Author's Note:

Hello!

I haven't been here in a while. This is a new genre for me, so let me know how it turned out. As stated in the summary, this was an assignment for English class that I think turned out pretty good.

A Night to Remember

Taunting laughter rang out from the assembled group as the boy took a step closer. He was a few inches shorter than her, but his aggression more than made up for his short stature. Aasha could tell he wasn't going to let this go. If she refused, he would definitely be throwing punches. She could tell by the look in his eyes that he would hurt her without hesitation. She had no choice.

"F-fine, I'll do it." She cringed inwardly at the note of fear in her tone. It wasn't the deed itself that scared her, it was the teen in front of her that was still leaning into her personal space. More specifically, she feared the ugly smirk he was now sporting. Just thinking about what that smile meant made her want to run and never look back.

As the small group of kids around them dispersed, her mind began to work normally again. The last five minutes felt more like a dream than reality.

It was hard to pinpoint the exact cause of this mess. Once she'd introduced herself to the group of tough-looking kids, things had spiraled downward at speeds that made her head spin. It had started with a nasty remark from a blond girl in the back of the group. Aasha had defended herself in a way that was supposed to look cool, but apparently it hadn't been polite enough. Things worked differently here than they did at her old school, that was for sure.

She had seen the immediate dislike in their eyes, but she'd pushed harder anyway. And where had that gotten her? Well, in order to prove herself, she would be spending the night in an old haunted house at the edge of town. Its last owner, an old man with no friends or family, had died in the house.

Aasha didn't believe in haunted houses, so she was confident that she could prove herself. Nevertheless, anxiety filled her veins with adrenaline when she thought of spending a dark night alone in an unfamiliar place. At least, that's what she told herself. Deep down, she knew that it had more to do with her suspicion that the group was planning something. They wouldn't accept her so easily, especially since it seemed they had already made up their minds about her. First impressions are hard to get over. Despite her fears, she would complete the task. She had no choice now.

The weather got worse as the day progressed. Thick black clouds covered the sky, threatening to dump their contents over the city. It was the perfect day to visit a haunted house, Aasha thought idly. She turned the steering wheel to the right, pulling her car into the narrow driveway of the abandoned property.

She had been following the overgrown drive for a kilometer or so, and she was starting to wonder if it would ever end. Suddenly, it took a sharp left turn, opening onto a large front yard. The change in scenery was so sudden that Aasha had to gasp in surprise and wonder.

It was clear that nobody had bothered to maintain the property after the owner's death. The lawn hadn't been tended to in years, and what had once been a large front deck now sat in rotten piles of wood on the ground.

The house—no, castle—was in a similar condition. Stones were missing from its large outer walls. The windows in the turrets, as well as many more on the two lower floors, had been boarded up. Aasha was surprised that the roof hadn't collapsed yet. If it had managed to stay up for that long, she reasoned, it probably would last another night.

She unfolded herself from the car, groaning at the cold blast of wind that immediately assaulted her. Bags in hand, she made her way toward the poor, dilapidated structure.

It took several minutes for Aasha to pick her way through the overgrown path to the house. By the time she reached the front door, she was tired and freezing. She pushed it open, then dropped her bags to the floor with a thump; they were heavier than she'd been anticipating.

The inside was sheltered from the wind, but it felt ten degrees colder inside than it was outside. Maybe that was because of all the evil spirits, she thought, rolling her eyes.

She'd never been in a haunted house before, and she grudgingly admitted that it was a little creepier than she'd been expecting. Upon seeing the staircase that lead to the second level, Aasha decided to stick to the main floor. The majority of the steps were shrouded in darkness, but what she could see told her that she would not make it up and down them without breaking some bones.

She took a quick tour of the bottom floor in search of somewhere to sleep. There was a large kitchen with ancient appliances, a dining room with fancy furniture that would probably break if she touched it, and a living room with a fireplace and some old couches with moth-eaten blankets. Everything was covered in a layer of dust. She found it odd that all the furniture was still there. If someone had been here after the owner's death, wouldn't they have taken the furniture with them, or at least come back for it later?

The other thing that freaked her out was the house itself. Its old frame shifted and shuddered with the wind. Aasha couldn't help picturing it as a living, breathing entity. Judging by all the cracks she heard, it was not happy that she was here.

This was not a good start to her night. Forcing away the increasing feelings of unease, Aasha began to set up her sleeping bag.

As she worked, a heavy rain began to fall outside. Normally, the rain was a soothing sound. Now, however, it only served to enhance the creepiness of the house. The steady "drip ... drip ... drip ..." of water coming through the holes in the roof made her think of fresh blood dripping from a gaping wound. The wind and rain reached a crescendo, and Aasha imagined that the building had just given a hacking cough.

She did not like this one bit.

A small noise behind Aasha had her spinning around in fright. It did not sound like the house, not at all. It sounded like something inside the house.

She tried to think through the panicked jumble that her mind had become. This was an abandoned house. It was likely that animals used the old frame as a shelter from the harsh winter weather. She was not afraid of small rodents, but she could not deal with anything larger than a mouse.

In a sudden burst of courage, she began to flick the beam of her flashlight around on the floor. She was beginning to think that the noise had been a figment of her imagination; that is, until another scuffle had her shrieking and flipping the beam of her flashlight to the source of the sound.

Mice, she could live with. Rats, on the other hand, she could not. She gave a squeal of surprise and horror when the beam of light illuminated a large rat chewing on something in the corner of the room. She quickly looked away. The less she saw, the better. Still, she shuddered to think what the night would be like. What if the rats got curious while she was asleep and decided to make a home in her sleeping bag?

As she stood there, thoroughly freaked out by the house and its inhabitants, a feeling of disgust and defiance began to build in her. This was absolutely ridiculous. Why was she even here? What was she trying to prove?

She would gain nothing from this; not admiration, and certainly not friends. This would be a source of amusement for the cool kids and nothing more. They shared a mutual dislike of each other, so why was she trying so hard to fit in among them?

With an air of smug self-satisfaction, she packed her belongings and left.

As her car left the drive, the wind settled down and the rain was reduced to a slight drizzle. The house was happy once again; it preferred to be left undisturbed, just like its last owner.

A group of kids stood in the trees at the edge of the clearing. Their taunting laughter followed Aasha home. They thought her a coward, she had no doubt about that. For once, she didn't care what they thought. She'd learned her lesson.

Tarah xXx