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Title: The Little Girl
All Characters played by liljennie and Miki Yamuri
Scene: At the large old estate
"Well, there it is," said Mathew as they got out of the car. "It's not that big, but it sure has character, doesn't it? It looks like it needs some fixing up."
Sure enough, the old house had some ivy on its walls, but the windows weren't broken, and the roof looked intact. The paint could have used some touching up in places.
They had been looking for a place to live ever since Mathew had graduated with his MBA at age 21, a promising young entrepreneur already making his mark in advertising. His viral videos were the talk of the Internet, and every major agency wanted him to work for them. But first ... he needed a place to live. Somewhere out of the way, where he could think, plan, and create.
He had brought along his 18-year-old girlfriend Emily with him so she could help choose -- they hadn't started making wedding plans or anything, but who knew where things might go someday?
Emily closed the car door and walked up the short flight of steps onto the porch. It creaked as she stepped on it making her squeak as she flinched.
Mathew laughs at her cute antic as she turns and says in a huffy voice, "And just what are you laughing at, mister?"
Mathew shakes his head and replies, "You just looked adorable is all."
She sniffs as a smile breaks across her face. Emily walks up to one of the large windows and looks in. For just an instant, she swore she saw something move. She knew it was impossible for her not to have seen exactly what it was, because of the large open space that made up the living room.
Emily shrugged it off as she walked up to the rail on the far side and looked off into the huge yard surrounding the house. It was grown up, but the original grandeur of it was still very evident. It wouldn't take very much to restore the yard to its original garden like state.
Emily spins and says to Mathew, "This is perfect. It's quiet, there's a huge yard, and the nearest neighbor is over a mile away. The house is a little rough on the outside, but nothing that can't be quickly fixed. You think the door is locked?"
"Well it's supposed to be," said Mathew, "but the real estate agent, what was her name, Sally, gave me the key, so we're fine." He found the key in his pocket. "Let's see what it's like inside."
The key fit in the lock, and the creaking of the opening door echoed through the empty house. It revealed a large front hallway with a grand staircase leading to an upper level.
"Well, it's a bit ... big," Mathew said, "but you know, I can imagine making videos here. There's lots of space, and lots of possible angles."
He was looking up the stairs when he thought he heard a sound from up there -- some kind of rustling.
"What was that? Did you hear that?" he asked Emily.
Emily walks to the stairs and looks up. She replies, "I thought I heard something that sounded like ... rustling cloth or something. Probably the wind."
She slowly begins to climb the stairs. They were surprisingly sturdy and made no noises as she stepped on them. When she gets to the upper level, the landing was huge with a mezzanine over looking the huge living space. There were hallways leading off in several directions. Emily wanders towards the west since there was more sunlight filtering in from that direction. She wandered down a set of long stairs and discovered the basement, before returning to the upstairs.
She came to a door that used to have cute little appliques of animals, Unicorns, and other types of furry cute animals. She opens the door and steps in. There is a cool breeze that rushed past her as she steps into a little girl's fully furnished bedroom.
There was a cute little bed all made up in satin off to one side. There was a beautiful teak wood dresser with carvings decorating it in strategic places. She realized each carving was a pictogram story of some kind. There were toys and dolls of all sorts .... then as suddenly it all vanished and the room was empty with nothing but dust particles filtering through the rays of sunlight coming through the windows.
Emily screeches loudly, "Mathew!! Come here ... quick!" Emily can hear Mathews rapid footfalls as he climbs the stairs.
Mathew entered the room and saw Emily looking at it, the bare wooden floor, the arched windows, the faded floral wallpaper, the dusty mirror in an alcove ... and Emily.
"Yes Emily, what's going on? ... This looks like it might have been a little girl's room once. But everything's gone, no furniture or anything."
Emily screeches as she desperately grabs Mathew, "It ... it was completely furnished ... and ... I ... I saw it all. I even know where a hidden door is."
She walks quickly over to a blank wall and presses against it. There is a loud click and a panel opens revealing a dark opening behind. The opening was only about four feet tall and there was some faint light from the other end.
"How did you know ..." Mathew began, but he already knew that Emily didn't know how she knew. "What is going on here? Should we see where that goes? It's kind of small ..." He ducked and followed the short passageway.
It actually didn't go very far. There was a door of some kind on the other end, which was closed, and there was light coming in around the edges. It was easy to push the door open, though.
Light streamed into Mathew's eyes making it hard to see for a moment ... but then he clearly saw that it was daylight shining through the windows, which were framed by frothy white lace curtains. The walls were papered with an antique floral design, and the floor was dark hardwood, polished to a shine. There was a rocking horse and a large dollhouse, and in the middle of the room there was a large day bed shaped like the pumpkin carriage from Cinderella. There was a wardrobe shaped like a castle, and a toy chest shaped like a treasure chest, white with gold trim.
"Emily?" he asked softly, "Do you see this too?"
Emily followed Mathew into the small hallway. When she entered the room, her mouth fell open and her eyes got large.
She gasps, "Mathew, this is ... so beautiful. I must have had some kind of ... vision."
Emily went to the bed and pushed on it, it was very firm. She lifts the spread, it felt like stain or silk. Beneath the white linens, she found a mattress that appeared to be made like a stuffed bag.
Emily says softly, "Mathew, this appears to be a Ida Feather mattress. I'm not real sure when they stopped making them ... but it appears to be perfectly preserved."
Mathew had wandered over to a large chest and opened it. Within, was a very large collection of blocks, wooden toys of many varieties. He also finds several porcelain dolls sitting in the corner behind the chest.
Emily says, "This must have been a playroom. Look at that carousel. It appears to be hand made and painted. I bet the things in this room are all museum pieces."
But when Mathew looked again. The wallpaper now appeared faded, and there was a layer of dust on everything. "Wait ... just a moment ago didn't everything look ... newer?" He rubbed the corners of his eyes with his fingertips. "What's going on here?"
When he opened his eyes again, the room was brightly colored again and dust-free, and there was a young girl in front of him.
She looked up at him and said, "Have you come to play with me?"
He stared at her. "Who ... who are you? Where did you ..." he began, but she was gone, and the wallpaper was faded again.
Emily turns and looks at Mathew. She says, "You know who I am ... I'm Emily."
She walks over to Mathew and wraps her arms around him. She gives him a quick peck on his cheek.
She says softly, "That help jog your memory?"
Mathew looks at Emily blankly for a second before he replies, "I ... I saw a very little girl ... for just a split second. I ... I mean I was asking who she was."
Emily giggles, "So, I'm not the only one loosing my mind today it would appear."
The 2 of them look at each other, then burst into laughter.
Emily says, "I want to look the rest of the house over. If you want to play with these toys ... go ahead."
Emily ducks out of the small doorway. Mathew can hear her foot falls as they diminish with distance.
"Yeah, um, maybe later," he said to her now-distant footsteps. "So ... why is this room undisturbed, when the rest of the house is empty?" he asked himself.
He looked around the room again. Other than his footprints and Emily's, there weren't any disturbances in the dust on the floor. "This room's kind of hidden -- this girl had a secret playroom. That must have been fun for her." He thought. "But if the family had moved, surely they would have moved everything out of here too."
Then he had a thought. "Unless the people who moved everything weren't the people who had lived here, and they didn't know about this room! They might have sent movers, and the movers didn't find the room." Then he shook his head. "That doesn't make sense. They would have sent the movers back when they found everything from this room was missing."
He looked out the window onto the house's generous grounds. "I'm not sure I'd want to mow all that lawn," he said.
Then, up in the sky, the moon caught his eye. "The children's moon," he said. "The moon's in the sky during the daylight -- for little kids who go to bed early, that can be the only time they see the moon, especially when it's summer -- like now."
Then he thought he heard laughter behind him, echoing through the passageway. "Emily?" he said, turning around. But nobody was there.
Emily left the small passageway into the bedroom, then into the upstairs hall. She walked down the hall to her left away from the staircase. She wanders into a large door at the end of the hall next to a large bay type window. When she opens the door, the room is enormous. She wanders in and looks around. In her mind's eye, she imagines how this room looked completely furnished.
She walks to the bedroom window ... the yard was overgrown, but beautiful. Over and through the overgrowth, Emily could make out the sparkle of a pond off in the distance.
She thinks to herself, "This is perfect ... bet it costs a fortune."
Emily thinks she hears Mathew's voice, she turns and enters the hall once again.
She calls, "Mathew? Are you all right? What's up?" She walks back to the room, and to the small passage way. She calls o0nce again, "Mathew? Are you all right in there? I thought I heard you calling."
Mathew had already left. He had gone into the next room, the bathroom, and Emily had walked right past him without either of them noticing. He was admiring the brass fixtures and the claw-footed bathtub. This wouldn't take much fixing up at all -- aside from needing a bit of polishing, everything seemed like it was in good shape.
He suddenly heard a giggle and felt a splash of warm soapy water from the bathtub splatter all over his suit.
"Aah!" he moaned, "I'm gonna have to get it dry --" He paused. "Cleaned?"
He looked at his suit, and it was completely dry. He looked at the bathtub, and it was just as empty as before.
"Maybe I've been working too hard," he said. "Need a vacation. Too much stress."
Emily heard Mathew's voice and walked into the bathroom just in time ... to see a fading image of ... she wasn't really sure what she saw.
She says softly, "Mathew ... did you just see ... ?"
Emily shakes her head as she rubs her eyes. When she looks again, all she sees is the empty old fashion lion footed tub, complete with all the brass fittings.
Emily looks around before she comments, "Well, this looks like the perfect place for a guy to have his ... research library."
Mathew look at Emily. She stood with a completely innocent expression.
Mathew replies, "From what I've seen so far, there's not too much fixing up we would have to do."
Emily walks to the Mirrored cabinet and opens it. It is rather large, and has a very old and crusty soap jar with an equally old shaving brush stuck in the dried up rock hard soap. She picks up the slender, ivory handled straight razor. She opens it and looks at the slightly rusted blade.
Emily says, "Well, it appears at least one other man used to live here."
She hands the razor to Mathew for him to examine. Mathew realizes that the handle was inscribed with a delicate scrimshaw map of some sort.
"This looks like ... a map?" said Mathew, looking at the carvings in the razor's ivory handle. "That's the house, that's the front driveway, that's the garden in back, and that's ... is there a pond in the garden?"
Emily nodded, because she had seen a glimpse of it.
"This is a map to something that's there, I guess," Mathew said. "Should we ...? I'm not sure we should. It's not like this is our house."
Emily takes the razor back and examines the handle closely.
She replies, "I want to see where this might lead. I love the house, and I'm sure we're ... gonna own it soon enough that finding a hidden treasure would still constitute it belonging to us."
Mathew raises his eyebrows and sighs slightly.
Emily takes him by the hand, "Follow me ... I think we can find at least the general location."
Emily leads Mathew down the stairs and out the front door. They walked around the house slowly, marveling at how elegant the estate had been. They followed the overgrown stone path behind the house for a ways.
After walking through thick over growth, they step out onto the banks of a beautiful large pond. There were hyacinths blooming off in one corner, and a gaggle of ducks swimming around doing what ducks do on a pond. Emily looks at the map one more time before she points off toward an old falling in shed.
She says, "There, it has to be what this square is. It has those weird rocks off to one side."
She shows Mathew what she referred to. Mathew had to agree they were in the right place. As they headed for the shed, they swore they heard a little girl scream in the lake. Both of them turn quickly, expecting to see someone drowning. All they saw was the quiet scene from before.
"Did you hear ...?" said Mathew. Emily nodded, but neither of them could see anything. "Was it a bird or something?" A duck dove to the bottom of the lake, making a bit of a splash.
He shook his head, clearing it of cobwebs. "Let's have a look at this old shed," he said, walking down the stone path toward it.
Its door was barely attached, let alone locked; the shed didn't look as if it would provide much shelter from the elements to anything inside it. They found a number of terribly rusted gardening tools along with some dirty flowerpots and old useless bags that had once held grass seed and fertilizer. And ... an old rusty metal lock box.
"This might be what the map leads to," said Mathew, "or if it isn't, I don't know what it would be."
He tried prying it open ... and the latch was so badly rusted that it simply broke apart. Emily looked eagerly over Mathews shoulder. When they looked in, they found an old yellowed newspaper clipping and a yellowed piece of paper.
The paper clipping told of a young girl who had drowned in a pond one day when her parents were having a cook out. The eerie thing about the faded picture of the girl, both of them swore they had seen her someplace recently ... they just couldn't remember where.
Emily took the yellowed piece of paper and carefully unfolded it. It was super brittle with age. It was a hand written ... apology of sorts in the form of open prose poem. From what was left of the paper after she managed to unfold it, it was a parent's lamentation over the loss of a young child due to tragic means.
Emily gasps softly, "Mat ... this says that some little girl ...drowned here ... I'm sure of it."
She hands the crumbling paper to Mathew for him to examine more closely. Emily looks around the shed. She sees an oval gray stone or something with a strange carving on it almost buried in the earthen floor of the dilapidated shed.
She says softly, "Is ... that what it looks like?" Emily points to the gray object.
"... so although you were taken from us so early, and with you the light from our lives," Mathew read, "perhaps you are the lucky one, for you will remain forever young." He blinked. "It's so sad ... they must have lost their little girl and moved away. No wonder they didn't send someone back for the toys in that room -- they didn't have a child to play with them anymore." Then he saw the stone that Emily was looking at.
That is, Mathew had thought at first that it was a stone -- but then, taking a closer look, it was some kind of metal -- and round ...
"Wait, that looks like some kind of film canister," he said. "But it's halfway covered with dirt."
As Emily watched, he grasped it and tried to work it loose, finally freeing it from the ground.
"Home movies?" he said. "How'd this get way out here?"
He tried to open the steel canister, which was dirt-encrusted and rusty in places, but he finally opened it, revealing a reel of film.
"Looks like eight-millimeter," he said. "Didn't we see an old projector in the basement?"
Emily looks at the old film resting on the large reel in the film can.
She replies, "I thought I saw one in that room with the wooden walls ... the one to the left of the stairs when I was in the basement."
Emily looked at Mathew for a second before the both of them turn and leave the dilapidated shed and headed back towards the house. Emily noticed it felt slightly cooler and a small breeze had begun to blow. She shivers as they round the house.
Off in the far distance, large roiling dark clouds began building. Large electrical pyrotechnics flashed all through the clouds.
Emily says softly as the enter the kitchen's rear door, "Looks like a really nasty storm in coming our way."
Mathew stops and looks at the quickly approaching clouds. He can smell the fresh ozone smell of the storm. The wind had begun to pick up and small clouds of leaves and other small debris floated by.
The 2 of them entered the house as a large gust of cold wind blew past the door, causing it to slam hard. They both jumped in surprise at the noise.
Emily says, "Let's get to the basement before we loose power. I want to at least see if this film is viewable."
Mathew replies, "I think there is a generator if the power does go off."
They hurry to the door leading down. The way down the stairs to the basement is dark and damp. Not a single shred of light can be seen. Emily swore she left a light on when she was there earlier.
"OK, be careful," said Mathew, holding on to the railing and taking the stairs one at a time.
He finally made it to the bottom and felt for the light switch. It was an old-fashioned one that required him to press a button, but it worked, and the lights came on.
"So the projector was in here ...?" Mathew asked, looking in the room to the left, which had wood paneling on the walls.
Emily was right behind him, looking over his shoulder.
"Oh, yes, this was it," said Mathew, looking at a shelf full of boxes and finding a briefcase-sized container with a carry handle.
It didn't take him long to open the container and remove the small projector, plugging it in. "Now let's see if the film is in any shape to be viewed," he said.
Luckily the reel itself wasn't rusted or dirty, but the film ... Mathew reeled out a foot or two of film to see what shape it was in.
"Looks pretty brittle," he said, holding it up to the ceiling light. "But maybe the outer film protected the film farther in."
"You were in the A.V. club in school, weren't you?" asked Emily with a cute smile.
"How'd you guess?" Mathew said with a smile. "This part is probably going to break if we put it in the projector, but it's just the leader -- nothing to see here anyway. Let's see ..."
He pulled gently on the trailing end of the film, which broke off easily. He pulled again, and that section broke off too. But he pulled a third time, still on a section of leader with no frames, and this time it didn't break.
"OK, let's try it from here," he said, snapping the reel onto the center pin of the feed arm and threading the end into the projector, through the sprockets and into the take up reel.
"Here goes," he said, pointing the camera at the side of a white box and turning it on.
The film threaded noisily through the camera, but it was working. After some focusing, an image came into view.
What they saw was a black-and-white home movie of a beautiful little girl with dark hair. Her clothes looked like they were from perhaps the 1960s.
"Look -- that's the playroom from upstairs," said Mathew. Emily nodded.
The film jumped to another scene with the girl playing outside in the snow in her winter jacket. There were occasional glimpses of the girl's mother, a dark-haired beauty that the girl clearly took after. Her father was probably behind the camera.
There were other scenes, filmed at other times -- the girl on the floor in the living room, playing with other children, having dinner -- and then there was a scene of her in her swimsuit, by the side of the pond in the back yard.
As her mother watched warily, the girl sat at the side of the pond, dangling her feet in the water and playing with a toy boat on a string. Then suddenly there was some sort of black smudge across the film -- and the girl was in the water, below the surface, struggling, and her mother had jumped into the pond trying to help -- and the projector went black. There were no more frames.
"Oh my Lord," said Mathew, shaken. He stopped the projector..
"Oh no," said Emily. "That poor girl ... you don't think she ..."
"There's no more home movies after this," Mathew said. "The rest of the negatives must have been unused. But ... what happened?"
He ran the film back.
"There was some kind of black smudge," he said, going backwards to the start of the pond scene and running it forward slowly.
"There!" he said, as the black blur began to appear, entering the frame from the right. "It looks like a person ... but covered from head to toe in black. Black dress? Black veil? But if so, they're out of focus, and nothing else is."
Stepping forward by hand one frame at a time, Mathew and Emily watched as the black blur moved toward the little girl, blocked her from the camera's view, and seemed to push her into the water while moving through her, entering the water ahead of her and seemingly dragging her down with it. The hairs were rising on the back of Mathew's neck.
"What ... is that?" He ran it back again.
When he came to a place where the black shape was taking up as much of the frame as possible, there was a sudden brightening of the image. A white bubble appeared in the center of the black shape, briefly taking on a shape that looked disturbingly like a white human skull, and then the projector's bulb burned out. There was a smell of burning film.
~~ End Pt1 ~~