AN: REVAMPED! YEAH!
Now, I know I said that I'd do this after I finished writing the story, but it was bugging me 'cause of this chapter being so dinky and short. (I was kinda pissed when I coughed it up 'cause I deleted the whole thing the first time. WHOLE thing, right after I finished typing it…) So here it is again, new and improved! (Actually I practically deleted the whole thing and just redid it… heh heh… not really, though. I just added and changed a ton of stuff and got ride of a lot more.)
And chapter fifteen's giving me hell at the moment. I have no idea where the story's going at the moment… icky.
Disclaimer: Don't own it.
Chapter One: Beginning Anew
"Bye!" Kagome waved to her friends, Yuka and Eri, before getting in the car and closing the door after her. "I'll talk to you later, okay?" She grinned a lot more cheerfully than she felt. She didn't want to leave….
"Promise, 'kay?" Eri confirmed with a wry smile. "Hope your car ride's not too bad!" She added with a rueful grin. "Your cat's gonna start stinking," she added with a small giggle. Yuka nodded in agreement.
"Do you know how long the trip's going to be?" She asked her friend. Kagome shrugged and turned to her mother in the front seat, peering across the imposing stack of boxes parked between Kagome and her brother.
"How long are we gonna be in the car?" She asked cautiously. Mrs. Higurashi turned in the front seat as she finished rearranging the baggage in the front of the rental car.
"I think the drive's about four hours," she admitted. "But that's not to long." Kagome sighed in disappointment. It was so far… and she hadn't even seen the house before! Only the older woman had gone to inspect the house, while Kagome and Souta had stayed with some relatives.
"Oh…" the black-haired girl sighed with disappointment. "Well, I guess we're going now." She said to the two others who nodded grimly.
"Hope the drive's not too bad!" They called after her as the car started down the street. Kagome rolled down the window and waved. The two of them waved back until the car disappeared into the traffic that permeated Tokyo. It would probably take half an hour just to get out of the city by itself, let alone the drive to Maebashi.
"Poor Kagome," Yuka said to Eri as they walked back down the street. "She's gonna have to start all over again."
The other girl nodded sympathetically. "Yeah. I wonder why they didn't just rent a house here in Tokyo somewhere?" She mused as they crossed the street, just narrowly avoiding a reckless driver.
"Hey!" Yuka yelled at the offending car indignantly. She turned back to her equally irate friend. "If he'd been going just a bit faster, or if we were walking just a bit slower…" She trailed off and let Eri make her own assumptions.
"Yeah," the other girl nodded. "Some people just have no consideration for others." She added huffily. "What a jerk." Yuka nodded in agreement and changed the subject again.
"I wonder what their house will be like…" She wondered. "I mean, I got the impression from Mrs. Higurashi that they were moving into a really big house." She shrugged and maneuvered around a large crowd of laughing high school students.
"Really?" Eri asked in surprise. "In Maebashi?" She asked. The other girl shook her head in the negative.
"In the middle of nowhere…" She trailed off and the two of them exchanged a miserable look. They stopped at a corner light to wait for the traffic signal to change.
"Oh, poor Kagome," Eri sighed with sympathy. The light changed and the two schoolgirls crossed the street.
A lone car whizzed down along an endless country road, the heat shimmering upon the pavement beneath the glaring summer sun. Untended withered grass waved slightly in a gently in an unbearably hot breeze and a black-haired head stuck itself out of the window of the car, long hair whipped back and forth by a muggy wind.
"274, 275, 276, 277…" Kagome brought her head back through the window to glare resentfully at her younger brother as he counted the relentless line of weathered telephone poles as they whizzed by in an even line.
"Souta!..." Kagome ground her teeth and stared at the younger sibling on the other side of a formidable pile of baggage. "Shut UP!" The younger Higurashi turned to look at her indifferently before continuing to count the telephone poles as they went by.
"290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 295, 296, 297…" He droned on as he stared out of the window. Beneath his feet in a large basket, an obese feline that went by the name Buyo mewed mournfully. The smell of baked cat permeated the air and the raven-haired girl stuck her head back out of the window with a sigh.
"Ugh…" Kagome muttered to herself, brown eyes squinted against the muggy wind. Her fingers gripped the fabric on the car door as she heaved a sigh of relief, In comparison to the stifling smell that Buyo was emitting, the warm air was a big improvement.
"Kagome, put your head back in the window," her grandfather instructed from the seat in front of her. Mr. Higurashi waved a piece of paper in his face in a futile attempt to keep cool. "Don't you know that's dangerous?" He reprimanded and wiped a sleeve across his brow.
"Oh, let her be, Dad." Kagome's mother said from the driver's seat as she kept her eyes on the road. The senior sighed and shifted in his seat, plastic bags rustling around his feet. The car was filled with the Higurashi's possessions; boxes were stacked between Kagome and her brother, bags were stuffed beneath their feet, and the heat was unbearable.
Kagome closed her eyes with a growing feeling of misery welling up inside her. "I miss Tokyo already…" She leaned back in the seat, her jet-black hair sticking to the back of her neck. The tall stack of boxes next to her shook and rattled ominously as the rental car came across some uneven pavement.
"310, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316…" There was another large bump and the boxes collapsed on the gloomy teen. "323, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328…" Souta stared out of the window with a gloomy expression on his face. "332, 333, 334, 335, 336, 337…"
Frankly, Kagome wasn't sure if she was going to last the next two hours.
When most people thought of haunted houses, they immediately pictured large, rundown estates in the middle of the country.
And in the case of "The House on Priestess Lane", as it was known by the few locals, they were absolutely correct. The house was indeed haunted, albeit infrequently. The resident poltergeist only woke up once in a while, maybe once every few months. When he did wake up, however, he normally wandered about the weedy garden or brood in his shed.
This time, it was different. There was something different when he woke up this time, something…missing. With a small wisp of pearly grey smoke, the resident poltergeist of "The House" summoned up the energy to leave his urn where he like to sleep and drift slowly towards the house, a vague frown creasing his face.
What was missing? Ah, yes. There was no sound. The house was empty. The poltergeist moved towards the house indifferently. "The House" was like that, though. It had an atmosphere to it, one of quiet loneliness, emptiness, exhaustion. The house was exhausted, ancient.
"We make quite a pair," the poltergeist remarked dryly to the white walls and pale wooden floors. His comment echoed through the empty room. He snorted derisively and floated through the wall and into the kitchen. The kitchen, equally empty as the last room, was permeated with stillness, the cool white walls surrounding him blandly.
Feeling slightly uneasy –he wasn't sure why, though- the poltergeist moved through the wall again, and then another with a growing weariness that sank right through his core, that is, if he had one.
Giving in to the total exhaustion, the poltergeist drifted back through the unkempt lawn, spectral grey toes swishing through the long withered grass that grew in abundance around the property. The poltergeist passed by a large old tree that towered above him and cast its long shadow upon the dead vegetation.
Using a small bit of his remaining energy –why was he always so tired? He didn't care, really- he narrowly avoided the battered and weatherworn grave marker that was placed sturdily in the ground downhill from the tree. The grave marker was yet another mystery in his existence; it disturbed him for some reason.
Floating down the ravine to the old shed where his urn sat, the poltergeist took one look back at the old house through the heavily wooded property edge. It stood alone, the roof just beginning to sag and the dull, monotonous outer coat of paint was grey. It matched his spectral skin. The yellow, dried grass withered in the glaring sun added to the weary, ancient and depressed look about it. The poltergeist turned away abruptly and continued down the ravine, intent on sleeping for another few months.
He had more in common with the miserable building than he'd liked to admit.
Souta rubbed his eyes wearily and blinked. Letting out a humongous yawn, the black-haired boy finally woke up completely from the sleep born of exhaustion and boredom that he'd been wrapped up in. He blinked again, this time in incredulity. "Where are we?" He asked Mrs. Higurashi, who was just getting out of the car.
"This is where we're going to live," Mrs. Higurashi said with a little more enthusiasm than necessary. For a moment, there was dead silence. A soft breeze murmured quietly through the trees surrounding the extensive property, the dried grass waving limply, expectantly as the sun glowed with the dying orange light of sunset.
"WHAT!" Souta and Kagome howled at the same time. A paper bag dropped from Kagome's shock-numbed fingers. Souta stared at his mother, his mouth partially opened in surprise. "NO WAY!" They screeched in unison. A flock of birds twittered and flitted away from their perches among the copse of trees in the back of the property.
"Keep your voices down!" Mrs. Higurashi said sharply with a frown. She turned her head furtively towards the nearest house. "Do you want the neighbors to hear all your complaining?" She moved to the back of the rental car –they hadn't needed one in Tokyo; everyone took the subway- and opened the trunk to pull out some of the baggage.
"What neighbors?" Souta demanded. There's no one around here for miles! We're in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE!" His voice rose in volume with his outrage. "You didn't tell us that we'd be staying in the middle of nowhere! You said Maebashi, and I thought you mean IN Maebashi, not fifty miles away!" He glared at his mother resentfully.
"Hush, Souta." Mrs. Higurashi scolded. "We're much closer than that. It's only a few miles away." She pulled out a large bag and put it on the gravel driveway with a crunch.
"Souta's right." Kagome said flatly, more miserable than angry. "We're in the middle of nowhere, living in a rundown house! I told Ayumi, Yuka and Eri I'd stay in touch! With conditions like this, I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't have a phone! Or even electricity!"
"Kagome, that's enough." Mrs. Higurashi's voice was beginning to have a little bit of an edge to it. "Now, both of you! Just give it a chance, have an open mind!" She allowed herself a small smile and breathed deeply. "Try to enjoy your time here."
The two siblings shared a mutinous glance, both of them resolving to be absolutely miserable. "There's nothing here to enjoy," Souta growled to himself so that his mother couldn't here. "There's nothing here in the first place!"
"Now, could you two help me unpack?" The older woman dumped another box on the ground. "Take these up to the door." With a weary sigh, Kagome heaved a large box up the walk, gravel crunching under her sandals as she went.
"Mom, we need the keys!" Kagome called as she set her box down. She traveled back down the gravel walk, passing a particularly foul-tempered Souta as she went. "We need the keys." She repeated to her mother, who was lifting a particularly heavy box. She set it down with a sigh.
"Here." She dug into her pocket and produced a small copper key labeled, "house". "There you go." She handed her daughter another box along with the key. "Don't lose it!" Kagome rolled her eyes, still feeling upset with her mother. How would she lose the key by walking up the drive?
The raven-haired girl set down the heavy box with a thump and fiddled with the key and the lock for a moment. The door was slightly heavy and Kagome had to push it a bit more than usual to open it. It relented with a weary creak.
The entryway was illuminated by the bright afternoon glare of the sun through the window and as Kagome stepped inside, the curiously pale wood flooring creaked slightly. She stepped out of the entryway and into a large empty room, probably the living room. "Kagome!" Her mother called from the car. "I still need your help! You and Souta can explore after we unload this car!" Kagome sighed in disappointment and returned to the car to help the others unpack. Just because she wasn't very happy about moving didn't mean that she wasn't curious about the house.
Half an hour later, the four of them had removed all of their boxes and had them stacked haphazardly in the small entryway. "Well…" Kagome's grandpa, Mrs. Higurashi's father, dusted off his hands and sat down one of the larger boxes with a sigh. "Now that that's done…" He trailed off as Kagome and Souta trotted off to explore the house. Buyo meowed pathetically by his fee, still shut up in his carrier. Leaning down heavily –he wasn't quite as spry as he wished he was- the senior fumbled with the latch and let the obese feline out of his cage.
Although it was obviously old, the house was had a cool, clean feeling to it. But there was something else, Kagome realized. There was a sadness, weariness. The house was so big and empty. The raven-haired looked around in bemusement as Souta scrambled up the nearest staircase eagerly. The walls were recently whitewashed and the floor, though old, was clean and pale.
But, the two siblings took no notice of this as they curiously explored the house in search of anything interesting. Doors banged shut and hurried footsteps echoed in the empty estate, exclamations of surprise conveying excitement over some of the oddities. "Oh! Hey, Kagome! Look at this!" Souta yelled from a distant end of the house.
"Coming!" She called and made her was slowly to him, examining other rooms on the way there. So far, she'd counted three really small closets, two bathrooms, three master bedrooms and one room with seemingly no purpose.
"Hurry up, Kagome!" Souta called impatiently. "You gotta see this!" She could hear his foot tapping on the floor as he waited for her. "Come ON, hurry up!" He said again. He could hear the floorboards creaking overhead as she walked down the hall towards him.
"Yeah?" She turned the corner and came down a flight of stairs to the first floor. Souta opened a pair of double doors with flourish. The room was big, with a high ceiling and whitewashed wall, like the rest of the rooms. The cream-colored curtains were drawn, and the room was brightly lit by two large windows that faced the messy garden.
"Presenting… uh… the ballroom!" Souta exclaimed grandly. "It is a ballroom, right?", he asked uncertainly. "I mean, it's big enough…" He trailed off as Kagome eagerly stepped over the miscellaneous towards the window. Dust swirled through the air as she brushed by an old coat rack. The room was ancient and had not been occupied in years, that much was obvious. Her fingers quickly found the latches on the large windows and pried them open, letting fresh air enter with a cool evening breeze.
"Wow…" She breathed in awe. The yard really wasn't such a great sight, and Souta snorted at his sister's antics. Everything was withered, dried and dead overgrowth that cluttered up the large space. Souta glanced out the large windows again to see what was so wonderful to his older sibling.
"Well, I'm gonna go explore some more…" He shook his head when Kagome didn't reply and trotted off, leaving his entranced sister staring at the yard. He didn't see what was so special…
Kagome stepped away from the window and stared up at the high almost archaic ceiling. Although the garden wasn't much of a sight, it was just all so big. The yard was huge, stretching out to a size that would fit their old home, the shrine, easily on just the weedy grass. She looked up at the ceiling. The ballroom was undoubtedly western-influenced, with the old, dusty bookshelf that covered one wall. There were wooden boards and some carpentry tools lying around, almost as if someone had been in the process of making something and left.
"Kagome!" Her mothers voice echoed distantly from the other end of the house. "Dinner!" Kagome shrugged and followed the same path that Souta had a few moments before, suddenly realizing with a start that it had been getting darker. She didn't notice as she left the room that two pale eyes watched her every move warily, angrily, like a predator stalking it's prey.
Kagome picked idly on the food on her plate. "Not hungry?" Mrs. Higurashi guessed as she watched her daughter across the table. Kagome nodded in the affirmative. The meal resumed in silence.
Souta was still in a foul mood over their living situation and mulishly refused to talk at all. Mr. Higurashi had found some old scrolls in an old room and was reading them as he ate. The bright fluorescent lights overhead flickered slightly, then steadied. Souta's chopsticks clicked quietly as he tapped them against his plate, an upset frown on his face. Being in a foul mood was no fun unless others noticed.
"Would you stop tapping, Souta?" Kagome asked finally, glaring at her younger sibling. The black-haired boy shot her an irate glance and continued the infuriating noise. "Ugh." She said flatly and put her plate in the kitchen sink before stalking into the living room.
The black-haired girl flopped down on the couch, which the movers had brought in the week before. She looked at the plain white wall in front of her and sighed. They hadn't installed the TV yet, or the telephone.
There was a crashing sound in the kitchen as Souta dumped his plate in the sink. "Souta! Be gentle!" Mrs. Higurashi admonished with indignation. "What's gotten into you?" Even someone as kind and forgiving as Mrs. Higurashi had her limits.
The black-haired boy snorted and collapsed on the beige rug on the living room floor by Kagome's feet. Tucking his arms under his chin, he stared pointedly at the wall and sighed. "How boring is this?" He asked loudly so that the others in the kitchen could hear. Kagome rolled her eyes at his immaturity. When he wanted to be, Souta could be incredibly rude and annoying.
"So boring…" He mumbled and flipped onto his back. He stared at the ceiling for a moment before repeating his earlier statement. "So boring…." He sighed and Kagome shot him an irritated glance. "So…so… so… bored…!" Kagome threw a cushion off the couch at him. "Hey!" Souta protested. "What was that for?"
Kagome merely shook her head and headed towards the staircase. She'd chosen her room; all she needed was to put the rest of her stuff in it. Rummaging through the boxes, she selected a few of her own and carried them in a stack up the stairs, careful of her footing.
The dark interior of the room was silent. Then, something stirred, cautiously, grey eyes peering out warily upon the room. A futon was laid down on the floor and a bureau had been moved in that afternoon. The slit-pupiled grey eyes could make out a few still-packed boxes stacked in the corner. They blinked slowly and faded into nothing as footsteps sounded against the wooden floor of the hallway.
The door creaked open and Kagome turned on the light. She put down a large cardboard box labeled with her name on the neat pile and flicked off the light, closing the door after her.
The bright grey eyes blinked back into life, malevolent intention glowing with promise in the slit-pupiled orbs that looked around the room again.
Kagome shuddered in spite of herself. For a moment she could've sworn that there was someone else there in her room, but that was ridiculous. There had been a chill to the room when she went it. She shook her head and headed towards the kitchen. Turning the corner and walking down the stairs, she took one glance behind her and started in surprise. Her door was open a bit…
She laughed nervously. That was a bit weird, admittedly. The door was probably just like that, though. "Oh, this is ridiculous," she grumbled to herself and hurried back up the stairs. She had no reason to be afraid of a door. That was just stupid. She tromped purposefully forward, her sock-clad feet padding softly against the wooden floor, and grabbed the doorknob. With a decisive thump, the door clicked shut. She let go of the handle and watched skeptically to see if it opened again. It did. The black-haired girl sighed. She was right, it was only the door. She pulled it shut again, making sure that it clicked into the lock and walked away.
Nothing to fear. "Hey, Kagome!" Souta's voice rang out cheerfully. It was hard to stay in a miserable when no one acknowledged it, and Souta had finally given up. "Wanna play a game?" Kagome's feet thumped against the stairs as she hurried into the kitchen.
"What game?" She asked and sat down at the table with the rest of her family. Souta shuffled a deck of cards inexpertly a few times and set the worn deck down.
"What about BS?" He asked and looked around the table hopefully. Mr. Higurashi was reading the scroll that he'd found; unaware of what was going on. "We have enough people." He added.
Kagome shrugged. "Fine with me." Souta began passing out cards to himself, Kagome and his mother. Mr. Higurashi didn't like card games, particularly and was much to absorbed in his reading anyway.
"Soon…" A voice breathed in the darkness. "The time comes." The black-haired woman shook as if to get the voice out. "I'm sure that you're prepared?"
The woman nodded in affirmative. "I'm getting there." She said defiantly. The voice echoed in her mind softly, dangerously, like black silk.
"No mistakes, or it will be your life. You've been getting careless of late. I will not permit mistakes, not for this." There was a deadly promise behind the voice's words, one that she knew he wouldn't hesitate to enact. "Everything must go according to plan. Do you understand?"
"Of course." Her words were sharp, just short of nasty. "I won't mess up." She promised grudgingly and walked out of the dark tunnel and into the moonlight, the wind whispering softly around her as it stirred the grass beneath her feet.
"I wouldn't, if I were you," The voice warned softly as it faded from her perception. She was getting out of range of his influence. "I won't permit mistakes, not this time." She almost snorted. He never permitted mistakes, not now, not fifty years ago. And she didn't make mistakes.
"I know. And since when do I make mistakes?" She wondered aloud as she set off down the hill, the long grass brushing her ankles softly with a soft swishing sound. But perhaps she was getting too cocky. This time, things were different, more dangerous for her. "Besides the first one, that is," she added. The big one, the one that had her in the position that she was in now.
The wind called softly, cajolingly and tugged on her wavy black hair and clothes. It rushed through the trees and rustled the leaves, disturbing the silence and pushing small clouds across the dark sky. The black-haired woman smiled in spite of her bitter existence.
"B. S." Kagome crowed triumphantly. Souta sighed and glared daggers at his sister as he picked up the large stack of cards and put them in his hand. "Who's got more cards now?" She taunted.
"Kagome," Her mother warned. With a final glance at her younger sibling, the black-haired girl looked back down at her hand. "Two fives," she declared. Mrs. Higurashi looked through her hand and selected a few cards.
"Three sixes." She looked to Souta, who was still organizing his hand and moving cards around. "Souta?" The older woman asked. Her son looked up.
"Just a sec," he looked through his hand and grabbed a handful of cards. "Four sevens." Kagome nodded and looked through her diminishing number of cards.
"Ah, there it is." She selected a card. "One eight." She laid it down on the pile underneath Souta's skeptical gaze. "Mom, your turn." She turned to the older woman.
"Wait!" Souta interrupted and searched his cards. "I think that she's lying." Kagome sighed and waited. After a moment of rearranging his cards, Souta told his sister, "B.S."
Kagome scowled and picked up the pile, Souta grinning at her. "Hah, gotcha!" Mrs. Higurashi laid her cards down.
"Oh, shut up Souta!" Kagome snapped. "At least I don't have as much as you!" Souta grinned and laid down his own cards.
"Three tens, but I know I've got the other one…" He looked to Kagome, the smug smile still on his face until his mother interrupted.
"I'm out." Kagome blinked in surprise and her younger brother looked crestfallen. Mrs. Higurashi got up from the table and went to the sink, intent on all the dirty dishes stacked there.
"Well," Kagome stacked the cards into a pile and left the table soon after, remembering all the stuff that she had to put in her room. She left the kitchen and walked through the living room to the entryway where all the boxes were stacked.
Rummaging through the pile, Kagome pulled out the boxes that were labeled as hers and set them aside to bring up the stairs. Picking up one of the heavier boxes, she dragged it up the stairs to her room and managed to open the door. She set the box down and suddenly noticed with a gasp that something was there. Kagome stepped back and screamed as frightened brown eyes clashed with grey.
AN: Well, I didn't make it that much longer, but it's better than the length it was before. I was actually hoping for twenty pages like the rest of it, but that was proved impossible, or at least too challenging for me to try to do it all now. Thanks for reading!
In case anyone is wondering, the weird sequence with unnamed characters will tie in later. (For those who've read the rest, I betcha know who they are.)