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Chapter XV:

Chapter XV:

“We’ve got it!” Ashton yelled full of enthusiasm, throwing his arms up in a triumphant way, like he had just won the lottery, which maybe we did. The first thing that happened was that I noticed a change in smell, it smelled so much sweeter here. With a worried expression, I glanced at my three best friends, scared of what we were going to find. The look on Ashton and Harper’s faces didn’t really surprise me actually, both seeming extremely excited. Jayden on the other hand gave everyone the same concerned looks, I gave, which wasn’t really shocking to me. Without any warning both Harper and Ashton stepped closer to the darker part of the basement.

Confusion was written on my face, I felt an empty feeling fill my chest, I felt hurt. I couldn’t quite understand Harper’s behavior. One moment she is yelling over a dead rat or refuses to go to an attic, but the cellar - where there is a possibility that there is a corpse – there she goes.

Jayden stood there awaiting, no expression was shown on his face. With big steps he followed the two strangely acting teens, briefly looking behind his shoulder, looking me fiercely in the eye. ‘Come.’ He mouthed, his eyebrows pulling up slightly.

I strolled my way to him, covering the spots of showing cloth with the jacket Jayden had given me before. I wrapped my arms around my chest, now stepping towards my other friends, with Jayden closely behind me, resting his hand on my lower back.

“Did you know that there is a window?” Harper asked, pointing at the small broken thing with her chin. It was still big enough for someone to fit in, if it would be comfortable to be in is another story, but I think Jayden and I both could go through it together.

“No . . .” I croaked, shaking my head lightly. “No, I didn’t.”

“Does someone happen to have a flashlight?” Ashton asked, his voice coming from the corner, making a chilling shiver run down my spine. I could only see the highlights of everyone’s face, which reminded me of my brothers.

With Halloween they would always tell horror stories, with a flashlight under their faces, trying to look like ghosts, I think. That - except going trick-or-treating – was the thing I looked most forward to do on that day, because that was the time that we all would sit together, and it most likely would end in a pillow fight.

Autumn, Levi and I would make the snacks, which presumably would end in a food fight or just a fiasco.

Jack and Will would prepare a big prank to place in the front yard, for the people who would knock on the door – I was always watching them make the tricks.

And if my parents were home, we would make my costume together.

It was a time I always looked forward to.

But sometimes it didn’t go as planned, that was before my brothers stopped pulling jokes on me.

And at those thoughts I found myself back in that one horrible hour.

-Flashback-

“Look, mommy.” I twirled, letting the dress I wore spin. “I am a scary zombie cheerleader. Roar!” I - as a six-year-old – roared, making claws with my hands above my head.

My mom giggled as response, still with her back towards me, taking something out of the fridge. “You’re very scary, Hun.” She cooed, turning around so that her long, beautiful brown curl fell on her face. She quickly put it behind her ear and picked me up, to place me on the kitchen island. Her loving, chocolate brown eyes never left my face, not even when she carefully placed me on the counter.

“Can you make something in my hair?” I whined, but quickly regained my tone, seeing the stern look on her face. “Pwease?” I added.

“Of course, honey.” She turned me around – making me sit cross-legged – already with a rubber band in her hands.

“Done.” She sighed, twirling the ponytail around her finger once.

“Can I show daddy?” I jumped from the counter, stumbling my way to my feet.

“He’s in you brothers’ room, I think.” She yelled; I was already running my way to my older brothers’ room.

Happily, I opened the door, thinking that the only men of the house would be there, but that unfortunately wasn’t the case. When I opened the door, I experienced my worst nightmare, I wanted to run away, but something hit me in the back making me drop on my knees and with a loud bonk the door closed.

Scared, wasn’t even a good word to describe the feeling I had, I was terrified. The darkness wasn’t really scary, but the light neon-lights made some posters in the room light up, faces of clowns were shown on them. And in the background, you could hear a soft laugh, not any normal one, but the typical horror-clown-movie one.

‘Haha, I’ll get you, haha, you won’t notice anything.’ It kept saying, making shivers run down my spine. I wanted to scream, but something in my head told me not to, and I just couldn’t, I stood frozen on my spot.

“Daddy . . .?” I whimpered. I didn’t get an answer, at least not from my father. The clown started laughing as response and suddenly I heard some movement from across the room. I was so scared that the thing might have heard me, my heart was pounding so hard and loud. Trying not to make any sound, I tiptoed my way to the corner of the room - just next to the closed door – and cowered into the intersections of the two walls.

I was rocking myself back and forth, my head occasionally colliding the walls.

“Pwease, don’t do anything.” I pleaded, but it was almost inaudible.

Again, I heard some rumbling on the other side of the room, although it was closer now. I kept my eyes sealed, hoping that my six-year-old brain was just imagining everything.

Sighing in relief when I heard nothing anymore.

Little by little I opened my right eye, just when I thought that nothing was in front of me, I opened both of them. Letting them cautiously explore the room, lingering a little longer at every object, until I noticed something. I tried to grab something near me, wanting to cover myself up, but it was pointless, nothing was near me.

That’s when the squeaky laugh started again, I pushed myself closer in the rim, wanting to melt into it.

“Haha, I won’t do anything.” The pitchy voice screeched. My head was in my lap, with my arms hard around my knees, I was sobbing lightly in the cloth of my dress.

This continued for maximum two minutes, I thought that this couldn’t be worse and that I never would get out of this hell hole. I wanted to go trick-or-treating or just be with my family, but no, I was stuck in this nightmare. Suddenly I was awoken by a movement in the room. One of the posters was replaced by something so much worse.

In front of me stood a person in a multicolored suite, a white face with red lips, a red nose and red stripes under his eyes and red curls. It was the clown my brothers once told a story about.

I didn’t care anymore, I just started screaming, on the top of my lungs. But unfortunately, it didn’t bother the clown, not at all, in fact it made the already big grin on his face grow.

“Hehe, you can’t escape from me, kiddo. I won’t do anything. I just want to give you this.” He held up something red, but I didn’t comprehend or see what it was.

“You want this, right? Don’t you want a . . . balloon?” I now recognized the shiny thing he almost held in my face.

“Pwease, don’t.” I squealed, crossing my hands over my face, letting some tear drops fall on my lap.

I didn’t care what this . . . monster thought of me. I just let my fear win over me, so I started screaming hysterically, water not even touching my face; it immediately fell on the ground.

I thought that this person was going to harm me, so I crossed my arms in front of my face.

And just when his hand was a few inches away from my face, I began to see black spots. At the time I didn’t understand what was happening to me, but when I heard the soothing voices of my parents, I shortly knew what that my brothers were involved in this. I could have figured it out so much sooner, but I was literally living a nightmare, my biggest fear.

“Shh . . . It’s okay, honey. It’s over now.” She kept on repeating, while she was stroking my hair, but that didn’t help get rid of the memory that was forever stuck in my head.

“Come here.” My dad said, standing in the doorframe with his arms open. I stumbled my way to my father, with the help of my mom.

“You’re okay, sweetie.” He whispered in my ear, while picking me up, so I could lay my head on his shoulder. A few feet farther I could see Jack and Will, both with their heads low, twirling their feet on the wooden floor.

“You’re safe now, little princes.”

-End of Flashback-

“Alice? Are you okay?” Jayden’s frightened eyes conquered mine, his face was so close to mine, that his breath was palpable in my face.

“What-what happened?” I asked, my voice sounding really hoarse, it was just then that I noticed that I was sitting on the cold ground.

“I don’t know what happened.” He chuckled. I felt something warm on my cheek, which I directly identified as his hand. “You suddenly fell on the ground, we luckily got you before you hit the soil.” The corners of his lips were slightly up, while his thumb was caressing my cheek tenderly.

“Thank you.” I choked, holding his hand still against my cheek. “Thank you.” I repeated, feeling as if I could melt under his touch.

His – just a few seconds ago - uptight eyes were so much calmer now. The colors changed too; just now his eyes were a mix in between a dreamingly green color and something darker, like forest green. But the color now was indescribable, it was the most dazzling, gorgeous tint I’d ever seen. It’s like his iris was a sun shining in my eyes, it was blinding.

“Come on, paramours. We’re on a mission, remember?” Harper discourteously disrupted the dreaming moment. I wanted to give her a remark, but I was, one, too tired and, two, I knew that she was right.

“Here, I’ll help you.” Jayden’s hands guided their way to both of my hands and helped me stand up. I gave him a tight, small smile knowing that if I actually said one word, Harper would’ve done something. But as gesture of not wanting to hurt him in any way, I still held his hand and pulled him with me to my other inpatient friends.

“Where’s Ash?” I asked, slowly alleviating the grip I had on Jayden’s hand.

“Oh, he went out to get a flashlight, he’s somewhere upstairs I take.” She mumbled, while chewing on the inside of her cheek. I already knew – the minute she stepped down the stairs – that something was wrong, but now it was more remarkable. My head was slightly turned to its side and my eyebrows were pulled up; a bewilderment flash was exposed in my eyes. It felt like I was waiting for her to answer my million unspoken questions, but she didn’t even deliver me a side way glance. Thousand other questions ran in my mind at that. ‘Is she mad at me? Did I do anything wrong? What could I have done wrong?’

Before I could start freaking out, Ashton steps were heard, but that still didn’t stop the cramming feeling in my chest. I tried to get the tension from my whole body, but it didn’t help, I was one tiny, muscle-free bodybuilder.

“I’ve got one!” Ashton yelled, jumping from the last steps of the stairs. Harper’s head shot up after hearing his voice, keeping it low again, her cheeks starting to get a soft tint of pink.

“Catch!” He said, throwing the thing our way. I wanted to catch it, but just on the last second, I ducked, knowing that my clumsiness will win the best of me. “Got it.” Jayden grinned, holding the thing up.

“Can I have it?” I requested, turning Jayden’s way.

“Yeah, sure.” He gently dropped the small light in my hand. With a small smile I spun around again, in the meanwhile turning the flashlight on. For a second I only saw black spots in front of me, but after shaking my head twice, I regained my sight again. With small, cautious steps, I made my way to the damaged window. One last time, I quickly rotated myself, to give my friends a rapid peek.

My heart was going nuts again, I could almost feel the shiver through the plastic I was holding. I slowly turned the light, so it was shining on the dark gray wall, when my eyes adjusted to the change in glow.

At first, I didn’t understand the significant modification of hue, but after staring at the wall for a little longer I immediately knew that the red color wasn’t paint. That moment I felt like I turned into stone, or I wish I did, everything was better than to be here. I also noticed that out of shock I dropped my only source of light - minus the window. There was no sound heard in the room, everyone stopped moving. It was like someone paused us, until I decided to be the first one to do a thing. I carefully picked up the blue searchlight, hoping that it didn’t adjoin the fluid, which luckily didn’t happen. Using the light as spot, I followed the trail coming from the window to the corner of the room.

“How can there be so much? I mean look at this.” I pointed to the wall under the window that was completely covered in blood, there was no trail of actual wall to see. And the same counted for the floor, it was like a red, sticky pool, with somewhere in that a wooden chest.

“What’s the crate?” Ashton asked, taking the light out of my hands. In a slow pace we both stepped in the bloody puddle, squatting next to it.

“It’s blood, right?” I asked, hearing the other two join us.

Waiting for a clarification, Jayden finally answered. “Err . . . Yeah . . . It clearly is blood, and pretty fresh too.” He exhaled, putting his hand on his chest. If I were him, I couldn’t be in this position. I would be scared to death, I wouldn’t dare to go outside, scared that that gang is going to do anything to me - knowing what they could do.

“It’s locked . . .” Ashton mumbled, holding up a lock.

“We never used to use one, back then. They always covered their tracks, they were extremely . . . clean. Like you probably already knew, there was never found any remnant of any murder.” Jayden spoke, the darkness in his voice not even mirroring the hate he felt towards them.

“Where does the trail come from or end?” Harper questioned, reaching for the flashlight.

“From somewhere outside, I assume.” I shrugged, slowly making my knees get used to my weight again.

In the meanwhile, Ashton was still shining around, while making a quiet popping sound come from his mouth.

Everyone kept searching in the corners, until I decided to do probably something stupid again.

“What are you doing?” Harper’s high-pitched voice asked, seeing my calculated, thoughtful posture. I slowly put my hand on one of the pipes under the window, tugging slightly at the cylinder, wanting to know the solidity.

“We need to know where this thing is leading us to.” I mumbled, now fixating my eyes on the ground.

“Why don’t you just go around? I mean this ain’t going to be any faster you know . . .” She resumed, looking at me as if I were crazy, which I knew I was.

“There may be a possibility that there’s a fence in front of that.” I aimed myself back to the window again, blocking Harper’s I-know-it-betters out. I started raising my foot, positioning it on the wall, wanting to run up it.

Just when I wanted to run up, I was being stopped. “Alice,” Jayden sighed. “don’t fool yourself, you know that you’re going to injure yourself that way.”

Sighing deeply, I turned around, having an annoyed expression shown on my face.

“If you want it so badly, you could’ve at least asked for help, because I would’ve given it to you.” At that I turned myself to the bloody wall.

“You’re really obstinate sometimes.” I heard him mumble behind me, making me roll my eyes. In the meanwhile, I held my foot up, ready for him to give me a nudge.

“Three, two, one and up.” He murmured, pushing me up. My underarms were both on the windowsill, I tried to push myself, but my non-muscles disappointed me again, there was nothing for me to get a grip on.

“Freak . . .” I whispered, at least trying to climb my way up, but again I was being let down.

“Here.” And that one last nudge helped me over the edge, making me fall in the wet, cold grass. I felt the wetness welcome my clothes, making a shiver run through my whole body. And even though my ears were ringing lightly, I heard the whisper of the wind, the yells from people outside, the sparks of cars et cetera.

I found it kind of satisfying, just the sounds of a casual day for them – those other people.

I turned myself around, so I was lying on my back. My eyes were dreamily admiring the sky, a shiny quarter moon was showing itself, the dark clouds were blocking the soon to come stars, but the view was still stunning.

“Alice, could you make a little room, please?” Jayden’s voice groaned from behind me.

“Oh-I am really sorry, Jay.” I stood up again, giving my hand to Jayden, helping him stand up. Which I think made it even harder for him.

“You have really strange and painful ideas.” He mumbled, trying to wipe the dust and blood from his knees, the dirt went off easily, but the stains the blood made would perhaps go off if you put it in the washing machine trice, if you’re lucky twice.

“Shoot.” He sighed, letting the subject fall. “Wow . . .” He breathed in awe, not even a second later; his eyes concentrated on the soil. My gaze followed his directly, over the dark blades of grass, stopping at the darker spots. My mind hadn’t processed anything, it slowly started to when Jayden kept mumbling things to himself.

“Wait . . . No? It can’t be, right?” I finally understood the transition in between the colors. “It’s too much to be true . . .” I added, squatting in front of it. Some people would’ve considered the changeover a shadow, but I hoped for them that they weren’t that unsmart.

I carefully let my finger caress the darker part of the growing weeds, to find the top of my finger completely covered in the dark red sticky stuff. My breath hitched in my throat for a second, but I quickly regained my posture. My eyes were full of worry when I looked at Jayden, some panic was also spotted. The gentle breeze made me lose the feeling in my finger top, making me wipe it on my pants.

“Come on.” Jayden sighed, following the path of blood. I exhaled deeply, before shuffling my way to my feet and following Jayden closely.

“It starts fading from here.” He turned around after stating, his eyebrows quirked in a strange way.

“Are we even sure that it is blood?” My voice fluttered, not peeking up.

“97.5 Percent.” He sighed, fatigued. “I mean what else could it be? It were always humans they killed and I regrettably know the smell of blood. It’s a sweet, metallic, horrid smell, just like it smells here.” I recognized the smell immediately from downstairs and it made a nauseous feeling creep up.

“We can ask some people from around here if they’ve saw something. That’ll get you away from this sick making place.” Jayden encouraged, putting a stronger emphasis on every word. I didn’t need to be asked twice, I wanted to be away from this death pool.

I didn’t know how I could have been so long in the basement, before realization actually hit me. I knew from the start that it was blood, I even smelled it, but it still didn’t get into me. Now that it really got into me, I didn’t know what to think anymore, or do. The possibility that someone or even more people were killed in or even near my house, it was unbelievably horrifying.
-Kito
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