By Morgan Gregg, TIWP Student

Look I know you are trying to relax and maybe wind down for the night with a nice book but I’m warning you: put down this book immediately and you you can go on with your life not knowing of the treacherous, dangerous things that lurk just under the surface, that your shielded mortal eyes can not comprehend.

But by all means, if you enjoy murder, death, destruction and torture then read on. No one can stop you.

Chapter 1
So yeah, that just happened. You’re still here! You might just be about the craziest person I’ve met and that’s saying something. Please, by all means, continue, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

It was a normal Saturday afternoon, as normal as you can get when your dad, your only living relative, is in prison for the third time and you’re being questioned in court by the police – so yeah, a normal Saturday for me!

Oh, by the way iIm Maddie Strain, 5th grader at Harrington Academy for “Special People,” meaning people like me with mental disabilities like dyslexia, but teachers say I’m a special case because I have dyslexia, ADHD and diabetes type 2 which doesn’t affect my learning but still….

Anyway, the police asked me standard questions and I gave them standard answers like yeah, no, mm-hmm, sure, things like that. They told me my dad would be in jail for 6 months and I’d have to go live with my Aunt Gertrude. Ugh, I told you my dad was my only living relative but sadly I lied. I just don’t like to think of my aunt as a relative; she’s more like a crazy psychopath, that if you looked deep down in our family history you’d find that we have the same DNA.

I would still be going to school (sadly) but it would take an hour to get there so we would have to drive. I shuddered just thinking about being in an enclosed space with my aunt for a whole hour.

Finally, after a long ride, trying to convince my aunt it was Saturday (she thinks every day is Thursday) we made it to the house. The entryway was decorated like a yard sale with random things piled up high all over the table and floor, things like money and McDonalds kids meal wrappers. I walked down the hallway towards the guest room but I couldn’t look anywhere without seeing myself because every surface in the hall was plastered with mirrors! I looked at one of my many reflections and god I looked horrible! Now I don’t usually care about my appearance but I looked like I showered in a hurricane, used a lot of hair spray to keep the hurricane look and then blow dried it with fire, which actually isn’t too far off. As I walked further down the hallway I swore I saw my reflection try to fix her hair, but I must have been seeing things.

Surprisingly the guest room was relatively civilized with a lovely queen size bed and fancy blue covers that matched the room. I started to unpack my things when I heard my aunt calling me for lunch. I guess I hadn’t been thinking about food but I soon found I was starving. I sprinted through the hallway to try to avoid the mirrors, but I swore I saw my reflection wave at me. Must have been seeing things again.

I raced into the kitchen to find a gray cloud of smoke infiltrating the room. “FIRE!” I screamed.

“Oh don’t worry dear,” my aunt said. “The pasta’s just getting a bit hot.”

“HOT! HOT!?” I yelped “YOU’RE ON FIRE!” I wasn’t going to let my house burn down. Again.

“Oh that’s why my head felt a tad bit warm.” I couldn’t take it any more so I took a bucket of ice water and dumped it over her head. “Well that wasn’t very nice,” she exclaimed.

“I just saved your life! What part of that is not nice?”

“Well no one likes a bucket of ice water dumped on their head.”

I was going to lose it but I learned that at my aunt’s I had to go with the flow. Sigh. “What’s for lunch?”

“Well this was for lunch.” I stared at the blackened pile of spaghetti and immediately lost my appetite.

“Umm no thanks,” I said and then ran into my room to scream. I screamed alright. I screamed until my voice went dry and hoarse and I couldn’t scream any longer but I doubted my aunt heard anything. For all I know she was trying to burn down the house again but I had stopped caring. Usually when I’m bored, I can stare out the window and zone out but there were no windows in the house, so I took out my iPad and started to play. I felt like I had only played for 30 minutes but I soon heard my aunt calling me for dinner, so I unplugged my headphones and ran out.

Once I got into the dining room I started to smell dinner. Tacos. I got a tortilla and filled it up, which was hard since I’m vegetarian but I managed. People say I’m missing out but ever since I drove by the place where they ground the stuff I could never get the smell out of my nostrils. I ate and left as quickly as possible because I learned the hard way: never try to make conversation with my aunt.

I usually go to bed really late but even though it was only 7:30, I crashed. I never dream. People argue that everyone dreams but I just don’t. But I guess my mind had made an exception tonight. I was in my old house, before it had burned down. In the room was my grandmother, in her bed, and my mom at her side.

“Julia,” my grandmother said. “Do not tell her until her 10th birthday. She mustn’t know till then.”

“I won’t. I promise,” said my mom.

“And,” continued my grandmother, “whatever you do, do not tell her father. Who knows what he would do with that kind of power.” And with that my grandmother slipped away and I left my dream with my mother screaming in grief.

To be continued . . . .

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