We had a story to tell at school the next day. It was a month until Halloween, but the time passed quickly. Four other girls agreed to go with us to the voodoo house for All Hallow's Eve.
Carol remembered the winding way, since I was born with no sense of direction. We got to the house around eleven, two carloads of giggly girls squirmy with excitement. It was a cloudy, windy night with no stars. Armed with flashlights, we waded through the grass and climbed in the window.
A surprise greeted us. Everything had been cleaned up. The pentagrams were gone, the dolls were missing, the fireplace raked out. The only thing left was the dripping couch in the stairwell."
"You guys," Debbie cried. "What a load of bullshit! I was really scared."
"Well, I'm more scared now," Carol said. "Somebody's been here and cleaned it all up. They must have known we were coming."
"Oh, Jesus. Let's get out of here."
"No way," I said. "Let's go down in the basement."
"Fuck you, O'Donnell," Tammy said. "I'm not going down there."
"Come on. What are you, chicken?"
I rolled my eyes and grinned, enjoying the whole macabre thing. "Come on, Carol. We'll show 'em."
We got to the cellar door and shone our flashlights on the stairs leading down. The blackness swallowed up the light. Carol took a step back. I looked at her questioningly and she shook her head, giggling.
"No way, Beck. I can't go down there."
"I'll go, then."
Having just read Stephen King's Salem's Lot, I was mindful of broken steps, feeling my way with pokes of a cautious toe. Debbie's "Let's get out of here" sounded like an echo behind me and I turned two thirds of the way down, just as the step gave way beneath me. Crashing through three rotten planks, my feet landed in something awful and spongy, sinking to my ankles in some unknown, soaking slop.
Part IV tomorrow!