Something’s Off

By: Ani Fulson

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By: Genevieve Oudens

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By: Juliet Burke

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I walked up the stairs into the house. The musty smell of mildewed carpets and moth-eaten furniture hit me. This was the house that my parents had chosen to makeover because they thought that it “had good bones.” Ugh. I scrunched my nose and flicked on my flashlight. I looked at the front hall. It had old paintings of old people lining the walls. Everything was so old. It reminded me of history class. I glanced toward the staircase, just sitting there, almost… calling to me. I sighed. Meredith would have loved this. I could picture her laughing and telling me that this place is haunted or something before googling it and giving me a two-hour lesson on the story of the place. I giggled quietly and glanced at the stairs again. No way was I going up there. Looked as if some of the floorboards had rotted away. This was sure going to be a big job for my parents.

My parents were big-time home renovators on HGTV. Sometimes they asked me to watch the houses while they were gone making blueprints and plans. That’s why I was here. Watching the house. Again. This house was a bit different though. You see, after my parents finished renovating, we were moving in. So, I kinda had to get to know the place. I frowned. This place was huge, at least compared to my old house, and it would take a long time to explore, even if it wasn’t rotted through. I took a deep breath and stepped forward further into the house. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off.

Here We Go

My name is Adelaide. I was moving into a new house, one that my parents were still renovating. The dirty front hall was filled with moving boxes and old cleaning supplies. That’s right. I had to clean the whole house while my parents finished plans to build. I let my shoulders sag a little. This was going to be a long week.

I picked up a mop and bucket filled with smelly blue liquid. Suddenly, felt a hand rest on my shoulder and I jumped a little. “You ok, Bean?” I sighed in relief. It was just my dad.

“Jack! Hon, could you help me out with these boxes?” yelled my mom from the moving van parked outside.

“Coming!” he shouted. “Hey, I just came to say thanks for watching the house and to give you this.” He pulled a white envelope from one of the pockets of his big cargo shorts and handed it to me. “This just a little going away present, don’t spend it all in one spot.” He winked at me and I opened up the envelope. Inside there were five one hundred dollar bills.

“Woah, thanks!” I hugged him. He smelled like sawdust and paint. Like new things. It was refreshing in this old house.

“Jack!” called my mother again.

“Be right there, Tiff! Hey, thanks again for staying here with the house while we go back to Detroit for the week. We still need to clean up the basement and get the old house ready to sell, then finalize the plans for renovation.” He grimaced as he glanced around the dirty front hall and up the stairs. Then he turned and walked towards my mother. I stuffed the envelope in my pocket and picked up the bucket again.

“I wish I could come with you,” I said into my dad’s shirt minutes later as I hugged him.

“I know, bean. But this is better for everyone.”

“We’ll be back before you know it,” my mom said. “Be good, Addie.”

“We love you, sweetheart,” said my dad.

With a wave and a smile, they were out the door. I watched my parents walk towards their van and get in. They drove away with a cloud of exhaust, and then, they were gone.

“I love you, too. I said staring after their disappearing car.

Just then, I noticed my phone buzz on the nearby table. “What now?” I said aloud. I looked at my phone. Three notifications from my dad. “Hey, I think I forgot to turn the hose off in the backyard.” “Hey, did you lock the front door?” “Just so you know, if you’re ever worried, you call or text us and we’ll turn around.” I rolled my eyes and pushed the front door closed with my foot. Here we go.

The Staircase

So there I was watching the house.

I glanced into the cracked mirror next to me. My frizzy brown hair stuck out at all angles. I pulled it back into a messy bun. I had gained some new freckles this summer I realized.

Bzzt Bzzt.

I looked at my phone. It was Meridith.

“Hey Adds! How’s the new house? Send pics when u can! ♥️Mer’

I quickly took a picture of the front hall and sent it to her.

I put my phone down and looked at the stairs again. They looked even worse than they did before. I shuddered and went to the kitchen.

Right, I thought to myself. No electricity, no refrigerator, no food. I’d have to go to the supermarket a couple of blocks away from here or order pizza later. I chose pizza. There was going to be a heatwave for the next few days, so I’d have to try to stay inside for a while. 

Oops, I thought as I started to jog towards the back door. I had forgotten to turn the hose off. The second I opened the door, the heat practically slapped me in the face. Ew. I was definitely not going outside for the next few days. I walked over to the hose. Water was dribbling out of the nozzle. I turned the hose off and stepped back inside. At least the battery powered fan in the corner hadn’t died yet.

Bzzt Bzzt Bzzt. Ugh. It was the group chat from my old school. All they did was send gifs of llamas and armadillos and talk about how sucky their homework was. I sighed. Even though it was annoying, I would still miss my old school.

I decided I was too hungry to wait to order pizza, so I walked a couple of blocks to the store to get some chips and salsa. Yum. I walked home and tore open the bag of chips. I wondered where my new room would be. I glanced at the staircase again. Something was off in this house, but I didn’t know what.


My phone buzzed in my pocket. It was hard to balance the salsa in my hand and hold the chips under my chin while I pulled my phone out of my pocket.

1 new message

I clicked the notification and put the chips and salsa down on the table.

unknown number: Why are you in my house?

Me: who is this?

Me: is this dani?

Me: if this is dani you are in SOOOO much trouble…

unknown number: Why are you in my house?

Me: srsly, who dis?

Me: …

Me: whatever, im blocking u

unknown number: No, wait.

Me: ugh, srsly, if this is a prank, it’s not funny

unknown number: Why are you in my house, Adelaide Clement?

Me: um…

Me: how do u know my name?

unknown number: I know all about your family. I know how they all descended down to you, Adelaide. I know what they did.

Me: did what? WHO ARE YOU?

unknown number: My name is Beatrice Everleigh.

Me: idk who you think you are or what you’re doing, but im blocking you.

I blocked the conversation. I can’t say I wasn’t intrigued, but, it was a little creepy. I pulled up my chat with Meredith to tell her about the evening’s new events.

Me: hey mer?

Merbear: yea?

Me: there are some interesting events of the evening I have to tell u

Merbear: oooh, drama already? do tell

Me: its not really drama… more creepy

Merbear: old house got u spooked already?

Me: no, i just got these texts from an unknown # and it really freaked me out…

The Everleigh Massacre 

So I did some research with Meredith and here’s what we found…

It was an article about the murder of the Everleigh family. It said this: “‘The Everleighs and the Clements have been at war for years. Generations of Clements suffered at the hand of the Everleighs, because of a contract that was created to take all the Clements’ family land,’ says Cecil Brads, a 92 year old man at the Greenfield Community Center who remembers the dreadful events. ‘The massacre took place in the Everleigh home on March 17th, 1948.’”

I sat my computer down. “Maybe this is what she was talking about, Adds,” Meredith said through the phone. I was sitting on the floor by the main door, light seeping through the window, too scared to go any further into the house.

“I don’t know, Mer, I got the text from someone named Beatrice Everleigh. Even if it’s not her, because that’s impossible, someone has done their homework, and is stalking me. They knew I lived here. And they knew my number. I’m so freaked out. Can you come over?”

“Sure Adds, I’ll be over by morning at least. I might have to steal Johnny’s car though…”

I giggled. “We both know that you’ve always wanted to drive your brother’s car.”


We both laughed.

“But really, Mer, I’m getting scared. There’s not that many places I can hide in here, with so little furniture and all.”

“I’ll stay on the phone with you.”

“Oh great. If I get brutally murdered by my stalker tonight, I’m so relieved you’ll get to hear it,” I said sarcastically. I put my phone down, and I stared at my ceiling for a while. I could hear the sound of zipping up her bag. I can still picture her room. And us laughing our heads off while eating chips and listening to the movies her parents were watching through the air vent. And even last year, when I turned sixteen. I can remember the party she threw for me. God, I was gonna miss living right next to her.

The Arrival

I was startled awake when Meredith honked her car horn outside my house at about four in the morning. I had fallen asleep sitting by the door holding my baseball bat from when I was 7. I slowly stood up, rubbing my neck and grinning. I swung open the door and saw Meredith standing there in her ripped jeans, black crocs, and blue and green striped sleeveless crop top. She was holding her keys and grinning in that way she always does. I ran up to her and gave her a big hug before yelling at her about how terrified I was. I told her about how I slept with a baseball bat in front of the door. She laughed and said, “Isn’t that a bit much, Adds? I mean you knew I was going to be here in the morning.”

I smiled. “Most serial killers strike at night you know.” She laughed and playfully hit me in the shoulder.

She went around to the trunk of the car and pulled out her backpack along with a duffle bag bulging around the edges. We walked up to the house and I said, “Welcome to Frankenstein’s Castle.”

She snorted and said, “Not really. It’s not even three stories tall.” I sighed. She was always being technical with me. We ran up the steps and into the front hall. Meredith looked at the stairs and asked, “Have you ever actually been up there?”

“Um, no,” I sighed. “I couldn’t face it alone…”

“Well, what are you waiting for?!” Meridith laughed. She turned and ran up the stairs, careful not to fall through the gaps.

“Wait up!” I shouted up the stairs. I shuddered, took a deep breath, and followed her. I hoped it wouldn’t be as scary with Meredith with me.

The Upstairs

I ran up the stairs after Meredith and what I saw was breathtaking. And not in a good way. I realized my parents hadn’t been up here either when I saw the second floor. It had an old dirty rug in the middle of the hallway and a floor lamp in the corner with a lampshade that had holes in it. It also had doors lining the walls of the hallway. Ahead of me, Meredith yelled, “Aw, man! So much to see!” I shivered at the thought of what could be behind those doors. So many doors. 

“Oh my god!” I heard Meredith squeal. “You’ve got to see this!” I sighed and followed after her down the seemingly endless hallway. I came upon an open door leading to a large room. I stepped inside and the smell of old paper filled me like a warm hot chocolate. But colder. Much colder. The room itself felt almost as if it were dying. Or…unhuman. I watched as Meredith ran around the room as if it were a playground. And then I saw it. What Meredith had seen. Lining the walls, bookshelves unstocking and restocking themselves, like the shelves themselves were living. I screamed in fright and suddenly the shelves stopped moving. Meredith looked at me like I was crazy. Out of nowhere, the shelves started rapidly throwing books everywhere. Mostly at us. Like they had just realized we were here. Meredith screamed, “Let’s get out of here!”

I nodded, turned on my heels, and ran. I could hear my heart beating in my chest as I sprinted down the long hall. I didn’t stop when I got to the stairs. I didn’t stop at the kitchen. I didn’t stop until Meredith and I had safely locked ourselves in the downstairs bathroom.


“Great, we’re trapped in a bathroom. Of all places, a dust filled bathroom?!” Meredith yelled. “You couldn’t think of anywhere else?”

“Where do you propose I should have gone?!” Meredith opened her mouth to speak but then closed it and sighed.

“Fine. We just need to think of a plan,” she decided. I noticed Meredith’s duffle bag still grasped tightly in her hand.

“Mer, what’s in the duffle?” I asked.

She grinned. “Just some awesome spy equipment that was in the garage. I found it on my way out…”

“What do you mean spy equipment?” I asked. She bent down and unzipped the bag. Inside there was a camera, a tripod, and some wires, batteries, and battery packs. It all looked really cool, but then I noticed the corner of the bag. There was a small black box with a handle, and some weird red and green wires taped on by ducktape. It looked like it was handmade. “What’s this?” I said reaching in and grabbing it.

“Oh, that’s like a ghost tracker type of thing,” she said.

“Did you make that?” I said, glancing at the door, waiting for the books to knock it down. The house was silent, eerie, and I didn’t want to leave the room before we knew it was safe.

Meredith reached over to the “ghost tracker type of thing” and turned it on. It started beeping like crazy.

“Is it supposed to do that?” I asked.

“No, that’s the sound it was supposed to make when a ghost is close. It must be busted.” She reached over and switched it off.

“Either that or my house is haunted.”

“Yeah, I guess that would explain the flying books…” Meredith said, trailing off.  She managed a weak smile. I sighed and slid down the wall.

“You don’t happen to have any emergency rations in your backpack do you?” She reached into her backpack and pulled out an economy-sized tube of double stuffed Oreos and two Cokes.

I smiled and grabbed a Coke. “When have you not been prepared?” I laughed.

“You tell me,” Meridith said with a raised eyebrow. Then she tore open a pack of Oreos and handed some to me.

“Want some?” she asked.

“No,” I said, grabbing one. She laughed. “Ok. Plan time.”

“What options do we have?” Meredith said. “We can’t stay in the bathroom all day. We have to go sometime.” Answering her own question, Meredith turned around and opened the door. “There,” she said and stepped into the kitchen. I jumped up and hurried after her, not wanting to be left alone.

We walked out of the kitchen, and I darted into the front hall. I grabbed my baseball bat. I turned around back to the kitchen. But there was just one problem. The kitchen was…gone. Instead, I was staring at a hallway with no doors and just one lightbulb right above me. I turned around to look at the door, or where the door should be. But, it was just another endless stretch of hallway.

“Meredith?” I called out. There was no answer. Suddenly I couldn’t see a foot in front of me. I didn’t know if I was about to fall into an endless abyss or walk straight into whatever trap the house thought up next. Then I heard a cry. It was very faint. But it sounded like…

“Addie!” It sounded like Meredith. I took a deep breath and stepped forward into the darkness.

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