Athena stared in absolute disbelief at what was in front of her. The dark, creepy pine forest surrounding her, the trees emitting a strange, foreboding sound. She couldn’t tell what that sound was, although it bothered her. She was still trying to figure out how she had gotten here.
Just a moment ago, she had been in her recently-deceased grandmother’s centuries-old victorian home. She turned around and saw the dark oak door, just standing there in the middle of the woods. It was open, and she could see her grandmother’s bedroom on the other side. She had seen the door when going through her grandmother’s personal belongings. The door had previously been covered with a large cloth, but the cloth had fallen - probably at some point during the few weeks of the house being completely empty - revealing the intricately-carved door. When Athena had opened it at first, it had been heavy, obviously very old. Now, Athena stood in these creepy woods, looking back at her grandmother’s room. She felt like she was in a completely different universe.
She walked around behind the door, but when she got there, the door had completely disappeared from view, like it had camouflaged itself with the woods surrounding it. She would’ve panicked if she didn’t have her hand holding onto the edge, feeling the smooth edge of the wooden door frame. She looked closely, but she couldn’t even see the edge she was holding onto, like it was just not there. She walked back around to the front, relieved when it appeared once again. “What in the world?,” she thought.
She turned in a slow circle, taking in her surroundings. It was dark, and when she looked up she could see the bright stars in the sky. If it wouldn’t have been so creepy and downright confusing, it would have been absolutely beautiful. She loved the stars, had always been fascinated by them since she was little. She noticed how cold it was. Last time she checked, it had been mid-July. She was wearing a tank top and jean shorts, but now she wished she was wearing her reading sweats, reserved for her personal reading time at home.
She took in a deep breath, and smells of mildew and something like rotting flesh entered her nostrils. She grimaced against the foul smell. She stood there a moment more, listening to that odd sound. She realized that not only did it seem to be coming from all around her, it was slightly louder near the tree that was nearest to her. She walked up to it, the sound getting louder as she neared it. She looked closely at the tree, and saw that its bark was moving, as though the tree were taking deep breaths like someone sleeping. She felt goosebumps all over, and slowly backed away from the tree. She thought to herself, "okay, that’s just gross."
She turned back to the door, ready to leave this creepy place, but the door had somehow closed without her noticing. She tried the handle, expecting it to be open, but it wouldn’t budge. She realized that it was locked. She started to panic, and her overthinking mind made her imagine living out here for the rest of her life with these breathing trees. The thought of that kind of future besides the one she planned for herself already made her nauseous.
She suddenly, thankfully, remembered that earlier in the day she had stuck her grandmother’s key ring in her pocket. She reached in her pocket, relieved when her fingers closed around the key ring. She pulled it out, examining all of the keys, hoping that one would fit and get her out of this place. She saw an older-looking key, and she saw that it matched the shape of the key hole in the door. She tried it, and it worked. As she pushed the door open, she heard very faint footsteps behind her. She shoved the door the rest of the way open and slammed it shut behind her. The thought of something behind her in that place made an intense fear form in the pit of her stomach. As she stood there catching her breath, she thought that maybe the footsteps had been just a figment of her imagination, maybe part of her mind tricking her, part of the stress. She also noticed that the door on this side didn’t have a lock, had no way of locking. So how did it lock, or even have a key hole on the other side? Why was it only on the other side? Just as she thought this, she was startled by loud banging on the door. "Maybe that’s why it’s only locked from that side," she thought, her breath quickening once again.
The banging was getting louder and faster. She looked around the room for some kind of weapon, because she was NOT going to go into whatever this was unarmed. She spotted an old-fashioned candle holder with sharp edges. She picked it up and wielded it ahead of her as she slowly crept towards the door. She didn’t really know what she was going to do, but she had to do something. Just as she was getting closer to the door, she noticed something else: the old door had a surprisingly modern-looking peep hole. “Well, that’s convenient,” she said, her breath shaky and quick. She slowly put her eye to the hole, reluctantly looking through, and what she saw chilled her to her core, goosebumps appearing all over her body.
She was looking back at herself. Or rather, a more dirty, dead version. This version of her was skinny as bones, pale as the moon, and dirty as if she had been rolling on the ground. This version of her had dark circles under her eyes, and her skin was tight around her bones. She was wearing a small, light pink satin night dress that was dirty and torn. Her dark hair was very thin and sparse, falling out at random intervals. But what really startled Athena most of all out of anything: this version of her didn’t have the beautiful, blue-gray eyes that she was known for. This one had bright, glowing white lights in place of them.
Her breath quickening, Athena slowly backed away from the peep hole. What was that? She recognized that what she saw was definitely her, because she saw the small scar above her left eyebrow, made a few years back in a car accident in the mountains. Athena felt sick to her stomach. It was like being dead and looking at your corpse as a ghost. She swallowed down the sour taste of bile in her throat, and forced herself to look again. When she looked this time, the other-her was no longer standing in front of the door, but facing a tree a few feet away.
Athena could see her back as she slowly swayed back and forth, and this sight made her even more sick. This girl’s spine was poking out of her back, almost like an exoskeleton. It was extremely curved up, like the girl had horrible posture since she was born. There was blood seeping out of a large hole on her right shoulder blade. It seemed as though the girl had been shot, but by a softball. Athena recognized these injuries, and her stomach dropped.
Suddenly, the girl turned, as though she could sense Athena watching her. Those bright white lights seemed to pierce into Athena’s soul. Athena quickly moved away from the peep hole, feeling more and more sick by the second. Failing to keep her composure any longer, she ran to the bathroom across the hall from her grandmother’s room and vomited. After she was finished, she washed her face and rinsed her mouth out, thinking to herself. What is going on here? Why is this in my grandmother’s room? Could this have something to do with her strange, sudden death? That sudden thought made her shiver. “No, there’s no way. The police said that it was an accident,” she said aloud.
But was it? She had seen her grandmother after it happened, the way her spine seemed to have been bent horrifically upwards, just like the girl. Just like the girl. Athena turned toward her grandmother’s bedroom, staring at the door. It seemed much less beautiful and architecturally graceful than before, and much more ominous and foreboding. She turned the light off and stepped into the hallway. Looking down the hall, she caught a glimpse of a shadow quickly pass by the wall. “Okay, now I KNOW my eyes are playing tricks on me,” she said aloud.
The sound of her voice in this quiet, large house comforted her, made her feel like it was real, and not part of this creepy nightmare she felt she was in. She made her way back into her grandmother’s room, grabbing her phone and her keys, and closed the door behind her as she exited. She decided not to look at the door, because she knew if she did she would end up going back through, like those stupid people in the horror movies. But what if I can find out what happened to grannie? She shoved that thought from her mind, forcing it back into the deep recesses of all her past trauma in her life. There, it would stay, and she wouldn’t get herself into any bad situations.
This is what she did when something remotely negative popped up in her life. Whether it be situations, thoughts, things that someone has said, anything. She shoves the thought and memories of it all into this deep, dark void of pain and suffering that’s in the back of her mind. This place is safely guarded, even from herself. She can’t get into it, therefore those problems can’t come back to haunt her. At least, that’s how it works most of the time.
She walked down the hall, thinking of her grandmother. She missed the times when she was a kid, when her grandmother would make her sugar toast with strawberries. She missed the times her grandmother would take her to the park, or to the mall. She missed the forehead kisses she received when she arrived every weekend, and the warm snuggles after a nightmare. Athena shook her head, feeling her eyes watering. She kept those good memories, but shoved the sadness of it all being gone away. This would make it easier to live her life, and remember her grandmother in a good way.
When Athena got to her car, she sat there for a moment in thought. What really happened? Why is there a weird door in her room? What is going on? As she was thinking this, she looked up at the house. It was a beautiful victorian-style home, three stories, with four bedrooms and three bathrooms. She observed the intricate Greek-style designs of the columns, the blue paint, the bright red door. She looked up on the second floor, where her grandmother’s room was. As she looked at the window, she almost thought she saw the curtain move. It was slightly open, but she never remembered opening it in the first place.
She looked down at her phone as she got a notification. When she looked back up, there was someone standing in the window. When she looked closer, she realized that it was her grandfather. Remember how the house was empty? Yeah, so did Athena. This startled her, and made her blood run cold. Why? Because her grandfather was dead.