"Katie, Kate. Sweetie."
Kate groaned as she felt her shoulder being poked repeatedly. She opened her eyes to see her father smiling warmly at her.
"We made it." He said as he pointed to the front window of the car.
Kate turned her head and looked out the window. She raised her brow as she saw a driveway leading down to a large two storey house surrounded by forest. From where she could see, the house looked rather old and rickety; with old looking windows and wooden frames, even a few large cobwebs. Kate got out of the car as her father got out and stretched out; glad to finally be out of the car as he took a breath of the fresh air.
"Fresh air, nice and quiet. This house is perfect." He said with his hands on his hips and a smile on his face. "We practically got a whole forest as a backyard!"
"Yay, we've probably got bears as neighbours." Kate spoke with a hint of sarcasm.
Kenneth shrugged as he looked at his unimpressed daughter.
"Well I've checked and they are a few sightings outside the area." He spoke rather casually before smiling mischievously. "And the occasional cougar."
Kate went wide eyed and gave her father a shocked stare.
"There're cougars here!?" She questioned with a shocked tone as she looked around.
Kenneth put his hand over his mouth as he laughed. Kate looked at him with a raised brow.
"Don't worry kiddo. There aren't any cougars here." He reassured as ruffled up his daughters hair; much to her annoyance. "But don't go into the woods by yourself. There might rattlesnakes and black bears."
"So I was right about the bears." Kate said as she put her fist in her palm.
Kenneth shrugged as she heard a car horn honk from behind. The father and daughter turned around to see the moving van coming up to them towards the driveway. They both quickly got out of the way as it went past the car and stopped in front of the house. Kenneth walked up as the driver got out.
"Didn't think you were gonna get here first. Me and Dave drove right past ya back in California." The driver said as he jumped out of the van.
"Yeah. Radiator over heated, but we called road side service and got back on the road." He explained before getting to business. "Alright, shall I help you with everything in the truck?"
"We'll get it all out first and then you can tell us where you want it. Dave, help me with the TV!"
Kate walked up to her father as she watched the moving men lift up the heavy appliance from the truck and put it out on the ground outside. Kenneth looked at her and put a hand on her shoulder.
"Say, Kate; how about you go inside and pick out what room you want to be yours? If I were you, I'd pick the attic." He suggested as he handed her the key.
Kate just shrugged before responding.
"Okay." She spoke casually as she took the key.
Kate opened the front door and made her way inside. She poked her head through the doorframe as she looked at the interior of the house. It looked okay. Probably needed a good clean with all the dust lying on floor and the wallpaper looking a bit faded. Kate took a step forward and spotted the stairs leading to the second floor, and presumably the attic. She made her way up and found another set of stars; only these ones were leading up to a door. She walked up to it and checked if it was locked. Kate froze a bit when the door opened as she touched the door handle.
"Maybe dad bought a haunted house." She thought as she peeked through the door.
She thought the attic was going to look rather gritty and dust ridden. But to her surprise, it seemed quite spaced out yet cosy. There were a few power points and a Television plug in at least two corners, so she could have all her gaming stuff up here and her TV. It had a nice Look with the inside of the arched roof being visible on the ceiling with no visible holes and it had a nice window in the corner that could let in some sunlight. Kate nodded in approval as she looked around.
"Not bad." She thought out loud. "Got some space for my TV and PlayStation. Can probably put my desk in the corner with my arts and crafts. Enough wall space for my posters and the bed can sit right next to the window."
Kate put her hands on her hips as she imaged the room when it was personalised to her liking. But another thought quickly came to mind.
"The trunk!" She gasped as she remembered what she found in the inn.
Kate ran to the window to see her dad helping the moving men bring heavy furniture inside the house. She took the opportunity to run outside and try to figure out how to get it in without her father noticing. Kate ran out of the house; almost running into her dad. She quickly avoided him and the couch he was carrying with one of the moving men.
"Did you pick a room, kiddo?" He asked as he struggled to lift the heavy furniture.
"Yeah, I love it! Thanks dad!" She greeted with a wave before running to the car.
As her father and the couch went through the front door, Kate opened the back of the car to find the mysterious trunk among her and her father's luggage. Kate suddenly remembered how heavy it was when she tried to get it out of the car; thinking it was somehow heavier than it was when she found it.
"Need any help with that?"
Kate flinched and let out a yelp sound when heard someone speak to her. She quickly turned to see the other moving man standing there and not her father; making her take a relived breath.
"Uh yeah, I just want to take this into the attic." Kate explained as she still struggled with the trunk.
"Oh I'll take it if you like." The man said kindly.
Kate gave up on lifting the trunk herself and just took one end while the moving man took the other. She quickly made sure her father could not see what they were doing. He was too busy trying not to drop the furniture to notice what she and Dave were doing. Kate and the moving man made it up both sets of stairs and into the attic. With a sigh of exhaustion, they both put the trunk down and caught a breath each.
"Geez kid, what's in that thing?" The moving man asked with an exhale.
Kate wasn't really sure how to answer because she really had no idea what was in there. But she quickly made up an excuse.
"Umm... Just some old China that belonged to my great grandma." Kate spoke as she took a breather. "She went to a lot of souvenir stores in her travels."
The moving guy just let out an exhausted sound before straightening himself out. Kate quickly dug into her pocket and took out five dollars.
"Thanks for the help, I really appreciate it." She said as she handed him the money.
"It wasn't a problem." He said as he took the money. "Now back to the other stuff."
Kate watched as the moving man turned and left the attic to get back to work. When he was gone, Kate turned her attention to the old and worn trunk.
"What is in here?" She asked herself.
Kate got down on her knees and tried to open it with her bare hands. But to her frustration, it seemed that the trunk was locked.
"Shit." She cursed under her breath.
Kate just looked at the old lock for a second as she thought of how she could get it open. Maybe a hammer? Probably not the best idea. Maybe... Maybe some strong acid? Kate's father probably packed some to use with his experiments; most of the stuff he does involved different types of metal and its properties. But she would not be able to find any until everything was unpacked.
Kate jumped a bit as she heard her name being yelled out rather loudly. She turned towards the stairs as she heard her father call out.
"Could you help me and these guys with the boxes!?" He called out for help.
Kate got up off the floor and ran down the stairs to help out. Looks like whatever was in the trunk had to wait.
After getting everything in the house and paying the moving men for their work, Kenneth and Kate moved on to the 'fun' part of moving house. Cleaning. Three hours of mopping, dusting, vacuuming and clearing cobwebs later into the afternoon, Kenneth took a breath as he wiped the hard-work sweat off his forehead; admiring the newfound cleanliness of the house.
"Looks like we just bought it, huh Kate?" He spoke to his daughter.
Kate tried to reply but all she could get out was a massive sneeze caused by dust.
"Bless you." Kenneth quickly said.
"Did we have to do this all in one day? I mean we had all summer to do it." Kate reminded as she wiped her nose with her sleeve.
"It's best to get it out of the way so we don't have to do it later." Kenneth replied with a smile. "And besides. When we get you enrolled in school, we won't have to worry about putting stuff away or sorting out the furniture."
Kate just shrugged and nodded. But she just remembered that she had nothing to eat all day when a very faint growl came from her stomach. She made a slight discomforted sound as she played with her shirt.
"Hungry?" Kenneth asked; just realising it too.
"A little." Kate answered back.
"Well I don't think we have anything left from the trip." Kenneth thought out loud. "Guess I'll have to go into town and buy some food. You wanna come, kiddo?"
Kate was about to reply when she realised something. If she stayed behind, she could use something from her father's experiments to open the trunk. Kate quickly thought up an excuse.
"Yeah, I'd love to, dad." Kate spoke as she rubbed her eye out of tiredness. "But I'm kinda tired. I think I should stay and mind the fort."
Kenneth raised a brow for a moment before shrugging.
"Okay." He went to get his wallet and car keys. "Want me to get anything in particular for dinner?"
"How about pizza?" Kate asked rather excitedly.
"Sure; I don't really feel like cooking." Kenneth quickly faced Kate again before walking to the door. "Now keep the door locked while I'm gone and don't answer to any strangers. But if you do go outside, don't wonder off into the woods. Got it?"
"Got it, dad." Kate sighed and rolled her eyes the other way.
Kate watched as Kenneth was about to leave, but he quickly turned around like he forgot something.
"One more thing." He said rather unemotionally.
Kate watched as her father's unemotional face quickly turned into a loving smile before he reached down and ruffled up his daughters hair; making her swat at him rather playfully.
"Love ya, hazelnut."
Kate smiled a little as she heard her nickname.
"Love you too, dad." She replied as Kenneth walked out the door to the car.
Kate locked the wire door as she heard the car start up; seeing it leave the drive way. Kate loved her father. But she knew how hard everything became for him and herself after her mother's disappearance. She never forgot that day he came home; all covered in bruises and cuts; crying his eyes out. She remembered how heartbroken he sounded as he told her "Mommy went somewhere" and he "didn't know if she was coming back." Kate began to stare into space as she remembered how she reacted. Confused. Angry. Upset. She did not realise she was gripping the wire door so tightly as she kept thinking about it.
Kate quickly realised what she was thinking and snapped out of it. She remembered what she wanted to do. Kate quickly ran to the back of the house; smiling a bit as she found her father's lab equipment in a few different boxes. She began to open them by smallest to largest; finding a large array of bottles and jars in the third box. Kate sorted through the bottles; going through vinegar, rubbing alcohol and other things until she found what she was looking for. Acid. Kate read the label on the small hand sized bottle and its warning; telling her not to come in contact with the liquid and saying what to do if she did. But Kate knew better. She was not going to be careless. With carefulness in mind, Kate began her way back upstairs with the bottle; holding on tightly but carefully as she made her way to the attic.
Kate took an exhale of relief as she made it towards the trunk; getting down on her knees and gently putting the bottle down on the flat surface of the floor. Kate took a look at the locks again; thinking the acid would eat through in ten seconds at least.
"Alright, here we go." She thought to herself as she opened the bottle.
Kate slowly opened the bottle and lifted the lid that had a liquid dropper attached to it. She carefully lifted the dropper over one of the locks on the trunk; hearing a sizzling sound as a line of steam came off the lock. She repeated the process with the other lock and put the lid back on the bottle as she waited. Kate heard a faint sound of a suitcase popping open slightly; telling her the acid worked. Kate smiled a bit as she wandered what might be inside the trunk. Maybe it was a large amount of money, or something of great value. Kate gently placed her hands on the trunk and pushed it open; smiling as she did so.
But Kate's smile turned into a look of confusion as she saw was really inside.
"What?" She asked herself as she reached inside.
Kate blinked as she looked at what she grabbed and gently picked it up.
Kate looked at the one she held and some of the others inside the trunk. They looked different from each other, but none of them had strings on them. The one she had in her hand had a white skull looking face with black eye sockets and long white hair. It was wearing all black with a fedora, trench coat and undershirt with black pants and shoes. But one thing that confused her was the blade and hook it had for hands.
Kate looked at the rest of the puppets. One looked like a jester from medieval times with a red, purple and gold outfit with a hat and gold boots. Its' face was spilt in three parts with a rather sad look on its face.
Another was a grinning cowboy with six arms; with six guns in six holsters.
The one next to it was a rather large looking guy with big hands. But its' head was a bit small and pointed; rather pinheaded one might say.
Another looked a bit like a solider, but it had a drill on top of its' head.
Then there was a rather creepy looking one with a robotic looking face like a WWII helmet and teeth that looked like bullets. It was wearing a light brown coat and its right hand was replaced with some kind of metal tube.
Kate just blinked in confusion at the odd looking dolls.
"Who the hell owned these?" She asked out loud as she reached for the blade and hook handed puppet.
Kate looked over the pale puppet and its features. She kept thinking she should be disappointed, but she was more confused than anything. She liked how they looked with the slight creep factor. But who would make puppets like this, and why no strings?
As Kate looked at the pale puppet, something else in the trunk caught her attention. In a small compartment of the trunk, a small bottle of glowing green liquid sat there. Kate gently grabbed the bottle and looked at it; thinking it looked like some kind of radioactive soda. Kate put the puppet and the bottle down to see what else was inside the trunk. Aside from the puppets, there was a half empty bottle of the green stuff, an old looking journal and a small wooden case. Curious about its contents, Kate opened the small case; raising a brow when she found a syringe and needle. Increasing her curiosity, Kate decided to have a look at the journal; thinking it might tell about these odd puppets and maybe about the stuff in the bottles. Kate opened the first page and read the first few lines.
"My name is Andre Toulon. Within this journal, I will document all my findings and events involving my puppets. By making which is inanimate, animate, the metaphysical ramifications of this stirs my soul to be a God, the creator of life."
Kate blinked at making which is inanimate, animate. She turned to another page and read what was on that.
"Today, I gave them life using the ancient Egyptian rites of after-life. I love them like all my other children, like my other puppets they mirror the soul of their master and with me they are harmless, but I fear what they are capable of if placed in the wrong hands."
This only just made Kate more confused. Were these puppet supposed to alive? If so, why were they not moving? Kate skipped to another page; this time it showed what exactly the needles were for. It was a drawing showing a needle being used on one of the puppets; explaining how to do it and where on each puppet. Kate looked back and forth between the syringe and the puppet in the black coat; wandering if this was real or not. Making a rather intrigued sound, Kate decided to try it.
Kate opened a bottle of the green liquid and picked up the syringe. She placed the needle in the bottle and took a bit of the contents inside. Kate looked at each puppet; thinking of what would happen if one of them actually came alive. She picked up the pale one with the blade and hook; looking at the journal to see where the needle was meant to go. The pages showed an ejection point in the back of the puppets neck. Kate carefully positioned the needle and pushed down the plunger of the syringe. When the green liquid was half empty, Kate pulled out the needle and put it aside. She placed the puppet on the floor and waited for what the journal said would happen. Kate watched and waited...
But nothing happened.
Kate frowned as she stared at the motionless puppet; thinking she ripped herself off.
"Well this is a fucking let down." She swore under her breath.
Just then, Kate looked up as she heard the sound of a car pulling up. She quickly got up and gasped when she saw her dad pulling up in the driveway; realising she still had the acid.
"Shit!" She quickly grabbed the bottle and ran out of the attic; forgetting about the puppets.
Kate quickly ran to her dads' things as she heard the sound of the car turning off. She gently but quickly put the acid back and closed the box like she never touched it. Kate managed to run back to the living when she heard her dad knock at the door. Kate let out an exhale before she unlocked it and answered. She opened the door to see her father standing there with a big grin on his face and two boxes of pizza in one hand. He put his free hand over his mouth and made a trumpet noise.
"It's the herald of a new snack dawn!" Kenneth jokingly announced.
Kate let out a small chuckle as her father said there were still groceries in the car. After getting everything out and putting it away, Kenneth and Kate sat down to eat. Kate took a bite from a slice of the pepperoni pizza while Kenneth had a slice of super-supreme.
"So did anything happen while I was out?" Kenneth asked with a mouth full of pizza.
"Nothing at all." Kate answered before taking a bite of her pizza.
Kate pondered on something as she enjoyed her pizza. She was certainly disappointed with those supposedly living puppets she picked up. But something about the journal bothered her. The way it described giving life to inanimate objects with magic. It sounded like something from a story book.
"Dad, can I ask you a question?" Kate decided to ask her dad, even though he's a scientist and should not believe in that stuff.
Kenneth finished his pizza slice and looked at his daughter.
"You just did." He said calmly.
Kate raised a brow at him before he started laughing.
"Just kidding, kiddo. What's on your mind?"
Kate thought about it before she asked.
"I heard this story the other day about this guy who could make things like dolls and puppets come to life. Can stuff like that actually happen?" She asked of her father.
Kenneth tapped his finger against the table as he thought of how to answer the odd question.
"Well, you said it's a story so I don't think it's possible; unless these dolls and puppets you speak of are mechanical." He answered with his own opinion. "But hey; I may be a man of scientist but stranger things can happen."
Kate just made an hmmm sound before taking another slice of pizza. Unknown to Kate, something was happening in the attic. Something that she or her father would not expect or be prepared for. Something that would change everything in their lives.