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Grade
10

The other night, I had a nightmare.

I had awoken from my slumber,

And when I sat up in my bed

I saw something that shouldn’t

Have been in my room.

A girl and a boy sat in the middle,

Children’s toys at their side

They noticed me staring

And looked up at me with blank white eyes.

I screamed, and they were gone.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

Ever since Claire had moved into her new apartment, she knew something wasn’t quite as it had seemed.  Her building was only one of many contained in the group of complexes, and sometimes, she could swear that each was stranger than the last.  There were thirteen buildings in total, and two other groups of 13 buildings further down the road, each group listed as A, B, or C. Claire lived in the A apartments, in the ninth building.  Every morning she would get up, brush her hair and teeth, get dressed, and walk to the bus stop, where she would then commute to school.

But sometimes, it seemed as if the apartments didn’t want her to leave.  Every now and again her door would lock or get stuck, or something she needed for the day would go missing.  Things would somehow fall off counters onto the floor in the middle of the room, and she’d hear strange noises in the night.  Of course, it always happened at night.

One time, she had a friend come over.  They sat in her room until her father came up to tell them that there was food in the kitchen.

“Wait, that’s your father?” her friend would say.  “Then who was standing in the doorway before?”

Claire, being the kind of clueless girl she was, would whisper, “I don’t know.”

And she didn’t know.  Not really, anyways, she never knew why anything happened in this apartment of hers, but what she did know was that the man was there and the man stood outside on her balcony every night and when the man didn’t stand on her balcony he instead stood in her kitchen, with the woman who Claire thought might be his wife.

There were days when Claire would sit in the living room and see a boy knocking things off of counters and tables, and there were night when Claire would get up and head to the bathroom, only to see a girl standing right behind her in the mirror.  She knew it was cliche, but the girl was always gone when she turned back around.

Claire knew her parents didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.  She’d asked them, once, and they’d called her a hypochondriac.

“That’s not what that word means,” she’d said.  Her parents didn’t seem to care much for that.

Regardless of all the strange occurrences in the house, Claire remained primarily unaffected by the dead people in her house.  She could still sleep at night, she could still get to her bus stop on time in the morning, and she could still take a bath and relax in the evenings.  And like that, she remained, until the fateful day when the girl spoke to her.

Claire had gotten up and gone to the bathroom, as she usually did.  She half expected to see the girl in the mirror, which had also become the usual, and see her she did.  Against the initial tidal wave of panic, Claire did not turn around as she normally did. Instead, she maintained eye contact with the girl in the mirror.

“What do you want?”

The girl started forward, inching closer to Claire.  “Murderer.” The ghost girl’s voice came out choked, raspy and thin.

Claire forced herself to remain still as the girl stepped closer.  “What? What do you mean?”

“Murderer!” the girl spoke again, more urgently this time.  She then repeated it, each time with more force, rushing closer and closer until she was just about peering over Claire’s shoulder.  Claire whipped around, and the ghost girl was gone.

The next day, Claire decided it was time to actually look into the history of the apartment.  She knew it was long overdue, but before now, she could never bring herself to search for the answers she so desperately needed.  And so she searched. She scoured the internet for any trace of whatever may have gone wrong in the past to lead to the haunting of this apartment.  Eventually, through the many dead pages that even the Wayback Machine could not recover, she found what she was looking for.

On a newspaper archiving page, she found a clipping titled ‘Things We Do In The Dark - The Tragedy of Building Nine.’

 

Things We Do In the Dark - The Tragedy of Building Nine

Tragedy struck on Sunday morning as the Bailey family was found dead in their apartment.  All wounds were inflicted via a shotgun. 5 used shells were found at the scene as the police investigated this incident.  According to the report released on the 21st of April by the police, one shot was expended for each of the children, 2 shots for the Bailey wife, and one for the husband.

The husband was found with the shotgun in his hand, implying that this crime was that of a murder-suicide.  Our hearts go out to everyone who knew the Baileys and who were affected by this incident.

 

Claire sat perfectly still as she read the conclusion of the article, then took in a deep breath as she checked the date of the article.  April 23rd, 1996. The Bailey family. The wife murdered by her husband, the children murdered by their father. Silently, Claire thought back to every time she had ever seen the undead residents of her apartment, and to all the times she had witnessed the man watching her from just a few feet away.  She managed to tear her gaze away from her computer screen, and glanced out into the inky blackness outside on the balcony. Claire stared outside for the rest of the night, and eventually, she fell asleep.

When Claire woke up, she smelled smoke.  The musky scent made her snap awake, and she launched out of bed.  The fire alarms in her apartment had long since expired, so Claire knew that if there was a genuine fire, there would be no blaring alarms to send her running outside.  Claire sprinted into her parents room; they were already gone for work, good. That meant her sister was already gone too, since her school started earlier than Claire’s.  Quickly, Claire grabbed her phone and made her way outside, only to find that the other occupants of the building were already there. Soon, the fire department arrived, and Claire had no choice but to stand there and watch as her building burned down.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

After the fire at Building Nine, Claire’s family had moved away.  They rented a house this time, and they were happy there. Claire, however, still had friends at the apartments, and had visited them frequently.  She had taken glances at the charred remains of the building, but there was never anything there that had shown any evidence of the existence of its former occupants.

One day, while she was visiting her friend, he suggested they go check out the lot where the building had once been.  “They’re going to tear it down and rebuild soon, so we have to see it while we still have the chance!” he said, and after what seemed like a lifetime of pestering, Claire agreed.

So they went down to the lot, and dug around in the ash and rubble.  Every now and then, they’d come across an item that had somewhat survived the fire.  Eventually, her friend held up a lighter and said, “Hey, do you think this caused the fire?”

Claire smiled and shook her head, then looked down and saw something by her feet.  She bent over and picked it up, finding a charred toy doll, with dry blood caked over bits of it.  Claire knew where it was from, because she had seen a doll just like it, once. In her room, clutched in the hand of the girl.

Then, Claire stood up, and a grown man stood behind her.

State
TX
Zip Code
78727