October 2021 Challenge
Inspiration: The Scream by Edward Munch
Words: 971 Comments welcome.
The legend of Cornelia Thornheart, the witch of Coleville, began on Halloween evening when someone or something strangled her in her bed. Her haunting, emerald green eyes, at once beautiful and frightening, froze wide open and she was buried with them staring at the top of her casket. An eerie green haze surrounded her coffin as it was lowered into the ground.
Five years later, early Halloween evening, Jess and a few of her friends sat swapping scary stories at the local tavern. Trevor leaned forward and told the tale of Cornelia Thornheart’s death. He lowered his voice and said, “Every Halloween night her glowing, catlike green eyes appear in the second story window of her deserted house, watching and waiting for someone to bewitch.”
Rachael said, “Her house is locked up tight. Except for her bedroom, everything went to charity. Her room, being a crime scene, was closed off and remains the same as the night she died. The house is for sale, but there’ve never been any offers.”
“Because It’s haunted by a green-eyed ghost. Whooo,” quipped Andrew.
“I wouldn’t go in that witch’s house or her bedroom for anything,” said Amy.
“Me either, I’d faint if I saw her ghost,” added Rachael.
“Well, I’m not afraid,” boasted Jess. “For enough money, I’d spend the night in her bedroom.”
Trevor threw twenty dollars on the table. “You’re on! Anyone else?”
By the time everyone chipped in, one hundred dollars lay on the table.
“Still up for it Jess?” taunted Amy.
Jess uttered an emphatic, “Yes! How do I get inside the house?”
Rachael said, “My friend Ken is the realtor. I’ll get the key from him.”
“Great,” said Trevor. “Okay, Jess. You spend the night in Cornelia’s bedroom and come out in the morning, unless you chicken out, and the money’s yours.”
“No problem, my skeptical friends. I’ll text you from the bedroom.”
Andrew raised his glass and said, “A toast. Here’s to avoiding a green-eyed ghost.” They laughed and clinked glasses.
At eleven o’clock, Rachael unlocked the door. It creaked as she pushed it open. A musty odor spilled into the air. “Night, Jess. Say hello to Cornelia for me.” She giggled.
Jess laughed. “Very funny. See you in the morning.”
Jess turned on her flashlight, stepped into the house, pulled the door shut, and locked it. A stale odor filled the air. She brushed aside the cobwebs, found the stairway, and made her way to the second level. A faded yellow crime scene banner hung across the door. She pulled it off, tossed it aside, pushed the door open and stepped in. “Geez, this place smells like dirty socks,” she muttered.
She put her backpack and sleeping bag on the floor and looked around. Against the far wall stood an old four poster bed covered with a crumpled blue quilt. On the opposite wall stood a six-drawer dresser with a grimy mirror above it. Several dried-out perfume bottles and a tarnished silver comb and brush lay on the dresser. The faded curtains sagged. This room will never make it into Better Homes and Gardens. She chuckled. Hoping for some fresh air, she moved the curtain aside and tried to open the window. It wouldn’t budge.
She pulled several scented candles from her backpack, placed them on the dresser and lit them, then wiped the grime from the mirror with a tissue. Pausing to look at her reflection, she noticed her dark brown eyes looked like chestnuts in the flickering candlelight.
She unrolled the sleeping bag, stretched out, and texted her friends: In bedroom. CYT. She drifted off to sleep listening to R&B music.
A chill woke her. She sat up. An eerie green haze filled the air, the door slammed shut, and a pair of glowing green eyes floated across the room and stared into her eyes.
Her mouth dropped open. She gasped, screamed, leapt up, ran to the door, and fought with the knob. It wouldn’t open. An icy hand grabbed her wrist and yanked it from the knob. She shrieked. A cold hand covered her mouth while another grabbed a handful of hair and yanked her head back.
Terrified, trembling, and struggling to breathe, Jess fought back, pulled loose, and shoved the mist- shrouded entity away. It grabbed her arms above the elbows and shook her like a rag doll. Jess screeched, pulled her arms free, and clawed at the haze. She fought like a crazed animal, striking out at her assailant with flailing arms and legs.
The entity slipped behind her, clasped its icy hands around her neck in an Anaconda-like grip. Red- faced, choking, and filled with a rush of adrenaline, Jess drove the apparition backwards and rammed it against the dresser several times until it released its grip.
They clinched and stumbled across the room. The ghost slammed her to the wooden floor and pounced on her. She yelped and shouted, “Get off of me, Cornelia, you’re dead!” They rolled, wrestling, punching, and kicking in a raging cat fight. Jess grunted, groaned, and used every ounce of her strength to fight off the evil spirit.
Then, it was over. The icy mist and glowing green eyes were gone. Exhausted and gasping for air, she struggled to her feet, staggered backwards to the edge of the bed, collapsed on the quilt, and passed out.
She woke to the sun pushing through the faded curtains, sat on the edge of the bed, yawned, rubbed her eyes, and got up. She rolled the sleeping bag, put her things in the backpack, adding the silver comb and brush and two cut-glass perfume bottles, and headed for the door.
She paused and looked at herself in the mirror. Her lips curled into a wicked grin as she admired her emerald green eyes.
Tagline: Jess accepts a haunted house challenge. Will she survive?