Fifteen-year-old Jacob Kelly would love to go back to simpler times. Before his parents ’divorce and the onset of his brother’s Schizophrenia. But when he returns to his hometown, things feel off. After a series of strange occurrences, Jacob fears his new house is haunted or worse, yet he is losing his mind.
To his surprise, Jacob discovers a mysterious teenage runaway, Sanctuary Daniels, living in the house. She reveals she has been kept by a figure known only as Mother, in a place where downstairs children are languishing prisoners, and upstairs children do Mother’s bidding.
Jacob’s investigation into Sanctuary’s allegations, along with their budding romance, are cut short when she is reclaimed by evil beings. Beings who unleash terror upon Jacob and his family. Now he must journey to a real haunted house to save his first love and fight for his very life.
I made it to the steps and heard Michael crying but went up anyway. Passing by, I peeked at him and my mom in his new room. He was strewn across the bed, convulsing in tears of furious sobbing. Our mom hovered, trying to comfort him.
Once down the hall, I slid into my room and sat on the bed.
I made my way to a Pepto Bismol pink bathroom. Mom had hooked up our old shower curtain with the silver dragonflies on it. After a quick scrub and rinse, the old pipes loudly screeched as they shuddered off. I dried and dressed before wiping away the steam on the mirror, analyzing my reflection. My hair was too curly, and my eyelashes too long. After being teased in the first grade, I’d cut them off, but they grew back with a vengeance. I continued to move my face to my most flattering angles and decided to stop being a weirdo and go to sleep.
I returned to my room to find the closet door was slightly ajar. It was closed before, yet maybe my mom had been here and put something away. I opened it and flicked on the overhead closet light. Nothing was there except for my clothes and two cardboard boxes I had put there earlier that read Jacob’s crap. Only this time, there was writing on the wall in black marker. I would have noticed it.
I scratched my head and read the words out loud, “The sky was a dark tomb. The stars forgot us, but it didn’t matter. We ran. We ran. We ran. And hid so no one would find us.”
I swallowed thickly. What? Oh, hell, Michael. I shot down the hall and stuck my head in his room. “What did you write? Part of a story or something? Or are you just messing with me?” Only then did I remember offending him and added, “Sorry about earlier, just don’t write on my walls. Okay?”
“I didn’t write anything. Get lost.”
Michael didn’t lie about any of the dumb shit he did. On the other hand, I suppose there was a first time for everything. “Whatever,” I mumbled and said, “Good night.” Hesitating, I drummed my fingers on the doorframe. Mike still ignored me, so I darted off.
I was drawn to the closet again, examining each word. I couldn’t be a hundred percent sure, but it didn’t look like Michael’s handwriting. It appeared loopier, almost resembling calligraphy.
Then I looked around the rest of my room. There wasn’t much to see. I only had a full-size bed and a small dresser. Still, my eyes inspected every square inch of the space. The weirdness hijacking my usual sarcastic edge. I closed the closet, sprawling out across the bed, and searched
for schizoaffective disorder on my phone. It was pretty much what my mom described. I read the words genetic component and placed the phone on my chest, trying not to think about it. The wind continued to battle the shutter, and the rain poured. My eyes went to the window with the heavy, mustard yellow curtains we’d left up for now. Of course, the lights flickered, and a cold chill crept in. The house was full of bad omens.
R.J. Garcia is a wife and proud mom. She earned her MSW and worked with foster children and as a school social worker. Writing has been her other great love. She has published several non-fiction pieces. She has been writing short-stories for as long as she can remember. To her amazement, those short stories became novels!