The Picture

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Everything around her spun.

Kara leaned against the wall to keep upright,

When she glanced down the hall, her eyes saw three hallways instead of one.

Her head roared. Pressure building behind her eyeballs.

She must get Josh out of here!

Hugging him close to her chest, she picked the middle hall and stumbled forward.

She staggered along until she reached the stairs, and carefully made her way down the creaky steps.

Josh whimpered into her neck.

"Sshh, it's okay," she said.

Eying the front door, Kara headed for it when the hair on her arms suddenly rose as the room temperature plummeted.

Between her and the door a wispy mist drifted until a form of a young girl appeared.

She wore a white nightgown. Her pallor skin completely transparent.

"Danger! Don't go!" Mary cried.

"I have to get out of this house!" Kara replied as her right hand caressed Josh's cheek.

"Danger! Don't go!" the girl repeated.

Shaking her head, Kara rushed past the slain girl and out of the house.

As soon as she stepped onto the lopsided porch, the door slammed shut behind her.

Kara stood there for several moments.

Silence settled heavy on her.

Josh's stirring in her arms jolted her out of her stupor. She moved off the porch and on the cold ground.

As she backed away, she looked up.

And froze.

Every window on the second floor were now covered by shutters.

The same windows where the shutters were once either broken or missing.

One thought kept racing through her mind.

Find help!

Dad could still be alive.

With Josh firmly in her arms, Kara ran down the dark driveway to the rural highway.

She looked both ways and realized it could be hours before anyone drove by.

What now?

She remembered the neighboring house.

Perhaps they would have a phone so she could call for help.

Jogging briskly, she finally reached the one-story tattered house.

Her legs shook as she stumbled up the wobbly wooden steps and knocked on the door.

At first there was no response.

Then the door slowly creaked partially open as an old woman's face appeared. "Yes?"

"I'm sorry to be bothering you so late, ma'am! Would you have a phone I could use?" Kara stammered as she tried not to stare at the very noticeable scare on the elder's face.

"Of course, my dear."

The door swung wide open and Kara stepped inside the dank smelling house.

When the door closed, a sudden wave of cold uneasiness washed over her.

Even Josh was unusually quiet.

The only light in the house originated from the fireplace in the living room.

Kara moved closer to the hearth, the flames within snapped and crackled loudly.

The mantle was covered with pictures.

Most of them were old. Black and white kind of old.

There was one that caught her attention.

A framed photograph of a family. A couple with two young children.

Standing next to the family was a tall, stern looking woman.

Beside this picture was another framed photograph. This one contained the same stern looking woman only younger.

She wasn't alone.

The second woman who stood with her bore the same resemblance only she was hunched over and had a noticeable scar across one of her cheeks.

Kara heard the floorboard creaked behind her, and her stomach dropped.

A wave of nausea swept over her.

"My sister and myself oh so long ago. She died of a broken heart, you see."

The sound of the woman's low voice sent a shiver down her spine.

"W-who was your sister?" Kara whispered fearing she already knew the answer.

"Her name was Ibis Crane."

The last thing she heard was the click-click of the door's lock.

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