The Haunted House

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Chapter One

15 days earlier

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She turned towards the window, snapping once more. The view was ideal, from where the stood. It had been two days since their arrival but she couldn't take her eyes off the view. Mountains engulfed the entire surroundings, from the far distance, hazy with mist. It looked like it designed the shape M from where she was standing. Down below were trees immersing deep into the forest. She took a deep breath, entangled in its beauty and freshness. She had spent the whole morning here, taking snaps from various angles.

Her shoes clicked as she walked through the study into the hall. Here, the long wide windows breathed in light, shining on the marble floor directly. She glanced at the windows, feeling eery. There was something about them that seemed a little too much like eyes. She felt like they were gawkinh at her. Stepping into the hallway, she marveled at how long it was. This could be a dancing room, she thought.

She did a 180 degree pose, towards the study, and snapped.

Her Canon was strapped to her neck as she surveryed the hallway, it's chandelier light glowing. Another light from an electric bulb was flickering. Who could have left it on, in the bright daylight? This place held many secrets. She shook her head, wondering where the thought had come from.

A door opened, and in came a lanky boy. He was about the same age as her. "Ameena, you have to see the court. Best place in this mansion for me. Absolutely splendid."

She chuckled, knowing her brothet Abubakar or as he was fondly called Sadiq, had sneaksd out back to play ball with their oldest brother Ishaq. "Ew, you reek of sweat." She made a face.

He stuck out his tongue at her, attempting to smear her face with sweat. She dodged, going into the living room. She heard him laughing, saying something but she didn't catch the words.

Her feet were aching in her heeled shoes. The moments she entered the living room, she flopped on a mushy cushion and took them off. The clock on the wall read 11:16. She had enough time to watch a movie. Flipping on the TV, she sorted through the channels. Boring. Then she saw the Netflix logo imprinted on the side along a list of features the TV came with. Quickly she scrolled and found it. Great, she murmured.

Clicking on Kara Sevda, Ameena rushed to the kitchen to tag something eatable. Most of the family were out, enjoying the new scenery, and some were at the mall. This was the perfect time to have some alone time.

An idea fitted through her mind but she waved it off. No time to microwave a popcorn. She'd have to use it like that. Balancing a La CaSera, Coke, Popcorn, a slice of chocolate cake, some snickers and skittles on a large tray, she headed back to the living room. Setting it on a small table near her cushion, she ran off to the kitchen for a bottled water.

Perfect. She watched wide eyed, anxious about what would happen next. Ozgin was bae, her eyes igniting at any scene he was on. She was glad it took most of her boring time. Few minutes towards the end of the third episode, she heard laughter from outside. They were back.

"Oh, it's you? I thought it was mom's group that came back." She said, when her cousin Suleiman came in.

He marched up the short stairs leading into the room, and fluffed next to her.

"Nope. I went touring the trees. It gets quite thick in there. More dense, sort of. I tried going to the other side, but it's just too far. I stopped halfway through. Too tired." He pushed back his curly hair, and further sank into the couch.

"What bothers me ain't even the trees. It's the fact that we're all alone out here."

"Ah. Me i love that o. Serenity and all." He let out a laugh.

Ameena looked at him, wondering for the millionth time how he had curly hair. He had the features of someone from Dubai, which as far as she knee, none of her family were from there. They used to tease him about him a lot.

She rolled her eyes, "there's no house for at least a mile."

"Well that's how the neighbourhood is, don't forget the name. Unguwan Turawa That's how these elite dudes live."

"Ugh, I guess."

Since they arrived, the location had bothered Ameena. How could they live all alone isolated from the city? From everyone else? At least the family were a lot, she couldn't even begin to wander the loneliness if they were about, say 5. As they were, there were fifteen members living in the mansion - 2 parents, 3 grandparents, 7 siblings Ameena included and 3 cousins. She knew the presence of her family would mean laughter everyday, and she'd soon forget all about her worry.

"Don't worry, you'll get used to it." He winked, then stood up. "imma rest for a while. " He jogged upstaire to his room. Ameena took her tray back to the kitchen, and went upstairs too. It was a long day, a nap would be much appreciated.

A while later, she woke up with a start. She stretched, her hand finding her phone. 13:45. The first thing she had to do was pray Zuhr.

Then, she could think of something, though there wasn't much to do. Maybe she could go outside for a bit, she thought as she splashed her face with cold water. She looked at her reflection in the mirror. She had a heart shaped face, with thin eyebrows, and thin lips. Most of her siblings were angular shaped, so she loved the uniqueness in her.

Downstairs was a mix of voices. They were preparing for lunch. Her grandparents had already taken their seats, while mom was giving out list of. orders.

"Khadija, have you washed your hands? Aliyu, what are you doing with earphones at the table? Remove that thing. Hauwa, that Salad cream isn't the one i wrote on the list. I guess we'll manage. But next time."

Saying a weak Salam, she found a spot near her cousin Madina and sat. She didn't want to risk announcing herself and added to the list. Lunch was potato salad, fried rice and chicken, chicken pepper soup and salad.

Madina shifted closer to her, a smirk on her face as Ameena poured her portion on a plate. "Guess what. I met someone today."

Ameena's eyes widened, "You didn't let me even guess. How many days have you been here and you're meeting people."

Madina had gone to the mall in town with Aminu, Khadija and Hauwa, to stock the kitchen with more goods. Now, Ameena wondered who her dear cousin had met all of a sudden.

Madina's eyes sparkled, "i saw him at the mall, even gave him my number." She giggled.

Ameena's jaw dropped. "What? Kinyi hauka fa. How can you give a random stranger your number? What if he's a kidnapper? A ritualist? You know kidnapping is on the rise. You better change your phone ASAP before he tracks it Wallahi."

She rolled her eyes, taking a bite of her chicken nugget. "Chillax, babe. He's just a sugar daddy. There's no bit deal. I already stalked him online. He legit. He has a family, and children our age, maybe even older."

"Huh?"

"Yep. He's about 45 o."

"Madi, he's old enough to be your father. Are you crazy?" Ameena whispered fiercely. Alhaji Samaila, Madina's father popped in her head. His huge figure - round face, sharp red eyes. She wondered briefly his reaction to what his daughter just said.

"That's why he's a sugar daddy. We need to suck him dry."

"We?"

"Yep. You, hauwa. And I . He'll be flapperflasted by the three of us. I just know it."

"Or maybe he's already figured you out ba."

Madina let out a short laugh, "Everything's already calculated here," she pointed to her head." Don't worry, if he thinks he's smart, well, two can play at this game."

They continued eating in silence. Snippets of conversations were heard from the head of the table. Ameena mixed her fried rice and salad, her mind elsewhere. Since when did her cousin turn out to be a fraud? How hadn't she noticed till now? Madina was real lucky to be living with them. Back at her house, she wouldn't even dare step foot outside. But now she was even the master planner of a fraud. How far would she go?

She strolled the hall, evening shadows cast on the floor. At this time, she felt slightly unnerved. The beautiful hall from the morning was quite different to this. Now, it looked menacing, shadows stuck at dark corners. She walked quickly, trying to shake off the fear. There was a light switch somewhere, but she wasn't sure she'd be able to search in those darkened spaces.

Silly me, she laughed at herself. There's nothing here. Just me in this large ominous hall. Nothing to be scared of. Just then, she captured something from the corner of her eye. She turned quickly. She saw the massive armoire that stood sentinel at the far end. It was a relic from the houseโ€™s past. She remembered Dad saying it would be wonderful to keep it since it was empty. And she had to agree, it brought out the shine in the hall as well.

But now, she had seen something there. What was it? As she moved closer, her eyes widened, eager to see what was hiding there. A few feet away from the armoire, she heard a screech from behind her. She swung around, finding nothing. She swallowed, no so eager to move an inch. She couldn't tell the reason for her being so scared, but she was.

Finding whatever had hidden in armoire was no longer interesting. She glanced at it, then turned on her heels and hurried away. Whatever it was, it'll come out. It was probably an insect. Nothing to worry about.

But then, why were her hands shaking in fear?

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