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The Third-Floor Bedroom
Crimson Hale stepped out of the moving van and groaned. In front of her was a house. A hideous house. It was painted a chipped dark yellow, with ugly green trimming along the white shutters. It was short and squat with a slanted roof and crooked chimney that looked like it was going to bring the house down with it.
“Mom!” Crimson shouted, dropping her duffel bag on the unkempt lawn. Mariah Hale got out of the driver’s seat and came around to stand next to her daughter.
“Hmm?” She inquired.
“What. Is. This.” Crimson asked, punctuating her words clearly.
“It’s the new house, honey! Don’t you like it? I was thinking we could put the bird bath in the center of the lawn, it would really compliment the color of those roses by that window over there. What do you think…?” Mariah trailed off as she saw Crimson walking up the path towards the house.
Crimson stood in front of the ugly tin door. The numbers 1539 were chipped and rusted, giving the house even more of an old feel. She inserted her house key and turned it two times to the left. As soon as she heard the lock click, she shoved to door open and walked inside.
This house was as ugly on the inside as it was on the exterior. Crimson first went down to the basement. The stairs were creaky and rotted in places, and she was glad she was wearing close-toed shoes because of the nails sticking out of the floor. The room was utterly bare; the green wallpaper was pretty, but peeling dreadfully. In one of the corners was a closet filled with all the electrical things you could ever need.
Crimson headed up to the 2nd floor, trailing her blue and purple duffel bag behind her. On this floor there was a kitchen, living room, TV room—with no TV of course—, and the bedroom that her parents would sleep in with Crimson’s baby sister Tella. There was also a small powder room that contained nothing but a sink, a toilet, and a single tube of blood red lipstick.
Creepy. Crimson thought as she headed up the creaky stairs to the third floor. Mariah had told her that her room was the second door on the right. Crimson guessed that the one across from it would be ten-year-old Brady’s, and that the first door on the right would belong to seven-year-old Oscar and his cat Archie.
Crimson pushed her door open, expecting it to squeal, like every other door in the house had. Instead, it glided smoothly open, stopping when it hit the doorjamb. She stepped inside and gasped. The room was beautiful. The bay windows overlooked the backyard, which, once they had settled in, Mariah would attack and make pretty again. Soft white curtains fluttered from the fan that was blowing fresh air in to the living space, and the cushions were dark ebony that made Crimson feel safe and warm. In one of the corners, there were four circular imprints in the cushy rug, where a bed had been. The most beautiful thing about the third-floor bedroom was the wallpaper.
It was dark green, with white vines twining through the walls. Hundreds of doves were positioned in midflight throughout the room. Crimson pulled out her camera and snapped a picture. The lighting was perfect and it came out bright and happy. Crimson sighed and sat in the bay window.
Maybe this house wasn’t so bad after all.
Her younger siblings and Crimson’s dad, Tony arrived that night, in their gold minivan that was packed to the brim with luggage. Crimson immediately took her favorite siblings hand, Oscar (with Archie, always with Archie) and led him into the house.
Oscar needed extra help with some things. He spoke rarely, and needed certain direction. This move had been especially hard on him, since he didn’t understand why they had to move into the old creepy house in Kage, a town he’d never heard of. None of them had ever heard of it until Mariah and Tony had told them that they were going to move there for one and a half years while there other house was being remodeled.
The four siblings walked into the kitchen, which was now strewn with half-emptied boxes and Costco cartons of snacks.
“I want to show you guys something, c’mon.” Crimson said, leading Oscar and Brady away, leaving Tella with an already stressed Mariah. Crimson took them up the stairs, pointing out which ones were creaky, just in case they might find themselves in dire need of a midnight snack of marshmallows and sea salt truffles. “Oscar, this is your room, and Brady, yours is the one across from mine. We’re all on the same floor, so we can have sleepovers sometimes. Also, my room has a closet space big enough for a crib, so when Tella gets old enough she will probably sleep with me. Won’t that be fun?”
Oscar stared up at her with wide brown eyes, as if piecing together every word she had just said. After a minute, he nodded and trotted off to examine his room. Crimson turned to Brady.
“Sounds good.” He said simply and walked to his room. Crimson sighed. Sometimes she thought that her brothers would never understand her. Or she would never understand them. Crimson shook her head and entered her room.
The moving guys had brought up her bedframe and a mattress, along with her dresser, three suitcases, and a backpack full of brand new school supplies.
Crimson shoved the dresser into the corner and got into bed. Her stomach full from a burger and Blizzard from DQ, she soon fell asleep.
It all began when someone left the window open. It could have been Mariah or Tony, snooping to see whether there daughter had anywhere she could hide important things. Or maybe it was the moving guys, deciding that the room was too hot while bringing Crimson’s dark green arm chair and ottoman up from the van. It might have even been Oscar, who was homeschooled due to his oddness, fantasizing over the view from the bay window, wanting to get a closer look, preferably by sticking his head out the window.
Whoever it was, they started the trouble that was now Crimson Hale’s problem.
After school the next day, Crimson was swamped with homework. It was January and Aquamarine High had a different curriculum then Lunar Hills. So basically, she’d missed half the school year and had to catch up in the time span of a week.
Crimson pulled out her phone and texted her best friend Violet.
Hey, this new school sucks. I have five months’ worth of homework. Help/Entertain me!
Violet responded with a funny picture of herself kissing a duck. Crimson laughed and clicked the camera icon on her phone, meaning to send Violet a picture of herself. A scroll of her most recently taken pictures popped up, along with the words Take Photo or Video and Camera Roll. The most recent photo was the one of the wallpaper that she’d taken yesterday. Crimson clicked on it and it enlarged slightly.
“Wha…?” Crimson trailed off. What had been a completely normal shot was now a picture of complete gray. It was like when you take a screenshot of your phone when it’s off, except in this case it was gray, not black. Crimson squinted, trying to make sense of what she was seeing. There was something there…if she just looked a little closer…there! A fuzzy outline, where the window would have been. It looked like a…human outline. A heavy bolt of fear buried itself in her stomach. She looked around her room, paying close attention to her window, but there was nothing there. Just the normal sights of a teenage girl’s room. Crimson glanced down at the picture one more time and it was then that she noticed the claws. Jutting from where the palms of the outline were, there were three jagged, crooked fingers and on the tips were claws that must have been two inches long each. The joints of the fingers were swollen and crooked, as if arthritic.
Mariah rushed into her daughter’s room.
“Crimson? What’s wrong?” She said, running to the bed where Crimson lay, clutching her phone to her chest.
“M-m-mom.” Was all she managed to choke out. Her blue eyes roamed the ceiling, and she didn’t seem to see the worried face of her mother leaning over her.
“Crimson! I need you to tell me what’s wrong!” Mariah pulled Crimson into a sitting position and hugged her against her chest. Suddenly, the world cleared and Crimson stopped crying.
“Close the window.” She said. Mariah, still confused but happy that her daughter was talking to her, went over and shut it. Crimson let out a huge sigh of relief.
“Let’s eat dinner,” She said, as if nothing had happened. “You go on ahead, I’ll be right down, I’m just going to put some of my clothes away.” A bewildered Mariah left the room. Crimson glanced at the window to make sure it was shut, and then she picked up her phone and clicked Delete Photo.
It was 12:07 and the Victim was fast asleep. She was a smart one, closing the window. That would have kept some of the Thing’s weak companions out, but not the Thing. The Thing was the most powerful of his kind, and It had laid claim on this room and all who inhabited in long ago. It glided through the Plexiglas window, and over to the bed where she slept. It took a knife out of It’s robes and sliced the girls palm, drawing just enough blood to complete the ritual. The Thing whispered the incantation and sliced it’s own bony palm. It let two drops of blood fall on the carpet and one drop onto the girl’s forehead. This was the worst part of the ritual, when the Victim woke up and found the Thing over their bed. But it had to be done.
“Wake.” The Thing whispered, and she did.
Crimson’s eyes flew open. Over her bed was a hooded figure. She made to scream, but found that she couldn’t open her mouth. Crimson writhed in her bed, twisting the sheets all around her body.
“Rise,” The Thing said, and Crimson’s body took over her mind, forcing her into a sitting positon. Her eyes were wide with panic, her brown hair knotted and coming undone from her two braids.
It whispered another incantation and Crimson’s body screamed in agony. Every limb felt like it was being submerged in lava. She couldn’t seem to get enough air. Then everything went still.
For a blissful two seconds, everything stopped. Crimson saw Oscar, Brady, Tella, Mariah, Tony, Violet: everyone she would never see again.
Then she disappeared.
In her place was a small white dove. Shaking from the draft of the open window, the bird wrapped her wings around her feathered body. The Thing reached out It’s hands and scooped the bird up. It pried her wings away from her torso. On her breast was a dark crimson spot, perfectly circular, that would never fade, no matter how many times she molted.
It carried the bird to the window, and set in on the windowsill. The dove’s wide blue eyes flickered around the outside world. Then she took flight.