The Haunted Town

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#1 - Elmdale

“Then I shall have my own room!!!” Simone snorted at her brother’s excited voice from the next room.
“Yep sweetheart. And you can decorate it however you want.” Her mother was saying. Sighing, Simone looked at the bare room she was standing in. With furniture gone, it looked spacious than it had been. Dark purple paint was peeling off here and there. She clenched her jaw to keep herself from crying. She was going to miss this room.

“Honey, are you done packing?” Her mother peeked inside the room.
“Yes, I’m done.” She replied, her words sliding out lazily. Shouldering past her mother, Simone headed downstairs.

Everything had already been loaded into the truck. Simone hugged herself against the early November chill as she stepped out.
“I heard that it snows heavily in Elmdale.” Her brother was saying to her parents behind her. They nodded and ruffled his hair before heading towards the car. Reaching the car, Simone turned around to look at the house she had grown up in. It was the home she remembered and cherished for as long as she had lived. Now she was leaving it. Forever. She felt her eyes burn with unshed tears as she looked over the patio. She remembered sitting there for hours in spring and drawing. Then she looked at the flowers and vegetables in the small garden on the left of the driveway. She remembered her grandmother humming as she had dug and planted the seeds. Simone was leaving it all behind.

“Come on, let’s go Simone.” Her mother called as she sat down in the passenger seat.
“Yeah. Whatever.” She mumbled and got into the car.
“Jayden, sit back in your seat.” Her father said, bonking her brother’s head poking between the front two seats. As he yelped and grinned, Simone rolled her eyes and sat back. She took out her ipod and put on the headphones. She closed her eyes to music blaring in her ears.
Then they were on their way.

༼;‘༎ຶ ༎ຶ༽༼;’༎ຶ ༎ຶ༽

Simone must’ve had dozed off because when she felt someone shaking her arm, she jerked awake. Her head hurt and she groaned out loud.
“What?!” She snapped at her eleven year old brother. Instead of saying anything, he rolled his eyes before pointing outside. It was dark, the sky beautiful shades of violet and orange. There were thick trees on the either sides of the road and not a soul to be seen. Or....
“That old man tried to stop the truck and now dad wants to know why.” Jayden said, curiously looking out at his father making way towards the old man. The truck was nowhere in sight, it must’ve kept going. Simone stepped out of the car too. At the sound of the door closing, her father looked over his shoulder at her.
“Simone, stay in the car.”
“I....I’m fine.”
“Simone, you should listen to your father.” Her mother told her crisply but she ignored her.

“I have tried to stop everyone from moving here.” The old man said, pointing his forefinger at the board behind him. It was rusted and bent over. It read ‘Welcome to Elmdale’
Swallowing, Simone looked at the old man whose form was lighted by the car’s headlights. He had a hunch back and wore old worn out clothes. He was shivering a little, she noticed. His gray-white hair were unkempt and long just as his beard. Simone had a feeling that this guy might have been living in the thick trees around them.
“Why?” She heard her father ask him dubiously. He had stopped some five feet away from the old man.
“Those who live in Elmdale never see rest of the world again. They are Elmdale’s forever.” The old man replied, his tone soft and sad. Unconsciously Simone bit her cheek.
“Oh. I guess its perfect for us then.” Her father said with a smile and turned around.

“The shadows rule Elmdale, sir.” The old man called out behind him but Simone’s father just waved his hand without turning around. Simone felt hair on her arm rise and her heart stammered. This was surely not a promising start. She wanted to shout to her parents to turn around but when her mother shot her a disapproving look, she swallowed and got back inside the car. The old man kept standing where he was. As the car passed from in front of him, Simone saw him make a cross with his eyes closed. She kept looking at him but the darkness of the looming night swallowed him.

༼;‘༎ຶ ༎ຶ༽ ༼;’༎ຶ ༎ຶ༽

She kept replaying the words of that old man over and over again as they entered Elmdale. It was a small town and rumored to have only three thousand population. It had thick trees around it and hills beyond them. The house they had bought was at the end of street three. Simone noticed that all the houses were dark. There was no light to be seen anywhere. It was just eight pm in the evening. The road and the houses were illuminated by the street lamps alone. Simone did not like it. Beside her, Jayden was quiet too. He was looking around with his eyes wide open here and squinting there.
“Ok. I take back what I said. I don’t like this place.” He announced, causing their father to slam his hand on the steering wheel.
“Listen to me carefully both of you.” He began, slowing the car where the truck was parked in front of a house. “This is the only place we can live in peace. You will have to cooperate because I don’t care if you love this town or hate it. It’ll be our world now.” With these words, he was out of the car. Simone let out a breath audibly as Jayden sunk back into his seat mumbling God knows what.
“Stay in the car. I’ll help your dad.” Their mother said and got out of the car, leaving Simone and Jayden alone.

Quietly, Simone let herself study her surroundings. All the houses in the street looked the same. A small driveway and a small garden. Two steps towards the main door. A large window to the right of the door and garage to the left. Their house back in the city had been smaller. Her parents had got this one cheap, Simone wanted to know why. There was a road where the houses ended and then thick trees. As she looked at them, her heart jumped in her throat. Someone was peeking at them from behind a tree trunk. She could see a pale face amidst the dark surroundings. Simone squinted and leaned forward in her seat. Yes, it was a face. Taking a deep breath, she got out of the car while she kept her eyes on the peering face. As if noticing her gaze, it disappeared. Against her better judgement, she ran to follow.
“HEY SIM!!!” Jayden called out to her but she ignored him. Her brain told her to stop and turn around but she kept going. She climbed up the higher ground swiftly and halted when she reached the first row of the trees. It was dark. She could not keep going. Breathing heavily, she turned back. It had been a stupid idea anyways, she thought. Whoever it was would’ve disappeared deep in the trees.
The sounds of twigs snapping and dry leaves crunching under the footsteps made her stop.
“Who’s.....there?” She called meekly but was met with silence. Trying to calm her thundering heart, she took one more step back. More sounds followed.
“Show yourself.” Simone whirled around and squinted her eyes to see in the dark.

“I’m not here to hurt you.” Said a weak voice plaintively. It sounded like a guy. Simone took a couple of more steps back.
“Who are you?”
“It doesn’t matter. You shouldn’t have moved in that house or in this town.”
“What....what do you mean?” Simone hugged herself and rubbed her arms. She could her own heart pounding in her ears but she could not run.
“Shadows rule this town. No one is safe.” She tried to see him but could not. He had hidden himself in the shadows perfectly. “That house you moved into? It’s not safe either.”

With her mouth dry and legs shaking, Simone supported herself by placing her hand against the thick tree trunk in front of her.
“Why is it not – ”
“Simone!! What the hell are you doing there?” Her mother called her, startling her. She had walked up to the center of the road and was looking at Simone few feet away. She could not see her mother’s face.
“I’m......” She began.
“Go.” The guy said and she heard him move away deeper into the forest this time.
“Get back here!!!“Her mother said angrily, barely keeping her voice down and turning back towards the house. Simone descended towards the road and stopped a few feet away from her mother who She had her hands on her waist and was instructing the workers to move faster. Slowly, Simone turned to look back her eyes automatically landed onto the road. At the shadow of her mother’s.

Suddenly, Simone’s throat was dry and a scream was stuck in her throat. It wasn’t her mother’s shadow. It couldn’t be. Desperately, she looked at her mother who was clad in loose white button-down shirt and jeans with sneakers but the was wearing high heels with a hat. It was longer too and more solid. And it turned to face her. Simone staggered back and fell on the road, gasping for breath.

༼•̫͡•༽ 。・:*:・゚༼•̫͡•༽,。・:*:・゚༼•̫͡•༽

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