"You wanna do something fun?" She heard the words replaying in her mind like a broken record in an abandoned house. Threatening and ominous. She never knew what could have happened that night, that so much could happen, and yet almost wanting it to.
Katilin's day started out pretty normal. She had walked to the coffee shop across the street with her best friend Katie. They were ready to get senior year over with and graduate. They just wanted to be free and drink with their boyfriends, maybe make a little love. She had been with her boyfriend Luke for almost two years now. They had known each other for pretty much their whole life. He used to pull on her braids when they were little and often still made fun of her for it, even though she never wore those braids again.
"Hey, what do yall say we go out to the old Crowley Place tonight for a little fun?" said Luke as he methodically played with Kaylun's now straight blond hair at the lunch table. Cane laughed, "Sure why not, it'll give Katie a reason to snuggle up, won't it?" as he brushed up against Katie. "Ha. Ha. You're going to have to do more than that if you want to get lucky tonight dork." said Katie laughing sarcastically at Cane's poor game. He had been trying to get with Katie for months, and even though Katie did like him, she wouldn't give him an inch. It was like their little game, seeing how much they could get under each others skin. We had gone to all the normal places in town on date nights. But this... this was different. The old Crowley Place. Some people say that old man Crowley killed his wife up there in a drunken rage and blacked out. He was so appalled at his actions that when he woke, he locked himself away up there and never came out again. It was true, no one ever saw old man Crawley. All that anyone saw was a single light, late at night in the upstairs bedroom and the occasional silhouette walking by.
Katlin quickly sat up and blurted out "We can't, it's trespassing. What if we get caught?". "What if we don't? What if we never come out again?" said Luke in a dark and scary voice. "Your wasting your time." Cane said rolling his eyes. "She's never going to go up there with us. Shes too, goody-goody." She glared at him across the table, and then practically shouted "I will go and prove I am not a goody-goody!" All three of them jumped back and then quickly started grinning. "Alright here's the plan, everyone meet at my house at 10:00. We will take my dad's car to the old Crawley place. He won't be home tonight and should be pouring himself into bed around dawn." Cane's dad was an avid drinker, and was never often home. He usually took he truck to the bar and slept there. Other times he would go home with another one of his trollops he found at the bar. Cane's mom passed away when he was little and his dad has never been the same.
Katlin told her mom she was going to Katie’s house to stay the night. They met at Cane’s house and left promptly for the old Crowley place. Katlin’s hair stood on edge as they went up to the old gate. The house sat high on a ridge above the town. Its old Victorian style windows with half hanging shudders left all of them in a stage of awe. They crept up to the door, peeking through the windows, trying not to disturb anything that may be lurking inside. They crept in, as quiet as they could. Kaitlin’s heart raced faster and faster with every step they took. “You wanna do something fun? Let’s play hide-and-seek!” said Cane laughing. Katlin rolled her eyes, knowing nothing good could come from this but not wanting to sound like a goody-goody, she agreed. “Yeah, let’s play hide-and-seek!” said Luke followed by all three of them loudly shushing him. “What if we get lost?” Katie said, trying to play off her fear of the old man. “We have our phones, we can use the light to see. Who wants to go first?” “I will '' said Luke. Katlin didn’t want to go alone, but she was determined to not let her fear show through. Luke began to count and they all hid. Katlin went upstairs and found a room with a single bed, a dresser, one window, and a night stand. She hid under the bed, trying to conceal her movement over the creaking baseboards. She sat in silence for a while, soon she realized her eyes were getting heavier and heavier, until finally, she was asleep. When she woke it was still dark and she wondered where her friends were. Had they left her? Had old man Crowley run them out? She was too afraid to move. She reached for her phone and to her dismay it was dead. Terror slowly started to build in her body. She waited, and waited for what seemed like centuries. Until finally she heard the door open, but could not make out who it was. She waited not wanting to reveal herself out of fear. Then she heard his voice, deep like tall oak trees in the fall. He spoke softly, she guessed that he was looking for her. “Why have you come?” He didn’t sound insane or drunk or even upset. She laid in silence. He walked closer to the bed. “If you come out now, I won’t press charges.” She rose from under the bed to find an older, stiffly built man. He brought his flashlight up to her face. She quickly brought her hand up to her head trying to let her eyes adjust to the brightness slowly. This wasn’t a skinny or limpy man, but a man that looked like he chopped wood for a living since he was 12. With a strong built back, and thick muscles, she wondered why he wasn’t more upset that a couple of tennagers broke into his house. “Why did you come here?” he asked again, more stern than before. “My friends and I were just curious about you. We didn’t mean any harm.” Katlin said, trying not to show her trembling lips. “Your so-called ‘friends’ left you about two hours ago. You started snoring. I could hear you from the room over.” Had they really left her? She didn’t believe him. “They wouldn’t just leave me here. They must not have left.” she said as sternly as she could. “Oh, they left all right. Gave them a mighty scare when I pulled out the shotgun. They told me about you and said you were still here. I told them you would be home by morning, but if they called the cops you wouldn’t last through the night. However, that depends on if you can help me”. She knew then what was going on. Her stomach dropped. She was being held hostage. “What do you want from me? Why me?” she said, almost crying, tensing up her fists. “I need you here. I need someone here.” She slowly released her fists. Starting to understand. Maybe he was just lonely. With his wife gone, he had no one to talk to, but why her? Why now? “Why do you need me here?” “I am lonely and need someone she can talk to.” Her heart dropped. Her? Everyone thought his wife was dead. She started crying and pleading for him to let her go. She did not understand why she wanted to talk with her and she did not want to find out. While she was begging and pleading on the floor, he bent down and placed shackles on her wrists and attached them to the bed frame. “I will be back in a minute. It seems your friends did come back for you. But as you will quickly learn, I do not like to be messed with.”
She waited listening, for any sounds. Did her friends really come back for her? Why did he want to talk to her? Why not Katie? Or Cane or Luke? She sat in silence, fearful of what was to come. She began to think about his wife again. Did he do this to her? Was he doing this because of her? Did he even realize what he was doing? She heard car doors and then an engine. Loud at first, but then slowly faded to nothingness. She heard the hard boot steps coming up the steps. She waited for what seemed like eternity. Then suddenly the door swung open and the light flipped on. Ol man Crowley was just standing there looking at her, She asked again “Why do you want me here? Why am I handcuffed? I want to go home!” She could barely breathe with her dripping tears and snot blinding her and covering her face.
He spoke calmly and slowly. “I need someone to talk to her, like I used to before she left me.” Left him? She had passed away, but he said in almost a remorseful way like she divorced him or left him for a younger, more youthful man. “Your wife?” said Katlin slowly trying to clean her face with her arm struggling in the handcuffs. “She passed away years ago, didn’t she? She was sick.” He jumped up and rushed to her like a hawk spotting its meak prey from up above. “She was not sick. She was perfectly healthy! Can’t you see? She never left, she is still here tormenting me! I didn’t even do anything wrong!” He stopped and froze like a deer caught in the headlights of an 18-wheeler. Just like that the lights began to flicker. Katlin’s heart was almost jumping out of her chest trying to run for the hills like she should have hours ago. The dresser quickly toppled over and made her jump. Ol man Crowley just stood there frozen and unfazed like he’d seen all of this before. Just as suddenly as it had started it stopped. “What was that?!?” Katlin said practically screaming. “See? It's her! I can’t do anything without her pushing stuff over and making things turn on and off! She is crazy with rage and won’t listen to me. I need someone to help me talk to her. None of the people in town even believe me enough to come up here. Please help me and I will let you go.”
Katlin was awestruck. Why would his wife be so upset at him? What had he done? “What actually happened to your wife?” He paused and looked worriedly around the room. “It wasn’t my fault! You have to understand. She begged me to do it. She begged me to hang the rope for her. She was so tired, but her body would not give out. I hung the rope but she did everything else. She locked herself in this room for weeks. She wouldn’t eat and wouldn’t let me in. She wasn’t right in the head. You have to understand, it wasn’t my fault. She asked me to, she pleaded.” He began to sob, slowly at first, but then it began to grow. A mighty flood gate after years of keeping everything held back. Within that moment she realized what she had to do. She had to talk to the wife. Find out what led her to do it, or else who knows how long she would be held up here. “What was her name?” she asked as calmly and caringly as she could. “Merida” he said with a glossy look on his face as if been struck by lightning. She started calling out and asking all sorts of questions trying to get Merida to respond or show herself, but the house had grown quiet in the early morning hours. “She won’t talk to me. Maybe she will talk to you. He summoned all the courage he could, and began asking her what was wrong. At first it was dead silent, but then a silhouette formed in front of the door. It was her. She appeared to be weeping. Ol man Crowley was stunned at first, but then he began to weep with her. They sat and cried for what seemed like an eternity, until finally words were spoken in a soft and thrilling manner. It sounded like a mothers voice when her child falls, so tender and sweet. She said without hesitation, “That’s all I ever wanted to hear from you, Augustus. I will always love you, my sweet.” Then as quickly as she had appeared, she vanished into the early morning low and foggy light. He stood up and walked over to Katlin and unlocked her. Her first instinct was to run and tell everyone what had just happened, but she stopped herself. She realized that all this man ever wanted was his wife, and to know that she was finally okay, and at peace. Katlin looked at him and said unapologetically, “Just call me next time you want to talk to her.” The old man laughed and nodded.
As she stepped outside into the morning light, she saw her friends running towards her. They all embraced each other, and held on for a while. They were asking so many questions that she didn’t even realize that Merida was standing in the upstairs window smiling down on her. She never really told anyone exactly what happened that night. She didn’t want Ol man Crowley to get arrested or hurt. Truly at heart he was a good man. Katlin never forgot that old house and frequently stops by to see the happy couple.