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||You are on Week 528
Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...
We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!
Story Five Hundred Twenty Eight Ends Friday, October 14
|The old mansion didn't look so frightening in the bright light of the autumn day. If anything, it looked sad and slightly dilapidated, with its windows boarded up and the exterior paint peeling slightly like tears sliding down the white face. I had never really stood that close to the old Pritchard home and examined it before, but I felt no fear. Instead, I was oddly comfortable and at ease -- as if I had just came home. Silently, I stood examining the outside of the house as I chewed my cheese sandwich, careful not to disturb the ghastly makeup caked upon my face.
Everyone had heard the eerie rumors surrounding this place -- how the rich, old recluse had simply vanished one day, never to be seen again. Since that time, the house had passed from owner to owner, but no one lived there that long. No one else had disappeared, but the later occupants all told their own spooky stories. This time of year the stories became even more prevalent and common.
That's why that this mansion was the perfect spot for a haunted house.
The moment I had heard that this place had been bought and was going to be used for that purpose, I jumped at the chance to play one of the ghouls. My job was to hide in the pantry and to leap out at anyone who dared to walk my way. It was an easy job, and the extra Neopoints were simply icing on the cake. Yet, I was now having second thoughts. I wasn't scared of the house, but I felt that turning it into an attraction was wrong somehow. It was easy enough to quit, but I wanted to stay. I wanted to protect the house.
As my eyes drifted toward the upstairs window, I saw the curtains shift and a shadow moving behind the glass. I frowned because no workers were supposed to be upstairs. That part was strictly off limits to everyone, but no doubt someone had gotten curious. Tossing the remains of my sandwich in the garbage, I started to walk inside the house...
Date: Oct 10th
The mansion's entrance hall was surprisingly spacious and well-lit, but I supposed that they would turn off some of the lights before the haunted house was opened to the public. The walls were covered in vertically-striped, burgundy wallpaper that had begun to peel along the edges, and the floor was hardwood that had rotted in some places. A gold mirror hung on the wall above a mahogany side table, attached by a Spyder web.
As I walked past the mirror, I saw my reflection out of the corner of my eye and paused to wipe off the crumbs around my mouth with the back of my hand, accidentally wiping away a bit of makeup and revealing some of my blue fur.
Mia isn't going to be too happy with me, I thought, mentally scolding myself.
I continued down the hallway and up the staircase. The steps groaned beneath my weight, sounding as if they might give in any moment.
Maybe that's why no one's allowed upstairs, I thought. The stairs are too dangerous.
Finally, I made it to the second floor and glanced around the landing. There were probably ten or so doors lining the landing, and I supposed that I'd have to go through them all. I grabbed the doorknob of the closest door, twisted it, and pushed the door open. The door swung open to reveal a bathroom with a pedestal sink and a clawfoot tub, but no Neopet. I continued this process until I only had one door left.
It figures that it's the last door, I thought, grabbing the doorknob...
Date: Oct 10th
...The brass felt unnaturally cold. That was odd. Sure, it was getting to be the time of year when the temperature dropped, but the metal felt like ice. With trepidation, I opened the door.
It was a dusty bedroom, with a gray bed missing two of its posts. The window had the curtains I had seen from outside, but aside from a few scuttling Spyders creeping behind the walls, I didn't see or hear anything suspicious.
Perhaps my eyes had deceived me before? I suppose it was possible that I had just expected to see a shadow and fabricated its image.
Slightly relieved, I turned to leave the room. The door then slammed shut.
I blinked. "Hello?" I called out. Had someone else come in after me? It was getting to be close to the time for the opening, but I had come early.
Frost started to form on the window, and my breath became visible. I rubbed my arms. Why was it getting so cold so quickly? I grabbed the doorknob and tried to open the door, but it wouldn't budge.
"Come on, this isn't funny." I said with a nervous laugh. That's when I heard the voice. Its whisper was like ice in my ear.
"You shouldn't have come here..."
Date: Oct 11th
"Hello?" I called again, slightly quieter than before.
An eerie laugh sounded behind me. "Fool," it murmured.
I turned around slowly.
There was nothing there.
"It's... it's just the recordings from the haunted house," I told myself, rubbing my arms. "Yeah, that's it. That's all there is to it."
"Or so you think," the voice whispered in my ear. "Nothing's ever what you think it is."
I couldn't take it anymore. I raced toward the door and tugged on it. It gave way easily, and I shot through the opening. As I slid down the railing (avoiding the rotting stairs), I heard the laugh echo behind me.
"Okay, so you're going to be in this pantry," Mia told me, glaring at my smudged makeup disapprovingly. "You know what to do, right?"
"When someone comes into the kitchen, I jump out and scare them silly. Simple," I yawned.
Mia frowned. "There's nothing 'simple' about it. This haunted house cost me a ridiculous amount. The house itself was dirt-cheap, but all of the decorations and workers... well, they don't hire themselves, you know!"
I rolled my eyes. "Come on, Mia. It'll be great. You've already got Neopets lining up on your lawn. You're going to make a killing tonight."
"You really think so?"
"I know so," I said, giving her a smile so that she'd feel better.
She stared at my makeup. "You'll have to fix that before you start scaring people," she told me.
"Why? It's going to be dark in the house anyway, right?" I asked.
"Sure. I just have to find that Skeith who volunteered to run the lights." Mia waved her hand and dismissed me.
I walked to the pantry and proceeded to wedge myself in the space on the bottom shelf after clearing out a few Spyder webs. I propped the door open so I'd have a clear view of the kitchen door - the whole house was set up in a clockwise direction. The visitors would come in and head through the left door into the living room, then to the kitchen, and then to several rooms beyond. The guides would hit their staffs on the floor before entering the kitchen, so I'd have plenty of time to get ready.
I grinned and rubbed my hands together. This was going to be fun...
Date: Oct 11th
After five minutes of waiting, I heard the first group of Neopets entering the house. The sound of excited chattering and nervous murmuring was floating in from the living room into the kitchen. I waited impatiently in the pantry while the guide described the history of the place.
It felt like forever until I heard the guide bang his staff on the ground and enter the kitchen. Excitedly, I placed my hand on the pantry door.
One by one the Neopets all filed into the kitchen, looking around curiously. Once I was sure they were all in there I shot out of the pantry like lightning.
"Raarrrggghhh!!!" I shouted, trying my best to sound like a ghoul.
Everyone jumped and screamed in fright at my surprise attack, and a couple of the younger Neopets started crying.
"That's no ghoul!" a Lupe said, who I recognized as my friend Danny.
As everyone got a closer look at me and realized that I was, in fact, no ghoul, they all started laughing at their foolishness.
The laughter stopped immediately, however, when an ear-piercing shreik sounded from upstairs...
Date: Oct 12th
...The Neopets gasped. A small Usul held her mother's hand, while others seemed almost excited.
"I can't wait until we get up there!" one laughed. "It must be really scary!"
That can't be right, though. No one was allowed upstairs... I was reminded of what had happened earlier, and just as it had before, my curiosity got the better of me. I pushed past the eager Neopets to investigate. Behind me, I heard the guide trying to rationalize what was happening.
"There are all sorts of monsters here! Our... uh, our journey has only just begun!" the guide stammered.
There was a crying Acara out in the lobby. She was accompanied by two of the guides, who had broken character to try and get some information from her.
"It's alright. Just tell us what happened," one said. It was Mia who spoke.
"I just... my little one got away from me and went upstairs. I went after her, but I ran into a... a..." the Acara struggled for words.
"A what?" Mia prodded gently. I could see the thin concern in her eyes. She must've been hoping that, whatever it was, it could be quickly removed so as to not spoil opening night.
"It was a ghost. A cold, frigid ghost... now it's gone, though, and it took my little girl!..."
Date: Oct 12th
"...Your little girl was taken by... a ghost?" I interrupted, and the Acara turned toward me. My experience from earlier was fresh in my mind. Had that been an actual ghost, or had this Acara -- frightened already by the haunted house -- simply imagined it and just lost track of her little girl? "What was it like?"
The Acara sniffled. "I was running after my dear Tracy when, suddenly, I just had this real cold feeling go down my spine. I called out for Tracy to come back here right now and something... something just laughed in my ear!" Almost immediately she began to sob again, and then cried almost incoherently, "It then said that it had Tracy! Please get my little girl back!"
Mia looked at me pleadingly, and I could see sympathy and concern in her eyes. After all, only a heartless Neopet could not care for this poor sniffling thing. I could also see her desire to make this situation go away as quickly as possible, though. "Please do something. It has to be a big misunderstanding; I'm sure there's nothing up there. This is serious. Here's a lantern if you're frightened... just bring this lady's little girl back, okay?"
I nodded yes (stupidly, perhaps) and took the lantern. Part of me knew that, since I had already been up there, I had the best chance of finding the little girl. Part of me was also frightened to death of the ghost. Yet another stupidly rational part of me was saying that this was a hoax, that it was probably just Danny or one of my other friends pulling a prank. It wouldn't harm me in any way if I just slunk over to one of the other employees right then and asked them to go up instead.
As I stared at the sobbing Acara, however, a small brave part of me that I didn't know existed said that I had to go up. Biting my lip and trying to keep down my cheese sandwich, I climbed up the stairs...
Date: Oct 13th
Every footstep I took was met with an agonizing groan of the old wooden staircase. They felt louder than before, as if the very house itself was protesting my second arrival onto the second floor. The loud sobs of the Acara downstairs grew softer behind me as I reached the precipice of the stairs. The dark hallway, once a curiosity before, loomed before me like the maw of a beast, ready to engulf me into its secrets.
I didn't have to check each room as I had done before; I knew what my destination was. A soft, eerie glow encompassed the outline of the door at the end of the hall. As I approached, it grew brighter, a chilling blue light that seemed to be trying to rip the door from its seams.
I gingerly touched the doorknob, and its icy coldness stung my paw once again. I pulled the doorknob roughly, but this time it would not turn. Rubbing my painful paw, I pressed my ear up against the door, hoping to hear an inkling of what was going on inside and possibly learn where the Acara's child had gone to.
When a soft giggle reached my ear, I swallowed roughly.
"Whoever you are, please let the child go. She didn't do anything to you, she was just here for fun."
"Fun?" the quiet voice shot back, creeping through my fur. "I don't find it very fun when people stomp all over my house and hang up their fake spider webs and cheesy decorations."
I sighed softly. "No one's lived here for a long time; we didn't know anyone was here, and we didn't mean any harm."
The voice seemed to growl softly, growing louder as if it were approaching the door frame. "I have ALWAYS lived here. If you all don't leave my house right now, then you will never see the child again!"
Another span of childlike laughter sounded out softly. The blue light that encircled the door frame started to fade out, and the laughter became softly still.
"Let the child go!" I yelled out, banging my paw roughly on the door. The old wood splintered a bit beneath my heavy rapping, and I grunted out loudly. If this was the way it was going to be, then so be it.
I backed away from the door, hunkering down. I wasn't aware of the force inside me that had driven me to this point, but the rush of adrenaline lead me to this exact circumstance. Growling out, I tore forward, shoulder first, into the decaying wooden door.
The wood gave roughly in front of me, the door shattering as I plunged through it. As the debris settled from my intrusion, I slowly opened my eyes, then gasped out loud...
Date: Oct 13th
I knew where I was. I didn't know how I'd gotten there.
"Terror Mountain?" I yelled into the endless distance around me. My voice echoed off several cliffs.
The practical side of me thought the faint bluish glow emanating from the doorway and the icy chill of the room made sense, this being a glacial climate.
Then, an even more practical side took over and thought that this was impossible, especially because this had been a bedroom just hours before.
"Danny, this is an awfully good trick," I yelled out in the open, chilly air. Yet another part of me didn't want to believe this to exist; it couldn't exist, I thought.
"Oh, but it does," said a voice. The voice. The sinister, frightening, unexplainable voice. The voice read my mind. It had read my mind.
"It was all my doing," the voice continued. "This is a simulated environment. Its scenery and dimensions can be changed with a mere thought, my thought."
"But, why the mountains?" I yelled out.
"I felt that that the soft glow produced by the thin sun and the icy chilliness of the environment would be more than a fitting attraction for any trespassers." The voice now got louder and seemed to reverberate all throughout the scene. "Oh, and no need to shout. I am all around you. Above you. Below you. I am this room; I am the house."
That got me scared. "What do you mean, you are the house? And," I uttered with more courage in my voice, "where's the girl?"
The scenery started changing, crumbling around me. The mountains themselves were falling apart. My courageous side stayed firm and unmoving, though my frightened side quickly took over and I reached behind me for the door. Feeling no door handle, I peered back and was shocked to see no door.
I closed my eyes, hoping the nightmare was over. I opened them once again and the room was back to being a bedroom.
"What?" I uttered in confusion.
The room then turned pitch black all around me and, as a pinpoint of light rose on the other side, the dim outline of a young Acara was visible.
In the duration of a blink, there was a piercing scream and the Acara disappeared.
The voice returned. "I am the house. Let me tell you a story..." I glanced behind me - the door was right there. I could have dashed out, but my curiosity wouldn't let my feet move and I stood, listening intently.
"Once, a while back, I built this house. I was the original owner, a Neopet just like you. I had borrowed supplies from an old swamp witch, promising to pay her back within five years. Unfortunately, I couldn't find work, and the miniscule amount that I had saved in the duration was not enough to cover the supplies. I went back and begged for her to accept the meager amount, but she wouldn't. Instead, she fused my mind to this house and fed my body to a bubbling stew."
I couldn't believe I was actually listening to this. I could just dart right behind me, run away, and never come back. I didn't, though - I genuinely wanted to know what this ghost... thing had to say.
"My bedroom became my mind; whatever I thought to happen here would occur. It was interesting for a while, but it began to get tedious, not having any interaction with other beings. The swamp witch came back one day and said that, if I could capture 10 souls in this house and keep them trapped in this room, my mind, she would grant me use of my body again, and make it so that I wouldn't be stuck here ever again. So long as this house stands, the prisoner will not see the light of day."
I gulped. "How many souls are you up to?" I inquired nervously.
"Including that Acara, nine. I just need one more." The voice started to laugh. The laughing got louder.
I realized that I would make a good tenth candidate. I ran out of the door and down the stairs, past Mia and the Acara's mom.
"Where are you going?" shouted Mia angrily as I dashed past her. The event was over and winding down; only a few stragglers were left.
I stopped and replied to her, "If you want to see the Acara again, this house has to be torn down."
Date: Oct 14th
Mia's face ran a gamut of emotions, from shock to annoyance to anger to fear and back to shock. "What?!?" she finally exclaimed.
I did my best to stay calm, reminding myself that they hadn't seen or heard what I had. Quickly, I relayed what had happened to me and what I had learned, explaining my thought process.
"...so if we tear the house down, I get Tracy back?" the Acara asked, as Mia bit her lip and considered what I had said.
"I think so," I replied, "Or, at least -- it's our best hope."
"I spent all of my savings on this house," Mia said sadly. "If we tear it down, I'll be completely broke."
"If we don't tear it down, I'll never get my little girl back!" the Acara retorted, and I suddenly realized I had never even asked her name.
"Not to mention the other eight souls that house has trapped," I said grimly.
"I wonder who they are..." Mia said, trailing off. She was stalling, but I knew she needed a moment to process everything that was going on.
"We know who one is," I replied thoughtfully, having not thought about it until that moment.
Mia and Tracy's mom looked at me in surprise.
"The spirit that built this house was poor, and couldn't pay the swamp witch back, but no one ever knew who built the house, or if they did, they never talked about it. They do talk about the rich hermit who disappeared, though." I mused.
Mia's eyes widened for a moment, and after a beat, she nodded. "You're right. The rich old Techo who disappeared years ago..." she said, and then sighed, "Well, there's no help for it, I suppose. I'll be broke, but we have to save them, don't we?"
I nodded. I knew she would come to the right conclusion.
She stared pensively at the old house. "How do we do it? We have enough workers -- the employees are all still here -- but I've never torn down a house before!"
I frowned; construction -- or in this case, destruction -- had never been on my to-do list before, either. To my surprise, however, the sniffling Acara spoke up.
"I can help with that!" she told us, smiling slightly at our surprise, "I've been on the Neohome Planning Committee for years... construction experience is mandatory."
Mia shrugged her okay. "Fate," she explained sadly, still staring at the house.
"Well, let's get going then," the Acara said. She -- I learned her name was Tara Phlisbaum, who had indeed been on the NPC for several years -- had us organized quickly and ready to tear down the old building.
"Well?" she cried, "What are you waiting for? Get started!"
Quickly, the sounds of sledgehammers and splintering wood filled the air. Dust and wood chips made the air thick, and soon the workers could barely see beyond their assigned work area, much less each other. Unnaturally quickly, though, the house fell to pieces... all except one room.
The bedroom -- the heart of the beast -- despite having been on the second floor, had somehow emerged to rest on the floor unscathed. It seemed to pulse with an angry cold light.
"You can't do this!" an angry voice cried, and I recognized it. I had spoken to it, of course.
"Don't go in the room!" I cried quickly, "Just demolish it! Take your hammers all at once and remove the evil from its misery!"
Grimly, every worker raised their sledgehammers, and at my signal, metal met wood in a cacophonous screech. The light flickered in almost a panic, and then was still as the ruins of the room fell to the ground, collapsing neither inwards nor outwards but rather straight down. In one final brilliant pulse of light, it then extinguished with a grating scream. "Noooooo!" it wailed, causing us each to cover our ears at the horrific sound.
The sound had barely died when Tara surged forward. Within the remains of the room were nine shrouded figures, one smaller than the rest by more than half. Waiting with bated breath, we watched as she veered directly for the tiny bundle.
"Sleeping!" she announced, joyfulness giving way quickly to tears as the rest of us breathed a collective sigh of relief. Only then did I realize that I had worried it was too late for everyone the twisted house had trapped.
"Let's get them out of there, then clear the rubble," Mia directed. I could tell that losing the house still made her sad, but she knew it had been the right thing to do.
As the victims began to wake, one in particular caught my eye -- a thin old Techo. "Mr. Pritchard?" I asked, realizing he must have been the old owner who disappeared. He nodded, looking confused. Quickly helping him stand, I explained what had happened -- and how long he had been sleeping.
"It's been nearly thirty years?!?" he asked, mouth falling open in shock.
I nodded, watching him think over the situation.
"Well!" he finally said, "Fortunately for me, I never did bother much with the rest of the world. I suppose sleeping for a while doesn’t really matter. But I am homeless now, and will need assistance acquiring a new living space."
He paused again, surveying the wreckage being cleared away. "I think I should hire a property manager, too," he mused.
I beamed. "I think I know just the person to help you... let me introduce you to my boss, Mia -- she's the one who bought this place." I said, smiling. I had a feeling this would work out perfectly and give Mia a good way to replenish her lost savings. He struck me as the type who wouldn't skimp on pay; I knew she would recover quickly. Things seemed to have worked out for the best after all!
Deep in the swamp in the Haunted Woods, where none but the most stupid went (for the brave had long since moved on to safer areas), an ugly old witch sat, stirring her cauldron and staring vacantly ahead of her in the manner one often does when one's mind is elsewhere. Up on a shelf, a miniature replica of a dilapidated old mansion sat. Suddenly, it began to shake, and the witch's gaze sharpened as she turned her focus to the miniature.
"Oh, bother," she said aloud, startling her ancient companion awake, a greying Drugal, and causing it to fall off the table with a loud thump.
As the minute house crumbled, she sighed. "That one was so close to completion!" she seethed, momentarily angry, and then sighed.
"Ah well, I suppose losing one isn't that big a deal. One of twenty is still a rather good ratio..." she mused, pondering the other nineteen models on that old, dusty shelf.
The Drugal, rather unimpressed with the witch's muttering, climbed back onto the table to resume its rest. With a contented yawn, it fell quickly back to sleep.
Date: Oct 14th
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