I found the girl’s bones in the house, tucked inside the attic.
They had been picked clean and were colored stone gray. The only flesh that remained on her skeleton was the skin stretched taut across her skull. It cradled her eyes precariously in their sockets, and I watched as a spider wove delicate webs on her irises.
Her spine had been dislodged and splayed apart. They looked like the desiccated wings of an angel who had tried to fly but ultimately had failed.
Something glinted in the faint light. A thin gold bracelet encircled the delicate bones of her wrist.
Allegra, it read in fancy script. Allegra. I knew her. I had known her. She was older than me, so I hadn’t known her well. We didn’t hang out with the same group of friends. But I knew her sister, Cora, and I knew that since the two weeks Allegra had been missing, Cora and her family had been looking for her.
Everyone spoke about her as though she were dead. Then they talked in hushed tones about how lovely she had been.
And I had found her.
This house wasn’t haunted; it was infested. There were spider webs everywhere, and I could hear scratching in the walls and the sound of many things crawling.
I was trapped here. They had trapped me in here. They called themselves my friends, but what friends ensured that when they pricked you, they nicked a vein to make sure you bled out?
I heard them laughing from behind the door. Their voices mimicked every sound I made.
“Help meee,” Kat wailed.
“Save meee,” Ira cackled.
I tried to tell them about Allegra’s body, but they just mocked me. They refused to hear me.
There was a soft clicking noise, and rustling came from the dry corpse of my friend’s dead sister. I watched in wonder as her jaw worked and opened. A wave of spiders crawled out, as did her voice.
“Help me,” she said. Her voice was so soft. Her paper-thin lips stretched over her teeth and ripped.
“Help me,” she repeated. “Helpmehelpmehelpmehelpmehelpme…Help me.”
Her eyes rolled towards me, the spider‘s web clouding them. I knew she saw me because I had been the one to find her. We had found one another.
“Help you?” Allegra whispered, her neck cracking as she whipped her head to look at me. She held out a bony finger and swiped at my eyes. My tears glistened on the dirty gray appendage. They looked like crystals.
“Help you?” Allegra said again. She coughed and brought forth another cascade of bugs.
They crawled towards me and climbed up my arm; others crept into the crevices of my eyes.
I screamed so loud that my throat felt like it was being ripped open from the inside out.
I threw myself at the door, clawing until my nails broke and bled.
“I can help you,” a voice said behind me gently. “I can help you. “
I screamed and banged on the door. “Help me!”
To my relief, the knob rattled, and then there were heavy thumps. They were trying to kick it in.
“Stand back!” A voice, Ira, yelled. There was a pause, and with a resounding boom, the door burst open.
I rushed out of the room and crashed into Kat and Ira.
“Farrah?” Kat gasped. She looked beyond me into the room and screamed. I ran, and I kept running. Kat kept screaming.
I ran down the hallway and nearly fell down the stairs. Ira was right behind me; her eyes were wide with shock. Kat was nowhere to be seen.
We opened the door and flung ourselves into the sunlight. I don’t remember much else that day, but we must have gone for help.
The police never found Kat or Allegra, and I knew they hadn’t tried very hard. I doubt if they even entered the house.
We sought adventure, and what we got in return was a lifetime of regret and grief.
It’s been calling me for a while. That thing inside the house. I hear it whispering to me, and I can feel Allegra’s bones tracing the lines on my face.
I can help you, that voice had said. I can help you.
Nothing has helped me since. I dream of Kat every night, and in my dreams, she takes hold of my fingers and breaks them apart with her teeth.
“It should have been you,” she hisses at me through blood and bone. “Why didn’t you die instead?”
If I had an answer, I would tell her, but I don’t.
I’m going to go back. I’m going to open the door and climb the stairs. I will take what was mine from the beginning, and maybe Kat will stop cursing me in my dreams.
And if she doesn’t, that’s fine because I will find solace amongst the dead and their bones. Maybe if I unravel the spider web, I can learn its secrets, and in return, I’ll be able to help those who seek it.
I will be the one spoken of in hushed tones.