Chapter 19: Gone
Someone whistling the Chopin waltz…
Roderick woke with a start, covered in a cold sweat again. He glanced at the clock.
What was up with this Sun Lane that he kept dreaming about? And the screaming? His eyebrows furrowed forward, and then he reached over and pulled out his brother’s laptop.
“Sun Lane, Pinnacle Gulch, California.” he mouthed to himself as he typed it into the search engine. Suddenly, a map came up.
It was an actual street in town.
Something was there.
And he had a hunch it had something to do with Carolyn Smalls, which he was guessing was victim zero so to speak.
For the next hour, he waited for everyone else to get up as he looked up some things on Carolyn. He was not surprised to find a picture of her and Principal Jennings. It looked like she had won some sort of art contest at the school thirty years ago and gotten her picture in the local paper.
There was also another article a few months later noting her disappearance.
It looked like she was never found.
Once all five of them were up, Roderick told them that he wanted them all to go to Sun Lane.
“Wait-so you’ve been having weird dreams and you didn’t tell us?” Ian scolded. “Roderick-with all this ghost crap, you need to tell everything.”
“I know I know, I just didn’t really think much about them at first until I kept having them.” he retorted back, defending himself. “I don’t know what’s there, or if there really is anything there, but I think we should go. All of us.”
“I can stay in the van and use the scanners to tell you guys what I see.” Brian offered. “That way we won’t be blindsided.”
“Ok. Joey can help on ghost defense, I can help on physical defense, and Ian can be bait.” Jordyn said, earning a glare from Ian.
“So it’s settled. Off to Sun Lane!” Roderick exclaimed.
The five of them then hopped into Brian’s van and headed off to the unknown.
Following Ian’s GPS on his phone, they soon came to a part of town that seemed rather abandoned. Some of the houses were slanted and looked almost as if they were sinking into the ground over time.
They came up to a faded sign that said “Sun Lane” and drove down the dirt road covered with sagebrush and other desert plants.
“There! That house right there!” Roderick exclaimed. Brian slammed on the brakes.
“Hey! Watch it!” Jordyn growled distastefully as she was thrown forward.
“Well maybe you should have been wearing your seatbelt.” Ian said with a smirk.
Jordyn ignored him as they started to step out of the van.
A cold desert wind blew through the abandoned houses, causing an eerie howling sound to echo. Sand pelted the old peeling paint on the outside walls, as the five of them stood outside of the house with a bird windchime that tinkled eerily against the howling wind.
“Welp. Have fun going into the creepy house. I’ll be in my van. Have fun!” And with that, he handed Jordyn a walkie talkie and walked into the back of his van.
“Can you guys hear me? Over.” Brian’s staticky voice asked.
“Yes. We can hear you.” Jordyn replied, rolling her eyes.
The four of them entered the house.
An old couch covered in dust and some sand sat in the corner of the room, part of it eaten out.
“Ok. Glad we brought flashlights…” Roderick commented, bringing one out of his pocket and shining it around the room and across an old kitchen.
“Find anything yet? Over.”
“Ok. Nothing on this side. Over.”
Jordyn growled, looking about ready to lose it already.
“Wait-there is something in there-but I’m not sure what it is-over.” Brian’s voice buzzed on the walkie talkie.
“Stop saying that!” Jordyn exasperated back. “You don’t have to say ‘over’ every single time!”
With that, she thrust the walkie talkie on Joey.
“YOU take him!” she seethed.
“Shhh!!” Ian turned back to them. “Listen! Don’t you hear that?” The four of them stopped to listen. It sounded like a little girl crying.
“Brian-do you hear that on your side? Where’s that coming from? Over.” Roderick said.
“Hmmm… It looks like it’s down the hallway to your left. Over.”
“Roger that. Over.”
“Breathe Jordyn…” Joey soothed, putting a hand on her shoulder. Ian turned to an old circuit breaker, and then tried some of the switches. Surprisingly, a couple of lights actually came on, but not many. And they flickered.
Now they really were in the middle of a scary movie.
Slowly, the four of them stepped carefully around the corner and down the long creepy hallway; with dirty white peeling walls and little particles that seemed to float in the air. The few lights that had come on from the circuit breaker weren’t doing a good job, so Ian made sure to shine his flashlight into every dark crevice he could find.
“Hello? Is someone there? Do you need help?” Roderick called out down the hall. The soft little cries simply echoed.
“Uh… Roderick? Should you really be asking if it needs help? What if it’s one of the ghost girls?” Ian whispered.
“They are still people Ian. It’s not their fault a spirit parasite latched onto them.” Joey told him. Roderick’s flash light traveled over the grimy floor, and then finally stopped on a huddled figure at the end of the hallway. It was a small person dressed in white clothes and little dark pigtails.
One of the ghost girls.
“Ack!! Red flag! Red flag!” Ian whispered, backing up into Jordyn.
“Hey! Watch it!” she whispered back. Despite the uneasiness of the rest of the group, Roderick stood his ground.
“Roderick? What are you doing? We need to go before she notices us!” Ian whispered. Roderick took a step forward.
Much to Ian’s horror, his younger brother started to approach the ghostly little girl.
“Brian. Your college friend is about to do something stupid. Over.” Joey buzzed into the walkie talkie.
“What’s he doing? What’s he doing??”
“Hey-you didn’t say over, over.” Jordyn said snarkily into the contraption. Roderick slowly got down to the same level as the girl, putting down his flashlight, heart pounding.
The ghost child looked up at him. She looked normal. No black goop coming from her eyes and mouth, no blank white eyes-just a normal little girl. Well, as normal as one could be for a ghost.
The little girl sniffled, trying to rub some of the tears out of her eyes. Roderick was trying to figure out what to say. He turned to the others, looking for help. Ian and Jordyn turned to Joey, who simply shrugged her shoulders.
“You’re Carolyn- right?” he asked a little hesitantly.
She nodded, her eyes still filled with tears.
“Do you like jokes?” he asked, giving her a small smile.
“Are you kidding me-” Ian started, followed by a quick jab in the ribs by Joey. The girl slowly nodded.
“Don’t cry. It’s just a joke!”
The girl took a moment to register this, and then started laughing.
“Brian. Your friend just started talking to a ghost and then told it the most awful knock knock joke on the planet. Over.” Joey said into the walkie talkie
“Really? Which one-”
“Why were you crying?” Roderick asked gently. Carolyn’s face fell.
“All I wanted to do was help the other girls. To save them from the bad man... I just want to go home...” she whimpered.
“Well we want to help you. Who’s the bad man?”
“We-we can’t say his name… The monster won’t let us…”
“The monster? You mean the thing that’s making you hurt people?” Roderick asked. She nodded.
“He doesn’t know I’m here… I don’t think…” she said quietly and a little fearfully. “That’s why… I…”
She paused, and then after a moment, she silently and slowly reached up and touched his forehead. His eyes grew wide and he seemed to go into a daze.
“What’s happening? What’d she do??” Ian panicked, rushing forward. Jordyn held him back.
“Wait spazzmoid. I’m pretty sure she’s showing him something…”
Roderick was suddenly on a street with abandoned houses. The street sign that said ‘Sun Lane’ was still rather faded, and a lone little girl was riding her bike down the dirt road-with the run down houses on either side. She was singing. She stopped as she heard something coming from one of the old peeling houses. At this point, Roderick realized he was watching a memory.
Carolyn’s eyes lit up and she jumped off her bike.
“Here kitty kitty!” she lulled, approaching the abandoned house. Roderick began to get a sickening feeling deep down in his stomach. Carolyn slowly entered the building, looking around for the cat she had heard. As she walked in farther, the door closed behind her. She whirled around to see a man standing in the shadows beside the door. Roderick could almost feel the little girl’s heartbeat start to quicken.
The man didn’t say anything. He simply came out of the shadows and towards her. Roderick gasped.
He was suddenly back and out of the memory, the ghost girl standing in front of him. He blinked, and then turned to his friends.
“I know who the murderer is!!” he exclaimed.
Ian, Jordyn, and Joey did not congratulate him. Instead, they all took a step back, apprehensive looks on their faces.
“Um...Roderick?” Jordyn said rather fearfully.
He turned around to see that the little girl was seizing, black stuff dripping out of her eyes like tears. She gave a strangled cry.
“Uh-guys! Things are going crazy on my end! Something big is coming-”
The little girl screamed, her eyes going completely white-and soon she was back to the way they were used to seeing her. A blast of cold wind hit them as out of nowhere-the other ghost girls seeped out of the walls-their faces contorted in elongated screams.
“GET OUT OF THERE!! OVER!” Brian’s panicked voice came from the walkie talkie.
“RUN!!” Joey exclaimed in agreement. Roderick jumped up and the four of them ran down the hallway. They were almost to the end when Roderick tripped and fell. The others stopped when they heard him screaming. They turned around just in time to see him being dragged down the hallway.
“He knows!! He knows! He must not escape!!” The girls hissed.
“Roderick!!” Ian exclaimed, turning on his heel and chasing after his brother. Roderick was pulled around the corner and into another room-where the lights suddenly went crazy-some of the lightbulbs even popping. When the other three finally got into the room, the ghost girls were circling Roderick in a torrent of wind, all the while screaming.
“Roderick!! Grab hold of my hand!!”
Roderick reached for it desperately, but just as they were about to make contact, all the lights went out, including their flashlights. The wind stopped, the screaming stopped, and after a moment, the lights buzzed back on to their original flickering state. They looked around. The ghost girls had vanished. And it seemed that they had taken Roderick with them.
“Roderick?” Ian called out, his hand lowering.
“Guys?” Brian buzzed in. “What happened? All the crazy things stopped, but now I can only see three of you...over.”
After a moment of silence, Joey answered him.