Chapter 10: First Game

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Mr. Harmon stared at me as I scrambled to my feet. I started pushing him toward the door of the mansion yelling, "Come on, she's coming!" However, he stopped me and turned me around so that I faced the now empty garden.

"No one is out here, Emily," he said.

She was gone.

He let go of me and placed his hands on his hips. "Boy, maybe this wasn't a good idea," he said, closing the front door. "Tell you what. Help me take out the trash, and then you can come back inside."

He stepped aside, revealing a black trash bag. The back was bulging. It had a disgusting odor that made my stomach cringe. He must have seen my face expression change.

"Mrs. Harmon hates taking out the trash, and I haven't got around to it until today," he said.

I helped him lift and carry it around toward the back of the house. We placed it in a dumpster.

"Thanks!" he said. "Now close it and let's go."

I held my nose and placed my free hand on the lid of the dumpster. As I pulled it down, the bag twitched. I ignored it. There had already been enough craziness for today. And besides, it was probably a mouse or something.

***

The next day was average with a pinch of boredom. Caleb was acting so weird this morning. He kept staring at me. Every time I asked him if he was okay, he didn't answer me. When Mr. Harmon would come into the room with us, Caleb would leave.

"What's up with your brother?" Mr. Harmon asked me.

I just shrugged. "I don't know. He won't talk to me either."

***

After I had seen that Mrs. and Mr. Harmon were busy, I decided to head over to Violet's place.

When I got there, Violet had been sitting on the broken chair with her head down.

"Hey?" I asked, hopping up the steps. "You okay?"

She looked up at me and smiled. "Of course. What's up?"

I sat down on the rickety floor next to her. "Nothing. Just glad to get away from there," I said.

She chuckled. "Well, just make yourself at home."

"Where are the others?" I asked.

"Well, I told them not to come today," she said.

I stood up. "Oh, should I-"

"No," Violet said interrupting my sentence. "I just thought since you love hide and seek and I love it too, we should see who's better."

"Who's better?" I repeated after her.

"I mean, with the others it's just too easy. I want to see how good you are," she said.

I laughed and smirked. "Well, I'm pretty much a professional."

She raised an eyebrow then stood up. She walked toward the door, opening it. I walked past her and into the house. The place sure did look abandoned. Grey and black streaked across the walls where mold grew as the damp nights seep in. Flaking speckles of paint lined the floor with dust and the corpses of unfortunate creatures. The old, unused wooden furniture was rotting, stained with lichen while the curtains hung limp and moth-eaten. It smelled of wet wood and moist air mixed with mold. The place was neither welcoming or pleasant.

"It's not great," She said to me, "but, it's still home."

When she said that, I saw some sadness in her eyes that I couldn't exactly fathom. I mean, why was this fourteen-year-old living here? Where were her parents? I wonder if she even knew that this was Mr. Harmon's old house?

"It's also perfect for hide and seek. So let's get started?" she asked, walking toward me. "There are two floors. The first one is level one. When you pass level one, you may hide on the second floor. I'm it, so you go ahead and hide. I'll count to twenty."

With that said she headed toward the door, faced it, and started to count. I looked around. There wasn't much room in the living room part of this house. I ran into the next room, which was the kitchen. It consisted of broken tables, chairs, wrappers, bones, a huge trash bin and some old bags on the floor. She was at ten, so I grabbed the bags and placed them over my head and quietly stepped inside of the huge trash bin. I adjusted myself until I was comfortable.

"Ready or not! Here I come," she yelled.

I sat in silence, completely motionless. I could hear my heart beating. I heard Violet running around and rummaging through things.

"Oh, you're good!" she yelled out. "And fast!"

I laughed. My smile quickly faded when I felt something on my back. Something was inside the trashcan with me. It felt like five fingers sliding down my spine. I jumped out of the trash, tumbling down with it.

Violet walked into the room. "Ah ha!" she exclaimed.

I looked at me, but nothing was there. Violet helped me to my feet. "Something was touching me!" I yelled, looking at her, my eyes bulging and my heart racing.

"It was probably a bug or something. There are plenty of creatures around here," she said. Violet then smiled and tapped me on the shoulder. "It's your turn to count."

As I walked back inside of the living room and toward the door, she called after me. "Good luck," she said.

I barely counted to five before I heard her footsteps stop. Once I got to twenty, I searched for her. She wasn't in the living room or the kitchen. I walked back into the living room and into another room. I didn't know what kind of room it was, but it had a lot of chairs and curtains inside. Much like the rest of the place, it was all worn out. I walked over to the chairs and saw a blanket in the shape of a person sitting. I tisked and shook my head.

"I thought you would be way better than this, Violet," I said while laughing. I reached for the blanket and pulled it off.

I nearly let out a scream. Underneath the blanket was...nothing.

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