Chapter Two

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"Karla, Stephanie, dinner is served!" Mrs. Lockwood announced.

Karla was the first to arrive down, and as soon she observed only four plates set at the table, she hopped into the kitchen to get another.

"Honey, The plates are set already." Mrs. Lockwood explained.

"I know, but it's for my friend Akeela." She replied. Stephanie was just few steps back and heard her mention the name again. It was unusual, but she had just slightly taken it up as a mere child's fantasy.

Karla had her mum serve Akeela's meal right next to hers and beckoned her to eat. Of course, the food had remained as it had been earlier served. After the dishes were cleared, they had a short goodnight grace shared, and they all went to sleep.

Shortly afterwards, a rattling sound was heard in the kitchen. Mrs. Barbara Lockwood, had initially thought of going downstairs to see for herself but had been held back by her husband with the excuse that it might have just been a rodent.

The next morning, while Karla and Stephanie got ready for school, Barbara went down to make breakfast and noticed something out rightly out of place. The whole pot of leftover dinner from the night before was empty. Then she assumed it might have just been anyone. It wasn't as though she was going to eat it anyway, so perhaps it was good that way.

"Mum I'm off to school." Karla announced.

Till then, she hadn't told anyone what had happened in that attic as she was instructed to. She had never kept anything from her Mum or Stephanie until then. Back then, in the wardrobe of the attic where she had experienced an overwhelming force and had met her 'friend', she made a promise not to disclose what had happened, so she didn't. More like a compulsive force. She had taken a bite from a toast bread then, and asked.

"Mum, can Akeela accompany me to school?"

"Sweetie.. " Mrs. Lockwood spoke up drawing nearer.

"I know We just moved in and you haven't made new friends yet, but there's no use having an imaginary friend. Don't worry, I happen to be a friend to the next door neighbor, and I know she has a daughter right about your age. Her name is... Err... Carly. You two can hang out."

"I don't want anyone else to be my friend, Akeela will be upset."

Barb had exchanged a glare with Stephanie long enough before Stephanie spoke up

"Look Karla, I know Mum is trying to be a little nice with your recent attitude, but there is no such thing as an Akeela, so stop freaking the rest of us out."

"You've made her upset. Look, she's right behind you. Now she's promised you that you would fail your math test today." Karla replied after being quiet for a while then left for the school bus.

"Something has definitely come over her." Stephanie said as she gave her Mum a terrified stare.

Something indeed came over her. She wasn't her usual joyful, jovial self. Now an arrogant, quiet, and self restrained girl. Always in her room alone, talking to herself, laughing and having a real conversation with herself.

***

"Mum, look my math test!" Stephanie said running towards her Mum.

"I know you aced it as usual."

"This time around, I obviously didn't."

"What went wrong, dear? Math is your favourite."

"I really don't.... Mum.... Karla.... Akeela.... Remember this morning."

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