30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 22

by bdhesse

Day 22 —You wake up with a key gripped tightly in your hand. How did you get this key? What does it lock or unlock?
“What the…?” I say as I shake off the last bits of sleep. I feel like I’ve been asleep for a decade.
I look around and realise that I’m sitting in my computer chair. As I begin to stand up, I hear a clatter. I look down to see an old key on the floor. I had been holding it.
“What happened?” I wonder aloud. I don’t remember going to sleep. I don’t even remember coming home. The last thing I remember is…the prank.
I had been out with a couple friends. We decided to stop by the old abandoned farmhouse. It’s been here forever. I don’t even remember anyone living there. Ever. The last owner was said to have died 100 years ago. Nobody knew why the place wasn’t torn down or resold. It just wasn’t. Now it’s simply another part of the landscape.
Tom wanted to play a prank on the town. We were going to paint symbols on the wall. And scratch a message into the door. We wanted people to think the place was haunted. John was going to mess with the electricity so that lights would flicker. He was going to use an old generator he had lying around. It was supposed to be awesome.
But…I don’t think…what happened? I remember…Tom and John entered the house. I was right behind them, but then I saw her. And now I’m here. But how did I get here?
I bend over and pick up the key. It’s covered in rust. It’s a big, heavy key. It looks like it would open a hotel room door in an old black and white movie. But where did it come from.
I check my phone. “6 am?” I wonder. “It was 10 pm when we got to that house. What day is it?”
I look for the day. It’s Wednesday. Wednesday? We went to the house on Wednesday.
My phone begins to ring.
“Hello?” I say as I answer it.
“Hey, sorry to wake you,” my boss says on the other end. “Can you…”
“Come in early?” I ask. This happened yesterday. “Of course.”
“Oh good,” my boss says. “I’ll see you shortly then.”
“See you soon,” I say, feeling slightly confused.
I begin to get ready before leaving to work the same shift that I had started 24 hours earlier.
Halfway through my shift, John comes up to me. “Tom and I have an awesome idea,” he said excitedly. “You should hang out with us tonight.”
I smirk at him. “Let me guess: you want to prank the old farmhouse.”
He looks at me dumbly. “How did you…?” he began.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” I say.
“Oh come on,” John says. “It’ll be fun.”
“Maybe,” I say. “Or maybe we’ll just…I don’t know.”
John sighs. “If you don’t want to come with us, fine, but don’t tell anyone,” he says.
“No, wait,” I say quickly. “I…fine. I’ll come with you.”
John grins at me. “I knew I could count on you,” he says.
At 10 pm we show up at the farmhouse for the second time. But neither John nor Tom realize that we have done this before.
As they are getting the stuff out of the truck, I walk up to the door. As I approach, I see the woman. She’s old. Maybe 65? She has her long, grey hair done up in a tight bun. Her skin is pale and she is wearing a long, black dress. She looks like a school teacher. The kind that used to smack kids on the knuckles with a meter stick.
“Who are you?” I call to her.
My eyes snap open. I’m back in my computer chair. I look at the key in my hand. “What are you?” I say, as if it can answer me.
I jump as my phone rings.
“Yeah, I’ll be there shortly,” I say into the receiver. I jump up and head off to work again. This time I take the key with me.
“Tom and I have an awesome idea,” John says, again.
“Yeah, I know,” I say. “But can we stop by the library first?”
John stares at me. “Um…” he says. “I guess. How did you…?”
“I overheard you talking,” I reply.
“Oh,” John says.
After work John, Tom, and I head over to the library.
“What are we doing here?” Tom asks.
“Research,” I reply. “I think we should look into that old house a bit.”
“Why?” Tom asks. “It’s not like anyone living here is old enough to remember anything anyway.”
I shrug. “The devil’s in the details,” I reply.
John grins. “I see what you’re planning,” he says. “What should we look for first.”
“You should look into what the last owner was like,” I reply. “What were they like? Male or female? Were they into anything freaky?”
“What about me?” Tom asks.
“Find out about the history of the house,” I reply.
Tom nods.
“What about you?” John asks.
“I’m going to look into the doors,” I reply.
“The…doors?” John asks.
I shrug again. “That way we can mess with them better,” I reply.
“Oh,” John says. “Okay.” He and Tom wonder off towards the computers.
I walk up to the Customer Service desk.
“Can I help you?” the librarian behind the desk asks.
“Yes,” I reply. I pull out the key. “I found this key the other day. Do you know how I can find out what it goes to?”
The librarian looks at it. “That’s an old key,” he says. “Was it an heirloom?”
I nod. “I know it has something to do with an old farmhouse, but I’m not sure what it would unlock,” I say.
The librarian looks the key over carefully. “I’d say it’s about a century old,” he said. “It likely unlocks the house, or maybe cellar.”
“Is there anyway to find out for sure without going out and trying every door?” I ask.
The man shrugs. “I doubt it,” he says.
“Okay,” I say. “Thank you.” I leave the desk.
“The last owner was into some pretty dark shit,” Tom says as he approaches me.
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“I mean witchcraft,” he says. “This’ll be great. It says she was trying to make herself immortal.” He grins at me excitedly.
“So what was her name?” I ask.
“Evangeline Frank,” Tom replied.
“And how did she die?” I ask.
Tom shrugs. “Apparently it was a mystery,” he said. “She was just…dead one day.”
John runs over to us looking freaked out. “I don’t think we should go to that house, guys,” he says.
“What?” Tom asks. “Why not?”
John looks around fearfully. “Because,” he says. “Everyone who enters that house…the reason it’s still there is because the all disappeared.”
“What?” Tom and I say together.
“That house is at the center of a lot of disappearances,” John says. “I don’t want to be next.”
I stare at John. If everybody disappears, then why didn’t we?
“Okay,” Tom says. “It’s just a house. I’m sure we’ll be fine.”
“I’m with John,” I say. “A prank isn’t worth it.”
“So…now what?” John asks.
“Want to go to my place?” I ask. “We can watch some movies, eat some pizza, drink some beer?”
Tom shrugs. “Why not?” he says. “Since you two are clearly too chicken shit.”
John smiles at me. “I’m in,” he says.
“Open up!”
My eyes snap open. I’m asleep on my couch.
“Open up now!” the voice calls again. “This is the police.”
I stumble over to the door and throw it open. “What happened?” I ask groggily.
“You’re home,” the officer said, surprised. “You seem to have been the last person seen with John McAllister and Thomas Johnson. They’ve gone missing.”
I blink at the officer, surprised. “No,” I said. “They came over here, then…the house!”
The officer jumps. “The…what house?” he asks.
“The old farmhouse,” I said. “They were going to prank it. But…I…talked them out of it.”
“I’m sorry to say you didn’t,” the officer said. “We found John’s truck near that old place, but there were no bodies. Do you know what might have happened to them?”
I shake my head in confusion. “No…I…” I say.
The officer gets a sad look in his eyes. “Look,” he says. “I’m sorry to have to do this, but you were the last one to see them alive. Can we look around your place?”
“Uh…sure,” I say.
The police officer steps into my living room and looks around at the mess.
“Good God,” he says. “You’re under arrest.”

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