Daniel woke up to the sounds of honking and some noise outside his home. He looked at his wife, Joe, who is sound asleep. He pulled himself out of the bed and wore his jacket to check what the cause of all the commotion is at this hour of the day. He walked towards the next house only to find Mr. Richard and his families were moving out of their house and they are in the process of packing up.
Daniel waved his hand towards Richard and he got the warm response back.
 
“Hey, you two are moving out?”
 
Richard with the apologetic look raised his shoulders and gave a shrug, “Sorry Daniel, I forgot to tell you that we are moving out. Hope you do not mind. It’s a last minute decision and we haven’t got time to say our goodbye to the neighbors.”
 
“It’s okay! I totally understand. But I never thought you too will believe this area is haunted and all the mishaps are the cause of it.” Daniel almost whispered.
 
 
“I lost my leg in the accident and Martha has a burned hand, both happened in a month’s time. That is merely a coincidence and we do not want to take any more risks. We have a flat in the city and decided to move out there for good”
 
 
Daniel couldn’t say much and he wished his neighbor good luck and went back to his house thinking.
 
Mr. Richard is the 5th family, leaving the Area 153 from last one month.
 
 
Even Daniel and his wife have suffered from the loss of their only daughter when they moved into the neighborhood of Area 153. His daughter Jecinda went missing in the woods and all they could find after 2 days of search is one piece of her socks and a bloodstained cloth from her frock. Sheriff of Area 153 declared that the wild animals did this horrible thing. They started to overcome the grief just now.
 
Almost each and every family in the neighborhood faced with some kind of personal calamity. And the rumor that the place has something negative about it and the house next to the hospital is haunted and that is the of cause for the unfortunate events started to spread.
 
People who have affected most or who think will be affected most started to leave. But it’s not the case with Daniel, he is worst effected still he cannot afford to move out of this wretched place. He spent last of his penny in buying this house and he has nowhere to go.
 
But the words from Richard have made him think hard “Daniel, I think it’s time you move out too. You lost enough. You will be all alone soon when everyone leaves and pray to God that nothing bad can happen.”
 
By the time he reached his house, Joe is up looking beautiful in her messy auburn hair. She greeted him with a kiss on his cheek and continues with her preparation of breakfast.
 
Richard started “Joe, Martha, and Richard are also leaving the town; I guess we are the only family that will be left by the end of another two months if we can’t find out what is wrong with this place”
 
“Have I heard right? You said we have to find out? No, it’s not going to happen. Let everyone leave if they want to, but we will be here till we find a way to sell this place, but no adventures” said Joe her voice shaking.
 
But Richard is not in a position to hear he wants to get rid of this place. He just wants to move out and settle where the memories will haunt less.
 
After Joe slept, he crept out of bed at around midnight, took his gun “Silver”, a torch and a Go pro tied to his forehead.
 
He started to record the moment he stepped out of the house. There has been a street light just in between his house and the abandoned house in Area 153 which is giving him enough light to navigate without using his torch.
 
He entered the building from the front gate as it looked pretty secluded and no one has walked on that path as he has already checked in the morning.
 
He switched on his torch and entered the building. To his surprise the lock is open. He many times saw a big lock on the front door or did he assume that there is a lock for this abandoned building, still wondering he paced his steps steady but fast. There are total 6 floors, each with around 4000sq ft. It used to be a library in early 1800’s and restructured into a school, as the building started to crumble bit by bit they stopped renovating as they moved the entire school into another building to the vicinity of area 153. So there will be approx 50 rooms, both big and small as per his estimation.
 
He couldn’t even hear any sounds that can help him to take that lead, so he kept on going into each room clearing it, by the time he reached the 2nd floor its almost an hour and a half and time crossed 1.30 AM since he started this treacherous search of finding something.
 
The Second floor is a vast empty space and he thought it would have been a cafeteria as there is a worn out food counter at the other edge of the floor. He started walking towards it, then he saw a shadow behind the worn out counter. He became alert and took out his gun and raised his voice and questioned the unknown “Who is it out there?” He didn’t expect any answer and his expectation seemed right.
 
He repeated his question and added “I know you are there. Come out and show yourself. Else I will shoot” Richard said in a warning tone.
 
The shadow made a noise, a screeching sound and moved uneasily behind the counter as if it’s deciding on whether to come out or not. But it felt it’s finally time to reveal itself.
 
Richard is still pointing the gun and torch towards the walking out shadow couldn’t believe what he is looking at. Is he dreaming because of the fear that has filled in his heart or is he just turned crazy?
 
The voice spoke up, “Hello Papa!!”
 
The world around him started to shatter. His mouth barely made a sound; it almost came out as a whisper “Jecinda?”
 
“Yes, Papa!! It’s me. Do not look so scared. I am still alive” replied Jecinda.
 
“But we thought you are dead. We found your frock. You are not there in the woods. The search trails lead us nowhere. How is it even possible? I can’t believe you are still alive Jeci” Richard asked his voice shaking.
 
“I know papa. It’s just they want it that way. So no one can ever find us. But you did papa. I know always you will find me someday. Have been waiting for you. Finally, you are here. I am happy that you found out am alive, but papa it’s not safe for you here. Leave now, leave Area 153. It will become more dangerous for you every second. Do not come after me anymore. Please, papa. Leave now” Jec said scared as if someone is behind her.
 
“What are you talking Jec. Come with me. I will protect you, I will get the police immediately, whoever it is we will protect you .come on now” Richard said in concern.
 
“Oh no, papa!! You are not able to understand what I am saying. These things are not one police that can take care of. They will come in any second. Leave papa” cried Jec.
 
“What the hell are you talking Jec. You are sounding as some ghost is holding you here. You were traumatized that’s it Jec. Come here now” pleaded Richard.
 
Richard suddenly heard a sound behind him, before he turned the last thing he remembered is Jec calling him and everything went blank.
 
He opened his eyes slowly and he heard some rhythmic sounds coming from the next room. He tried to move but realized his hands were tied to something heavy. He couldn’t see a thing. Everything is so dark. He tried to free himself from the ties but failed. He started to panic what would have happened to Jec. Just in time, a figure of as tall as 6.7 entered slowly. His thoughts started to run fast, he never saw a person of that height in the neighborhood before, how could he miss such an extraordinary physique.
 
The hefty person came over Richard, untied him and pulled him up in one stroke and started to take him in a way it’s almost dragging into the room where the sounds are emerging.
 
There are around 7 to 8 such figures all in long red hoods covering their faces. He couldn’t even see the face of the figure that brought him here. There is a fire in the middle of the room every one circled around it. And there she is Jec standing along with them, her eyes in pain, but put on her brave face before them, he didn’t recognize first, but Jec is almost as tall as him, how is that even possible, she is just 4.5 when she went missing, how a young woman would have grown up to 5.10 in a year. Is that even possible, but her face, eyes, hair look all the same.
 
He understood they are some members of some cult and they have been practicing some nasty stuff in the room which he can see clearly, blood marks on the walls, some crushed bones lying on the floor here and there. But why his daughter is with them.
 
“What the hell is this place? Who are you all? Why my daughter is here? Why Jec are you so grown up suddenly?” he is shouting.
 
Suddenly he saw the middle figure in the group started to come towards him, it’s not walking on the floor. It’s floating. The words stuck in his mouth. It has red shot eyes and he can see the long hand with deadly nails piercing through his stomach. All he wished before breathing his last that he never should have come here in the first place.
 
Jec stared at her papa who is struggling for his life and eventually died in seconds even before she could say goodbye. She started to think why this has to be like this. At least her mom is safe below in the safe room where these monsters won’t even guess that she hid her. She regretted the very moment that she has not done enough to save this town or her own people. Only if she has tried more everyone would have already left and been safe, but now it’s too late. And her dearest papa already died. The monster she became of has nothing to do with the pure heart she always has. She resisted the change she can, she is one of them, the bloodsuckers, flesh eaters, abominable creatures but she still has a humane heart that reminds her to do the right thing. She can’t fight her own kind. But it’s too much for her to see her own father dying before her in the hands of her leader. If she resists she will die and her mother and everyone n the town immediately. She has to save others; this is the only hope she has to withstand the horror and horror within herself.
 
Joe is shocked to her core senses. She knows Richard will not give up and she followed him to this hell hole. She never thought to find her daughter here and trembled to the very thought, what the fate did Richard met with. She knew in her deep senses it’s not possible for Richard to be still alive. Her guts sensed something. Only if Jec can tell her more how she turned into a bloodsucker, it’s almost sunrise now. She will find out about Richard once the sun is up, Jec instructed her not to come out till sunrise that means these creatures will not be there in the morning. She trusted her daughter; she has no choice other than to trust her came-back-from-dead daughter.
 
She crawled into the beam of light that is entered through the creak in the roof. Her head is still heavy from the effect of previous night incidents. All she can think is of Richard and her daughter. Somehow her gut feelings said Jec will be safe. She moved into the next room fearing the worst and it proved correct the moment she entered.
 
Richard lifeless body on the floor made her head spin, she lost grip of her feet and about to hit the ground, Jec came in a jiff and held her tight. They both cried their hearts out.
 
“What happened Jec? Can you at least explain now?” cried her mother.
 
“Mom, on the day I went missing I learned something about me. A tall guy kidnapped me and made me realize that I am gifted, but that gift comes with a price. Price to stay away from family, to accept who I was. We are witches, every third child born in the 7 original bloodlines in every generation will become one of them. We were destined to become a witch even if we do not want to. But we cannot be in the family. Our family is with the witch circle. The bond cannot be broken. Even if we try to escape that only costs the life of their loved ones. We grow unnaturally, our aging stops at some point till the next generation of babies are born and we pass our powers to them.”
 
“As people around started to get suspicious there is no other way than to get this place evacuated for good and we settle. So our circle made every possible thing to scare the families, the accidents etc are all because of us.”
 
“But if anyone realizes who we are, the only way to keep our secret intact is by killing them. The secret is sacred, as this world will never treat a witch fairly however good we display. Dad death accounts for the same”.
 
“I am sorry mom to burden you with my disappearance, but I am happy, I learned who I am, and I am really sorry dad has to die. He died trying to save me. I tried to save him. But I failed miserably. We cannot say no to our leader. We are wired in that way. Mom, you must leave this town before sunset mom. Please”
 
Joe is not able to understand everything except her baby is not her baby anymore and Richard is dead, now she wants to leave her too and move out of this place.
 
She hugged her daughter and requested her to provide a proper burial to Richard and made her way to immediately move out of this Area 153.
 
Sometimes we come with many hopes and dreams but left with nothing in the end. It seemed true in Joe’s case.

Written by Swetha Ponnekanti

Swetha Ponnekanti is a software Quality Test Analyst by profession, a bookworm by nature, a travel enthusiast by chance and a budding blogger.