One swift kick.
That’s all it took. Perhaps because the deadbolt was rusted, or because the wooden slats nailed across the door were rotting. Jill drove her heel hard against the door and with one swift kick it opened.
It was darker inside than out. One silver thread of moonlight trailed into the entryway and vanished down the hall. Jill flicked on her flash light and stepped inside. Oliva lingered in the doorway, watching her friend shrink in the sliver of light until the shadows swallowed her whole. It wasn’t until the yellow arc of Jill’s flash light rounded a corner that Olivia finally slipped inside. The sound of her footsteps bounced off the walls and echoed throughout the empty house. Her camera, dangling from her neck, swayed against her chest as she walked.
She found Jill standing in the center of the living room, stone still, her gaze drawn to the ceiling. When Olivia got closer she saw that Jill’s eyes were shut. She sucked in a deep breath and sighed it out, her eyes fluttering open as Olivia came to stand beside her.
“Crazy, right?” Jill asked.
“What’s crazy?” Olivia countered.
“The air. You can feel it. The history of this place.”
Olivia looked around the room, barren save for a dilapidated love seat, a chipped wooden rocking chair, and a broken lamp all shoved into one corner. She mimicked Jill’s deep breath.
“Does history smell like mildew?” Olivia asked.
Jill snorted a laugh and started for the stairs. Each step was covered in a thick film of dust that flew up in all directions as Jill bounded up them. Olivia stood at the bottom and, once Jill disappeared into one of the bedrooms, she snapped a photo of the empty staircase before heading up herself. Moth eaten curtains billowed, wind seeping in from a crack in the window, and tickled her arm as she passed.
She found Jill in a dark room. Her flash light was off and she was perching it on a dresser missing all of its drawers.
“Shut the door,” she said when Olivia stepped in. Olivia obliged. “You have a low-light setting, right? Do you need to use the flash?”
“I can do some with, some without,” Olivia suggested.
“Great,” Jill said. “Start shooting now. I’ll video on my phone.”
“You won’t be able to see anything,” Olivia said. She sat cross legged on the dusty floor and snapped pictures of the room as Jill rocked back on her heels and slipped her phone from her pocket.
“I just need the audio,” she said. “Maybe we’ll pick something up. Noises. Whispers.” She let herself fall back onto the floor and set the phone, video recording on, beside her. Olivia took a photo of her, haloed in a haze of starlight filtering in from the bare window. When she started speaking again, she addressed the whole of the room. “If there’s someone in here with us, please give us a sign.” Little numbers scrolled on her phone, tallying the seconds of silence that passed. Olivia kept tapping her shutter button over and over, photograph after photograph. Jill stared intently at her flashlight, its switch balanced between on and off. “If anyone else is in this room, please turn on the light.”
The silence stretched on.
And downstairs, the front door closed.
In the wake of the girls’ footfalls, the stirred up dust they left behind, new prints appeared. The stairs creaked. One by one. Old floorboards groaned beneath an unexpected weight.
The door to the dark bedroom swung open.