Star: My first-ever attempt at a 'scary' story
“Bubble bubble, troll- ” The little girl paused in stirring her make-believe witches brew. “Ohh… Double toil…” She started only to have her new friend, Star, correct her again. “Double bubbles- Ok, ok, sorry! Double, double toil and trouble,” she nodded her head to emphasize each word. “Fire burn and cauldron bubble.” She went back to stirring the imaginary stew in the rusty bucket, laughing at the silly words. Star said all young witches made Eye of Newt, and everyone who was anyone knew the proper spell.
“Ok, I got it. Double, double toil and trouble… Fire burn and cauldron bubble.” Just then the door at the bottom of the stairs opened.
“Teresa! What are you doing all the way up here, kid?” Her sisters’ voice got louder as she climbed the stairs. Teresa jumped up and closed the doors to the armoire where she and Star had been playing. Clasping her hands behind her back, Teresa assumed a look of perfect wide-eyed innocence as her sister, Melody, reached the last few stairs.
“Hey, this is cool!” Her big sister looked around, taking in the various piles of long-forgotten junk and furniture. “I can’t believe someone would leave all this cool junk behind. Anyway, lunch is ready. Mom said you need to wash your hands before you eat. She must’ve known you were going to get into something dirty…” Melody pointedly looked at Teresa’s hands and knees then turned to leave. “But next time,” she said over her shoulder, “Tell someone when you’re going to be up here, at least until mom cleans it.” She rubbed her arms. The tiny hairs had been standing on end since entering the attic making her skin feel prickly and tight. “There could be rodents or something.”
When they left the attic together, Teresa waved goodbye to Star before firmly closing and locking the door at the bottom.
Later that night after Melody made sure Teresa was asleep, she tip-toed from her bedroom. She was going to be so glad when Teresa could finally sleep through the night in her own bed. Moving slowly, she crept down the hall to the guest bathroom. Since the day they’d moved in she’d desperately wanted to bathe in the guest bathroom’s claw foot bathtub. It was pearly white and huge, and with a few candles placed around the room, the tub filled with steamy water and soapy bubbles, it appealed to every aspect of Melody’s fifteen year old romantic heart. Hanging her robe on the stand-up mirror in the corner, she slipped into the steamy water, sighing with absolute bliss as she submerged. Putting her headphones on, she leaned back and focused on relaxing. She wanted to feel like a glob of warmed jell-o by the time she got out.
The water was icy, her skin pale and mottled with dark blue veins. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move. Something was holding her down, keeping her from escaping the slushy water. Where her body touched the tub she burned. Melody tried to speak but only managed a faint exhalation, her breath freezing in the air as it passed her lips.
“What’s going on? Someone please help me! HELP ME!” She meant to shout, but got little more than a strangled gurgle. She wanted to scream, to kick and flail her limbs free of the now frozen bathwater. She was stuck in a tub-shaped block of ice, her shivering heightening the streaks of pain shooting through her body. Her heart slowed to an achy “Bah-bump……bah-bump”, so slow it seemed impossible for her to still be alive. The veins in her arms and legs began to blacken, spreading slowly to her fingers and feet. Tears froze before they could leave her eyes, fusing her lids shut.
A voice whispered, feathering her frostbitten ear, “You’re next”.
Melody woke with such a start, water splashed onto the tile floor and her iPod fell in. Clutching her chest, she tried to get her breathing under control. The heat of the bathwater was at once startlingly welcome and intensely painful. The bleak cold of her nightmare translated to her waking reality and her body felt iced to the marrow of her bones. Frantically turning the faucet knobs, she scooted to the end of the tub and sat directly under the rush of hot water. She couldn’t warm up fast enough, doubting her body would ever return to its natural ninety-eight degrees again.
When she felt sufficiently warmed, she donned her robe and ran down the hall to her room. Flipping the closet light switch on, she dug through the semi-unpacked boxes for her sweats.
“What’s going on?” Teresa asked through a big yawn, sitting up in bed.
“Nothing, I ‘m just sick, I think I have a cold. Go back to sleep.” She said as she slipped on thick gray socks.
“Did you have the freezing dream too?”
She didn’t look up, didn’t want to confirm that her baby sister had experienced the same horrible dream. Without another word, she turned out the light and left the room to find where her mom had stashed the hot cocoa.
“But mom, everyone’s going to be at the Halloween dance tonight! Why can’t I go?” Melody was mentally screaming, willing her mom to change her mind and let her stay out for the night. Although she hadn’t had any more nightmares since the awful “freezing dream”, she’d done her best to stay out of the house as often as possible.
“Because, Mel, you’re never home. I want you here to answer the door, hand out candy, and be a good house sitter.” Melody felt anxiety unfurl in her stomach and inch its way into her chest. She set the grocery bags on the counter with a loud thump.
“What do you mean? Where’re you going? Where’s Teresa going? Why can’t I go to the dance if she’s not even going to be here?”
“She’s staying with that Brittney girl down the street, and I’m going to be at Georgette’s till midnight.” Her mom paused in unloading the groceries, “I swear, for a teenager, you’re awfully unwilling to be home without supervision. When I was your age I was planning a party before my parents could finish the words ‘Weekend vacation’. What’s with you?” Her mom fisted a hand on her hip.
“It’s fine. I’m fine. I just thought I’d take Teresa trick or treating. I guess I can relax with some horror movies… and popcorn.” She attempted a smile but felt her face form a grimace.
Her mom shook her head at her and turned to put milk in the fridge. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you’re scared of being alone.”
“Pfft.” Melody scoffed. Her mom had been right about the planning part, but it wasn’t a party she had in mind. She wasn’t planning on being home at all. She just had to find a way to stay out until her mom got home and wondered if the little Brittney girl had an older sibling she could hang out with.
A few hours later Melody learned Brittney was an only child and her parents didn’t think it appropriate for her to spend time with the two younger girls. They’d told her just as polite as punch that children should associate with others their own age, implying Melody was too old to hang out with the nine year olds.
“Never mind one of them is my own little sister,” she muttered darkly. After being turned away from Brittney’s house, Melody stomped back home and went straight to the detached garage. She would camp out in the backyard if she had to. After rummaging through all the boxes in the garage, she couldn’t find a single piece of camping equipment, and none of the boxes yielded anything she could turn into a fort.
Not happy at the prospect of sleeping in the filthy, cramped garage, she trudged back toward the house. The porch light flickered as she approached. Melody stopped and looked up to see each light in the house take turns flickering.
“Oh my GOD could you be more cliché?!” she screamed at the house, shaking her fists in the air. “What happened to you? Did you die of fright from an 80’s B-rate movie?” She shouted up at the roof, imagining she was yelling at whatever was in the attic. “Get some new material for crap sakes!” Feeling too angry to worry about her all-consuming fear of being alone in the house, she stomped up and all but kicked the back door down. It swung open and smacked back against the wall. She stood in the doorway, her hands clenching and unclenching. “I’m not afraid of you.” She blustered, and closed the door behind her.
Fear returned, instantly making her hands cold and clammy and her mouth run dry. She turned her back to the dining room to open the door, one hand on the knob, when she heard it. It was a noise she’d never heard before. It was revealing, and it was damning. It told her she had been right all along; it told her she was shit out of luck. A skin-tightening shiver raced up her spine. The fine hairs all over her body stood up and attempted to march off her skin. She took a deep breath. “It’s not real, it’s not there, nothing is there, everything is normal, I’m ok, I’m ok, I’m ok…” Her attempt at bolstering her nerves didn’t work.
She thought she heard a little girl’s giggle. It made her skin crawl. “What’s your name?”
“Star,” whispered a girlish voice.
“What do you want?” She found she was frozen again, her feet rooted to the floor. She was just as cold, just as icy as she had been in her nightmare. She watched as the skin of her arms paled and turned blue. A frost-blackened hand gripped her ankles, and she felt a scream bubble up and lodge in her throat.
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