Beating the Boredom
"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" Sadie screamed, arms shaking and breath coming in ragged gasps. Her head tilted down as she swallowed back the bile in her throat. Jagged splitters dug into her thigh, her light blue jeans, now stained a rust color. Twisting her leg around only resulted in knives stabbing her and the floor in front swaying and darkening. She gulped air and appeared to steady herself. Sadie's leg wouldn't budge, the rotted floorboards held her firmly in place. Sadie's other leg rested on a more solid area of the floor. Unfortunately, the free leg had to remain bent at the knee and tucked behind her if she was going to maintain her balance.
Sadie's eyes darted around the room. Thick white clumps of cobwebs hung in dark corners. A door hung cockeyed, its top hinge broken, to her left, while an old four-poster bed squatted in the center of the wall at the back of the room. The bare mattress was quilted with a thick layer of dust. A dresser sat close to the bed, also covered with dust.
Sadie was stuck in the middle of the room.
"Justin?! Trinity?! Where the hell are you guys? Help me! I'm stuck! I can't move my damn leg." The words echoed in the sparse room and only silence greeted Sadie's tirade.
Only ten hours ago three friends had been gathered in Trinity's backyard, plucking tufts of grass, squeezing ants between long, white fingers, and dragging their hands through the dirt while dangling from a tire swing. Ten hours ago, the three of them had all been safe, caged in, bored.
"Well, it's sure hard to believe school's done and it's summer. What has it been now, three, four weeks since the last class? I sort of miss the routine of it all," Trinity said, sitting primly on the grass.
"Ugh." Justin flopped into the center of the tire swing, "What, are you crazy or high? I barely lasted this year an' you're ready for school again?"
"Suck it up Justin," Sadie said, "I get where you're coming from but Trinity's a goody-goody scholar. She can't help herself. I'm with you, though, glad to be done with Algebra." She flopped down into the grass, pressing her index finger into the ground and lifting it into the air with the corpse of a small ant stuck to it.
Trinity gave them both a withered look. Sadie starred right back pointedly and gave her the finger while Justin crossed his eyes and stuck out his tongue.
"Please, let's stop this guys," said Trinity, while pulling up a clump of grass by the roots and blowing her bangs up in the air.
"Man, I'm hating this summer already," said Justin, his voice raised as he slid out of the tire swing.
"I got nothing planned for summer. Too damn old for summer camp and too young for a job at McDonald's," said Sadie.
"Not to mention no wheels, man, no way to get where you're goin' or get back when you've got there," Justin philosophized.
All three now rested on the grass, backs flat on the ground. Sadie's eyes were closed, Justin gazed up vacantly, and Trinity watched the clouds drift across the azure sky.
"I know what you mean," said Trinity, "I feel in between. Neither here nor there."
Sadie rolled to her side and propped her head up in her hand, causing red hair to cascade into her face.
"Yuck!" Sadie cried as she scrabbled to pull the hair back.
"I want adventure, something exciting; someplace close by to venture to. But nothing ever happens in this godforsaken town."
Suddenly the sound of a car door slamming caught their attention. They heard the click-click of heels on the pavement before the woman came into view and knocked on the front door of Trinity's house. Trinity's mom opened the door and exclaimed, "Mrs. Livingham!" Her smile became fixed as Mrs. Livingham began to rant and rave about the old Carlton place and how it needed to be torn down. It was devaluing their property.
The eavesdropping trio crept closer to hear better. Sadie's eyes began to shine with the mention of the Carlton house. She murmured the word Carlton and motioned for the others to follow her to the furthest corner of the backyard.
"That's it! You heard her, right?" said Sadie, her voice coming out in a hurried whisper.
Trinity's eyes darkened and her mouth curved downward. Justin just shrugged his shoulders.
"Come on you dumbasses," said Sadie. Her voice rose in a whisper-scream.
"The Carlton place! What did we just talk about? Adventure, something to do to pass the time. It is right here in our laps."
"Whatcha talking about, exactly?" asked Justin.
"Oh, you guys, my mom is always telling me not to go by that old house down the road. It is a pile of junk," said Trinity.
"Pile of junk, pile of crap is more like it," said Sadie, "Still, I think we should check it out, it could be the adventure we've been looking for. I've heard some pretty great stories about it."
"Such as?" asked Justin.
"Well, Tommy Jenkins said that Billy Smith said that Bobby Jo Price said that the old guy that used to live there died in the house. His ghost haunts the place to keep out trespassers and to protect his hoarded money. Rumor has it that he never spent a dime and hid it in the house," said Sadie.
"I don't believe a word, they are just told by parents to scare us kids so we don't enter the house," said Trinity.
Justin picked up his head and offered his own information. He told the two girls that his brother had said that the guy who had died in the place had a wife and no one knew what happened to her. Some people said that she was hidden some place in Old Carlton's house. Trinity made a face at this and said she didn't want to find a dead body. They all went on to discuss what they might find in the old house and decided they would go tonight. Each would tell his or her mom a different story. Justin and Sadie would say they were staying at Trinity's and Trinity would say she was staying with Sadie.
Later they left Trinity's and had it all planned out. They would meet at eight o'clock that night just outside the Carlton house. Sadie would bring the flashlights, her lock picking kit (just in case) and some bottles of pop and water. Trinity would bring her duffel bag, walkie-talkies, a candle and some matches. Justin promised to bring his pocket knife and some rope. Trinity, Sadie, and Justin congratulated each other on their preparedness and foresight.
Eight o'clock finally arrived and they all stood outside the Carlton place. It loomed in front of them, a giant squatting in the weeds.
"Gee whiz," said Justin, "It's a freak show."
Black dandruff shingles slid around and flaked from the roof and down the house. Peeling white paint revealed the wood siding. It looked like the house had gotten a bad sunburn and its skin was now flaking off. The two second story windows stared at the group of three, broken glass glinted in the starlight. The porch grinned with sharp pointed teeth, protecting the main door.
"Okay wimps, let's get in there," said Sadie. She brandished her lock picking kit and marched up to the door. Justin and Trinity followed her up the steps and onto the porch. Sadie's hand rested on the door knob and twisted it. The knob rotated easily in her grip but the door wouldn't move. Sadie, Trinity, and Justin put their shoulders to the door and counted: one, two, three. Squeeeeeeeak.
"Phew!" said Justin.
"Oh my God, does that ever reek," said Sadie.
"Stale air," Trinity stated and turned her head away from the gapping hole left by the open door.
"Ladies first," said Justin, grinning sheepishly as he backed away from the doorway.
"Screw you!" said Sadie.
She grabbed a flashlight and tossed two more to Trinity and Justin. Click. A beam of light shot from Sadie's hand and she strode into the house with Trinity and Justin trailing behind.
The inside of the house was seeped in darkness except for where the three beams of light hit to reveal the layout. The floorboards creaked underfoot and they left a trail through the caked on layer of dust. White figures emerged in the dark, swaying slightly in the breeze from the open door.
"They left furniture here, man," said Justin, "just covered it up and left the stuff."
Trinity, Sadie, and Justin moved from the entry way into the living room. More white humps were scattered around the room. In the left corner of the room a covered loveseat rested. Directly across from it was a bare spot with wires hanging out of the wall where the TV used to sit. A blackened fireplace with rusted handles was tucked into the back wall of the room.
"I wonder if the lights are still working," Sadie said. She moved over to the light switch on the wall and flicked the lever up.
"Oh, come on, the power's probably been off for years," said Trinity.
Pop. The lights snapped on. Each face stared up in wonder.
"Holy cow," said Justin, "How'd that happen?"
"They must have forgotten to cut the power, or something. I've heard of that happening a few times before on the news," said Trinity.
"Okay, now that we can see easily, let's check this joint out," said Sadie.
"We should split up so we can cover more ground. I'll go upstairs and start knocking on walls or something like that. Justin, you can head down to the basement and see if there are any dead bodies or whatever. Trinity, you go ahead and stay on this floor and poke around. Let's meet up at the front door in thirty minutes."
The group went through the house to their designated locations. Justin headed through the living room into the kitchen where the basement stairs were. He turned on the light and thumped down the stairs. Bump. Bump. Bump. Justin's hand hugged the railing as he went down the thirteen steps to the cement floor. It was flooded with water up to his ankles and he sloshed through it, nearly tripping over a hidden something in the water. Justin's hand shot up and touched the cider block wall. It was rough and grainy, with jagged points that cut his hand.
"Ow, dang it." He moved forward in the dim light with eyes darting around the basement. It smelled of dampness, with a slight irony scent that left a bad taste in Justin's mouth. The basement was open and unfinished; a single room with a dented washer and dryer nestled against the wall. Pop, pop, pop. The lights suddenly go out and Justin is left in the darkness. Sloshing through the water in a hurried fashion toward the steps he started taking them two at a time but slipped and fell down the last four steps of the staircase. Justin shook his head and sat in the water. He tentatively wiggled his ankles and held up his bloody hand and grimaced. Minutes passed and he slowly got up to his feet and laboriously placed one foot in front of the other on the steps.
Meanwhile, Trinity wandered the main floor. She glanced at the dining room table that was left on the hardwood floor. It stood solid and firm, with an understated elegance. She felt the chairs and was surprised at the thickness of them. They were warm to the touch, almost as if someone had just left them. A candelabrum graced the center of the table and behind the table was a rich-looking china cabinet. A tinkling sound of china swaying in the cabinet filled the room. It was soft and whispery, making Trinity think of the voices of children.
"Did they actually leave the china inside?" Trinity questioned the room. It echoed in the stillness.
She reached up a pulled open the door of the cabinet and hesitated a moment. A shiver went down her spine and Trinity almost turned away then peered into the dark cupboard. She was met with a rich, oaky smell mixed with age and dust. Trinity picked up a plate a felt the smooth texture of it, a delicate item that seemed almost translucent. Her left hand stretched toward the second cabinet door and tugged gently at it. It opened swiftly and the plates and cups inside spilled out, hitting Trinity in the chest, arms, and legs. She tried to back away but lost her footing and fell. Suddenly the china was crashing on her head and she pulled herself backward with her hands, leaving a trail of red as she scurried away. She shook her head and rested against the wall that she had finally reached. The china still spewed out of the cabinet and its clatter filled Trinity's ears. It was almost deafening.
Upstairs Sadie wandered the halls, moving along swiftly, tapping the walls to see if they held a secret treasure or a hollow passageway.
"Well, this has been a bundle of fun. I've turned up squat. I wonder how Justin and Trinity are fairing?" murmured Sadie.
She glanced into one bedroom, a bathroom, a closet, and finally the master bedroom.
"Ah, this looks promising." Sadie stepped into the room and tapped the first wall. A bed was centered in the room and the mattress was still on the four-poster, covered in dust. Discolored spots were scattered on the wall where pictures or mirrors used to hang. They were lighter then the rest of the wall that had deepened in color with grime over the years. There was a stuffy, musty order in the room. No one had been in it for many years. Rat droppings added to the rank smell; they were peppered across the floor. Sadie trailed her hand through the dust on a dresser that stood to the left of the bed. The dust swirled in the air, creating a mini tornado in the palm of her hand. The musty odor increased and suddenly she sneezed.
"Oh, this is stupid, there's nothing here," Sadie said.
She strode to the center of the room and let out a scream right from a horror movie as the floor beneath her gave way. The floorboards cracked and popped, dragging Sadie down. Her right leg fell through and stuck while the left was bent at the knee and dug into the floorboards. Sadie screamed in pain and hollered for help from Justin and Trinity. The splitters dug into her thigh and any movement made it worse. She tried to calm herself.
"This seemed like such a good idea earlier. I hope that they find me soon, this is killing me!" said Sadie.
"Guys, where ARE you? Hello! Please, get your asses up here now!"
The floorboards shifted some more, creaking and groaning. Sadie sank deeper into the floor and let out an even louder scream. The floor pitched and heaved like the deck of a ship and Sadie disappeared from sight.
Sadie dropped to the main floor and landed in a heap of rubble. Pieces of floorboard were still sticking out of her leg and she moaned in pain. Suddenly both Justin and Trinity were in view. Justin hobbled into the room and Trinity walked in covered in cuts and big red welts. They moved toward Sadie with worried expressions on their faces. Grabbing her arms they lifted her up to a standing position and shuffled toward the front door, an odd, three-headed beast. The door, which had been stuck before, practically flew open under Justin's hand. He had barely touched it! The three exited the house and paused on the porch to catch their breath. Suddenly, the door slammed behind them, apparently catching a draft. Maybe.
"I think somethin' wanted us out, seriously, dudes," said Justin.
The trio painfully moved toward the nearest home down the road, the warm glow of its lights already welcoming them.