Harlow pulled at her friend Dawn’s arm as they ascended the creaky he wooden stairway leading to the attic. “Come on!” she said excitedly. “Wait ‘til you see how huge this is!”
Dawn poked her head up into the attic space. She crinkled her nose at the musty smell of the room that had not been opened for a long time. She squinted her eyes to try to get them to adjust to the dim lighting. Soon she saw dusty boxes, a sewing mannequin and a spinning wheel littering the large space. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” she exclaimed. “We have to clean this up? I don’t think it’s going to be worth what you promised me.”
“Oh relax,” Harlow said as she jumped up into the attic pulling Dawn with her. “My parents are having cleaners coming in to do the heavy work. We just have to go through a few boxes to see if there’s anything valuable inside. We don’t even have to take them out of the boxes. We just have to mark on them what we find inside.”
Harlow’s parents were history buffs. They bought the 19th century Arcadia style home in the hopes to restore it to its former glory. They promised Harlow, their only child, the attic for her own. The only catch was she had to fix it up herself after it was cleaned. The 16-year-old relished the thought of decorating her own large living space, and she jumped at the chance. She talked to Dawn, her best friend, into helping her go through the boxes with the promise of a lobster dinner at the end of the day. Dawn was a seafood lover and she wanted to please her best friend, so it wasn’t very hard to convince her to help. But now that she saw the dust in the prospect of bugs crawling all over her, Dawn was beginning to wonder if this was such a great idea after all. “This is crazy!” Dawn exclaimed. “There’s probably rats or other things that will bite us up here.”
Harlow started throwing up some of the old windows to get more air and light into the room. After she finished she put her hands on her hips and regarded her friend. “The fumigators and exterminators have already sprayed the house and have gotten rid of all the pests,” she said. “There no dead animal smells, so I don’t think anything like that have is still up here. That’s why all the boxes are moved away from the walls. All we have to do is go through them and my parents will have somebody come and pick them up. We don’t have to dust or anything. I brought us some gloves and some dust masks so you don’t have to touch anything dirty.”
Dawn felt relieved at not having to have her skin meet anything up in the attic. “Oh, all right then,” she said in defeat.
Harlow’s face lit up once more and she handed her friends a pair of long rubber gloves and a white mask. “Here,” she said shoving the items into her hands. “These are for you.”
Dawn reluctantly put on the gloves and a mask and followed Harlow to the end of the room to start going through some boxes. After about an hour of sifting through the boxes filled with old moldy toys and Moth-eaten clothes, the girls came upon a picture of a young woman in a box full of clothes. Harlow picked up the picture and regarded the woman under the glass frame. Her thin face and sunken in brown eyes gave her the appearance of a sickly young woman. Dawn took the picture from Harlow and looked at it herself. “Oh! This looks like the photo that you can get at the amusement park. They took them to look like they’re very old.”
Harlow took back the picture slightly annoyed with her friend. “This is one of those old photos for real,” she explained. “It’s tinted because it’s hundreds of years old!”
“She looks kind of creepy,” said Dawn. “Her face is all sunken in and her eyes are kind of weird.”
Harlow nodded. “Yes. She’s long dead,” she said. She examined the photograph and recognition sparked in her eyes. “This must be Sadie Whittemore,” she said. “She lived here with her parents. She was an old maid, but she died of consumption in her early 20s.”
“Yes,” said Harlow. “That’s what they called cancer back in the early 1900s. From what I understand, the parents were real jerks. Once they found out that she was sick and it was going to cost them a lot of money for medicine, the penny pinchers just killed her instead. They called it a mercy killing. That’s what my mom said anyway.”
Dawn gasped. “Oh my God! That’s horrible!”
“I know, right? Can you imagine what would happen to our parents if they tried to do that to one of us? Not that our parents would ever do anything like that!”
“Put the picture away, Harlow,” ordered Dawn. “Now I’m completely creeped out.”
Harlow put the photo face down back into the box and taped it up. The girls soon moved on to other boxes. Harlow discovered a box still up against the wall of the attic. “That’s strange,” she said. “They were supposed to move all the boxes away from the walls.”
Dawn shook her head. “Harlow, don’t touch that one,” she warned. “What if there something alive behind it. I don’t think the fumigators your parents hired did a very good job of cleaning up here if there is a box still against the wall.”
Harlow frowned at her friend. “Don’t be silly,” she said with slight irritation in her voice. “We need to go through all the boxes. That was the deal I made with my parents. And that was the deal you made with me.”
Harlow push the box away from the wall. She found the wall was damage behind the box. “Ah ha!” she exclaimed. “This is why the box of shoved up against the wall. They did some damage while they were fumigating and looking for critters. When my parents find out they’re going to have a fit!”
Dawn walked over to see what Harlow was upset about. “Wow, they really wrecked it.”
Dawn examined the damage wall closely. She noticed an opening behind the damaged wood. “Harlow, I think there’s something behind this wall,” she said as she squinted her eyes to see if she could get a better look.
Harlow bent down to see and her eyes went wide. “You’re right!” she said excitedly. “A secret room maybe? Let’s tear it open a little bit more to see!”
Dawn shook her head. “I don’t think your parents are going to like that,” she warned. “They’re going to be mad enough because the fumigators damage the wall in the first place.”
Harlow looked up from the wall. “They have no idea how much damage the fumigators have done,” she reasoned. “We can blame it all on them. I really want to see what’s behind this wall.”
“Okay,” said Dawn with a sigh. Once Harlow got something stuck in her mind, it was there until action was taken.
The two girls stuck their fingers into the wall and pulled off a wooden plank. Dust came out from the opening and the girls were thankful they had their masks on. When the dust settled they saw a dusty black chest inside the crevice. “Oh, this is getting really good now!” said Harlow. She practically dove into the crevice to retrieve the box.
“Harlow! Be careful! You don’t know what’s in there with the box,” warned Dawn.
“I will, calm down!” said Harlow angrily. “If anything was back here it would be either dead or it would’ve run when we opened up the board.”
Harlow tugged at the black box and it easily just slid from the crevice into the bigger attic space. She took a towel and wiped the box down to reveal and even blacker exterior. “Hey this is a cool box,” she said. “Even if there’s nothing inside it, I can use it for art supplies.”
Dawn knelt beside Harlow as she opened the box. She was half hoping that it would creek like in the old movies. To her disappointment, the box didn’t make a noise as Harlow opened it to reveal its contents. The only item in the box was an old Ouija board. Harlow lean back and took in the object. “Hmmm,” she said. “This is interesting.”
Dawn peaked in the box, took in a quick breath and then shut the top. She jumped to her feet. “We aren’t going to touch the Ouija board,” she announced. “My mother told me that we should never play with things like that. She says they’re Evil.”
Harlow laughed. “Your mother spends too much time in church,” she said. “This is just a toy. Nothing more. I think it would be fun to play with one. I’ve never done it myself, but I’ve heard how you can use it.”
Dawn shook her head. “There’s no way I’m touching that thing.”
“Oh, come on! It’ll be fun. We’ll do it just for a minute. It’ll be good to take a break from all the boxes.”
Dawn continued to shake her head. “I am absolutely not touching that thing.”
“Oh, you’re such a scaredy pants!”
Dawn stood her ground. “You can call me whatever you want, there is no way I am going to be touching that Ouija board!”
After five minutes of pleading and crying, Dawn finally gave in to her friend. “Okay, fine. Just for a minute. I don’t like this. These things are not to be played with.”
Harlow snorted. “Of course they are!”
“No, back in the day they used to use them to talk to the dead for real,” said Dawn. “I don’t have anyone that I really want to talk to.”
Harlow opened the box and took out the Ouija board and put it on the floor. She considered What Dawn said. “I don’t know anyone that’s did either. Maybe we should ask the board to have somebody from the other world come and talk to us. That would be kind of cool!”
“Oh no it wouldn’t!” said Dawn.
“You said you’d play! Just for a minute. I promise.”
Dawn gave in to her friend. She knelt beside the board opposite of Harlow and examined it. The letters from A-to-Z sprawled across the old, rotting wood board. Dawn could see parts of the board where varnish was still on the board. She thought it curious that although the Oracle seemed as weathered as the board, the glass circle in the center seemed almost new. Dawn felt a cold chill go down her spine. “Okay, let’s hurry this up. We’re just going to play with it for a second and then we’re putting it away.”
Harlow nodded in excitement as she placed the Oracle on the center of the board. Both girls gingerly place their hands on the edges of the Oracle. Suddenly, Dawn felt heat coming from the Oracle into her fingers. Harlow must’ve felt the same because her face marked surprise.
“Dawn, do you feel that? What’s happening?” She yelled.
Dawn tried to take her fingers off the Oracle. She let out a small scream. “I can’t let go!”
Both girls frantically tried to pull away from the Oracle. The glass center began to glow blue. The girls began to scream louder as boxes began slamming against the walls of the attic. The glow grew brighter as the girls’ anxiety mounted. The Oracle lifted off the board with the girls’ fingers still on it. The center circle started to pulse and the Oracle began to shake. Then, as suddenly as it started, Harlow and Dawn felt their fingers release from the Oracle and were knocked back on their behinds. It smashed against the wall and landed on the floor a few feet away from them. Before the girls could process what just happened, black smoke emerged from the cracked circle. An image of the woman in the picture appeared in the smoke. Blood seemed to leak from her wide eyes and a maniacal smile emerged on her mouth. Harlow and Dawn stared opened mouthed at the apparition in front of them, frozen in fear. Sadie Whittemore let out an ear-piercing cackle as she looked down on the two terrified girls.
“Thanks, girls!” She said. Without warning, the apparition flew out the nearest attic window.
Harlow and Dawn stared after her with horror etched on their faces. “We just unleashed a demon,” said Dawn when she was finally able to find her voice.
“Oh man,” said Harlow. “I am so grounded.”
To be continued…
Copyright 2017 Out of this World Publishing. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.