Character Pronunciation:

Kyra: "kere-uh" ("kere" rhymes with "here")

Evelyn: "ehv-eh-lyn"

Callie: "cal-ee"

Hello, My Dear…

I looked up at the house, and wondered yet again how I had managed to get myself talked into Truth or Dare. On Halloween, of all nights. Yeah, it hadn't been one of my smartest moments. And now I was paying for it, standing on the lawn of the old Greystone place. I shivered, and I'll freely admit it wasn't because of the cold. Goosebumps spread over my arms and legs, and I swear if my hair hadn't been sprayed firmly in place, it would have stood up like Frankenstein's wife's infamous 'do.

I took a few more steps up the sidewalk before looking back at the car my friends sat in, parked safely on the street. They made "go on" motions with their hands, looking skittish themselves. That almost made me laugh; they were scared, and they were the ones who would probably be getting shakes or something, while I spent an hour and a half in the house. Alone. With only my cell phone and a dinky flashlight from a nearby gas station. Like I said, agreeing to the game was not one of my brighter ideas. And my stupid pride refused me to turn down a dare.

I could hear Jake, probably the one person in the car whom I didn't count exactly as a friend, start to mutter.

"She's not going to do it, you know she's not. We should just leave now, this is a waste of time."

I couldn't help but roll my eyes, even though I was still facing the house and he wouldn't be able to see me. Seriously though, could he be more of a jerk? I lifted my hand so he could see the back of it over my shoulder, and flicked him off before setting my shoulders and straightening my back. I could hear my best friend, Evelyn, and the others laughing at him as I completed the walk up the lawn.

Standing on the porch, I look back one more time to wave goodbye at the car, which was starting up to drive away. Evelyn, bless her, had been all for waiting outside until my time was up, just in case. However, the neighborhood police here had a strict "No loitering'' policy, and they were famous for always having brooms stuck in unpleasant places, especially on Halloween.

I looked at the door that was being held on by only it's top hinge, then grabbed the rusty door knob and opened it easily, a result of fifty years of neglect and vandalism. Stepping in, I was immediately overwhelmed by the thick, musty air. My steps kicked up dust from the floorboards, who groaned and complained noisily under my weight. Flicking on the flashlight, I passed it over the room, trying to get an understanding of my surroundings.

The room was rather large, and seemed to be a sort of parlor. There was a cluster of old-fashioned chairs and end tables on the left wall, which was made up of mainly broken windows with ivy starting to come in through the shattered panes from the outside. The was a piano to the far right, and a large staircase directly in front of me gave the room a sort of divided look to it. I could see a door on the back wall, to the right of the staircase.

I had definitely underestimated the creepiness of the place. Normally with abandoned houses you'd expect that, if there was furniture, it would be covered in those white cloth things (although those do definitely add to the creepy factor). But everything looked like the family had just moved to a different part of the room; the piano cover was propped open, and the keys were grey with grime. There was even a tea set on what I think was once a silver platter, sitting on one of the end tables, with two china cups on either side of it, as if waiting to be finished. The sense of abandon that filled the place filled me with a dread that was almost worse than the ghost-and-ghoul variety.

I sat on the floor near the door; they told me I had to stay in for an hour and a half. Well, that was all good and dandy, but that didn't mean I had to go into more than the first room. I cringed as my movement sent dust motes flying into the air; my allergies were not going to be pretty by the end of this, and neither was the bottom of my rag-doll costume.

I leaned my head against the wall and flipped open my phone, trying to ignore the thoughts that had come creeping into my head. Being in here I couldn't help but remember all the stories about the Greystone house. It had once been a beautiful, three-story colonial home with white paint, dark blue shutters, and a sprawling garden. The Greystone family had owned it for centuries, supposedly, when it came into the possession of Robert Greystone, the only child and son to the family. His parents had left the house to him and his new bride, Elizabeth, who had recently discovered that she was pregnant. Things seemed lovely for the couple…at first.

Robert Greystone, it turned out, had less love for his pretty wife than for the booze supplied by a local winery, which apparently kept their cellar well supplied. Several nights a week, Robert would over-indulge in expensive wine, and the results were not good for Elizabeth. Rumors started up in the town about the bruises and cuts that were showing up on Elizabeth's fair skin more and more often, and of increasing severity.

One night, when Elizabeth's baby was only three weeks from being due, a bigger fight than usual broke out in the Greystone household. Elizabeth had finally gotten tired of being abused, and had started packing, when it happened.

Elizabeth was found two weeks later, her body tangled in the weeds on the banks of the river than runs through the town. Her beautiful face was marred by injuries, and she had been stabbed twice in the chest, and once in the stomach. Though everyone knew who had done it, the police had wanted to go through the evidence and everything as normal, just to be sure.

After her body was found, a week came and went. The seventh night though, at 11 o'clock, the inhabitants of the houses next to the Greystone place were startled by a terrified scream, loud enough to pierce through to them. There was silence after that, but given what had so recently happened to Elizabeth, the neighbors weren't too willing to take chances.

When no one answered the door, the police broke in (which probably had something to do with the state ofthe door, now that I came to think of it). They found Robert in his bedroom, sprawled on the floor. Onlookers who saw the body before it was covered as they wheeled it away said that there was a look of utmost terror on his face, and along his neck there were dark, almost black prints that looked shaped almost exactly like slender fingers. The coroner announced strangulation as the cause of death, the method of murder. There was one detail in Robert's death that has yet to be explained. however. When the police found Robert's body, they didn't have to break through just the front door, but the bedroom door too, for the window-less room had been locked from the inside.

I snapped myself back to the present, trying once again to clear my head of the story. I flipped open my phone, hoping the bright colors and sounds of a nice Tetris game would help distract me.

I was celebrating the victory of my third game, and had been in the house for about forty-five minutes when I heard it. Or, at least, though I heard it. Amid the tinkling congratulatory music coming from my phone, I could've sworn I head a soft fhump, almost like a dust-muffled footstep. I shook my head; it was late, and I hadn't slept more than a couple hours the night before…tonight was definitely getting to me.

I was sending a text to my friend Kallie, though, when I heard it again. This time, it wasn't just once, and the sounds occurred in a pattern.





I stood up shakily. There's no way I could be imaging it, not to this extent. I was hurrying to the door, with my hand on the knob, when a new sound reached my ears.

Someone was singing. From the floor above me, a straining melody was crawling down to me. The voice was quiet and thin, so that I couldn't make out the words. But I could definitely detect the emotion in it; there was pain and sorrow, but overbearing them were waves of anger and malice. I tried to make myself open the door, but my muscles where no longer mine to control. Instead of turning away, I found myself drawn by the music, to the music. With the kind of horrified fascination usually reserved for someone who witnesses some kind of terrible accident, I found myself unable to leave. In fact, I realized with a start that I was actually moving towards the staircase. I watched in terror as my legs moved me slowly, almost jerkily up the stairs. I was on the second floor landing and walking down the hallway when my cell phone started to buzz, and my ringtone cut through the terrible song that had been drawing me in.

I was so dumb with relief when I flipped it open, glancing quickly at the caller i.d. before answering; it was Evelyn. Realizing that I hadn't moved any, I quickly whirled around, babbling as I hurried to get back to the stairs.

"Oh my God, Evelyn I'm so glad you called! There's something here with me, I don't know who or what, but I've been hearing noises and singing, and then I was moving and I couldn't stop…you guys have to come get me! Right now!" I was stumbling over my words, rushing to get them out, and I'm pretty sure I sounded completely hysterical and incoherent.

"Wait, what? Calm down, Kyra, and just tell me what's going on, ok?" She paused, waiting for a response from me. "Kyra? Kyra?? Are you there?? Kyra!!"

But I couldn't respond. I couldn't say anything, because I had just reached the top of the stairs and saw something I hadn't noticed on my way up. There was a mirror hanging on the wall directly in front of me, with the stairs starting to the left of it. The mirror was grimy, but I could see my pale reflection, looking absolutely terrified, the phone still held up to my ear. My mouth gaped in horror, because it wasn't my reflection that had me frozen to the spot. It was the figure behind me.

She was wearing some kind of gray shroud that fell to the floor, and it was sopping wet with a mixture of rancid water and the crimson blood that streamed from three deep, gaping wounds; one on her bulbous stomach, which bulged unnaturally, and two on her chest, one of which was a slash that ran from her collarbone all the way to her shoulder. Her long hair hung loose and scraggly down her shoulders and back, unhealthy and almost slimy looking. Her face was pale and sallow, almost yellow looking, with hollows in her cheeks, the skin drawn back over her bones so that her black eyes looked wide and sunken; her pale lips were drawn back in a grimace that was slowly turning into a haunting, mocking caricature of a smile. There was wicked, ragged gash running from just above her left cheekbone to along her jaw line. She raised her hand and stepped forward. As she drew nearer I could see that her skin was shriveled and too-soft looking, as if it had the consistency of mushy bread.

I couldn't move as she stopped right behind me, and I was only faintly aware of Evelyn's voice still shrilling through my phone as I dropped it. I was shaking uncontrollably, and whimpered as I watched in the reflection as she brought her hand to my hair to stroke it almost gently, though her fingers were distorted into a horrible travesty of claws. I couldn't physically feel her hand, but I became even paler as a skin-crawling feeling started at my neck, cold air freezing my skin. There was a horrible smell, and I stiffened even more as she came closer still. I closed my eyes, wishing and praying that I was just hallucinating. But when I opened them, her head was leaned close to mine, and I could feel her cold, putrid breath enveloping me.

"Hello, my dear…" she whispered, and her voice was raspy, a heinous poison to hear. I tried to scream, but my throat was too dry, and air wouldn't come to me; I tried to kick and run, but my body stayed locked.

Both her hands came up to stroke my neck. I could feel them this time, and they were clammy, viscous, and horrible. A drop of fetid water started making it's way from her hands down my back.

Evelyn stood in the bright lights of the pharmacy. One of the guys had gotten thirsty, so they had gone on a quick errand to get him a soda while they waited for Kyra to finish. Looking at the time, Evelyn realized it had already been an hour since they had left her. I should check up on her, she thought.

Evelyn had been against this from the beginning. It was ridiculously stupid, sending a seventeen year-old girl alone in an abandoned house, even one less spooky than the Greystone place. No one had listened to her, however, not even Kyra, who never turned down a bet.

Kyra answered on the second ring, and for a split second, relief flooded through Evelyn. Then she realized what it was her best friend was saying.

"…something here with me, I don't know who or what…"

There was obvious panic in Kyra's voice, but Evelyn's hearing was obscured by a strange fuzzing sound that had begun, and was growing louder and louder; she could only catch snatches of what Kyra was telling her.

"Wait, what? Calm down, Kyra, and just tell me what's going on, ok?" She waited for her friend to say something, but Kyra was silent. "Kyra? Kyra?? Are you there?? Kyra!!" Evelyn was becoming increasingly desperate, but there was no response from the other line.

Suddenly the fuzzing sound stopped. There was a clatter, as if Kyra had dropped her phone.

"Hello?? Kyra, please, please answer me!" Evelyn tried one more time, but still no answer.

Until the singing started.

Faint and very unclear, Evelyn could barely hear a woman's raspy voice singing something sinister and haunting.

Kyra's body was never found.