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Kids Horror Friendship

Flowery carvings adorned the strangely shaped old furniture and caught Jacob’s eye. Happy cherubs were encrusted with dust, and on the walls, the springtime imagery of oil paintings was draped in cobwebs hanging like veils. The floorboards creaked, and the weight of dust and neglect hung everywhere, but still, Jacob couldn't help but explore and get lost in the place, looking for creepy old things and ghosts.


At last, he made his way up to the attic, which was pierced here and there by shafts of dust-specked morning light shining through the windows. It was filled with boxes and countless old and broken things, and it smelled musty and faintly of the sweet smell of rot and aged tobacco. Altogether, the scent spoke of a long history and was not entirely unpleasant. Stacks of magazines were spilled on the ground, and a ratty mannequin was wearing a straw-colored blonde wig. On one side, a line of well-worn teddy bears of various sizes stared back at him. Suddenly, his foot slipped on something, and looking down, he saw the parchment-like paper of architectural diagrams lying buried under a thick layer of dust. Then, at a small desk nearby, a black and white photo album lay open, revealing pictures of distant relatives he had never heard of. All in all, it felt like a strange old museum filled with oddities from centuries past, but he couldn't shake the feeling that something truly creepy was indeed hidden here, and he wasn't sure that he wanted to play hide and seek with it.


He was about to turn and leave when suddenly he felt goosebumps on his neck. He heard a girl's voice sweetly humming a song he did not know. Then, he saw her playfully skipping towards him, wearing an old-fashioned dress. She shimmered transparently, light blue and opalescent. She was swinging her arms by her sides, her eyes sparkling with mischief as she peered at him. And somehow, he forgot to be afraid.


"Hi, my name's Jacob. Aren’t you a ghost?" he asked her, his brow furrowed.


"It's so very nice to meet you, Jacob. I'm Mildred," the little girl said elegantly before curtsying. "And yes, I am a ghost. Isn’t it obvious?” she added with a teasing smirk that somehow got under his skin.


“Don’t tease me. It’s not every day that one meets a ghost, you know?”


“That’s true, and in my case, you can only see me on Halloween. It’s when I get to play for just one day a year," Mildred said, and then she jumped up into the air, her ethereal substance warping and elongating, rapidly funneling into the ear of a nearby teddy bear.


"Why hello there," she said in a mock teddy bear voice, waving the bear's paw.


"That's so cool!" Jacob said.


"Yes, it's quite fun. I can animate a lot of things! You want I should go into your parents' car next?" she asked with a mischievous grin.


"Nah, I don't think they'd appreciate that," Jacob said pensively. "But let's totally find other things to try."


Then, as Mildred stepped out of the bear, Jacob paused a while before speaking. "Hey, why don't you come trick or treating with me tonight? You can use the biggest bear and pretend it's a costume."


"What a great idea! I can't believe I never thought of that. Or maybe I just never had anyone to go with," Mildred said, her expression growing bashful.


"Well, you've got me now, Mildred."


"Jacob, come down! We're going to go visit the town," his mother called out from the floor below.


"Hey, I'll be back real soon, okay?" Jacob said.


"Right. I'll be here waiting for you," Mildred answered with a nod.


***


Later in the day, it had grown dark, and Jacob came up the ladder holding a lantern in one hand.


"My mom’s got a bunch of candles burning downstairs. She thought that it would be cool to use candles inside the pumpkins. Some of them are scented, but I hope you don't mind the smell."


"Your mom sounds pretty fun, and also, I can't smell, silly. I'm a ghost!"


"Right," Jacob said, slapping his forehead.


"Hey, Jacob. I have a secret to show you. How about I show you my favorite toy?"


Mildred skipped over to the back of the room and into a large chest hidden behind piles of boxes. The chest creaked open, and Jacob went over to see what was inside. He was taken aback at seeing an old skeleton. It seemed small, like a child's skeleton, and he realized this was where the sickly smell of rot had been coming from.


"Mildred. Is it... is it yours?" Jacob asked, eyes wide open, his throat growing dry, and his pulse running a little faster.


"Yes, it is. Unfortunately, I died here under circumstances most foul. It's why I'm a ghost haunting this place, you silly boy!" she said teasingly. "But that was a long time ago. Since then, I've grown so bored, and this was one of my most fun toys. Truly, I've had such fun scaring people who saw me through the attic windows!” she added with a giggle.


“I guess that could be fun,” Jacob said, unsure what to say.


Then she continued. "But here, I'll show you. Now, don't you get spooked on me!" she said, jumping into the skeleton.


There was a sudden buzz of static electricity, and Jacob's lantern shut off. The room was now only lit by the otherworldly blue glow of the animated skeleton.


"Isn’t it fun and creepy?" he heard Mildred's voice say with a giggle.


Seeing the little girl's skeleton come out of the chest and walk towards him in the dark with a lurching gait, Jacob was seized with a sudden terror. Had she been friendly all along just to lure him here and do goodness knew what to him?


Jacob ran away, screaming and knocking things over. Immediately, the old bones clattered to the floor.


"I didn't mean to scare you so much. Please, please come back..." he heard Mildred's voice say with a whimper as he hurried down the attic steps.


"Please, Jacob," he heard her beg again from further away, her voice no less desperate for being fainter.


It was only with great effort that he finally screwed on his courage and came back up the ladder. His lantern was lit again when he carefully emerged into the attic. Finally, he saw Mildred waiting for him there, wiping ghostly tears from her cheeks, an apologetic look on her face.


"I was so worried you wouldn’t come back, and I'm so sorry for scaring you! I guess I came up with some strange games all by myself. "


"It's okay, and I’m so sorry you were lonely, Mildred. But now you’ve got me to talk to.”


“Oh, won’t you please come by and talk to me again later? I can still speak to you on other days even though you won’t be able to see me.”


“I promise I’ll come by as often as I can,” Jacob said solemnly, and Mildred gave him a sweet smile.


“Oh, I’m so happy to hear that, Jacob,” she said softly.


“Wanna go trick or treating? Get into the bear, and I'll meet you outside in half an hour!"


"Deal!" Mildred answered with a grin.

September 24, 2023 17:14

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8 comments

AnneMarie Miles
05:08 Sep 27, 2023

This was a unique story! Silly and fun. It's a good play on the prompt, meeting a ghost who is friendly and perhaps a little socially awkward. There's certainly a dark undertone there, what with the ghost being a child (🥲) but she is still playful like a child which provides a bit of whimsical-ness to the story. Hope they had fun trick or treating, though poor Mildred won't be able to eat any of the goodies!

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Francois K
03:22 Sep 28, 2023

Hi, Anne Marie! It's been a while. Thanks for your feedback on my whimsical but slightly dark story, and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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Kathryn Kahn
21:29 Oct 05, 2023

I like that a little girl ghost is so much like a little girl who is only interested in the right now -- and describes her death as "so long ago,"

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Francois K
19:42 Oct 07, 2023

Thanks for reading and I appreciate the comment, Kathrynn! I did spend some time thinking about what exactly she should say here.

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Myranda Marie
19:10 Oct 05, 2023

Super cute take on the prompt! I really appreciated the instant acceptance and forgiveness of Mildred, as children often believe without requiring logical explanation.

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Francois K
19:43 Oct 07, 2023

Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks so much for commenting, Myranda! I do think that is true and glad to hear the way I portrayed it worked.

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Tom Skye
16:19 Oct 01, 2023

This was a fun story to read. Some nice creepy elements, fitting for a good children's book. Took a dark turn with the rotting corpse though 😬 Enjoyed it. Great job

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Francois K
02:53 Oct 02, 2023

Thanks for the feedback Tom, and happy to hear you've enjoyed it! Yes, that part is a bit dark for a children's story and could be toned down a little while still symbolizing social awkwardness.

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