NaNoWriMo 2015: The Horrorphiles, Part 17
By Stephanie Thompson; 1,417 words
Click a link to read the previous parts:
- Part 1
- Part 2
- Part 3
- Part 4
- Part 5
- Part 6
- Part 7
- Part 8
- Part 9
- Part 10
- Part 11
- Part 12
- Part 13
- Part 14
- Part 15
- Part 16
Chapter 16 (I call this a pointless afternoon), continued
Ronny thought she’d never been in a building with this many doors and she certainly hadn’t opened this many doors in her entire life. Nor did she think she would ever look so hard for something, two different somethings, and still not find it. What she did end up finding was herself completely lost.
She was in a darkened part of the house, the third floor (maybe), in one of the wings (probably). She thought maybe she’d find Jordan in whatever room he’d been assigned but she knocked on doors and opened the silent ones to find more and more nothing. The rooms in this part of the mansion weren’t even furnished, just bare wood floors and faded wallpaper. She had been asking people if they’d seen Adam, or Jordan, and eventually she started asking for Mr. Peabody too. The last person she saw she’d asked if they new the way back to the foyer or if they had one of the maps and she received the same silent stare and negative head swish as everyone else had.
Now she was opening doors just hoping that a staircase was in one, there’s more of chance of her of finding a person she could trail back to civilization. The other option was to starve to death in a dusty corner of a fully populated house scratching out her final days with her fingernails into the walls like Samara in The Ring.
She opened the door on another empty room. Grey, windowless, empty, like at least the last ten rooms. She sighed. There was one last room on this side of the hall then she was switching back to other. She had been going side to side but decided she looked too crazy and it was kind of making her dizzy. So she opened the final door and it looked like every other room before it except it wasn’t empty. Well not completely.
It took a moment for eyes to adjust because it was dark, unexpected, and only barely there, which wasn’t that surprising since it was a memory. Her memory to be precise. One of best. Christmas morning when she was eight years old. A big tall tree in their living, her mom and dad in robes, and her eight year old self buried up to her ears in wrapping paper (either she doesn’t remember what the gifts are or she has one of the following: bike, easy bake oven, puppy; if puppy he has to die in fire, cause she def doesn’t have one now). It wasn’t still life either, her parents moved, held hands drank their coffee together, looking like something a Hallmark Christmas movie. She was practically rolling in ribbon and covering herself in discarded bows. It was like someone was projecting her memory into the empty expanse of the room.
Then it was like they all became self aware. Like they knew she was watching all three of them turned and looked at her. They pointed too. She looked behind her, in case they were pointing at something else, some kind of danger behind her but there was nothing, they were just pointing at her. When she turned back, they all had the mouths open. Eight year old her, in my little pony pajamas, was pointing and ghost screaming at (whatever age) Ronny. It was the most surreal moment of a weekend full of surreal moments.
Then it was a nightmare. A nightmare she’d already lived through once. Everything burst into flames. The giant christmas trees, the wrapping paper, the pajamas and robes all full of fire. Everyone was still pointing and screaming but at least the screaming made sense as the flesh melted away from their bones like wax melting down a candle. She had no problem finding a voice to scream with now. She screamed and slammed the door.
She didn’t do anything stereotypical like slide down the door or collapse into tears at the end of the hall, she stood right in front of the door, her hand still on the handle like she was about to open it again. She should open it. Burst open the door and kill her screaming with the empty the room. But she couldn’t bring herself to open it. She didn’t know what could be worse than seeing her family up in flames again, maybe seeing it a third time, but she didn’t want to find out.
Ronny eventually had to stop screaming because she had to breathe. Even she was surprised when she didn’t start screaming again on the next exhale. Something in her mind was still screaming like her brain was permanently broken. She let go of the door and backed away but still couldn’t think of anything better to do then just stand there.
She didn’t know how long she stood there before Adam found her. Everything that connected her to reality was gone now. A sense of time, a sense of direction, a sense of real vs unreal. She was utterly unmoored. She didn’t hear him or anyone else until he took her by both shoulders and shook her.
“Ronny, are you ok?”
She didn’t even know who he was to start with. Nor did she know where she was.
“Veronica say something.”
Some dim bulb came back to life inside her and she knew what was happening but she could no longer muster the energy to fake it, to keep going after the cahones. But she still had work to do.
“I was looking for you,” she said. “I haven’t given your uncle the check yet. I have a cashier’s check, I can just give it to you.”
“But . . . You’re crying.”
She shrugged. She hadn’t noticed she was crying, she didn’t know when she started or stopped. The tears were cold when she wiped then away. She couldn’t explain anything anymore.
“I’m a little turned around, if you just point me in the direction of my room and I can get that payment right to you.”
“Veronica, we’re right outside your room.”
“Ha-ha. Of course, we are. Because why wouldn’t we be.” Now she felt like crying but couldn’t stop laughing. A pathetic, hysterical, end of her rope sort of laugh as she looked around the hallway full of people going to and fro, the red runner of the hallway, the bright lights and the very door of her room, which just a moment ago was a completely different door. She knew for damn sure as she’d been staring at the for however long as she’d been standing there.
But whatever, Greyson Manor had to be paid, plus there was a dance to get ready for, a contest to set up, a band to meet and so on and so forth. The weekend wasn’t stopping just so she could lose her mind.
“It might take me a moment, I left my room a bit of a mess last night.” She said, opening the door.
“If that’s what you call a mess, I would love to see what you call clean,” he said over her shoulder.
And with good reason too because her room was neat as a pin. An entirely different state than how’d she’d left it last time. When she’d come back to drop of her phone it was exactly how she’d left it rushing to the panel that morning. Clothes and papers, the panel notes she’d been missing that morning, were still strewn about the place. The bed covers were fully flung across the bed, even one corner of the sheet was pulled up. But now it was like she’d just arrived, her bags still packed, her merchandise boxes stacked neatly like it’d never been opened, bed made, portfolio on the vanity.
“Look, you can pay tomorrow, you know, after all services are fully rendered. The ball is starting in a few minutes.”
She shrugged. “Yeah, okay. I’ll be down in a minute, just have to change into my costume, I guess.”
“Great, I can’t wait to see what it is,” he said.
When the door clicked shut behind her, she kept standing there. Half of her assumed that even if she kept standing there, things would just change around her again and nothing she did really mattered. The other half of her was still screaming and laughing and crying all at once. Neither half were useful to her now. But some mathematically insignificant portion of her said “Just keep moving” and sounded a lot like Aunt Wanda. “When all else fails, just keep moving.”
So she did because she had less than 24-hours before she could leave this place and go home, where all the damned walls, doors, and corridors stay the same, don’t require maps, and don’t challenge your sanity. All she had to do was just keep moving.
Keep Reading in Part 18
Keep Reading in Part 18
Thanks for Reading!