Rain sprinkles onto the old castle's roof, knocking crusts of gray paint off the gutter, popping them into a batter of mud. Inside, a black widow skulks on furry feet across a wooden floor that slithers with red slime. It twirls into a bowl of popcorn, and through a fizzing puddle of Coke. It pulls us to a bedroom, its walls lined with plastic, hairless dolls. The room belongs to two sisters, Elizabeth and Amber. At night the dolls sing lullabies and twitch their eyes.
Every time Elizabeth cast a spell she’’ would remember her sister’s death. It was like yesterday that Amber died. One day when they were little, Elizabeth was trying out a new spell on their pet gecko. When she closed her eyes and twirled her fingers she heard something collapse. She opened her eyes. Amber lay on the floor, now the size of a doll. Her skin was cloth. Red stitches connected her limbs to her body. Dusty indigo buttons spun in her eye sockets. Elizabeth held her sister up to her chest, and said,“I’m sorry, I didn’t see you!”
“I will come back,”said Amber.
Elizabeth felt as if her heart were torn in half, as if someone turned on a faucet in her eyes, she started to pour tears. She sat her sister down on the nightstand against the lamp. Every night, her doll-sister would watch her sleep.
Every time Elizabeth practices her spells, tears trickle down her face. She remembers that Amber said that she would come back. Elizabeth is still waiting for her sister to fulfill her promise.
Lightning cracks open the chimney walls. Purple clouds condense and form a flock of puffs in the sky. Wind blows the curtains inside the windows and green mist drizzles onto the floor. A shadow of a girl sits on Elizabeth’s bed, half of her head hairless.
Her castle suffocates with spider webs, black and gray bricks patterning the large walls. Gargoyles guarding every window. Behind the castle is a graveyard where her sister is buried.
Midnight. A subtle stampede of footsteps run up and down the stairs awaking Elizabeth. She pops out of bed to go check the hallway, leaving her sheets and blankets dangling from her bed. Red footsteps lead outside. A waft of wind blows behind her, a large framed picture of her sister falls from the wall and lands face up. Glass shattering across the wooden floor. A white shadow darts across the room. A globe of light hides under white sheets. A swoosh of song fills the room with a thick layer of darkness. The lullaby that her dad used to sing when Amber was still alive, a soft, swaying whisper that made the sisters feel like they were drifting with the ocean’s tide to shore.
Outside the window, a little girl’s scream. Elizabeth sweeps the curtains aside. The body of girl who looks like Amber lies on the ground. Blood oozes from her forehead onto the grass, staining the green field. Patches of toasted fabric cling to human skin. Half of her head is hairless. The girl slowly picks herself up and floats to the fountain in front of Elizabeth’s castle. She sits on the edge of the fountain dusted with spider webs. Elizabeth races across the hallway down the five sets of stairs and outside. As soon as she reaches the fountain nothing remains but the fading lullaby...
HERE IS THE SAME STORY AS A GRAPHIC MINI-NOVEL: