When I woke it was all like a far-off dream.
Andrew? I thought to myself. I looked around my hazy, morning-lit room; everything was exactly in its place. Was it a dream? I slowly forced myself to recollect and feel everything that had occurred in the past three weeks. No, it couldn't have been. I know he was real-there's no way I could have imagined all of that.
"Andrew?" I spoke, taking in my tidy bedroom and pulling the crisp, white comforter away from my body and throwing my legs over the side of my bed.
My bedroom door leisurely opened. My pulse raced. Surely it was Andrew! But then my mom entered my room, sun-kissed from her month in Mexico.
"Katherine!" She smiled and ran to embrace me. "I missed you!" Tears welled in my eyes. After everything that had happened in the past month, I was overjoyed to see my mother but the moment was bittersweet. My mind flashed back to my last memory of him and his tense, decided words. I recollected the way his brown eyes glistened when he looked down at me. I treasured the last lingering traces of his intoxicating scent upon me.
Did he… just leave me here? Surely he wouldn't end it like this.
"I'm happy to see you too, Mom." I wrapped my arms around her.
"Kate, I have so much to tell you about Mexico and Grant. We had an amazing time- you won't believe what I have to tell you!"
She withdrew from our embrace and flashed her left hand towards me, showing off her new engagement ring. She launched into all the details about her amazing visit and fabulous fiancé. Inside I was dying to tell her a million things but I knew she really wouldn't believe me; I hardly believed myself. I believed it even less every time I would allow myself to slip back to thinking about him.
It all started the night that my mom left for Mexico with Grant. Grant is a retired teacher who always pinched his pennies and retired to Mexico a few months ago. I knew my mom wanted to go with him, so when he offered for us to join him I reluctantly declined and forced my mom to take him up on the trip. As normal my mom was calm and organized on the night that she left- she has travelled all over the world so trips don't faze her.
She hugged me goodbye while reminding me about the money she'd left on the counter just in case I needed anything while she was gone. After a kiss on my forehead, she finally left.
I guess I'm gonna have to get used to this. I walked over to our brown suede couch and lay across it, grabbing my copy of The Monster of Florence. Gradually I began to doze off and just as I reached the dazed cusp of sleep there was a loud shattering noise. I peeked cautiously over the couch and into the kitchen.
No one was there.
"Hello?" I asked, inching towards the kitchen to find nothing out of the ordinary except for a shattered wine glass. Despite trying not to cut open my hand, I felt a sharp sting in my hand as one of the shards of glass penetrated my skin. I gasped and looked down watching my blood slowly bead up. I pulled the glass out and winced; I've never been very good with pain. I jumped when I heard shifting on the other side of the great room, my eyes scanned over the room only to ease up when I saw Alice scurrying across the room. I lowered myself back to the ground and cleaned up the rest of the mess cautiously.
When I settled back onto the couch, I tossed my book onto the coffee table and turned on the TV. It's always amazed me just how silent and creepy a house can be with one person in it.
Suddenly the great room became foggy, my body became heavy and a darkened figure loomed over me. I tried to scream but the air seemed to be caught inside my lungs.
"Sleep my dear Katherine. It will all be over soon." The figure's voice was raspy and his breath smelt of decay.
"Who… are you?" I stuttered out. He just laughed lowly before kissing my forehead.
I fought with all my power to keep eyes from closing, but I couldn't. I fell into a deep abyss of sleep, unable to wake up or feel anything. I vaguely remember a dream of falling down from a tall building but before I hit the ground a man grabbed my hand. He was beautiful, but I can't remember anything else about him. I guess my silly dream isn't all that important in the scheme of things.
When I finally came to, my shallow breaths were visible in front of me and the room surrounding me was stone and wintry. Slowly I raised myself to a sitting position on the stone floor, shivering in fear and cold. I really hoped this was all just a crazy dream but something told me I was dead wrong.
The wooden door across the room creaked open and a ghostly figure of a woman floated in. She was draped in all white, with bluish skin. Her face was concealed behind a floor-length drape which was fastened around her eyes. A high pitched shriek echoed through the corridor. She turned for a moment and snickered but then continued to approach me. I quickly slinked back until I was in a corner.
She raised a pale blue hand to the drape and moved it away from her mouth so that she could show off her plump red lips and razor-like teeth.
I staggered to my feet and demanded to know where I was.
"Shhh, young one. Master doesn't like it when girls make too much noise."
"Is he the one who brought me here?" I yelled.
The ghost woman dissipated and then reappeared right behind me. "No more questions. You probably should run though, master likes a chase." It took me all of five seconds to take my opportunity and dart out of the room and down the unlit corridor. Her maniacal laughed echoed all around me.
Wooden doors lined the long hallway, little glimmers of light seeped through the cracks. Sometimes as I would pass a door, I would hear nails scratching on the other side or the whimpering of a woman. One time I raced past another floating white ghost, just like the one who had entered my room but she had blood trickling down the front of her robes and her face cover was stained red.
Eventually I turned into a small side passage with an eerie glow. It led to a spiral staircase with a large window above it. I peeked outside to see the moon shining brightly over an ocean and determined that I had to be at least five stories up. Behind me the flickering of a candle illuminated the end of the darkened hallway. I rushed to descend the tightly winding staircase before whomever- or whatever for that matter- discovered me.
I made it a few steps down before the man with a candle began to pursue me. I could choose to trust him, but I quickly determined that that wasn't my best choice of action. My heart was beating wildly in my chest.
"Stop!" The man called behind me, panting almost as fast as I was. "Trespassing is illegal and if you don't stop immediately I will report you!" I raced down several flights before I felt it was safe to glance over my shoulder. I looked for only a moment to measure whether or not I had enough room between myself and my pursuer to dart into an empty corridor and hide. At that moment, I thudded into something cold and hard. I struggled as two large hands grasped around my forearms and held me firmly in place. This man was so tall I couldn't have looked into his face without looking straight up.
"Let me go!" I demanded, pounding against his chest and kicking him. He never even budged.
"Jared," the tall man said to my pursuer "who's this?"
"I don't know, sir. I found her running around on the sixth floor while I was investigating a scream I heard earlier."
"Damn it! Let me go you freak!" I screamed at my captor.
"Now you just calm down, missy. No one's gonna hurt you here."
"Like Hell!" I spat at him, finally daring to look him dead in the eye. His light brown eyes crinkled in the corners as he laughed at my powerless attempts to get free.
"I can assure you that you aren't gonna get free. I demand that you explain to me why you are in my home."
"Like…. you… don't know." I panted, beginning to lose my strength.
"You're the one who kidnapped me! If anyone owes someone an explanation, it's you!"
The man stared at me for a long moment before speaking urgently. "Jared, wake my brothers immediately and then evacuate the castle of all servants."
"Yes sir." Jared walked towards me to grab my hand.
"No, she comes with me. Tell my brothers to meet us up on the fourth floor. It seems like we have some investigating to do and she may be of some assistance."
I attempted pulling away from my captor again, struggling against his vice-like grip. "I don't want to go back up there! You can't fucking make me!" I screamed.
Jared's eyes widened at me before he slowly began to back off. I looked up at the man holding my arms and immediately felt my stomach plummet. His previously light brown eyes had turned almost black and his smirk was completely gone.
"Leave us. Now." He demanded, casting a cold glare at his servant. Jared bolted away. He glared down at me again and released my arms. I looked down at them and could still see the imprints of his hands upon my pale white skin. I heard him inhale deeply, and then I gazed back up at his face- his eyes had returned to normal.
"What are you?" I asked, more than a little afraid of the answer.
"That's not important right now. The important thing is that we have an understanding that you will never talk to me that way again and I will control my temper."
There was a lingering silence between the two of us.
"My name is Katherine, but you can call me Kate." I offered my hand carefully.
"Call me Drew." He shook my hand gently. "We should probably head upstairs and wait for my brothers."
I could feel the fear well up in my eyes after Drew said that. All I could think about was the ghost women with pointed teeth, even with his considerable size and strength Drew had no hope of protecting himself from a ghost. Before I could object, Drew began to ascend the stairs, when he realized that I wasn't following he paused.
"Katherine, this castle is a dangerous place to be alone in. I'm not sure what is going on upstairs, but I can assure you that you will be much safer with me upstairs than you will be alone down here." Despite myself, I chose to trust him and joined him.
"What do you mean by this castle is dangerous?"
Drew smirked again, looking down at me. "Maybe I'll explain later."
"Are you always vague or is it just me?" I joked.
Drew laughed, but was interrupted by a blood-curdling scream as a naked skeleton of a woman came falling down the center of the spiral staircase. He jumped over the railing and dived after the woman without hesitation. I looked down and yelled his name into the dark.
"Katherine, I am so glad we found you." A woman whispered gently from behind me. I looked over to see a pale blue hand resting on my shoulder. My breaths grew shallow and labored.
"Master will be most pleased with this one. Look at her beautiful red hair." Spoke another voice.
"Yes, but it is such a shame that she has it cut so short."
I turned to face three ghostly women except none of them wore masks now. Each of them had crackling white skin with glowing yellow eyes. I smacked the ghostly hand away from me and made a dash towards the descending staircase. One of the women materialized in front of me.
"That's not the way to our master, dearie." She taunted, thrusting her figure towards me and biting into my left arm. I screamed in agony, grabbed my arm and ran in the opposite direction. "How delicious- I can taste your adrenaline!" She laughed after me.
I tried to dart down another corridor, but was stopped by another woman; she shook a finger at me and smiled, showing her pointed teeth. Again I flew up the stairs, panting. I tried my best not to cry. Once I reached the sixth floor, I looked down the cold hallway and paused. I fell down to my knees when I realized that the three entities were right behind me and there was no escape.
"What do you want of me?" I screamed.
Down the hallway the outline of a man appeared. For a moment I prayed it was Drew then I realized he wasn't as tall as him and his eyes were glowing red. He lifted a hand slowly and I floated off the ground.
"Master Brandon, are you pleased?" The women asked in unison.
"She is damaged." He snarled, throwing his hand to his right, propelling me towards a wall. "Who is responsible?"
"It was me. She tried to escape and I had to punish her." One of the ghosts answered timidly.
It was then that their master stepped into the moonlit part of the corridor. He was dashing with pale skin and shiny blackened hair. His eyes turned into a deeper crimson as he looked upon the guilty ghost. He held up an open hand towards her neck and then squeezed his hand into a fist. She coughed and pleaded with her master. He showed her no mercy. Gradually, she transformed into shiny marble and then crumbled into a million pieces. The two remaining ghosts gasped in fear and cried over the shattered remains of their friend.
He smiled, walked over to me and pulled my hand away from the wound on my left arm. He sniffed my blood and groaned in displeasure.
"You smell of him. Who allowed my new pet near my brother?" He yelled, confronting his minions. The ghosts scattered down the gloomy hallway, carrying pieces of their friend and shrieking into the night. "It's okay pet. I will still find some use for you."
My anger swelled within my chest as I screamed: "I'm not your fucking pet!" I spat on him.
He wiped my saliva off the back of his head with his hand. His crimson eyes intensified and he released me from floating in the air. Leisurely he crouched down next to me and placed both of his hands upon my neck and pinned me down to the floor. I struggled against him, trying to fight back and finding myself stuck again in a helpless situation.
"Let her go, Brandon." Drew growled from across the room. Brandon pulled me halfway up by the neck and then threw me onto the ground. I lay there, trying to catch my breath as I rolled my head over to see Drew flanked by two other men who were a little taller and possibly older than him. In Drew's arms a wisp of a woman lay half dead.
"My darling brothers have joined me in my house of horrors!" Brandon said, lifting his hands to the air ecstatically before his face turned sour and he growled.
"You make me sick." Drew replied. "Look at this girl- what have you done to her?"
"Hmm, that must be Melanie. We had some fun times together, didn't we dear?" He moved to stroke her cheek, and she cringed and pulled herself towards Drew.
The tallest brother who also had black hair stepped forwards towards Brandon. "You know it's critical that we keep our existence an absolute secret. You are risking our lives for your own revolting pleasures!"
"Gavin, I was planning to kill them all. No witness, no crime. Thomas please explain to them that I was not risking anything. " Brandon turned to the other brother who had medium brown hair like Drew's and glasses.
"There is always a certain level of risk associated with our existence, especially when we leave victims alive." Thomas explained.
"He's going to kill us! How can you even try to explain that?" I moaned, trying to lift myself from the cold floor. All four of the men turned towards me at this point.
"Who are you?" Thomas asked me, pushing up his square, black-rimmed glasses.
"She was supposed to be my newest treat, but she seems to have a bit of an attitude problem." Brandon explained, smiling evilly at me before picking me up telepathically again and pinning me against the wall. He began to shut his hand, squeezing my entire body. "I will fix it."
Drew threw the half-dead woman towards Gavin and then swung at his brother's face. I dropped to the floor again. When I looked up, Drew had Brandon pinned to the ground and was swinging at him. Brandon lifted his leg and kicked him against a nearby wall, causing the room to shake. Brandon stood and wiped his blood away from his nose.
"Little brother, your temper still hasn't improved." Brandon mocked.
Drew lunged at his brother, but Thomas stopped him, barely holding him back by his arms. "Shut the hell up, Brandon! You wouldn't be laughing if I was rearranging your face right now!" Drew's eyes were completely blackened again.
"I think I have overstayed my welcome. Don't worry Andrew, I will leave your precious little toy with you- she has your revolting scent all over her anyway. Come Melanie, I have worlds to show you." Brandon spoke before he and Melanie disappeared. The two female ghosts came racing down the corridor and flew out the window, still screaming.
"Calm down, Andrew." Thomas spoke to Drew.
"What are we gonna do with her?" Gavin asked, gesturing towards me.
"Dinner?" Thomas suggested, laughing a little.
Oh shit. Out of the frying pan and into the freezer. I gulped before racing down the corridor.
"Katherine!" Drew yelled to me. I could hear their footsteps following me and gaining on me.
I thought I could trust you. You told me you would keep me safe!