Chapter 2

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On a contingency basis, I'd given my parents the opportunity to let me talk to them again. My pride couldn't be more important than them hearing my concerns regarding the house and why we couldn't stay in it tonight, or any other night. Or anywhere ever in our supposedly new hometown of Dorn, Washington. For all I knew, every house in this place was like ours. The little I'd seen of Dorn on the drive in was all I needed to make a well thought out and not at all rash judgement. It was a runt of a town clinging to the far end of one of the Puget Sound's many inlets. The main street, patterned after seaside villages in Sweden, was dotted with new age stores mixed with Scandinavian bakeries, acupuncture offices, and not-so-trendy boutiques, giving it an Old-World European meets West Coast hippie on social security vibe.

The reason I was here in the Swedish Chef's summer vacation spot instead of home in Spokane was because Robert Orting died earlier that year. I never had the honor of meeting him, but my sincere condolences to his family.

Robert owned a popular restaurant on Main Street called Dornzeria. When he passed, his wife put the business up for sale. Enter Becca and Carlo Rivera. They'd never owned a restaurant and mom had a severe allergy to gluten, but Dad's grandparents were Italian, which somehow made them feel qualified to run a pizza joint. They did operate a travel business for a while and mom was semi-adequate at bookkeeping, so the situation was completely and utterly hopeless. It was, however, an "I just got sentenced to two years for a crime I didn't commit" kind of hopeless. I mean, I might get liberated eventually (like when I'm eighteen and go back to Spokane for college), but for the time being, things were looking bleak.

I was expected to live in a house held together by killer moss with two parents who complained daily about how much adulting they had to do. And in two weeks I had to learn to control my panic attacks long enough to get through a school day without going catatonic around a bunch of strangers. Unless, that was, I could get my parents to change course.

"This house is haunted. Possibly by a demon." I'd decided on a supernatural upgrade because demon sounded a lot more menacing than ghost.

My dad dropped the piece of pho he'd been eating back into its plastic take-out container. This was the first thing I'd said to them since the day before yesterday, so his surprise was not surprising. He let out a long sigh.

I waved my hand through the air in front of them to make sure they wouldn't lose focus. "Have you seen Paranormal Activity? Or The Exorcist? We need to leave before the demon takes possession of me and uses my body to seek vengeance for being cast into the flames of hell."

"A demon would have been born from hellfire, not cast into it." My mom tapped her chopsticks against the edge of her bowl. "What evidence do you have for this, Mazie?"

"Aside from the pools of dried blood that won't come out of the carpets you mean?"

They performed their parental stare down.

"Am I the only one who can see the blood? Oh, my God, its evil influence has already begun to affect me! That blood is literally all over this house. Especially in your bedroom."

"Mazie," my father placed the lid back on his pho and got up to store it in the fridge. "I know you're upset, honey, but you can't make up stories and think that it will undo what's been done. We live here now."

"I'm not making it up, I'm embellishing. Something unexplainable really did happen to me. I wasn't going to tell you in order to spare you the terror, but I think you have the right to know. When I was upstairs, my bedroom door opened and closed on its own. I swear it did."

My mother sighed. "Wind, drafts, maybe it wasn't closed all the way to begin with... any number of things could account for that. But your mind always goes to the most extreme place it can, Mazie. A door opens and it must be because the Devil sent one of its minions to do it."

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