She had always dreaded the move to that menacing old house in the middle of nowhere. Molly and her family had visited it just a couple of times before the big move, and she could sense something about it, just by looking at its ancient, battered exterior and dusty windows that were full of stringy cobwebs. Her parents and even her sisters' seemed to be drawn to it; but not her. Molly could sense something lurking within it.
Its outer walls were a dank grey in colour and parts of the paintwork had crumbled, revealing dirty bricks that looked like they had been weathered by centuries of brisk winds and icy rain. There was a grotesque entwinement of nasty dead branches covering the left side of the wall, the rotting remnants of what must have been quite a fancy climbing plant back in the day. The front lawn was no better; overgrown with towering, verdant weeds, a tall, dead tree stood in its middle like a macabre centrepiece, its bare branches protruding outwards like spindly arms, a stark contrast to the overgrowth surrounding it. There was a gravel path leading up to the front door, which was made out of a dark wood, its grand colour and medieval look standing out from the grey paintwork of the walls. The house was situated on a steep embankment with a tall rickety fence bordering it, like a castle looking down on its land below; vast moors, open fields, a small forest to the left and a village that was barely visible only on the clearest of days. To Molly it was the perfect setting for an evil presence to lurk.
The family of five had been living in the creaking old house for three weeks and had turned it into their home quickly. The walls had been stripped of their original wall paper which was old fashioned and falling down in places, and the bare plaster had been adorned with pictures of pretty things and photos of the family; three smiling sisters; proud parents holding Molly as a baby, the youngest sister; pets that were no longer here. Cosy, modern furniture had been placed, plush carpet that your feet sunk into lined the floors, and there were no cardboard boxes littering the house anymore. This house was their home now and it should have been warm and welcoming. However, since the move, Molly was being tormented by something that prevented her from feeling any warmth here. It was always there and she was certain that it was watching her in her room as she tried to sleep.
Molly felt that her room was the coldest and even though she would hunker down in her bed with her duvet pulled up around her face, she could feel cold air seep through the fabric, chilling her so much she got goose bumps. She would stay here all night if she could, but after a while a cold sweat would form on her skin even though she was shivering, and she found it hard to breathe. She would slowly pull the duvet from around her face and stare up at the ceiling, her eyes in one spot. If she'd just stare then she'd get sleepy and her eyes would get heavy and wouldn't trail over to that corner, the one farthest from the window and where all the shadows seemed to pool together, because that's where it was, watching, and waiting - a dark, formless mass. Sometimes a red flicker would dart through the darkness like a laser beam, but it would always appear in her field of vision. Her heart would beat faster and faster. Her tongue would go dry. She would start to shake. And so she swore that she would never look into that corner ever again.
But she did. She couldn't help it. Something beyond her power was forcing her to look into that dark corner where it lurked. As usual it was there again tonight, doing absolutely nothing at all, and Molly knew that it was a ploy to lure her into a false sense of security, and when she finally let down her guard it would pounce, that red flicker of a demonic eye inches from her face. She gasped as her heart galloped and her face flushed with adrenalin. She ducked her head under the duvet just as that red flicker zoomed through the darkness towards her.
Eventually she calmed down enough to stick her hand out of her duvet. Fumbling around in the gloom of the night, she reached out and turned on the bedside lamp. Glorious light filtered through the sheets. Slowly, she poked her head out and looked into the corner which was empty. Of course it was. There wasn't really anything there. She was just scared of the dark. She was only twelve, not too old to dismiss the idea that monsters hide under your bed and ghosts lurk in dark corners. She sighed. Who was she kidding? Even now, in the gorgeous yellow light, she could sense a wrongness in the air. There was something in here, and whatever it was didn't want her in its space. She felt like an intruder.
She couldn't stay here. On tiptoes, she snuck out of her bedroom, across the corridor to her parents' bedroom. Her dad was snoring lightly but her mum was almost silent.
"Mum, can I sleep in here with you?" Molly asked.
There came no answer so she shook her mum's shoulder gently.
Her mum grunted softly and opened her eyes.
"What is it?" she asked.
"There's something horrible in my room and I want to sleep in here with you because I'm scared."
"Don't be silly. Get back to bed. Some of us have to get up in the morning, you know."
"But I'm serious!" she yelled.
"You've been watching Most Haunted again, haven't you?"
"No buts. That stuff's not real. They even tell you at the start of the programme that it's for entertainment purposes only. Come on, it's nearly midnight. Bed. Now."
Her mum had already drifted back to sleep. Molly was so scared she felt like a tight knot had formed in her tummy and that someone was tugging it. There was definitely something in the corner. As much as she tried to disprove it, it wasn't her imagination.
She couldn't go back to sleep in her own bedroom so she went to her sister's room instead.
"Lauren, can I sleep with you tonight? I'm scared."
She hated to admit it. Being the youngest of three sisters was bad enough; admitting you were scared was even worse. She'd happily take the embarrassment over being attacked by that dark mass.
"Go away," came the reply through the darkness. "Scaredy-cat. Go pester Mum."
"But she told me to find you." She was lying of course but she'd do anything not to go back into her own bedroom.
"Go find Tiff then!" she snapped.
Her other sister Tiffany, who was the oldest of the three, was sleeping at the other end of the house. The floorboards creaked under her feet as she crept across the vast hallway, making her feel like a target. She felt eyes on her, burning into her back, her neck, the back of her head. It was dark, so dark, but she hadn't got used to the layout of the light switches in the hallway yet. There was a loud bang on the stairs, like metal on wood. She yelped and started to run to Tiffany's room, seeing red eyes flickering in the darkness. Her heart seemed to pulsate in her mouth and her whole body throbbed painfully with each beat. She ran towards a window that had illuminated a part of the hallway with moonlight and could see a faint figure of a very tall, thin man standing in the silvery light. He turned around so quickly that for a second he'd evaporated into a dark mass before materialising again, this time with deep red eyes. Molly screamed and hit the floor, curling herself into the foetal position and covering her head with her hands.
She heard sounds coming from her parents' bedroom and a door opening. Relief spread over her. Would they believe her now?
"Molly!" her mum yelled. "What are you doing!?"
"Mum!" she cried, "you've got to believe me!"
She pointed to the patch of moonlit hallway but there was nothing there except a small console table with some hideous brass candle holders that belonged to her great-grandad set upon it.
Her mum shook her head and sighed with frustration.
"What am I supposed to be looking at?"
"This house… it's haunted. I saw him, I saw the ghost of a man!"
"For goodness sake. This is my fault. I should have never let you watch that ghost hunting show. It's not real. Please, go back to bed, it's late and me and your dad are tired."
Why don't they believe me? She thought. I'm on my own here, all alone. I get scared and who's here to comfort me? No one.
She skulked back into her bedroom. As she threw the covers over herself, she threw one last glance towards that corner. He was there again, watching, waiting. She dived under the duvet, curled up into a ball and started to cry.
"Leave me alone," she whispered, a tear rolling down her cheek.
To be continued…