Halloween Short Story Competition Entry #5

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Walking down the dark street of Caspia Lane was not what Helena Buckthorn had in mind when she thought of fun. But for some reason there she was heading down the street of abandoned homes. On the very end of the cul-de-sac was a huge mansion.

Caspia Lane was the place of legends in the small Iowa town. It was said that the homes on this street were built on an old Indian grave site. The Osgood Mansion was the first to be there in the area, built in 1854. Later the robber baron, William Osgood sold off the surrounding land and more fine homes were built.

In her hand she kept her phone to her ear and listened as she received instructions.

“Before you even enter the gates of Osgood Mansion, don’t forget to put on your mask.” Sarah Walker told her in a foreboding voice. “It important that no one…or nothing can identify you.”
It seemed an odd thing to say but Helena sighed, remembering it was only part of the initiation. No doubt her comrades had all sorts of horrible things planned for her.  Everyone who joined the Drama club had to go through an initiation.

“Did I tell you that everyone in the Osgood family went mad then slaughtered everyone on their street?” Shawn Morrison taunted her through the phone. “No one knows what happened to the family after that! They just disappeared!”

“It was the Indian curse that killed everyone!” Chris Thornton scoffed as he took Sarah’s phone from Shawn.  “Besides,   there were only three left in the Osgood family; Mr. Osgood, his wife and their unmarried son, Fredrick.”

Helena put her mask on and approached the gate of the mansion cautiously, not paying attention to the bickering on the other side of her phone.

Silently she opened the gate, listening to its creek as it protested. Somewhere behind her, she knew the others watched. When they had seen her go through the gate they had all gone silent.

There was nothing to be scared about, she told herself silently.  It was only a sad old oversized house. There was nothing she could not handle.

Old dead leaves crunched under her boots as she walked the path leading the front porch. Even in the pale light of the moon she could see the sagging floorboards and the paint that peeled away over the entire surface of the mansion.  Several windows were still boarded up, but the majority was broken. Remnants of the glass lay scattered around. Reaching out slowly she went to open the door then found to her dismay it had already been opened.

“Hello?” She called out warily as she peered around the doorway.

No one answered her. But of course no one would, she scoffed to herself. There was no one there, just her!

“OK. I’m in.” She told her comrades then shut the phone off. She didn’t want to be distracted as she explored.

All around the room she could make out the different shapes from the furniture covered by simple white sheets. Dust coated everything even the floor and as she made her way across the foyer to the stairs, she looked back to see her footprints. It seemed she had been the only one there in a very long time.

Carefully she made her way from room to room observing the home that time forgot. Gradually she felt all traces of trepidation fading away. There was nothing to be afraid of.

Then she pushed open two magnificent doors into what must have been the ballroom. Even in the dust and shadows she could see how extravagant it used to be. The once sparkling crystal chandelier now hung dully from the faded painted ceiling, thick with cobwebs on it. Below the tile floor was dirty and chipped.

Closing her eyes she imagined what it must have looked like when it was in its glory days. Smiling faintly she could almost hear the music play as the grandly dressed couples danced to a waltz.

When she opened her eyes she gasped as light filled her vision. Before her people dressed in long fancy gowns and uniforms danced by her while the musicians played elegant music. Some even acknowledges her with a smile and nodded as they past.

Shocked she looked down and saw that she, herself was dressed in a white beautiful gown.

“Welcome, my Helena, my beautiful bride.” A man stood in front of her then with a gentle smile on his face and his hands held out. But his eyes were cruel.

Frightened now Helena backed from the room in hast. Who was that man? But even as she asked the silent question, in her heart she knew the answer. It was Fredrick Osgood.

Back in the car sat the small group of people who had been the ones to set up the initiation for Helena Buckthorn. Bored expressions were written on all their faces as they waited alongside another residential street.

“How long has it been?” Chris wondered. “She has been in there far too long.”

Clicking sounds were all that answered him as Shawn typed on the laptop. So intent on his work he did not know everyone was staring at him till Sarah nudged him.

“What are you doing?” She asked crossly. “How are you even on the laptop?”

“What? Oh!” Chris looked up, startled from his computer then shrugged. “I just hacked into someone’s wifi. Who knew cheeswhiz would be a password?”

“What are you looking at?” Shawn asked.

“The history and myths of the Osgood place.”  Chris replied distractedly.

“Shouldn’t you have done that BEFORE Helena went in there?” Sarah responded irritated and rolled her eyes. “Why could we not just have held the initiation at the old Mill where we used to do it?

“I wanted to shake things up.” Shawn told her defensively. “It seemed like a good idea then.”

“I was just looking this up to see what really happened all those years ago at the Osgood Mansion.” Chris kept his eyes focused on the screen. “It’s not good.”

Alarmed Sara sat up and stared at him wide eyed. “So spill it! What happened?”

“Over the last century many strange disappearances have happened.” Chris began. “And it had to do with the Osgood mansion, all victims were female. Only one came back but since then they say she went mad and was institutionalized.”

“And we are only hearing about this now?” Sarah raised her eyebrows.

“Well, fact and fiction can collide easily and things get turned around.” Chris shrugged again. “That is why I wanted to do a search. Not everyone does one apparently.”

Both Sara and Chris turned to look pointedly at Shawn. He looked out the window and pretended not to notice.

“Well, I have read more and they say the woman spoke about the ghost of Osgood and his desire to get revenge on the bride who left him at the altar.” Chris informed them.  “Every ten years a local girl goes missing. Somehow she is drawn to the mansion then later she disappears. It’s like she is supposed to take the place of Osgood’s bride. That is where the wearing of the masks tradition kicks in. It’s supposed to confuse his ghost.”

“Creepy.” Shawn shuddered.

“Yeah, and we sent Helena in there!” She lightly slapped him on the shoulder.

“Oh come on! You don’t actually believe that crap do you?”

Screaming interrupted them as a figure ran towards them then past them.

“Say, wasn’t that Helena?”

Helena ran faster then she had ever had before. In a blink of an eye her dream had shattered and she had been back in that dark and dirty mansion, but that time she was not alone. Never has she been so afraid.

Finally she reached her home and shot through the doorway like a bullet. She was home, safe at last.

Labored breathing plagued her as she leaned next to her own window, trying to catch her breath. The next instead she was gone. No time to even scream. Two pale hands ripped throw the window and hauled Helena away.  Never was she seen again. But sometimes when her friends walked by the place during the day, they could swear they saw a bride standing at the window looking down at them; a bride who looked a lot like Helena.

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