CHAPTER 26- EMPTY HOUSE
“Tony, I’m getting worried,” Madison panted, pacing back and forth restlessly in the Robinson’s living room. “I told her five minutes, and it’s been fifteen and she still hasn’t called me yet.”
“There’s nothing to worry about, babe,” Tony assured her as he got up off the couch and made his way toward the front window. “They probably fell asleep or something.”
“No way, she wouldn’t do that,” Madison insisted, checking her watch. 11:17 p.m. “She wouldn’t do that. If she was gonna go to sleep, she would have at least called me and told me good night. Besides, we agreed that she would call me in five minutes regardless.”
“Look, Madison,” Tony explained, looking out across the street through the window blinds. “The lights are all off. I’m telling you, they went to sleep. Everything is fine. Stop worrying.”
“Let me see,” Madison demanded, almost pushing Tony out of the way to get a good look for herself. Peering across Lampkin Lane, what she saw startled her. Tony was absolutely right. All the lights in the entire house were off, with the exception of the outside light on the front porch. If she didn’t know any better, she would have sworn the house was empty.
“Tony, this doesn’t make sense,” Madison stated. “None of it makes any sense.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean...look at the house. It’s pitch black over there. But not even an hour ago, the place was jumping?! I don’t get it. People just don’t leave a party at the same time like that. Something’s not right. Will you go over there and check it out?”
“No, the freakin’ jolly green giant. Of course you!”
“But it’s dark over there.”
“No shit. Just go over there and make sure everything is okay.”
“Oh, I don’t know, Madison, what if the Boogeyman’s over there?” Tony joked, looking right at young Sherry Robinson, who was munching on some popcorn on the couch.
“Stop it, Tony, you’re scaring her,” Madison demanded.
As they argued, Sherry, who had been glued to the TV all evening watching a late-night horror movie marathon, heard them mention the boogeyman and came right over to join them. “Madison, what’s the boogeyman???”
“Oh, nothing honey, Tony is just playing around, aren’t you Tony?” Madison asked, elbowing Tony in the sternum as she said it. “It’s getting late, time to go to bed, Sherry.”
“Aww, Madison, noooo!” Sherry complained, typical of any young child. “I want to hear more about the boogeyman.”
“Yes, Sherry, you have to,” Madison ordered. “Besides, your dad would kill me if he knew I let you stay up this late. Come on.”
So, despite Sherry’s protests, Madison took her by the hand and led her upstairs to put her to bed. As she reached the top of the steps, she turned around and gave Tony a ‘you better do as I say’ look that he knew all too well. Taking the hint, he grumbled a few choice words under his breath, grabbed a flashlight, and headed out the front door.
Outside, Tony slowly made his way down the short flight of stairs off of the porch and started down the curvy sidewalk toward the street. Passing a few shrubs along the way, he carefully watched Kayla’s house, hoping to find any sign of life or maybe even see a light turn on. No such luck. So, walking between two white pillars that signified the beginning of the sidewalk, he carefully crossed Lampkin Lane, quietly approaching the Soffy residence.
He walked as softly as he could as he went up the front yard to the porch, hoping that if Kayla and Chris were indeed where he thought they were, he wouldn’t be interrupting anything. He ascended the small flight of stairs to the porch, where he was greeted by a jack-o-lantern, which sat stoically on the porch banister almost glaring at him.
Sighing, he approached the front door and rang the door bell and gently knocked, calling out, “Hello? Is anybody home? Kayla? Chris?”
But nobody answered, and that’s when Tony started to realize that it was one of two things—either Kayla and Chris were upstairs sleeping and were gonna be pissed when they answered the door, or Madison was right and something was really wrong in there. Puzzled, he went back out into the front yard and tried to look up into the front windows, hoping to spot either Kayla or Chris looking down at him. However, he was greeted only by darkness.
What the hell? Tony thought to himself. It’s like the party just died or something. He couldn’t even hear the loud music thumping downstairs anymore, and that was very unusual.
Turning his flashlight on, Tony found his way up the driveway toward the back door, when he noticed that the side door leading to the kitchen was open a crack. Investigating, he entered the house and called out again, “Hello? Kayla? Chris?” When he didn’t hear a reply, he started to get worried and mumbled, “Come on, now. The joke’s over. This isn’t funny anymore.”
Still, no answer. The entire place was pitch black.
Disgruntled, he exited the kitchen and went out into the foyer, where a long, tall staircase awaited. Tilting his head up, he looked to the top of the stairs, where the shutters were all drawn over the windows. Why the hell would they do that? He pondered carefully.
Tony took one step up, but was then startled by a really loud bang coming from the basement. What the fuck? he thought, going back through the foyer and toward the basement stairs, which disappeared into total darkness down below.
Shining his flashlight along the railing, he quietly tried to descend the staircase. However, he found that impossible, because each step creaked as he walked on it, almost stopping him in his tracks. Nonetheless, he persisted, and soon found what was left of the party. Confetti was strewn across the floor, along with empty beer cans, cups, and paper plates. Squinting his eyes, he tried to see more of what was down there, or to at least find the light switch, but didn’t have much luck. He then stumbled toward the far side of the room, walking into the DJ’s speakers and tripping over a strobe light to get there. Then, just as he finally reached the light switch, the doorbell rang upstairs and scared the hell out of him, causing him to scream and jump about ten feet in the air.
His heart beating out of his chest, Tony tried to collect himself as a series of knocks followed the doorbell. He didn’t have to think too hard. He knew exactly who it was.
Outside on the front porch, Madison knocked quietly, calling for anyone who would listen. “Tony? Are you there? Kayla? Chris?”
She reached for the doorknob, and found it unlocked, so she cautiously entered, not wanting to disturb anyone, if in fact, anyone was still there.
She sluggishly made her way through the foyer, giving the living room a quick glance, but passing right by it as she scoped out the scene. “Hello?” she whispered. “Tony, are you in here? Tony?”
Rounding the corner, she found the front staircase, which led up into nothing but darkness. Wait a minute, what was that? she thought as she took the first step up. I could have sworn I heard something up there. So, trying to remain cool and calm, Madison went up the stairs one at a time, hoping and praying that everything was alright. She reached the top of the stairs and stared at the windows, which were all shuttered. That doesn’t make any sense, she thought, but before she could look into it any deeper, a light caught the corner of her eye. It was coming from the back bedroom.
The door was only open a crack, but it was enough to notice the faint light coming out of it in the otherwise dark house. With a puzzled look on her face, she took a deep breath and slowly opened the door. The bed was empty. Now she was really worried. Where the hell was Kayla? Surely they didn’t leave the house like everyone else and not tell her? That was so not like Kayla. As she approached the bed, she noticed that the floor was soaking wet beneath her, so she reached down with her hand to wipe the water from her brand-new sneakers. However, when she brought her hand back up, she gasped at what she found. Her bright white sneakers had been stained red. A very dark red. Blood red.
Almost throwing up at the sight of her now-red palm, she turned around and her worst fears were confirmed—Kayla was dead, bloodied in a mangled mess in the corner of the room. Putting her hand over her mouth in shock, she couldn’t believe how awkwardly Kayla’s body was leaning against the wall, with her head turned one way, and the rest of her body turned the other.
Not able to hold back any longer, Madison let out a long, blood-curdling scream...
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