Fifteen-year-old, Jandy Burrows started up the stairs of the old, decaying house. He’d been here two hours. Only rusty nails and dust greeted him. He was sure he’d have better luck in the attic. The smell in the air turned to Sulphur, he could taste the ruin on his tongue. Ashes and dead insects.
Eyes peered at him from above.
He paused mid-step.
No. He shook his head. Must’ve been a trick of the light. He clutched his cellphone tighter. He needed this. Not some fake haunting. The real deal. To prove to the others that he wasn’t a wetbed. A weakling of no importance. If he could go head-to-head with the spirits, they’d have to leave him be. He glanced left and right. Sure, was a lot of rot. The wood splintered from age in its frame. The sound of something thumping up ahead caught his attention. He halted. Keep on. Prove yourself.
A noise below caused the crunch of his sneakers to still. He flashed his cellphone toward the broken bannister. Something moved just out of his sight. Had the group of haters from school caught on to his purpose? Were they trying to screw things up for him? Or claim what he hoped to find? He stepped back the way he’d come, and a cold breath blew upon the back of his neck. Goosebumps pebbled his skin. He swung in a slow circled back toward the attic. Nothing. He glanced below. Were they there? Even now waiting to torment him? He steeled himself. Don’t fold. They’re the cowards.
With a nod to himself, he headed further toward the attic. It was mere paces away. A low bend and he was through. He flashed his cellphone about. Damn, it was worse in here than below. He noticed part of the floor was missing. He moved back to safer ground. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
Punk that. He needed this. For the legend to be true.
He glanced around. Where are you Katey O’Neal?
Two balls of light rose from the hole in the attic floor.
A shiver swept his spine. Holy Hell. The legend was real. Or realish. He’d see how much in the time before him. He stepped toward the attic door. The globes moved closer.
One curled around his pantsleg. Another, his arm. They tickled and—itched. A rash not unlike an allergic reaction popped along his flesh. His breathing hitched. He backed away again. The orbs hovered where he’d been. His breathing resumed normal. The rash retreated. Something brushed the back of his neck and he swung around. The balls of light bounced around his frame. “Help me or get out of my way,” he said to them.
They flowed in a circle toward the attic. Inside, what looked like a face formed.
“Are you her? Katey O’Neal?”
The face strengthened and long, dark hair swept to the sides. Slowly, the rest of the body glowed into place. The orbs rejoined into her hands.
“Come to stare at the Mistress of Pain?”
He shook his head. “No. I’ve come to employ you.”
“Interesting. What would you have me do?” She crept across the floor.
He motioned to the outside of the house. “Take those down that antagonize me.”
“And why would I do this?” She blew on her curved nails as though she’d just polished them.
“I can feed you.”
“I’ll lure them here. You dispose of them any way you wish.”
“And how long would our arrangement be for?”
“As long as I reside in Bracton.”
She glanced down then bared her teeth. “When do I start?”
“There are four teens outside the house right now. They’ve come to see me chicken out. You’re going to devour them just like their chicken.”
She swung around the attic. “Bring them to me. We have a deal.”