Below is my contribution to The Haunted Wordsmith‘s 3 Things Challenge for May 30th. Warning: it is a bit long, but I hope you enjoy it.
3 Prompts: Rabbit, Music Box, Friday the 13th
Dakota could not believe her luck. She had scored an awesome house sitting job for the summer. She could not think of a better way to spend her vacation than relaxing by a pool, reading and getting paid for it. The Sullivans had even told her she could invite a friend over to watch movies and swim in the pool. Just no parties.
In fact there were really only two rules they asked her to follow: No parties and don’t go into the Guest Room at the end of the hall. (The door was locked anyway, Dakota had already tried it.) This was going to be the easiest money Dakota had ever made.
It was now Friday and she had invited her friend Mallory to come over. They had spent the afternoon enjoying the pool and gossiping about boys and what next year would be like. They were going to be Seniors and were both looking forward to their last year in High School.
Now that the sun was setting and it was starting to cool down, they were bundled up on the couch with ice cream watching movies. The perfect ending to a perfect lazy summer day. As the first movie ended Mallory sat up, “Do you hear that? It’s beautiful. Where is it coming from?”
Dakota sat up and listened, but she could not hear anything. Mallory got up and headed down the hallway looking for the source of what she was hearing. She came to the door to the Guest Room. Dakota started to tell her not to bother because the door was locked, but before she could say anything, the knob turned under Mallory’s hand and the door swung open.
“We are not supposed to be in there.” Dakota told her.
“It won’t hurt to peek. We won’t touch anything.” Mallory replied. She was already in the room heading for a dressing table against the far wall. Dakota followed her in and noticed a wooden music box. And now she could hear the music too. It was beautiful, if not a bit eery and sad. Mallory had reached inside the box and pulled out a rabbit’s foot key chain. The fur looked extremely soft and was ink black. Dakota could not tell if it was the natural color or if it had been dyed to be so dark.
“Put it back. We are not even supposed to be in here.” Dakota said, reaching for Mallory’s arm. Mallory gave her a funny look, let out a deep sigh and reluctantly put the rabbit foot back in the music box. Dakota reached across her and closed the lid on the box. The music immediately stopped.
Dakota could not help but admire the cover of the box. Whoever had carved the wood had immense talent. A very life like looking rabbit had been carved into the lid. It looked so real, Dakota caught herself starting to reach out to touch it. That is when she noticed the hearts carved around the outside edge of the lid. The music box had been stained a glossy mahogany with no additional coloring. However, Dakota noticed some of the hearts had been stained a deep dark red. Not all of them and there was no real pattern as to which were stained and which were not. She noted the entire row at the top of the box and about half a dozen on the right side were colored in. The rest were not. How odd, she thought and then turned away. She locked the door behind her and firmly shut it before joining Mallory on the couch for the next movie.
At 10:30 the last movie ended and Mallory gathered her things. “I promised Mom I would be home by 11 tonight. She gets all freaked out when I’m out late on Friday nights. Especially on nights like this – Friday the 13th. OOOOhhhh!” Mallory finished with a deep scary voice holding her hands over her head like claws. Dakota giggled. “Yeah, mom’s can be a bit overly dramatic at times.”
Dakota watched Mallory pull away from the house and then went back inside. Her plan was to fall asleep on the couch watching more movies. It did not take long and she was soon gently snoring on the couch. The movie ended and the only light in the house was the blue blank screen of the television. All of a sudden she awoke with a jerk. She looked around the room trying to figure out what had woken her from her dreams of winning the State Championship with her basketball team. Then she heard it – the beautiful eery music from the music box in the Guest Room. She groggily got up and walked down the hall towards the music. Although she knew she had locked the door, she found it opened easily to her touch. And she could see the music box across the room standing open. She looked around the room, but it was empty and nothing else had been touched. She quickly walked across the room to shut the box, when she noticed the rabbit foot key chain was missing. Had Mallory gone back in and taken it? That was so unlike her friend to do something like that, but what other explanation could there be? And she had been so entranced with the music and the rabbit foot.
Dakota left the room in search of her cell phone. She needed to ask Mallory about it and have her bring it back first thing in the morning. She found her phone on the floor next to couch and noted the time – 11:45pm. Mallory should still be up and if she wasn’t it would just go to voicemail. Not that Dakota would leave one, that was lame. She would just text her. She could actually just text her now, but Dakota wanted to hear her friend’s voice. Her taking the rabbit foot still seemed so out of character.
The phone rang only once and Dakota could hear Mallory’s voice. “Hello!”
“Mallory, I need to ask you something and you need to tell me the truth. Did you go back in that Guest Room and take the rabbit foot key chain out of the music box?”
The line was quiet for a moment, then Dakota heard Mallory whisper, “Yes. I’m so sorry. I just don’t know what came over me. It is so soft and I just had to touch it again. Please don’t be mad at me!”
Dakota sighed. “I’m not mad, just surprised. You have to bring it back first thing tomorrow though. You can’t keep it.”
“I know.” Mallory replied. “I’ll come by in the morning and bring you donuts and coffee too. To say I’m sorry. Deal?”
Dakota could not help but smile. “Deal. Have a good night Mallory. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for always being a great friend. I really appreciate it. I love you!”
“Thanks,” replied Dakota. “I love you too Mallory.”
And with that they ended the call and Dakota started another movie.
The next morning Dakota woke up and quickly showered, knowing Mallory was an early bird. She heard her phone ring while she was getting out but did not make it in time to answer it. She picked it up to see whose call she had missed and saw Mallory’s home number listed. That was weird. Mallory never used the home phone. Dakota hit redial as she dried her hair with the towel. She set her cell on the counter and hit the speaker button.
Mallory’s mom, Dolores answered. She sounded like she had been crying.
“Hi Mrs. Davis. I just missed a call from your house phone. Was Mallory trying to call me?”
Mrs Davis started sobbing and Dakota could hear the phone being passed to someone else. She recognized Mr. Davis’ voice.
“Hi Dakota. I need you to sit down. I have some really bad news for you.” He paused for a moment and Dakota could hear him take a deep breath before continuing. “Mallory never made it home last night. She was in an accident.”
Dakota sat down in disbelief. She heard Mr. Davis take another deep shuddering breath and then continue. “There was a witness. They said they saw a. . . a rabbit run out in the road and Mallory swerved to miss it and hit a tree. The paramedics said the airbags malfunctioned and she died instantly.”
“No! That can’t be true! I talked to her last night. Right before midnight, I called her!”
Mr Davis paused for a moment, “I’m sorry Dakota, but that is not possible. She died on her way home. It was at 10:45. Her phone was destroyed in the accident. There is no way you could have talked to her.”
Dakota jumped up, knocking her cell phone off the counter as she ran out of the bathroom. She was not surprised when the handle of the Guest Room turned with no resistance. She ran over to the dressing table and opened the music box. It was silent, no music came forth when she opened the lid. However, nestled in the middle of the box was the ink black rabbit foot key chain. The one that she knew had not been there last night. In shock she closed the lid. As she did she noticed there was an additional heart in deep red now that had not been colored in the night before.