Bree glanced at her cell phone as it buzzed from her desk, desperate for attention. She expected it to be a friend asking what to wear to the Halloween party or her date apologising for being late to pick her up, yet again. Shane, her mobile seemed to shout in bold letters, across its screen. What does he want? She thought slightly annoyed. She didn’t give him her number for social calls. He was her lab partner at University and it was irritating that he would call this late.
“Briana, I’m really sorry to call this late but it’s an emergency.”
A chill went down her spine.
“What’s wrong?” she asked feeling more and more anxious with each passing minute.
“Has your sister come home yet? It’s almost midnight and Tessa still isn’t back.”
She was silent for a long time as a feeling of forgetting something important overcame her.
“Call me Bree! I’ve told you that a million times! Only my annoying parents call me Briana when I’m in trouble.”
She was out breath. Why did she get so mad just now? Her nervousness was getting worse. Wait did he say sister?
“Shane is this a prank? It’s not funny. I don’t have a sister.”
“Bree… I’m coming over, ok?” It wasn’t really a question
“Come on Shane, no!” she cried
He had already hung up. Bree was unsettled by the call so she called her date but the call wouldn’t go through, then she called her friends but all their numbers gave a ‘number busy’ tone. She was about to leave on her own to the party but as she made her way down stairs to the front door, the doorbell rang. She grumbled as she went to open the door. He was really serious, she thought. She flung the door open and shouted:
“Shane if you don’t go home right now I’m calling the cops!”
But it was her date, not Shane and he did not look amused. He was even less amused when Shane showed up that same minute. Shane looked really worried and a little scared so she decided to give him a chance to explain.
“I know this is really weird but please just listen. We both have younger sisters- let me finish” he added when he saw she was going to interrupt. “My sister’s name is Tessa and yours is Alex. Here look at this picture”
Bree felt a sense of Déjà-vu looking at the photo; the girl did look similar to her but that didn’t mean Shane was telling the truth.
“Ok assuming you’re telling the truth, do you know where they went? Which neighbourhood they went trick or treating?” She asked
“I found this map in my room. Tess had written on it but it’s my dads map so it didn’t disappear. It looks like they were going to the woods to that abandoned house, as a dare. She might have wanted me to follow so she left the map.” He explained.
“I don’t know why I’m doing this but I’ll help you, even though I have no idea what’s going on and don’t even know if you’re Shane. No, I mean sane!” She laughed but he didn’t.
It wasn’t easy to explain to her date why she was driving off with Shane instead of going to the party with him but her intuition told her that she had to do it.
“Why are you the only one that remembers them?”
“I don’t know maybe because I had this picture with me. All the rest of Tess’s belongings are gone”
They drove in silence for a while as she looked at the map; the woods were far from her house. If she had a sister how would they get out to the woods? She asked him. Apparently his sister had her drivers licence and a car. As they drove the clouds seem to move menacingly along with them shrouding the emaciated moon. She placed her hand on the necklace around her neck. She didn’t remember buying it or where she got it. There was a flash of lightning and a deafening rumbled of thunder as a tree on the side of the road in front of them burst into flames as it was struck. She gasped in shock but not because of the lightning. She had just remembered everything.
The moon was a thin fingernail clipping in the cloud heavy sky, as they approached the old, dark house. In the ancient tangled woods, an owl hooted mournfully…
“This is it” Shane said “no turning back now”
She bit her lip nervously but said nothing as they continued towards the dilapidated house. Who would build a house out here; so far from everything and everyone, she thought. The pair had come this far and it seemed they were close to finding their sisters. No matter how scared they were they couldn’t turn back. No one else could do this; no one could help them because no one remembered Alex and Tessa. The house seemed to call out to them with the groans and creaks of its ancient joints.
The door was as ancient as the rest of the house but seemed to have escaped the marks of time. The dark wood was dusty but it seemed to have a slight lustre underneath the grime, which made Bree want to polish the surface until it gleamed. The termites had spared it unlike the rest of the wooden porch which seemed to be held up by will power alone. Intricate carvings framed the door seemed to swirl and coil before their eyes but Shane said it must be a trick of the light…
Her hand rested on the door knob but she hesitated to turn it. Things had been strange so far imagine now that they were at the source; she shuddered at the thought. With a deep breath she turned the tarnished door knob and pushed the heavy door. Surprisingly the large door was lighter than it looked and opened easily, so she stumbled and fell through the door way into the dark inside like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole. He called out to her but heard no reply. He quickly followed her into the abyss, heart pounding.
The next day at Bree’s house, her father went into her room to call her for breakfast but the room was empty; just nondescript ‘guest’ furniture. Where were his daughter’s possessions: her pink bed (even though she was too old for it); her teddy bears from her childhood; her posters; everything! He quickly ran to Alex’s room and found the same thing had happened. He ran to his wife wide eyed and pulse racing.
“Where are our daughters? Where are all their things?” He cried.
He clutched his chest; not because of his heart but because it was the only material thing that remained of his children: a baby ring that had been Bree’s when she was a toddler and then had been passed on to Alex.
“Honey, calm down. What are you talking about? We don’t have any children.”