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Mystery

Tick, tock, tick, tock. The clock on the wall is about to strike two in the afternoon. I had been busying myself with sorting out my outfit for the evening. It’s the 31st of October, Halloween, and I’ve been invited to a Monster Ball by my friend Aiden, he is a complete Halloween nut-job. I went all out on the outfit for tonight and have spent way more money than I initially planned to, but the dress is amazing and it’s worth it. It is a proper Victorian styled burgundy red dress, with creamy white decorations. The buttons are black and it came with a lovely black bow around the neck. I’ve never been to a Monster Ball before and am not really sure what to expect from the evening’s event.

An itchy feeling spread through my body suddenly and I stretched my arms to try and get rid of it, but it lingered, making me feel really uncomfortable in my own skin. Freaks come out at night by Whodini suddenly blasted from my phone, it was Aiden’s ringtone that he himself had set on my phone one drunken night.

“Olive? How’s it going?” he asked, excitement bursting and influencing his voice. You could almost hear the air crackle when he spoke.

“Hi Aiden! I am doing the finishing touches on my outfit for tonight. I am going to look even more beautiful than Mabel Love, but with a bit of spookiness too of course!” Aiden’s laughter rang through my ears and it made me laugh as well. He had such an alluring personality.

“You better be covering that dress in blood or something, it is Halloween and we’re meant to look scary! Also, Chloe got out this morning. If you see her can you bring her back home?” Chloe was Aiden’s black Bombay cat. She wasn’t the most friendly of cats but she loved him more than anything.

“Yeah, of course. I’ll talk to you later, Aiden.”

“Alright. Bye, Olive!”

We hung up and I got out of my chair, hunger now riling my stomach.

The kitchen was a mess, I had been too lazy to do any of the dishes for days and they were piling high. With a sigh I glanced out my window and saw a bunch of kids playing football with one of the neighbour’s pumpkins. Mr. Sanders would not be pleased with that once he found out.

A red apple, shiny and inviting, was laying on the counter, the only problem was that I could not remember having bought apples. Must have been Aiden who left it here the other day, wonder how I didn’t notice it until now. I bit into it and began smiling, that was the juiciest and most delicious apple I had ever tasted. Damn, I had to ask Aiden where he bought them.

Something caught my eye outside, a small black form was moving along the hedge and I dropped the apple in excitement, it was Chloe! But by the time I got outside she was nowhere to be found again. At least I knew she was around.

When I got back inside I checked the time, almost three in the afternoon. The Monster Ball started at eight.

My dress was gorgeous but I needed to make it look scary so I grabbed the scissor and began cutting slits in it and then tore it. I rubbed the fabric together to damage the threads a bit and make it look worn and old. It was better but still not spooky enough. With a few calculated, and some not as calculated dabs of black paint and splashes of fake blood, I made the dress look even more dirty. That’d have to do.

Another boring microwave meal landed on my lap as I got comfortable in the sofa, I flicked through the channels to see if anything spooky was on but it was still quite early in the day so I ended up watching some random documentary about the life of monkeys in a zoo. Can’t say I found it interesting but it did make the time go by.

I was too excited about tonight to focus on anything so I decided to go for a walk around the neighbourhood.

While outside I saw a familiar black cat cross the road, her body pressed close to the ground, poor girl looked terrified. I called out to her but she freaked out and ran for another neighbour’s garden. I wonder what is up with her, she’s not usually this skittish. My feet started to hurt and I realized I had been walking in a sort of daze. I wasn’t sure where I was or what time it was, but the house I was standing in front of was huge. It was a proper mansion size with rich, luxurious decorations to the windows and doors. It was a faded white house, that honestly could do with a proper washing. I turned on my heel and strolled towards the street leading up to the house, having to pass under a ladder to reach the gate. I snorted, I’m sure there was something about bad luck for walking under one. But I am not a superstitious person and don’t really believe in that stuff.

Great, when I was about to unlock my door I realized my keys were gone. As I had no memory of where I had been walking around earlier before arriving at the house I decided to just put up some notes around the neighbourhood and call the police tomorrow and see if they’d had any keys handed in.

I grabbed the spare key, hidden in a flowerpot on the porch. I know, it's a cliché.

The clock struck seven and I sat down at my kitchen table. In front of me were all of the make-up I owned. As I began putting the base on, my phone rang again with the familiar, freaks come out at night, ringtone.

“Hi Aiden! Putting my face on for the night.”

“There you are! I’ve been calling you every ten minutes for the last two hours.” He sounded agitated. But I couldn’t remember hearing my phone ring.

“Oh, have you? I haven’t heard a thing.” I held my phone in front of me and checked the logs. Hmm, I have 8 missed calls from Aiden, but my phone hasn’t made a sound until just now. Strange.

“Bet you were busy watching TV again, weren’t you?” he chuckled.

I had been obsessed with Halloween themed movies and series lately.

“No, I was out for a walk, but that would have otherwise probably been a safe bet.” We laughed together.

“Can I come over to your place? I want to inspect your outfit before we get there, can’t have you embarrassing me in front of my friends.” He laughed, but I knew he was serious. Halloween was his Christmas and everything had to be perfect.

“Sure”

We hung up again and I got back to focusing on my make-up. Outside I saw Chloe sneak through the gardens, I’d probably seen her ten times already but I had been unable to get close to her.

Bright red colours covered my eyelids and I shaded the outside with black. I looked very creepy now with these over the top fake lashes framing my eyes perfectly. White smokey lenses covered my irises and I was just about to put on my dress when the doorbell rang. Aiden was finally here. He had taken at least twice as long as he usually did coming to my place.

When I opened the door I was met with a sight of a confused and slightly terrified Aiden, this wasn’t like him at all.

“Are you alright Aiden?” I was a bit worried now.

“Yeah, I just… Never mind. Can I come in?”

I stepped aside and he walked into my living room. He sat down in the sofa and I put down a glass of Prosecco for him. His hands were trembling and shaking, he could barely hold on to the glass.

I got dressed and asked Aiden to help me tie the back of the dress, it was a corset type of thing so there were a million strings.

“I was walking to your house, Olive. And I must have drifted away in thought because I ended up outside this creepy house that I’ve never seen before.”

I froze.

“Was it a white house? With very beautiful decorations?” I asked, warily.

“Uhm, yeah. How did you know?” his eyebrow lifted and he looked at me with confusion.

“The same thing happened to me earlier.”

“It must be the fog we’re having tonight. It confuses our sense of direction.”

I nodded in response. Not that I actually believed that, but right now I wasn’t sure what to believe.

After inspecting my outfit he gave me two thumbs up and we made our way to the Monster Ball. He had been sent the invitation by mail and he typed the address into his phone.

Tick, tock, tick, tock. The clock struck eight, and the clock hands began moving backwards.

In the living room my make-up mirror fell and smashed on the floor.

Aiden hooked his arm through mine as we both realized where this route was taking us. Neither of us had remembered walking there, but we both remembered leaving. The creepy, white house was in front of us, now with a bunch more people and the lights turned on. As we walked up the steps to the porch to go inside, I saw the number on the house, 13.

The inside of the house was beautiful, with fake cobwebs hanging from the ceiling. We walked into the dining room and found a large and long table set for thirteen people. It was decorated with cobwebs but also had tiny little jack-o'-lanterns placed out evenly.

A man dressed as the grim reaper motioned for us to sit, he didn’t speak a single word and walked up to each person in the house and motioned for the table. When we were all seated he left the room and a moment later in came people dressed as zombies and placed the delicious smelling food in front of us. They lined up and bowed, and we all took that as an invitation to start eating.

In the center of the table I noticed a large bowl with red apples, they looked identical to the apple I had found in my house and suddenly a dreary feeling entered my stomach. Perhaps that apple had not been one of Aiden’s after all. I pointed at it and leaned over to Aiden to ask if his friend also purchased apples from the same store, but as I spoke, so did he, and we both asked the other where we buy our apples. Stunned, we stared at each other.

I looked around and inspected the people at the table, it seemed that none of these people knew Aiden, so his first thought that he’d been invited by a friend had been wrong. I had not even received an invitation but had come as Aiden’s plus one, and that felt really wrong all of a sudden. Firstly, if the host didn’t know I was coming, why was there a seat for me too? And secondly, who was this host, and why was he not joining us for dinner?

At midnight, an old grandfather’s clock struck in the corner of the dining room. The host came back in and handed us all a small black silk bag and motioned for us to leave.

I tried getting a good look at the host but could see nothing under that hood. It was too dark in the house and they kept staring at the floor.

The guests left the house smiling and chatting to one another, but Aiden and I had a bad feeling. When we were almost home we saw Chloe come strolling up to us, she stroked against Aiden’s leg, he picked her up and held her against his chest and gave her a hug.

“We’ll be heading home for the night, Olive. It’s been very creepy and strange and I just want to sit by the TV and watch some cartoons.”

“Alright Aiden, thank you for inviting me. I’m glad you weren’t alone at that party. See you tomorrow!” We made our separate ways.

When I got home I waved to Mr. Sanders who was staring through his window. He didn’t wave back which I thought was a bit odd, perhaps those kids had been messing with his pumpkins again and he wasn’t in the mood.

I unlocked the door and got inside. My bedroom window was slightly open, I liked to sleep in a chilled room. I kicked my shoes off and managed to untie the corset back of the dress. It fell to the floor and I breathed in a big breath of fresh air, it was a beautiful dress but not easy to breathe in. The bathroom smelled of pumpkin spice as I lit a candle and cleaned my face, getting all of that make-up off. Finally I was completely clean.

I hopped into my favourite yellow pyjamas and went into the kitchen for a midnight snack. I poured some cereal and milk and sat down in front of the TV, my favourite movie of all time had started, The Nightmare Before Christmas.

As I finished my cereal I saw red and blue lights flash through the window. I walked over to peer outside and see what was going on, thinking that perhaps Mr. Sanders had called the cops on those kids. But to my horror they were carrying him out of the house and into an ambulance. He had bruises and cuts around his neck, and a police officer came out after them with his kitchen window lamp, the cord was bloody and tangled. Alarm struck me.

I sat back down in the sofa, feeling something uncomfortable under me, I stuck my hand in between the cushions of the sofa and found the little black silk bag. I opened it and a piece of chocolate and two notes fell out into the palm of my hand. I unwrapped the chocolate and put it in my mouth, it was a smooth milk chocolate and hazelnut flavour, my favourite chocolate.

I unrolled the first note.

Bad luck always comes in threes”

Strange, but definitely something I’ve heard before. I unrolled the second note.

A mirror, a ladder

A cat and a lady gone madder”

Again, strange. I gasped, on the floor lay the pieces of my mirror. A mirror, a ladder, a cat. Could they mean Chloe? And what was all this about a lady going mad?

I felt tired and laid down to sleep on the sofa. My thoughts kept repeating that second note. It was so accurate, as if they knew what had happened to me today. I didn’t believe in superstitious things, but this day had been nothing but creepy and filled with them.

I fell into a deep sleep, a warm blanket over me, and the TV still on.

Tick, tock, tick, tock. The clock on the wall struck 2 in the afternoon.

Outside the man in the reaper outfit stared at me through my window.

“I’ll see you again, Olivia. Two more times to go.”

As he walked away, the words of the second note kept repeating like a whisper in the wind. Slowly fading away as the hands of the clock began moving in the right direction again.

October 31, 2019 12:05

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