THE HAUNTED HOUSE
As the lightning flashed Phoebe and Abby saw the bent metal gate and the wild lawn ahead of them. And there above on a small rise, the haunted house flaunted its broken windows and mysterious darkness.
“Come!” cried Abby urgently, leading the way through the hole in the fence up to the broken porch. There she picked her way over the crumbling boards and pushed open the door. The smell of damp mold wafted over them. To Phoebe’s surprise Abby held her around the waist and stood before the open door. The car motor reved up, and the scraping, screeching sound of the car breaking the rusted gate echoed through the air. Phoebe was itching to flee.
“Not yet,” Abby muttered. “Not yet…” They heard the snapping of crushed branches. A shadow approached them over the lawn. Suddenly the noise of car doors opening struck panic into their hearts, and another flash of lightning illuminated the scene. At least four men stood beside the old green sedan, staring at Abby and Phoebe up on the porch. They stared back, and the eyes of the men and the women locked in fear and fascination and defiance… and the light was gone.
Abby pulled Phoebe into the darkness of the house, down stairs to a basement, and then quietly over dirt to a place in darkness so complete that Phoebe felt blind, functioning by touch and hearing alone. Abby led her, crawling, through some kind of opening in the dirt and masonry. They stopped, and Abby adjusted a heavy object behind them. Phoebe heard the sound of crickets, and realized that they were close to the forest.
“Better come out, girls! We just want to talk!” the muffled voices above them shouted over and over. Suddenly someone shrieked, “The house is burning!! Run!!” Loud footsteps sounded overhead, and faded in the distance. Phoebe tensed up, ready to move, but Abby held her arm steady.
Then Phoebe heard the snap of a breaking stick very close at hand.
“It’s creepy out here,” came the voice of a young man, probably a teenager. “Look, what are we doing out here? I just don’t get it.”
An older man replied, “I keep telling you! Mitch and Bentley and the higher ups want that girl found this time! You don’t know the pressure. You’re just soft on her.”
“Let’s just pretend I don’t know her. Do I want to be involved in a kidnapping?”
“Don’t talk like that! You do know her, that’s the whole point! We just want to talk to her.”
“It’s true, what Mitch says. They’ve got evil power. They probably disappeared! They can fly! They can cure or poison people! Think what could be done with all that.”
The younger man responded in anger, “It doesn’t make sense. If they’re evil and have to be stopped, why do we want their evil powers?”
“You know,” came the frustrated older voice, “It’s a pain to talk to you, Marcus.”
Suddenly a howl broke out, and the yapping of dogs came closer and closer.
“We’re gettin' out a here,” cried the older voice. “Just do what I do. This place is spookin' me out.”
Abby pulled Phoebe’s hand toward the smell of fresh air. The mournful call of a bird came from nearby. “Not a sound,” whispered Abby. On all fours Phoebe followed her through a hole in the boards of the back porch, over some vines and debris, and then they broke into a run into the deep shadows of the forest.
“We did it!” Abby exulted in a whisper. “We’re free! That was so great.”
“I love it,” said Phoebe. “But the thing is, what comes next? I’m confused.”
“We’re taking the forest route to your house. It’s all set up for tomorrow.”
“But then what?”
"It’ll be sort of like today,” replied Abby. “You and Reverend Tuck will help rescue me, and bring me to the church for safety.”
Phoebe waited for more. “Abby,” she said. “You’ve got to do better than that!”
“People will hunt for me again at the house. Your job is to bring Tuck.”
“Let’s go to the church now,” begged Phoebe.
“I wish we could,” returned Abby. “But Tuck is going to need something pretty powerful to move me into that cottage in the churchyard. Think about it. I’ve got a bad reputation. Me and my family have been treated like lepers for generations. You don’t know the half of it.”
Phoebe took a deep breath and sighed. “So come on, spill it. Just what is that ‘something powerful'?”
“This isn’t a place to talk. Let's get away from here. Come on.”
PHOEBE COMES HOME (Book I)
PHOEBE BREAKS THROUGH (Book II)
And The Upcoming...GHOST GIRL (Book III)
by John KixMiller
THE HAUNTED HOUSE illustration
by Gideon Chase
Learn More About Phoebe And The Players In Middletown!