange, newly painted wall.
She, and to a further extent every party goer in the once palatial house, had no reason to suspect that there was a letter tucked into a jacket pocket, that had invited a girl to a very different sort of gathering that no one from that house had made it to.
The partying had been going on for quite some time when Red came rushing over to Abigale with alarm in her wide eyes.
“There-There’s a girl.” She choked out to Abigale, who had been dancing with one of James’ friends on the makeshift dancefloor when she had been interrupted. She moved at once to go to the room that Red had motioned to.
At first when she scanned the room she couldn’t spot the pale girl but then she spotted a crowd of people in the corner that had gathered around something and the two girls went to join them. It smelled much stronger of spray paint in there and it almost overwhelmed her.
When she got closer she saw the girl in the odd blue dress with holes strewn across the fabric was curled in on herself on the floor. She looked so cold in her flimsy clothes that Abigale almost shivered in sympathy, or she would have done that if not for that being the moment that her muted green eyes looked directly into hers.
A boy that was closer to her seemed to be trying to put a cup near to her mouth, to no avail.
“What do you think you’re doing?” a girl with an afro and ridiculous amount of necklaces said, taking the words straight out of her mind.
Then lots of things happened at once.
The sickly pale young girl stood so quickly that it had appeared as if she hadn’t moved, but rather changed as if there was a cut in a video. Most of the people that had gathered around had had quite a lot of the alcohol that had been provided and the light from the fire and the sound system where flashing and moving rapidly.
Then, while most of them where still confused, she lunged at Abigale, pushing her against the opposite wall.
There were screams.
Abigale’s eyes widened but she tried not to move. Her eyes flitted around the menacing face of her attacker. She tried to keep deadly still, Madeline’s fingernails were close to piercing skin, when she was pulled away, which Abigale had a feeling was against the younger girl’s will, there where small drops of blood falling to the floor from the vague area of her neck.
Abigale fell to the floor, clutching at her thought that felt like it was burning.
She looked up just in time to see the monstrous girl being held back by a disturbed looking Matthew who was also breathing heavy.
Madeline fell apart.
Fell into smoke that shrouded the room before that, too, fell away from the living world.