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Fantasticoe 1995


"Quarantined"
Rachel Bartol
     I should have been ecstatic. I was home for the summer, and I didn't start my job until tomorrow. I'd be sleeping in a little bit longer than my chemistry class had let me spring semester plus raking in some money. Also, my parents were out of town for a week vacation - sweet. Except none of my friends were home from college yet. I was stuck in our dreary, eerie house, not that being alone bothered me, but our house sometimes made noises... weird noises. Ignoring these thoughts, I tried to organize my day. I really needed to unpack all of my college trash. What hadn't gone into storage had been brought home... like all my clothes. Laundry, I decided, should be done first that way I could watch t.v. all day without feeling guilty.

     I dragged myself upstairs after my 10 o'clock breakfast and began to pile clothes on my bed (instead of my floor). I tried to sort the colors, but gave up and decided on doing whites first. While carrying my laundry basket downstairs to the basement, I heard the aching stairs creak. Our house was old... like over a hundred years. Anyone could tell by our leaky roof and groaning pipes that the place wasn't in shape, but then again, neither were my parents.

     After starting the washer, I jogged up the two flights of stairs to my bedroom. I looked at the mess, god my poor c.d.'s were buried somewhere in here... I settled for my old boombox and the radio. The latest Madonna song was playing. Some people refuse to die. I tried a similar station, they had another "new" Boyz II Men song- the votes were tallied, and Madonna won. While gathering my jeans, I stumbled upon my closet. My closet wasn't very deep. There was a servant's stairway behind it. The closet shad been created by some redecorators ages ago. I wondered what the staircase looked like. A thought occurred to me. Did I really need a closet? How much effort would it take to tear down the back wall of my closet? I knew it was hollow- years ago I had knocked on it.

     It could be like a project- de-redecorating. It would be sweet. My parents didn't care what I did to my room, as long as it didn't smell too bad.

     "The closet is a definite part of my room." I reasoned out loud as Soul Asylum poured out of my radio. I knew that this staircase could become my very own place to run away. I kind of felt like a kid again. The possibilities were awesome. Maybe, some old people had hidden treasure behind the wall and died before they could retrieve it. Yeah, and I'm a Packers' fan. Better yet, I'm Woody Allen. Still though, I could haunt our house after my parents returned from vacation. No one would know.

     After digging through my desk drawers I found my old jackknife. It was more like a switchblade, but not as cool. The load of white laundry wouldn't be done for at least ten minutes, how long could this take? As I cut into the top corner of my closet, I realized that this was not thick wood, but neither was it thin enough for my knife. After ten or so minutes only a little harm was done to the corner. I could only see darkness through the small hole.

     "Bummer, well," I thought determinedly, "we have a hatchet in the basement... mixed in with all of our camping gear." I wondered if a hatchet would really mess the house. I could picture myself accidentally creating a hole in the room across from mine. As I pondered the situation, the phone rang.

     "Hello?"

     "Hey, Jess. How'z it going?"

     "Who is this? ... Sam?" We talked for ages about tonight's high school baseball game. I really didn't want to see it. After we finished talking, I resumed the process of wasting my day. Although, while watching E.T., I did roll my socks. I was left with two white socks of different sizes. Life.

     I went to sleep kind of early. Today had been so disappointing, though I had talked to Sam. I wish that I had said yes to the baseball game. I could have just talked to my friends and ignored the game. Anyway, I fell asleep with those boring thoughts in mind.

     I looked up. There was someone in my room! Oh crap. I was being robbed! A light became stronger, and I could see... but I wasn't in my room anymore, at least it didn't look like my room. The shape was the same, but the wallpaper was different- antique like. There were people laying in two beds next to me. They didn't move, but a boy with an oil lamp sat beside them. He was talking out loud.

     "We're next, we're going to be next." His voice was dry and shaky. "The plan will work, the plan has to work." He coughed.

     A weary girl rushed into the room that lacked a door. She was wearing dirty clothes that looked like she had swiped them from a museum. "Oh God," she murmured. I looked where she was staring, and I watched in horror as a mass of black smoke slowly followed her into the room.

     "Matthew, it's come for us too!" she screamed. She dropped a wet wash cloth from her hand.

     By the light of the lamp, I realized that they were related. He was a bit younger than her, she being 15 or so, but they were the same in height and hair color. Slowly, Matthew raised himself from the two patients' beds. He was dressed in faded breeches and a dirty white shirt. The girl rushed to the dead patients and nodded bravely to Matthew. He trembled and began to walk to the slowly churning mass of smoke that was condensing onto the wooden floor.

     "I am not afraid." The boy said. "Come and get me, just try!" He chided to the air. The dark smoke amassed horizontally as if standing straighter and began to grasp forward in an eager manner. The boy stepped back, spun around, and ran to the servant's staircase. The swirling mass followed the boy down the stairs. That's when the girl began to pound wood... wood? She was blocking off the stairwell using the door that had led out of the bedroom. Suddenly, Matthew screamed the most terrifying sound I had ever heard.

     "Matthew. Thank you Matthew." the girl sobbed out loud.

     I don't know how long I stood there hearing her pound and cry. I wanted to help her, but I didn't know how. I couldn't seem to move. I was rooted in the spot by those bodies. Those bodies who's faces still carried a look of death.

     "It's done." The girl said as she collapsed into a rocking chair by the wall. "Mother, Father, no one else will have to die. Matthew blocked off the end of the staircase this morning. Why couldn't you have lived!" She screamed in an angry voice to the dead bodies beside her. Then she began to hack.

     "Matthew, oh I'm all alone."

     I stayed with her until she died. I felt so trapped. I couldn't leave, and I couldn't help. Eventually, one morning four people entered. They were wearing crosses.

     A middle aged woman began to talk, "I jest couldn' stay. Two oder servents were sick an de paren's too. I didn' wanna git sick. So I jest left befor de quarentine. Now dey all dead. I'm jest lucka to be alive!"

     "Well just sterilize the place after their buried. Nothing else we can do." A man in a white coat murmured in sympathy.

     "Looks like they started to redecorate while they were quarantined- bad job." A young man said. "Must have been bored before they finally succumbed."

     "Well, finish up the job, and then sell the house." An authoritative man said without any emotions in his voice. I noticed that he looked like an older version of Matthew. Perhaps he was an uncle.

     Suddenly I woke up. Shuddering as I easily recalled my dream, I strained to focus on my alarm clock. Red digits glowed an eerie 12:00 am. I tried not to feel spooked, but that had been the weirdest dream. That girl... one encounter with the swirling smoke, and she had died. Quickly, I leaned over to my bed stand and switched on the light. My room was empty.

     "The hole in the closet! I almost relieved my self of my bodily fluids."

     "What to do?" I threw my eyes towards heaven, but no reply came. Slowly an idea formed in my head. I reached for my blue duffle bag. Eventually, I found my weapon. Poster putty to the rescue.

     After testing the closet door to see if it felt weird (why would it?), I flung it open. I shivered as I felt a slight draft, but there was nothing in the dimly lit closet, and everything seemed normal. For safety measures I quickly mushed the blue putty into the corner. Then I pounded it into the hole using my hand as best as I could.

     I quickly slammed the closet and walked towards my bed. It was then that I noticed my shadow. I blinked, it seemed to be in 3-D! I reached for my old glasses laying by my bed stand. All the while chiding my over active imagination. The thing looked perfectly normal. I waved my right hand. My shadow waved with me.

     "Idiot." I yelled at my childish, cowardly mind. Finally, I fell into an uneasy sleep.

     As the sun rose gently in the morning sky, an alarm clock sounded loudly. It rang and rang and rang ... until a smoky hand crushed the clock.


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