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Now, onto the chapter.
Casey always wondered why she was not allowed into the attic. Every time she brought up the subject, her father would tell her to drop it. When she continued to press the issue, she was told, “You’re a child. Anything could happen to you up there. Don’t go in the attic.”
I am not a child. I am 16.
This day found Casey sitting on the bed doing her homework when there was a thud from the attic like someone had picked up a heavy object and dropped it. She shook her head and continued doing her history work.
She looked up again. After the thud, there was a scraping sound. She got off her bed and walked into the living room where her father was watching a baseball game.
“Dad, did you hear that?”
Her father looked at her, “Hear what?”
“There were two thuds and a scraping noise coming from the attic.”
“You sure it’s not your imagination? You love watching all those ghost shows and reading books about monsters and things.”
“I am sure, dad. The thud happened twice and there was a scraping sound. It’s like someone is trying to move something heavy in the attic.”
Her father sighed, “The attic again, Casey. Go back to your room and finish your homework.”
Casey’s sigh was audible, “Every time I even mention the attic, I get shut down. What is up there, and why can’t I look?”
Robert looked at Casey, “There is nothing up there but junk, and it’s too dangerous for you to go up there. You need to see anything up[ there.”
“I don’t see how junk is dangerous,” Casey mumbled, but her father caught it.
“That’s enough. You’re not going up there, and that’s final.”
Casey stomped her way back to her room and flopped down on her bed. She quickly blew a lock of hair from her face and slammed her history book open and slapped her notebook on her lap. She placed earbuds in her ears and hit play on her mp3 player.
She was halfway done with the questions when the scraping sound returned, this time slower and more deliberate, overtaking the music in her ears. She shifted her gaze from her notebook to the ceiling. The scraping stopped and this time was followed by a gasping sound and a growl.
She looked down the hall to see her father pulling down the stairs that led to the attic but stopped when his head poked through to the attic. She pulled one earbud out.
“That’s enough. You’re making her defiant. She’s challenging me more often. At this rate, she will go up there without my permission.”
Casey was sliding off her bed when she heard, “Let her come. Every child needs warmth. Take me to her.” The voice was dark and raspy. It made her want to clear her throat.
She recognized her father’s stern voice, but it was tinged with something she’d never thought she’d hear from her dad, fear, “No, she has plenty of blankets. She doesn’t need you. You have claimed enough from us.”
The voice above Casey’s room replied with one word, “More.”
She quickly slid back onto her bed and tried not to shiver as her father descended the stairs and walked toward her.
“Are you alright, Casey?”
She tried to make it look like she was just taking out the earbud, “Yeah, what WAS that, dad, and please, don’t tell me I imagined that.”
He sighed as he sat on her bed, “You heard that?”
“How can you not? It was louder than my music.”
“As long as it stays in the chest and in the attic, there is nothing to worry about, Spunky.” He patted her on the head and gave her a hug.
“What chest? What is it?”
“It’s nothing for you to worry about. I have it handled. I just don’t want you to go up there, okay?”
He got up and left her to finish her homework. That night they ate in silence. Casey wasn’t about to bring up the voice again. After dinner, she helped with the dishes and then took a shower.
She was settled into her bed with her favorite manga when the shifting started again. She shook it off and turned the page. She was about halfway through the manga when she heard to gravel-laden voice from the attic.
“Come to the attic. Every child needs a warm blanket.”
She looked up, “No, dad doesn’t allow me into the attic.”
There was an eerie chuckle, “You mean to tell me you’ve never ignored what your father told you? You’ve never disobeyed him?”
“Yes, but not this time. He says no. I won’t-“
“I know you’ve been wanting to come up to the attic. I can feel your curiosity. Come on up. Your father will never know.”
“Yes, he will.”
“Come on up. He’s asleep. He will never even hear you.”
Something took hold of her. She tried to resist, but her limbs wouldn’t cooperate. Her legs slid off the bed and made their way to the hatch in the ceiling. She looked horrified as her hand fumbled for the rope and pulled the stairs down.
She tried to call out, but only a whimper issued forth from her throat. Her hands wrapped around the stairs and her feet were three steps up when she felt a hand grab her right leg. She stiffened and realized she could control her limbs again. She shot back down the steps and turned to see her father, his face engulfed in worry and fear.
“Casey, are you alright?”
She replied between sobs and was shaking uncontrollably, “Dad, I couldn’t stop myself. I couldn’t! I’m sorry!”
He held her close and rubbed her back, “It’s fine. I know. I am not mad, just worried. Come with me to my room.”
He sat her on his bed and gave her a glass of something to drink. It looked like water but tingled on her tongue. He tucked her into his bed and went to sleep on the couch.
The chest in the attic let out a frustrated growl. There were soft thumps from inside it against the lid and then nothing.
The next day, Casey got ready and her father took her to school. When he returned, he straight into the attic and stood in front of a worn cedar chest that had worn ruts into the bracing on which it was placed. It had an engraving of a Cross superimposed on a Pentacle.
The soft thumping started again. Casey’s father stood resolute, “I will find a way to rid myself of you. You will not get my daughter. You’ve taken enough from me already, from us. Were you not satisfied with my wife?”
The chuckle sent chills down his spine, “No, Robert, it’s not enough. Your family has tried to get rid of me for centuries, but none have found a way. I grow hungry. I need sustenance. It has been ten years.”
“Not my Casey.”
“We will see.”
Robert called in sick for the day and drove for three hours to a nameless town. Its name has been erased from history and was not listed on any map, but he knew the way by heart. He turned down an overgrown road and parked his truck in front of an old shack. He walked around the shack to the rear of the property and found the firepit. There were thin wisps of smoke emanating from it. He turned toward the shack when the creaking of rusty hinges rang out.
Turning, he saw an elderly woman in ragged robes, “I need your help. I didn’t want to admit it. I thought I had it handled, but I do not.”
The woman’s voice was raspy, “Everyone in our family thinks they can contain it. It is after Casey?”
He nodded his head, and tears started to run down, “It took control of her last night, and if I hadn’t been there, I would have lost her, too.”
“What did you tell your daughter?”
“I explained that is why I didn’t want her in the attic and that she needed to sleep in my room.”
The old woman shook her head as she made her way down the back steps, “You should have told her all of it. You should have told her the legacy when she turned 13. The more curiosity that grows in her, the more demon in the blanket can control her. You can’t keep her from knowing forever.”
“I thought I could keep her from the truth for a little while longer. I didn’t think I had to explain it in full.”
She slapped him across the face, “You’ve put her in danger, Robert. You are the jailer of the darkness that plagues our family, and you have failed to contain it.”
He threw his hand in the air, “I don’t want to contain it. I want to get RID of it. Is there no way to do that?”
The woman’s eyes went from anger to sadness, “There is only one way, but none in the family have had the courage. It has been so long. I have forgotten.”
“You were the last keeper, grand. Could you not have done something when you had it?”
She shook her head, “No female can defeat it. That is why there are so few of us. We always succumb in the end.”
She turned to walk back into the shack and motioned for Robert to follow, “Come. Let’s see if we can find the way again.”
“Casey will be home in a few hours.”
The woman opened the door, “Go. When you return, bring her, and tell her everything.”
School was let out early due to final exams. One of the neighborhood parents dropped Casey off on her doorstep. Casey thanked the parent and turned to look at her house, focusing on the attic.
The woman rolled down the passenger window, “Is everything alright, Casey?”
She took a deep breath and turned around, “Yeah, yeah, everything is fine, Mrs. Cline. It’s just odd dad isn’t home is all.”
“I’m sure he will be around shortly unless you want to come home and hang out with Missy until he gets home?”
She shook her head, “It’s alright. I’m sure he’s not too far behind.”
“Call if you need anything, dear!”
Like you can help me with the thing in the attic. “I will! Thank you, Mrs. Cline!”
Casey turned back toward the house as the mother drove away.
Whatever it is that’s up there wants me to see it. Maybe if I confront it, it will leave me alone.
She walked with purpose and mustered all the courage she could find as she unlocked the front door. The house was cold. There was a smell of something rotten coming from the attic. Casey shivered.
Welp, there went all my courage. All I can do now is try not to pee on myself and run.
“Have you decided to disobey your father?”
Casey took a deep breath and looked down the hall toward the hatch, “Maybe, what’s it to you?”
“You’re trying to be brave.” There was rumble to the voice.
“If I am what of it?” Casey moved closer to the hatch.
The voice was getting faint, “Your father didn’t tell you what happened to your mother, did he?”
Her fear turned to anger, “Don’t mention mom. She went missing. They haven’t found her.”
“They’re not going to find her. She took me out of the chest. I consumed her.”
Casey’s eyes flew open, and she made her way to the kitchen, “You’re lying.” She frantically searched for the clicker her father used to light the stove when the lights go out.
“He didn’t tell you. Come up and I can show you.” The voice was fainter still.
“You sounded so big and bad when I walked in here a few minutes ago. What’s the matter?”
The voice didn’t answer.