Amity Park was haunted. Nobody doubted it, although there was skepticism concerning the myths that surrounded the town. However, Madeline Walker was the person to believe every single one; she knew the danger of being off guard.
She was just seven, new to the town, and cynical about the charms people hung on their porches to ward off the so called "ghosts". Outside of Amity Park, it was a running joke that the entire city was nothing more than America's largest Sanatorium, and even at that early age, she would rather believe that than the paranoid looks that her neighbors made at the house their family had moved into, dismissing with a laugh their ominous warnings that the house had not been sold since the last resident, who had gone missing years ago under mysterious circumstances.
It was a beautiful wooden house modeled as a miniature French Chateau with yellow shingles on the sides with a round tower on one corner, a rickety porch wrapping around the rest of the cheerful structure. Madeline was so taken by the attic bedroom and the ancient nursery and had declared the house a "bestest house ever" in the most enthused voice she could manage in her high pitched voice.
At night however, there was something terribly wrong. The shadows were too long and the lights always too dim. The creaking was too loud and the closets too quiet. Her parents didn't seem to mind, but she did. A nightlight became a necessity in the attic and she refused to have her closet door open.
Outside in the town, rumors were a permanent trickle of stories about ghosts. One person was punched mysteriously down the stairs. Another person had been accompanied by endless nightmares. Another person had seen some sort of creature in the woods, but these tales were no more credible than the rumors that passed around during the election of 72' between Richard Nixon and George McGovern, and Madeline's dad was a scientist anyway, apolitical and the essence of a man of logic. The rumors, both ghostly and not, were inconsequential, or so it seemed.
It was strange that on that certain fateful evening, on that warm summer night in June, the Watergate scandal was being reported on television, verifying that the rumors of politics were true. Another truth was about to be revealed to the Walker family.
"Who's there?" Madeline said in a fearful voice as she tugged the covers closer to her head.
The room was darker than usual, the pale yellow light of the nightlight doing nothing to penetrate the gloom of the small bedroom, the angular ceiling seeming to be alive with shadows. However, there seemed to be no more sound, no silent, echoing whisper.
Just a dream
"Or so you think dear"
Madeline hissed and squeaked, but found her voice suddenly dampened by a sudden cold which gripped her severely, chilling through the flesh down to the bone.
The nightlight flickered with an audible quaver of electricity. Dread entered her like a creeping slither up her spine as she watched the yellowish light dim, and then extinguish, leaving only the pale light of a full moon gleam through the small window.
Don't hurt me
Her blue eyes darted over to a shadow on the floor, her eyes bulging as the shadow moved, forming the shape of a shifting mass that seemed to be approaching, holding some sort of staff.
"You are afraid"
There was a banging sound 2 floors below her, something in the basement, something metal being shaken violently. The comforting muffled sound of the television suddenly turned to muffled static. "Mmmmom!" Madeline cried out, but her voice clenched and her throat seemed to constrict, something applying pressure to trachea.
The house creaked unnaturally, a quiver running through the entire house.
I am going to die
She was crying by now, a pent up whine breaking out from her clenched voice and tears running down her cheeks. Something broke in the house with a clear clang. She heard somebody run down the stairs outside her closed door frantically, every step on that grand wooden stair case giving a moan as the heavy weight passed over them. It was her Dad.
Two eyes stared at her from the darkness, crimson and glowing, angular and fierce, without pupils and uniform in shade. So malevolent did the supernatural gaze feel that Madeline's stomach twisted and her heart skipped a beat, resuming its pace even faster. She felt sick.
There was some sort of yelling going on below, more heavy footsteps.
"Noooo deeeath, but cursed Life Madeine Feeenton. You are veeery special"
The eyes came closer, narrowing.
"Beee careful" It laughed.
It was the most hideous laugh she had ever heard, so insane, so unearthly. She never forgot the sound of it; incomparable to anything she had had ever heard. The eyes vanished. A putrid smell filled the room; the smell of natural gas.
The window opened on its own accord, screeching on its track and letting in a warm breeze.
The door seemed to burst open. Her sister, 10 year old Alicia stood there, a hysteric look on her face.
"Maddie!" she cried out, running in. Madeline felt suddenly released, the clenching of the throat passing away and her muscles unlocking. She screamed, fighting off the arms of Alicia with all her might, kicking and punching wildly in her absolute lack of control.
"Stop it you! Let's go, let's go!" Alicia fought through her sister's sobs and fists, grabbing her and dragging her out of bed, towards the window.
Outside was the old fire escape. Alicia pushed Madeline through the window first and clambered out herself.
Madeline didn't remember being dragged down the fire escape, nor the efforts of her sister. All that she remembered after that, indeed, anyone remembered, was seeing the house explode from within, the windows blasting outwards in a glittering shower of glass and flames.
Call it an accident, some sort of horrible mistake, but that explosion had not been an explosion of mere chance.
"Mom, what's wrong?" he asked in a voice that hinted at his unease.
She couldn't respond. How do you tell a person that you know so well, for so long, from the beginning to the end, that he's dead? Maddie said nothing, but only stared blankly at him, or it; whatever it could be defined as, and tried to comprehend what had just happened.
Ghosts had been such an integral, sometimes eerily fateful part of her life. For most people, even in Amity Park, they were either a myth or a mildly threatening superstition, but from the time her parents had been killed in that bizarre haunting followed by a suspicious gas explosion she was confident that was ghost caused that too, Maddie had been in some way or another involved with the supernatural, and, perhaps in error, had embraced it.
She had gone too far this time.
His eyebrows were shooting up in a growing horror as she stared back at him, head slight bowed, her own gaze almost askance, her stomach a horrible pit, a terror growing in her heart.
He turned towards the mirror, and screamed.
It was understandable why. Maddie had seen many scary things before, spectral phenomena especially, so her reaction was more one of grim appall, but for Danny, who was relatively untouched by the frights she had experienced and almost never seen a ghost before, had reacted accordingly.
What he, or at least his imprint had seen, was a partially transparent, almost sheet white mocking mimicry of her son, eyes a glowing green so unusual and bright that they reminded her of the way cat eyes reflect in the dark, except intensified; hair a gleaming white in complete antithesis of the natural shade of charcoal black, and a sort of deathly stillness in every movement that was only characteristic of the dead.
The apparition was wrong in every horrifying way, mocking what life had been a mere few minutes ago with this sort of bad negative hologram. It was scary, in a way that words failed to convey, and more importantly, it was those faint chills, that crawl underneath the skin that was a sign of something that was so juxtaposed to what the essence of life was that its mere presence was wrong. However, the scream, which sounded to high heaven and was far higher pitched than was even earthly, was what broke Maddie into a panic and brought her to her knees.
Danny's ghost glowed a brief but intense bout of neon green before it vanished as it swung around, emitting that terrible wail, mouth opened agape to unleash the awful sound, The lights exploded and plunged the basement into darkness and everything glass, including the small basement windows, covered in insulating clear plastic to keep in the heat, shattered in a further extension of an assault upon the ears.
It's the end of me
Maddie's thoughts turned to despair as she herself let out a human scream and collapsed into a ball, backing up into a corner. She was thoroughly frightened, no matter how mature or how inured she was to such sights, because this was her son, apparently dead, now a ghost, turning to the malevolence that she knew all ghosts naturally did. More importantly, it was that strange ring that she had constructed in a dusty corner with the cursed artifact that had caused it, cause her own son's untimely death in so violent and unfortunate a manner.
The sounds, which rattled the wooden beams above her head and seemed to echo through the small basement, the supersonic vibrations bouncing from the rough concrete walls till they dissipated, fell off slowly, leaving her only to whimper, the tears already beginning to flow
What have I done?
What punishment am I fit to endure now for my mistake?
"Mmmooom?" the word was spoken once again in that unusual rasp of the dead that she was familiar with, but the fear it inspired in her was due to the fear that was in the voice, the voice of Danny, which she had trained herself from an early age.
She could only clench her throat and listen.
There was some sort of flash, she could detect it though her eyes were closed. It was warm, bright, and different than quite anything she had been expecting. What happened next was the last thing she expected at all.
Someone put a hand on her shoulder, tentatively, as though there she was made of glass. Maddie opened her eyes and saw, just in front of her, the dark shape of Danny, sitting in a heap with a hand stretched out towards her. She grabbed it, made sure it was real, and then let out a pent up gasp.
"Thank goodness!" she pulled Danny in and held him tight, the both of them heaving breathes from the intensity of the brief but strange occurrence.
And thus it started…mother and son, working in tangent, to draw closer to each other and the strange truths behind their existences and the strange events in both of their lives and how they coincided and sometimes even were simultaneous.
Mother and Son, Father and Daughter, family and friends, the story of Danny Phantom started and continued on…