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On Ghostly Grounds


Eric Rodriguez


Gloria Buckins pedaled faster through the dark night, her eyes scanning the road for rocks or branches that would, in an act of clumsiness, stall her from completing her task. The wind was very strong for that October night, as if it were beckoning her to go back. But she could not, for it was too late to do that now. She was so close. There was just one more hill to go.

Sweat trickled from her forehead, soaking her brown hair to her forehead as she pedaled harder up the steep hill. Her camera hung from the bike's right handle bar so she wouldn't lose it. Gloria clenched her teeth as her body ached for her to stop, but she would not give in. Voices called to her in her mind, saying 'Why are you doing this?' and 'Why don't you just turn around and go home? Who cares what everyone else thinks about you!' But she still would not listen. Oh, Gloria
knew the answers to the questions all right. She knew exactly why she was here, and why she would not go back.

Gloria still remembered everything clearly.

She was at high school when it happened. Gloria was in Chemistry, working on the assigned homework page early so she would not have to do it at home. All around her people were talking, jabbering, and announcing to everyone around them subjects like new boyfriends, dates, new movies that had been released, and all the things she did not even know about. But Gloria did not care. She was used to not having someone to talk to in her classes.

Suddenly Alan Green, one of the many jocks at her school, had grabbed her homework paper and held it away from her.

"Give it back, Alan," Gloria had ordered.

"Who's gonna make me?" he'd asked. "The teacher's not here to protect you now, Butt-kins."

Gloria had shuddered at the name everyone had given her ever since elementary school. Oh, how she despised that name! Usually Gloria would ignore it, since they were all idiots anyway, but this time she could not let it go.

"At least I'm not afraid of the dark, imbecile!" she had exclaimed.

Suddenly, everyone went silent. Gloria had smiled as Alan's face had turned red. Almost everyone in the school knew Alan's dark secret of being afraid of the dark. But since he was so popular no one would tease him about it without getting beat up or being officially stamped as an outcast by almost everyone in school for the rest of their high school lives. Luckily for Gloria, she was already considered an outcast and probably could do much worse than shout out loud Alan's secret if she wanted to.

"You . . . dirty little ---"

"What was that, Alan?" Gloria had interrupted, "At least I can walk outside in the dark without freaking out at the least bit of sound and shouting for my mommy! Just face it, Alan. I can do a whole lot more than you can ever do!"

Gloria had no idea where this sudden burst of courage came from, and why it had exploded from inside her right then. But Gloria knew one thing for certain, and that was everyone in the classroom was shocked to the point they could not speak.

It seemed forever before Alan had spoken, "Oh yea, tough girl? I bet you can't do one thing."

"And what's that?"

"Halloween is tomorrow, right?" he had asked.

Gloria had rolled her eyes at the question, but he'd ignored her.

"I dare you, tomorrow night, to go up to the haunted house on Noble Drive and take a picture of yourself - inside the house."

Stunned gasps erupted from all sides around Gloria. The haunted house on Noble Drive was the last place anyone wanted to go to on Halloween night, especially to have his or her picture taken. This included Gloria, but she had not shown fear.

"Is that the best you can do?" she'd inquired.

Alan had shrugged his shoulders. "We'll find out on Monday, won't we?"

Gloria had grinned. "You're on."

Laughs exploded all around her, but Gloria had not cared. She would show them. She would show them all. Then she would be the one laughing.

When Halloween night finally came, Gloria had told her mother she was going on a small bike ride to get some candy. Even though Gloria did not have a costume on, her mother had let her go. She was too busy to even pay attention to her, anyway. Gloria considered this a blessing, though. If her mother knew what she was up to, Gloria would never be able to accomplish the dare.

Now here she was, riding her bike up the steep hills of Noble Drive to the haunted house. As Gloria neared the top of the last hill, fear clutched her like a knife. Maybe she should have kept her mouth shut in the first place.

Then she saw it. The house suddenly appeared before her as if it popped out of thin air. Maybe it was because the trees hid it from sight as she traveled up the hills. Gloria did not know, but right now she did not care. All she wanted to do was get the dare over with and go home.

Coming to a stop by the decaying entrance gates to the house, Gloria hopped off her bike and set it against a fence post. The fence gates were closed, but with a light kick they came apart and flew open. Gloria stepped onto what looked like the house's driveway and began to walk up towards the house.

Soon she was on the house's crumbling porch and facing the front door. Gloria clutched the doorknob, turned, and pushed. The door did not open. Gloria pushed again, but it still would not open. Gloria's heat began to beat rapidly. How was she going to get in now? As she began to panic, Gloria suddenly had an idea. She grasped the doorknob again, turned it, and this time pulled the door towards her. 


Gloria jumped at the sound. Taking a deep breath to regain her courage, she pulled the door all the open, pulled out a small flashlight, and switched it on. With another deep breath, Gloria stepped inside.

The room smelled of an old, decaying stench and dust filled the air as Gloria beheld the room. The room looked enormous and was filled with sheet-covered furniture. She did not bother noticing much more than that. The room would do for the picture.

Gloria set her flashlight down on a small table covered with cobwebs and dust, took her camera out of its case, then searched for a spot in the room where there was enough light for the picture. That was when she noticed it. Something was beginning to fill the room. Looking a little closer, Gloria saw it was fog, or so it seemed to be. But where was it coming from? Gloria focused her attention back to her task. She was so close to finishing the dare. Besides, the fog was probably

Gloria chose a spot by a large window where bright moonlight shone through. She quickly hurried to the spot, aimed the camera at her head, smiled, and took a picture. The flash erupted from the camera. She quickly wound up the film, aimed the camera at the room, and took another picture just in case the background in her picture did not turn out right. Gloria beamed. She was finally done. Now it was time to go home.

As Gloria gathered her flashlight, she noticed the fog was getting thicker. More and more of it were coming into the room as well! Where was it coming from? Well, wherever it was coming from, she did not want to find out. She turned to head out the door.

Suddenly the fog swarmed in front of the door faster than any fog Gloria had seen. It was as if it were not letting her go! But it was only fog, nothing else. Then why was Gloria afraid to run through it? Beyond the fog was freedom! She would be out of this cursed house! But as Gloria stared at the fog, which was getting thicker by the second, fear began to overwhelm her. Maybe there was another way out.

But as Gloria turned back into the house, the fog swarmed around her again. Gloria backed away. Her heart was beating so loud she could hear it. What was happening? What was this fog doing? Gloria turned to her right, but the fog flew to that side as well. Soon the fog had surrounded her completely; trapping her inside a small circle that was getting smaller by the minute.

"Help!" Gloria cried out in fear. "Someone help me!"

But to her dismay, no one came bursting through the front door as the fog enclosed ever tighter around her. Panic and fear paralysed Gloria to the point she could not move or speak. But with one last breath, she managed to scream. She screamed until the fog swallowed her, then everything was quiet.

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