The Haunted House

Taryn McGraw, Staff Reporter

“Want to go with me and Kathrine?” My older brother, Mateo, asked.

“Where are you guys going?” I returned, eyeing him suspiciously.

“It’s a surprise.”

“You know I don’t like surprises.”

“Aw. Come on. Please? For your big brother?” He tilted his face slightly to the side and batted his eyes like a begging puppy.

Oh no, the big eyes and pouty face he reveals when he wants something to go his way. Sadly, the face is hard to say no to.

“Ugh! Fine!” 

 

I knew this was a bad idea. From the moment he put a blindfold on me to when he dragged me out of the car, I felt like something was up. The ground was soft; I could faintly see dirt around my feet from below my blindfold. 

“Are you taking me to the woods to kill me?” I asked and Mateo laughed along with his girlfriend.

“Not this time,” He joked, “You’ll know when we get there. Don’t worry.” The churning feeling in the pit of my stomach did the opposite of what he told me to do. 

Why did I let my brother drag me with him in the first place? I was even the third wheel for crying out loud! I should’ve stayed home and watched some TV in my room under the warm covers.

“We’re here!” Mateo exclaimed, removing the blindfold. 

“Oh no.” I said as a group of teenagers passed us, all dressed up as Harry Potter characters.

“I heard it’s the most haunted house in this area.” One kid said.

“Yeah, and it was so hard to find too. I’m excited.” Said another.

Fear sunk in, gluing me to the spot and making me want to collapse into the dirt and just lay there.

“Come on. It’ll be fun.” Mateo said, grabbing my wrist tightly to prevent my escape, dragging me to my doom. 

“If you leave me alone, I’ll kill you.” I warned. Mateo shrugged it off as a minor thing as he let go of my arm and put his around Kathrine’s shoulders, pulling her close to him.

“Ew! PDA!” I exclaimed jokingly. 

“Whatever.” Mateo rolled his eyes, lightly punching me in the arm. As we got near the entrance, I heard a strange voice to my left.

“Welcome.” A large gargoyle said eerily, giving me shivers. 

“I’m not going to make it.” I muttered to myself. “They better not leave me.”

And of course, that’s what happened. Mateo and Kathrine somehow managed to get lost in the narrow halls of the haunted house and now I was all by myself.

I muttered a few curse words when a fake spider web clung to my cheek. I muttered a few more when I jumped away from a screaming skeleton in the cage, reaching it’s long, bony, white fingers out to me through the bars. I looked around, but everything seemed new and familiar at the same time.

Okay, so maybe I was the one that got lost, but that’s not the point. The point was that I was alone in this stupid dark, scary house and I’ll kill Mateo the next time I see him.

It’s not that I was scared.

Really.

I was just not good with all the creepy stuff.

I flinched when a vampire jumped out of a coffin with a loud screech and dumb evil laughter. I would have thrown something at it if I could or had the necessary tools to do so. It would deserve it; at least just a little.

Maybe I was a little paranoid and jumpy with a slight hint of aggressiveness, but I couldn’t be blamed for that. Everybody’s true nature comes out when faced with absolute fear and terror, not that I was scared to anything.

I coughed a little, smirking at the fact that I was trying to lie to myself about myself. As I turned the corner, I braced myself expecting something to jump at me. Instead, I froze with what awaited me.

The hall was roomy, airy and eerie and, most importantly, empty. An uneasy breeze blew down the corridor and grasped me with it chilly touch, pulling my arms tight as I huddled into myself for warmth. The furthest door from me had been left ajar, allowing a glorious amber glow to meander like a narrow stream across the hall. 

My mind told me not to move and I really wanted to listen to it, but I knew I had to keep going to get out of here. Every step I took was met by a discordant shriek from the worm rotted floor boards. I took a deep breath, until I heard something behind me.

There was a deep yet hollow growl that breathed against my neck and ice settled into my stomach. Cold fingers crept over my skin, sending a shiver down my spine.

I could have ran, I could have screamed, I could have froze and become unresponsive, or I could have just blacked out, but I didn’t. I did the only thing I could think of at that moment: I turned around and decked the ghost in the face.

The ghost doubled over, clutching his nose with a pained wail. He let out more curse words than what I thought possible. The blood began bleeding through the white fabric below the two cut-out circles for the eyes.

I slapped my hand over my mouth. “Oh my goodness.”

“My nose!” He groaned, his hand still clutching his nose as he ripped off the red and white sheet to tossed it to the side, revealing his face, still concealed by the white face paint and dark lights. 

“Oh goodness, I – I am so so sorry.” I stuttered, stepping forward toward the ghost that was clearly an actor. My hands hovered uselessly in the air between us, unsure what to do, watching the actor sniff.

“Gosh, you broke my nose.” The guy said, his voice indeed sounding nasally. He looked at his hand, I looked at his nose – and we both curse at the same time.

“I’m bleeding!” 

“Shoot. Um, let me help you. Do you know the way to a clinic or something?” I asked, waiting for permission before getting close. I didn’t want him to suddenly get even. I wouldn’t be able to explain it to my brother.

“Yeah,” The ghost said swiftly, holding his arm out to me to help him stand. I did just that, first admiring how he stood a whole foot taller than me at full height, then helped him reach the exit. Soon, we were outside at the back of the house where a medium-sized white tent stood; most likely for the actors and actresses who worked in the haunted house. 

An older lady with short grey curly hair and glasses noticed us walking over to her and her eyes widened in alarm. 

“Oh, goodness, Jasper! What happened to you?!” She asked, looking him up and down as she neared us. Jasper looked at her, then glanced down at me. I looked back, still unable to see his face clearly, but he couldn’t see mine either making this even weirder.

When he turned back, Jasper shook his head, his hand still cupped under the bleeding nose. “I’ll tell you later.” With a glance to me and not another word, the woman assisted him into the tent. 

 

I was mortified. As soon as that settled, I knew I couldn’t leave him without saying something. I texted my brother and he met me with his girlfriend and I explained what had happened.

“I can’t believe you punched someone,” Mateo groaned, rubbing the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger.

“I told you this was a bad idea! And I told you not to separate from me!” I defended, not stopping as I paced back and forth in front of Mateo and Kathrine.

“You’re the one who got lost in the first place!” Mateo returned with a big huff.

“Let’s calm down. I’m sure it’s not that bad,” Kathrine chimed in, sending me a lopsided smile.

“He was bleeding,” I muttered, but they still heard, “A lot.”

“Okay, maybe it was bad, but it’s not like he’ll die.”

“Very reassuring,” I spit out, taking a deep breath. I was about to sit down on the dirt to join my brother and his girlfriend when there was rustling behind us. 

“You’re still here?” 

I looked up at the older woman with grey hair, who was looking at me like I was the worst person she’d ever met. Well, I did bring her coworker to her after I decked him in the face, so that’s only fair.

“I um – yes. I – I was wondering if – I would really like to apologize,” I stuttered, putting my hands in my pocket and avoiding her malicious glare.

The woman cocked one eyebrow, looking me up and down. I turned away, slightly embarrassed.

“It’s fine. Let him in,” The voice from inside the tent surprised them all.

“Jasper, are you sure? I’m-”

“Yeah, it’s fine,” Jasper cut her off.

The woman turned, glaring at me one more time for good measure before stepping aside to let me in.

“Thank you,” I mumbled, keeping my head down as I passed her.

The tent was smaller than I thought, but still cozy. There was a ghost in front of a mirror. He was still wearing his white outfit, slightly stained with drops of red, but his makeup was gone. The only thing there were two tissues stuffed into his nostrils. 

When he heard the rustling, Jasper turned with fury in his eyes and face, only to slightly lessen when we made eye contact. I stood in silence and shock as well. What faced me was a boy with a well-formed, almost chiseled, face with striking blue yet soft and angry eyes and fluffy and partially tangled dirty blonde hair. 

It was only for a second or two or maybe a little more, but who’s keeping track, before he wiped the shock from his face and replaced it with anger, only a little less than before.

“So?” He asked almost impatiently. I snapped back to reality when the ghost crossed his arms in front of his chest and raised a questioning eyebrow.

“I’m – I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I just… you really startled me and my first reaction was-”

“To punch me in the face?” He finished. I winced.

“Yeah.” Jasper looked at me for a second longer before he exhaled with a light laugh. His serious expression fell and his bright blue eyes lit up in amusement.

“Well, I guess I did my job right if I could scare a tough girl like you, huh? I mean, who’s first reaction to being scared is to punch the one who did the scaring? It’s the first I’ve heard of it.”

I frowned, ready to defend myself, but I wasn’t in a position to explain that I wasn’t scared, just… surprised. I mentally cough at my thoughts once again but shrugged it off.

“I’m really sorry.”

“You already said that,” Jasper laughed out loud as embarrassment flushed my cheeks. He took the tissues out of his nose.

“Are you… okay?” I asked hesitantly.

“Yeah, just a little nosebleed. You didn’t hit me hard enough to break my nose,” he said, sending me a wink that caught me off guard.

“Um, can I… make it up to you somehow? Maybe… take you out to dinner sometime?” I turned my head away, trying my best to keep him from seeing my tomato-colored face, but I knew he could see. I didn’t know where the idea came from, but, out of the corner of my eye, I could see the surprised and flustered expression on ghost-boy’s face. My heart skipped a beat.

“Are you… are you asking me out? After you just decked me in the face?” Jasper’s face was almost as red as mine. Bright laughter tumbled out of his mouth, and I felt more heat rising to my already fire-red cheeks. 

“Oh gosh, I’m sorry. That was dumb. I’m just gonna-” I turned to walk out of the tent.

“No, hold up. I didn’t say no,” Jasper said, stopping me by the wrist, “Maybe let’s do that when I’m not bleeding through my nose, though.”

“Yeah, that – that sounds like a plan.”

“Here, give me your phone.” He held out his hand and I did as I was told. Jasper quickly typed a few keys before handing it back to me. 

“Call me,” Jasper said, winking one more time for good measure. 

“Okay,” I croaked. I had to thank Mateo for taking me to the haunted house after all. As I approached the edge of the curtain separating the inside from the outside, I heard a voice behind me.

“Hey. I almost forgot. You probably already know my name, but I still don’t know yours.” Jasper said flirtatiously. 

I snorted, holding a hand over my smiling mouth before turning around to face him. His eyes gleamed at the sight of my expression. 

“You’re asking this now? You accepted an invitation to dinner with someone you don’t even know the name of?” I was full blown laughing by then. Jasper chuckled, amused.

“Of course I would. You’re just so darn cute to pass up dinner with.” My laughing stopped abruptly as my face turned the color it was used to by that time. Jasper laughed at my reaction.

“Don’t punch me in the face for embarrassing you.” He joked. I huffed half-heartedly and punched him in the arm. He gasped like a little girl.

“How dare you! That hurt.” Jasper rubbed the spot with his hand. I giggled.

“At least it wasn’t your face.” Jasper couldn’t hold his pouty face and bursted out laughing. I joined in.

When everything was settled, I began walking towards the exit. I held the curtain with one hand and turned my head to the side to make eye contact with Jasper, who was just sitting on the chair by the mirror staring back at me. 

“The name’s Teagan. I’ll see you soon, Jasper the friendly ghost.” With that short and sweet statement, I left the tent.