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April L. Smith

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Haunted House
By April L. Smith
Monday, June 12, 2006

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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The sickening form before her reached out a pale white hand smeared with blood. Slim fingers reached longingly for Theresa where she stood, rooted in place.

Theresa Johnston knew it was wrong but she felt powerless to stop the hands of motion that propelled her along the darkened hallway. Cobwebs caressed her cheeks and she shivered as an icy breeze, unknown in origin, caused goose bumps to prickle along the bare skin of her arms.

“This is great! We’re going to have the best haunted house ever!” Her best friend, Evie Sanchez, crowed behind her. Theresa nibbled her bottom lip, as uncertainty gnawed away at her core.

“Evie, this is wrong. I don’t think we should be in here.” She murmured. Her eyes strained to cut through the gloom in the abandoned house. The old house creaked and grunted, like an angered entity, around the two girls.

“Oh jeez, Brett was right. You are a worry-wart!” Evie rolled her eyes skyward and shoved an impatient palm into the small of Theresa’s back, prodding her along. Theresa spun around, narrowing her eyes in sudden annoyance.
“And what else has Brett said about me?” She asked, momentarily forgetting her plight. Indignation flared up within her like a torch. “God, it seems like all he does lately is talk shit about me! I’m sick of it!”
“Girl, calm down! It was just a joke. He loves you. Really.” Evie’s eyes widened emphatically. She hoisted the blue canvas tote she carried on her shoulder. A baseball cap was slung low over her dark tresses, temporarily shadowing her gaze.
“I know he loves me, I guess. It’s just well, he acts so immature sometimes.” Her
I guess. It’s just well, he acts so immature sometimes.” Theresa whined. She thumbed a stubborn russet curl out of her eye and began walking again. She and Brett had only been dating for three months and at first, everything was bliss. He held her hand and took her to dinner at fancy restaurants, plied her with roses and cute stuffed teddy bears. But within the last two weeks, Theresa had noticed a change. He wasn’t around as much, he never took her out anywhere, and he had even stopped initiating sex. Theresa started to wonder if it had been a mistake to give up her virginity to a boy she barely knew, whom she’d only seen in passing within the hollow-y high school corridors.

“Theresa, come on now. Brett is seventeen. Just how mature do you think a seventeen year old should be?” Evie’s teasing giggle tinkled like broken glass around her. Sometimes, her friend could be so infuriatingly haughty.

Theresa clenched her fists at her side, her rounded fingernails creating angry crescent half moons against the flesh of her palms.

“Yeah, whatever. Let’s just do this.”

They hurried in silence into the bedroom at the end of the hallway, on the second floor. Something in the air felt off to Theresa. Stale, but with more to it. The whole house seemed to have a lost, forlorn feel that caused shivers of dread to rack her body.

The town was convinced the house was haunted. A sordid past tainted the once beautiful structure, darkening it with decay and fear. Less than two years ago, a family had resided in the old Victorian, an outwardly appearing happy family of husband, wife and two toddler children.

If Theresa thought hard about it, she could vaguely make out the face of the woman, as she saw her last, the week she had taken over the delivery of the town’s daily newspaper. It had been raining, she remembered, and the air held a bitter, damp bite that had chilled her to the bone.

Theresa had come to collect and she smiled as the door swung open to reveal its occupant. The woman’s cheeks were round and plump, stained a perfect pink hue. She had bouncy yellow curls that she had pinned up into a messy chignon. She was young, maybe mid twenties, and a housewife. That was obvious by the stained apron she wore over her cut off denim shorts and snug yellow tee shirt. She smiled back at Theresa and wiped her flour-caked hands on the apron.

“Hi there! Can I help you?”

“Yes, I’m Theresa. I’m your new papergirl. I’m here to collect for last week.”

The smile hovered, froze, on the pretty ivory skin of the woman’s face. With the swiftness of a cloud shadowing the sun, her smile vanished.

“I see. Well, whatever happened to—to the boy who was doing it?”

“Oh, I don’t know. No one told me. I used to do another route but they asked me to switch.” Theresa’s own smile now trembled slightly at the corners. The young woman’s unpleasant demeanor had thrown her off.

“Well, hon, why don’t you come in for a moment, out of the rain? I can get my purse. How much is it?” Theresa stepped hesitantly across the threshold. She normally never entered her customer’s homes, but the weather was so unbearable that she looked forward to the brief reprieve.

“Thanks, ma’am.” She said politely. Her gaze traveled around the foyer and through the doorway to her right she saw two toddler children, maybe three and four years old, playing with colorful building blocks on the lush carpeted floor.

“Those are my babies.” The woman remarked proudly, reappearing over Theresa’s shoulder. She grinned, her discomfort from a moment before no longer visible. “My name is Lila Derikson. But, please, call me Lila. Can I get you a mug of hot chocolate? I was just boiling the water when you came.”

“Oh no, thank you though.” Theresa hastily replied. “I have a lot more houses to get to.”

“Oh, please,” Lila huffed. “Just one cup won’t hurt.” Theresa opened her mouth to speak but no sound ensued. A cup of hot chocolate would warm her weary body.
She let herself be lead past the living room, down the hall, to the bright and airy kitchen, decorated in different shades of red. An appealing apple border graced the top of all four walls. It was cozy and the pungent aroma of cinnamon assaulted her olfactory sense.

“It smells wonderful in here, Lila!” She breathed.

“I’m baking a pie. I was expecting—company.” Lila smiled forcibly and pulled down two mugs from the cherry wood cabinets.

“Oh, I don’t want to be in the way then.” Theresa exclaimed, concern darkening her brown eyes.

“Nonsense. We have time—now.” Lila emptied two packets, one in each mug, then proceeded to fill them with the hot water from the steaming kettle. A deep chocolate-y aroma filled the room, interlaced with traces of cinnamon.

“You have a lovely home.” Theresa remarked shyly. Lila’s eyes widened and a coy look shadowed the beauty of her features.

“I’ve been told that before. Thank you. My husband’s money does well.” She tittered, as if she’d made a joke. Theresa chuckled along with her, although to be frank, she didn’t see the humor. She then drank greedily from the mug and the warm liquid coated her throat and comfortingly filled up her insides. Lila watched her, a pleased grin curving the lips on her face.

A cry sounded from the living room and before Theresa could move, Lila was up and running. She followed behind the woman to find one of the babies, with fat tears rolling wetly down his cheeks, holding a hand to his head.

“Hit me.” He whimpered, pointing to his smiling sister.

“Well, I’d better get out of your hair. I can come back to collect when you’re not busy.” Theresa suggested and tucked a stray, damp curl behind her ear.

“That would be wonderful, Theresa.” Lila replied, scooping the crying toddler into her arms. Her voice followed Theresa as she stepped out the front door. “Just not this afternoon. My company, you see.” She smiled apologetically and Theresa nodded.

“No problem. Thanks again for the hot chocolate.” She slammed the door shut behind her.

It was the last time Theresa saw the Derikson family alive.

*********************
“Girl, wake up! What is with you today?” Evie’s piercing squeal reverberated like marbles in Theresa’s head, pulling her abruptly from her memories. Her friend had lit a black candle and the flame danced waveringly before their eyes.

“I’m sorry. I just have a lot on my mind, I guess.” She apologized. Evie dropped the bag on the floor and started rooting anxiously through it.

“Aha!” She exclaimed, as if she hadn’t heard Theresa, and pulled an object from the bag.

It was a blow-up doll.

“What in the world—“ Theresa began, baffled, as her friend proceeded to blow up the doll.

“Just watch and learn as I recreate the crime scene!” Evie finished blowing up the naked doll, and then slipped a filmy white negligee, also pulled from the bag, onto the doll. Then she removed a jar of red paint and a brush and began her creation. She painted drips of smeared “blood” down the doll’s lifeless mouth and splattered long streaks along the white gown. She then laid the motionless doll atop the bed, dust motes circling up in a frantic dance from the graying, tattered bedspread.

“That is just sick!” Theresa shouted, clapping a hand over her mouth.

“I know, isn’t it awesome? This is totally going to freak everyone out!”

“No, Evie, I mean it. I think you crossed the line with this one. It’s morbid and disrespectful!”

“Oh quit it. You’re such a spoil-sport. Well, not this time!” Evie’s mouth twisted into an angry smirk. She pulled something else from the bag that curdled Theresa’s blood.

It was a knife.

“What are you doing with that?” She whispered hoarsely.

“Well, we can’t very well have a crime scene without the murder weapon, now can we?” Evie held the knife high in a gesture of mock rage and made mad slashing motions through out the air. The blade of the knife gleamed under the candle’s flickering flame. She burst into a torrent of giggles.

“I just don’t feel right about this.” Theresa muttered. A dull ache had begun in the pit of her stomach, and it took a moment before Theresa identified it as guilt. Lila’s face flashed briefly before her eyes, more vivid than a mere memory and she stumbled backwards in surprise.

“Did you see that?” She half shrieked. Evie stared dumbly at her, eyes wide.

“See what, Ther? You’re acting so weird today.” Evie took more black candles from her bag along with a box of matches and whisked by her and out of the room.

“Where are you going?”

“To light the candles! Why don’t you do something useful and help decorate!” And then she disappeared down the dark hallway.

“God, what a bitch!” Theresa hissed to the silent room, her eyes squinting in the gloom. She slowly turned back to the figure on the bed. Her mouth gaped open in shock and horror at what lay before her.

That was no blow up doll with red paint trailing down its skin in thick, clotted brown smears.

Those were not painted on plastic blue eyeballs that stared back at her in glassy horror.

“Theresa…” Her name sounded softly, yet incessantly, and the figure on the bed stirred, began to sit up, its filmy white negligee clinging to soft rounded curves. Theresa was literally stuck in place, unable to move, to scream, to cry, as pure terror enveloped her body.

The sickening form before her reached out a pale white hand smeared with blood. Slim fingers reached longingly for Theresa where she stood, rooted in place.

“Oh, God, please, no…Lila…” Theresa began to blubber, her eyes brimming with tears that blurred her vision. She shook her head back and forth in denial.
This couldn’t be real! Couldn’t be real!

“Take the knife, Theresa…” The thing—because God knows that couldn’t be Lila—whispered, its voice slurred and thick-sounding. It held the knife in its other pale hand.


Theresa almost peed her pants, her fear was so great. She finally stumbled backwards, away from the evil sight and an anguished sob escaped her mouth. A movement from the corner of her eye caught her attention as an arm slid around her shoulders. She screamed.

“Jesus, Theresa! God! It’s me!” Brett yelled in surprise, almost dropping the brown paper bag he held in the crook of his arm. He staggered under the weight of her, and righted himself before he fell. Exasperation clouded his features and he rolled his eyes at her.
“Sometimes you are such a spaz!”

“But, Brett, look, there!” Her finger shook as she pointed towards the bed that she had momentarily turned away from. Brett’s eyes followed the direction of her finger and his face immediately paled, his lips locked in a grim line. He stayed that way for a moment before a look of disgust replaced it.

“What the hell is this shit?” He demanded angrily. The brown paper bag rustled loudly in his arm. Theresa couldn’t believe how calm he was.
She looked fearfully back at the bed and at the…blow up doll lying there, undisturbed and covered with paint.

“But, but…”

“But nothing. That is just…tacky.” He seemed to be holding back uncontrollable anger, more anger than she herself had displayed at Evie’s “crime scene”.

“I didn’t do it! Evie did!”

“Well, whoever. Just get rid of it!” He roughly shoved her aside and stalked from the room. She stared after him open-mouthed. Afraid to be left alone, despite Brett’s obvious anger with her, she ran after him.



“The rest of the gang will be here soon!” Brett informed them.

The three teenagers sat around the dirty, cracked kitchen table, a long-necked bottle of beer in front of each of them. Both Brett and Evie had downed ¾ of their bottles while Theresa sipped daintily at hers. Her nervous eyes darted about the spooky room noting the peeling, dirty apple border on the walls, the grime and dust coated counter tops, the long since empty filthy fridge with its broken door hanging open on its hinges.

The room was its own ghost, in her opinion. She tried to call back images of it in its better days. But she could not get rid of the reflection of dirt and filth and age.

“This is going to be awesome. And thanks for getting the beer!” Evie said, in a high pitched girly sounding voice. Theresa turned to look at her friend who was smiling sweetly at Brett and practically batting her eyelashes. She cocked one eyebrow and narrowed her gaze.

Is Evie flirting with Brett? She thought suspiciously. Their conversation became a jumble of words to Theresa as she concentrated solely on watching her best friend and her boyfriend’s body language. Brett’s hazel eyes were bright and he was smiling down at Evie as she teasingly touched his arm.

A pale, translucent figure stepped into the kitchen, its filmy white gown billowing about. Theresa’s eyes widened in alarm and she half stood in her chair, knocking over her bottle of beer. Both Brett and Evie jumped up and back, almost tipping over their chairs, in an effort to avoid the brown puddle of alcohol that spread on the tabletop.

“Jeez, Theresa! What are you doing?” Brett half shouted. Neither of them seemed to notice the apparition that hovered, less than ten feet away.

“I…I…” She stuttered, unable to complete her thought, her eyes locked on the image of Lila, blond curls matted with blood, eyes dark. She was holding the knife out as if she wanted Theresa to take it.

“They’re sleeping together, you know…” Lila whispered and her voice caused shivers to race up and down Theresa’s body. She was so cold. And her breath caught in her throat at what Lila said. Slowly, as if underwater, she turned back to look at Brett and Evie who were both mopping up the sudsy mess with the brown paper bag.

Evie’s fingers brushed against Brett’s and he teasingly pinched her arm in return. They were laughing.

“No…that can’t be true …” Theresa spoke so softly that neither heard her voice. She was gaping at them in astonishment.

“They make fun of you when you’re not around…” Lila sighed. “You know what you must do, Theresa.” Her voice had hardened like cement and she hovered closer still. The temperature of the air in the kitchen dropped another ten degrees.

“Brr, it’s cold in here!” Evie shivered.

“I’ll warm you up!” Brett flirted, rubbing his hands up and down her arms to dispel the goose bumps that had formed.

Right under her nose.

They did it right under her nose.

A white, hot rage was bubbling within Theresa’s body. She clenched and unclenched her fists at her side as tears of fury sprung beneath her eyelids.

“How can they do this to me? And right under my nose?” She spat harshly to Lila.

Brett and Evie remained oblivious to Theresa and the spectacle before them.

“You can stop them from hurting you…forever.” Lila breathed. The metal gleamed softly under the steady glow of the candle’s quivering flame, and particles of light refracted, danced in Theresa’s eyes. Lila turned it so that the blade was pointing towards her, the handle towards Theresa. “Just take it.”

Suddenly, Theresa was jostled from behind. She looked into the penetrating stare of Brett’s and her resolve popped like a balloon. She still had feelings for him.

“Hey baby…what are you staring at?” He asked, his breath tickling against her ear. Her heart fluttered madly in her chest and she felt short of breath. His arms were around her, squeezing tight, possessively. “Wanna go upstairs for a few minutes?” He asked, grinning wickedly.

The room.

They would go up to the bedroom.

Without a word, she grasped his clammy palm in hers and under the penetratingly jealous stare of Evie, she led him up the dark staircase and down the hall into the bedroom. Brett hesitated on the threshold.

“Not in here, Ther.” He begged.

“Yes, in here. It will be okay.” She cooed and led him over to the bed. The plastic doll gawked with a glazed stare. She shoved it over to one side of the bed and crawled atop the dusty, dirty bedspread. Brett watched her with large eyes, his mouth parted slightly, breath coming out in ragged bursts. Theresa pulled him to her and he began to kiss her, his lips soft and warm. His breath reeked of beer.

“After he’s done with you, he’ll go to her.” The voice was taunting, and nothing more than a hiss in her ear. Brett’s hands were moving slowly under her shirt and she lay back under his weight. “He did the same thing to me.”

Her eyes, which had been squeezed tightly shut, popped open in alarm.

“That’s right, Theresa. I thought Brett loved me, too.” Lila stood in the corner, her lips tugged downward in a pout, her eyes cold as marble. “He came to me once a week under the guise of collecting for the newspaper. My paperboy.” She laughed and the sound was brittle, mocking. Brett’s lips burned against the hollow of her throat and on her neck. His hands groped wildly beneath the thin fabric of her tee-shirt.

“He always told me he loved me. That he would take care of me if I left my husband. He was a mere boy, yes, but he touched me in ways no man ever had.”

Tears traveled a salty path down Theresa’s cheeks. Oblivious, Brett kissed them away.

“He stopped coming by as much, changed his paper route. I didn’t understand why…and then I found out he was with someone else…sleeping with someone else. The last time he came…well…” Lila motioned down to her tattered and bloody gown, a wry, wicked smile lighting upon her face. “He didn’t like what I had to say. He said that I would be sorry.”

“No…no…stop,” Theresa cried, her voice so soft that Brett never heard. She was shaking her head from side to side, struggling beneath him. He misunderstood and his excitement mounted. “Please!”

“And I was sorry, Theresa. I was so very sorry. Sorry I didn’t hurt him before he hurt me and my family.” Lila was beside the bed now, a maniacal glee glowing behind her glare.

“Do it, Theresa, please, do it for me. Avenge my murder.” Theresa felt something nestle into her hand; she curled her fingers around it. Her sorrow and anger had reached a crescendo and she glared up at Brett who had just kissed her lips. He was panting and smiling devilishly at her.

“Did you sleep with Evie?” She asked calmly. His hands froze in mid-grope.

“Wha—“

“And Lila Derikson?” His eyes widened fearfully. He glanced over at the paint-covered doll in dismay. “Oh, Brett, you killed them, didn’t you?” His fear replaced with a blazing anger.

“What did you hear? Who told you that?” His hands gripped her wrists by her side, the item she was holding still clutched tightly in white-knuckled fingers. He leaned so close that she could see the quivering of his nostrils and his lips curled back into a sneer. “No one will believe that, Theresa.”

“Oh, Brett, why?” She asked, her voice catching painfully.

“That bitch had it coming. You weren’t there Theresa. You don’t know what she did.” It sounded so cliched to Theresa’s ears that a frantic laugh bubbled up within her.

“What kind of reason is that?”

“Reason enough. She threatened me—“

“Threatened you? You killed people, Brett!”

Cold, desperation darkened his features. He twitched. Suddenly, his frantic fingers closed around her throat and squeezed tightly. She gasped as air escaped her body.

“Don’t!” She wheezed, as Brett tried to take her life from her.

“The knife, Theresa.” The voice was soft and comforting and it seemed to cover her like a downy blanket. “It’s in your hand.”

Pin points of light and black struggled across her vision and her lungs expanded in an effort to draw in air. Lila’s countenance hovered over Brett’s shoulder and her eyes shone bright in the near darkness. Her image seemed to wave back and forth like the candle’s flickering flame.

“You killed BABIES.” Theresa managed to gasp with her last frantic breath of air.

“What? Babies? I didn’t—“ Brett’s hands had loosened a bit on her neck as an expression of –surprise?—filtered across his face.

Although weakening, Theresa summoned enough strength to lift her arm, the knife clutched tight. She rammed it into Brett’s side with as much energy as she could muster.

For a moment, his expression was almost comical. Mouth open in a tiny “o” of surprise, eyes bulging wide from the sockets, and his grip on her neck loosened completely. Gasping and coughing, Theresa shoved hard on his chest and watched, numbed, as he tumbled onto the floor. The knife protruded from his side as he lay on the carpeted floor, panting. It was only then that Theresa noticed the faded round patches on the carpet…old, worn bloodstains.

“You stabbed me!” He cried, pain creasing his face into ugly wrinkles. He weakly tugged at the handle of the knife, trying to extract it.

“He deserves this, Theresa. He killed me.” Lila was smiling. It was then that Brett saw her, for the first time. His eyes widened in terror and his mouth gaped open.

“You!” He scuttled back along the carpet, like an overturned beetle, throwing his hands up in front of his face. His blood left a sticky wet trail along the carpet. Lila giggled delightfully, as blood, shaped like tears, dripped down her pale cheeks. “I killed you!”

“I killed you!” She mocked him. She turned to Theresa who was kneeling on the bed, a strained look on her face. “Finish the job, Theresa.”

“No! I can’t do it!” She whispered, pleading with the ghost. “Don’t make me!”

“Kill him before he kills you, Theresa!”

Brett’s eyes widened as he realized what Lila was telling Theresa to do.

“Theresa, please, wait!” He begged, turning his wild gaze to his frightened girlfriend. He started to wheeze and blood trickled from the corner of his mouth. Fear darkened his eyes as he pulled the knife that protruded from his bloody side, and he winced in pain. It made a horrible soft, wet sucking sound, almost like that of sneakered feet pulling up out of a thick mud.

Theresa’s hand flew up to her mouth, covering it, as she gagged on the bile that filled the back of her throat. Her horror at what she’d done, despite Brett’s crime, made her woozy and faint.

She retched.

Then the images of babies floated across her vision. Small, round cheeks in cherubic faces. Sapphire blue eyes wide in surprise and pain. She saw, like on the disjointed, grainy image of a projector, a hovering figure, kitchen knife clutched tightly in hand. The figure stabbed the babies, repeatedly, despite their cries and the blood. Blood clung stickily to the figure’s pale hands and clothes. Theresa gasped, the images playing across her brain like the horrifying images in a slasher movie. The figure turned, as if sensing Theresa’s presence and smiled.

It was Lila, with a frenzied gleam in her eyes.

Like watching a movie, Theresa could see Brett standing in the doorway, mouth open wide in shock and revulsion. Lila lunged at him with the knife and he narrowly missed its gleaming blade as it sliced a long tear into his jacket. He held up his hands pleadingly but she dove at him again. Brett ran up the narrow stairwell and down to the bedroom. The white blood-spattered negligee Lila wore billowed about her like a cloud as she padded barefoot down the hallway. She looked determined. And deadly. The knife hung by her side, taut between her clenched pale fingers.

Theresa didn’t want to watch anymore. But she had no choice, as the images flashed one after another, lightening quick, in her head.

Lila slashing erratically through the air; Brett pouncing on her and managing to turn the blade inwards. They collapsed into a heap on the bedroom carpet. Lila’s laugh, cut off in mid-sound, gurgled wetly in her throat as blood began to soak the creamy beige carpet an ugly dark brown. Lila still struggled to regain control of the situation, despite her wound, and the two fought wildly. The blade embe dded again into the soft flesh of her stomach and she groaned. Brett rolled away in horror, his hands stained a sickly rusty red.


Lila had murdered her own babies.

And Brett had killed Lila in self-defense.

“No!” Theresa screamed as the full realization thudded into her with the force of a cement truck.

But it was too late, her previous anger and rage, still bubbling so close to the surface, was enough for Lila to latch on to.

Theresa felt the energy roughly enter her body. It was as if she was being raped from the inside out. She could feel something stuffing into her very being, filling up every available space. Her vision blurred and her senses tingled. She felt as if she was viewing and feeling from a great distance. Lila’s maniacal laugh thundered in her head, filling it, layering over and within her. To her horror, she realized that laugh was coming from her own mouth.

“I had it planned so perfectly, Brett. You would arrive at my house and I would “watch in horror” as you killed my babies—enraged that I wouldn’t leave my husband for you. Crazed because I had told you it was over.”

Theresa felt her eyes widen, despite the fact that she was no longer in control of her own capacities. Her heart beat thunderously in her chest. A mad passion filled her ribcage and she almost couldn’t breath, it was so all-encompassing. She struggled to push it back down, but Lila was too powerful. Her mouth continued to move, unheeded.

“And then you’d attempt to kill innocent me but I’d be too smart for you, I’d grab my husband’s pistol and shoot you in self defense. And then I’d call the police to say I’d shot a deranged intruder—my paperboy.” A sigh erupted from Theresa’s mouth. She felt, still from far away, her lips curve into a disappointed smirk.

“But there was one thing I hadn’t counted on, Brett—“

Brett cringed away from her, blood staining the fabric of his shirt. He held his hand over the wound, trying in vain to staunch the flow, as fear shadowed his features.

“W—what?” He asked, curiosity overcoming his fear.

Lila, from deep within Theresa’s body, grew stronger and she bent over and grabbed the knife from the bloody carpet at Theresa’s feet. She ran a finger down the cool metal blade, shivering in delight. She turned her cold eyes, glowing an almost unearthly blue, to Brett’s recoiling form.

“—you killing me.” She replied simply. She raised the knife above her head, and her limbs moved slowly, as if under water. Theresa shrieked inwardly, the sound never leaving her lips.

“Theresa—Lila—no, please!” Brett cried.

The blade arced downward in slow motion, the candle’s flickering flame casting sparks of light about the dim room. Brett screamed as it connected with his flesh and Theresa tried to close her eyes against the sight but Lila kept them wide as blood splattered against her face. Brett’s beautiful face was a clumpy mess as he slumped onto the carpet. The knife repeatedly pierced his flesh.

Tears trickled down Theresa’s cheeks as her lips smiled in glee. She felt Lila growing weaker as she grew stronger, but it was too late. Brett was dead.

Her fingers felt numb, but surprisingly she could feel them. She ran them over Brett’s wet cheek. Then she abruptly wrenched the knife free from his limp body.

“Theresa, what have you done?” The shriek sounded like gunfire from behind her and she spun in surprise.

We’ll just have to kill her too. Lila said logically. Her voice was inside Theresa’s head. Theresa nodded. She could feel herself nodding in concurrence.

Yes, Lila, she agreed wearily. We have to kill Evie, too.

The knife was stuck into Evie’s chest before she could react. Her legs buckled beneath her, her dark eyes wide in distress. She tried to speak, coughed out globules of blood, and finally touched the handle of the knife with a trembling hand. She looked down, surprised by the site of it protruding from her body.

“Theresa?” She said weakly, her voice catching in her constricted throat.

“I’m sorry, Evie.” Therea replied apologetically. “But you were sleeping with my boyfriend.” Theresa knelt by her best friend’s side and stroked the curls that popped out from underneath her baseball cap. She waited patiently until the light in Evie’s dark eyes went out, and then glazed over.

“Good job, Theresa.” Lila was no longer in her body, but beside her. She grinned happily, an evil twinkle in her impish green eyes. “Now it’s your turn. You can’t let them take you away. They’ll never believe you.”

Theresa rubbed her bleary eyes. Her fingers were stained with blood. She blinked at them in surprise, unsure of how they had gotten that way.

“Kill myself? I don’t think I can.” She whispered, uncertainly. The air around her was cold, like icicles, and she shivered. She made a motion to rub her arms with her hands but to her surprise, her fingers were wrapped around the handle of the knife. She stared at it for a moment as a thrill shivered the length of her body.

Finally tearing her eyes away, she glanced over at the crumpled form of her boyfriend’s body. Her heart clenched, vise-like, and sorrow choked her.

“Oh my god, Brett—“ She whimpered.

“That’s right, Theresa. Look at what you’ve done.”

There was no other way out. She could see that.

Go to jail? Never.

The blade was frosty, like winter, against the flushed, feverish skin of her wrist. She bit down hard on her bottom lip in preparation for the pain. Surprisingly, it wasn’t horrendous—a slight sting followed by soothing warmth, as her blood bubbled to the surface.

She watched in horrified fascination before Lila’s half-shrieking voice interrupted her, “The other wrist! Do the other one now!” Theresa obliged, watching her own movements as if from a far off distance.

As her life slowly ebbed into a puddle on the floor, she heard a horrifying evil giggle and that voice. Lila’s menacing, yet strangely lilting, voice.
“It was you, Theresa, who stole Brett away from me. It was you he was sleeping with when he should have been with me.”

Surprise and regret echoed briefly within her but it was overcome by the numbing emptiness.

Theresa’s world became a black, empty void.

Lila's satisfied whisper echoed eerily in the room, “And now I have my revenge.”


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Reviewed by Charles O'Connor III 6/20/2006
Very nice story. Chilled from start to finish. I agree with all, you should submit this.

Charles.
Reviewed by Nickolaus Pacione 6/14/2006
I do agree with both Lee and Robert here, you got a hell of a horror story here and this has to be one of your best ones yet. You need to send some of your work around to a few magazines including horrormasters.com. This one could be the one for the free preview and come up with four more that you can let people read over there. It is a hell of a write and a damn good one.
Reviewed by Lee Garrett 6/13/2006
A very strong story, well crafted and unfolded. Atmospheric and imaginative. Very well done. You should submit this to Robert at the Speculativefictioncentre.com for the upcoming summer issue.
Reviewed by Robert Montesino 6/12/2006
Haunted House was an engaging tale and I enjoyed the read. One suggestion for improvement though is to kill the last sentence "And then Theresa died." I think readers get the idea that Teresa is biting the dust without being told. Perhaps you could just simply add Lila's satisfied whisper echoed in the room, “And now I have my revenge.” Finite



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