Chapter two – Childhood nightmares
So, it’s actually two hours before noon instead noon what I said yesterday, but oh well! I hope you guys enjoy the chapter ^^
And I still don’t know how to change my pictures from square-sized to longer and thinner without distorting the image (well, cropping, but the program lets me do that by hand and then the height will be different at each image because my cropping skills suck. XD) BUT I WON’T GIVE UP.
I still remember the day we tied that school bully upside down the playground tree. It’s still as clearly burned into my mind as it was back then. And the punishment we’d gotten from it, both on that very same day and the first weekend after that. I was so little, and yet already so full of myself. We all were , really. Challenging everything and everyone with that little group of rebels we had. Ciel and Ivan with their little outburst of mischief, and my twin sisters, seemingly innocent but really just as naughty as I was.
Fate is a funny thing, really. If we’d never done what we did that day and received our punishment, none of this ever would have happened.
But you don’t know anything yet, do you? I still have to tell you everything, after all. How I went from that eight-year-old rascal to the person I am now. How my life instantly took a turn for the worst. How I lost everything I’d ever known to those cold, glowing eyes… and how it surprisingly came back to me.
You’d better sit back and prepare yourself, because this is going to be a long story.
The living room lights burst into shining, while Ciel and Ivan cheered in the background. Their faces appeared around the kitchen corner and I bolted towards the remote control, kicking away a few toys in my path. They did it! We did it- we’d finally been smarter than mummy and daddy and turned the power back on. And now we could all watch the telly together, without anyone finding out!
I jumped on the couch and pointed the remote towards the big, black screen that hung on the living room wall. My thumb hit the power button and I let out a happy cheer as the screen lit up with a bright flash- and the next moment my smile disappeared.
Instead of the children’s channel we were all expecting, a bright blue screen appeared. In the middle of that screen flashed thick, wite letters. I couldn’t read well yet and was still struggling with the words when both my brothers and sisters were already done. Ivan let out a groan.
I finally finished reading and instantly knew what he had been groaning about.
YOUR PUNISHMENT JUST DOUBLED.
‘Oh, fudging melonsockers,’ Ciel mumbled.
‘We’re so doomed,’ Ceci whispered, completely forgetting to get mad at Ciel because he swore. All five of us stared at the screen, too baffled to say anything.
We sure hadn’t seen that coming.
We stood there for at least two whole minutes, until Tori finally made a sound. I looked to my left and thought she was moping, but there was a smile on her peach-colored lips. And not a little one. Tori was laughing at us. At ús.
‘What’s so funny?’ Ciel sneered.
‘You should see your face!’ she giggled. ‘That’s priceless!’
I started chuckling too at the expression he made. He looked like an angry monkey that just had a banana stolen from under him. That in turn made Ceci smile and soon we were all giggling, both from Ciel’s expression and from nervousness about the text on the screen.
‘So now what do we do?’ Ivan said eventually. ‘We can forget about watching tv for today.’
Ceci fiddled with her shirt. She looked like she was about to say something unpleasant, something that she wasn’t very happy about doing, herself.
‘Let’s just do what we’re told. You know, clean the bathrooms.’
‘No waaay!’ I protested. ‘That’s boring. I don’t wanna!’
‘Do you want to get yelled at by dad even more, then?’ Tori asked.
‘Well, then. I suggest we split up and each take a room to clean. Ivan and Ciel can do the boy’s room, and we can take care of the girl’s bathroom, Raven. Ceci is the fastest cleaner out of all of us, so she should get started on the kitchen, and then we can all help her out when we’re done. How does that sound?’
I grumbled and moped for a bit, nodding eventually.
‘Fine. As long as I don’t have to do the toilet.’
And that’s how it happened. We all split up, grabbing whatever cleaning tools we could find, and made our way towards the bathrooms, leaving Ceci behind in the kitchen. The bathrooms weren’t big, but there still was a lot to clean. I hated cleaning things. And on top of that I was alone with Tori, who I couldn’t tease or pull pranks on. It wasn’t fun at all and I could feel myself slowly getting grumpy.
‘Here,’ Tori said, handing me a sponge. ‘Let’s clean the bath first. It’s the biggest thing here, so it would be good to have that out of the way.’
I nodded and walked over to the sink, holding the sponge underneath the running water to make it wet. Just as I turned the sink, I heard Tori’s voice behind me.
‘And no pranks, okay? I don’t feel like getting wet for your entertainment.’
We then turned silent and started cleaning the huge bathtub, both starting on one side. Tori worked without looking away, but I stopped to look outside every once in a while. The rain had finally started coming down from the sky, and it wasn’t a little bit of rain. I hoped it wouldn’t turn into a storm. I really hated storms.
Just as Tori and I were done with the bath, Ivan came staggering in. He smelled like cleaning tools, just like the two of us.
‘What is it?’ Tori asked. Are you done cleaning already? In that case, you can help us out over here.’
Ivan shook his head, making his black hair dance around. ‘No, that’s not it. I was just thinking…’
‘We’ve been cleaning since this morning. It’s almost noon. The babysitter- shouldn’t she be here by now?’
I stopped rubbing the tub with my sponge and frowned. He was right. That really was weird. Daddy had said she’d be here in twenty minutes, right? So why wasn’t she here yet? Because of the rain?
‘Maybe she doesn’t want to come because it’s raining?’ I said out loud, pointing at the window.
‘No way, Raven. She gets paid to babysit us. If she doesn’t show up, she won’t get her money and daddy probably won’t hire her again.’
‘Then what do you think happened?’
Ivan opened his mouth to answer me, but at the same time we heard a terrible scream come from the kitchen, together with the sound of something breaking.
‘Ceci?!’ Ivan yelled, turning around as fast as he could. He bolted out of the bathroom and Tori and I followed, dropping our sponges. It was only a few steps to the kitchen. There she was, with empty hands and a lot of broken glass pieces around her feet.
‘Are you all right? What happened?’ Ivan said, with a worried look on his face. Tori and I ducked to get the glass pieces just when Ciel peeked around the corner to see what was going on.
‘It’s nothing, sorry,’ Ceci muttered. ‘I just thought I saw something and then the glass fell out of my hands.’
‘Saw what?’ Ciel said from across the room. ‘What did you see?’
‘Never mind. Let’s keep on cleaning. Mum and dad could be home any time now.’
She carefully stepped out of the pile of glass and fetched a broom from the closet to clean it up. Ivan and Tori shot each other looks. They then shrugged and turned around, going back to the bathrooms.
Seconds later, I was the only one still in the kitchen area with Ceci.
Outside, the weather was turning even worse. I could see the trees bending over from the wind, together with the rain slamming against the window. Suddenly, the image of two glowing eyes came back into my memory and I started to feel nervous.
‘Raven, go back with Tori,’ Ceci said over her shoulder. ‘You’re not done cleaning yet, right?’
‘Did you see something outside of the window?’ I asked, ignoring her command. ‘You did, didn’t you? What did you see?’
‘I told you, it’s nothing. I bet it was just a branch or something. Now can you please help us clean everything in time before dad triple-grounds us?’
Ceci turned away from me and threw the glass pieces into the dustbin. She continued cleaning the kitchen, but I didn’t go back to help my other big sister. My eyes stayed fixated on the kitchen window, and turned narrow when I heard the wind howl around our house.
It… didn’t feel right. There was something wrong, I was sure of it. The sky flashed grey as the rain poured down on our house, making the room much darker than it normally was. I saw a single streak of lightning come down to the ground. A strange shadow was cast across the wall and then, suddenly, I was sure of it.
There was something outside.
I turned around and ran to the nearest bathroom, where Ivan and Ciel were cleaning. Ciel had his head half inside his cleaning bucket, wetting his sponge. He was just about to get started on the sink when I grabbed his arm and pulled him back.
‘What is it? I’m busy,’ Ciel growled.
‘Ciel, there’s something outside the house.’
‘Yeah, like I’m going to fall for that one,’ he said, pulling his arm loose. ‘Get back to cleaning your part, Raven, we only have a few more minutes.’
‘But I’m serious!’
‘I’m serious too. Now get lost. You’re distracting me.’
He didn’t believe me. Of course not, he probably thought I was trying to prank him like I normally was. But I really, really wasn’t. Not this time.
I ran out of the bathroom again and started to look for Ivan. He was back in our bedroom, cleaning up the toys lying scattered on the floor. I bumped into him before he could leave again and grabbed his arm, just like I’d done with Ciel.
‘What’s wrong?’ he said, but in a different tone than his twin brother. ‘Aren’t we all supposed to be cleaning?’
‘There’s something wrong,’ I said, my voice a lot higher than normal. ‘There’s something wrong, but Ciel doesn’t believe me.’
‘Of course he doesn’t. You make fun of him too many times, Raven.’
‘But I’m serious this time!’ I said. ‘I’m really, really serious! I’m normally joking, but this time it’s different.’
‘You swear it’s not a joke?’ Ivan asked, looking me straight in the eyes. I nodded vigorously.
I let go of his arm and looked at him, waiting for a reaction. He thought it over for a few seconds, I could see it in his golden eyes, before he finally nodded.
‘I believe you. What’s wrong?’
I looked down at the ground and fiddled with my shirt, suddenly unsure of what to say. How could I explain to him that I had a bad feeling without sounding stupid? I wanted Ivan to keep believing me. He had to keep believing me, otherwise no one would and then something terrible would happen.
‘I think there’s… something outside of our house,’ I finally muttered.
‘What do you mean?’
‘I saw something when we were looking for the cupboard key. And Ceci thought she saw something outside, too. And it’s really dark, and the babysitter is still not here and- it just feels wrong.’
My voice gradually turned higher when I said that line and at the end, I was almost squeaking again. Outside, the sky was lit up by another streak of lightning. I flinched and stared at the window, scared to look outside.
‘It’s just the rain,’ Ivan said, comforting me. ‘There’s nothing to worry about. But if you’re that upset about it… what do you say we close all of the curtains? That way no-one can look inside.’
That was good. Yes. I nodded, relieved that he wanted to help… although he didn’t really seem to believe me. But for now, this was good enough.
Ivan walked over to the closest window and grabbed the curtains, pulling them together firmly. The rain and lightning were still there, but now I couldn’t see it anymore.
‘See? Closed. How’s that? Better?’
‘Yeah. Thank you, Ivan.’
He came back to where I was and took my hand, walking me out of the bedroom. The warmth of his fingers made me feel safe, as if just standing next to him made all of my nerves just go away.
‘Come on, Raven. Let’s go get the other curtains, too.’
We then made a circle through the entire house, closing all the curtains we could find. I clutched onto Ivan’s hand tightly, glad to have him with me. It always made everything feel safer if he was around. Him or Ciel. I felt like, if either of those two were with me, there was nothing that could harm us.
After a few minutes and some weird looks from the others, we were finally done. All of the outside light was blocked, but some of the lamps were still turned on, casting dark shadows across the walls. Ciel, Ceci and Tori had stopped their cleaning and had followed us, curious about what we were doing.
‘I think we’ve got them all now,’ Ivan said. He looked around the living room, to check if we forgot any curtains. All of them were shut tight.
‘There. Do you feel better now, Raven?’
‘What’s with the closing of the curtains?’ Tori complained. ‘It’s only getting darker like that, you know!’
‘Raven’s afraid of the storm,’ Ciel snickered. ‘You baby.’
‘I’m not! I told you there was something outside!’
‘Ciel, don’t upset her even more,’ Ivan scolded his brother. Ciel sputtered and started naming every time I’d angered him in the past two days, including this morning. No one listened to him, though.
Behind me, the room flashed white together with the sound of another thunder shock. It came from the spare room- the only place we hadn’t been yet. It had been a spare bedroom at first, but now mum and dad used it to store away things they didn’t want to sell or throw out. They didn’t want us breaking things in there, so that room was usually forbidden.
‘I’ll close that it,’ I said to Ivan, and ran off before he could protest.
‘Hey- Raven! We’re not supposed to go in there! Come back, you’ll break things!’
He chased after me into the spare room. There were a lot of things in there- an old cupboard, a tiny table and a lot of dad’s old tools, together with a big pile of junk. I took a few steps and almost tripped over a garden gnome, but Ivan grabbed me just in time.
‘Be careful! I wouldn’t be surprised if mum hid a bomb between all this junk, so make sure not to step on anything.’
I laughed. Mum was a really quiet person, but when we were alone with daddy, he sometimes told stories about what a daredevil she used to be. How she went to the graveyards at night, and how she even had a run-in with some secret agents one time. I could already imagine her hiding a bomb here somewhere, and did just as Ivan told me, being extra careful where I stepped. Soon we were right next to the window and I closed the slats, blocking out the rain.
‘Is that the last one?’
‘Yeah,’ my brother said. ‘I’m sure we’ve got them all this time. Do you feel better now?’
I smiled and nodded, grabbing Ivan’s hand. ‘Yeah. Thank you, Ivan. Really. And… I’m sorry for always pulling pranks on you.’
‘No problem,’ he said, and winked to me. ‘That’s what we’re here for, big brothers and all. I know you don’t mean anything bad with it.
Now what do you say we go help Ceci with the kitchen?’
My mood was all back to happy again, and I looked forward to being done cleaning so we could all go play. Maybe I could even get Tori to read me one of her fantasy books. I usually hated books, but the way Tori read them made me want to sit down and listen to her until the end of the story. She just had this way of speaking that made it fun.
With that thought in my head, I turned around and started to walk back to the living room. The glass door was still half open, and I stretched my hand at it to push it out of the way when I saw something move near the door in the hall- something big. At the same time, Ivan grabbed my shoulders from behind and pulled me to the right violently, blocking my sight at the front door.
‘Raven. Get in the cupboard. Now.’
‘What?’ I said, confused. I tried to look behind me at Ivan’s face, but I couldn’t see him.
‘Just get in! Hurry!’
He pushed me behind him and forced me into the big, worn-down closet, grabbing the doors behind me. I could smell the scent of old clothes and dust swirled around my feet. It was really dark in the closet and I hated it instantly.
‘What’s going on?!’ I asked, confused. ‘I don’t want to go in! I hate this place!’
‘Raven, don’t open the doors. Promise you won’t come out until I come get you! No matter what you hear!’
‘Promise!’ he almost yelled that word. Ivan was never this serious and it scared me.
‘I promise! But-‘
The wooden doors smashed shut in my face and threw up a big dust cloud. The dust flew right into my face and I quickly closed my eyes, afraid they would start hurting. Outside, I could hear Ivan running out of the room. Where was he going? Why’d he force me into this dusty, dark old closet?
There were sounds of someone scratching on the front door. I gulped and pushed against the cupboard door, opening it just a little bit to see what was going on. There were multiple silhouettes of people just outside our front door, and they weren’t mum and dad.
Suddenly, something banged against the door really hard and I heard something crack, after which the door just flew open, hitting the dresser next to it and knocking a potted plant to the ground. The rain came swirling in, together with multiple footsteps.
On the other side of the room I could see Ivan and Ciel, pushing Ceci and Tori away from the door. The faces of my two big brothers were locked in an expression I couldn’t identify. I’d never seen their faces turn that way before. Not once in the eight years that I’d known them. And yet just looking at Ivan and Ciel in that state had its effect on me as well, as I felt my heartbeat pick up. I could feel my blood pulsating In my ears and my gaze was pulled, slowly and steadily, back to the front door.
And then I instantly knew what the look in their eyes was.