The bright yellow cab came to a screeching halt, splashing droplets of water across the sidewalk. I could hear the rumbling of the exhaust as I gave the taxi man his money. He huffed quietly under his breath while he counted the crumpled-up banknotes.
The cab felt so warm and welcoming inside, unlike the outside, which was a blistering cold breeze that blew the dying leaves from the trees into the wind. The harsh wind sliced through the open gap of the cab window and whipped into my already dry chapped lips.
I didn’t want to venture out into the freezing cold, nor did I want to stay in here with this creepy-looking cab driver.
“Would you like some help with your luggage?” He asked.
His voice sounded so crackly, like dead leaves. He wore an old baseball cap on his head which covered up his greying hair. He wore stained baggy clothes, making him look unkempt and shaggy.
“Yes please,” I murmured under my thick woollen scarf.
He nodded slowly, heaving his podgy body out of the cab, and hobbled round to the boot of the car.
I could hear him grunting to himself as I got out and joined him around the back to retrieve my luggage from his grasp.
Crunchy autumn leaves lined the sidewalk, some slightly wet from the rain that had poured down from the evening before.
“Is this your new home then?” The cab driver huffed.
“Yes, it is. It’s a shared house. I’m saving up for an apartment here, so for the time being, this will have to do.” I said while looking up at the old building.
The three-storey building looked quite weather-beaten but somewhat dilapidated. It was particularly beautiful, yet dark and hulking. The building was of a dark grey and stood out from the rest of the apartments that were attached to each side. The windows looked narrow and dingy, with a slight balcony sticking out from each one, surrounded by an old gnarled iron railing.
The roof was full of stone slates that joined up into the middle, making an unusually high point for this type of building. I could see a small chimney sticking out from the side of the roof, emitting a dark, blackening smoke which was quickly dispersing into the chilly wind. The last of the sun rays glinted off of the small attic window that loomed above us.
It was as if someone had pulled a quirky-looking building out of a bohemian gothic painting and plonked it straight in the middle of a modern-looking street.
Someone had attached a wooden plaque to the front door stating ‘Built in 1888’ in faded gold letters.
Two dark grey pillars stood before the large black wooden door with a huge iron knocker attached to it. A shiny gold post box on the front door stood out from the bleak colours of the building.
It looked abandoned, yet well kept as if it was a snippet of history caught in time.
This was 1988, so it was weird to see a house like this still standing, as a lot of them had been torn down to make room for tower blocks.
“I didn’t know that this building was occupied again.” The cab driver stated.
“Well I hope so, otherwise we have the wrong house.” I laughed nervously.
“Better make sure before I drive off as there isn’t a telephone box for a few blocks.” He warned.
I nodded and made my way up the narrow gravelly path and onto the stone steps that led to the front door.
I grasped the large front door knocker and slammed it down as hard as I could. I could see a dark silhouette appear from behind the frosted glass pane of the door while I waited outside in the cold weather.
“Come in!” A woman’s voice shouted from behind the door.
I pushed the door open with little effort and walked in slowly. An eerie feeling crept its way up my spine as I made my way into the large open lobby.
The inside of the building looked just as gothic as the exterior outside. There was hardly a shed of colour throughout the room, apart from different tones of grey. An old chandelier hung low from the ceiling, casting a warming light across the large lobby. A large set of winding stairs was situated in the back of the lobby that must lead to the first floor. The stairs were of a shiny white marble with a sleek-looking banister on each side.
A large black wooden mirror occupied most of the wall at the back which bounced back the light that came through the window from the front door. Onto my left was a doorway leading into a room that looked like a dining room. To my right was also another door that was shut. In front of me, the lobby led behind the staircase and into what looked like the kitchen, which had out-of-date appliances. It felt as if I had stepped back in time with a mix of all sorts of eras jumbled up into a house. I looked around while admiring the vintage beauty of the place, but I also couldn’t help but think how strange and unusual this place looked.
I did not like the feeling of the house at all. It was as if my senses could pick up on something that my eyes could not see.
And where did the person behind the door go?
They could not have moved that quickly without me noticing them.
A young woman with brown pin-curled hair appeared at the top of the landing with her arms crossed. She wore bright red lipstick and winged eyeliner to show off her elegant face. She pouted her big lips while staring at me suspiciously and I also noticed that she was dressed in clothes that were thirty years out of date.
I looked down at the vibrant mix of bright colours that I wore and noticed how different our styles were from each other.
“Who are you?” She demanded.
“My name is Sara. I’m the new tenant of room 5.” I replied.
“You’re a week early.” She stated. “But never mind as you are here now.”
I stared at her confused, as I knew that this was the right date that she had stated in her letter that I had received from her a few weeks ago.
“I shall be leaving now.” The cab driver said while dumping my luggage into the main entrance of the house.
He didn’t wait for a reply and walked off towards his cab, glancing over his shoulder once with a look of concern etched onto his face.
“Shut the door you are letting the heat out.” The woman moaned.
I did as I was told and slammed the door shut behind me.
“Are you the lady I spoke to over the phone?” I asked.
“I am.” She nodded. “So you already know that the first month’s rent is free and then after that, you will pay by cash to me or Elizabeth who is in room 1 at the very top of the second floor.”
“That is fine,” I muttered.
“Depending on how long you will stay here for, you may only see Elizabeth a few times, as she keeps to herself and does not mix with the other ladies who also reside here. All you need to do is to slot the rent money underneath her door in an envelope with your name on it. You already know my name, so there is no need for me to introduce myself.” She explained.
The eerie feeling that I had felt started to return as I stared up at Maria while remembering what the cabman had said earlier about no one occupying this house.
Maria had stated in her letter that she and a few of the other tenants had been living here for a while, so why would the cabman say that he didn’t realise that this place was occupied again?
Nothing made sense. It felt like the cab driver knew something about this house that I didn’t know of. It was as if he didn’t want to say anything and he left pretty quickly afterward. I didn’t like the feel of Maria, or from my new home, but I knew that I could not back out now as this was the cheapest place that I could find within my budget.
“I shall show you to your room.” She said, motioning for me to follow her.
I picked up my luggage and struggled my way up the stone marble stairs that led to the first floor.
A large hand-drawn painting of a pretty woman dressed in a purple Victorian dress was hung up just outside my room. There was a small wooden plaque underneath the painting that stated ‘Elizabeth 1860-1888’. Underneath the painting was a small table that held a large gold and black vase with fresh blue roses soaking inside.
I didn’t think you could get blue roses, but here they were sending a splash of colour throughout the hallway.
“Who is the lady in the painting?” I asked Maria.
She stopped in her tracks and looked at the painting with admiration.
“That is Elizabeth. She is a relation of room 1. This house was owned by her and She was also a writer.” Maria smiled and stroked the painting lightly with her fingers.
After a few seconds, she stepped away from the painting and took out a bunch of old-looking keys from her pocket.
“You will have your own key which will be given to you later. The room is all yours and you can also use the facilities downstairs, but I must ask that you clean up afterward. Dinner is at 6pm sharp.” She said whilst unlocking the room.
“So we all have to eat together?” I asked.
“Didn’t you receive my letter of instructions before you came here?” she questioned raising her eyebrows.
“I thought that that was a joke,” I replied.
She shook her head slightly and opened the door.
“No, Sara. That was not a joke. My instructions were quite clear before you agreed to rent this room. We shall all eat dinner together at 6pm, cooked fresh each day by room 2. I am the designated one to collect the groceries from the front porch when they get delivered weekly. If you have any special requirements then please don’t hesitate to talk to room 2. The laundry is done each week by room 5, which is you. Room 1 is always the one to sort out the bills, which is Elizabeth. Room 4 is a newbie too but her job is to keep the garden out the back tidy. Room 6’s job is to maintain the property. I could go on with the other roommates but you get my gist. I have written all this down for you. Do I need to write it out again?” She warned.
“No, you don’t need to,” I murmured.
“Good. We all have chores to do Sara, so it makes sense for each of us to be designated to one chore each.” She explained.
“I suppose it makes sense,” I replied while looking around my new home.
The room looked quite large with a master four-poster bed situated in the middle, entwined with purple fabric that had been tied with gold rope around each post. There were two antique-looking wooden bedside tables by each side of the bed with identical porcelain lamps resting on top.
To the back of the room, underneath the dingy-looking window, a desk lay with a pile of old leather-bound books resting on top, sat next to a typewriter.
Heavy purple fabric curtains had been tied back with more gold rope which framed perfectly around the window.
The carpet looked old and straggly with dark green faded patterns, mixed with a year’s worth of dark red stains. An old Victorian wardrobe rested against the back wall with a chest of drawers looking very close in resemblance situated next to it. A strange smell mixed with dust and decay reached my nose, making me sneeze loudly.
“It’s not much but I’m sure you can make it more homely for yourself. Every room has been provided with a typewriter, as every tenant that resides here is a writer.” She smiled sweetly and started to walk out of the room before she turned and added. “I have a word of warning to you Sara. The front door will be locked from 9am-8pm as we allow no visitors here, nor do we allow people to come and go as they please.”
“What if I need to go out?” I asked in shock.
“This is Elizabeth’s instructions, Sara. Not mine. This was all stated to you in a letter before you accepted the room to rent. You have accepted this room have you not?” She asked sternly.
I could not back out now, otherwise, I would be on the streets without a home I thought to myself. I will stay here until I can find another place to live.
I suppose I will have to abide by the rules whilst saving up for a better apartment.
“I shall stay.” I nodded reluctantly.
“At least this will give you time to write as much as you need to. You write for the newspaper don’t you?” She asked, yawning slightly as if she was already bored of our conversation.
“Yes, but I’ve only just started, so it will take a while to build myself up as a proper writer,” I explained to her.
“You will have time here to do your work in peace. Elizabeth only likes to have tenants that are writers, as we spend most of our time working in our rooms and we don’t make a racket. It won’t take too long to get up to speed with New York. I’m sure you will be fine. All you have to do is use the typewriter and write out the best you can for the newspaper. I can then send them off for you” She offered.
“May I ask you something before you go?” I questioned. “Why are there so many rules here?”
“The lady of the house likes to have order and if you are so serious about writing for a living, then the rules would not matter to you.” She said.
I was taken aback and didn’t particularly know what to say back to her.
“So I have to abide by every rule that this woman that I haven’t even met has made?” I protested.
“If you want to live here, then yes you do. Anyway dinner is at 6pm, so I will see you then” She shrugged her shoulders and walked out of the room, leaving the room in total silence.
Something seemed very strange with this place and I didn’t like the feel of it at all. Maria was a very strange character indeed, but not as strange as what I’ve heard about Elizabeth. I hope that there was one normal person here who would show me a little kindness.
I sat down on the edge of the bed and sighed loudly.
This was not what I had imagined of coming to the city. I thought that I would have a sleek modern apartment, where I could use my time to write as much as I needed and to go out when I pleased.
Being here was like being at summer camp when I was younger, with curfews and not being able to go anywhere without adult supervision.
This was the 80’s and the time of keeping women at home was changing rapidly for the better. We had jobs now and we could basically do what we wanted, but this place was as if it was stuck in time.
“Hello?” A voice called out from the hallway.
“Can I help you?” I asked.
A girl’s head appeared around the corner of my door smiling. She had bleached blonde, straight hair with a long oval face. Her big blue eyes were the first feature that I had noticed, as they were the colour of the deep blue sea. She looked very tall and slender as she walked into my room. She could be classed as a supermodel, especially with the stylish clothes that she was wearing. At least her clothes looked more modern and up to date than Maria’s.
“You must be Sara. My name is Megan and I moved in here a few weeks ago.” She introduced herself.
“So you must know more than I do about the rules here then?” I laughed lightly.
She nodded giggling and came closer into the room while shutting the door behind her.
“There are so many rules, that I have forgotten most of them.” She said.
“What do you make of the place?” I asked intrigued.
Her smile disappeared in exchange for a look of concern.
“Well to put it quite simple. This is the weirdest place that I have ever lived. The roommates are nice enough but are quite weird and everything in this place is an antique.” She explained.
She came in and sat down beside me on my bed.
“That’s what I was thinking too. Even the phone downstairs is ancient.” I muttered.
“I know right. It’s totally weird, but it will have to do for the time being.” Megan added.
“What do you think of the front door being locked?” I asked.
She glanced sideways at me with a stern expression.
“That is the worst part about living here. I suppose it does help me write more, but it also feels as if we are in prison as well.” She said.
She got up from the bed and looked out of the window to the street below.
“I don’t understand why there are so many rules.” I sighed loudly.
“The rent is cheap though, so it does give me time to save up for another place. The only thing that annoys me is I have to type everything out on a typewriter and then give it to Maria to be sent off. We are not allowed to use the phone downstairs until after 8pm and if we need to search for any information for our writing then we have to ask Maria to be able to go into the library downstairs to use the books. The books are so out of date, that there is no point in using them. Some of them even date back to the early 1900s. The front door is locked, so we can’t even go to the public library. ” She moaned whilst tracing her finger along the top of the typewriter.
“How long have the others been living here for?” I asked her.
She turned to face me and shrugged her shoulders while leaning herself against the desk.
“Apparently they have been here for years and they love it here. I can tell that Maria hasn’t left this place for ages as her style is so out of date. The girl in room 2 still wears clothes from the 1920s.” She then added. “Do you want to know what the weirdest thing about this place is?”
I nodded and joined her at the window.
“Ever since I moved here, I have been having nightmares each night about the stories that I write coming true. It’s totally weird and the dreams are always so vivid as well.” She explained.
“That is weird. I would not want to dream about my stories as even though I write for a newspaper, I write short horror stories as well.” I laughed nervously.
“That’s what the genre of my stories is as well. They are a mix of horror and thriller. That’s why my dreams are so scary and they seem so real.” She muttered underneath her breath.
“I suppose we will just have to save up and then move again as I don’t want to stay here. This place is already giving me the creeps.” I replied.
“ Exactly. We shall just have to deal with the weirdness of this place for the time being. I may even add this place into one of my horror stories!” She giggled loudly.
“That’s a good idea! I may join you on that one!” I laughed with her.
Megan looked at her watch and gasped.
“We need to go downstairs for dinner. If we are late then Maria can get quite upset about it!” She squeaked.
She then grabbed my hand and dragged me downstairs towards the dining room.
Megan stopped outside the door that led into the dining room and spoke quietly “Do not make any jokes and you only start eating when Maria picks up her knife and fork. I was taught that rule the first evening that I was here as she had a massive anger fit when I picked up my cutlery and nearly stabbed her fork into my hand.”
I nodded feeling slightly disturbed with what Megan had just said and followed her reluctantly into the dining room, where they were all waiting for us in silence.
The first thing that I could notice about the room was the huge crystal chandelier that hovered above the main table. The crystals glinted off of the light sending flurries of little sparkles across the room.
The table in the middle had a red table cloth over it, with a silver candle holder in the middle. There were four, red velvet chairs on each side and one on each of the ends of the table. The table was filled with steaming hot plates of delicious-looking food and wine glasses filled to the brim with a bright red liquid.
The red curtains at the back were closed tightly, shutting out the remaining evening light from outside.
Maria was sat at the end of the table in front of a large bookcase, filled with old leather-bound books that looked as if they had seen better days.
Six other women were sitting at the table, all looking gloomy and bleak. They all wore the same expression until they noticed that we had arrived and started to smile in our direction, apart from Maria.
“You are late,” Maria growled.
“Sorry, we were talking and forgot about the time,” Megan replied, perching her bum onto one of the chairs.
I was about to pull up the chair opposite Maria until she clicked her fingers loudly, stopping me in my tracks.
“That is where the lady of the house sits Sara. You can sit next to Alicia.” She said pointing to the woman with jet black curly hair.
“When do we get to meet Elizabeth?” I asked as I pulled the chair out and sat down.
“Elizabeth will appear when she wants to. As I said to you earlier Sara, she likes to stay in her room.” Maria stated.
“So why do we have to all sit down for a meal and she can stay in her room?” I burst out before I could stop myself.
“Because she is the lady of the house and she makes the rules.” She said through gritted teeth while glaring at me from across the table.
Megan kicked my leg underneath the table to stop me from talking anymore.
“Pick a plate and thank our good chef for the delicious meal,” Maria commanded.
I did as I was told and picked up the plate that was sat the nearest to me. I remembered what Megan had said and waited for Maria to pick up her knife and fork.
“You may begin,” Maria stated while picking up her cutlery.
My stomach grumbled loudly as I shovelled the first fork full of food into my mouth. The rich flavours exploded inside, sending off an earthy vibe from the food. It tasted tangy, yet smoky, making me want to eat more.
I shovelled another fork full in and then another as if I couldn’t get enough of the flavour.
“I suggest you take a drink before you choke.” The lady spoke up next to me.
I agreed with her and took a large swig of the Red liquid inside my wine glass.
It tasted fruitier than red wine, but it was still very delicious.
“This is amazing,” I said.
Maria looked up from her plate and smiled meekly.
“Jean is our cook, so thank her.” She advised.
“Thank you, Jean. I’ve never tasted anything like it. The food is lovely.” I replied.
A small smile escaped Jean’s lips as she lifted her glass for a toast.
“To our new tenant.” She announced.
The others also raised their glasses and chorused together. “To our new tenant.”
My cheeks grew red with embarrassment as I lifted my glass joining in with the toast.
“Where is Daisy? Shouldn’t she be here too?” Megan asked.
“Daisy left first thing this morning.” Maria declared.
“She would have told me if she was moving out.” Megan went on. “She wouldn’t just get up and leave without saying goodbye.”
“Daisy had a job opportunity in the next city, so she had to leave as soon as possible,” Maria responded quickly.
“Did she leave a number?” Megan pressed.
Maria slammed her hand onto the table in frustration, sending a shiver of shock through all of us.
“No, she did not leave a number, Megan. She left and took all of her stuff with her this morning. Maybe she didn’t say goodbye to you because you both may not have been as close as you would like to think.” She smirked.
“I don’t know how close you could be, especially if you were sleeping with them.” Megan spat back.
Maria dropped her fork onto the plate in shock. Her face turned to a ghostly white as she just stared at Megan from across the table in disbelief.
“That type of behaviour is not allowed in this house. Make sure that it doesn’t happen again.” Maria glared at her with cold foreboding eyes.
“There wasn’t anything stated in the rules about it. Besides she would have left her number for me and would have said goodbye, instead of just disappearing like that.” Megan stated.
“That’s enough! She has gone, so deal with it!” Maria screeched loudly.
The room fell into a hostile silence and no one decided to speak for a good few minutes until Maria clinked her glass with her fork.
“After dinner, we shall all retire to our rooms to carry on with our writing. Any finished work should be handed to me first thing tomorrow morning.” Maria spoke firmly.
She pushed back her chair and stood up. Her plate looked only half-eaten and her glass was left untouched. She bowed down and did a little curtsey, before promptly leaving the room without saying another word.
“I don’t believe that Daisy would just leave like that. She would have left me a goodbye note or something.” Megan whispered to me.
“What do you think happened?” I whispered back.
“I’m not sure Sara, but this place is starting to give me the creeps. We need to check out her room to see if Daisy did take all of her belongings as Maria stated.” Megan hinted.
“We need to get the key to her room.” I nodded in agreement.
“Maria has a copy of all the keys in the house, so all we need to do is sneak into her room and grab them. Are you up for that?” Megan dared.
I was already starting to get a bad feeling about this plan as it sounded so easy, but I had a strong feeling that Maria was a light sleeper and it could all go terribly wrong.
“What if we get caught?” I asked.
“We won’t get caught if we tread carefully Sara. We shall do it tonight, as I don’t think that I could wait until tomorrow.” Megan pleaded with me through her eyes.
“Ok fine.” I reluctantly said.
We both got up from the table and left the other girls chattering away to each other, not noticing that we had both left.
“So the plan is that we sneak into her room whilst she is sleeping, grab the keys and then unlock Daisy’s door. We then put the keys back where we found them, so she won’t notice.” Megan instructed.
“What if her door is locked?” I questioned her.
She shook her head disagreeing and headed up the stairs to the first floor.
“She doesn’t lock her door during the night. She only locks it if she is not in there.” She replied.
“I’m starting to panic already Megan and we haven’t even started yet.” I stammered.
“Don’t worry, Sara. It will all work out, I promise. You panic too much.” She joked.
We stopped outside my door and listened to see if any noises were coming from upstairs. There was a light sound of footsteps walking back from what sounded like the bathroom.
“We shall wait another hour and then head up there. Wait for me outside your door and don’t make any noise.” Megan ordered and then left me to go to her room.
Although I had an hour to prepare myself, I already felt a low sense of dread creeping its way up from the pit of my stomach. My hands started to shake as I crept quietly into my room. The place was in darkness and it was hard to see where I was going. Whilst I was fumbling for the light switch, I noticed a tall dark figure standing next to the window.
My heart leapt into my throat as I slapped the wall in panic, trying to grasp the light switch. The figure moved into the moonlight that streamed in from outside, lighting the left side of it up. The figure was of a woman, dressed in a long purple Victorian dress with dark brown hair, which was pinned back into a tight bob. I could not see her face, but she looked like the exact resemblance of the woman in the painting that was hung outside in the hallway.
After about a minute of trying to find the light switch, my hand had finally come across it. The room lit up suddenly as I turned the switch on. The figure was gone, leaving only a slight lavender smell behind.
This house was starting to scare me.
Megan was right. This house was creepy and most of the tenants were weird and unnaturally eerie. I think Megan is the only normal one out of all of them.
I decided to sit on the edge of the bed, leaving my luggage still in their cases, and wait for Megan to arrive. I did not want to unpack any of my suitcases in case that if we find something bad in Daisy’s room, then I would want to get out of here as quickly as possible.
The hour went by quickly and before I knew it the time was 11PM. Megan was where she said that she would be, but this time she was dressed in a set of blue silk pyjamas with fluffy slippers that matched.
“Are you ready?” She quietly asked.
I nodded and followed her out of the room and towards the next set of stairs that led upstairs to the second floor.
“I’m hoping that everyone will be asleep by now,” I whispered.
She stopped in her tracks and carefully listened to see if any more noises could be heard.
There was nothing but silence.
“Let’s keep moving.” Megan hissed and carried on walking up the stairs.
The closer we would get to Maria’s room, the more I would start to panic. My hands were shaking uncontrollably and beads of sweat started to appear upon my forehead. I felt very uncomfortable and quite frankly very scared to be a part of this absurd plan.
“You need to quieten your breathing, Sara.” Megan hissed over her shoulder.
“I can’t help it! I’m scared!” I muttered underneath my breath.
There it was. Room 3, which was situated at the far end of the hallway, looking gloomy and unwelcoming as the hallway light had been switched off.
“You need to stick to this side as there is a broken floorboard around that bit and it will creak if you step on it.” Megan insisted as she pulled me behind her.
We crept our way to Maria’s room without making a noise and stood outside, waiting for each other to take the first step into her room.
“You can go as you are the smallest, and if you need to hide, then it will be easier for you as my body is longer than yours,” Megan instructed.
“Uh-uh, no way am I going in there. This was your idea.” I argued.
“I’m too tall! She would be able to see me if she wakes up. I will stand here and watch her for you and if she does catch us then I will say that I had pushed you into it.” She promised.
I reluctantly grasped the handle and twisted it until it opened. I slowly eased the door open and took a step inside. I could hardly see anything at all because the room was pitch black, so I had to wait for a couple of seconds until my eyes adjusted to the darkness.
“They should be on her desk over there,” Megan whispered behind me.
I made my way over to the desk without making a noise and spotted the bunch of keys sitting next to a typewriter, which looked identical to the one that I had in my room.
I tried to carefully pick up the keys but they made a loud jangly noise that echoed down the hallway. Luckily I didn’t hear Maria stir so I carried on tiptoeing back out of the room. My heart was beating so fast and I was now sweating profusely.
“Hold on a second. She is not even in here.” Megan realised.
She opened the door as wide as it would go and stormed into the room, letting the light from the hallway stream in. She lifted the covers from Maria’s bed to double-check that she wasn’t there.
She was right, Maria was not there, nor was she in the room.
“Where is she then if she is not in here?” I asked.
“I don’t actually know,” Megan said looking baffled.
She took my hand and dragged me from Maria’s room with the bunch of keys still in my hand.
“We need to hurry up,” Megan spoke as she observed the hallway, looking for signs of Maria.
She dashed to the staircase with me in tow and hurried down the stairs, whilst trying to not make a noise.
“I really don’t like this Megan. I need a wash because I am sweating so much. That is how uncomfortable I feel with this whole situation.” I pleaded with her.
She stopped in her tracks and turned to face me. She had a look of fear etched onto her face and her legs were violently shaking.
“To be honest with you Sara, I don’t like this situation either but I must know if Daisy did leave with all her belongings. Something doesn’t add up here and I want to know what actually happened to her.” She whispered.
“I suppose you are right but let’s do this quickly please,” I complained.
She agreed and then carried on tiptoeing to Daisy’s old room which was situated across the hall from her room.
“Which key is hers?” I asked whilst holding them up in front of her.
“I’m not sure. We shall have to try all of them until we find the right one.” Megan said shrugging her shoulders.
I knew that this was a bad idea. I should have listened to my instinct and kept out of it. I would have been snuggled up in bed by now asleep but instead, I am outside a girl’s room that I don’t even know like a detective trying to find clues.
“This is a ridiculous Megan.” I scolded her.
“Just hurry up as I can hear footsteps coming from upstairs!” She panicked.
She was right and they were heading straight towards us at a rapid speed. I hastily put the first key in the lock and turned it but there was no click.
I then tried the second key and that too was not the right key either.
“Go faster!” Megan hissed.
The footsteps were now heading downstairs and were getting closer and closer with every passing second that I was trying to unlock the door.
My hands were shaking so much from panicking, that the keys slipped through my fingers and jangled to the floor, making a loud thump.
Megan pushed me out of the way and grabbed the keys. She jammed each key into the lock until one of them clicked.
“Who’s there?” A woman’s voice which sounded like Maria’s called out.
“Get in there quickly.” Megan spluttered, shoving me violently into the room while closing the door quietly behind her.
She locked the door and then gave me the keys to hold. She then knelt down and peered through the keyhole to see who the footsteps belonged to. The footsteps stopped inches from Daisy’s room and I could hear her whispering to someone who was also outside the door.
“I swear I heard something,” Maria whispered.
“Well, whoever it was isn’t here now.” The other woman said.
“When shall we move the rest of Daisy’s belongings?” Maria asked.
“We need to move them now before that girl Megan starts searching for answers. Did you stick to the story?” The woman questioned her.
“Yes I did, but she was trying to press me for more information. She needs to go soon as well, as she is becoming too nosey.” Maria Cautioned.
“She has only just arrived Maria. We cannot move in that quickly on her, otherwise, there will be more questions. You need to keep her sweet until I am ready for her.” The woman warned.
“Ok, I shall go and get the keys to Daisy’s room. I will be back in a minute.” Maria said and walked off towards the stairs.
Megan got up from kneeling and backed away from the door gasping. She was shaking uncontrollably and her face looked ghostly white.
“We need to hide! There should be an empty cupboard over there.” She Mouthed.
She grabbed my hand and pulled me into the cupboard at the far end of the room. I could hear her weeping quietly under her breath as she leant on my shoulder.
“I cannot find my keys. They should have been on my desk.” Maria’s voice echoed into the room.
“You better not have lost them, Maria, otherwise that would make me very angry and you know what happens when I am angry.” The woman snarled.
“I’m sorry. I promise I will find them. Please don’t get angry.” Maria pleaded.
“Go and get my set from my room now!” The woman demanded.
We could hear Maria’s footsteps rush off again, but this time she was quicker and had managed to get to the second floor within a few seconds.
“We need to leave this place.” I hissed into Megan’s ear.
She grabbed my hand and held onto it tightly whilst we waited for Maria to return with the extra set of keys.
We didn’t have to wait long as a few moments later we could hear her footsteps appear again with the keys jangling in her hand.
“Give them to me.” The woman ordered.
There was a lot of fumbling and whispering going on from behind the door and then finally the door was unlocked.
I looked through the crack in the cupboard door and noticed that Maria was holding a red candle, which was dripping hot wax onto the carpet.
“Take Daisy’s belongings down to the basement and put it with the others.” The woman said.
I could not see the other woman properly, the candlelight was quite dim, making it hard to see, but I did notice the purple dress that she was wearing.
She was the same woman that I had seen in my room from earlier.
Maria appeared in front of the gap in the cupboard with one of daisy’s suitcases in her hand. It looked like that she was placing stuff inside the suitcase.
“What is the new tenant like?” The woman in the purple dress asked.
“You will enjoy her,” Maria replied.
“You say that about all of them and when I finally do enjoy them, they are not as good as you say they are.” The woman moaned.
“You will definitely enjoy her. She is full of knowledge and writes for the newspaper.” Maria promised.
“I see. We have another journalist. I would say journalists are the most enjoyable, and I do like to savour them a bit more.” She giggled.
Maria placed the last of Daisy’s items into the case and then wheeled it out of the room. The woman followed her with the candle and slammed the door shut behind her. We heard the lock click and their footsteps disappear up the hallway.
“I don’t even know what to say.” I stammered.
“I don’t understand what is going on but what I do understand is that we need to get out of here tonight!” Megan declared.
She opened the cupboard door and stepped into the darkness of the room with me following closely behind her.
“I’m so scared Megan. I don’t think that I have ever been this scared before.” I admitted.
“Nor have I Sara, but I am more confused than scared at the moment. What do you think Maria meant?” She asked.
“Well, it kind of sounded like that woman was going to eat us or something, but that sounds ridiculous. Things like that do not happen in real life. That woman looked the same as the one in the painting, but how can that be when the woman in the painting died many years ago? None of this makes any sense at all.” I responded.
“Come on. We shall try to make sense of it after we leave this place. We need to collect our things and sneak out of the front door.” Megan instructed.
She took the keys from my hand and unlocked the door quietly. She then grasped my hand and led me back to my room.
“Get your things together and meet me here within half an hour. I shall be as quick as I can.” She said and then disappeared down the dark hallway to her room.
I already had my belongings packed, so all I needed to do was to wait for Megan to return.
I sat down on the bed and watched the clock above the door tick slowly around. The fear inside felt so overwhelming, that I realised I had slightly peed myself.
Changing my clothes would have to wait. I just need to get out of here, and I don’t care if I sleep on the streets tonight, as long as I am away from this place.
Time seemed to shift slowly. My eye’s started to close with exhaustion and my body started to feel more sluggish while I waited for the half an hour to be up.
Without realising it, I had accidentally fallen asleep on the edge of my bed.
By the time that I had awoken, it was daylight and I could hear the house come alive with voices and footsteps coming from the other tenants.
I had woken up in a sweat, trying to shake the nightmare from my thoughts as I sat up, still in my clothes, bleary-eyed and confused as to why I was here.
The dream that I had or should I say nightmare was about the woman in the purple dress standing over me just staring for a while and then reaching out, her pale hands wrapping themselves around my neck, trying to choke the life out of me.
Wait, where’s Megan?
I should have left last night with her.
I sprang up from the bed and raced towards her room. Her door was slightly open, so I crept inside, and whilst looking around her room, I noticed that all her belongings had gone.
There was no trace of her.
Her room was empty of her and her belongings.
Did she manage to escape?
She would not have left me here alone, nor would she just go without saying goodbye. She would have come for me, unless she was taken, like what happened to Daisy.
I needed to know. I needed to find out.
I ran downstairs, taking them two at a time until I bumped straight into a shocked-looking Maria, nearly knocking her down in my hastiness.
“Where are you going in a hurry?” She asked.
“I want to know where Megan is. I have something of hers that I need to return to her.” I lied.
She shook her head. “She had packed up her stuff during the night and left, leaving the front door wide open.”
“Why?” I questioned.
She shrugged her shoulders. “I have no idea Sara, and if you don’t mind I have some work I need to be doing, so do you.” She warned.
“I demand to know where she is. She would not just leave like that!” I raised my voice, loud enough for the other tenants to hear.
She glared at me. “Get out of my way. I have a lot of work to do.”
She pushed past me nearly spilling her cup of coffee as she went by, the pile of stuffed envelopes she had under her arm dropped to the floor, spilling their contents all over the stairs.
“Look what you have made me done!” She screeched.
“I’m sorry,” I muttered and picked up her letters.
I noticed Megan’s name on one of them and held it up to her. “If Megan has gone then why are you harbouring her letters?”
“I will mail them to her when I find out her new address.” She said simply.
“You just said that she left suddenly in the night so how will you find out where she has gone if she did not leave a forwarding address?” I demanded.
She looked down at the other tenants that had now gathered around the scene, watching our argument with eager eyes.
“You are asking too many questions, Sara.” Maria glared. “It is a shame as you have only just arrived here.”
“WHERE IS MEGAN?” I demanded.
She stared at me, her dark brown, almost black eyes boring into mine. “She’s a part of her now.”
I looked at her confused “What on earth is that suppose to mean?”
She glanced at the door to room 1 nervously “Take her to room 1.”
The others moved forward in haste and I was grabbed from behind by three of the tenants, whilst Maria shook her head in pity at me. She stepped out of the way and let the others push me forward with force, making me stumble and smack my head onto the marble steps. Pain seared through my forehead, making me disorientated and confused. My legs hung loosely as I was dragged up the stairs to room 1. They dropped me and I fell into a heap on the floor outside the door.
Maria tapped lightly on the door and then stepped back. The door slowly creaked open, revealing a room full of darkness, even though it was light outside.
“What’s in there?” I stammered getting up.
“She doesn’t like to be kept waiting.” Maria cautioned.
I touched the cut on my forehead from the impact of the fall and realised that there was blood dribbling down my face.
I looked into the room. “It’s total darkness in there. I won’t be able to see a thing.”
“That’s how she likes it,” Maria stated.
She shoved me into the doorway and slammed the door behind me, locking it so I couldn’t get out.
I banged onto the door with my fists shouting and screaming at them to let me out but it was no use, they were not going to let me out.
I could hear heavy breathing coming from behind me. I stood, frozen to the spot, unable to turn around. I couldn’t speak, nor could I move. I could feel the blood draining from my head and fingers as the heavy breather moved closer to me.
I let my eyes adjust to the darkness and slowly turned around, with my heart thumping loudly within my chest.
There before my eyes was a flash of a purple dress coming straight towards me.
She did not look human, nor did she move like a human.
I was going to find out how the other girls had disappeared within the house.
I knew that my time was up as her mouth elongated wide open, revealing a row of pearl white, razor-sharp teeth.
“It is done,” Maria said after hearing a massive, loud thump against the door. “Take her suitcase and put it with the others. We must make preparations for a new tenant.”Recommended1 Simily SnapPublished in