We sneak into the house, our flashlights shining into every corner. The floorboards creak under our every step, and the house seems to groan every time we breathe. We reach the living room and look everywhere in search of the promised ghosts. It is a “haunted” house, after all.
Not finding anything downstairs, we proceed to the second floor, the stairs surprisingly quiet. We jump when we hear a thump behind us, our hearts beating wildly in our chests, before we remind ourselves that the ghosts won’t hurt us if we won’t hurt them. Right?
We peek into every bedroom. There are so many of them that we lose count. There is also a third floor. We didn’t realize there was a third floor.
On the third floor there are even more bedrooms. Jimmy starts getting tired and says, “Come on, there’s nothing here, let’s go.” The others shush him and continue onward. He follows reluctantly, grumbling to himself.
We go into one of the rooms. We pull open drawers and shake out curtains so we are all layered in dust. Jimmy doesn’t touch anything. We turn around but Jimmy is gone.
“Was that the ghost? Did it get Jimmy?” We keep asking ourselves questions even though we know we don’t have the answers.
“We have to check the attic,” Sam whispers, and we nod. Sam leads the way and we follow him, flashlights pointed at the ceiling, searching.
“There!” Sam throws his flashlight at the trapdoor in the ceiling and it bursts open, raining down dust and spiders and a ladder. The attic is full of boxes, which we open to find more dust. Sam doesn’t open any boxes. We turn to leave and realize that Sam is gone.
We look for Jimmy and Sam, but we think they are gone forever. We don’t care for them as much as we used to. We aren’t very scared of the ghosts anymore. They don’t hurt us. We start to like it here, but Kylee is shaking her head. She is still scared of the ghosts. She thinks it is terrible here. She thinks it’s creepy and scary.
“I’m leaving,” she announces and stands up. We ask her not to, we ask her to stay, to stay, please, Kylee. She hesitates but then she leaves anyway. She walks through the doorway into the kitchen and when we stand up and follow her, she’s gone.
We don’t look for her or Sam or Jimmy. We try to talk to each other but we don’t remember our names anymore. We try not to talk about Jimmy and Sam and Kylee because we don’t know what happened to them. Not like we care. Not really.
We turn on the T.V. We see Jimmy and Sam and Kylee. They are not together but they are happy anyway. We can’t understand it. We turn it off.
Once in a while we turn on the T.V. again, and there they are, happy and laughing and talking. Making things. We don’t admit that we know what to do to be like them.
We meet some of the ghosts. They are just like us. They are nice. One time we turn on the T.V. and Jimmy and Sam and Kylee are gone but not really.
One day, a group of teenagers comes in, their flashlights shining into every corner. They smell funny. Dirty. Not like us. Then one of them starts to really stink. We try to stop him, to cleanse him, but he escapes our grasp. He runs out the door and doesn’t look back.
Another one gets away, and we watch as the rest open the boxes in the attic. When they come downstairs we keep them. They stop smelling. We become friends. We are all together now. We talk like one and we act like one. We are one.