by Sana Hameed, Age 15, USA
Artwork by Journey Meyerhoff
The fiction prompt for October was “skeleton.”
Madden raced across the sun-stricken field, bright blue eyes scanning the perimeter.
“Cara? Where are you?”
Their playful game of hide-and-seek had quickly escalated into a full-out competition as it always did. The twins could never play any game without it evolving into a brutal battle of wits, or strength, or both.
“Found you!” He growled triumphantly upon sighting his sister perched on a tree branch overhead. She grumbled angrily while hopping down from her resting place and straightened her clothing.
“I win, you lose!” The eight-year-old boy laughed arrogantly, latching onto one of Cara’s perfect blonde pigtails.
“Ow! Let go!”
“No. I won. What’s my prize?”
The children stood, one child with arms crossed while the other stood with her hands placed firmly on her hips, arguing in the midst of the greenery behind their home. The farmhouse, which they inhabited, had been in the family for generations and though the winding wooden staircase creaked and moaned under the slightest pressure and though a variety of vermin probably thrived behind the walls, they loved it unconditionally.
“You don’t get a prize! You hurt me!” Cara refuted, a fire ablaze in her cerulean eyes. She then proceed to thoroughly examine their surroundings yelling at the top of her tiny lungs, “Charley where are you?” repeatedly.
“Who’s Charley?” Madden asked, confusion painted plainly across his innocent face. Though they quarrelled constantly, he knew everything about his sister from the number of freckles she had smattered randomly across her nose and cheeks (22 to be exact) to the secret location where she stashed all of her prized possessions (ranging from a tattered toy bear with an eye missing to an assortment of stolen sweets). And he had never ever heard of this “Charley” character.
“He’s my best friend. And he’s gonna get you!” Cara emphasized her point by poking Madden in the chest.
“No he isn’t. He doesn’t even exist.”
“Yes he does!”
“No he doesn’t. Where is he? I don’t see him!”
Cara continued frantically looking around and her panicked gestures stirred a chuckle from her twin who presumed she was merely going stark crazy.
“I bet he’s imaginary!”
She scowled as her brother laughed, temporarily halting her search in favor of bestowing her death glare.
“He’s not imaginary! He exists!”
Madden took two steps towards the frustrated little blonde girl and enunciated each word he spoke.
“Then. Prove. It.”
“Fine. I will.” Cara turned on her heel and ran to the farmhouse as fast as she could with her brother trailing behind her. As he chased her, Madden’s anger faded to concern.
“Cara! Where are we going?”
“To Charley. I know he’s upstairs. If he’s not with me then he will definitely be upstairs.”
“But-but how would he get into the house?” He asked, rubbing his cold sweaty palms against his clothing.
“He lives here.” The answer was immediate and ominous, forcing Madden to pause as they hurried up the stairs.
“What do you mean he lives here?”
But Cara just ignored him and continued up the stairs without sparing her troubled sibling a second glance. Madden followed with a grimace. He tried to keep his eyes away from the portraits on either side of them as they climbed the endless sets of stairs. They were unnerving with dark eyes and pallid faces and though light streamed through small cracks of the wooden walls, it didn’t serve to comfort him. One portrait in particular always seemed to make his hair stand on end. It displayed a boy about his age with a scar stretching across his face and a small smirk playing on his lips as if he knew something no one else did. He dressed like Madden; He wore overalls atop a cotton shirt. But his demeanour was far too different from that of a carefree child. He had grown up too fast.
Madden breathed a sigh of relief upon arriving in their shared bedroom. It was a friendlier environment. Not one black-and-white picture graced the vibrantly coloured walls. Cara sauntered over to the bookcase pressed against the right wall, dragging Madden along with her.
“Help me push it.”
Her tone forced him to comply. Behind the bookcase, he could see a door with white peeling paint. A door he had never seen before.
“Open it!” Cara demanded and he felt an unfamiliar sense of curiosity bubble in his belly. All he wanted was to yank it open and he couldn’t understand why.
“Do it!” Cara placed his hand on the knob and turned, pulling it open to reveal a horrific sight.
Bloody bones lay scattered on the floor of the closet, just beneath a long white shelf. On the shelf, sat a human skull, empty eyes glaring at the intruders. Madden felt the urge to shriek but could only squeak helplessly in reprieve. He looked to Cara but she only grinned and grabbed one of the bones, closing her eyes and holding it close to her chest as if she were making a wish.
Behind the twins, a figment appeared. A pale figment sporting overalls and a small secretive smirk. He leaned forward so that his lips were inches from Madden’s ear, whispered softly, “Boo” and awaited the screams. The boy deserves it for hurting my best friend.
Sana Hameed is a teenage writer inspired by sayings like “skeleton in the closet.”