“Are you sure it’s through here?” she asked, already spooked a little. She followed Jay as he climbed over the time-worn gate that barred entrance to the long abandoned property.
Jay’s feet hit the ground with a crunch, probably more underbrush she couldn’t see in the dark. “Yeah, it’s just up this driveway. Hurry up and come over the gate.”
“Why can’t we just open the gate, or at least come in the daylight. You know I can’t see very well at night!” she scolded. Annie liked adventure as much as the next person, but she couldn’t understand why Jay had chosen such a dark, moonless night to go exploring an old dilapidated house. She swung her right foot over the gate, lost her grip, and promptly tumbled to the ground on the other side. Well, not the ground exactly. Jay did catch her, sort of. She was sprawled on top of him, feet buried in the foliage, and face against… well she wasn’t sure what part of him. It felt knobby though, like a knee perhaps.
There were a few grunts, followed by Jay telling her, “Jesus, Annie! Get off of me!” She felt her own knees get shoved aside so that she could properly kneel in the bushes. “You could have at least told me you were jumping!”
“You might have seen me if it were daytime,” she retorted, and then stood up, unsure of her footing in the black night.
Jay stomped out of the bushes and she followed his sound, waving her hands in front of her, and only tripping twice. Eventually they were clear of the overgrowth and were in what was likely the front courtyard. Jay pulled his flashlight out of his backpack and shone it around, letting it rest, at last, on the front door. Following his lead, she mounted the front steps and found herself trying the doorknob as he shakily lit it for her. The door opened easily, and once inside, the cobwebs seemed to catch on their faces and hands immediately, as if waiting all this time to trap them here.
“The story says that the girl who lived here was murdered by her mother,” Jay informed her. “It happened in the first upstairs bedroom. The woman apparently went completely mad when she caught her daughter talking to ghosts. In her trial, she said that the ghosts were real, and that they were evil, and taking possession of her daughter Eleanor. Of course she was convicted, and hanged. The girl’s father drank himself to death right in this front room not two months later.”
Annie was truly frightened. “The house was haunted even back then? That was, like, a hundred years ago!” Jay was moving toward the stairs, and Annie followed so she wouldn’t be alone. “So do you think Eleanor haunts this place now too?” Jay stopped, turned to face her, and shined the flashlight up under his chin, making the best scary demon-face he could, but she wasn’t impressed.
The doorway into the first bedroom squeaked loudly when they pushed it open, and Annie thought she could see something moving at the far end of the room almost immediately. At first she thought it might have been a rodent or something spooked by the visitors, but then she heard a soft whisper, “Who is there?”
“Did you hear that Annie? It’s a real live ghost!” Jay whispered loudly to her.
“Quit messing around, Jay. Is that one of your friends hiding up here to scare me?” She looked around the room, following the beam of light as it danced across every surface. It wasn’t a large room, and being empty, there was no where for someone to hide. “Jay, what’s going on?”
The whisper came again, “I can see you there, in the doorway.”
“Are you talking to us?” Jay asked, his own voice eerily frightened. Annie knew this wasn’t a joke the way his voice cracked.
“What is your name?” Annie called out to the room, and could hear her voice echo off the dusty, peeling wallpaper.
The whisper answered, “I am Ellie.” There was a short pause, and then the whisper asked, “Can you not see me as I see you?”
“I… I can hear you Ellie,” Annie stammered. “Where are you?”
“Here, by the window.” Jay directed his flashlight, and there was a kind of shimmering as if his light caught a wisp of smoke. “What are your names? I can see two of you there.”
Apparently finding his courage, Jay answered, “I’m Jason, and this is my sister Annie.” Jay stepped in a little closer, and Annie kept a hand on his shoulder so he wouldn’t leave her behind. “Do you know how long have you been dead, Ellie?” he asked. “Do you even know that you’ve died?”
There was some girlish laughter that seemed to echo throughout the entire room. “My, but you are some strange ghosts.” The wisp of smoke that was Ellie’s spirit turned pink suddenly, brighter than before. “I am not dead; I am only a young girl.”
Suddenly the wisp moved, and Jay tracked it with his light. It was easier to see her though, as it continued growing redder and brighter. Annie thought she could make out the shape of her legs moving, as if she were running across the room to the other far side. A blacker spirit moved in, and Annie felt a sudden freezing sensation, the hairs standing up on her arms. She took her hand off of her brother’s shoulder, and crossed her arms across her chest for warmth.
Ellie was obviously upset by this new spirit. The younger ghost called out, “No mother, they really are here! Can’t you see them?” Annie heard no response, as if she was only hearing half of a telephone conversation. “I promise, you are standing right in front of them.” There was another pause, “Their names are Jason and Annie, Mother! No, please!” The dark shadow moved on Ellie, and with a spark brighter than Jay’s flashlight, Ellie disappeared completely.
“Jay, what just happened?” Annie was confused, and frightened. “She can’t die again, can she? I mean, she died a long time ago.”
He handed her the flashlight and pulled his pack off his back. She shined it inside so he could find the book he was after. After flipping to the page that was apparently about Eleanor’s murder, he took the light back from her and read.
“During the trial, the defendant swore under oath that her daughter Eleanor was speaking to ghosts. She had named the ghosts Jason and Annie, and said that they were standing right in front of her mother.” Jay shined the flashlight at his own face. “That’s why I wanted to bring you here, Annie. It was our names in the book.”