Scared to Death
A short story by Yari Garcia
Copyright 2016 by Yari Garcia
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Karissa walked up the illuminated path towards her house, keys in hand. The door was alluring to her, as she wanted nothing more than to cross the threshold and kick her shoes off. It had been a long night—cramming for finals with her annoying tutor. She waved away a moth that circled around the porch light, unlocked the door, and stepped inside.
“Helloooo,” she called out to no one. The kitchen light was on, but she knew nobody was home. Her parents were always at Bingo on Thursday nights. The mere thought of it made Karissa roll her eyes. If her adult life ever included Bingo Night, she’d just end it right then and there.
Karissa tossed her backpack into the dark living room in the general direction of the couch. She shuffled into the kitchen, opened the fridge, and slipped her shoes off as she surveyed the contents in the ice box. One shoe got thrown to the left with a [thud. _]The other got thrown to the right with another [_thud. _]Then Karissa heard yet another _thud.
She looked up and around her. “Mom?” she called out, but no one answered. Looking back into the fridge, she wondered if her parents had put away any leftovers…
Annoyed, Karissa shut the fridge door. “Dad?” she called out, a little louder this time. Karissa walked around the kitchen island and past the sink full of dishes. She peered into the living room, but could see only darkness.
The sound made Karissa jump as she realized it wasn’t coming from inside the house. She turned to her left where, above the sink, was a large window. The gauzy curtains were see-through, barely doing anything to cover the glass. She suddenly felt exposed, since all she could see was her own reflection on the glass, looking back at her in confusion. Whoever was out there, though, could clearly see her standing under the kitchen light…
This is stupid, Karissa thought and went back to the fridge. But she could not shake the feeling that she was being watched.
Just as Karissa was starting to calm down, she heard three successive thuds, one after the other. Then a loud one, right outside the back door.
She quickly shut the fridge door and turned the lights off. At least in the dark, whoever was out there could not see inside. Karissa then creeped slowly towards the back door. She mentally cursed at her parents’ definition of privacy—another thin, translucent curtain waved lazily, barely covering the square window on the door.
Karissa felt her way through the darkness. She reached out her hand and slid it along the wall, knowing that at any moment her fingertips would bump into the light switch. She needed to reach the switch and turn on the outside light. Then she’d be able to see who was out there.
Karissa could feel her heart beating loudly against her chest as she slowly, very slowly, kept moving forward. She knew she was inches from the light switch now. Karissa felt relief when she touched the familiar switch, but it didn’t last long.
As she flicked up the switch, the backyard was illuminated. Mere inches from the door’s window stood a figure, large and imposing, wearing a bloody mask.
Karissa always thought that, in the face of danger, she would run. Hide. Or better yet, run to her father’s closet and grab his pistol. She’d fight any intruder and come out victorious.
That’s what she always thought.
Instead, Karissa let out a blood-curling scream that reverberated throughout the house and stung her ears. Eyes glued on the man, she could see that he had a bat, and was about to swing it at the window’s glass.
Another scream escaped Karissa’s mouth as she waited for the glass to shatter. But it never did. When Karissa choked on her own scream, everything fell silent.
Then she heard the laughter.
Karissa dove towards the back door, undid the latches, and pulled it open. She would have ripped the door off its hinges if she could. She advanced on the masked man and gave him a hard shove.
“Keith! You freaking jerk!”
Keith pulled off his mask and tossed it aside. He made a fist in front of his mouth to try to contain his explosive laughter. Karissa’s face turned red when she saw two of her other friends, Emily and Mike, standing not too far away. Emily held up her smartphone while Mike was bent over in laughter.
“Ha-ha. Real funny, guys. Real funny,” Karissa said. She advanced towards Emily and swiped at her phone. “And stop recording! Don’t you know the neighbors are probably going to call the cops?”
Emily swung her phone away just in time to keep it from Karissa’s grip. “Probably,” Emily said between laughter hiccups. “After hearing your scream-fest, anybody would.”
“Man, that was crazy,” Mike said, wiping tears from his eyes. “Best one yet.”
Karissa rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest. She hated to admit it, but that was the best scare they’d had yet. She shifted her weight to one foot, realizing for the first time that she was barefoot on the wet grass.
“You all need to go home,” she finally snapped. “It’s past ten and my parents will be home soon.”
The teens allowed their laughter to subside as they made their way to the back gate.
“And you,” Karissa added to Emily, “send me that before you post it. I don’t want you adding it to the website if I look stupid.”
Emily pranced back to Karissa, quickly pinching her cheek lightly. “You didn’t look stupid. Just absolutely terrified.” Emily smirked and turned on her heel, which made her baby doll dress flutter.
“Whatever, Emily. Go home,” Karissa said to Emily’s back. “And do NOT post it without my consent.”
“I won’t! I won’t!” Emily called back to her and disappeared behind the wooden gate. With a sigh, Karissa headed back inside.
That was good, she thought. But I still want something scarier.
Emily stepped into her math class. She loved her math class. Actually, she hated math, she just loved the classroom. Actually, she hated the classroom and school altogether. Emily just loved that her desk was so vintage. The wood was weathered and scratchy. You could lift the top of the desk and have a secret compartment all to yourself. She had decorated the inside of hers with stickers of hair bows, pacifiers, and baby rattles. It was like she had a tiny room to retreat to in the middle of algebra.
Emily made her way to her desk. The very first thing she did every day when she got to class was open it up to see if anyone had messed with her stuff. She slipped into the chair and ran her hands along the side—the secret piece of scotch tape was still there, meaning nobody had opened it. Perfect.
Emily lifted the lid to the desk, squealed, and quickly dropped it with a BANG! Laughter erupted all around her.
“Wow, really?” Mike, her boyfriend, called out to her from across the room. “That easy?”
Emily’s heart fluttered inside her chest, and not because Mike gave her butterflies. She had just had a glimpse of hundreds of cockroaches inside her desk. Only they weren’t real.
“You’re going to make me cry!” Emily pouted. Mike approached her and sat on the desk in front of her. “You’re supposed to be on my side, you know.”
“I was just kidding, babe,” Mike replied, leaning on the back rest of his chair. “I wasn’t even recording.”
Emily opened her desk abruptly, forcing Mike to lean back to avoid being hit. “Whoa, take it easy,” he said.
“Now I have to pick all these things out of here. Ugh!”
Emily noticed a girl come up behind her and jump. “Eww, what is that??” The girl squealed.
Emily looked up to see the new girl looking down into her fake-cockroach-infested desk. The girl looked positively grossed out and pale. She had truly been frightened. Emily gave her a big, innocent smile. “Don’t worry, they’re fake.” Emily shut her desk and leaned her elbows on it. “You’re the new girl, right? What’s your name?”
The new girl shifted her weight to one foot and slipped a lock of hair behind her ear. “Um, I’m Bella.”
“Hi, I’m Mike. And this is—”
Emily’s snicker interrupted Mike. “Bella? But it says ‘Arabella’ right there, on your folder.”
“Yeah… but,” the new girl stuttered a bit. She moved her hands so that her fingers covered the place where the guidance counselor had written her full name. “But people call me Bella.”
Emily giggled. “Right. I’m Emily. People call me Emily. And that’s Mike. We call him Mike.”
Bella nodded. She glued her eyes to the ground and started to walk away.
“Hey, you can sit here, behind me,” Emily called out to her. “I don’t mind. We can talk. And maybe you can help me get these fake bugs out of here, too.”
Bella looked into Emily’s face, which was now full of sweetness and friendship. Bella was new in the school, and not many people had talked to her, so she decided what the heck. Bella slipped into the desk behind Emily’s and ran her fingers along the top.
“All these open up?” she asked. “Huh. That’s kind of cool.” Bella opened the lid to her desk, only to squeal loudly and quickly drop it with a BANG!
Bella kept stealing peeks at Emily as she ate her lunch. She was trying not to stare at this girl, who looked more like a doll than a person. Her eyelashes were long and dark, and her bottom lashes seemed even longer. Bella thought about asking the girl if those were falsies, but she thought better of it. She didn’t want to offend Emily, even if the girl had already offended her a million times. That day, Bella had quickly learned that Emily was the type of girl that would tease you horribly, then say “I’m just kidding!” with her innocent, endearing smile.
As much as it irritated Bella, she was just glad she had someone to sit with at lunch. She had arrived at Pines High four days ago, and hadn’t been able to make a friend yet. She had sat alone at lunch each day, feeling like everyone was staring at her, as if she had a huge neon sign above her head that flashed Loser Sitting Alone. Finally being able to sit with someone at lunch was a huge relief.
“Hello, boys,” Emily cooed as her boyfriend, Mike, reached the table with another guy.
Bella looked at the guy, and he was so gorgeous that she immediately looked away. She prayed that she wasn’t turning beet-red, but could feel the heat rising up her neck.
The guy noticed and seemed to find it amusing, though not in a mean way. When Bella’s eyes took a glance at him again, he smirked, revealing a hidden dimple on his right cheek.
“Mike, you met her already,” Emily pointed at Bella with her thumb as the guys sat down. “Sey, this is Arabella. Arabella, this is Sey.”
Bella cringed in her seat. Why did Emily have to do that? Bella hated not having a more modern name. She would have loved something new and sexy, like Nikki or Lexy. Instead, she was stuck with Arabella. Emily knew this—she had told Emily. And yet the girl kept using her antiquated name. While fuming at Emily’s mean-spiritedness, Sey’s voice broke through her vengeful thoughts.
“Hi, I’m Sey,” he repeated. “I bet you go by ‘Bella,’ though. Right?”
Bella unglued her piercing eyes from Emily to look at Sey. “Yeah… actually, I do.”
“That’s great,” Sey said, taking a sip of cherry cola. “It’s beautiful,” he murmured so that only Bella could hear.
Bella’s eyes lingered on Sey’s, and a comfortable warmth spread between them. Sey’s eyes were green and piercing, made the more intense by the darkness of his brows. Bella saw a glimmer of interest and curiosity in them, and she quickly realized this boy would be her #1 crush.
“What did I miss?”
Bella startled as a girl slipped into the seat beside her. The girl gave her an amused smile and a giggled. “Sorry, didn’t meant to scare ya,” the girl said and set down her tray.
“You didn’t miss much, just introductions,” Emily said.
And before Emily could say ‘Arabella’ one more time, Bella jumped in. “Hi, I’m Bella.”
“I’m Karissa,” the girl said with a smile. Her lips were perfectly glossed in a shade of peach. “You’re new here, right?”
“Yeah,” Bella replied. “I’m from Salem. I’ve been here a little bit less than a week.”
“Oh, yeah,” Karissa said, picking a cherry tomato from her salad. “I’ve seen you here. You sat alone for days, over there.” Karissa gestured to a corner of the cafeteria. “Glad to see you decided to join humanity.”
A guy laughed, and Bella jumped. This made Karissa giggle even more, and Emily joined in. Bella wondered when the boy had gotten there.
“Glad to see you join the human race, too,” the guy said. “I’m Keith. I’m always glad when a chick joins the human race.” The guy smiled and winked, and it made Bella cringe.
Emily leaned forward to look past Bella. “So, Karissa, I have a really cool idea for the website,” Emily said. She looked at Bella, then back at Karissa. “But I’ll have to tell you later.”
Karissa glanced at Bella, which made her shift in her chair uncomfortably. Karissa then looked back at Emily. Intrigued, Karissa said, “Okay… Tell me later, then.”
The two girls shared conspiratory smiles, and Bella hated being between it all, like she was in the line of fire. Bella was glad when everyone’s attention zoomed into their phones and away from her. She finally had a moment of respite from her new and odd friends. They already felt more like frenemies, and she hated it.
She looked up and was surprised to meet his eyes—intense, gorgeous, and looking right at her.
“Hey, you don’t have a drink. I got you,” Sey said. Bella watched as he walked over to the vending machine and came back with a bottled water. “I had to guess what you like.”
Bella took the water, unable to give anything but a smile as a thanks. She was taken by Sey’s kindness and attention. She smiled inside, wondering if Sey had noticed her eating a vegan lunch. Water was what she liked most with her healthy meals, and somehow he knew. Bella bit her lip. It was all she could do to keep from heaving a lovely sigh.
As they all ate, Bella and Sey kept exchanging glances and smiles with each other. He was giving her butterflies like she had never felt before.
Although, Bella had a hard time keeping her attention on Sey alone. Karissa and Emily kept snickering back and forth, and Bella just knew they were texting each other. About her.
“Isn’t my girlfriend the prettiest evil genius?”
Mike rested his languid arm across Emily’s shoulders as she beamed a big, proud smile. They were sitting on the bleachers waiting for gym class to end. Emily had just explained to Karissa and Keith the plan that would make the perfect viral video. The video that would finally get some traffic flowing to their website. And it definitely included the new girl.
“I don’t know…” Karissa said. She was doubtful, but incredibly excited at the same time. “Isn’t that pretty cruel? And won’t we need her consent to upload the video?”
“First of all, cruel is our game,” Emily stated bluntly. “We won’t get the best horror website by being nice. So get that thought out of your head. Like, now.”
Mike brushed a lock of Emily’s hair behind her ear and added, “Yeah, Karissa. There’s no nice way to go about this. We’re running a horror show, not a charity.”
“Okay, but what about the consent thing? She’ll never give us permission to post that.”
“Don’t need it,” Keith butted in all matter-of-factly. “Not if it’s done in a public place. You lose all rights to privacy then. We’re protected by the First Amendment, and we won’t be using the footage for commercial use. So, we’re covered.”
“As long as it’s filmed in a public place, we don’t need her consent?” Karissa asked to confirm.
“Not at all,” Keith reassured.
Karissa bit her lip. It was a major prank, and the new girl already seemed twitchy and anxious. “What if her heart stops or something?” Karissa blurted out.
The three teens—Keith, Mike, and Emily—burst into laughter. “Are you serious??”
“She’s like, sixteen or something. She’s not an old lady waiting to croak,” Emily giggled. “Although, judging by her name, she could be an old lady. Arabella. Such an old lady name.”
“Seriously, Karissa, it’ll be fine,” Keith said. “She’ll get spooked, then we’ll all laugh about it. It will be like hazing her into our group. She gets a thrill, and we get a kickass video.”
“I even know the perfect place,” Mike said. “My grandparents own a cabin in the woods right on the edge of town. They just got it. It’s pretty much abandoned, since they haven’t been able to go in and do any repairs. Anyway, the cemetery next to the cabin is considered a public place.”
“Great! We’ll keep the equipment in the cabin, then sneak it out when we’re ready to do the prank,” Keith said. “We won’t be carrying any cameras or lights to make her suspicious.”
“Done deal,” Emily stated with finality. “Oh, and let’s not tell Sey.”
Karissa perked up at the mention of her crush’s name. “Sey? Why can’t we tell Sey?”
“Because he’s a softie for Bella. Were you even there during lunch?” Emily said. She squinted her eyes at Karissa. “They kept making googly eyes at each other and smiling like idiots. Sey’s got the hots for the new girl, and I don’t want him to ruin it for us. If we tell him our plan, he might tip her off.”
Karissa swallowed down the jealousy that was creeping up her throat. She hadn’t noticed Sey looking at the new girl. Seething, she realized that now she definitely wanted the girls scared. And she didn’t care if Arabella got scared to death.
“Hey, Sey,” Bella greeted as she slipped into Sey’s beat-up Mustang. She quickly felt stupid about the rhyme, but Sey didn’t seem to notice. He just gave her one of his gorgeous smiles—the ones that made the dimple on his right cheek appear—and pulled away from the curb.
“Hey yourself,” he replied. “This should be fun, don’t you think?”
“Yeah,” Bella replied with a sigh. She wasn’t so sure. The only reason she had agreed to come on this outing was to be near Sey, who had volunteered to pick her up. She hated cemeteries, and she was still unsure about her new friends.
Bella sunk deeper into the leather seat of the Mustang, enjoying the warmth coming from the vents, and noticing just how clean the car was. “Smells nice in here,” Bella said, quickly feeling stupid yet again. What is this, a commercial??
“Oh, that’s not the car, that’s just me,” Sey said and shot her a flirty smile. She was glad he didn’t think she was a complete moron for having said that. When his eyes were back on the road, Bella took advantage and shamelessly stared at his profile.
She felt like she could stare at him forever. His sharp jawline, his soft lips, his thick hair… And he was a perfect gentleman, too. How was it that this nice guy ended up friends with a group of bullies?
Well, bullies maybe wasn’t the right word, but they definitely spent a lot of time putting each other down and trying to scare each other. Bella felt like she could never relax around them. If it wasn’t insults being hurled her way, it was some type of gag spider or fake vomit. Bella had nearly fainted when Mike pretended to poke his eye with a fork the morning before. What he had really done was stab a creamer cup, the white puss-like liquid draining from his face. Bella hadn’t known at the time, and was quick to scream. They were quick to laugh.
“They’re not so bad, you know,” Sey said, and it brought Bella back to the present moment. “My friends, they’re not so bad,” Sey repeated when he saw Bella’s look of confusion.
It was like he had read her mind. “Oh, I didn’t… I mean…” Bella began to say, but then stopped. She did think they were pretty bad, and she wasn’t about to lie to Sey.
Sey chuckled, one hand on the steering wheel, the other leaning against the window. “Seriously, they’re not so bad. They just have this weird thing going on for October. They’re trying to scare each other and post it online. It’s silly, really. But they mean no harm.”
Bella nodded. “Is that why we’re going to the cemetery? To scare each other?”
Sey switched hands on his steering wheel. “They want to try a séance. Don’t worry, probably nothing will happen. Those things are fake, anyway.”
When Bella didn’t reply, he added, “What’s wrong? Are you scared?”
Bella laughed nervously. “Of the séance? No. Of your friends? Well, maybe a little bit.”
Sey reached out his hand and grabbed Bella’s, making her heart leap in her chest. His hand was big and warm. He held her with strength and gentleness, all at once. For a moment, his hand was all Bella could feel.
“Don’t worry,” Sey said, glancing over at her, then back at the road. He gave her hand a tender squeeze. “I got you.”
“This is going to be crazy, guys,” Emily said in excitement as she spread out a picnic blanket with Keith. “I kind of feel bad for her, though.”
“Well don’t,” Karissa cut in acidly. Emily shot her a questioning look. “I mean, you yourself said cruelty is our game. That’s all it is, a game. She’ll get over it.” Karissa tried to sound casual, but it was too late. Emily was giving her a very pointed look with a smirk.
“So… suddenly you don’t feel bad about scaring her?” Emily asked. “Just like that?”
Karissa looked away.
“Oh, I know…” Emily stood and placed one hand on her narrow waist, the other held her index finger to her chin. “Could it have anything to do with the fact that Sey was all too eager to give her a ride today?”
Keith looked up at the two girls, sensing the tension descending upon them.
“Shut up, Emily,” Karissa spat.
Emily laughed loudly. “You do like Sey! Are you freaking serious? There’s no way.”
“You have a crush on Sey?” Keith asked innocently. Karissa glared at him and willed herself to breathe steadily, although she could already feel her face and ears turning red.
“You should totally forget it, Karissa,” Emily said with a dismissive wave. “You guys have been friends for too long. He doesn’t look at you that way anymore. That window of opportunity is closed.” Emily slapped her hands together to emphasize her point. “You’re like a little sister to him now. You’re Baby Sis Kariss.”
Karissa wished she could advance on Emily and rip her pouty smile right off her face. Her words stung Karissa, but Emily wasn’t completely wrong. The opportunity to get Sey to notice her seemed to be closing fast.
There was no way Karissa was going to let that window close. No way would she allow herself to be friendzoned by the guy she had been swooning over since the sixth grade. And that’s why tonight had to go perfectly.
Once she scared jumpy, twitchy Arabella away from the group, nothing stood in her way.
When Karissa didn’t say anything else, Emily and Keith went back to laying out the blanket, and bright white lights flashed over their bodies as a car pulled up to the cemetery. “They’re here,” Keith announced.
Karissa tried to relax her body posture as they all approached the vehicle. What she really wanted to do was pull Arabella out of the car through the window by her hair. She could see her face through the windshield, sitting all cozy in the passenger seat of Sey’s car. It should have been her, not Arabella, inside his Mustang.
“Are you ready to get scared??” Emily walked over to Sey as he exited the car. She held her hands up, making claws and growly noises. He just laughed and shook his head.
“Don’t get too excited, Emily” Sey said as he bumped fists with Keith in greeting. “These things never really work.”
“Hi, Bella,” Karissa said as Bella stepped out of the car. She didn’t know why she felt the need to greet her, when deep inside she just wanted her gone. “I’m surprised your mom let you come.”
Bella closed the door and shoved her hands in her pockets. “Why?”
The group walked together amongst the gravestones, heading towards the picnic blanket. “Because, aren’t you like fourteen? Is it past your curfew?”
“Um… I’m sixteen…” Bella replied in her usual shy tone.
Ugh. Why couldn’t the girl ever speak up? “Oh, I thought you were fourteen!” Karissa said with a forced friendly laugh. As she walked past Bella, she added, “I mean, you’re just so flat-chested, it’s hard to tell.”
Karissa felt good dropping that bomb on Bella, especially since no one else had heard. The girl simply looked at her in disbelief, opening and closing her mouth like she was trying to formulate words. Nothing came out, and Karissa gave her a beaming smile.
The group busied themselves grabbing items from a plastic bag that Emily had provided. They set out stones in a circle, and placed candles around the blanket.
“Is Mike coming?” Sey asked as he lit one of the candles with a cigarette lighter.
“He’s supposed to be here soon,” Emily replied.
Karissa grabbed a candle and sidled up next to Sey. She looked up into his gorgeous green eyes. “He text me about an hour ago, so I don’t know where he could be.”
Sey’s face was illuminated by the flickering light of the orange candle. But instead of looking at her, he looked at Bella and said, “I wonder if he’s okay.”
Karissa couldn’t take it anymore. She wanted Bella gone, and she wanted her gone now. She stood up and grabbed her phone from her pocket to send the text message that would get the whole thing started.
Emily was having waaaaay too much fun already. Karissa thought she was so slick, when in fact she was entirely transparent. Emily had even heard Karissa’s remark about Bella’s non-existent boobs. The girl had practically sneered right into Bella’s ear. Poor girl.
Emily tried to hold back a smile. There was Karissa, getting up in a huff and poking at her phone, no doubt setting the plan in motion early.
No wonder Sey didn’t like her. She was wound up tight. Lucky for Emily, she had a front row seat for when that tightness would spring free.
Moments after Karissa pocketed her phone, a man’s scream was heard in the woods. The baritone voice was Mike’s, and it was time to move.
“Oh my god, did you guys hear that?” Emily said, trying to sound worried. She was giddy and failing miserably, but that didn’t seem to matter. The looks of concern in Bella’s and Sey’s eyes were real.
“What… what was that?” the new girl stuttered.
“Yo, I think it came from over there,” Keith said as rehearsed, pointing in the direction of the dark woods. “I think that sounded like Mike.”
At the mention of Mike’s name, Sey stood up. “You stay here,” he said to the girls. “Keith, do you want to come check with me?”
“We’ll all go,” Karissa said bravely. “We’ll be safer as a group.”
Sey nodded and led the way into the woods where the sound had come from. Keith scrambled past him to lead them to the trap, “It definitely came from this way.”
As they followed, Emily stole glances at the new girl. She stayed right behind Sey, and there was no doubt that the girl had a crush on him. The way Sey held his hand back, as if to shield Bella, told her that he liked her too. Emily wondered if anything had happened in the car on the way to the cemetery…
Karissa was fuming, and Emily didn’t know what the big deal was. Bella was about to be scared to death and right out of the group. There was no way such a sweet and innocent girl would stick around after what they had planned. Karissa would have plenty of time to pounce on Sey then.
“Oh my god!” Bella’s cry echoed in the woods. She covered her mouth with both hands.
Emily followed Bella’s eyes and cringed. They had been too good.
Slumped at the base of a thick tree was Mike’s body. He sat with his arms hanging limply to the sides, his chin pressed down onto his collarbone. Fake guts, gore, and blood burst forth from his abdomen.
But, wait a minute… that wasn’t exactly the plan. Mike was supposed to be fake-hanged from a tree. They had spent all night looking up how to do it. Bella would be shocked, then Mike would spring to life as Keith recorded the whole thing. That had been the plan Emily explained to them in gym class.
Emily shot Karissa a questioning look, but the girl’s eyes were glued to Mike’s gutted body, hungry and excited. Emily quickly glanced back at Mike, who was still as a rock.
“Keith…?” She whispered from the side of her mouth. “What’s going on—?”
The sound of motors revving cut her words short. Everyone jumped, then froze when the noise suddenly stopped. The silence and fear became heavy.
“What was that?”
Three men crashed through the bushes, holding up and revving enormous chainsaws. They wore black ski masks and leather jackets, barely visible against the dark night. Emily had barely any time to ascertain this before the three men started to advance on them.
“Run!” Sey screamed as he grabbed Bella by the arm and took off. Emily followed next, panic rising up in her chest.
My boyfriend Mike is really okay. This is just a prank… This is just a prank… She thought, but it was hard to think with the loud noise the machines were making, and with her heart pounding so loudly. She ran as fast as she could, which wasn’t very with her stupid choice in shoes—platform heels.
[_ What is going on? What went wrong?? Am I going to die??? _]
Maniacal laughter broke through her frightened thoughts and she slowed down her run. Not that she had gotten very far. Emily froze as the men with chainsaws ran right past her, chasing Bella and Sey down the path that led to the cabin. Keith tried to keep up with his camera.
Emily looked back to see Karissa bent over in laughter. Mike was standing up and brushing off dirt and sticks from his bloodied jeans.
“Karissa? What the hell is going on?!” Emily approached Karissa and gave her a hard shove. “What the hell was that? That wasn’t the plan!”
“Oh, shut up,” Karissa said, shoving Emily back. “Your plan was too tame, so I had to change it. And it’s not over yet, so let’s go.”
“Babe, it’s just a joke,” Mike said, but Emily gave him a hard stare. He should have told her. No, he shouldn’t have let Karissa change the plan at all! Karissa took off towards the path, and Emily followed with Mike.
Emily could hear the chainsaws up ahead. “Karissa, who are those guys?”
But Karissa didn’t answer. She just kept moving forward, a wide and sinister smile plastered onto her face.
Karissa’s heart pumped with adrenaline and excitement as she entered the cabin. A musty smell filled her nostrils, and if it weren’t for the joy she felt at the moment, the cabin would have totally creeped her out.
The cabin was a monochrome of brown colors. Abandoned and old, the tattered curtains on the windows allowed just enough moonlight in to make it eerie. The moon’s glow cast sinister shadows that played tricks on the eyes. Antiques and old paintings decorated the space, giving her the feeling of having stepped into another time.
“Call them off!” Emily was yelling at her over the sounds of chainsaws.
Karissa snapped out of her thoughts to glare at Emily. “No,” she stated flatly. “I won’t. And you,” she looked over at Mike. “Who else is recording?”
“Uh…” Mike seemed flustered, which looked odd with all the blood and gore on him. “Maybe we should call it off. I think I just heard Bella scream. She sounds pretty freaked.”
“Who. Else. Is. Recording?” Karissa repeated over the loud chainsaws, not because she hadn’t heard Keith, but because she didn’t care.
“Um, Keith set up some cameras upstairs, then I was supposed to record the rest.”
“How long have you been in on this??” Emily demanded.
“She said we were all in on this!” Mike said, raising his hands in defense, pointing at Karissa. “I thought we had changed the plans.”
“We are all in this now, so get to recording,” Karissa hissed at Mike, which made him scramble and leave the dim room. Karissa started making her way deeper into the large cabin, towards the direction of the chainsaws and screams.
But not before Emily grabbed her elbow and yanked her back. “Hey! What is wrong with you? The pranks and the website are a team effort. We’re a democracy. You don’t get to decide everything! My plan was fine! This is too much!!”
Karissa ripped her arm out of Emily’s grip. “Don’t touch me. This is what’s going to get the website noticed. This is what’s going to go viral. Not your boyfriend’s stupid gags, not sneaking around my back yard, and certainly not your dumb ideas.”
Emily’s mouth opened in disbelief. She had to shout to be heard over the commotion. “I thought we were all having fun! It’s just for fun!! And real chainsaws, Karissa? Who are those guys? What if they actually hurt someone??”
“I don’t care.”
Emily was stunned, her pretty eyes searching Karissa’s face. Her face had not changed, but somehow Emily felt like she was suddenly looking at a different person. “You don’t—”
The chainsaws stopped all at once, and there was a brief moment of silence before the girls heard glass shattering. Confused, they ran upstairs, where they could now hear items breaking and guys hollering.
When they reached the top hallway, they were nearly ran over by the three men who had been wielding the chainsaws just moments before. They ran out of the master bedroom, yelling “What the hell was that??” and “Let’s get out of here!!”
“What did that weirdo do?” Karissa asked and rushed towards the master bedroom, Emily in tow. Right inside the door was Keith, frozen in place, his knees shaking like they were about to buckle. Karissa fumed when she saw he was pointing the camera to the ground. “Film her you idiot!”
Glass shattering right behind Keith made him snap out of his frozen state and run out of the room. “The camera!” Karissa called after him. Stupid Keith had ran out with the camera that was supposed to record the whole thing. And where in the world was Mike??
Karissa turned to look at Emily, who had her eyes glued on something towards the bed. Karissa followed her eyes and squinted. Was she really seeing…?
Bella stood on the bed, bathed in the moonlight that flowed from an enormous glass window to the left, and skylight right above her. She looked like she was hovering inches above the mattress. Her arms were extended to her sides, palms up, and as she raised them slowly, the knick knacks, lamps, and items in the room raised slowly as well.
Once Bella’s arms reached high above her head, she moved them forward in one quick motion, pointing at the two girls. The items that had been floating moments before started hurling towards Emily and Karissa.
Emily shrieked and dove to the ground, a shower of broken porcelain raining down all around her. Karissa moved quickly to the side, trying to see and understand what was happening in the barely visible light. A brass candlestick slammed into her shoulder, making her cry out and stagger back.
“Stop it, Bella!” Emily cried from the ground. “Stop it! We’re sorry! We were just kidding! Please stop!”
But Bella didn’t stop. One after the other, the objects in the room zoomed towards the two girls. So many objects were fired at the girls that when Bella ran out of items, she raised her hands once more. The drawers and wardrobe opened up and more items hurled towards them.
Ducking and grabbing Emily by the waist, Karissa pulled them towards the door. “We have to get out of here!” she cried into Emily’s ear. As soon as the two staggered and ran out of the room, Sey burst in to see Bella standing there.
It broke Sey’s heart to see Bella in that state. She hovered above the bed, soaking in the moon’s magick, with a look of pain and anguish on her face. His friends had gone too far. If he had known that the séance was just a cover to do a major prank on Bella, he never would have brought her here.
“Bella,” he called out to her. Wind whipped around the room, even though all the windows were closed. Bella looked to be in some state of painful and angry trance. “Bella, it’s me, Sey. Please, stop.”
Bella’s hair stopped its frantic snake-like moving as the wind slowed down a bit. “Sey?”
“Yes, it’s me, Sey,” Sey ventured closer to the bed, where Bella stood. He held his hands in front of him, urging her to calm down. “It’s okay. I’m here. I got you, Arabella.”
The wind picked up in speed again and Bella’s eyes turned to angry slits.
“I hate that name!”
Bella’s heart bounced wildly in her chest. She was angry, in pain, feeling betrayed… all at once. Had Sey been part of setting her up for this? He was, after all, friends with these heinous people who did nothing but attack and torment each other.
And he had just mocked her with her own name.
Bella stared into Sey’s face. His eyes were pleading, his features concerned and caring—but she wasn’t fooled. She had seen enough sweet faces on Emily, only to be acidly cut down by her. She wasn’t going to fall for it on someone else. As much as she liked Sey, she just wasn’t falling for it.
Bella began to raise her hands once more. Whatever objects were left over—candle sticks, shoes, magnifying glasses—all kinds of things elevated in the air slowly.
“Arabella,” Sey said, his hand raising up defensively. “Arabella, call off the ghosts.”
Arabella’s breath caught in her throat. She looked at Sey in disbelief, then her eyes darted around the room. All around her, where the objects had lifted as if on their own accord, were ghosts, holding each object, waiting for her to command them to throw. Each semi-transparent silhouette was the ghost of someone long gone—the energy imprint left behind after years of people living and dying in the cabin. They all stood still, waiting for her next command.
Her eyes flowed back to Sey’s. “You… you can see them?”
“Yes, Arabella,” Sey said, stepping closer to the bed. “Yes, I can.”
Arabella allowed herself to slowly descend back onto the bed. Her naked toes touched the soft and worn fabric, and she realized for the first time that one of her shoes had fallen off in her frantic escape from the men with chainsaws.
Which reminded her of how she had ended up in this situation in the first place.
“Why?” she demanded, her eyes full of angry tears. “Why did you set me up?”
“Arabella, I swear, I didn’t know,” Sey pleaded. “I didn’t know they would do this.”
Arabella slowly stepped down from the bed, always keeping Sey in her line of vision. She looked up at him when he started talking, unable to contain her feelings for him, even though she felt betrayed.
“I came because I had a feeling that you were… like me,” he began to say. “I thought the séance, if it worked, would be too much for you. If you saw ghosts and got scared, I wanted to be there, holding your hand, making sure you were okay.”
Arabella could see the concern in Sey’s eyes, and his voice sounded genuine and true. “You really didn’t know?”
“I swear,” Sey repeated.
As Arabella calmed down, the ghosts slowly faded around them—the objects they were holding clanked onto the ground, rolled, and came to a stop. Arabella saw Sey walking around the bed towards her. She allowed him to step close to her and grab her trembling hands.
“Arabella, I know you’re eternal. You’re a Deathless, like me.”
“A… what?” Arabella knew that she could see and command ghosts. It was something she had always been able to do. She thought she was the only one in the world with this power, which should have made her feel special. Instead, she felt different and odd, like an outcast.
And it didn’t help that she had never died.
“A Deathless. We’ve been around for more centuries than we can remember,” Sey continued. He rubbed her hands with his thumbs as he spoke. “You’re like me.”
“So… wait… you’ve never…?”
“My real name is Seymour,” Sey said and chuckled. “And you thought your name was bad.”
Arabella allowed the laughter to escape her lips, the sudden release easing the incredible tension she had felt only moments before. When their laughter subsided, she looked into Seymour’s green eyes.
“I didn’t know anyone else was… like this,” she said, barely above a whisper.
“I didn’t know either,” Sey said. He smiled and made a dimple on his cheek. “But now I’m glad.”
Arabella couldn’t help but smile. She had had the craziest night. But, as she stood there, holding Seymour’s warm hands, she suddenly realized she didn’t feel the crippling loneliness she had felt for centuries. Seymour was eternal. He wouldn’t die. Couldn’t die. Just like her.
When Seymour placed his fingers under Arabella’s chin, she let him. She slowly raised her face to his. “Arabella,” he said. “I think I love you.”
Arabella closed her eyes, a tear quickly rolling down her cheek. Seymour wiped it away with his hand, then slipped his fingers into her hair. He gently pulled her closer, waiting for her to open her eyes and give him permission to kiss her. When she leaned forward to him, he pressed his lips gently against hers.
Arabella was enveloped by his strong arms and soft lips. She could have stayed there, kissing him, for a hundred years if she could. As their lips parted and they gazed into each other’s eyes, Arabella asked, “What now?”
“Now,” Seymour said, “Now we spend eternity together.”
++]]Yari Garcia is best known for her short stories, such as
The Girl in the Converse Shoes and [Nikki and the Vampire.
__]She is the author of the forthcoming full-length novel,
Strega Fey (2016).
Connect with Yari Garcia at
Bryexe: She Lives in a Dollhouse
Strega Fey (coming 2016)
Paranormal Romance: A Short Story[[++
++]]Black Magick: A Sinister Romance
The Short Story Collection
About Falling in Love
Bella is the new girl in school and just wants to fit in. When a group of teens welcomes her into their group, she's relieved not to be sitting alone at lunch anymore. But these strange kids seems to have it out for each other. They throw insults, fake bugs, and gags at each other in order to torment one another. All they seem to care about is scaring each other to record a video that will make them go viral. Bella's suspicions of these teens grow~ as does her attraction for the gorgeous guy named Sey. And it's that attraction to Sey that will get her scared to death.