The night is filled with crickets and frogs chirping hidden in the tall grass. The full moon lights the way to the abandoned mystery house in the corner of the neighborhood. The houses along the street are silent and dark, the inhabitants long asleep.
Your breath rushes past your lips, your feet slow and hesitant as you walk down the sidewalk. The house is looming closer, the front porch sagging with rotten wood, the shutters hanging from rusted hinges. You swallow nervously, the warm night suddenly feeling cold as the shadow of the house falls over you.
You stop, your heart plummeting to your stomach as you gaze up at the black iron gate in front of you. Most of the spikes are missing, enough for you to squeeze through to the unkempt yard beyond.
You are tempted to forget the whole thing, to turn around and go back home, crawl under your warm blankets and forget about the night your little sister caught you sneaking out of your house.
His little sister blackmailed him to take pictures of the house, she was a fan of horror and macabre scenes. The mystery house had always intrigued her, but their parents strictly forbid her to go anywhere near it.
You unconsciously touch the camera in your jacket pocket, she wanted pictures of the inside of the house.
You had refused, but she blackmailed you, “Sneaking out of the house is against the rules Mason, if mom and dad found out that you snuck out you can no longer be in your club.”
You reluctantly agreed, your club activities the only reason you endured school. You look back at the house, the blackened cracked windows like soulless eyes staring at you. You take that step off the sidewalk to the walk path to the gate.
It’s a tight fit trying to squeeze through the hole in the fence, your chest not allowing you much room to squeeze by. You hold your breath and ease in, your sneakers crushing the tall grass.
Its colder here, more silent, eerie. You ignored it as you carefully pick your way to the front porch, the smell of rot filling the air. You gag and press the back of your hand against your mouth unwilling to vomit, unwilling to admit the thought of going in the house alone was tangling your stomach into nervous slimy knots.
The front porch groans and the wood beneath your feet creak as you climb the broken steps, the smell is stronger under the porch. The smell of wet wood and dank death filling the air.
You reach out for the rusted doorknob, silently praying it will be locked. It turns in your hands, but the door won’t open. You shove a shoulder in the wood, feeling it splinter on your jacket. It swings open, the old hinges squeaking.
The inside of the house is pitch black, you fumble in your pocket for the small flashlight, twisting the top until a thin beam of white cuts through the darkness.
You sweep the light around the room, seeing furniture thrown in random locations, pictures and vases broken along the floor. The wallpaper peeling off the walls and cracks appearing in the molding.
You step forward hesitantly, the floor giving with your weight. You take a deep breath and charge for the staircase, your panic seizes your chest, squeezing down until you are gasping for breath.
You leap for the first step, not pausing on the quick ascension up. The stairs wobble and creak beneath you, terrified they will crumble beneath you your pace slackens. Your heart pounding against your chest as you make it safely to the top floor.
You bend at the waist, bracing your hands on your knees, you made it. You laugh at your own silliness and search for the next staircase. Your light sweeps across the walls, stopping on a picture frame with a family.
Curious you wonder closer, wiping the buildup of dust away. A family of three smiles up at you, the daughter smiling happily, her parents hand on her shoulders as they look down at her with bright parental smiles. A happy family photo, but something about it doesn’t sit right with you. Something seems off with the scene.
The hair on the back of your neck stands up and you jolt away, nervously wiping your sweating hands over your neck. Chills course down your body as you quickly spot stairs peeking from behind a sagging door.
You mount these steps quickly, your heart pounding as you near the top of the attic. The door is opened, the moonlight shining through the round attic window.
Nervous sweat beads on your forehead the attic hot and stifling. Your breathe is shallow, the taste of mold and the feel of moisture making you fear asbestos making you lift your jacket lapel to your mouth.
Your breath is hot now against your face, making it harder to breath. You ignore it. You aim the camera at the broken window of the attic, the window the daughter was thrown from. You snap a picture, the quick shutter sound like a blowhorn in the quiet room.
Your breath is escalating the room growing cold as you turn and take a picture of the door you came from, stepping into the middle of the room to focus it. The father broken his neck on the stairs, his body found twisted in the hallway.
You shiver, your breath coming in white puffs of air. A whispering sound floats behind you and you spin in fear. In front of you is the white apparition of the daughter, her ghostly form wavering in the moonlight. You drop the camera, the lens cracking down the middle as she turns to look at you.
A scream builds up in the air, felt but not heard. She pitches herself out the window, a blood curdling scream forever engraved in your memory