The WhoopA Network

Ghost Story

Hurry up Les, we're going to be late! Samantha smirked as she looked over her shoulder at Leslie, fumbling with her footing as she tried to keep up. Even as energetic as she was, her shorter stride just couldn't match.

I'm coming! I'm coming! You think I can move as fast as you?!

You were the one that said we have to get moving.

Leslie called out as she darted forward blindly, That doesn't give you a right touaaaAAH! Her call turned to a shriek as her foot slipped on a loose patch of asphalt and she collided face first with the ground.

Les! Samantha ran back to where Les fell, grabbed her arm and helped her back to her feet. You okay?

Les grinned sheepishly as she wiped the gravel from her face. Maybe we shouldn't try to go so fast.

Not like it matters anymore anyway, Sam sighed as she looked at her watch. We're late anyway. You try and be on time for once and look at what happens.

So now it's all my fault? Les chided. Who was the one spending all that time in the bathroom, anyway?

Hey! That's playing dirty!

It was all Les could do to stifle a chuckle. We're almost there, anyway. Don't worry about it.

I kind of have to. You're not the only one who's risking staying late after school.

Really now?

Samantha's eyebrow twitched. I... damn. You're not supposed to know that!< /q>

And whose fault is that?

...You know I'm going to get you back for this.

Sure, sure, Leslie's voice trailed off. You always do...

Samantha just let out a short groan and ran to catch up. The duo was still a good ten minutes from school leaving them with no time to straggle. She looked over her shoulder at an abandoned old house when a flash of light from inside caught her eye.

Hey Les, you see that?

Leslie stopped and turned around. What's up?

That house. Did you catch that just now?

Leslie turned and looked into the windows of the decrepit building. Passing almost too quickly to see clearly she saw the silhouette of a man illuminated by a dying flashlight. The figure disappeared as quickly as it came leaving her to raise an eyebrow in suspicion and wonder.

I thought... isn't that house supposed to be abandoned?

Not just supposed to be, IS. For the past five years now. The guy that lived there skipped town and no one's been there since.

Until now, it looks like.

So it seems. Let's get out of here before someone notices.

The two girls turned their backs to the building and left, Leslie looking quizzically over her shoulder at the dilapidated structure. One close encounter was more than enough for one day and they were five minutes late as it stood.

Who do you think was in that house, anyway?

Leslie shrugged as she turned her head forward. I don't think the owner came back to live in a house they abandoned - it's probably someone squatting on the property. That's just my opinion though.

It was always just a tad unnerving when Les offered an opinion - it was usually right.

The rest of the trip was thankfully uneventful and the duo arrived late to their classes as usual. The next seven hours seemed to drag on for Les as her thoughts wandered to the abandoned house and its mystery occupants. Who was in that house anyway, and why? The five years comment seemed right even though she hadn't lived in this town for that long.

It was time to find out who was in that house, she thought, and nobody was going to stop her until she found out who.

These thoughts carried her through the day; the discovery of what was hiding in there spurred her forward. Just like a classic ghost story told around a campfire, she told herself. One person setting foot alone in an abandoned building unaware of the dangers they're about to face...

So you're really going?

Les jumped into the air at the unexpected sound of Samantha's voice. Yah! Don't sneak up on me like that! She took a moment to compose herself and asked, Yeesh... you must get some kind of perverse pleasure doing that... how long were you standing there, anyways?

Oh, about five minutes. Probably ten, actually, she chuckled.

Les scratched her head and sighed. Look, just... let's just go ahead and go. No use just standing around here, especially if we're going to find out what's in that house.

Hold on - WE? Who said that I was going THERE?

Fine, stay at home if you want. I on the other hand am curious. I need to know.

What you're suggesting is crazy! Who knows what kind of people are in that house right now? For all we know that could be a crack house now - and I don't think you should go poking your nose into that kind of thing! What you " need to know" could get yourself killed, or worse!

You know, you're not helping your case any.

That's not the point! This is not the brightest nor best idea, and you shouldn't be so arrogant about it.

Leslie crossed her arms and smirked.

Look, if you don't change your mind I'll find a way to keep you from going! I'll tie you down to something if I have to!

Unfazed, Les stood up and glared straight into Samantha's face and sputtered through clenched teeth, Go. Right. Ahead. That said, she stomped off back home to prepare.

Oh, very funny Les. Samantha shook her head as she took off after her. Hey, don't take it so hard. I just don't want to see you get hurt. If you really want to go at least let me help you prepare.

Les looked over her shoulder and smiled. What changed your mind?

Hey, I never said I was coming with. Just that I'd help you prepare.

That's better than nothing, I guess. Thanks anyway.

Samantha clapped her hand down on Leslie's shoulder. Come on, what kind of friend would I be otherwise?

Les gritted her teeth and grimaced through her grin. Sure, it was nice that Sam was now enthusiastic but she wondered to herself, couldn't she have shown it a little less directly?

The walk home was shorter than the walk to school as the duo figured out what tools Leslie would need for exploring. In the end all she walked up to the gates with was a flashlight, a cellular phone and a pocket of snacks.

Samantha eyed Leslie as she stood in front of a hole in the fence smoothing out a wrinkle in her skirt. You didn't even change?

Nah. I just don't see the point. It's comfortable.

Whatever. Look, you still sure you want to do this? It's not too late to turn back.

For the last time, NO. I'm going in.

Fine. I'll call if you've been out too long. Your phone is set to Silent, right?

Yeah, I should feel it if you call. Leslie turned her head and smiled shyly. Don't worry about me too much though.

Look... just keep out of trouble, Samantha asked as she slowly shook her head. Alright?

Leslie nodded and slipped through the crack in the fence. She snuck through the grass up to an open window and quietly vaulted herself in. Her feet made barely a thud as they silently struck the hardwood floor. She reached into the pocket of her hoodie and pulled out her flashlight, turning it on with a short twist of the lens. Light flooded out the lens, illuminating the interior to reveal an empty room with a fireplace along the wall. Strangely, the room had no dust on the floor or mantle; even after jumping over the sill, her hands were still clean.

Strange, she whispered to herself as she peered around the corner into the kitchen. You'd think there'd be more dust. The kitchen was empty as well; the stove set into a landing of the center of the room had nary a speck on it. None of the appliances were running. Not surprising, really.

The entire ground floor was united in two aspects; none of the rooms had any furniture and none of the rooms had any dust. It's downright creepy, she said to herself. It's like someone is trying too hard to maintain the illusion that nobody's here... She turned her flashlight up the stairs and began her ascent... and the light from her flashlight faded and died.

Perfect, she muttered as she smacked the side of her flashlight trying to relight it. Should have brought some batteries as well. So intent was she on getting the flashlight working again that she never noticed the footsteps coning towards her, nor the man that was now standing behind her with a soaked white cloth in his hands.

The grab came swiftly and without warning. The figure pressed the cloth tightly against Leslie's mouth and as she tried to shout in surprise she noticed a distinct unpleasant odor seep into her nostrils. She began hyperventilating uncontrollably as she fought off her attacker, drawing the chemical farther into her lungs. Her vision started to blur and fade as the chloroform took hold of her senses. Unable to physically resist any longer her body collapsed forward and the flashlight fell to the floor, skittering down the steps as it rolled out of her grasp.

The figure dropped the unconscious Leslie to the floor with a loud thud. A young man's voice rung forth silently, Don't worry. We have plenty of batteries. Too bad we won't give any to you.

She didn't know how long she was out for. Her eyes opened slowly and shut almost immediately afterward - even with as little light available as she had, it was still almost blinding. Her head was still sore from the knockout, and it was a couple minutes until she reached a point where she could open her eyes comfortably.

Nuh... dun wanna g'up... The bed she was in was so soft, so yielding. She slowly rolled onto her side and brought her hands to her face to use as an extra pillow... or rather, she tried. The refusal of her hands moving from behind her back was an instant reminder of what happened and she snapped awake possibly faster than she had ever woken before. Again, she tried to move her hands. And once again, they refused - when one moved, the other would follow in tandem. Wha...? she muttered to herself, pulling her legs around to the side of the bed so sit herself upright. Sitting on the side of the bed, she looked about her surroundings.

The room itself was unremarkable. It was nearly devoid of furniture; besides the mattress she was placed there was a chair sitting in the corner. A full length mirror adorned the wall beside the chair which faced the door, the sole exit from the room.

Charming decor, she whispered to herself. With her voice dripping with sarcasm she remarked, I bet these people spend thousands on their furniture.

She lifted herself to her feet and strode over to the mirror. Facing it she took a look at herself; her hair was now in disarray from being placed on the bed. The skirt of her navy jumper was wrinkled badly. It'll need a good ironing, she said to herself. Otherwise these pleats will never come out properly. The rest of her outfit was nearly untouched; the heavy fabric of her hoodie was unaffected and the black leggings she wore bore not a speck of dirt.

She turned to her side and tried to look at her hands behind her back; sure enough, she could see strands of sisal twine encircling her wrists. And she remembered what she had said earlier in the day.

Just like a campfire ghost story. Wouldn't it figure. Well, it's no use worrying about it now, she reasoned. What's important now is to find out who's in here and why. That's what I came here for, right?

She resisted the impulse to straighten her skirt. Considering she knew that her hands were bound behind her, it wasn't hard. Silently she stepped across the room and over to the door, pressing her ear against it to see if there was anyone behind. Dead silence. She turned so her back was to the door, clutched the knob and turned. It opened with no resistance and slowly swung open.

Leslie peered out into the hallway outside her room. A night light was plugged into an outlet about halfway down the hall, providing dim illumination; she realized that there was also one in the room she was in. Her room was at the end of a hall with one door on either side, leading out into a large room where she could make out the voices of several men talking quietly amongst themselves. Sticking to the wall she slinked across the back of the hall to the room directly opposite hers. Testing the knob revealed that this door was unlocked too so she quickly darted in.

She looked warily over her shoulder with her back to the door, listening if the noise she was making had caught anyone's attention; she didn't hear anyone coming at the very least. Satisfied she turned her attention to the duffel in front of her.

What is this? she asked herself as she dropped to one knee to peruse the contents of the bag. It looks like... white powder. Can't tell what it is in this light. She turned to her side to brush the bag away; more bags containing the strange white powder filled the rest of the bag. It has to be, she thought to herself. This is probably cocaine. Drug smuggling.

You're not supposed to know that, rang out a young man's voice before Leslie found herself grabbed and lifted off the ground. One arm around her waist as the second clamped her mouth shut and she was lifted off the ground; naturally she tried kicking off her captor. Pipe down, you brat... Vince! Hey! Grab her legs!

A second man, this one looking a bit older, snatched her legs and began encircling them with twine. Little girls shouldn't be snooping in other's houses, he chided. Sometimes bad things happen. He ran a couple loops between her legs, cinching the two ends together and erasing whatever mobility she had. The young man threw her over his shoulder and carried her out to the main room.

A third man - he appeared older than both Vince and the man that was holding her - was seated cross legged at the table. He nodded at Les as she was brought into the main room and slyly remarked, So our little guest finally woke up. Welcome to our temporary little abode - I hope you enjoy your stay.

The man carrying her seated her in one of the vacant chairs about the room. Vince took his ball of twine and wrapped it around her chest, securing her to the back of the chair. The older man nodded and smiled. I hope your accommodations aren't too uncomfortable? No, don't say anything, he said. I know what you're probably thinking.

Leslie did anyway. So, you're smugglers?

Oh, we're not smuggling. We're delivery men. I prefer to think of myself as providing a valuable commodity to a needy public. Oh, what kids learn these days from TV...

Vince finished winding the twine about her chest and cut off the free end. Leslie tried to pull away from the chair but was secured too tightly to squirm. It's not going to budge easily and I can't pick at any of the knots, she thought. But twine... it's not that strong if direct force is applied to it. If I remember right, that is. I hope I am.

I know what you're probably thinking, the old man rambled. No, we' re not going to kill you. No, we can't afford to haul you with us either. So we' ll just leave you here. He stood up and placed his face just inches from Leslie's. Alone. His voice became patronizing as he slowly spoke the words, All. By. Yourself.

What does he think I am? she wondered. He's speaking to me like I'm supposed to be scared. This is more ironic than anything else... Leslie began to sweat and turned her head. Okay, I admit his being that close to me is making me nervous, but that would happen to anyone. Only he's treating me...

Come on, little girl. Aren't you scared? I'm only as old as I look. The insight was a kind of ray of hope. He thinks I'm only twelve.

The man grabbed her face by the chin and sharply turned it forward. Well? Are you?

Which means... I can use this to my advantage. And she started to cry. Not much at first, just slowly as she mustered the energy to fake tears. She sputtered through her crying, Please... please don't...

The young man chuckled. Hey Alex, look. You made her cry.

The older man turned his head sharply. Shut your mouth! This girl doesn't need to know our names!

It's working, she thought as she forced out more tears and wailing. They think I'm just a kid.

Alex stood up, covering his ears to shield them from her crying. Kid, put a fucking sock in it! One of you two, shut this kid's damn mouth! The younger man nodded and ran up the stairs, returning a moment later with a wash cloth in his hand. He folded it as small as it would go and crammed as much of it as he could in her mouth. He took another length of twine and wound it behind her head, knotting it in the middle of the cloth sitting in her mouth. Alex dropped his hands and sighed. It's a bit quieter, at least. Kid, learn to shut up. Put the brat back in her room. We'll figure out what to do with her in a moment.

Well, that went well, Leslie thought cynically to herself as her chair was slid along the floor back into the room. The pity game doesn't work with them - I just managed to get myself bound tighter. So much for that, she thought as she shook her head in disappointment. I guess I need to try something else...

The young man called, Hey boss, you want me to lock the door? as she shut the door to Leslie's room.

Nah, tied up like that she won't be able to get out. Besides, we need to get moving or we'll be late. Can't keep our client waiting.


Shit. What time are we supposed to be there?

Around eleven or so, and it's an hour there. We'll make it IF we leave NOW. That little snoop is hurting our reputation. V, grab the bag.

Hold on, it's almost ten? How long was I out for?

As she tried to work the wadded cloth out of her mouth Leslie heard the door opposite her room open and the sound of the duffel she discovered earlier sliding up off the floor. Footsteps followed off down the hall and up the stairs as she caught the strand of twine on her lower lip and pushed it under her jaw.

Finally. Doesn't mean I'm in any better of a position, or that I even know what time it is. I'll need to find my phone for that.

Almost on cue, the phone hiding in her skirt pocket rang. Shit.

Someone upstairs noticed too; the mad rush of pounding footsteps thundered back down the stairs and through the hall, ending with her door being thrown violently thrown open. She tried to call out in surprise but the hand swiftly clamping her mouth shut put a rapid muffle on her voice, reducing it to a minor Ummmh!

Alex's voice rang out as he violently inquired, You! Was that your phone that just rang?!

There was no use; if she didn't say yes, he'd search her until he found it. So she slowly nodded, Mmm-hmmh.

He just growled lowly. Did you tell anyone you were coming?

I'm in over my head. That was probably Samantha and since I didn't answer she'll come looking for me. I just hope she doesn't set out immediately. If they find her...

Well? Don't lie to me.

At this Leslie shook her head violently. Mmm! MMM!

Then... where is your phone? Alex removed his hand from Leslie's mouth and went to undo the knot that was securing her gag.

It's... it's in my skirt pocket. Right side, as she motioned with her head to her right.

Alex glared at her as he removed the phone from her pocket and looked at the display. I don't know how you managed to work out that gag. Remind me to make it a little more secure next time. Who is this Samantha?

Leslie swallowed, almost audibly. She's a friend.

I know that, it's obvious. Why is she calling you?

She always does. We're good friends. Why is that so weird?

At ten at night?


And she doesn't know what you're doing tonight?

No! Not at all!

Alex grumbled for a moment and stepped outside of the room. Leslie followed his footsteps to the room at the end of the hall, then back in to her room. She heard a distinct ripping sound followed by the distinct feeling of her mouth being taped shut. Two strips of duct tape were smoothed out over her lips; as she worked her jaw to loosen the adhesive, the tape refused to budge.

That should keep you silent until we return from our job. Don't strain yourself too hard, it's industrial strength.

She tried to scream out from under the tape but a severely muffled Mmmmm! was all that escaped.

So long, little girl, chided Alex as he unplugged the night light and shut the door, leaving her in total darkness. If you've delayed us too long, we WILL kill you after all. Nothing personal, just business.

And she began to cry; this time, for real.

What are you doing?! Her own voice rung clearly in her head. Don't tell me you're giving up.

I can't do it, she said softly to herself, voice muffled by the tape forcing her lips shut. It's too tight. I can't move, it's no use.

Don't give me that. You got yourself into this mess, you can get yourself out.

Again she mumbled to herself, How? The rope's cutting into me. There's no circulation in my feet; they're starting to fall asleep. I can't even feel my hands anymore. My arms are pinned and I can't move from this chair. It's no use...

You are hopeless. Have you even tried?

Tried? I... On instinct she shifted her feet.

No. You haven't. You said yourself the rope isn't strong, but you haven't tested it. And who knows what they didn't do...

Wait a minute, she mumbled to herself. The rope around my arms isn't that tight. I wonder... Leslie inched forward, slinking as low as she possibly could in the chair. The coil encircling her arms gradually inched higher and higher until one end slipped off over her shoulder. She turned herself around and let the rest of it slide off over her back and head. Lame, she thought.

She turnedher attention to her bound legs. The fact that almost no light entered the room was moot as since it was tucked behind her legs she wouldn't be able to see the knot anyway. Even without she quickly found it and one quick pick undid it. As she wrenched her feet apart she thought to herself, Boy scouts these guys are knot, chuckling at the small pun.

This time she knew the house was empty so she made no special effort to be quiet. She opened her door and ran down the hall to the main downstairs room. Her cell phone was laying unguarded on the table along with a roll of paper towels - she took one towel in her hands and wedged her phone between her elbow and the side of her chest. She stumbled back down the hall and into the spare room where she found the illegal drugs earlier. In the dim light there was one bag that lay on the floor, apparently fallen out of its container. She smiled under the tape and picked it up carefully with the towel in her hands.

Up the stairs she bolted, through the narrow hall and to the front door of the abandoned house. Taking the powder she was carrying in one hand, she used her other to open the unlocked door and rushed out down the walk without bothering to shut it. It could wait - there were more important things to take care of.

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