Fear.

‘I don’t think we ought to enter, Cam, especially after mummy told us not to do this EXACT same thing,’ cautioned timid Evelyn to her domineering elder sister, Carmen. ‘Now don’t YOU start telling me what to do and what not to,’ snapped Carmen, turning to face her sibling for a split second.

‘Do you want to appear a cowardly chicken in front of all your so-called friends??’ Carmen pressed. Evelyn, who was used to her sister’s obstinate ways, just shook her head. ‘Good, then follow me. Faster, kid. I’ve not got all day,’ scolded Carmen, marching briskly in spite of the eerie gust of icy wind that blew past them just then. Evelyn shuddered due to the cold, but kept her pace.

A forlorn tower with moss covered walls and shattered windows loomed in front of them. ‘Now this is what I call an adventure,’ Carmen boomed, rubbing her palms together in satisfaction. Evelyn shivered once more, failing to see the excitement in going into the ancient structure.

Carmen boldly pushed aside the tattered bits of wood that somewhat concealed the antique entrance. ‘Come on then,’ she commanded impatiently, wildly gesturing towards the gap in the crumbling barrier. Evelyn gulped, her eyes widening in fear, but as she’d rather be attacked by hordes of bandits than face her sister’s wrath, she meekly stepped inside the ruins, clutching her shawl till her knuckles turned quite pale.

Her sister shuffled in after her, making sure to positioned the “door” back in place. ‘This sure is musty,’ remarked Evelyn, pinching her nose. ‘It does smell funny,’ Carmen agreed, shoving her hands in her hoodie’s pockets. ‘Carmen, I’ve got a bad feeling about this…’ Evelyn warned, her voice breaking a little. ‘Shut up, will you? I know what I’m doing,’ Carmen hissed, slowly making her way up the staircase with the aid of a dim flashlight. Evelyn let the wall guide her to the second story of the cottage.

Upstairs (if one may call it that), there was just a scruffy plank of wood that barely held its own weight, let alone the addition of two slightly plump maidens. Carmen, who realized that, sighed dramatically. ‘I was expecting more,’ she mumbled, half to herself. ‘Maybe I expected too much,’ she muttered, groaning.

Evelyn, who was terrified of the dark, seized the opportunity to persuade her sister to lead the way out of the sinister manor. ‘Well,’ Evelyn began, racking her mind for a tactful way to announce her humble suggestion. ‘Why don’t we head back home, Cam?? We’ve done what we set out to do…’ Evelyn trailed off, unsure about how her sister would react. ‘Yes,’ Carmen said, bobbing her head in approval. ‘Let’s head back home.’ Evelyn flashed a victorious smile. They trudged down the steps in silence and were about to depart from the menacing mansion when suddenly, a deep voice rumbled from behind them, causing Evelyn to abruptly jerk.

‘Look at you, thinking you could leave without me even offering you a cup of tea!’ the unidentified individual exclaimed, still cloaked by the peculiar shadows that seemed to have lives of their own. Carmen found herself whitening. Evelyn felt her heart stop its rhythmic thumping. The sisters gasped in unison. Evelyn fingered her silk scarf tenderly, trying to divert her mind from the frightening ordeal. She lifted her head just as a dark figure with blazing eyes emerged in front of her.

That was the last thing she ever saw…

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