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Mystery

That’s strange… I thought to myself. Why would she want me to meet her at midnight? I hadn’t seen her face, but it sounded like the voice of a young girl. It had sounded oddly familiar, though I couldn’t place my finger on it. Like trying to hold on to the last wisps of a dream before they drifted away. I kept walking down the street, faster now. I heard quick footsteps behind me and I bristled. Don’t be silly. You’re a grown woman, Anne. I chided myself. They sounded closer. I just couldn’t help myself. I started running down the street.

They got closer.

And closer.

I raced up the front steps of my house, opened up the door, and slammed it shut. I fumbled for my keys and locked the door quickly. I raced to the window and peered between the curtains and I saw…

Nothing.

It must have been my footsteps echoing on the empty street. A hand grabbed my shoulder.

“My goodness, Anne! It’s only me,” I heard my husband Jack say as I shrieked.

“Oh,” I said dumbly, sitting down on our well-worn sofa.

“Are you alright?” Jack asked cautiously.

“Hmm? Oh, yes,” I responded, unconvincingly. “I just thought I heard footsteps and it spooked me a little.”

“You walked home again?” Jack said, glaring. “The streets of San Francisco are not for a woman to be walking on alone at night.”

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t catch the transit,” I said, kissing him.

“Oh, I can’t stay mad at you, Anne,” He kissed me back.

“Eww!” My 7-year-old daughter, Becca, rudely interrupted. She was in her Chewbacca footie pajamas and her tiny arms were crossed over her chest.

“What is it, Chew Becca?” Jack said, scooping her up in his arms.

“Mommy needs to tuck me in and sing to me,” Becca giggled. Then she scrunched up her tiny nose. “And Mason needs a diaper change.”

“Coming,” I said reluctantly. I took her small hand and headed into her room. Mason was standing up in his crib, sucking his fingers. His big blue eyes followed me as I led Becca over to her bed and tucked her in.

“Sing,” Becca commanded. I took a deep breath and began.

Over the treetops, beyond the hill,

Lies the city of Good Will

Where the children play and laugh

Where all animals are gentle, like calves

Where no adults can spoil the fun

Where you can freely shout and run

But the fun comes as a cost, dear child

And the cost is not mild

For you will never grow old, nor die

You will stand still and watch the world go by

For you will have quite an adventure

But never discover death’s true nature

I will never discover why Becca likes that song so much. She found it in one of my old textbooks from when I was her age and she adores it. I’m quite disturbed by it.

“Goodnight mommy,” Becca whispered, bringing me out of my thoughts.

Beep beep!

The clock chimed 11:00.

The girl.

Was I going to go?

“Mommy?” Becca said.

“Oh! Goodnight, honey.” I kissed her cheek. After I changed Mason’s diaper, I went back into the living room and I saw that Jack was waiting for me. I had to tell him.

“Hey,” I mumbled, plopping down next to him.

“Hey. Something on your mind?” He asked, his eyes full of concern.

“I just… something happened on my way home,” His face became dark. “Oh! Nothing bad! Don't worry, it’s just that a little girl stopped me on the street and told me to meet her at the Palace Hotel at midnight.” Jack’s expression went from anger to a mixture of concern and confusion.

“Didn’t it close when we were in high school?”

“Yeah. The building is still there though. I was wondering if I should go or not.”

“Did you see what she looked like?” Jack asked.

“No, she walked off before I could ask any questions. But she sounded oddly familiar. I think I should go,” I replied.

Jack hesitated.

“As long as I go with you,” He said.

I released a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. We got in our yellow Jeep and pulled out into the street. I hate leaving my kids home alone. I always think something terrible will happen to them. Nothing to do about it now.

We parked near the entrance of the hotel. The streets were quiet and empty except for quiet music coming from the theater. We walked up the once-grand steps of the hotel and pushed open the unlocked door. It opened with a screech that seemed deafening in the silence. I stepped inside, Jack following close behind.

The lobby was just as beautiful as I remembered from my younger days. The grand chandelier loomed above and the grand marble pillars towered above it. Everything looked in pretty good shape for being closed for almost 15 years.

When Jack and I were younger, we used to come to the lobby every day after school and pretend to be rich, snotty people. Neither of us came from a rich family so this was great fun.

Jack would wear a tall black hat that was much too big for his head that we had taken from the hotels lost and found and spectacles perched on the end of his nose, that he had "borrowed" from his father. He even stuffed a pillow under his shirt to look fat! I would wear fake, plastic jewelry and my mother’s sundress. We would both strut around the lobby and say things like, “How do you do?” and “Fancy seeing you here.”

We kept walking and came upon the great fountain. There were still some coins at the bottom. I reached down into the fountain to observe one when an echoing voice filled the hall.

“Over the treetops, beyond the hill,

Lies the city of Good Will

Where the children play and laugh

Where all animals are gentle, like calves…”

“Oh my gosh,” Jack said, his eyes were wide with fear.

“Where no adults can spoil the fun

Where you can freely shout and run

But the fun comes as a cost, dear child

And the cost is not mild…”

I glanced around the lobby, trying to figure out where the voice was coming from.

“For you will never grow old, nor die

You will stand still and watch the world go by

For you will have quite an adventure

But never discover death's true nature…”

“Anne,” Jack’s voice was a hoarse whisper as he pointed to the imposing staircase. The small figure of a girl was coming down. I didn’t know whether I’m relieved that I found the source of the voice, or terrified.

“Hello, Jack,” The girl sang.

She had reached the end of the staircase and was now standing with one hand on the banister. Her face was shrouded in shadow.

“How do you know my name?” Jack stuttered.

“Why, don’t you remember me?” The girl said in her sweet voice.

“I can’t say I do,”

“Do you?” The girl said, turning to me. As she did, the moonlight coming through the window caught her face. I gasped.

She had brilliant blue eyes and curly black hair. It was like looking in a mirror.

“Oh. My. Gosh,” Jack whispered in horror, pulling me towards the door.

“I can tell you do. I’ve changed a lot,” The girl, or should I say, Anne came forward and touched my face, her hand running along my jaw. “Do you still go by Anne instead of Annie?”

“Yes,” I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. She grinned.

“And are we married?” she questioned Jack.

“Yes. What’s going on?” He said, also staring at her. I was wondering the same thing.

“Anne,” I ventured, finding it unbelievable that I was talking to my younger self, “what’s going on?”

“I found Good Will, of course,” Anne said bluntly.

“How?” I asked, stunned.

“I went over the treetops and beyond the hill, just like in the rhyme. I always suspected it existed,” Anne explained, studying her fingernails.

“Then why am I all grown up?” I asked, utterly confused and frightened.

“As you grew older, you lost your imagination. Your studying and working slowly killed it, until it was nearly no more. But I somehow escaped it. And I made it to Good Will."

“But how?” Anne opened her mouth to respond, but suddenly the air was filled with screeching sirens.

“Anne,” Jack whispered, “The kids.” I bolted out the hotel doors and got in the car, Jack not far behind. We drove down the street, about 20 miles over the speed limit, and pulled into the driveway to find…

Our house.

Looking completely normal.

I raced in the front door and heard nothing. Jack and I sprinted into the kid’s room to find Becca out of bed. She was talking to…

Anne.

“Come with me,” Anne murmured, holding out her hand. Becca reached out.

“NO!” I shouted lunging towards them. I tripped over a stray toy and slammed my head on the crib. I was seeing stars.

I glanced up just in time to see Becca take Anne’s hand and disappear.


October 21, 2020 00:31

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56 comments

Hello Felicity!! I just read your story and it is great! I do have 3 suggestions that you can use to improve this story. :) 1. "But fun comes as a cost, dear child". - There, I feel like you are missing the determiner before the word 'fun'. I suggest you to use the word 'the' so that it sounds a little bit more clear. Also because it just makes the sentence much more sense. 2. "The small figure of a girl was coming down. I didn’t know whether I’m relieved that I found the source of the voice, or absolutely terrified." - In that area...

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21:31 Oct 21, 2020

Thank you so much, Haripriya! I really appreciate the feedback!

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No problem! :)

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Natalie Dafoe
22:37 Oct 28, 2020

I love this story! It’s very creepy, but in a good way that gets you sucked in, so you do not want to stop reading. One thing I’m curious about is the motivation of younger Anne taking Becca, is it because she believes she will be saving her imagination if they both go to Good Will? Again, awesome story :)

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22:38 Oct 28, 2020

Thank you so much, Lara!!!!

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Patricia Green
21:21 Oct 28, 2020

Good story, kept the momentum going.

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21:49 Oct 28, 2020

Thanks, Patricia!!

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Daniel Deschenes
21:00 Oct 27, 2020

This was great! It had me hooked from the beginning.

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22:40 Oct 27, 2020

Thank you, Daniel!

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Nora K
14:30 Oct 26, 2020

Wow that was so creepy!! Awesome job! :) 👍 (P.S please write more because I’m super scared for Becca!!)

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14:36 Oct 26, 2020

Thank you so much! Haha, I will!

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Alina Manha
21:25 Oct 25, 2020

Loved it. Well written. It kept me hooked till the end.

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00:39 Oct 26, 2020

Thank you so much!

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Ana Govindasamy
20:33 Oct 22, 2020

Wow. And chewbecca had me laughing my head off.

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21:04 Oct 22, 2020

Haha, thanks! I'm a pretty big Star Wars fan. ;)

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01:26 Oct 22, 2020

I love the story and I love the cliff hanger end! Can't wait to read what happens next! Keep up the good work Lily

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01:35 Oct 22, 2020

Thank you, Lily!

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Ayomide Kehinde
23:47 Oct 21, 2020

Oh my God I loved it so Much. It was WOW. Can't wait to read more from you.

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23:48 Oct 21, 2020

Thank you so much!!

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Ayomide Kehinde
23:49 Oct 21, 2020

You are welcome.

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Gip Roberts
20:34 Oct 21, 2020

The tension and mystery of wondering who this little girl could possibly be and what this could possibly be all about made it impossible to stop reading. And then the twist made it even better. One tiny piece of critique: The story says she lives in San Francisco and she walked home because she couldn't catch the subway. "B.A.R.T" would be more accurate here. Technically, it is a subway, but locals refer to it by its initials, which stand for "Bay Area Rapid Transit".

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13:15 Oct 22, 2020

Oooh, thank you! That's super helpful!!

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Dalyane Deblois
19:39 Oct 21, 2020

Amazing use of the plot, I love the song you put in it! It's original and as I kept reading, I couldn't wait to know what happened at the end. It's well written and it reads smoothly. Great job, keep writing!:)

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19:43 Oct 21, 2020

Thank you so much, Dalyane!!

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Aafia Hanya
17:53 Oct 21, 2020

WOAH.... THIS STORY IS A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. wow, great, really. oh Becca.

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17:54 Oct 21, 2020

Thank you so much, Aafia!! :)

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Princemark Okibe
15:29 Oct 21, 2020

This story is delightfully energetic, fast paced and engaging. Your writing form is good and even better than mine. The story had good suspense and kept my attention all through the reading. Anyway, I learn best by editing the work of others. So, here goes. I have some suggestions for you and luckily the contest is still on so you may enact the ones you choose to accept. [Hmm? Oh, yes,” I responded, unconvincingly. “I just thought I heard footsteps and it spooked me a little,”] Why does a comma end this dialogue? You also did...

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15:41 Oct 21, 2020

Thank you so much for the critique! I'll fix those mistakes as soon as possible!

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Izzie Chan
14:06 Oct 21, 2020

Wow, this story is amazing! I love the fact that Anne discovers that the girl is her younger self at the end; it really made it more suspenseful and thrilling, especially when she takes Becca. There are a few tense issues, but besides that, great story! :D

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15:26 Oct 21, 2020

Thank you so much!!

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Karin Venables
13:03 Oct 21, 2020

I hate it when I have to post at the last minute without the opportunity to edit. Good job in any case. There were a couple of issues with verb tenses, but I'm sure if you were able to, you would have caught them. Great ghost story!

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13:19 Oct 21, 2020

Thank you so much!!

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Jeni Conrad
10:50 Oct 21, 2020

Spooky. As a parent, I would never have left my 2 small children to go to an old hotel to meet a kid I couldn't get a good look at who told me to meet her. Maybe they could be on a date night and the babysitter doesn't realize the ghost enters their room? That would read better for me and I wouldn't have been so distracted by how terrible they are as parents, haha. There were a few tense issues from present to past tense. Example: " I chide myself. They sounded closer." Chide is present but sounded is past. It's important to stick to...

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13:19 Oct 21, 2020

Thank you so much for the feedback! Don't worry, I'm glad for any critique I can get! :)

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Jeni Conrad
14:04 Oct 21, 2020

That's the best perspective to have or else you'll never grow as a writer or a person. It can be hard to hear negative things about works we pour our souls into but it's part of writing, I suppose.

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03:33 Oct 21, 2020

Absolutely Loved it

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13:18 Oct 21, 2020

Thank you so much!

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00:33 Oct 21, 2020

This one may be a bit rough at the moment, I had to go ahead and post it to my account because of some timing issues. Please feel free to critique!

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Skyler Woods
10:53 Dec 09, 2020

Hi Felicity, I loved this story! I have a YouTube channel where I narrate stories from talented writers. I wanted to get permission to narrate your story. Would it be okay with you? I would have the video uploaded by the end of the week and I would send you the link.

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15:03 Dec 11, 2020

Of course! Thank you so much for asking! :)

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Skyler Woods
15:58 Dec 14, 2020

Hey Felicity, I uploaded the video and it's scheduled to go public at 4:30 in the evening today. I'll send you the link once it makes it debut on YouTube!

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16:39 Dec 14, 2020

Oooooh fun!!!!

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Skyler Woods
22:33 Dec 14, 2020

Here's the link! I hope you like it! Please spread the word if you can! ❤ https://youtu.be/DJBSiNwSzIU

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23:36 Dec 14, 2020

You did soooo good!! Is that you reading?

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22:38 Dec 14, 2020

Will do!!

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Skyler Woods
16:18 Dec 11, 2020

Thank you! I should have the video uploaded by next week.

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16:03 Dec 13, 2020

:)

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Skyler Woods
05:05 Oct 30, 2020

This was amazing!

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13:18 Oct 30, 2020

Thanks Skyler!!

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