"Once upon a time, there was a beautiful little girl who lived on the edge of the forest." My sister said softly as I brushed her hair, "Do you know what happens to little girls that go into the forest Sarah?" she asked as I sighed,
"No Maria, what happens?" we had been through this so many times. Maria smiled and replied, "They never come back." I shook my head and put the brush back in my purse. This childhood conversation wouldn't be so tragic; except that she isn't a child, my twin sister is seventeen years old. For three years, my sister has been institutionalized at North Wood asylum, ever since that horrid Halloween when Maria became the derranged creature she is now.
"You need to be careful tonight Sarah. The ghosts come out on Halloween. That's right....that's their favorite night...." I stood up,
"Maria, I don't know what happened to you all those years ago, but I'm going to find out tonight. When I go to the forest and come back alive, maybe it will save you...." Maria started to turn her head slightly and suddenly stood and pinned me against the wall screaming, "You can't go there! You can't! You stupid, crazy bitch! You can't go into that forest!" I clawed at her hands that were gripping me as we wrestled against one another.
"Maria! Stop it! Get off of me!" I said as I pushed her to the ground. Touching the sore skin around my neck, I stared at her as she held her head mumbling, "Tried to stop her, tried to make her see.... tried to stop her, tried to make her see....."
Keeping my distance, I crouched down and whispered, "Maria? What are you talking about?" She turned and looked at me like she had forgotten I was there. It was one of the odd times when she looked at me like she was fine. Like the old Maria I loved before the accident. Her blue eyes were clear as they searched mine before she placed her hands gently on my shoulders,
"On Halloween, witches come true; wild ghosts escape from dreams. Each monster dances in the park...." I stared at her confused. She brushed back my brown hair and whispered,
"Be strong, brave girl. You will join me here soon. Then you will understand, then you will see what I saw." My heart quickened, "What did you see Maria? What did you see that night?" We had been trying to get her to tell us for years. The doctors had tried everything from hypnotism to almost flat out interigations and still no one had been able to make her talk. She slid her hands down my shoulders and held onto herself singing softly, "Each monster dances in the park, each monster dances in the park....each monster, each monster, soon Sarah will dance in the park!" Then she broke out in giggles and laid on the floor.
"Nurse!" I yelled as I stood to leave. I could hear them unlocking the door when I looked back at Maria again. She was sitting cross legged in her white night gown, brushing her fingers through her long hair as she said in a voice that was much more of a growl, "I'll see you soon Sarah."
I turned to leave, almost running out the doors. Maria had never shown that kind of hostility towards me. The doctors had observed her over the years and diagnosed her as having paranoid schizophrenia, probably a deep rooted illness in our family. I didn't believe them, Maria had always been happy, sweet and bright. There was no reason for her to have suddenly snapped the way she did. I believe something did in fact happen to her that night, and I intended to find out what it was.
I walked down the street on the way back to the house, but stopped to look at the forest that lined our sleepy town. When we were kids, we used to play in the trees all the time. Maria was always the brave one. She would swing upside down from trees singing, "Scardey Sarah, scardey Sarah!" That name made me so mad, so of course I would climb up and do it too. She got me to do a lot of dangerous things that way. But still if there were ever a time I fell or became hurt, Maria was always there in a second. She was techincally the older one,born three minutes before me, and she used that all the time.
"Sarah! I've got a great idea! This Halloween, let's go and visit Widow's shack. It will be super spooky!" I stiffened at the memory we shared as I stood in this exact place three years ago. Maria, dressed like a ghost bride, took my hand and started leading me into the forest. I followed until suddenly a terrible feeling struck through my body. To this day, I'm not sure what it was, but a part of me didn't want to go into the forest that night; especially not Widow's shack.
"I don't want to go in there Maria." My fourteen-year-old self said digging my heels in. Maria pulled a little harder, but gave up looking at me, "Why not? You scared already?"
"No! I just....something doesn't feel right. Let's go tomorrow ok?" Maria rolled her blue eyes and looked at me again, "It won't be Halloween then. Where's the fun in that? Come on, I'm your twin sister, would I honestly let anything happen to you?" I looked from her to the forest trying to see if I could make out Widow's shack. It was a run down house in the middle of the forest. All the kids said it was haunted and used to play games on who could get the closest. Maria and I had been there before, but I never liked it.
"No, I don't want to go there Maria. I'm not going." Maria looked at the forest and then back at me. Sighing she put her hands on her hips, "Fine, since you want to be a scardey cat, I'll go by myself! Hey, I didn't even think about it, but you're just like your costume. Scardey cat! Scardey cat! Sarah is a scardey cat!"
"Stop it!" I said as she giggled and ran off into the dark forest. I stared as the now menacing woods ate her up and looked back down at my own costume. I was dressed as the Cheshire Cat that year, only the costume was too big for me. The ears kept falling off my head and the painted on smile was turning down slightly. I wanted to go after Maria, but something kept holding me back, telling me that there was danger in those woods that night.
"Maria! Maria come back!" I yelled into the black forest. The pines covered up my sister as I shuffled from one foot to the other nervously. Something wasn't right, something was very, very wrong. I waited there for her for what seemed like hours until it started to get dark. Suddenly I heard my sister scream and I lunged myself into the ever waiting forest. Running through the branches, I looked everywhere for Maria calling, "Maria! Maria! Where are you?" I tripped over a log and landed right next to a ghost bride, with blood dripping from her hands and mascara running down her cheeks. Maria sat there, staring at Widow's shack, whimpering lightly.
"Maria? What happened to you? Are you ok?" She stopped whimpering, looked at me for a moment and whispered, "On Halloween, witches come true; wild ghosts escape from dreams. Each monster dances in the park."
"What? What are you saying?" I asked as she collapsed onto me, breaking out in a fresh round of sobs. I held her and stared at the house. What had she seen? What had happened to make her like this?
Maria was never the same after that night. My parents tried to comfort her as much as possible, but Maria would just snap; crying, screaming, sometimes all night. It became too much for them to handle and the had no choice, but to send her away for help. The doctors couldn't do anything, but keep her away from the public. They didn't even consider the possibility that she was telling the truth, that something had indeed had happened to her. Now it was my turn, I stared at the forest which moaned as the wind passed through. Something took my sister's sanity and damn it, I was going to find out what that was.
I dropped my back pack there and started to sprint into the battleground. The moss covered trees seemed colder than normal as my sneakers flew across the leaf covered ground. I stopped and listened carefully noticing that for once, it was completely silent. There were no birds chirping, no deer moving in the brush, nothing but the absolute stillness, almost as if the forest was frozen; cast under an evil shadow. I climbed over a fallen log and set my gaze upon my destination,
"Widow's shack." I whispered to myself. There was no turning back now, I would see what my sister saw that night. Even if it drove me into the same state she's in, I would see what she saw. Taking a breath, I walked up the stairs that creeked with every step. The old door didn't appear that menacing, but when I placed my hand on the door knob, it felt like a bolt of electricity pulsed through my fingers. I withdrew my hand and sucked on my middle finger. With another breath, I kicked the door open and walked in, avoiding the angry door knob.
Theinterior wasn't as run down as the outside and I took a step on the dust covered floor. Outside, it had began to rain and the drip, drop, drip, drop clanged off the metal roof and leaked through the ceiling. I pulled up my jacket a bit and continued observing the room around me. There were large spots all over the walls that held the shape from where old pictures used to hang. The walls were full of them, empty, water stained spots everywhere except one place. I walked up the first flight of stairs to get a closer look at the one portrait that hung in this desolate place. My fingers reached up and brushed back the dust before I gasped and stepped back,
"It's us." I whispered as I looked at the picture of twin girls sitting on a swing in what appeared to be a park. The same blue eyes, the same brown hair, everything the same down to the smallest feature. My own blue eyes locked with their's as I stared at the figure in the background. The twin girls were dressed in old time gowns, giggling happily in the playground, but behind them loomed a dark shadow. I tried to make out the face, but the years of water damage ruined it.
"What did you find Maria?" I asked as I took a breath and continued up the second flight of stairs. There were three rooms waiting to be discovered as I picked the one on the right first. It appeared to be their room, the twins that so resembled Maria and myself. I stood by one of the pink beds and opened the nightstand drawer to find another photograph. This one was even more striking than the painting downstairs. The twins same twins, but this was a polroid. This had to be at least fifty years later, probably around the seventies. Two teenage twinsstood holding hands, looking at the camera. I stared harder and saw that both girls had what appeared to be rope marks around their necks and wrists. This time I could clearly make out the dark shadow in the back ground as it draped the rope around their necks.
"Can't they see it?" I asked as I sat on one of the beds that reeked of mildew. What happened to these girls? Why did they look so much like Maria and myself? These questions ran through my head until I heard a thump from the next room. It made me jump and I noticed it was starting to get dark. This would have been the time that Maria entered the house three years ago. I stood and walked towards the thumping. Pushing against the door, it felt like something was leaning up against it. I took a breath and grunted as I pushed with my shoulder and fell into the cold room.
"What the...." I began until I looked up, right into the crystal blue eyes of my twin. "Maria?" I asked until the being shook it's head and placed a snowy hand on my head. Suddenly everything went black and when I opened my eyes again, I was watching a memory. The two girls in the picture were being pulled down the stairs by someone. I followed and saw that they were unconsious and being carried into what appeared to be a cellar. In the cellar was a table and a large pentagram painted on the wall. The memory flashed forward to when the girls were awake and a man had them tied down back to back. He smiled a broken grin and licked on of the girls necks.
"Why are you doing this? Please, please let us go!" One of the girls cried. The man shook his head and stroked her face before striking her hard. The blow made both girls fall to the side. The dark man walked to his desk and pulled out a knife. He walked over to them and cut off their hair as they screamed and tried to push against him. One of the twins started crying as the other one whispered,
"Don't cry Sarah." My heart stopped when the other twin cried, "I'm scared Maria." The past Maria leaned back to kiss her head, "Don't give him the pleasure." The man pushed Sarah down and got on top of Maria. He kissed her forehead and moved down her neck, kissing violently as he trailed down her body stopping just before the bottom of her dress.He shook his head mumbling, "No, they must be pure. Two pure sacrifices. Too bad, too bad, such beautiful girls I have. Daddy's proud of you both...."
"Father please, don't do this!" They cried as he got off the table and retrieved a rope from the drawer. He took a breath and wrapped the rope around their necks, "Daddy loves you." With that he pulled and the memory faded. I laied there on the ground, gasping for air as the ghostly Maria pointed at the closet. I stood and shakily, walked over to the closet. I stopped and stared down at the blood smear on the floor before opening the closet and vomitting on the floor. The thumping Iheard was the rotten body of a man who still hung in the closet by the very ropes he had strangled his daughters with. I had seen enough as I sprinted down the stairs and lunged for the door, before the floor gave out under my feet and I landed on the very table I had seen in my vision.
"Oh my...." I said as I sat up and crawled off the blood stained table. The room was just as it was in the memory except the layers of dust that covered the walls. I looked at the pentagram and noticed that there was a verse written beneath it in what appeared to be blood. I brushed away the dust and fell to the ground as I stared at the words written on the wall. I placed my hand to my face and whispered the words, "On Halloween, witches come true; wild ghosts escape from dreams. Each monster dances in the park."
Four weeks have passed and the dream still plays out in my head every night. I awake screaming until I feel a hand on my shoulder, "Don't be afraid Sarah. I'm here." I curl up and hold onto my sister. She nods and strokes my hair, "Can the doctors make dream go away Sarah?" She shook her head, "No, it never goes away." I nuzzled my head into her shoulder as the nurse comes through the door, "Time for your medication girls. You are both looking so pretty today. Oh, you have a visitor, so be good."
The door opened further and closed behind her as we heard a voice say, "There's my beautiful girls. Daddy loves you."