My footsteps sound loud against the otherwise quiet night. As I pass the dark houses, I feel like I’m intruding on something, that I shouldn’t be here. There isn’t a single light on, only my small torch that I grabbed from the cupboard before I left. I stop at the end of the street and shine my torch around, but I can’t see it. She said it would be here. Was that a lie? Maybe I should go home and forget about the whole thing.
Wait, there, the alleyway entrance. It’s smaller than I expected, only half a meter wide. So much for giving up. I cautiously creep forward. This is it. The entrance to the abandoned courtyard. People say it’s haunted, that people who go in there never come out. They say that after the last owner died under mysterious circumstances, his ghost started to haunt the courtyard. Many people claim that he died in the courtyard itself, and when the police found his body, his throat was raw from screaming, yet no one had heard a single sound. They say his ghost is here for a single purpose: revenge. To take back the courtyard, and everything else that was once his. They claim that every day he grows stronger, closer to achieving his goal.
Stop it, I scold myself. All the stories are nothing but gossip. None of them are true. I take another step forward and enter the alley. Something squelches under my boot and I freeze. I look down and breathe a sigh of relief. It’s only a rotten lemon from the neighbor’s tree. I often use them to make lemonade. They're delicious.
A few more steps and I’m in the courtyard. It’s overgrown with spiky weeds, sprouting through the cracked tiles. The circular wall is stained with dirt and grease. Leaning against the wall is a broken water tank, cracked beyond repair. It’s covered in flowering rosemary, possibly the only remotely pretty thing I can see. In the middle is an old dumpster, filled to the brim with all kinds
of junk. Like everything else here, I can barely make out its olive green color from years of neglect. Behind that is a small door, its handle padlocked.
I take a deep breath. I did it. Now I can go back home. I turn and walk back to the alleyway, but I only make it one step before a loud creak sounds behind me. My heart starts pounding in my chest.
What was that? I turn slowly, wondering if I should just run. My eyes fall on the door. It’s open. There’s no sign of the padlock anywhere. I start to slowly walk backwards. Something crunches beneath my foot, and out of the corner of my eye I realize that it was a pile of small bones. I break into a run, my eyes still glued to the door.
I crash into the wall behind me. My head makes a resounding thwack as it connects with the brick, my ears ringing. Suddenly there is a milky white silhouette standing in front of me. It’s covered in black ichor. Blood, I realize. It’s the last thing I see before I pass out. When the darkness consumes me, it is total and complete.
Charlotte Prebble is thirteen years old and lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Her hobbies are writing, roller skating, drawing, and maybe most of all, reading. More often than not, Charlotte has her head in a book. One of her favorite book series is Lord of the Rings.