Final Fantasy VII
The Spirit of Adventure
Notes: The characters from the games (and one from a TV show) are not mine, and the other characters and the story are! This was totally inspired by the 31 Days prompt Sleeping with ghosts. I hope I've written alright for Denzel; I find him difficult to portray in this setting. One of his friends is from Yu-Gi-Oh! and I'm using the Duel Monsters anime personality instead of anything from the manga, just to clear up possible confusion for at least one person whom I know reads the manga. His other friends are Twilight and Dawn versions of two Kingdom Hearts characters of mine. I figured, why bother creating entirely new characters when I already had a couple of perfectly good ones to use. Thanks to Kaze and Lisa for plot help, and to Kaze again for the amusing title!
Denzel had been a relatively quiet youth for several years, especially after the plate had fallen on Midgar and killed his parents. He had started to open up again after Cloud and Tifa had taken him in, though it had been a while before he had let it happen. He had not wanted to get attached to new people only to lose them as well. But Cloud and Tifa had been allowed to adopt him and he had begun to warm up to them. They soon were filling the needed adult roles in his life, while Marlene was like his sister.
By the time they had ended up on Earth he had been curious and had wanted to find friends among the local children. He missed the friends he had made on Gaia, but Cloud had suggested that he try to find other friends here. Denzel had associated with a good number of the children on Gaia, but he had not been especially close to many. Cloud hoped that maybe here, in this new environment, Denzel would be able to discover those who would be loyal and close companions.
Perhaps it had been the fact of his guardian being a successful businessman that had attracted the attention of a local CEO's younger brother--Mokuba Kaiba. He had quickly befriended Denzel at school, and to Denzel's relief the boy was not stuck up or a snob, as Denzel had feared a rich kid might be. Instead he was very friendly, as well as somewhat lonely. According to him, those who did not think he was snooty were jealous of him and avoided him because of that, which Denzel found completely stupid.
Mokuba had managed to find a couple of friends with whom he was with after school, and he had introduced Denzel to them as well. Billy, always adventurous and sometimes liking a good fight, was the self-appointed leader. In general Denzel had learned how to deal with him, by humoring him and staying calm and rational, but sometimes even Denzel had enough of Billy's obnoxious behavior. Then again, Billy had that effect on all of them. Yet in spite of his often rude and callous attitude, he truly did not want harm to come to any of them. Maybe that was why they put up with him.
Sun, the only girl, was quiet--unless she was arguing with Billy. Usually she acted as though she would rather be by herself instead of with the group. Denzel suspected that she highly admired Sephiroth, judging from the way she intently watched each Jenova Corp press conference and read each newspaper article. But she never asked him what Sephiroth was doing or really anything about him, for which Denzel was grateful. If she did, he would likely wonder if she wanted to be his friend solely because he knew Sephiroth. He sometimes wondered if she wanted to be friends at all anyway.
One day as they gathered by the oak tree near the school gates, Billy told of a new and exciting plan for that night.
"Hey," he said, "you know that big old house near the suburbs where no one's lived for years?"
Denzel did. He often passed it on his way home from school, and he really had no desire to get any closer to it than that. Tifa had said it looked dangerous, and it no doubt was true. The paint was peeling, the front window was broken, and the wooden porch was sagging. If the roof leaked, and it looked like it might, then the floor inside was probably rotted away.
"What about it?" he asked now. As an afterthought he decided that sounded like Cloud.
Billy leaned forward, as if he was going to reveal a juicy secret. "It's supposed to be haunted!" he declared.
Mokuba looked worried. "Haunted by what?" he wanted to know.
"I don't know." Billy frowned. "Just some ghost. Probably the ghost of somebody who used to live there."
"Who cares?" Sun spoke, crossing her arms. "Do you know how many places in this city are probably haunted, Billy?"
Billy glowered at her. "But this one is right near us!" he exclaimed. "And we're going to go look at it."
Denzel's stomach knotted. "It's not safe there!" he said. "I walk by it all the time and . . ."
"So you're too scared to go?" Billy mocked.
Denzel frowned. "That's not it!" he said. "The floor's probably been rotting away and we'd fall through it!"
"I really don't think we should go," Mokuba added. Denzel had the feeling that Mokuba mainly did not want to encounter whatever was haunting the place. Denzel had suspected for some time that Mokuba had already met more than one unfriendly spirit, from things he had said and his reaction to the supernatural in general. And though Denzel had never told Mokuba that he actually hailed from another planet, something told him that Mokuba would be able to accept it quickly if he knew.
Billy was not pleased. "So I'm the only one here who has the guts for this mission?" he grumped.
Sun shrugged. "They're smart enough not to go, and I just don't care," she said.
"You never care," Billy retorted. "I bet you and that idol of yours would get along just great! You've always acted as closed off as he does."
Sun did not offer a reply.
Billy pushed himself away from the tree. "Well, I'm going alone if I have to," he declared. "If anybody else changes their minds, I'm going over at midnight."
"Midnight?!" Denzel exclaimed.
"Sure. It's called the bewitching hour, isn't it?" Billy smirked. "And I wanna see this ghost."
"You probably will, then," Sun told him. "But it's stupid."
"You're just scared," Billy jeered.
"Am not!" Sun glowered.
Denzel shook his head in disbelief. This was sounding more and more stupid. And he was not in the mood to watch those two get into another fight. Sun was as fond of rough-housing as Billy was--sometimes, anyway. They did not always just exchange verbal barbs.
But Billy did not seem to want a confrontation now any more than Denzel did. "Whatever. See you, suckers!" he called then, hurrying out through the gate as he headed for his home. "I'll be sure to tell you tomorrow all about what happened."
Mokuba looked to the others when the red-haired boy had disappeared from view. "He'll really go there, too," he said, looking worried. "I don't know . . . maybe we should go after him, to make sure he doesn't hurt himself or something."
Denzel frowned. "Yeah, maybe," he agreed. He did not like it at all, but Billy should not go alone. And even if they told his parents, he would probably still find a way to get out of the house if he wanted. He was crafty that way.
Sun sighed. "Well, if we're going to go, we should have everything ready that we might need if there's trouble," she said. "First aid kits, food rations, cellphones. . . ."
Denzel gave a slow nod. This was sounding worse all the time. He did not want to run the risk of anyone getting hurt in that house, including himself. "I should probably tell Cloud and Tifa," he said then.
"Hey . . ." Mokuba frowned. "You don't think he said he'd go at midnight just to throw us off, do you? I mean, maybe he's going there right now."
Sun did not look pleased. "He'd do it," she said.
This was not what Denzel wanted to hear. "We'd better go there right now!" he said.
No one protested.
The house did not look any more inviting than it ever had. In fact, with the overcast day and the dark and shattered windows, it looked even worse. Maybe almost like some house monster glaring and gaping to swallow them. That sounded stupid, and yet as they approached, Denzel could not shake off the eerie feeling. He did not want to say or even consider that he was afraid. Cloud never would! But it really did not seem very appealing to think of going inside.
"The front door's flapping in the wind," Mokuba exclaimed, pointing to it.
"That doesn't mean Billy's here," Sun said. "It could just be too old to stay shut."
Denzel took a deep breath. "Well, we need to go up and look," he said. "And we have to be careful about the porch! The steps don't look strong."
Mokuba looked from him to Sun. "Who's going to go up first?" he asked. "They might break if we all go together."
"I'll go," Denzel said, swallowing the lump in his throat as he took a step forward, then another. It was just an old house. It smelled really musty too. It probably had not been lived in for years. That was how rumors about ghosts got started. The wind was whistling through the open doorway now. That was likely what the other kids had mistaken for ghostly noises.
He placed a foot on the bottom step. It squealed in protest, the old wood beginning to sag under his weight. Frowning, he slid his foot over to the side. Most people walked in the center of the steps, so maybe the sides would be more sturdy. And it did seem like it was stronger. There were not any sounds, at least. Gripping the banister with caution so as not to catch splinters, he ascended as fast as he dared.
When he was on the porch, he heard the others starting to come up behind him. But he did not turn to look. Now that he was this close to the ominous opening, turning away from it for even a moment did not seem like a good idea. Through the doorway, the furniture could be seen covered with sheets. The odd shapes would not bother him in a normal, well-lit setting, but it was quite different when he was staring into a mostly darkened room. And . . . had one of the sheets just moved? If it had, it was probably Billy trying to scare them. Or maybe a mouse.
"Let's go in," he said. He narrowed his eyes, glaring at the suspicious sheet off in the corner of the room. Now it was still.
Sun walked past him. "There's nothing to be scared of," she said, stepping into the doorway. She brushed several wavy locks of hair away from her face as she stood in the lonely and abandoned living room. The floor was still intact for the most part, though it did look like the roof had leaked over near the wall. That would not be a wise place to walk.
"I'm not scared!" Denzel retorted defensively.
"Let's just find Billy and go," Mokuba said. "If he's even here." He frowned. Maybe they were wrong and he was home. They should have checked. Instead they had come straight here.
"Oh, he's here." Sun bent down, picking up something that had fallen to the floor. "This is one of his trading cards." She waved it at the boys before slipping it into her pocket.
Both Denzel and Mokuba came in now, hurrying to get past the still-moving door. It shut with a bang. All three children jumped.
Sun frowned, looking over her shoulder as she placed her hands on her hips. "That wasn't funny," she scolded.
"We didn't do it!" Mokuba protested.
"It was just the wind or something." Denzel moved past them, advancing further into the room. It was a weird coincidence, that the door had closed once they were inside. He certainly did not disbelieve in ghosts, but he had really hoped there would not be one here. He had never had to consider the possibility of facing something such as that, and especially not in a situation like this. It was a lot different than fighting something you could see, even if what you could see was a beast like Bahamut SIN. He would rather take on that thing than a ghost.
Sun walked back to the door, grabbing the knob. Her eyes widened. "It's stuck!" she cried.
Mokuba gawked. "So we're trapped in here?!" he gasped.
"We can get out through a window if we have to," Denzel said, hoping that a tremor had not sneaked into his voice. This really was getting creepy. If there was a ghost here, it seemed to want them to stay.
"Maybe Billy's already out and he's on the other side of the door." Sun let go of the knob, crossing to the nearest window and peering outside. No one visible was on the porch. Sun frowned, letting the yellowed curtain fall back into place as she turned away.
"Hey," Denzel frowned, noticing something disturbing on the mantel. "We've been in here maybe five minutes. And it was about four when we got here. But this clock here says six!"
Sun hurried over to look at it. "It's not broke, either," she said. "It's ticking." She shrugged. "But the clocks around here have probably gotten way off track while no one's been living here."
"Yeah, I guess." But Denzel still did not like it. He turned away, eager to get away from the ominous object.
Mokuba, meanwhile, had not noticed the timepiece. He was making his way to the hallway at the back of the living room. "Hello?" he called. "Billy?" But there was not an answer. His voice resonated in an eerie way through the lonely corridor.
"We shouldn't split up," Denzel said, catching up with him. Sun was following closely right behind. "We should be able to go through all the rooms fast even if we stay together."
Sun nodded. "If someone starts to fall through the floor or gets caught by some vagrant, then there'll be people right there to help."
Mokuba peered into what looked like a dining room. "A vagrant?" he repeated, staring at the well-worn table. It looked so rickety that it would probably collapse the moment it was touched. Thick cobwebs were adorning the old chairs. Definitely not an inviting scene.
"Why not? They'd probably love a place like this, just to have a roof over their heads." Sun walked into the room. A dust cloud rose from the carpet.
Denzel coughed, covering his nose and mouth. "I don't think Billy could've came in here!" he exclaimed.
"Yeah! There probably hasn't been anyone in here since the place was abandoned!" Mokuba said, waving away the particles.
Sun walked around the room anyway, ending up near a door on the opposite side. "Let's see where this leads," she said, reaching for the handle.
At the same moment, Denzel noticed something very strange out of the corner of his eye. He frowned, shifting to look in the direction of the table. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Yet he could have sworn he had seen . . .
"What is it?" Mokuba asked.
"Nothing," Denzel said. He looked back to Sun. She had opened the door and was peering into the space beyond it.
And a chair shot out from the table and slid across the room, crashing into the back of her legs. A surprised yelp tore from her lips as she crashed down on the suddenly animate furniture. Immediately she turned to stare at the boys, who were staring back from the doorway. It was hard to say who was more shocked.
"We didn't do that, either!" Mokuba gasped, gesturing at the chair.
Sun leaped up, for the first time a note of fear coming into her eyes. "Well, something did!" she retorted.
Denzel swallowed hard. He knew he had thought he had seen a chair moving away from the table, but it had seemed too ridiculous to true. When nothing had looked out of place, he had hoped it was just his imagination or a trick of the light. Now it was clear that it had been neither. And it was tempting to say for them to go on and try a different room. This was not something he wanted to deal with!
But Cloud would be brave. He would say that they needed to look everywhere, and of course that was true. The room Sun had opened needed to be thoroughly searched before they could move on.
And so Denzel stepped further into the dining room. "Somebody should stand guard at the door while the other two go in and look around," he said, looking to the opened room next to Sun.
"I'm going in," Sun said. "Who's coming with me?"
Mokuba bit his lip. "You go on in, Denzel," he said. "I'll stay in the doorway."
Denzel looked to him. "Are you sure?" he asked.
Mokuba nodded, gripping the doorframe. He was obviously scared, but he would never say so.
Denzel nodded as well, stepping inside the darkened room with Sun. This one looked as though it may have been a pantry. There were no windows, and the small space consisted mainly of rows and rows of shelves built into the walls. They were all empty, save for more cobwebs that had accumulated. It was obvious that no one was in here.
Sun sighed, stuffing her hands in her pockets. "Let's get going," she said. "There's still a lot more house to look through." And she did sound anxious to get away from this location, where the chair had attacked. Denzel could not blame her.
"Yeah," he agreed.
They turned, heading back to the doorway. Again they gaped in shock. Mokuba was not there.
"Mokuba?!" Denzel burst out, running ahead to where the dining room began. The room looked entirely undisturbed. The chair had even gone back to the table. But Mokuba was nowhere to be seen.
Sun ran up behind him. "He's gone too?!" she cried.
Denzel gave a shaking nod. "It's just us now," he realized.
And he wished so much that he had called Cloud and Tifa before they had came here.
Searching the other downstairs rooms proved to be fruitless as well. Mokuba and Billy were nowhere to be found. The only thing that happened was that Denzel and Sun received more manifestations of a ghost. Dust rose from the carpet in one room without them having stepped on it. A book flew out of the bookcase and nearly hit Denzel. And as they came into the main entrance and looked up at the stairs, the steps creaked.
Denzel jumped back. Behind him, Sun was tensing. Whatever it was, was going upstairs. Was that where the others were? Was it going up to torment them?
Out of the corner of his eye he caught sight of the same clock. Now it said nine-thirty. A chill ran up his spine.
He took a deep breath, looking back to the stairs. "Who are you?" he demanded.
A cruel laugh answered him, echoing around the walls.
Sun frowned. "This might even be some elaborate prank," she said. "You know, like that show Candid Camera." She took a step forward. "And in any case, we've looked everywhere down here. We'll have to follow it upstairs."
"Yeah." Denzel nodded, reaching for the banister.
Something grabbed his hand, flinging it off.
"Hey!" he yelled.
Sun glowered. "We're coming up there, whether you like it or not," she said. She placed a foot on the first step.
And promptly was thrown off-balance by something pulling her foot out from under her.
Denzel rushed to catch her, managing just in time.
"If we both run up at the same time, maybe we'll be going too fast for it," she suggested, easing away from him as she straightened up.
"Maybe," he said, hesitant. "Or we might both get thrown back down."
"Well, we'll have to try," she said. "On the count of three. One . . ."
"Two . . ."
The children bolted up the stairs, taking two and even three at a time. The ghost did not stop them. When they reached the top, footsteps retreated around a corner to the left. "Hey!" a familiar voice called, and then suddenly was muffled.
Two pairs of eyes turned to look. "Billy!" Sun cried, turning to head in that direction.
Denzel hurried down the hall after her. There were so many rooms up here, mostly bedrooms from the looks of it. The doors were all open, allowing them to see into the age-old sleeping quarters. The curtains had turned yellow with the passage of time, as well as from the rains. The furniture up here was not covered in sheets, and in some ways, it seemed all the more eerie, to see it open and free and abandoned. And it was more than a little disconcerting to see a bedspread turned back in one room.
Sun stopped in front of that room, which happened to be at the end of the hall. "What room was it?" she cried, her hands flying to her hips. "Now it's like no one was here!"
Denzel's stomach had already started to twist. Now a cold chill was coming over him. What if the ghost had done something to Billy and that's why his voice had trailed off? The phantom might even be trying to smother him.
"Let's try the rooms on the other side," he suggested.
Sun nodded, crossing the hall to the first room and peering inside. "Billy?" she called again, moving to step inside.
Instead Billy emerged from the next door over, looking baffled but otherwise unhurt. Denzel stared.
"Where have you been?!" he exclaimed.
Billy ignored him, walking over to the bewildered Sun. "What do you mean by pushing me in the closet?" he snapped. "And then pushing me back out again?!"
Sun frowned, glaring at him. "I've been right here looking for you with Denzel!" she retorted. "You're the one who'd probably push someone into a closet!" And she paused, mulling over his logic. "How could anyone push you out of a closet, anyway, unless they'd gone into it with you?!"
"You tell me!" Billy said.
Denzel felt like slapping his forehead. Instead he hurried to get between them. "Sun's right," he said to Billy. "We came here looking for you, and now Mokuba's gone. We lost him downstairs."
Billy frowned. "I thought you guys snuck in here after me to start playing these dumb pranks," he said. "Moving the furniture, and throwing books, and making that weird laughter. So I came up here to call you on your bluff. But something pushed me into that closet!"
"Those things were happening to us, too!" Sun retorted. "I thought you were doing it at first."
"It has to either be someone living who doesn't want us here, or somebody dead who doesn't," Denzel interjected.
"You came here wanting to see the ghost," Sun frowned at Billy. "Why would you think we were playing tricks instead of it?"
Billy made a face. "I didn't really believe that ghost stuff," he said. "I just wanted to scare you guys. I figured it was someone holed up here wanting to make everybody think it was a spook."
Sun rolled her eyes. "Then why not figure it was that person teasing you instead of us?"
"I don't know!" Billy snapped.
"Oh, who cares!" Denzel interrupted. "We need to find Mokuba. Let's get him and get out of here." He looked to the nearest window. "It's getting dark, and we don't have any flashlights."
"I have one," Billy mumbled. "I was planning all day to come here after school. I thought I might even stay overnight."
"Overnight?!" Sun repeated in disbelief. "How stupid could you be?"
Billy dug into his pocket, pulling out a small, slender flashlight and clicking it on. He moved the beam around the hall in the deepening twilight, letting it pause at each doorway. "So now what?" he said, for once ignoring Sun. "Do we check all the closets in case Mokuba was locked in one, too?"
"We should," Denzel said. "And everywhere else."
"And if we don't find him, then what?" Billy crossed the hall to look into the room there. But he stayed in the doorway, not willing to venture in by himself after what had happened. His pride would not let him admit, even to himself, that he was scared. He was, however, very apprehensive.
"Then I guess we'd have to call Cloud and Tifa," Denzel said, wincing as he added, "and Mokuba's brother."
Sun did not look pleased at the thought either. "There's still a lot of places to look," she said. "Let's keep at it."
Billy muttered, moving down the hall to check the next room. And for the first time that they could remember, he let out a yelp of utter horror.
"There's a body in there!" he screamed. "It's . . . it's hanging from the ceiling!"
Denzel's mouth dropped open. "We were just looking in there five minutes ago!" he cried, running over to see.
Silhouetted against the window, it did indeed look like a limp form suspended from the ceiling by a rope. And it looked about the same size as the rest of them.
"Mokuba?!" Sun screamed.
Suddenly remembering his flashlight, Billy raised the beam, his hand shaking. As the glow hit upon the body, all three stared in disbelief.
"A . . . sheet?!" Billy burst out.
"It's all wrapped up to look like a body!" Sun said in disgust, quickly getting over her own outburst.
Denzel narrowed his eyes, walking into the room. As he approached the dummy, he tilted his neck back to look up at it. The rope had been pulled tight around a stuffed section of the sheet, giving an illusion of a head and neck. The rest of the cloth hung down, though parts had been gathered and formed into crude arms and legs. Also around the neck was a golden locket.
"That belongs to Mokuba!" he exclaimed. "If it's here, then he might be in big trouble!" Immediately he took hold of the ends of the sheet, tugging to bring it down. Billy and Sun hurried in as well, grabbing at other parts of the cloth. As it tore free and fell into their arms, Sun untied the rope. Denzel snatched the locket off of the limp neck.
"What's everybody yelling about?"
The children froze, turning to look at the entrance of the room. Mokuba was standing there, brushing himself off with shaking hands as he gasped and struggled to get his panicked breathing under control. Dust and cobwebs tumbled to the floor.
Sun thrust the sheet away, running over to him. "What happened?!" she demanded. "Where did you go?"
Denzel hurried over too. "We couldn't find you anywhere! And then we found this thing." He held up the dummy before tossing it onto the bed. "It was wearing your locket." He held the small object out by the cord.
Mokuba stared, his eyes widening as he reached for the proffered item. "I thought I heard a noise over by the wall in the dining room," he said, "so I went over there! And the wall swung open and I fell in!" He placed the locket around his neck, pulling his raven hair out from under the cord.
"It looks like you fell in a nest of spiders," Denzel frowned.
Mokuba shuddered. "I couldn't get the wall to open up, and so I had to feel around in the dark. There were some stairs, and I went down into the basement or a cellar or something. Then I tripped and fell over this . . . thing, and when I reached out to touch it, it felt like a skull!"
"You should've brought it with you!" Billy said.
Mokuba gawked. "I wasn't going to have anything to do with it!" he exclaimed. "Especially after I heard the voice. . . ."
"Voice?! What voice?" Sun demanded.
"He said he was the ghost of somebody who'd killed himself down there!" Mokuba cried. Even in the near-darkness, the fear in his bluish-gray eyes was obvious. "He . . . he said that anyone who fell in that room would die, too!"
Billy snorted. "Well, you got out."
"I don't even know how I did!" Mokuba protested. "I kept tripping and falling and there were other skull-things in there, and the cobwebs were getting stuck everywhere . . . !" He gripped at his locket. "He . . . he kept laughing, and I was trying to get out, and then this panel just popped open and I ran through!"
Sun stood with her arms akimbo. "That's pretty far to take a prank," she frowned. "Maybe there really is some vagrant kicking around, scaring off anyone who comes in."
"A vagrant couldn't have done everything we saw!" Denzel protested.
"Well," Billy interrupted, obviously trying to be tough, "I haven't checked the attic yet. And I'm going to look around there, whether any of you fraidy cats want to follow me or not!" With that he walked down the hall to a lone door on the side of the house. Opening it revealed a series of old wooden steps, covered in a thick layer of dust. Unconcerned, he began to ascend.
"Hey wait!" Mokuba yelled. "You've got the only flashlight!" And even though staying at all was the last thing he wanted now, staying in the dark would be even worse. He gave chase.
Denzel and Sun had little choice but to follow. The stairs curved, opening into a dark and crowded room. As Billy shined his flashlight around the boxes, dressmaker's dummies, old lamps, and various other odd and ends, the others bunched close to him.
"This is stupid," Sun said. "No one living is up here, and if Mokuba really heard a ghost, why do we want to hang around to meet it again?"
Billy moved further into the room, the floorboards creaking underfoot. "We'll never have an experience like this again," he said. "Let's make the most of it!"
"You're crazy!" Mokuba cried. "That guy or ghost or whatever was talking to me meant business!"
"Well, so do we!" Billy said, stopping in front of a large encyclopedia. He frowned as he noticed that it was open to the page about death. Reaching out, he took up a section of pages and turned to another topic instead. More dust rose up, shaken free from the pages. As he turned to walk away, the sheets fell back to the original page.
"Okay, that was creepy," frowned Mokuba, gripping his locket in his hands.
Sun moved as far away from the book as she could get.
"We really should go," Denzel said, stepping closer to Billy. "Give me the flashlight!" He was starting to get fed up with this. It was because of Billy that all of this had happened! Something had been putting them in danger, and Billy did not care and was continuing to involve them in it! Who knew what would happen if they continued to stay.
Billy held the device away from him. "I'm not done yet!" he retorted.
"Oh stop being so pigheaded!" Sun snapped. "This isn't all about you. We came here looking for you and that's when all this other trouble started! Mokuba is just lucky he wasn't seriously hurt or killed! And all of us could die if we keep staying here!"
"You didn't have to come here!" Billy said, even as Denzel tried to pry his fingers off of the flashlight. Billy jerked, kicking at the other boy.
"Don't fight!" Mokuba exclaimed. He was angry too, but he was also growing terrified again. Something was coming up the steps to the attic.
The others suddenly seemed to hear it, too. They froze, staring to the door. In the thick dust, their footsteps were visible. And now there was another set, an adult-sized set. And more footprints were being added to it.
"It's up here with us!" Sun screamed.
A cruel laugh echoed through the small room. The children gasped, subconsciously moving closer together as they continued to stare at the footprints. And suddenly they realized that something else was there as well.
"It's got a weapon!" Billy yelped.
An axe was coming across the room at them, propelled by seemingly only the wind.
A collective scream went up. All four youth tore out of the room, practically flying down the stairs, over the second floor, down the main staircase, and out the front door. Miraculously, it was no longer stuck. Galloping down the broken porch steps, they fled in the direction of the nearest corner.
"You'd better promise not to ever do something like this again!" Sun yelled as they ran.
"Don't worry!" Billy retorted. "We're through with haunted houses!"
Denzel had a feeling that Billy would go back on that after he had time to think. But it was good enough for now.
"I think you should take another route home from school from now on!" Mokuba told him.
"I'm going to!" Denzel exclaimed. Nothing was ever going to get him to even walk past that place anymore.
Far behind them now, on the porch of the old house, the wielder of the axe slowly began to make himself visible. Thin lips pulled back into a wicked grin as he tapped the handle of the weapon against the transparent palm of his left hand.
"That was entertaining," he remarked. "The house being built on top of an old graveyard certainly didn't hurt any."
The ghost turned, randomly throwing the axe into the nearest wall. It held fast.
He brushed several stringy pieces of raven hair over his shoulder as he turned again, walking out into the night. This rickety house would not make a good hideout in case he and the others needed to flee their main abode. But the inspection had not been a waste of time. Teasing and tricking those kids had been terribly amusing for him.
Of course, his brother would likely be annoyed when he was told of the exploits. But that was alright.
Teasing him was entertaining, too.