Peyton W. “Skyler, what happened?” I pulled my head phones out of my ears, turned off myiPod, and looked at my older brother. He was leaning forward in the driver’s seat, staringat the key in the ignition. He looked up at me and his jade green eyes looked panicked, “I don’t know..” hestuttered, and looked down again, turning the key in the ignition. That’s when I realized something. My brother’s eyes weren’t green. Not evenclose. “Skyler, your eyes..” I was confused, how could his eyes have changed color soquickly? He looked up at me again, and his eyes were back to their normal blue-grayshade, “My eyes? What’s wrong?” “Nothing. I just thought they were green but I guess it’s just the lighting..” I was abit confused, but it wasn’t a big deal. He nodded, “You’re probably right.” Chris leaned forward from the backseat, “So.. We’re stuck here? We’re supposedto be back in Arizona by tomorrow morning.” I stared at Chris for a moment. Leave it to him to state the obvious. He waschewing on the lip piercing on the left side of his bottom lip. I opened my mouth tocomment on it. The lip piercing Chris had was on the right side. I only remembered thatbecause when my step-dad said he could get it, he said it had to be on the right side incase he ever got in a fight. Since most people are right-handed, the blow would come
from his left, messing up his teeth. I closed my mouth again. The piercing was back in its original spot. This wasreally getting frustrating. The mistakes my eyes were making were proof that I wasexhausted. Alex opened his door and stepped out. I’d forgotten he was back there, he musthave been asleep. Skyler and Chris followed Alex’s lead. “Come on, Shane.” Alex said. He was the oldest, at nineteen, and the rules hadalways been to listen to him, and his moving out hadn’t changed a thing. So I got out. I looked at the three of them. Skyler was sixteen. Tall and scrawny,like me. Chris was turning seventeen. Built like his father, my step-dad. Short and skinny,with absolutely no upper body strength. Then I looked at Alex. Tall and skinny, thoughnot as unbelievably skinny as the rest of us. I’d always looked up to him. He was fiveyears older than me, and had always defended me when Skyler or Chris decided theywould pick on me. I smiled. He was a great big brother, and he’d always been mature forhis age. Skyler started walking back the way we came, and we all followed him, “I saw ahouse not too far back…” he kept talking, but I wasn’t listening anymore. I knew what house he was talking about. There were so many things runningthrough my mind. I really hoped my brother wasn’t crazy enough to actually go throughwith his plan to stay in a creepy old mansion that looked like it belonged in a horrormovie. Then I started to really think about it, and the whole situation seemed like acheesy horror movie. The car breaking down in the middle of nowhere, the night wasclear, moonbeam shining down on us like a sign saying, “Over here! Four helpless
teenagers with no means of escaping!”. Then in addition to that, the only shelter within awalking distance was a dark looking mansion. I laughed at the thought, but stoppedmyself before my imagination started working up. We had been walking for about half an hour when I started thinking about howuseless the four of us would be if some homicidal maniac jumped into the road andattacked us. Three scrawny guys and a fourteen-year-old girl. It was funny, but thethought was cut short when Alex said my name. “Shane?” he was looking at me like I was crazy, and I realized I had a stupid grinon my face. It fell automatically. “What?” I asked, watching the ground as I walked. “Why were you smiling like that?” he grinned. It was the stupidest grin I’d everseen. “I was thinking of how funny it would be if we got attacked by a homicidalmaniac,” I was trying not to laugh. All Alex did was laugh and shake his head, which was unusual. I had beenwaiting for him to question my sanity, ask if I was okay. He didn’t though, and we keptwalking. We passed a small gas station on the way and I almost suggested stopping butthe people inside were just standing there, glaring. It seemed as though their eyes werethe color of vicious cherries. I shuddered and averted my attention back to our walk to thehouse. “We’re here,” Skyler said as we walked up to a cliché horror movie lookinghouse. It seemed even less inviting than it did when I first saw it. We walked the path up
to the huge double doors with weird-looking knockers. The only thing I could think ofwas Rocky Horror Picture Show.. I laughed again. I’d have actually enjoyed that. Mythoughts were interrupted yet again, but this time it was a terrible, eerie, creaking noise.My eyes shot up, and I realized it was the door. A creepy-looking man emerged from behind the towering door, “Welcome,” hesmiled widely, revealing an incomplete set of yellow teeth, and motioned for us to enterthe house. He had long, mop-like white hair. He was also very thin and boney. Hereminded me of a small tree, one that’s just begun growing. The man who I assumed was a servant led us to another large door, opening it toreveal a large study. Books filled the walls. I read some of the authors. Dan Brown, AnneRice, Darren Shan. I was smiling, those were some of my favorites. I looked away fromthe books and toward the man sitting behind the desk. He was smiling. It wasn’t exactly a reassuring smile, but even if it had been, I stillwould have been scared beyond belief. “Hello. I’m Vlad, Vlad Drudge. What brings you here?” he said pleasantly.Almost a bit too pleasantly, to be honest. Skyler decided to speak up, “Our car broke down, we saw your house and decidedto walk back.” Mr. Drudge nodded, as if he already knew our car had broken down, “It’s late.You’re welcome to stay for the night,” he stood up, “Come. I’ll show you to your roomsmyself.” He walked out and we all followed. We were led to the second floor. The houseseemed surprisingly warm and inviting, though I knew it wasn’t at all.
Chris got the first room, and Alex got the second. Skyler and I were led down thehall , where we got to pick our rooms. If Chris and Alex had been watching =, I definitelywould have stuck my tongue out at them. I walked into the room I picked and fell back onto the bed, exhausted. I laid therefor a while, taking in my surroundings. There was a beautiful, polished wood dresser. Thewalls were white, empty and ordinary compared to the rest of the nicely decorated room.I looked at the dresser again, and noticed a small door, half-blocked off by the dresser. Itreminded me of the little door in my parents’ room on the second floor that led to theattic. The door didn’t seem very important, though. I was done observing the room, so Ireturned my thoughts to getting to sleep. The soft bed reminded me of the one I slept in while visiting my grandma’s housethe night before. I smiled and crawled up to lay my head on the fluffy pillow. I wasalmost asleep when I heard a clicking noise, like the sound a door makes when it’s beingopened or closed carefully. I looked towards the door. Nothing. I decided to investigate. I checked Skyler’sroom. Nothing unusual, he was still asleep. Then I walked to Alex’s room and opened thedoor slowly. He was gone. I closed the door, trying not to panic. My footsteps suddenlyseemed to echo. I opened the door to the room Chris was staying in. Gone. Still trying not to panic, I resisted the urge to run back down the hall and burstinto the room Skyler was in. I walked to the door, even though my legs wanted me to run.Adrenaline. I reached for the doorknob and I had to stop my hand from jerking the handleoff of the door. I opened the door and shook my arms. It took me a while to calm myselfdown, but when I did I went to wake Skyler up.
“Skyler,” I shook him gently. Nothing. “Skyler..! Wake up!” I shook him again,not exactly being gentle this time. He woke up slowly, “What?” he whispered. “Chris and Alex aren’t in their rooms..” I was trying not to yell at him. “What do you mean?” he looked confused. I sighed, “I mean that Chris and Alex aren’t in their rooms.” “Oh..” his face lit up, “Oh!” I shook my head, “Come on, let’s go look for them.” Fortunately, he didn’t protest. He just nodded and followed. We ended up back at the study somehow. I knocked on the door and listenedcarefully. I heard a drawer open, then close. Then I heard a quiet beeping noise, and thesound of two pieces of cold metal sliding against each other. Strange. “Come in,” I recognized Mr. Drudge’s voice, though I’d only met him a few hoursbefore. We entered the study and explained to Mr. Drudge what had happened, that ourbrothers were missing. He seemed to be sincerely concerned. “How peculiar. But, I’m sure the boys are just fine. Rest. They ought to return tothe bedrooms before morning.” We exited, and I was still unsure. I ran for the front door and tried to open it,pulled at windows. It was hopeless. There was no way we were getting out. Acceptingthis fact, we returned to the hall where our rooms were. Skyler and I both went into theroom I was staying in to talk and settle our nerves. I glanced at the little blocked off dooragain. Then I did a double take. The dresser was moved from it’s spot! The door was
open! I tapped Skyler’s shoulder to make him stop talking and pointed to the door. Helooked at the door, and back at me. I got up and walked toward the door. I sat on the floorand looked into the space behind it. It was dark except a small bit of light coming fromthe far right corner of the room. I crawled in, hoping Skyler would follow without sayinganything. I crawled toward the light and occasionally looked back to be sure my brother wasstill following me. We reached the light and I slowed my pace. I crawled into the roomslowly and stood up. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! Chris and Alex, unconscious,lying on the floor of the room. There were wires everywhere, all connected to one of themetal helmets on each of my brothers. I desperately wanted this to be a hallucination, adream, anything. Even though it seemed insane, something told me this was real, that mymind wasn’t playing tricks on me this time. I looked at Skyler and the look on his face told me that he had seen the same exactthing I had just moments ago. I knew there was no way to help my two brothers, andthere was also no way for us to escape. So we returned to our rooms, and luckily for me,my exhaustion took over and I slept dreamlessly until the sound of a car door closingwoke me up the next morning. I woke up with a start, slightly confused. I looked at Skyler, then Chris, and Alex. I laughed, relieved, “I had the craziest dream…”