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The House (Part 2)

(As requested by some of you, I'm continuing Laila & the ghost girl's story! If you didn't read part one or need a refresher, you can find the beginning here! Hope y'all like it! Happy Spooky Halloween)

The Girl wandered aimlessly through the dark halls of the House. The sound of three doors slamming shut had been the only indication that the living family had gone to bed. She was certain that had been hours ago, but still, it never hurt to be careful and avoid risking detection.

It's hard to keep track of time when time looses its meaning.

As the Girl soundlessly drifted, she could hear the groans and rumbles of the massive mansion waking up. It had been growing bolder with each week that Laila and her family remained. They were all uneasy, even the parents; the Girl could sense it. But that didn't seem to inspire any of them to leave. Even as every night the creek of the wooden floor seemed to be a more clearly malicious giggle while the moan of the pipes sounded hungrier and hungrier.

And still the family continued sleeping through the night.

"Family of idiots," the Girl sighed to no one in particular. "The lot of them."

"Why so stressed then," A smooth, rumbling voice echoed behind her. "You know there's nothing that could save them now."

The Girl's mouth twisted into a sharp frown as a presence passed through her and materialized into a young man floating before her. He looked around twenty, and that age he would forever remain. His dark brown hair was wetly plastered to his face as eternal streams of water flowed down his translucent body. Pieces of algae curled around his arms, ankles and neck like bizarre accessories.

The first time the two had met, they had both stared at each other in confusion. The Girl couldn't help wrinkling her nose at his strange, patterned clothing with ripped off sleeves that exposed a scandalous amount of skin. The newcomer had made a snarky remark about her own "prudish" outfit before asking her where Tyler and everyone else in the House was.

When the Girl sharply replied that she had never met a Tyler and that the House had been empty for nearly two decades, the boy's eyes widened in horror at a dark realization.

He couldn't remember much. He didn't know his name, just that he wanted to go home and see his cat and parents. He couldn't remember the details of his death, only that the year had been 1985 and he, Tyler and their friends had broken into the House to drink and smoke. At one point, he felt a painfully, compelling urge to go swimming in the lake outside the House and left without asking anyone to come join him...

So the Girl called him Lake.

Unlike the Girl's own sickly, pale grey skin and Typhoid-thin features, Lake's ghostly, grey skin was mottled with dark, blooming spots of decay. The Girl found him entirely obnoxious with his strange sayings and laissez-faire attitude, and yet she was grateful the House had decided to keep him.

It had been lonely since she woke up to eternity in 1879.

Now, her gratitude at his existence quickly dissipated as he flung a long, slimy piece of algae at her. It fell through her and landed on the ground with a wet squelch.

"This is why I don't like you in the House when we have visitors," the Girl huffed. "You're always shedding and they're bound to notice."

Lake smirked wryly as he pulled another slippery, green strand off of his body, both aware it would be back on his figure the next night. "Chill, doll-face. If the House hasn't scared them off now, nothing will."

"That doesn't mean we can just throw caution to the wind! We have to be careful."

"Why? We're already dead," Lake snorted. "Nothing's going to happen to us."

"You don't know that." The Girl resolutely glided past him, her nose in the air. "It's safer to just follow the rules and lie low."

"God you're lame," Lake sighed, following her. "News-flash, kiddo, the era of repression is over. You're allowed to have fun."

"I have fun," the Girl grumbled, more to herself than to Lake.

"Not like I do."

"So drowning was a fun activity for you then?"

"Bite me," Lake snarled, finally seeming angry.

"The fish already beat me to that," the Girl quipped.

Lake's angry stammers faded into silence as the House abruptly screamed. Both of the ghosts froze as a familiar tremor of fear ran through them. As quickly as it started, the shrill, piercing noise stopped. The click of a light turning on made the Girl and Lake share a concerned look as the sound of a door creaking open echoed in the now deathly silent House.

The Girl and Lake quickly slipped into darkness as footsteps approached them. They were too quick to be Laila's, but not heavy enough to be the father's. A slender, beautiful woman passed almost an inch in front of them as Laila's mother sleepily shuffled through the House, muttering to herself with each step. Without a word, Lake and the Girl followed her as the woman yawned her way into the kitchen, careful to remain out of sight.

The kitchen was ice cold as the fall, night air streamed in through an open window. The curtains around it billowed with each gust of wind. The Girl thought the sheets of white fabric ironically looked like ghosts.

"Goddamn window giving me a goddamn heart-attack," The woman snapped as she stopped directly in front of the kitchen window and slammed it close with more force than necessary.

She carefully locked it, before heaving a weary sigh, like that act alone had drained all her energy. The moonlight illuminated the woman in the otherwise pitch black House. Her shoulder-length black hair had streaks of silver, an outward sign of the stress of her environment. Dark bags were under her almond shaped eyes, like she hadn't gotten a good night's sleep in months, which was probably true.

Both the Girl and Lake could smell cigarette smoke radiating off the woman. They both knew she hadn't been smoking when the family first moved in.

The pair quietly stared as the woman's shoulders trembled. There was a heaviness in her silence that was only broken by the quiet drip of salty tears hitting the tile floor. The kitchen refrigerator hummed lowly, like it was savoring the taste of the woman's sadness.

After a moment the woman straightened up with a steadying inhale before beginning the weary, dark trek back to her empty bedroom. Her husband hadn't been sharing a bed with her for nearly three months now.

Lake broke the silence first. "I wish there was something we could do," He said quietly.

"I know." The Girl nodded. "But it's too late. Their souls are tied here now."

"Maybe it'll be quick this time?" His hopeful expression was dashed by the Girl's skeptical frown.

The Girl would know, after all. She's the one that's had to bear witness to human after human withering away inside this forsaken building before their own minds snapped and turned on each other. The one who's heard the desperate cries and wails as the unescapable end of death approached all too quickly.

"Do you ever wonder..." Lake glanced around the dark room. "Wonder why it spared us?"

"No," The Girl said, quickly and solemnly. "I don't want to think about it."

In the distance, the sky was beginning to lighten from a midnight blue into an inky purple. Lake winced, already the pull of the water outside taking affect from just the slightest sign of day. The Girl herself felt the urge to return to the attic and lie down on the dusty, untouched cot that was once her bed. She closed her eyes as she felt a cold, slightly damp hand squeeze hers tightly.

"I want to save Laila," she said without opening her eyes.

Lake didn't respond right away. The Girl could imagine his conflicted expression as he weighed the risks of defying the House, of being exposed. But finally, she heard his quiet sigh and sensed him nod.

"Okay. Let's do it."

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