Scarlett’s mind wheeled as she listened to the noise. How could there be a rocking chair in the hotel rooms above her? Throwing back the duvet, she got up and hurriedly dressed in the clothes she had spent the day in. Putting on her trainers and grabbing her mobile phone, she went to the bedroom door. Opening it and going into the hallway, she paused and listened again. The rocking chair was still thumping.
Unlocking the apartment door, she walked into the entrance hall and turned the lights on fully. The shadows scattered and fled into the dark corners where the light couldn’t reach them. Scarlett calmed her breathing and eyed the stairs, she was about to go up when she remembered the CCTV. Turning and going through the other door, Scarlett woke up the computers and looked at the cameras. The outside ones showed nothing but a windy and wet night. The ground floor ones were clear. She tried the staircase and first floor corridor. The camera on the far left was just a black screen, but the others showed nothing. Checking the second floor, she saw that the same camera there wasn’t working either and it was the one that showed the attic door.
Straightening, she grabbed the ring of keys that Greyson had for some reason left on the desk and headed out. Making sure all the lights were on, Scarlett climbed the stairs. At the square landing, she went right and carried on climbing. The thumping sounds seem to slow down and as she reached the top, the noise had all but stopped.
‘Hello!’ Scarlett shouted.
She let the echo surrounded her then waited a few moments.
‘Who’s there?’ she asked.
Tightening her grip on the banister, she heard the rocking chair stop moving. Silence returned. Scarlett stepped forward and looked at the doors to her left, trying to decide which ones were over the apartment.
A child like giggle from the left caused her head to whip around.
‘I’m not alone!’ Scarlett yelled, ‘and the police are on their way. If you come out now and stop this messing around, we can help you.’
What sounded like a whisper followed by a moan touched her ears, but she couldn’t tell where it had come from. Putting her shoulders back and trying to stay confident, she walked over to the first room on the right. Unlocking and opening the door, she went into the lit room. Looking around, she discovered nothing and moved on to the next.
‘It’s no good hiding you know,’ she spoke out, feeling reassured by the sound of her own voice, ‘we’re going to get you soon enough!’
Scarlett walked into the second room, ready to face a teenager or young homeless person. The room was empty. Growling softly, she walked out and checked another four rooms. Each was empty and as Scarlett also noted none had a rocking chair. Making sure, she had locked the doors, she checked the first handful on the other side and found them just as empty.
‘I’m not going crazy,’ she muttered.
Coming back to the stairs, she paused and let the silence settle again. The floor creaked above her. Scarlett looked up and heard the sound of the chair rocking again. She ran up the next flight of stairs and looked down both corridors. The light closest to the attic door flickered, drawing her eye and suddenly she realised where the sound was coming from.
Clutching the ring of keys, she stomped over to the attic door and opened it. A dark maw met her. Scarlett fumbled around for the switch and finally found it. Dim light drifted down, hardly touching the darkness of the walls. For a spilt second, she debated going back for a torch and maybe the cricket bat, but the sound of something rattling stopped her.
Listening, she heard what sounded like a baby’s rattle toy which seemed in time with the rocking of the chair and the creaking floor boards.
Taking a deep breath, she started the climb. The stairs groaned underneath and dust rose up towards the naked bulbs. At the top she looked down the three corridors and tried to figure out where the noise was coming from. Swallowing, she decided to call out and see what happened.
‘Hey, I know you’re up here! Show yourself!’
Her voice echoed deeply and came back to her loudly.
A voice said something, but it was too low for her to hear.
‘I mean it! The police are coming and my husband is right behind me!’ Scarlett cried.
‘No, he’s not,’ a voice hissed.
Scarlett jumped. A scream bubbled in her throat and she fought to wrestle it down whilst urging her feet not to run. She took in a few breaths of hot, heavy air and clutched the key ring tighter.
‘How do you know that?’ she finally squeezed out.
‘I saw him leave,’ a voice, which sounded like a young girl whispered back.
‘Who are you?’ Scarlett asked.
There was pause, a small laugh then nothing else. In the background, the rocking and rattling continued.
Slowly, Scarlett moved and began opening the rooms she and Greyson had searched through before. Even through it was dark, she couldn’t see anyone or anything that seemed out of place. Going back to the top of the stairs, she searched the keys and selected the skeleton one. Wondering if it would open any of the doors up here, Scarlett walked back down the right corridor and going to the first locked room there, slotted the key in. She turned it and heard a faint click. Smiling, she pushed open the door and looked into a pitch black room.
Pulling out her phone and calling up the torch, she used the surprisingly bright light to look around. She saw piles of decaying cardboard boxes going from floor to ceiling and completely filling the room. Closing the door, she tried the next and found it to contain bedframes and mattress.
A chuckle came from behind her, but she didn’t turn around.
‘I am going to find you!’ Scarlett said through gritted teeth.
She walked out of the room and tried the next and the one after, both rooms held dust sheet covered furniture. Going to the final room, she slotted the key in and turned it. The lock clicked and she pushed opened the door. A loud gasp seemingly coming from inside the room caused her to pause.
‘Hello?’ Scarlett said.
The rocking and rattling began to fade. There was the sound of running bare feet on the floor boards and something, a book perhaps, tumbling to the floor.
Scarlett flung open the door and shone her phone torch in. Her mouth dropped and a loud oh sound escaped her. The room was a Victorian style children’s nursey. Dust covered toys were scattered across the floor and a large rocking horse dominated the room. A small table surrounded by stools was set up for a tea party and there was a doll’s house underneath a curtained window. Against the far wall, were a bookcase and a small writing desk.
‘Hello?’ Scarlett called softer.
A muffled cry tickled her ears. She paused, but hearing nothing further, she walked into the room and began looking for a light switch. Finding it, she flicked it up and down, but the light didn’t come on. Dropping her hand, she turned and looked around the room again. She walked over to the rocking horse and gently touched it, making it rock. The sound it made was just like the one she had heard.
‘Don’t be scared,’ Scarlett called out then wondered if she was saying that to herself.
Shaking her head, she panned the floor and moved to the doll’s house. Looking at the dust and spider webbed building, she thought it looked like the original manor house. She went to open it and felt a touch of icy air on her hand. Pausing, she shone the torch on the back of her hand and finding nothing, opened the doll house.
Inside all the rooms were complete with furniture and small dolls were scattered about.
‘Wow. Amazing,’ Scarlett breathed.
‘It’s mine!’ a voice that sounded similar to the one before cried out.
Scarlett glanced to the side and thought she saw a grey shadow moving closer to her.
‘It’s nice,’ she said and began shutting the front panel.
‘Leave it open,’ the voice cried.
‘Please,’ Scarlett added.
‘Please,’ repeated the voice.
Scarlett swung open the panel and moved slightly away. She watched as the grey shadow came to hover in front of the doll’s house.
‘Can I see you? I won’t hurt you. I just want to talk,’ Scarlett said gently.
‘Why?’ the voice asked.
‘Because…I’ve never seen a ghost before and I want to. You’ve been the one making all that noise, haven’t you?’ Scarlett questioned.
‘It wasn’t just me!’ the voice replied stiffly.
‘There are more?’
Scarlett blinked and tried to refocus her eyes on the grey shape, but it was transforming before her. A girl no older than ten, was knelt on the floor in a long dress with her hair nicely tied back was staring up at her with wide white eyes. In her right hand, she held one of the small doll house dolls and her left was resting in her lap. She smiled a little.
Scarlett’s hand went to her chest and she tried to regain control of her breathing and heartbeat. Everything was screaming for her to run away, but she felt frozen to the floor.
To Be Continued…