"I am a freshman at Indiana Wesleyan University, double majoring in English and Writing. I am a writer, but I plan to be full time once I'm done with college."
“This is it?” I asked. In front of me stood an old farmhouse. The light blue paint was chipping; the white shudders were broken. Ivy climbed up one side. It looked like it had been deserted for some time now. “This is what we moved to Indiana for?” “Oh come on Bianca. It may be old, but it just needs some fixing up! It will only take some paint and tools,” my mother, Clara, said. “It will be all work out in the end. You’ll see.” “Yeah Bi, have a little faith,” my stepfather, Marcus, said. I sighed. My parents were very enthusiastic that there was hope for this place. All I saw was an old house falling apart in a random woods in the middle of nowhere. This is it. This is my new home, I thought. My mom decided soon after she married Marcus that we needed to move. She said that we all needed a fresh start. Against my many pleas, they both decided Indiana was the best place to come. Marcus had heard about this old house from a friend and was insistent that we come here. From what I had seen so far I didn’t even remotely see why, but I couldn’t go against their wishes. For now I was stuck here. My gloomy thoughts were interrupted by my seven-year-old brother Turner jumping onto my back from inside the car. We both tumbled to the ground, him laughing, me cursing. Leaves flew up in the air as we landed with a thud. “Oh my gosh Turner!” I yelled in frustration pushing him off me. “Would you just grow up already?!” I stood and brushed myself off. “Calm down, Bi,” my mom warned. Her temper could flare up worse than mine especially when it came to defending Turner. Turner blushed. “I was just trying to have a little fun.” “Well that wasn’t the way to do it,” I snapped and walked around the house. “Bianca, come back here!” I heard my mom yell. I didn’t respond. I didn’t even look back. Turning the corner, I walked into the backyard. It wasn’t anything special. A little red shed was stationed on the left in front of the woods. The grass was barely seen below all the leaves. A dog was settled behind a tree to my right. I froze in fear, but soon realized the dog wasn’t moving. I walked around cautiously. “Just what I need,” I mumbled, stepping up to the ceramic golden retriever. “A dog statue to freak me out.” I looked into the colorful foliage behind the house and saw a path in the trees. Surveying behind me to make sure my Turner didn’t follow me, I slowly roamed into the woods via the winding path. Leaves crunched under my sneakers with each step. The trees surrounding me looked like they were from some scenic picture. This was my first time ever actually being in a woods. I was from the city which meant I only saw nature through the lens of a photographer. After a few minutes I reached the end of the trail; all that was at the end was a corn field. “Of course.” I muttered. “That’s all there is in stinkin Indiana.” “It was enough for me,” A boy’s small whisper sounded beside me. I whirled to the left, expecting to see Turner, but found no one. Confused, my gaze drifted further. Five feet away, there was a swing hanging on a low branch, on which a little boy slouched; he couldn’t have been older than Turner. My stomach tightened at the thought. His brown hair was tangled, his eyes focused forward on the field. “This is where it happened.” He didn’t look at me. It almost seemed like he was just muttering to himself. Like he didn’t know I was there. “What happened?” I asked, stepping closer to the swing, though every nerve in my body told me not to do so. He turned his head towards me and made eye contact. I gasped. Two black orbs served as his eyes. I escaped his eyes, but couldn’t look away from him. Blood wet his neck from a wound that extended from side to side; no doubt someone had slit his throat. “This is where he killed me,” the boy whispered. I shrieked in horror, and ran back down the path. I felt the contents of my stomach come forward, but I forced them back down. I tried to make sense of it as I ran. Surely if the boy had really had his throat slit he wouldn’t be sitting there. That only left the possibility that he was a ghost. I couldn’t accept that either. None of my ideas made sense, but I knew I had to get away. Bursting into the yard, I didn’t stop until I reached the back door. It was locked so I just slumped down on the step sucking in air. I looked back to the path and saw the boy sitting at the edge of the woods petting the dog statue. “You don’t have to be afraid of me,” he said. He was all the way on the other side of the yard, but I could somehow hear him. His eyes seemed to pierce into me. The same eyes that had instilled horror inside me seemed to have softened. He looked sad like a boy who had lost his way in a crowd. I knew I should’ve been screaming and running and leaving this blasted place—the boy’s black eyes and slit throat should’ve been a clear sign—but instead I hastened forward towards him, breathing hard. I thought that maybe I could help this lost boy. I plopped down beside the ceramic dog and him. “This dog isn’t real,” I said. His hand stopped for a second, but then he continued. “I know.” His voice was high and sad. “It reminds me of the dog I used to have. He was a little golden retriever. Just a puppy when I first got him. Full of life. His name was Cletus.” “What’s your name?” “Sam. Well it was before we both were killed.” “What are you talking about? You aren’t dead. You are right here.” “I am dead. My soul just couldn’t find rest after what happened. After he killed us all.” “Who killed you?” I asked. “My father,” he replied sullenly. A tear rolled down his face. “He’s not going to stop. You better get out of here before he comes back.” Chills went up my spine. “Your father is still around here?” I whispered, looking around skeptically. I knew something was off about this place. “Yep.” “What will he do?” “Do you love your brother?” he asked. I thought of Turner. He was an annoying little punk sometimes, but I didn’t know what I would do without him. I nodded vigorously in reply. “I used to love my sister too, but he took her away from me,” he said, pointing behind me. I turned around slowly and searched for the tree he was gesturing to. Once I found it my whole body went numb. A skeleton hung in a branch of the tree he was pointing to. There was no way of telling if it was a girl or boy from here, but I guessed this was his poor sister. Ratty clothes barely covered her bruised and broken body. Skeletons don’t tell much, but the mouth was open and I imagined the screams echoing as countless horrors were being imposed upon her. I screamed as loud as my lungs would allow and ran towards the house leaving the boy with the fake dog. Marcus stepped out before I reached the back door. “What’s going on?” he asked. “There’s a dead girl in that tree!” I yelled and turned towards it. “Oh my word,” he whispered following my gaze. “Bianca, go call the police.” I pushed past him and found the phone in the living room. My mom and Turner were nowhere in sight, but I didn’t really think about it. I was just focused on calling the police. I grabbed the phone and dialed the number. My trembling body caused me to have to dial a few times before I got the number right. “Yes, officer, please come help right away. There is a body in a tree in our woods!” I blurted out. “Yes thank you officer.” Five minutes after I had told the officer how to find our house, three cop cars screeched into the driveway. I sat on the couch beside Turner. I didn’t want to see that poor girl’s body again. Even now her face was going to be plastered in my mind forever. Plus I had to make sure Turner didn’t try to run out and see what was happening. The sheriff walked into the room after awhile, followed by Marcus and my mom. “Where did you find the body, miss?” he asked. “Turner come here,” Clara ordered, walking forward. He got up obediently and took her hand. She escorted him to his room and shut the door behind them. “What are you talking about?” I hollered once the door closed. “It’s right out there in the tree!” “Show me.” Anger boiled up inside me. I pushed past him and walked to the back door. “Right there!” I pointed, but even then, I saw why he was so skeptical. The body was gone. I turned around fast and looked at him. “I swear it was there.” “It may just have been some people pulling a prank on you,” the sheriff said. “No!” I yelled. “The body was right there! I saw it!” “I’m sure you did. Around Halloween there are always a lot of yahoos out trying to scare people. I’m sorry for that, but you shouldn’t take this to heart. It was surely just a dumb prank.” With that the officer dipped his head and walked back around the house. Disbelief covered my anger and made me want to cry. “You saw it too dad!” I yelled at him once the police had left. “Why didn’t you say anything?” “What are you talking about Bi?” he asked. I didn’t answer. I couldn’t. Marcus shrugged and then went back into the house. “He took the body Bianca.” I spun around and there was the boy. “You aren’t crazy! He buried my sister’s body to hide it from the police!” “Maybe I am crazy for seeing a little boy who is a dead!” The boy looked at me. “There isn’t time for you to doubt me, Bianca. Your life depends on it. Follow me.” He turned and ran. Reluctantly, I hurried off after him, back down the path, and deeper into the woods. By now the sky was starting to darken. I hugged my arms around myself to keep from the cold. Finally, we came to the swing. Beside it there was dirt worked up from the ground. I stared in astonishment. “It’s him,” the boy whispered. “This man you call Marcus is my father. Be careful Bianca. I don’t want your brother to have to look up at your dead body. I don’t want him to be lonely and forever trapped here like me.” “What do you mean Marcus is your father? That’s impossible!” I yelled. “Dig it up Bianca,” the boy said. I stared at the pile of fresh dirt. “Dig what up?” “My sister’s body! It will be all the prove you need to take him down for good.” “No, I can’t. I trust my father!” I yelled. “Good move.” A deep voice came from behind me. Dread overcame me. I turned around quickly and there stood my father, grinning wickedly. All my fears were confirmed in that one smirk: his denial of the body, the worked up dirt, the boy’s recognition. It all came together. I just didn’t want to believe it. “I don’t know how you found her here, but you are going to be joining her soon enough.” I stumbled backwards looking around for the boy, but he had disappeared. “How could you do this?” I asked numbly. “It’s quite simply really,” he said pointing to the dirt pile. “I married her mother, but the girl was the one I really wanted.” He stopped for a second, but then continued. “Her little brother walked in on us. I gave him the chance to do the same, but he refused. So I killed her in front of him and then killed him.” “How could you do such a horrible thing?” I asked, shaking. “It was his choice. He could’ve enjoyed that night. They both could’ve. Then maybe they both would’ve still been alive. Instead they both chose to defy me. Maybe you and your brother will be smarter than they were.” I cried out in disgust and raced past him, back through the woods, and up to the house, not looking back once. I busted through the back door. “Mom! Mom!” I yelled. “Where are you?! We have to get out of here fast!” I stumbled into the living room and saw my mom sitting on the couch. Her eyes stared up at the ceiling. “Mother!” I ran towards her, but then stopped. Her body seemed untouched except for a red gash on her forehead. Her chest moved up and down. I sighed in relief. “There is nowhere to hide Bi.” I spun around and saw Marcus standing in the doorway. He twirled a butcher knife in his hand. “Get away from me!” I yelled desperately, but Marcus came towards me anyways, a smirk on his face. He found my fear amusing. I backed up as far as I could, but soon ran into a wall. Marcus came up and hit his left hand against the wall behind me. I jumped and he started to chuckle. Consumed with bitterness, I threw a punch intending to hit his face. Marcus caught my arm with his hand that was just on the wall and twisted my wrist sharply. I yelped and tried to take back my wrist. He wouldn’t let go. “Don’t try to fight me,” Marcus snarled. “You might actually enjoy yourself one last time.” “Never. You’re sick!” I growled back, spitting in his face. His amusement died as he brought his knife up to my throat with the hand that wasn’t holding my arm. I froze. “Fine,” he said. “But I will enjoy it all the same. Count on that. And then I will find a new family to become my own. My only regret is that we didn’t get to stay here long. I can fix that problem though. I’ll just make your body harder to find.” His smirk returned as he turned me around still holding the knife to my neck. I struggled, but the knife to my neck sealed my faint. Despite myself, I began to sob. “Get away!” came a yell from behind me. I turned my head and saw Turner standing in the hallway. The little boy stood beside him. “Who’s with Turner?” my father asked. I looked at the two little boys. “You can see him?” I replied. “Yes.” “You don’t remember me father?” the little boy asked back. “Surely you remember your own flesh and blood!” Marcus released the hold on my neck and stumbled towards the door. “No, I killed you. You should be dead,” he stuttered. “I am, but I’m not gone. And I came back here to save this family from your sick interests. And to avenge my mother and sister.” The boy began to walk forward. “No stay away from me!” “You should’ve stayed away from my sister!” the boy shrieked. He crossed the space between them with surprising speed and grabbed the knife out of Marcus’ hand. Turning it slightly, he jabbed it upward into my father’s chest. Roaring with pain, Marcus stumbled out of the room, and out the back door. I ran after, and looked out. He lay motionless in the yard. I turned back around and saw the little boy behind me, smiling. A beautiful girl stood beside him, probably about my age, holding his hand. She wore a white dress and her long blonde hair was perfectly straight. Her face was white, but a smile was fixed upon it. “Now we can be at peace,” the boy whispered. “Thank you Bianca.” I didn’t know what to say so I just stood there looking at them both. Then they were gone. I blinked a few times, but they didn’t reappear. I looked up from where they had been standing to Turner who was in the hallway shaking. I ran to him and pulled him into myself, not wanting to let go. “You were so brave!” I exclaimed. “I couldn’t let him hurt you,” he mumbled into my ear, still shaking. I kissed him on the cheek. “I’m sorry Turner. For everything. For snapping at you earlier and for everything I’ve ever done to hurt you.” “It’s okay Bianca.” Tears came to my eyes. “I love you Turner,” I whispered. “I love you too Bianca.”