Author's Note: Don't expect daily updates all the time. I'm just so wound up in this story that I can't help it. Thanks for reading everybody!
When Kendall felt his eyes open, he looked around to find the bed empty. He rolled over, moving into the middle and sighing. Glancing at the alarm clock next to the bed, the time read 7:47 am. "Ugh," he grunted. All he wanted was to stay in Katie's bed forever and never wake up. It was warm and welcoming. Kendall buried his face into the pillow and sighed. Just another hour or so of sleep and he'd wake up to face the day.
Everything was dark. And quiet. Too quiet. Kendall climbed out of his bed and shuffled his feet along the floor. He didn't bother with the light; something told him he wouldn't need it. In front of him, he heard the clicking of a lock and the squeaking of hinges. His door opened, the dark corridor waiting for him. He took his steps down the few stairs cautiously, the endless creaking of his weight shifting over the floorboards now a habitual noise. Facing the second door leading out to the hallway, Kendall waited patiently; knowing if he stood there long enough the door would open without his help. Soon it swung ajar and Kendall walked on through. With no idea where he was going, Kendall followed his feet towards their destination. They took him along the endless hallway while the tips of his fingers dragged along the wall.
Reaching the stairs he took them one at a time. Slowly he made his way to the bottom and continued to shuffle his feet around the first floor. He passed the kitchen and the den, stopping right before the invisible door that camouflaged itself into the wall.
Next to the door lingered a shadow. The shadow leaned against the wall. Kendall stepped forward, reaching out his hand. It disappeared into the blackness, feeling as though one thousand knives were stabbing repeatedly into his skin he was so cold. "Why?" He whispered.
"Kendall." The sound was musical almost, so soft and inviting it washed his worries away. "Come with me." The shadow spoke again. Kendall nodded his head. Even if he wanted to, he couldn't turn around. His feet wouldn't budge.
He watched as the door in front of him unlocked without the help of a key. The darkness in the next room was suffocating. Not a single flicker of light shone through. Stepping forward, Kendall's foot fell slightly, almost tripping him into the pitch blackness until he realized there were stairs leading down. He gulped. "Don't be scared," the shadow reassured him, breathing down the back of his neck. "There's nothing to be afraid of."
Kendall's mind told him to run. Run as far as he could in the opposite direction and never return. Instead he continued down the stairs, an invisible weight being pushed against his back and forcing him forward. When he reached the bottom, Kendall heard the door at the top of the steps slam shut. He whipped his head around at the deafening noise.
"That wasn't so bad, was it?" The shadow asked in barely a whisper. Kendall couldn't believe how calming the voice was.
"J-James?" Kendall asked, the name catching in his throat.
"Yes?" the musical voice hissed in his ear, sending chills up and down his spine.
"I don't like this." Kendall was trembling, the fear radiating from his quivering body in waves. "Take me back."
The shadow stepped in front of him, a blackened hand reaching up and cupping Kendall's face in its hold. His skin burned from the numbing touch. "Kendall, you really want to leave? If you go, you'll never see me again."
The thought scared Kendall. He lived for the moments like this, just him and James all alone, with nothing to distract them from each other. Kendall sighed heavily. "It's not like I can see you either way."
"And whose fault is that? You must find the answer to see me. But at least you can feel me. Isn't that enough for you?
No. Nothing was enough for Kendall anymore. He needed to see James. Needed a body to match to the gray face of the picture that followed him everywhere he went. "I…I…you're too cold to touch James. Too cold to feel."
James chuckled, the sound echoing along the walls of the cellar. "What do you expect? I'm dead." Kendall's heart stopped momentarily. How could someone who felt so real, be nothing more than haunting memory?
"I don't care. I want to see you." Kendall was pleading now.
"Then try harder Kendall."
"I am trying!" Kendall seethed. He couldn't believe James wanted him to try harder. He was doing the best he could.
"Not hard enough. Do you need a little…push?" James, or more the shadow of his human frame stepped forward, engulfing Kendall in an icy shower of mind numbing pain. He fell to his knees, clawing at his own skin. He wouldn't stop scratching. He peeled back the layers of white skin, shedding himself of the cold. Blood poured from the gashes on his arms, the deep red liquid heating his skin, but only just.
"James. James stop. James it hurts!"
In an instant the shadow was in front of him once more. Kendall's body returned to normal temperatures, or at least what he considered normal, since he had been cold ever since he arrived in this devil of a house. He looked down, the wounds on his forearms closing up and disappearing, the blood dripping to the floor and fading away into the concrete. It was all in his mind, his imagination working against him to believe he had actually tried to claw through his own skin. Or maybe not. Light scars lined his flesh.
"Find it Kendall. Find the answer. Or there's more where that came from. And trust me, that's not even the worst I can do. I can have you writhing on the floor in agonizing pain as your brain turns to fire, suffocating all that you are. I can make you believe your entire body has erupted in ten foot high flames. You don't want that now, do you?"
Kendall shook his head, the threats sinking in word for word. "N-no. Please never. I don't want that."
"It all depends. Mine and your fate rests in your hands Kendall. Don't fuck this up."
Kendall fought to find his voice. "I won't James. You can trust me."
"I hope so. Good night Kendall." With that the shadow diminished, leaving Kendall alone in the darkened cellar. Recollecting his bearings he ran up the stairs, fumbling with the door knob, twisting and turning and practically pulling it off, desperately clinging to the hope that the door would open. It wouldn't.
Cold sweat dripped down his body. His T-shirt was sticking to his clammy skin. Kendall awoke with a start. At first he didn't remember where he was, until he saw the mountain of stuffed animals piled high in the corner. He exhaled deeply. It was just a dream. All just a dream, only it was too real to be a dream.
He turned over his arms, examining the creamy white skin that stared back at him. No scars. Not a single marked lined his forearms. Kendall wiped away the sweat on his forehead, remembering what had actually happened the night before. The talking. The notebook. James.
Kendall fled from the room, almost tripping over his own two feet. He ran to his room. Finding the notebook still wide open on his dresser, he looked at the scribbles of James' handwriting. In this room, right beneath your feet…but what did it mean? Kendall bit his lip in frustration. He needed to clear his head. He needed to leave, needed to get out of this house.
After begging to use the car, Kendall promised he wouldn't return until he had a job. That was the only way his Mom would let him loose. Driving down the road, Kendall blasted an old CD of his, the music loud enough to drown out every thought in his mind. Well, almost every thought. The image of James' smiling gray face lingered in the back of his mind. No matter how far he pushed away it returned, clearer than ever.
Making his way into town Kendall pulled into one of the front spots in the market parking lot. When the air conditioning inside touched his skin he shivered. It was nothing compared the cold of his own home.
Unsure of where to search for an application, he wandered up and down the aisles until he found an employee. Up ahead of him, clad in a red apron and khaki pants was a brunette haired boy just a few inches shorter than him. Kendall walked up to the boy and cleared his throat, causing the smaller to look up at him. "Erm…hi."
"Hi?" the boy spoke the word, sounding to Kendall like a question. Giving the boy a once over, Kendall located a nametag pinned over his chest. Logan. "May I help you?"
"Oh right." Kendall mentally slapped himself for staring. "I read the sign outside, you're hiring?"
"Ahh, finally someone to help out." Logan reached out and took Kendall's hand in his surprisingly strong grip and shook it firmly. "I'm Logan. Just before I pull you in, are you sure you want to work here?"
Kendall nodded. "I need a job."
"Okay, just a warning though. It's wicked boring here. You'll probably end up racking up the carts outside as your first position." Logan chuckled, obviously reminding the days when he was stuck doing the shitty job.
"That's not a problem. Anything to keep me out of the house." Kendall said, following Logan up to the front. Out from behind a register he handed Kendall an application and a pen, watching as he filled out his information.
"You're shitting me right?" Logan asked, just as Kendall finished writing down his address.
"What?" Kendall's eyebrows knitted together in confusion. Had he done something wrong? He looked back down to the paper; everything he had written made sense to him.
"You live in the abandoned Wolcott house."
Kendall glanced back and forth. The librarian had been right. It was big news. "Yeah, what about it?"
"What's it like?" Logan's brown eyes were wide as tennis balls. He leaned his elbows up on the counter, his face just a few inches from Kendall's. "How are you still alive? How are you still here?"
Kendall chuckled lightly, even in the air conditioning his body was beginning to heat up under the strong gaze. "Why? Should I be dead and gone by now?"
Logan shrugged. "Well no, it's just that. No one's lived there, like actually lived there in like almost seventy years. The place his haunted dude."
"Oh really? You believe in ghosts?" Kendall asked. There was no doubt his house was haunted. The last two nights proved that alone.
Rolling his eyes Logan answered. "No. My friend Carlos does. He's a big believer in the supernatural. He once tried to get me to spend the night alone together in that old house. I was all for it, but he got as far as the front porch and chickened out. Now that I tell him I know the kid living there, he's going to flip out. He's going to want to be your best friend."
"Okay…" Kendall returned to his application, filling out his previous work experience.
"Has anything weird happened since you moved in?" Logan leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest, the question catching Kendall off guard. "I'm just curious. It doesn't hurt to ask right?"
Kendall reached up and scratched the back of his neck. "No it doesn't. And uh, no nothing out of the normal has really happened. It's just an old house. A lot of creaking floors and squeaky doors. Nothing too special really."
Logan almost looked disappointed. "Damn, I was almost hoping you'd say yes just so I'd have a good story to tell Carlos."
Snickering at this, Kendall thought it wouldn't hurt to spread the truth out a little. "Well then, in the middle of the night, I can hear these thumps walking back and forth along the halls, almost like footsteps. And there's one door on the first floor that won't open. No matter how hard you try, the door won't budge. I don't know what's behind it, but it's creepy as fuck. Oh and there's a grave in the backyard. No big deal."
Logan was pale white, even paler than what he had started out as. His pink lips were parted into an "O", and unless Kendall was mistaken, the boy was shaking. "You're just kidding right?"
Kendall had a serious look to his face. "Why would I joke about something like that?" He kept his face drawn in a thin line a little while longer, until his lips broke out into a smile. "I'm just kidding you. None of its true. Well at least the footsteps part isn't, the rest is."
"Oh, okay good. The footsteps were the worst of that." Kendall could've sworn Logan finally began to breathe again after he cleared the whole thing over.
"Yeah, no. It's really nothing out of the ordinary. You should come by and check it out sometime. Bring your little friend by. There's no doubt my mom wouldn't love to see me making some friends of my own."
Logan laughed. "Yeah I'll tell Carlos about it." Kendall returned his attention back to his half-finished application. Once done he handed the paper back to Logan.
"Well that's that." Kendall said with a smile.
Logan took a deep breath. "The supervisor will contact you within the next few days. Although you don't have to worry, I'll put in a good word for you." He winked. "You'll get the job, almost guaranteed."
Clapping his hands together, Kendall was ready to leave. "Great, thanks again Logan."
"No problem…" Logan looked down at the application in his hands. "No problem Kendall. It was nice to meet you." Logan held out his hand for another shake. He kept Kendall's hand in his a little longer than Kendall thought necessary, but Kendall just figured he was trying to be friendly.
"You too, maybe I'll see you around?"
"More than likely, I work practically every day in the summer, but only on Saturdays during the school year. Education comes first." Oh no he's a nerd.
"If school is so important to you, why do you even have a job?"
"Saving up for medical school. Do you know how expensive wanting to be a doctor is? It's fucking expensive. Anyways I gotta get back to work. Good luck in your new house."
You don't even know just how much I need it. "Thanks. Later Logan."
Kendall left with a smile on his face, returning to his car. Logan had lifted his mood tremendously. It felt good to have a friend, or at least an acquaintance. He needed it around here. So far all he had was James, and that wasn't enough to hold him back.
Back at home, Kendall wasn't even phased when he noticed his Wild hoodie missing again. Up in his room he grabbed another and joined his Mom in the kitchen while making dinner.
"Any luck?" she asked, chopping up carrots.
"Yeah, Logan said I should get a call within a few days. I'm not sure how much influence he has, but he practically assured me a job there."
"Oh?" Mrs. Knight didn't miss the smile in Kendall's voice. "And is this Logan…attractive?"
"Mom." Kendall groaned. In reality, he never really noticed Logan's appeal. Sure, the kid was hot, but Kendall wasn't interested, not in the way his mom was thinking anyway. "Don't go there. I've just made a friend, or at least I think I have."
"Oh honey," She turned around, taking a break from preparing their meal to kiss the top of Kendall's head. "I'm just watching out for you, I want you to be happy."
"Still, don't push it."
"Fine." Returning to chopping her vegetables, Kendall roamed around the house searching for Katie, finding her reading an old Baby Sitter's Club book while lounging on the couch.
"Can you even read that well yet?" Kendall asked, ruffling Katie's hair and causing her to growl at him.
"I have a third grade reading level, remember?"
"Oh yeah, you're the smart one in the family." Kendall smiled jokingly, knowing it would bring a grin to his sister's face. It did.
"Yup. Now leave me alone. I'm busy."
"More like you're grouchy." He didn't miss her tongue sticking out at him as he walked away. Realizing his sister had an idea, he would read to pass the time. Locating his copy of The Great Gatsby stashed away in a box he had yet to unpack, Kendall laid back on his bed and read until his mom called him down for dinner.
The meal was quiet. Kendall couldn't try to deny it when he swore he heard noises coming from upstairs. It was odd. He'd never heard any during the day. Only through the night so far had he heard the haunting sounds that upturned his every nerve, sending his body on high alert.
"Kendall?" His mother asked. "Kendall?" He continued to stare off into space with a look of shock on his face. His mom could have been in another state for all he cared.
"Butthead!" Katie called, bringing Kendall's attention back.
"Yeah?" He asked, his eyebrows scrunching together.
"Oh, so you can hear. What is with you lately?" If only I could tell you.
"Nothing Mom, just a lot on my mind I guess."
Mrs. Knight smiled cheerily at her son. She had a glint in her eyes. Kendall knew that look. "Maybe we need a family movie night…hmm…let's see Katie! You can choose."
Katie cheered, no one noticing as Kendall slumped lower in his seat. Another Disney princess movie was on its way. He offered to clean up after dinner, taking his sweet time filling the dishwasher. "We aren't starting the movie until you're in here Kendall!" His mom called. He swore under his breath. Seeing Belle or Cinderella was not going to lift his mood.
Instead of dilly-dallying, Kendall finished the dishes quickly and headed into the living room. He took the open spot on the couch and rested his arm over the side. Anastasia, that's what they were watching. Kendall didn't mind it too much surprisingly. He liked the fact the movie was based off of a somewhat true story. Sitting back he enjoyed the movie, stunned that he was tired and the time was only a little after nine.
Kendall crawled himself upstairs and into his bed. He figured he'd get sleep when he could, knowing he'd be woken up in a few hours anyway. Or at least he hoped for that.
Breathing. Deep ragged breaths and hot air touched his skin, awaking Kendall. Checking his watch, always keeping track of the time, Kendall sighed. 12:01 yet again. He rubbed his eyes from the sleep, a loud, dragging scratch down the wooden walls waking him even more.
"James?" He wondered aloud. It was time.
A piece of paper hit him in the head. Search. Now. Time is running out Kendall. Kendall was confused. What was he looking for?
"Search? Search for what?"
Another piece of paper. Do I have to do all the work? Help me find my way back Kendall.
"Oh…that's what you mean." Kendall stumbled out of bed, the floor creaking underneath him. He paced back and forth a few times, biting his lip and thinking hard. Right beneath my feet…right beneath my feet. "James, the only thing under my feet is the floor. Where could you have possibly-"
The floor. He couldn't believe he had been so clueless. Falling on his hands and knees Kendall crawled around the room, knocking over every paneling of wood and listening for the sound he was meant to hear. He waited for the hollow knock to come. When it didn't he let out a long sigh. He could've sworn he'd checked every board.
"Help me out here James."
Kendall stopped and listened to the scribbling of his pen against the notebook. He was ready for the next piece of paper, catching it before it could hit him. Are you sure you've checked everywhere? Come on Kendall we're losing time.
"Losing time? How are we losing time we have all night dammit!" Kendall was getting angry. "Wait…is it under the bed?" He moved his bed, cringing at the sound of wood on wood scratching against one another. Knocking again, Kendall kept on searching, until he heard the sound he'd been waiting to hear. "James! James I think this is it."
Another paper, one Kendall hadn't been ready for. Open it. We have five minutes Kendall. Don't make me lose another night. Please.
Kendall pulled at the board, watching as it opened willingly. Deep inside the crevice Kendall felt around, searching for anything that would help him. Coming in contact with a box, he gripped tightly onto the sides and pulled it up. Seventy years of dust smothered the old wooden container. He blew it away, fumbling to lift the lid, only to find that it was locked. "James, where is the key?"
"I don't know." He spoke. A chill snaked its way through Kendall's body. It may have been his imagination, but James' sounded just like he had in his dream, if not more appealing now. Kendall squeezed his eyes shut and turned his head towards the sound of James' voice. Please. Please don't be a black shadow. Anything but a black shadow.
Nothing. There was nothing. "James?" Kendall whispered.
"I'm right here. You still can't see me can you?" Kendall shook his head, thankful for that, or at least, thankful for no shadow.
"It's locked James."
"I know. Kendall I don't remember where I put the key. I only remember the box. Everything else is just a blur." James' voice was breaking. Kendall couldn't believe such a lovely voice could cry, he didn't want to believe it was possible.
"James, do you trust me?"
"More than anything I trust you."
Kendall exhaled a breath of relief. "I'll find the key. I'll bring you back. I promise."
"You don't even know-" James' voice was cut off by the shuffling of shoes being dragged across a wooden floor.
"James? James!" Kendall cried. He checked his watch. 12:02. James was gone. He replaced the floorboard and put his bed back into its place. Gently, he set the box down next to his bed. Why couldn't James remember? He needed him to remember. How the hell was he supposed to find a fucking key?
Groaning he took to pacing his room back and forth, before remembering something that happened earlier that day. Kendall stumbled over to his door, opening it wide. His smile brightened. There on the stairs was his old hoodie, waiting for him again, just like it had the night before. Attached with it was a note. It reminded me of you. With you comes peace of mind. With you comes the thought of being free. With you comes the help I've been searching for. Keep this safe Kendall, you never know where it may end up.
Kendall hugged the hoodie to his chest and rested the note next to the wooden box on his dresser. James needed him, and whether or not Kendall liked it, he needed James.