a/n: this is something I've had in my head for the past few days and I thought Halloween would be a good time to start it. Alas, I didn't get to finish it last night but here it is now…..
Ivy King shivered as she walked down the deserted street with her friends. It was Halloween and, like all good children who were much too old for Trick or Treating, they were engaged in a game of Truth or Dare. The October air was chilly and as Ivy pulled her winter coat closer around her she was thinking to herself that she would rather be tucked up in bed reading a book or watching Hammer Horror movies with her parents than playing this stupid game. At sixteen years of age she was coming to the firm conclusion that games like Truth or Dare were far below her level of maturity and, therefore, not really worthy of her time.
As she was thinking this she noticed movement out of the corner of her eye and looked in the direction of the Aikman funeral parlour. She shivered again and prayed to get as far away from the place as possible. She wasn't entirely sure what had happened in there but she knew she didn't get a good feeling from it. Unfortunately, it seemed that her friends had decided this would be the perfect location for their next dare and stopped right on its front lawn.
"How about we tell ghost stories instead of playing more truth or dare?" asked Billy Williamson.
The boys answered him with a chorus of nods and encouraging responses while the girls just shrugged timidly. It was obvious that they would rather do anything else but tell ghost stories outside of the house that most of their neighbours avoided like the plague and yet they didn't want to not seem 'cool' to the boys. If it wasn't for the fact that she had promised her best friend Elsie that she would come out with them, Ivy would have absconded around the time that Marcus Lowe had been dared to streak in front of the school whilst singing the national anthem. Sometimes she cursed being the good friend that she was. Everybody had already sat on the lawn in front of the house while Ivy stayed standing, looking nervously at the front door of the abandoned house.
"Oh come on, Ives. You aren't afraid of little ole Jonah are you?" asked Darren Craven with a smirk.
Ivy crossed her arms and rolled her eyes at the idiot boy who was looking up at her with a mischievous look on his face, waiting for her to give him something to work with.
"Who's Jonah?" asked Missy Carpenter, falling for Darren's bait.
"I'm glad you asked Missy, you see, Jonah is the name of the boy that lived here a long time ago. Not sure when cuz my mom stopped my dad from telling me the rest of the story, but anyway, you guys know this place is called the Aikman funeral parlour, right?"
A round of nods confirmed the fact.
"Do you know why? Or why its been empty for as long as we can remember?"
This time he was greeted by earnestly shaking heads.
"Well, the old guy that lived here, Ramsey Aikman, was a mortician. People reckon he wasn't all there, and not the right person to be bringing up a young boy but nobody said anything when little Jonah came to live with him. He was Aikmans apprentice but very soon people found out that wasn't exactly all Aikman wanted him for…"
"I swear to God Darren, if this is some perverted story I don't want to hear about it. Its bad enough Tommy keeps telling me to stay away from that old guy who stacks shelves at the library" Danielle Prescott whined, flicking her long blonde hair behind her and straightening her head band.
Ivy scoffed and sat cross legged beside her friends, "Mr. Olsen is not a pervert, he just likes to keep to himself", she assured them. She spoke to Mr. Olsen everyday when she dropped off books and he had even walked her home one night when she had lost track of time working on a history project. He was just a lonely old man and it was a shame that people would say things like that about him.
"Ok, forget about Mr. Olsen. I wasn't going to say something dirty about Aikman either. No, what he did to poor Jonah is something you would never guess" Darren grimaced as he looked up at the old house.
Ivy had to admit, even she was interested now, even though what Darren was saying was probably all lies, she couldn't deny it was an intriguing story.
"As Jonah got older people began to notice how sensitive he seemed. He rarely came outside the house and when he did it was always at Aikmans side. He was pale and drawn and always dressed in the same old tattered clothes. People could see the controlling influence Aikman had on him but they weren't sure why he was so possesive of the boy. Then, out of nowhere, a notice went out in the papers that there was going to be a séance held at the Aikman parlour. People came from all over town and were surprised to see Jonah sitting at a round table, surrounded by rich folks. He held their hands and started spouting a load of gibberish. He told people that their family members were contacting him and took their money for his troubles. Of course, it was all Aikmans idea and pretty soon people came from all over the world to see the wonder boy. After a while weird stuff would happen and stuff would come out of Jonah's mouth-like goo or something"
"Yeah right" Evan Myers scoffed, "I believed you up until then but there's no way he made stuff come out of his mouth"
"Oh you believe that he spoke to dead people but not that" Ivy teased.
"Shut up" Evan countered, his face as red as his roots.
"Guys, I'm getting to the good part, don't you wanna hear it?" Darren asked.
"Go ahead" Evan mumbled, silently glaring at Ivy.
"Right, it went on like that for a long time. As well as their regular funeral home duties, Aikman and Jonah were holding séances almost every night, until one night something went wrong. It was a private meeting, for very select clientele. No one knows what really happened, only that when the housekeeper came in the next morning she found the dead bodies of Aikman and the participants, but Jonah was nowhere to be found" Darren finished, punctuating the last four words.
"What happened to him?" cried Missy.
"Nobody knows" Darren said before leaning his head in, everybody following him, "Some say he grew tired of being Aikmans puppet, that he killed them all and took the money, others say something far worse happened to him and that he's still in there, trapped for all eternity"
Ivy felt a chill go down her spine again and jumped up from the ground.
"That's a load of crap, you guys don't actually believe this do you?" she asked the others.
Darren got up from his position on the ground and advanced toward her.
"If you don't think its true then why don't you don't you go inside and take a look around for yourself?"
Ivy sighed, "What would that prove, other than the fact that I'd be an idiot to listen to you"
"No, I think he's right" Evan chimed in, "If there's nothing there you'll be completely safe and have proved that Darren is full of shit. If not, well, it was nice knowing you"
"Fine" Ivy huffed "I'll do it. Even if its just to prove that you are an idiot and that I, as usual, am right"
Ivy moved toward the house when Elsie gripped onto her arm and stood up beside her.
"Ivy come on, lets go home. You don't need to prove anything to them. Lets go back and watch Bride of Frankenstein with your mom and dad"
"No, I'll be fine Elsie. I'll just go in, take a look around and then come back out"
"Hmm, I don't know if it will be that simple" Darren mused.
"Oh, what now. Would you like me to bring Jonah's skeleton back with me as a souvenir?" Ivy snapped in irritation.
"Not exactly" Darren smirked evilly, "But something from the basement should do the trick"
"What if I don't find anything?"
"Improvise" he smirked.
"Fine" she muttered one more time before stalking toward the house.
She hesitated for a split second at the bottom of the wooden stair before gripping the railing and making her way up. She took one last look at the group staring up at her from the lawn, a mixture of shock and awe evident on their faces. Off to the side she could see Elsie biting her lip and wringing her hands together. She shot her friend a reassuring smile and pushed on the front door, surprised when it gave way so easily.
The smell that hit her nose was musty but not so bad that the place would have been empty for very long. The estate agent must drop by every now and then to air the place out, Ivy mused to herself. As she became accustomed to the dim lighting she felt her way along the corridor. As she passed below the stairway she thought she saw a shadow dart by on the landing. She looked up and confirmed that there was nothing there. Shaking her head and cursing Darren for making her normally logical mind so confused, she passed by the kitchen and came to a door that she presumed lead to the basement. She pushed on it, praying slightly that it would be locked, and cursed her luck when it swung open without any hesitation. She carefully made her way down in the dark, stumbling slightly when she reached the bottom.
The moonlight was shinning through a window that looked out on the backyard and it cast an eerie light on what appeared to be a stone walled basement. There didn't appear to be any kind of souvenir she could bring back to shut Darren up but she noticed a pair of double doors on the other side of the room. She approached them and tried to open them but they wouldn't budge. She shook them loudly in an attempt to loosen them but it was no use, she laid her head on the doors and sighed in frustration.
She couldn't tell the exact moment that something had changed in the room but all of a sudden it seemed that all the everyday noises from outside had disappeared and all that remained was her own harsh breathing. Yet, as she held her breath in fear, she realised it wasn't her breathing she had heard at all. A cold breath billowed past her ear and she turned, shaking, hoping to find Darren or one of the other boys behind her. What she saw when she turned around was like nothing she had ever seen before in her life. A mummified corpse with odd writing adorning its body was standing right in front of her, its reddened eyes glaring at her hatefully. She opened her mouth to scream and it lunged toward her.
Ivy squeezed her eyes shut, waiting for her life to end. Instead of the attack she was expecting, she was surprised to feel a cold, rough hand caressing her cheek. She opened her eyes and found a boy her age standing before her, he smiled a hesitant half smile. The badly burnt skin on his face crinkling as he did so. The only thing that looked truly human about him were his electric blue eyes, they looked so sad and scared.
Then, he was gone.
Ivy stood in shock for a few moments before hurtling form the old house. She ran past her friends and ignored the cries that they sent after her. She didn't stop running until she was safely tucked up in her bed and it seemed like what she had experienced was nothing but a nightmare.
She never spoke to that group of friends again, never spoke to anyone really. She kept to herself and stayed as far away from that house as possible. Eventually she went off to college in New York and time and distance made her forget what she had encountered that night.
Until one day, years later, she opened the newspaper and the coffee cup she had been cradling in her hands clattered to the floor. Right before her, on a double page spread, was a photograph of the Aikman house. It had been badly burnt, a shell of what it once was. Smaller photos littered the following pages. Many were of a family and a young man with a weary face, but there was one that stood out to Ivy, a pale young boy with electric blue eyes. The story that followed was one of horror, a tale that seemed completely implausible.
If not for that night when she was only sixteen years old, and completing a foolish dare, she would never have believed it.