The Stars Forgot Us
Published by: Midnight Tide Publishing
Publication date: March 30th 2022
Genres: Paranormal, Suspense, Young Adult
Fifteen-year-old Jacob Kelly would love to go back to simpler times. Before his parents’ divorce and the onset of his brother’s Schizophrenia. But when he returns to his hometown, things feel off. After a series of strange occurrences, Jacob fears his new house is haunted or worse, yet he is losing his mind.
To his surprise, Jacob discovers a mysterious teenage runaway, Sanctuary Daniels, living in the house. She reveals she has been kept by a figure known only as Mother, in a place where downstairs children are languishing prisoners, and upstairs children do Mother’s bidding.
Jacob’s investigation into Sanctuary’s allegations, along with their budding romance, are cut short when she is reclaimed by evil beings. Beings who unleash terror upon Jacob and his family. Now he must journey to a real haunted house to save his first love and fight for his very life.
THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT
My eyes snapped open as three words surfaced in my sleepy brain. You’re not alone. A cold settled into my flesh, making the fine hairs on my arm stand up. I sat up in bed, sucking in a deep breath, and stared into the darkness, unsure what had woken me. My lights were off. It was pitch black. Then the distinct pitter-patter of footsteps sounded down the hall.
“Mom?” When I got no answer, I jumped out of bed and scrambled for the light switch. The overhead fluorescent light blinked on, and I immediately noticed the closet door was partway opened again. I was sure I’d closed it this time, so I started off with slow, measured steps to investigate. I yanked the door open the rest of the way and hit the closet light. I scoured the walls to discover more writing. The single word, HELP, was written in the same marker on the wall. My pulse skyrocketed. It freaked me out.
I crept over to the bed and grabbed the blanket, swinging it around my shoulders like a cape, settling down on the drafty hardwood floor. With a shiver of anticipation, I kept my eyes pinned to the door, straining to hear the slightest noise. It was eerily quiet. Even the wind had died down.
Unexpectedly, I heard a girl’s voice, so soft it was hardly audible, as it drifted up from the floor. It was only the word, “I’m.”
I scooted over to the vent and whispered, “Um…hello?” There was no reply. It could have been a ringing or humming in my ear. Yeah, I’d only imagined it was a voice. Yet, I hadn’t imagined the writing on the wall. I mean, what the hell? I got up and decided to have a look around. If someone was in the house, I had to know. I exited my room and began my search.
I stood face to face with a long and quiet hallway—doors on the left and right. My mind was a hot blank space as a thread of fear tugged me along. My mom’s bedroom was kitty-corner to my room, so I stepped in just far enough to take in the visual of her tucked in bed. Her sleeping sounds were somewhere between wheezes and moans.
“Mom?” I whispered, but she didn’t wake up, and I decided to just let her sleep.
I crossed over to the spare bedroom, smacking on the lights. There was only a desk and Mom’s old computer in the corner. Determined, I was now on a serious hunt and rushed to the closet, flinging the door open. There wasn’t anything. Not even writing on the wall.
Next on the list was Michael’s room. I found him sitting up in bed with a vacant stare. The lights were off, but the blinds were open. Moonlight flitted in, creating shadowy outlines above the chest of drawers that appeared incompatible and menacing.
My gaze returned to my brother as I cleared my throat. “Were you just walking around?”
“Did you hear a girl’s voice, Mike?”
He came to life. “Yeah. I heard her.”
My mouth dropped. “Holy shit, I hoped I imagined it.”
Michael stared at me with an unsettling intensity. “I heard her in the vents, the drainpipes, and in the walls. If you listen closely enough, you’ll hear them all.”
Oh great, I’m losing it too.
My brother nodded approvingly. Tension slid from his features, softening his mouth and jaw muscles. Misery loves company, I guess.
“Thanks a lot, Michael.” More suspicious than ever, I flat-out accused him. “You wrote the word ‘help’ on my wall. Really cool. Well, you didn’t scare me.”
“Why would I want to scare you?” Michael asked.
“You tell me?” I smirked, yet my face heated. “There is no stupid ghost in the pipes, or in the walls...Got it?”
“She’s not a ghost. She’s a spirit.”
“That’s the same God damn thing, Michael.” I rolled my eyes. “There’s no spirit. Don’t start with me.” I threw my hands up in frustration and stalked off.
I gripped my head with my right hand and paced around my room. “Everything’s fine,” I said out loud. The words helped me gain some reassurance, but it was only momentary. Paranoia nagged me, and I had to double-check. I dropped down and planted both palms on the floor, speaking directly into the vent. “Hello—Um, hello. Is anyone there?”
I waited. Waited longer…Nothing. I puffed my cheeks and let my breath out with a pop, feeling a pang of relief. The hunt was over. I refused to dwell on it anymore. Finally, with a bit of effort, I decided Michael had written on my wall to get back at me, and I’d only imagined hearing that voice. I strode over to my bed and climbed in. My head sunk into the pillow, and fear, along with my thoughts, disintegrated into white noise. I fell asleep.
R.J. Garcia is a wife and proud mom. She earned her MSW and worked with foster children and as a school social worker. Writing has been her other great love. She has published several non-fiction pieces. She has been writing short-stories for as long as she can remember. To her amazement, those short stories became novels!
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