Hey. If you're reading this, you might want to check out my other works, The Door and Bedtime Prayers. There are tie-ins and teasers in this story that relate to them. Thanks for reading.


Jonathan Brackman snapped out of his uncomfortable sleep as the moving van he was huddled up in jolted to a stop.

The sky was slightly overcast, the sunlight peeking out for the first time since Jonathan had visited his new home. Usually the weather sucked; it was cold and windy.

But the sun was shining and everything was thrown into an almost sharper focus in Royal Falls.

Jonathan blinked slowly and took in the giant of a two story house his parents had bought in the new neighborhood. His dad had said something about needing more space. He really didn't care, but hey, it was his father's bonus going down the tubes.

"Aren't you just so excited, Jonathan?" clapped his mother next to him. "This house is so beautiful and the neighborhood is great. I think we really lucked out guys, I really do."

"Yeah it's great mom," answered Jonathan dully.

"Look Jonathan," said his dad from the driver's seat, "I know you aren't thrilled about moving to a new place. But the job opportunity is so good, and you get the opportunity to travel again…"

"Yeah, I know it's just great," said Jonathan sarcastically. "Who doesn't love moving about twenty times?"

"Now Jonathan…" said his mom in her "trying to keep the peace" tone.

"Never mind mom, let's just get all the stuff out of the truck….again."

He threw the truck door open and walked swiftly to the back of the moving van for what seemed like the twentieth time.

His dad was a fast food regional director, and he was always moving and changing regions. The salary was good and some of the places gave really great food, but Jonathan was sick of moving around.

Packing and unpacking was becoming tedious.

While he started to get some boxes out from the top of the mountain, a couple of kids came riding by on their bikes. They stopped to watch Jonathan struggle with his heavy load.

He was about to tell them to help or buzz off when a large curly red haired woman came up behind them.

"Now you two I said don't go too far ahead," she bleated the sandy haired boys. "You know it's dangerous and all these days."

"Sorry ma," the two kids said in monotone unison.

The woman looked up and read over the moving van sign.

"You must be the new neighbors then," she said.

Obviously Jonathan thought.

"Yeah that's right," he said politely.

"Your parents in the truck?" she asked.

"Yeah, hold on," Jonathan said. "Mom, Dad, someone wants to talk to you."

Jonathan's parents came around the truck and greeted the red haired woman, who introduced herself as Malinda.

"Well I'm part of the towns neighborhood watch program so I thought I would just clue you two in on the happenings around here," she told Jonathan's parents. She was obviously trying to keep Jonathan out of the conversation, but he could hear them from his spot on the truck.

"There's been a few…well strange cases lately," Malinda said softly, eyeing Jonathan pretending to struggle with a box.

"What kind of cases?" asked Jonathan's mother, puzzled.

"Well…"Malinda looked around and leaned in close. Jonathan moved down the ramp slowly, straining his ears.

"There was a disappearance not five days back," she whispered. "A boy went out one day and never came back. Same day a cop went missing, but they didn't know about him till they found his car, scorched in the woods behind some old house."

Jonathan set the box down slowly, adjusting his grip.

"They don't know what happened to either of them," Malinda continued. "And then another boy went missing, right in the middle of the night. Something funny happened to his kid brother too…"

Jonathan's mother put a hand to her mouth, obviously horrified.

"Just thought I would warn you folks to keep an eye out; you can never be too careful," she said, eyeing her children.

"Yes, thank you so much," Jonathan's dad said, shaking Malinda's hand one last time.

She gave one last nod and continued up the street, her children pulling ahead.

"What should we do about this?" asked Jonathan's mom quietly, turning to her husband. He thought for a moment.

"Just do what she said and keep a look out," he said firmly. "C'mon lets unload this truck."

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One thing that always took up a majority of the boxes and annoyed Jonathan most about unpacking and packing, were the pictures.

Jonathan's mother loved to collect pictures. She seemed that for every moment, every place, every breath, there needed to be a freeze frame shot of it to remember it.

There were always the up to date self portraits of herself and the rest of the family. Under them, not framed but in protective coverings, were past self pictures.

There were pictures of their past houses and adventures. Birthdays in Montana, camping in Arizona, moving to California; there were pictures of every single house they had ever owned.

She called it an art; Jonathan called it an obsession.

"Now why don't you put those pictures over there, and then take these down to storage for me," she told Jonathan, taking charge of the operation.

This was the other worst part. Having his mother decide six different times where every picture needed to go.

"Why don't you put that old one of pappy in the hall…no wait, we're putting out family portraits there, it wouldn't fit. Just put it upstairs on one of the dressers. Make it a black dresser though, to go with the frame."

Jonathan's mother flocked around the house squawking her orders on where to put the pictures. Sometimes she really did remind him of a giant bird…

When darkness finally fell and the silverware had been put away, the beds made, and the last picture placed, Jonathan was ready to sleep for a week.

"Now chop, chop Jonathan, you have school tomorrow," said his dad, sitting down in his recliner.

"Crap," breathed Jonathan, slumping towards the stairs.

"Goodnight," called out his parents. Jonathan mumbled an incoherent reply.

He dragged his feet up the stairs, past all the pictures of his aunts, uncles, grandparents, and finally his family.

Jonathan didn't bother setting out any clothes for tomorrow; he simply threw off his shirt, flopped into bed, and was immediately asleep.

When Jonathan walked into school the next day he didn't know what to expect.

The big brick building that was Royal Falls Public was an impressive sight. But the return of the freezing wind and snow had lessened the effect on him.

The inside of the building was just as roomy as it looked, and very warm.

Consulting his schedule, Jonathan made his way to his first class, world history.

The teacher did the normal ritual of making him stand up and introduce himself, tell something about himself, do his best to make a fool of himself…

When he was graciously allowed to return to his seat, the girl in front of him turned around and gave him a dazzling smile.

"Hi, I'm Sarah," she said.

"Nice to meet you," Jonathan said, returning her smile with only a half hearted grin.

"Where do you live in Royal Falls?" she asked.

"Blue Falls court," answered Jonathan.

"Cool, we should hang sometime, I live right next to there," she said, giving him another smile. "You'd like to hang sometime, right Matt?"

The kid next to her looked up. His face was red and his gaze sad; like something was constantly on his mind.

"Yeah, maybe," he said quietly. He hung his head back down to its previous position.

"Is he alright?" asked Jonathan quietly.

"No, he's not really," said Sarah sadly. "His best friend Charles went missing a couple of days ago…"

"Is that the same kid who disappeared with the cop?" asked Jonathan.

"How'd you know?" she asked.

"News travels fast among adults," he chuckled.

Sarah laughed. "We are defiantly hanging out after school. Meet me on the corner of you street, I'll try and bring Matt."

"Alright," shrugged Jonathan.

Not a bad start to the day.

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When Jonathan got home from walking the frozen streets with Sarah and Matt, he decided Royal Falls might not be so bad.

Sarah was a very lively person. A friend of hers had gone missing from Royal Falls as well, but she tried not to think about it.

"I just figure he was just unlucky," she had sighed sadly. "But I can't do anything for him. So I just go on living my life, hoping he's alright."

Jonathan had been carful to keep the conversation from straying towards the disappearances any more.

Matt was also alright. He was always so somber, but he had lost his best friend. Towards the end it seemed like he was really starting to lighten up; joining Jonathan in teasing Sarah about boys and whatever else their conversation was about.

Jonathan threw the picture Sarah had given him onto his bedside table, taking off his layers of clothes.

Sarah had thought Jonathan would need a picture of the moment. However, she had been laughing so hard (as girls do), that Jonathan was pretty much the only one in the picture.

You could really only see Sarah's hand on his shoulder.

Jonathan yawned and pulled open the fridge. A few pictures fluttered off their magnets and slid across the tiled kitchen floor.

He bent down, cursing his mother's obsessive love for pictures and stooped over to pick them up.

Suddenly, he cocked his head to the side, straining to hear. Had he just heard voices in his house? But he was home alone…

Jonathan moved slowly down his long hallway, keeping his ears sharp.

Yeah definitely voices…

Jonathan pushed open his parent's bedroom door.

The room was empty.

He looked around, his forehead creased in confusion.


Jonathan moved slowly back down the hallway and glanced up at a picture of his deceased grandfather.

He continued walking past it, and then stopped and looked again.

Had his grandfather moved?

No…no it's a picture.

Jonathan moved back down the hall towards the kitchen, muttering at his own stupidity.

There was a sharp, cold, barking laugh from behind him.

He whipped around so fast his neck cracked.

"What the hell…?" muttered Jonathan.

He backed up slowly and felt something cold on his foot.

Jonathan yelped in fright and hopped up like he had been burned. However, when he looked down he found only the picture Sarah had taken of him.

"How'd you get down here?" he asked himself picking it up and putting it on a table.

Jonathan spent the rest of the night jumping at all noises, and found it very hard to fall asleep.

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Jonathan snapped up from his bed quickly as lightning splashed across the sky.

His bladder had woken him up and he stumbled down the hallway to quiet it.

After he had completed his business, Jonathan stumbled down the hallway, jumping and hitting the hanging picture of his grandpa as the thunder boomed from outside.

A streetlight sent a dim glow through his open curtains and he looked up with sleepy eyes to fix the frame.

His grandfather's eyes suddenly moved down to lock with Jonathans.

Jonathan suddenly found he was wide awake.

He shook his head and looked harder. No way this was an illusion… The picture's eyes had moved…

Jonathan put a shaking finger to the glass frame, fantasizing that his hand would fall through the picture, transporting him to some untold world.

But his finger only touched the cool glass and he sighed and shook his head.

He was only tired…

His grandfather smiled, his teeth unnaturally white and shiny; his eyes suddenly alive with a mad glint.

Jonathan snapped back, connecting with the wall behind him.

Lightning cracked and the whole hallway was suddenly lit.

All the family photos and single portraits had changed.

All of them had the same demonic smile. Teeth unnaturally white, shining in the picture. An evil glare on their faces…

All of their eyes fixed on Jonathan…

Breathing heavily, Jonathan moved back to his room quickly and flicked on his light switch.

The pictures were normal as Jonathan knew they should be.

His breath slowed and he smacked his lips, realizing his mouth was really dry.

"Jonathan…?" called his mother from her room.

"Sorry mom…it's nothing…" he called back, realizing his voice was hoarse.

"Ok…" mumbled his mother.

Jonathan turned to return back to his bed but a glint caught his eye.

The picture of him and Sarah from today was on the floor again.

Jonathan picked it up and flicked it back onto his dresser drawers, taking a second to chuckle at it.

It was supposed to be Jonathan and Sarah, but all you could see were her hand and bright red fingernails.

Jonathan flicked his light back off and crawled into bed.

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The next day went much as the last.

Jonathan found more about school, fell asleep in most of his classes, and joked around with Sarah and Matt most of the day.

He even got to hang with Sarah and Matt after school again.

When they had finished making fun of some foul-tempered old guy trying to get the ice of his driveway, Jonathan decided he was cold enough to call it a day.

"Oh fine you big baby, shoo-shoo," Sarah teased pretending to push him away.

"I'll catch you guys later," Jonathan laughed.

"See you dude," said Matt. He had slowly gotten in a better mood over the past few days and Jonathan found him to be pretty cool.

"Bye," called Sarah, waving.

Jonathan turned to walk up the street but something caught his eye when Sarah waved.

Her fingernails weren't red…they were a bright pink.

Why in the hell would you notice that? he thought.

The picture…

"Hey Sarah," Jonathan called out.


"Um…stupid question but uh…" Jonathan glanced up at Matt who was already halfway down the street.

"Were your fingernails red yesterday?"

Sarah blinked a few times and looked at her own hand.

"No, I've only used pink for a while…"

"Alright, thanks. I just thought something was different…" Jonathan muttered.

"You feeling alright?" asked Sarah looking concerned.

"I think the colds getting to my brain but I'm alright. I'll see you around." Jonathan said.

When he got home the first thing he did was go back and looked at the picture from yesterday.

The hand and bright red fingernails were right where he thought they were.

But there was something else too…

Now there was a head of dark black hair sticking out from the side….

Like something was trying to force its way into the frame…

"What the hell…"


Jonathan snapped up looking around.

Both of his parents were at work… He was home alone…

"Jonathan…" called the voice again.

It was a woman's voice; high, soft, and enticing.

Jonathan made his way through the house slowly.

When he reached the hallway he found himself unable to move.

The events of last night rolled through his mind and his legs froze, not wanting to see what they would do this time.


The voice was louder this time.

That got Jonathan's legs moving.

He cautiously made his way down the hall, at first not daring to look at the pictures hanging up.

Then, his teeth grinding together, he faced the long line of pictures.

They were unchanged and normal as ever; hanging on the wall, showing no signs of putting on a creep show.

Jonathan shook his head and made his way back to the living room.

He was acting incredibly stupid. There was nothing wrong with the damn pictures…

Jonathan stopped and looked out the window, listening to the howling wind. That was probably all he had heard.

There was a strange kid standing out on the sidewalk.

He was wearing all black clothes….nice clothes too. They were way to thin for the way the wind was blowing but it didn't seem to be bothering the kid.

He was looking at Jonathan's house rather strangely, his eyes searching it up and down.

And then as though he knew he was being watched, his eyes locked onto Jonathan's and stayed.

Jonathan quickly shut the blinds and stepped back.

"Who the hell was that…?" he asked nobody.

"Jonathan…" hissed the voice.

Jonathan stopped and looked down.

There was the picture from yesterday.

But now, there was another face beside his own.

A woman; a woman with raven black hair and matching black eyes; her skin, white as someone dead and her teeth glistening.

"Oh my God…"


The woman's mouth moved with the words.

Jonathan turned and ran down the hall, his legs feeling like lead.

He stopped and let out a yelp of fright.

All the pictures in the hallway were moving.

They all hissed at him, their eyes full of bloodlust and their white teeth shining. They seemed to be doing their best to try and break out and get a hold of Jonathan…

"Don't be scared Jonathan," cooed the voice of the woman. "Come with me…It's so much better here…And I will take care of you…"

Jonathan turned and found the woman reach up and…out of the picture.

Her white hand grabbed Jonathan and he tripped trying to back up.

Her whole body was out now and she was inches from Jonathan's face.

"Come with me…" she whispered.

Jonathan felt her claws dig into his chest and hold tight.

Finally, Jonathan let out a yell praying that someone would hear him…that this would all stop…

The woman just laughed, her pointed teeth shining and pulled him in.

Jonathan, still screaming, reached for something…anything to grab onto.

There was only carpet around, and Jonathan found slid across the surface.

He felt the blood seeping from his chest were the woman's claws were digging in and he screamed anew.

There was no help, however, and he felt his arm slide into the surface of the picture…

It felt like water…

"NO! NO! NO!" Jonathan screamed.

Then his face was under and his voice was cut off.

The rest of Jonathan slid into the picture…

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Jonathan's mother came home to an empty house.

"Jonathan!" she called out.

There was no response.

"Jonathan!? You home?" she called again. "Jonathan?"

She bent down and picked up a picture that had been left on the floor.

She didn't spare it a second glance, just threw it face down on a nearby dresser.

If she had looked she would have seen

She would have seen the look on Jonathan's face.

The look of terror on his face; with the bright red finger nailed hands of a woman wrapped around him, forever.