The pride of losing a bet could make you do some pretty stupid things. You compete with your rivals in a daring test of skill and when you lose, the worth of your word is on the line. Defeat weighs heavily on you and you start regretting making the bet in the first place, because that bet–that humiliating defeat–has landed you right at the gates of the Ol’ Gebakajeezer Manor during the darkest hue of the night.
You stuff your hands in the pockets of your jacket as an autumn breeze stirs through the air. The long shadows of the trees stretch toward the manor on this moonless night and your only light is the billions of stars overhead. It was said Gebakajeezer was a rich old man, but his family abandoned him to his enemies long ago when they discovered he was in league with an evil “witch.” Authorities tried to arrest Gebakajeezer and burn the witch; however, they found them in the middle of some dark ritual. Gebakajeezer died that night. They say he was shot during the struggle and the witch burned alive. Then, in the weeks that followed, Gebakajeezer’s family suffered accidents. Accidents that led to their deaths. It’s said that Gebakajeezer’s spirit and the soul of the evil witch haunt the manor to this day.
You glance over your shoulder to your rivals in the bushes behind you. They snicker, each one anticipating your cowardice and expecting you to not even step onto the property. Your goaded pride overcomes your weariness and you approach the gate of Gebakajeezer.
The entire property is surrounded by barred fences and the rusty, creaky gate is the only way onto it. Long ago, the lock was broken by others who’ve attempted to enter the manor, but you can’t recall whatever happened to those people. The road up to the manor was grown over gravel and you shift your eyes around the yard in the light hope and fear that someone would stop your trespassing. Yet, the yard is empty of the living. A few trees sway in the chill of the night, bare branches clattering together like bones. You spot something beneath one of them and you swear it’s a gravestone. Crows caw from the tree’s branches and start skips your heartrate faster. You focus your eyes on your destination and keep going.
The manor must have been beautiful in the time of its prime. However, it’s only a shell of remains now. Loose shutters bang against splintered siding. Windows, once elegant, were now broken and dark. You try to peer into one, but nothing but an abyss of black peers back.
The floorboards of the front porch creak under your weight and hesitance causes you to linger. The manor’s door appears to have once been barred, but pieces of wood were laying on the withering welcome mat. The nightly breeze stirs again and you shiver at the eerie quiet of the property. The doorbell catches your eye and trepidation pounds in your ears. You watch the little black button as if locked in a staring contest. The harms of pressing it weigh in your mind. With how old the manor is, the doorbell probably doesn’t work anymore and your rivals are still watching you, waiting for your courage to run out.
Finding a few moments of bravery, you reach for the doorbell. The heavy sound of a bell tolls through the air and your muscles freeze. The whole house trembles under your feet and bats flee from the towers of the manor. Right after the bell’s low note faded away, a wolf howled from the forest.
You remain frozen for a couple moments, fearing that any movement would cause Gebakajeezer’s ghost to strike you down. Yet, nothing but a few leaves drift across the porch. An easy breath slips from your lips and you lower your arm.
The next moment, an uncanny creak screams through the night. The front doors of the manor slowly swing open and fear has you frozen in place once again. Heart-pounding seconds beat in your ears like a drum, but when doors open wide, nothing steps out into the moonlit night. You try to peer through the darkness, but what lays beyond the doors is hidden in black shadows.
Curiosity gnaws at you like a nibbling rat the longer you stare into the blackness. You take a step forward and when nothing happens, you step again. You step further and further until you can finally see what lies hidden in the manor. Covered furniture is like petrified ghosts under the layers of dust and cobwebs. The air tastes stale and a draft courses the hollow halls. Straight ahead, a marbled staircase stretches to the upper floor, but time had dulled and cracked it. Gilded wooden handrails were rotted and crumpled by termites. Elegant paintings were torn on the walls and the floor beneath your feet was weakened and creaked. When stillness is the only thing lingering in the vestibule, you determined your bet satisfied, and you turn to take your leave. However, the front door is now shut.
Panic skips your heart as you don’t remember seeing or even hearing the door close behind you. You quickly reach for the knob to jerk it open; yet, it only jiggles and the door doesn’t budge. As much as you try to shove and pull and break your way through, the rattling door remains as strong as a vault and you’re unable to get it open. You shout for help, but bite your tongue. Likely, your rivals wouldn’t be able to hear you and you aren’t sure you want anything else knowing you’re here. Your panic has you shaking, but you keep attempting to get the door open.
“Come here. Come here.”
The color drains from your face when a dainty voice catches your ears. As much as you wish you were wrong, you know you heard it. It sounded far away, as if coming from the heart of the manor, but you can’t deny the chills that curled your spine. The voice sounded spectral and your first fear is Gebakajeezer, but when logic catches up to your fear. You realize the voice is coming from a woman.
“Come here. Come here.”
By now, your throat has gone dry and tremors rattle your bones. Your hope of breaking down the door fades away like a forgotten dream and you realize you have no choice but to face what lays in the manor. Slowly, you turn around and terror shoves you against the door when you spot a woodcutter’s axe lodged into one of the furniture. You know that wasn’t there before.
“Come here. Come here.”
Gradually, you start for the staircase and you refuse to take your eyes from the axe in fear that it might come after you. It never moves and you make it safely out of the vestibule and further into the manor.
The halls stretch on like a teasing dream and are darker than the night itself. You tread slowly on haggard carpet and barely make out the décor along the walls. Brass wall-lights are snuffed out. Tall cabinets, covered by sheets, sway like ghosts in the manor’s draft. Paintings of people you don’t even know watch you as you slink down the halls.
“Come here. Come here.”
The voice is a little bit louder now and you determine its coming from the direction that must be the master suite. The closer you get the slower you go, like you’re walking on ice and each step needed to be tested else you’d fall through and drown. When you finally reach the master suite, the voice sounds again. It courses chills down your spine. The voice sounds so sweet like an enticing lullaby, but your fear keeps you from being fooled. As a woman’s voice, you determine that it wasn’t Gebakajeezer’s ghost you had to worry about, but the evil spirit of the witch. She called again, her words stretching longer down the halls.
“Come here. Come here.”
Against your better judgement, you slowly raise your hand to grip the latch of the master suite’s doors. The metal is as cold as ice and it drops a heavy weight of dread in your stomach. You take a deep breath and hold it before shoving the doors open wide.
The bones of human remains lay in the middle of the master suite and the sight of them strikes you with terror so deep, it takes a moment for your mind to catch up. Gebakajeezer had been laid to rest in the manor’s yard, so who’s bones ere…Horror pales your face when you remember you aren’t the first one to tread foot here. Others before you had broken the lock on the property’s gate and pried open the doors of the manor just to see what was inside. Now, you remembered what happened to them: they were never seen again.
The moment before you would’ve turned tail to run, a spectral being appeared in the middle of the master suite. The being was a woman in long, white, flowing robes. Her hair stretched down to her hips and floated as if she were underwater. The sheer appearance of her froze you in fright, but it was her face that had you lingering. She didn’t appear to be a witch. Her face was soft and as pale as the moon. She stared at you with uncolored eyes and a gaze that appeared to be pleading.
“Come here. Come here.”
She was pleading. You heard it in her tone and sorrow dipped her face when she spoke. Yet, you didn’t move. Curiosity kept you from running away, but hesitance kept you from going closer to the ghost. You glanced back down at the bones beneath her, but she draws your attention away when she speaks again.
The ghost stretches her hands out to you and you feel compelled to step closer. The icy chill in the room has you shivering and your heart is racing a thousand beats per second. Your feet step closer despite the warnings screaming in your mind. Its was as if the ghost had you under some sort of spell to draw you in against your will. You manage to break eye contact with her and glance back at the bones beneath. If you didn’t do something, you had a feeling you’d share their fate. The ghost leaned forward and you notice a restriction in her movement. Her hands are raised to grab you, but she couldn’t extend them out. Violet, spectral wisps were drifting around her wrists and they extended back to the king-sized bed at the far end of the room.
She was trapped! That realization clicked like a switch in your brain and you stopped just shy of her grasping hands. A smile had been widening on her face with your every step like a beast ready to devour you. This wasn’t some helpless ghost, you decided. This was definitely the evil spirit of the witch and Gebakajeezer must have bound her here before he died. You manage to take a step back and when you look back at the ghost, fury turned her colorless eyes black.
“Come here!” Her voice raised like a banshee’s scream and the beauty of her face twisted with frightening wrath. “Come here!”
The sheer panic that came over you freed you from the witch’s spell and you bolt out of the suite and back down the halls. The ghost let out a blood curdling scream the moment you fled and the whole manor shook with violent tremors. You try to race into other rooms to find a way out; however, every door and window was trapped in the witch’s magic. They would open and shut so swiftly and brutally that you knew you would break a bone if you tried to cross them. You run in any direction that would lead you further away from the witch; however, your flight is always cut short at the aggressive slamming of the doors.
In the middle of a hall, you stop, terrified and uncertain of what to do next. You feel like a mouse surrounded by traps and all you can do is avoid the witch at the heart of the manor. Eventually, your mind is able to catch up to your fear and you realize that every door you’ve come across was caught in the witch’s magic. Every door. Which meant the front door must be as well.
Hope dashes you down the hall and another blood curdling scream resonates from the witch. The covered furniture begins to lift off the ground and fly at you at crashing speeds. You manage to duck and dodge a few; however, when you reach the staircase that leads down into the vestibule, a cabinet slams into your side. You’re tossed down the stairs and the marble punches bruises into your skin. Just as you hoped, the front door was slamming open and shut again and again like the rest of the doors in the manor. You begin to shove yourself to your feet when the woodcutter’s ax from before lodges into the floor right next to your hand.
Fright locks you in place for a moment, but your desperation for freedom powers through. You rise to your feet just as the ax pulls from the floor and have to dive away in order to avoid its swings. As much as you want to run for the exit, you know your timing has to be right. If you try to escape at the wrong moment, the front door will shut on you and an ax would lodge into your spine. You dodge the possessed weapon while trying to count the rhythm of the front door’s banging. The ax soon has you pinned against the wall and you have no choice but to make your move. The moment the door slams shut, you dive for it.
The door opens when you reach it and you feel it starting to close on you as you slip through. You fall hard onto the front porch, your foot narrowly escaping the bone-breaking slam of the door. A loud THUNK sounds behind you and you cover your head in fear of the ax, but all the world falls into the silence of the night.
Slowly, you peer over your shoulder. The front door remains shut with the blade of an ax peeking through the center of it. You gradually slide off the front porch and don’t pull yourself to your feet until you’ve made it to the yard. Your steps are quick and your heart is still pounding as you back away from the manor. The face of the evil witch still burns in your mind, but you escaped her. Come daylight, you swear you’ll return to board up the manor completely and pray that no other soul would test the prisoner inside Ol’ Gebakajeezer.