Memory of Pain

"I'll find you there."

"Nothing can stop this..."

"Why are you leaving me?!?!?"

"They're all dead...."

"Do you care about anything?"

"I'll never forget you..."

"There's a house we could go to... I'll take you there someday, and all of this will be better..."

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Alex woke up suddenly, fear in his face. Slowly, he got out of bed and started to tiptoe across the bedroom floor, wary of waking his fellow roommates. He let out a relieved sigh as he shut the door behind him.

As he padded quietly through the hall, he finally reached the door at the end. He knocked quietly as he opened the door. Seated at the desk was a woman of about forty, a pair of reading glasses perched on her nose. She turned, slightly startled, to look at him. "What are you doing out of bed, Alex?" She asked, a frown on her face. He looked at her for a minute, then promptly burst into tears. Instantly, a look of concern crossed face as she got up, went over to him, and hugged him close.

"What's wrong, hun?" She asked him gently. "I-I had a b-b-bad d-d-ream."He sobbed. She hugged him tighter, then picked him up and took him to her room, trying to soothe him all the while.

-Seven Weeks Later-

"You'll like it here, Alex, they have a daughter a year older than you," Matron said, trying to stop Alex from crying. "B-but I don' wanna go!" He said clutching to her sleeve. "It'll be alright, I promise," She said. "Go on, I'll be right behind you."

Slowly, he walked forward, going down the wooded path, matron right behind him. Once they cleared the path, he gasped in shock at the beautiful manor before them. "Is that gonna be my home?" he asked. "Yes," she said, a smile on her face. "The people here are very nice, and they care about you." He looked at her wonderingly, with that face only children can pull off, and then he turned and knocked on the door. Running feet were heard inside, and someone shouting "He's here!"

After about five minutes, what appeared to be the manor's butler opened the door, a smile on his face. "Welcome to Animus Poena Manor," he said. Bending down to Alex' height, he said "I take it you are the young master?" Alex smiled shyly at the man, then hid his face in Matron's skirts. Matron smiled down at him, then looked at the butler. "As you can see, he's very shy, but I'm sure he'll get along fine with you." She said. "Come on Alex, gonna give me a hug before I go?" She asked him. He came out of her skirts, reached up, and gave her as big a hug as his little arms would allow. "Will I ever see you again?" He asked, worry in his voice. "Of course," she replied, "I'll be here again next month."A smile came to his face at that as the two said their final goodbyes.

Once inside, Alex looked around the main room wonderingly. The place was amazing, with wood floors, incredible staircases, and the most beautiful painting he had ever seen. The painting was of what appeared to be a little path, with beautiful flowers growing on either side, and creeping vines on the side of the building.

"Come along, little master," the butler called. "You must meet the young miss and your new parents." Quickly, Alex followed after him, going through room after room of wonderful things. Finally, after walking for what felt like hours, they reached the dining room, where a man and woman who looked to be about thirty years and a girl that looked to be the same age as him were eating dinner. As soon as they saw him, they instantly stood up and came over to them. With a smile on her face, the woman he would eventually call mother, gave him a hug and said her name was Beatrix. The man he would come to know as his father introduced himself as Edward, and the little girl shyly introduced herself as Alexandria. As soon as they invited him to join them for dinner, he knew he was where he belonged.

-Next day-

After breakfast the next day, Alex and 'Dria(as he had decided to call her) decided to play explorers, as she had never really explored her home. After hunting through the first two floors, they found themselves running through the main entry. As soon as he saw it again, he stopped, causing 'Dria to nearly run into him. "What's wrong?" she asked him, a worried look on her face.

"Nothing," he replied, "But where did you get that painting?" She looked at him in surprise, clearly not expecting that. "I don't know for sure," she said thoughtful, "But there's a rumor that it came with the house, and that it shows a hidden place somewhere in the house." Alex turned to look at her, a look of excitement on his face. "Why don't we go find it?" he asked her. Instantly, her eyes lit up, and she nodded her head. "Maybe we'll find treasure," she said, sounding excited. At that, the two set off, looking in this room and that, checking the walls and bookshelves, as people in their favorite storybooks often did.

After a couple hours of looking, they collapsed against a wall, exhausted from running around so much. "Maybe it doesn't exist," 'Dria said sadly. Looking dejected for a moment, the two sat there, wishing they knew what to do. Then, suddenly, Alex stood up, fire in his eyes. "No giving up, 'Dria," He said. She looked at him in confusion. "If it's here, we'll find it." She smiled at him, determination back in her eyes. "Ok!" she said.

As she stood up, she tripped causing the wall to move back. She scrambled to her feet, looking at the where the wall had been, then at Alex, then back again. Where the wall had been was a bush, a rather common one at that. Excitement in his eyes, Alex moved towards it,moving the leaves aside to show a crawlspace, just big enough for them to go in one at a time. He started crawling through, with 'Dria at his heels.

After crawling for about five minutes, they fell down a hole, and went tumbling. After a couple of minutes had passed, they popped out, falling into the middle of a path. As he rubbed his head, Alex looked around, and suddenly realized where they were. They'd found it! He turned to look at 'Dria, and knew she'd realized the same thing.

As they looked around, 'Dria noticed something was wrong with Alex. As they'd looked at the beautiful plants, he'd slowly become more and more quiet. Getting more and more worried, she turned to him. "What's wrong, Alex?" She asked. He looked at her, fear and horror in his eyes, then quickly turned away. "Alex? Alex, you're scaring me," She said. "What's wrong?" Slowly he turned to her. "I've been here before," he said, barely above a whisper. Suddenly, he collapsed to the ground in tears.

"'Dria," he said, his voice full of pain. "Make it stop." Fear in her eyes, she started to back away. "Please 'Dria, don't let them have me!" he screamed, as he slowly tried to stand up.

At that, 'Dria turned to go up the chute, but found it was gone. They were trapped. Slowly, she turned to look at Alex, and screamed.

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It's said that in England there's a house. A house long abandoned by a couple who lost their two children, never to be seen again. They lived there for another week or so before the father died of a heart-attack. Another week after that, and the mother killed herself, saying in her diary, "I cannot bear the screams that haunt this place. I hear my beautiful daughter and son screaming every night, and I can bear it no more."

It's said that in that house is a painting of a path. And it's said that every time someone new moves in, they dream of that path, and the death's of other's. Never resting, it seeks more victims.

It's said that every night you stay there, if you go to that main entrance, you can hear a little girls screams, and a little boys cries for help, as a twisted face appears in the portrait, laughing at childish games...

-Squish Phillips

"Animus Poena, Memory of Pain"