“Ahhhhh!” Terrah and her peers all flinched within the shadows, the empathetic yelp ricocheting inside their heads. Simultaneously, the lamps stirred up anew. Terrah blinked her eyes at the adjacent brightness that seemingly overwhelmed her even if she’s experienced it three times before.
“Oh great, another blackout to add the list,” Jess shrugged sarcastically.
“Really,” Jaxon proclaimed, “someone just screamed bloody murder and your worried about the lights!” Jess stared at him dumbfounded,
“Well Scott should pay attention to the wiring around here, four blackouts in four hours seems suspicious, almost as if they’re rigged to happen at every hour,” she said with reasoning.
“Although there’s zero percent chance of that happening,” she laughed, shaking her head. Jess stood there giggling to her herself until she noticed the staring eyes around her.
“Oh yeah, someone screamed, we should probably go check on that!” She exclaimed, expression changing in a manner of seconds. The students rushed up to the second floor searching for the source of the alarming yelp. Alas, there had been nobody there, just empty rooms and deserted hallways if they weren’t counting the ginormous grandfather clock standing ominously in the middle of the floor that is.
“That’s funny,” Jaxon said stupefied, “wasn’t this over there by the wall earlier?” Terrah moved closer to the clock to inspect it,
“Your right,” she stated, “I saw it a few hours ago and I’m pretty sure clocks don’t just grow feet and move annoyingly in the middle of the walkway.” Terrah tried checking around it, looking to see if there were any scuff marks on the floor to indicate friction, but there wasn’t anything.
“Maybe it just ‘magically’ poofed out of nowhere like we did,” Greg said, trying to contribute.
“Greg, we didn’t just poof onto the Earth out of nowhere,” Jess scolded, “there’s science explaining this depending on religion or logical belief.”
“That’s what they want you to think,” he whispered menacingly.
“Who’s they?” she questioned, but he had already ignored her moving onto the clock trying to figure out the explanation behind its change in positions. There wasn’t proof of wheels beneath it, or anything else incriminating, but it had been clear the clock had been moved. Layers of dust remained in the exact spot it was in hours ago, leaving a mismatched rectangular surface against the wallpaper.
“I give up,” Terrah groaned, “we should just focus on where Carl and Olive have gone.”
“Who cares Ter-Bear, they’re probably talking about their feelings in the attic with Mrs. Hathorne and Scott or something.” Jaxon exhaled putting his hand on her shoulder reassuringly. Terrah, sick of his joking banter, scowled at him and swatted his hand off of her.
“Ok, first of all, don’t call me Ter-Bear,” she retched, “and secondly, why would two adults want to listen to some emotionally messed up kids talk about their feelings?”
“Who knows it’s two adults who’ve made poor life choices, one a teacher and the other a tour guide, what else do they have to lose?” He shrugged sitting on the floor beside the clock. Jaxon’s face struggled to maintain its lively look, bags already starting to form underneath his eyes. Glancing at the clock, Terrah established that it was half-past eight so obviously people would start to feel tired.
“How about we play a game to pass the time, it might help clear our heads.” Ally asked, breaking the silence.
“Oooh, good idea!” Jess proclaimed, “what about Truth or Dare? It’s a classic!” Begrudgingly, Terrah had to agree – even if the game was a cliche ,it could be amusing from time to time. The class huddled around the clock placing themselves in a lopsided circle.
“I’ll go first,” Ally said, sitting next to Samantha as if she was preprogrammed to. “Greg, truth or dare?” she stared at him expectantly. Greg thought for a moment, weighing his options, and ultimately decided to pick the common choice, dare.
“Alright,” she sang, “I dare you to try and find out where Scott keeps the food, because I’m 99.9% sure that everyone’s starving.” And just as she said that there was a slight groan of famine originating from her stomach. Ally blushed slightly and giggled,
“I guess I was hungrier than I thought,” she uttered. And she was right, the rest of the group was indeed hungry. If Terrah remembered correctly, the last meal they all had was the lunch on the bus. Which, unfortunately, was a long while ago. Being trapped inside an ancient manor wasn’t the best addition to a group of starved children.
“You betcha Ally, if anything I’d guess he’s hidden a mini-fridge in here somewhere, to the kitchen!” Greg announced heroically gathering a laugh from his peers. He left the group heading downstairs and out of sight.
“Ok while we wait for Greg to complete his dare and hopefully come back with food who wants to go next?” Max said, asking his classmates.
“I’ll go!” Jess volunteered enthusiastically. She observed each of her friends, the gears turning quickly in her head. Jess always made a face like that whenever she was thinking deeply.
“Ok I pick Ally,” she finally announced, “truth or dare?” Ally smiled innocently at her and simply said Truth, which is coincidently exactly what Terrah thought she’d pick.
“Hmm…what to pick for Truth?” Jess said, scrunching her face in thought again.
“Do you find Samantha annoying?” Nate said almost immediately as if he’d been wanting to ask her this. The group gasped, normally Truth or Dare was tame but this was getting slightly out of hand.
“Nate!” Jess shrieked, slapping his arm.
“What it’s not like we all don’t notice how terribly Samantha treats her, honestly Ally’s way more tolerable,” he said, speaking from the heart. Samantha lost it, her entire face turned bright red, she probably would slap Nate right there if it weren’t for the people around her.
“I-I u-um…” Ally stammered looking back and forth between the two.
“Well?” Samantha screamed, face still crazily red, “What is it, do you find me annoying or not?” Ally stared at her, with a speechless expression before softly mumbling,
“Well,” she started, “you sometimes do make me feel like I’m in your shadow…”
“Excuse me?!” Samantha squawked.
“It’s true alright,” Ally blurted, standing up, “you’re annoying from time to time, and yet even now, with people missing you still have to be the center of attention.” Wow-Terrah had never seen Ally with this much confidence, usually, she’s trailing behind Samantha during the day, only agreeing to everything she’s said. But now, now she’s a completely different person, confident, speaking up for herself, in a way Terrah was strangely proud of her. Ally always deserved better than Samantha.
“W-What..no..I-I..” Samantha sputtered, eyes glistening. She looked to the ground for a moment before finally whispering,
“I can’t believe you…” She sat up from her spot and rushed past the group, running aimlessly down the halls in tears.
“Samantha wait!” Ally said, reaching out, waves of regret in her voice. Ally tried running after her when suddenly the clock rang, quite loudly this time.
“Dong…” Which could only mean one thing, it was 9:00. Everyone froze, staying in their spots, not one soul moved. If history was going to repeat itself then after the second ring the blackout would soon follow.
“Nobody move!” Max demanded, just as the clock had rung the second time. Swiftly the lights went out, like a clean-cut moved through their wires, draining them of life.
Have you ever gone to sleep at night and before drifting off you’d look around your room thinking that there were people hiding in the darkness? Well if you have then you’re in the same boat as Terrah because that’s the first thing that came to mind for her when the power went out. Mirages of faces stared creepily back at her, almost ghost-like. She knew they weren’t in front of her but at the same time, her body could feel their presence, cold and lifeless. She watched as they floated past her, strange that no one else had noticed. What was even more strange was when she noticed these ghastly beings stop dead in their tracks, floating around what seemed to be someone, but it was so dark she couldn’t make it out. They swooped in and then vanished as if playing tricks on her eyes.
“Dong…” The third and final chime of the clock rang out and as the lights quivered she couldn’t help but notice something terribly wrong. Samantha was gone, and in her place was a small discarded note. Terrah trudged past her classmates with a horrified expression. She picked up the note and quickly realized that she wasn’t safe, none of them were.
“Five down, Seven left to go.”