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The Wind Chimes

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After a tragic accident, Ellis tries to make adjusting to a new home easy for his recently injured twin brother, Eden. But what if it isn't Eden under the mask? All insidious games start with a smile. In this prequel to "By Dying Light", the Smile Man is born as twin brothers Ellis and Eden, are torn between mystery of the hidden, games of the past, and the horror that is the truth.

Thriller / Horror
S. P. Stephens
Age Rating:

The Wind Chimes

Ellis stared up at his new home with a sense of hope. The house was a dull shade of grey, and stood behind a small patch of trees that were shedding their leaves for the fall. The cool breeze nipped at his face and the sound of dogs barking and children playing filled the air. The closer Ellis walked to the house the louder the sound of metal hitting metal in a random pattern became more clear. By the time he reached the porch he was finally given a view of at least a dozen wind chimes of various sizes swaying in the wind.

Ellis ducked and dodged them as he made his way to the door, which was surprisingly still standing despite its age. As Ellis entered his new home, the sounds of the outside world seemed to fade and the only sound hanging in the air was the breeze blowing in through the windows and the numerous doors creaking throughout the house. The house was as simple as a shack. The first floor contained a kitchen that doubled as a dining room, a sitting room, a short hall that led to the bathroom and stairs, and another hall leading to the attached tin garage that sat juxtaposed to the ancient wooden house.

On the second story was a hall between two master bedrooms, and an oval window at each end. The room Ellis chose, had only a singular diamond shaped window overlooking the street and front yard. The flooring had been redone throughout the house but the air still smelled of cheap carpet and pine. The freshly painted walls, were a tanish brown and every door, a pasty white. But no matter how many additions to the house Ellis and his dad made, the creak of every footstep still reminded them that the house was past its prime.

Ellis laid down some boxes on the bed in his new room and walked to the window. The view was like a commercial you see on TV. Kids raced down the street on bikes and skates, dogs barked behind fences, and golden and brown leaves fell in slow motion toward the cracked sidewalks and pot hole filled asphalt.

The sound of the wooden floor taking on weight pulled Ellis out of his thoughts and turned his attention to the doorway. The white door slowly creaked open and revealed the empty hallway.

“Hello?” Ellis called out, but the only answer he received was another door somewhere in the house creak on its hinges. Ellis then turned his attention to the box he had laid down. Its contents ranged from his orange ball cap to the book he had begun to read. He reached inside and grabbed the book, but as he began to pull it out the loud thud of footsteps in the hall once again pulled his attention to the doorway. As he looked out the open doorway, the world seemed to go silent. He stared for a few seconds and then turned his attention back to the book.

Then out of the corner of his eye, Ellis saw a flash of movement in the hall. He ran out into the hallway and looked down both ends. Nothing. He walked to the stairs and began to descend when a hand came down on his shoulder.

The unexpected touch caused Ellis to jump and lose balance. But before he began his fall, the hand that was previously on his shoulder grabbed the collar of his shirt and pulled him upright. Ellis turned around expecting to see his father, but instead he came face to face with a young woman. She had blond hair littered with dark streaks, and had emerald green eyes. Before Ellis could conjure up anything to say, the girl smiled, turned, and walked into his room, leaving him standing on the stairs dazed and confused.

After a, second Ellis came to his senses and followed the girl. He walked in his new room and found the girl sitting on his bed skimming through his book. She sat there reading and turning pages, completely ignoring the fact that she was going through his belonging with him standing there.

“Who are you? How did you get in here?” Ellis asked.

“You left the front door opened,” she replied while setting the book aside and beginning to dig in the box on the bed, “You should really learn to close doors, it usually keeps people out.”

The girl then got bored with the box and stood up. “Names Kelly. I live a couple blocks over”. She then extended her arm. The two shook hands, and then Kelly dodged around Ellis and made her way into the hall and down the stairs with Ellis chasing after.

“Why are you going through my stuff,” Ellis questioned, “That’s private property!”

“How else am I going to get to know you?” Kelly replied while picking up a photo. The picture was of Ellis, his twin brother, Eden, their dad, and mom. They were all laying on the ground and laughing, and the colors seemed to be sucked away, leaving behind the black and white environment. Ellis watched as Kelly smiled at the sight, layed the frame down, and then scurried off into the kitchen.

Ellis gave chase again, and followed into the kitchen, where Kelly had already begun opening cabinets, scanning the insides, and then continuing to the next, not even bothering to close the doors.

“What could you possibly learn from committing a felony, rather than just introducing yourself and talking?” Ellis asked while closing the cabinet doors.

Kelly sat down at the table centered in the room, and began to eat some chips she had found. Ellis sat down across from her and stared.

“Can I help you?” Kelly asked between chips, “Take a picture, it’ll last longer”.

“What are you doing?” Ellis stated, “If you don’t leave, I’ll call the cops”. Kelly then folded the chip bag and set it aside.

“Your name is Ellis Silos. You moved here from Duncan, Oklahoma. Your dad is a police officer or detective, and your mom died, so you, your brother, and your dad are here to start over”.

Ellis stared at her amazed. How had she known all that?

“The book you’re reading has Duncan Oklahoma Public Library written on the inside, there is a picture of your dad in his uniform getting an award, and the way you looked at the picture in the other room suggest that your mom didn’t leave you,” Kelly said, “What happened?”

“She died in a hit and run about a months ago,” Ellis replied, “My brother was with her and is getting out of the hospital today. It’s amazing that you got all that from those little things. Where did you learn to do that?”

Kelly began to speak, but the sound a car pulling up to the house snatched both of their attention. Ellis got up and looked out the window to see his dad’s patrol car parked in the driveway.

“It’s just my dad and Eden,” Ellis began to say turning back to Kelly, but she was already gone and the back door swayed in the fall breeze.

Then the front door closed somewhere in the house his dad walked into the kitchen. His face was twisted in concern as he approached his son. He leaned down to Ellis’ ear and whispered.

“Don’t stare or say anything,” he warned. A split second later footsteps echoed from the hallway and then a figured entered the room. It was Eden.

Eden had been burned in the wreck and his face was almost completely covered in bandages. His bright green eyes shone compared to the white gaze and the cloth in front of his mouth stretched in and out as he breathed.

“Hey Eden,” Ellis said joyfully as he approached his twin. But before Ellis could hug him, Eden turned and walked up the stairs. Ellis gave a worried look to his dad, but he only shook his head gently and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“It’s going to take a few days tell he acts like himself,” his dad said aloud, “The meds he was on in the hospital are going to linger for a bit, but they’ll be gone soon.”

“Okay,” Ellis choked out, “Want me to order take out or is there anything you want me to make?”

“I have to go in tonight,” he replied pulling out his wallet, “Here is some cash. order what you want. Eden seemed tired, so let him have his rest. If you have to, sleep in my room. I’ll be back first thing in the morning.” With that Ellis watched as his dad pulled out of the gravel driveway and left him and his brother alone.

The temperature between the upstairs and downstairs room was significantly different. As Ellis stepped off the top step and into the hallway, goosebumps began to spread across his pale skin. He neared his and Eden’s new room and was shocked to find the door wide open. He poked his head into the room and found it empty. Eden was nowhere to be seen.


Ellis turned back into the hallway and followed the metallic clanging downstairs. In the living room he found the pale front door open and saw Eden standing outside looking at the wind chimes. Once Ellis reached the door he stopped. Eden just stood there, listening to the wind chimes and watching them sway in the breeze.

After a second, Ellis shifted his weight and the boards beneath him groaned. The noise seemed to be the loudest thing in the world, and Eden turned and looked over his shoulder at his brother. Their green eyes met each other’s and they seemed to stand there in silence for minutes. Eden looked away first and turned his attention back to the swaying metal bars. Standing there awkwardly, Ellis tried to spur up conversation.

“Remember when we were younger, and grandma told us that if you listen hard enough,” Ellis stated creeping closer, “You can hear the dead whispering? We would sit for hours waiting to hear grandpa tell us a story from the other side,or see if Aunt Jenny remembered what happened to her.”

Eden turned to his brother and then walked back inside and up the stairs. A door closing was heard throughout the house and the walls shook slightly. Ellis’ mind began to race about what was going on, for all he knew, Eden didn’t remember him or thought this is all a dream. Or maybe Eden was still emotional about their mom. Whatever it was that Eden was going through, Ellis silently hoped he would get over it soon. He needed his brother back, he needed his best friend back.

For the rest of the evening, Ellis wondered room to room doing chores. He would dust the bookshelves in the livingroom and then stock them with books, and when he was done, he would stand and turn to see Eden watching him from the doorway. His eyes focused on Ellis and the only sign that he was breathing was his chest rising and falling.

Ellis found it to be creepy and tried to continue with his evening chores, but every few minutes he would get a weird feeling in his gut. Like all of his insides squishing together in fear, and when he looked up, Eden would be there, watching. Never talking, never taking his eyes off of him, and then he would walk off. Ellis tried to catch up with him to ask what he was doing, but Eden would seem to disappear. Like an illusion. Eden was like smoke and mirrors, never truly there.

As Ellis walked the kitchen trash out to the garbage bin in the front yard, the cold night air made him shiver. Tossing the heavy black sack into the green bin, Ellis once again felt his stomach turn. He turned and looked up to the diamond shaped window. There Eden stood watching, but he looked different. His bandages were off, and in the dim light, Ellis couldn’t really make out his scarred and disfigured face, but he could tell he was no longer his true twin.

Ellis’ heart was desperately attempting to break out of his chest. Tears ran down his cheeks and his head spun with dozens of voices screaming inside. Why did this happen? Is Eden going to be okay? Who did this to us? What will I do without mom? Why do I get to be safe and sound while my brother is in surgery and my mom lays in the morgue? What do I do?

The hospital seemed to be background noise to Ellis’ internal fight with himself. His dad sat next to him silently sobbing into Grandma Gradena’s shoulder. A strong man was now broken. His wife dead and his son forever scarred. Seeing his dad like this made Ellis feel more comfortable about his own tears. A man is not held high by not showing emotion, but by actually letting the flood gates swing open every once in awhile.

Eden and his mom had been out in town for the night when they were heading home. Just as they were turning into the driveway, a drunk driver t-boned the car, killing Mrs. Silos instantly and sending Eden’s head through the window. The car caught fire and Eden was burned from the shoulders up. Doctors told Ellis and his dad that Eden could have some plastic surgery in a few months, but he would need to wear bandages until his skin healed. Ellis hadn’t seen his brother since before the accident but always had nightmares about what he would look like. They would never be able to pull the twin switch prank on anyone ever again, or neglect to tell their children about one another until after one of them died.

As Ellis laid down in his makeshift bed on the floor of his new room, he watched Eden’s chest rise and fall as he slept. A million thoughts crossed his mind and he fell asleep as one continuously popped up above the rest. How can he be his twin if he is not the same? Not the same Eden on the outside or the inside. How was he Eden at all?


Ellis’ eyes flew open as the sound of a door slamming filled the house. It was barely past two in the morning and the moonlight barely shone through the window, casting a diamond shaped glare on the floor of the room.

The room was slightly lit up with the silver light and Ellis looked over to his brother’s bed and found it empty and the bedroom door wide open.

“Eden,” Ellis called out as he stood and made his way into the hall. Peering down the stairs he saw nothing but darkness, but he could briefly hear a noise coming from down there. It was almost inaudible and Ellis made his way down the cold steps. As he reached the last step, it became clear what the noise was. It was a voice, but not just any voice, it was Eden’s.

Ellis had not heard his twin’s voice since before that night, but he knew it anywhere, it was practically his own. But there was something off about it. It switched between the innocent sounding voice of his brother to a deep and frightening one. Ellis rounded the corner to the door and found Eden standing there. His head shaking every now and then, and he began to mumble again.

“It has to be done,” he demanded in his deep voice, “Please don’t make me do it, please.”

Eden was talking to himself. But then Ellis looked at where they were. Dozens of wind chimes swung around their heads and the unorganized song played around them. Was Eden talking to himself or the wind chimes?

Ellis began to step back into the house and then it happened.


Ellis froze, and Eden stopped his chant-like mumbling. Then he turned and looked over his shoulder at his brother. Ellis’ eyes went wide with fear and his heart jumped into his throat.

“Eden,” Ellis choked out, “What are you doing?” Ellis starred not into his brother’s matching green eyes, but at a white burlap sack Eden wore on his head. The fabric hugged his brother’s head but was distorted and had a smiley face drawn on it in black. The straight black lines for eyes stared right back at Ellis and chills ran up his spine.


The masked figure turned back to the wind chimes and began to whisper to the swaying metal. Ellis breathed deeply and ran his hand through his hair. He looked inside through the windows and in the reflection saw not one but two figures before him.

There stood Eden with his face untouched by flames and glass and beside him the smile man. The two reflections were arguing and Ellis finally began to think and darted back into the house, making sure to lock the door after him. The smile man watched him through the window as Ellis made his was up the stairs.

As soon as Ellis hit his room, he picked up the house phone and dialed his dad’s number. His heart raced in his chest as the only sound in the room was the phone ringing.

“Hello,” came the familiar sound of hs dad’s voice over the phone.

“Dad, it Ellis, something is wrong with Eden,” Ellis choked out.

“What’s going on,” his dad replied worriedly, “Is he okay?”

“He’s not Eden,”

“What do you mean?”

Ellis was about to reply, but the sound of the back door slamming shut pulled his attention. He jumped up and slammed the bedroom door and locked it just as the sound of footsteps on the stairs echoed the hall. He picked up the phone and hid in the closet.

“Ellis! What is going on?” came the voice on the phone.

“Dad, all night, every time I entered a room he was there watching me. He just stood there staring,” Ellis frantically whispered.

“He’s just trying to piece everything together,” his dad replied, “Just try to talk to him.”

“No,” Ellis interrupted, “He hasn’t spoken to me since before the accident. The only time I’ve heard him talk is to the wind chimes outside. He was just standing there talking to himself. And he took his bandages off and is were this mask. Please come home.”

“Ellis,” his dad said sternly, “I am not going to sit here and listen to you play some dumb prank. I will be home first thing in the morning.” With that the officer hung up and Ellis was left alone in the house with the smile man trying to break into the room.

Racking his swarming head for an escape plan, Ellis remembered the air vent. Jumping out of the closet, he made his way to the vent on the floor and began to pry it off. The thin metal gave a satisfying POP! and Ellis threw it to the side and began to climb in. He had just pulled his feet into the small space when he heard the door break in the bedroom. The compacted room proved to be hard to get through, but the other vent lit up the small space with moonlight.

The metal felt cool under Ellis’ stomach as the made his way through the shaft. He finally reached the end and began to push the metal grate. Just as he began to feel it give under his hands, the cover was yanked outward and a hand reached in and gripped his brown hair.

“Ahh!” Ellis screamed in pain as the smile man pulled him out of the vent. The man threw him to the ground and Ellis attempted to crawl away. Ellis felt a foot kick him in the side and he groaned and rolled over.

Staring up at the person that was once his brother, Ellis pleaded.

“Eden, please stop,”

The masked figure tilted his head to the side and then kneeled down. His cold hands grabbed the back of Ellis’ head and raised his face to his masked one.

“It’ll be over soon,” the man said softly. Then Ellis felt the man push his head back down and everything went black.

When Ellis came to, he was tied to one of the dining room chairs in the bathroom. The sound of water running and the bathtub filling up echoed throughout the small white tiled room, and the smile man stood there at the door watching him. Ellis’ vision was slightly blurred and he felt something cold and wet on the back of his head. His shirt was torn off and he saw it lying on the floor next to a red jug.

“What are you doing,” he asked shakily.

“I want my twin back,” Eden’s voice replied from beneath the mask. He then stepped forward, turned the bath water off and lifted the jug. The pungent smell of gasoline filled Ellis’ nostrils and a tear rolled down his cheek.

The man poured the gas on Ellis and then pushed the chair at the end of the bath tub filled with steaming water. The mirror was beginning to fog up and the tile was cold on his bare feet.

“It will only take a second,” Eden continued as he pulled a piece of cloth out of a drawer, “Then we will be together again.”

Eden tried to put the cloth into his brother’s mouth but Ellis clamped down and resisted. A hand found its way to Ellis’ head wound and he screamed only to be silenced by the cloth being forced into his mouth. Before Ellis could try and spit the fabric out, the masked figure raised a lighter and an auburn flame cast a insidious shadow on the smile mask. Ellis finally realized what was going on and screamed into the cloth.

As the sun began to rise, Damian Silos made his way to his house. His partner, Taylor Corvin, sat by his side rambling on about her mother’s donut shop at the end of town. Damian had only known her for a few days, but he and his partner were like peanut butter and jelly.

Taylor stopped in mid sentence as they turned down into Damian’s neighborhood. There at the end of the street, among the golden leaved trees and matching houses, sat Damian’s house ablaze. Fire shot out of the diamond shaped window and the collapsing roof, fire fighters blasted the house with hoses, and the neighborhood early birds sat watching and recording on their smartphones.

Damian bolted from the sloppily parked patrol car, and ran to the ambulance and surrounding firefighters. He approached every firefighter, every EMT, and every nosey neighbor standing at the scene, and asked them the same question. “Have you seen my sons?”. And everyone replied the same thing, “No”.

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