For those of you new to my little piece of the blogosphere, welcome. For those who have visited before, welcome back. For everyone who stops by, get ready for a week of ooky-spooky fun, some ghostly stories, and a giveaway or two.
Today’s post is Part 1 of a YA Halloween short story that I began and abandoned a couple years ago. I’m hoping to get it finished and posted on Wattpad in time for Halloween. But for now, enjoy Part 1.
∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼
The Curse of Weatherly House
I came to the end of the lane and paused at the bottom of the long driveway that led up the hill and around the bend to Weatherly House. Casting a glance over my shoulder, I saw that my costumed companions gathered several yards away on the sidewalk in front of the property, their heads together as they laughed in certain victory that I would lose the dare. I turned to face the pathway once more, swallowing hard once, twice, to dislodge the lemon-drop-sized lump that had suddenly appeared in my throat.
Taking a deep breath, I pulled the sheet back down to cover myself once more, hoping it might hide me from the spooks they said haunted this hill, or at least make them think I was one of them. I ducked my head and started quickly up the long, sloping curve, stiff-legged in my haste, wanting only to get the dare over with and return home where I could sort my sugary stash from the middle school party and gloat over my victory.
I made it around the first curve before raising my eyes. Maple and oak trees made an alternating pattern of yellow and red as they stood guard the entire length of the driveway and obscured from view the mysterious abandoned mansion that crouched just on the other side of the hill. Their foliage was just past its mid-autumn prime, but enough of their flame-bright color remained to push back the quickly-gathering dusk enough for me to make my way towards the house. I felt small and conspicuous in my crisp, white ghost costume as my feet swish-swished through fallen leaves and crunched the occasional acorn.
A sudden breeze kicked up, whistling through the branches and surrounding me with foreboding whispers. “Beware,” they warned. “Turn back now. Come no further.” I froze in my tracks as something rustled loudly in the branches above me before launching itself from its perch. I bit back a cry and threw my arms up to protect my face before I realized it was only an owl. I watched it swoop close to the ground before ascending once more and making a wide arc through the trees.
I continued on my way and soon rounded the last curve. As the trees parted and I laid eyes on the fabled mansion for the first time, I stared speechlessly at the scene before me. Not for nothing had the old folks in town dubbed it the Fairy Tale House! The stately home seemed out of place among the later-built, cookie-cutter duplexes that lined the rest of the street. Its rich reddish-brown exterior with its ornate white trim called to mind the candy-laden gingerbread house of Hansel and Gretel fame. I swallowed hard, recalling who it was that inhabited that all-too-tempting abode.
Taking a deep breath, I inched closer. All I had to do was run onto the front porch and grab some random piece of evidence to prove I had actually gone the whole way up the house. The place had stood empty for so long that it was quite literally falling apart, so I reasoned that it wouldn’t be difficult to find a shingle or a piece of loose shutter to present to my friends.
I cleared the last of the trees and stood staring up at the imposing structure. As I took the first hesitant step towards the front porch, I stopped, my eyes widening in terror. Carved pumpkins sat on either side of the three steps leading up to the porch, as though someone lived there and had decorated for Halloween. In the upstairs window, I caught a glimpse of a faint, warm glow moving around, as if someone were walking about by candlelight.
I turned to run, but then stopped. Did I really want to go back to my friends empty-handed and face their taunts, as well as weeks of being the butt of jokes at school? For several minutes I stood frozen by my indecision—should I abandon my quest, or should I prove myself brave?
Finally making my decision, I dashed the rest of the way up the sidewalk and bounded onto the porch. I bit back a yelp as the rotten wood sagged slightly under my weight, and I froze for a second, hoping it would hold. When it did, I glanced wildly around, looking for anything I could swipe as proof that I had completed my task. My eyes landed on the rusted brass house number; the 5 in the middle had come loose and hung upside down. Perfect! I grasped it and gave one yank, then another. On the third yank, it came off with an eerie screech, almost as if I had hurt the house.
A series of thumps sounded from inside, as though someone were coming down from the second floor. Seized with fright, I turned and leapt from the porch, and then ran the whole way down the winding driveway back to my waiting companions. When I showed them the house number I’d taken, they ripped off their masks to stare at my prize. I had expected congratulations, a few pats on the back, and maybe a bit of respect. Instead, they stared at the rusty number 5 with horror and quickly turned to sprint off towards their respective houses.
I was left standing alone in the middle of the sidewalk, wondering what evil I had just gotten in to…
∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼
There you have it. Feel free to leave a comment below. Since it’s still unclear how the story will end, let me know if you’d like a happy ending or a spooky ending.
Also, to check out the other authors in the blog hop, click on the little blue frog icon below, which will take you to Clarissa Johal’s blog where you’ll find links to the other participating blogs. Lots of spooky stories, giveaways, and Halloween fun to be had.