White. That was the first thing Sydney Raabe thought when she entered Wabasha Minnesota. Everything was white.
Not that that was weird. It was the middle of December, after all but still. She didn't think that so much snow would be able to fall in such a short amount of time. Especially in a place so close to Omaha, Nebraska which had gotten next to no snow, that year.
Her parents decided to go up there over Christmas break for some reason or another. Sydney didn't know, nor care why. It wouldn't matter, anyway. They would still be forcing her to go without a care of what she wanted. Of course. Of course they would choose to ship off to cold Minnesota the once in a life time warm winter back home.
Sydney never liked the winter for three reasons. The first one was that fact that it was always cold. Always. And cold meant that you couldn't go out ot get your mail in your swimsuit. The second one was that all the lakes were frozen over making it impossible for someone to swim. Sydney lived for swimming. It was the first thing she thought about when she woke up in the morning, and the last thing on her mind before she went to bed at night. She didn't feel right if she didn't smell like chlorine, and felt exposed if she didn't have goggles on her person. And finally, the last thing she hated about winter was how white everything looked. White was boring-it had no color. There were no pretty hues and shades to amuse her.
"Isn't it beautiful, Sydney?" her mother sighed, staring out her window.
"It's white." Sydney grumbled, "Does the hotel we're saying at have a pool?" she couldn't fall behind in her training because of this surprise kidnapping.
"No." Sydney groaned loudly, "And we did that on purpose. All you do is swim, hon. This is a break from all that."
"I swim because I want to." Sydney whined, "I don't want to take a break."
"Stop complaining." her father shot her a glare in the rearview mirror, "Look, Tanner's not."
Sydney glanced behind her to see the blood shot eyes that belonged to her older brother. He had his ear buds in, and his head bent down so that his dark brown hair hung in his face. Her parents probably thought he was sleeping but Sydney knew better.
"He's probably too high to realize what's going on." she grumbled, turning back around. Her parents didn't hear her, of course. They were too busy going on about the "great" (note the sarcasm) hotel they were staying in.
"OH, but you'll love it there anyway, hon." her mother was saying, "There may not be a pool, but there is a pond."
"Yeah, one that's frozen over." Sydney pointed out, rolling her eyes, "That'll just depress me even more."
"The world doesn't revolve around you being able to swim, Sydney." her father said.
"That's right." her mother turned around to give Sydney a mischievous smile, "Did you know that the hotel is haunted?"
That peaked Sydney's interest, "Huh?" she lifted her head, almost hopefully. Because if there were two things she loved, it was swimming and the supernatural, "Are you serious?"
Her mother nodded, "Dead serious."
"Who's it haunted by?" Sydney asked, her eyes growing wide.
Her mother shook her head, shrugging slightly, "I forgot to ask."
Sydney sighed, rolling her eyes, "So typical of you, mother."
"Will you guys shut up?" Sydney glanced back to see Tanner glaring at her. His eyes were no longer blood shot, and his ear buds were out. "I'm trying to sleep, back here."
Sydney blinked, as she continued to stare at him. His voice wasn't slurred, and his eyes weren't bloodshot nor were his cheeks flushed a bright red. Odd. Maybe he had been just sleeping-he didn't usually get over being high so fast. And Sydney was sure that she'd seen him taking a puff right before they'd left the house.
"Well you had better wake up soon, son." Sydney's father called back, glancing in the rearview mirror at the two of them, "'Cuz we'll be there in just a few minutes."
"Did you hear?" Sydney laughed, spinning around in her chair so that she was fully facing Tanner, "We're going to be staying in a haunted house!"
Tanner's eyes grew wide and his face broke out into a cheesy smile, "Oh, really?" he squealed in that way that people do when they're pretending to be excited, "That's so exciting! I can't wait!"
Sydney rolled her eyes, again, "No need to be so sarcastic." she bit the inside of her cheek.
"Well who would want to spend two whole weeks in a hotel who's greatest aspect is that it's 'haunted'?" Tanner asked. "You know, other than crazy people."
"Are you calling me crazy?" Sydney accused, whipping her curly, rust colored hair out of her face.
Tanner shook his head, "Wouldn't dream of it. I'm calling all of you crazy."
Sydney stuck her tongue out at him, "Yeah, well, at least I don't do drugs." she whispered, almost inaudibly.
"Yeah, tell the world, why don't ya?" Tanner hissed back, just as quietly.
"Stop arguing kids!" their father called back to them, "Especially when we can't hear what you're saying!"
"There's a point as to why you can't, dad!" Tanner chuckled, shoving his ear buds back in. Figures. The boy never wanted to spend any kind of time with his family.
"Don't put those things in, kiddo." her father said as they pulled into a parking lot, "We're here."
"Joy." Tanner groaned, pulling them back out before shoving his iPod in his pocket.
Sydney glanced up at the hotel and nearly screamed. It was brown and looked as if it were made out of rotting wood, but she knew better. It probably was just in need of paint job-she wasn't too scared of it collapsing on her while she was eating lunch, or something.
"Oh, daddy!" she cried, smooshing her face up against the window to try and get as close as she could to the beauty, "It's absolutely gorgeous!"
"She's not normal, dad!" she heard her brother call up.
"Oh, and you are!" she shot back.
"I'm not the one with my face pressed up against the window." Tanner pointed out.
"He's got you there, hon." her mother chuckled.
Sydney rolled her eyes, before jumping out of the car. Thankfully her father had just parked and there was no one parked on her side. She ran up to the hotel, passing by two boys with spiked back orange hair who looked to be her age. She barely spared them a glance, though. She was too focused on getting to the magnificent building.
She skidded to a stop right outside and gaped up at it in amazement. It looked even more beautiful that close up. She felt her mouth drop open at how magnificent it looked.
"Oh, man this place is creepy." one of the boys muttered from behind her.
"Man up." the other one laughed, "Look, she doesn't look to scared."
They were silence for a moment-not that Sydney was really paying attention. She'd barely heard them in the first place. It was just kind of one of those subconscious things.
"Oh, god! Julius, look!" the first boy cried, "There's a guy in the top window!"
"Don't be stupid." the second boy-Julius, Sydney guessed was his name, "You know just as well as I do that no one can go up there. That room has been locked for damn near a century."
"Julius! Just look!"
Sydney couldn't help it, she looked up as well. And… there was a guy there. It looked to be a guy with long hair pulled back into a braid.
She screamed, before running back to her car. "Mom!" she cried, "Mom, mom! Look!" she pointed to the window where the man was still standing, "There's a guy in the top window!"
Her mother gave her a confused look, before looking at the window, "I don't see anyone."
"What?" Sydney screeched, the guy hadn't moved. "How do you not see him?"
"I think she's finally gone crazy, mother." Tanner sighed, "I saw this coming."
But Sydney wasn't listening, she was too busy staring at the boy in the window. She wasn't crazy. The other two boys had seen it, too. Julius and the Julius look alike.
So then… what was it?