Chapter I

The Garden


Katrine sat in the comfy bed in her bedroom. She picked up the book she had found underneath the loose floorboards in her closet. She began to read the book for the first time.

She opened the pages, smelling the musty, acrid smell of the pages, yellowed by age. She coughed, for the pages were seeped in a thick scent. It was a diary.

Katrine gasped, she vaguely remembered a story of a girl who had lived in their house, years before, and the mystery of what had happened to her.

She put the book underneath her pillow and walked to her father's study. He sat in his chair, reading a large thick book, filled with symbols of a foreign language. Her father was the professor of linguistics at the local university.

"Father?" she said timidly.

Her father turns toward her and looks at her eyes, "Katrine, what is it that brings you to my study at such late hours? You should be in bed, resting."

Katrine, unable to keep in her excitement exclaims, "I have an important question!" Her father smiled at her enthusiasm.

She continues, "Tell me about the girl that lived here."

Her father's smile turns to a frown, "That is not a tale to be told tonight, not now, you are too young."

"Please?" She pleads.

Her father sighs. "She was about your age, she had long midnight hair and the fairest skin, she turned fifteen and her mother and older sister died, then she disappeared. Her father died five years later, but her younger sister still lives, she sold us this house eighteen years ago when your mother and I married. That is all I will tell you for today."

Katrine gave out a small sigh on her way out of the study after saying goodnight to her father. She knew he was dead-set on not saying anything else, so she planned to go to the Public Library the n ext day to do some research of her own.

She went back to bed, thinking of all the ways she could get to go to the library without being suspicious- she didn't want her parents thinking she was obsessed with the young girl that had disappeared, or take the diary away from her,- she his the diary back under the floorboards and went back to bed.

She lay in the darkness, thinking of all the things that could have happened to that girl, the girl that had lived in this house, the house she was living in, and she might even have had the same bedroom, hence the diary. Katrine decided to take a closer look into the diary to try to find a name.

She sat in a bench in a garden, a beautiful garden, and it was a stunning garden to ethereal proportions, but as she looked around she noticed that it was concealed inside thick walls. It was night, and the darkness around her did not scare her, the moon was high in the sky and she took a good look around at the blooming cherry trees and the tall willow tree and a pond with clear water and silvery fish, and saw rose bushes planted along the walls blooming with luscious red roses, She walked alongside the rose bushes, touching the delicate petals of the roses, and began to realize that she couldn't see an opening on the walls.

She tried to find a way out but there were rose bushes planted along the walls and it was too painful to try to make way through the thorns. She gave up on finding a way out of the garden by the walls and started exploring the beautiful surroundings. She found a well in the middle of the garden, when she looked down through the hole, expecting to see water, but she didn't see any, she saw a ladder leading down into the deep darkness.

She was still looking in the well when she heard her mother's voice calling hers, "Katrine" she said softly, and Katrine looked around in the garden, trying to see where the voice was coming from. "Katrine" it said louder. Katrine looked around the garden, searching.

"Katrine!" Her mother shook her awake, "school."

Katrine sat up in bed, confused. She took a few moments to assess the situation before realizing she was back in her bedroom, and the garden had been a dream. She was already losing the dream.

"Garden, roses, roses, walls, tall walls, well, spooky well, no water…" She whispered to herself as she jotted all these down in a notebook she filled with all kinds of things.

She got out of bed and began readying herself for school. When she was done she walked into the small, cramped space of her closet and took the diary from its hiding place. She looked through the book and finally found, scribbled in tiny neat handwriting in the corner of the back cover, Sarabelle Westney.

Katrine smiled, knowing her name helped her a great deal. She placed the diary back in its place and went along with her day and got her mom to let her visit the library under the pretence of studying for an exam.

She searched through old newspapers and high-school yearbooks, but she didn't find anything. She asked the librarian to help her find old obituaries, planning on finding when her mother or sister died because the date of their deaths would bring her closer to the disappearance of Sarabelle.

They found that occasionally, in a few newspapers, obituaries were undecipherable because they had been drawn over with ink, obscuring the information. Or, in one occurrence, one obituary had been cut out of the newspaper, leaving nothing but a hole in the page.

Every time they would come upon this kind of disturbance the librarian would gasp, surprised, as if she had never seen that the newspapers had been defiled.

Katrine walked out of the library with no more knowledge than she had come in with. She felt disappointed, but she knew she had made some progress by trying. She knew something was suspicious about all those obituaries, and with every step she took she became more determined to find out why.

She sat in her bed, it was night and she had just finished with her chores and schoolwork. She went, took the diary from the closet and then sat down in her bed, moving to a comfortable position where she could relax while reading and get enough light.

She began reading the first entry:

I sit here, writing in my diary for the first time. It is autumn and it is beautiful outside, the leaves are falling off the trees and the air is fresh, not hot like summer but not frigid like winter, it was perfect because spring is too cheerful and flowery for my taste. I like taking walks outside, and I like torturing people. This time of year is the best time to torture people in the abandoned barn, because when members of society suddenly vanish, people tend to blame the witches. The abandoned barn is perfect for torturing because it stands far away enough that nobody can hear the screams, but close enough that I can walk there. I will confess my crimes, because if I ever went into the church and told a priest about my "experiments" he would most likely break his vows, and run to the police force to tell on my crimes. I have done things, bad things, terrible things that would shock my parents if they knew… they would wither, because I have condemned myself. I know that someday I will die and go to hell. I know it, it is for sure. People always are so paranoid about not sinning, about small things, they are so fearful of doing something that would send them to hell and it makes me laugh, because people are not fair to each other and the world, our leaders, so praised by their followers, are as corrupt as the worms that feast on the carcasses. The World is unfair, and unfair people should be eliminated, and that is what I spend my free time doing. Well, supper is ready and I must eat.


Katrine trembled, her hands were shaking so hard she could barely read the words in the page. She felt very frightened, it was too much to take in at once, too much. She decided to never read the diary again, and even show her parents, but for now all she did was put the damned volume back in its hiding place.

She ran to bed, leaving her light on, she was too terrified to sleep in the dark and she shivered under her covers, wondering what kind of information is hidden in the pages of the diary. She slowly drifted off to sleep.

It was the garden again, but this time everything was dead

It was day but the sky was not the azure that is taken for granted. The sky was a gray tone, the kind of tone you only see in dead bodies.

Katrine was instantly reminded of going to her cousin's funeral when she was younger, her poor cousin had been impaled on the fence of their house while trying to run away. She remembered his face, pale, gray and calm and she always dreamed about it.

She had been close to him and loved him like the older brother she could look up to, but their age difference- he was sixteen, she was nine- was too great. It had been seven years since his death and she still cried when she thought of him.

Katrine looked around with a film of tears in her eyes and saw that the trees were dead, their boughs stretching out to the sky as if pleading for mercy. The roses were gone, but the thorns were as sharp as ever. Bodies of the birds that had once nested in the trees lay among the branches and around the roots of the trees, swarming with maggots.

The air was charged with static and humidity as if a storm was brewing, but there were no winds, and the air reeked of death.

She walked over to the pond and the water, one clear and full of life, was dirty and red with blood. Katrine turned and retched when she saw the dead fish floating and part of an arm, a human arm, decaying in the pond. The smells of rotting flesh, blood and the putrid water were so strong Katrine felt faint.

She finally got her strength back and walked to the well.

The well stood the same way it did when she last saw it, but the wood had been eaten by vermin and the rope ladder looked like it would give under her weight.

Still.

There was something about that well that called out to her, a mystery she had to solve. She could see the bottom, a long way down, too long to jump. She could make out a dark spot at the bottom of the walls, but she couldn't see if it was a doorway or just a hole.

She decided to find out. She climbed the barrier that kept people from falling in by accident. She stood and looked down at the darkness below, and just as she was about to jump sirens sounded off. She looked around, confused, and the garden began to fade.

She slipped back to conciousness and wrote what she had seen. She still heard the sirens, so she walked out of her room, down the stairs and out the front door to see and ambulance in the neighbor's house. She sighed, it was just the neighbor.

After that dream, she thought nothing would ever shock her that way ever again.

She was dead wrong.