Hide and Seek
Also by tnumfive
Okitaya shivered as the wind rattled the shutters outside
the window. It was your typical dark, stormy Halloween night. Lashing rain,
ominous, unpredictable rumbles of thunder and cracks of lightning that caused
the bare, skeletal trees outside to become silhouetted against the rolling hills.
The Ixi clutched her dressing gown around her
shoulders to chase off the shivers, held her lantern above her head and peered
in to the darkness of the corridor ahead of her. The wooden floor, polished
to perfection, reflected the rain dripping down the huge window panes in heavy
rivulets. A bolt of lightning flashed outside, briefly highlighting the corridor
ahead of Okitaya. Surely that suit of armour was standing in a different position
only moments ago, she thought. She glanced to one side and was confronted by
a grey visage with red, bloodshot eyes staring straight back at her.
She nearly screamed and dropped her candle before
realising it was only her reflection in the pane of glass. She brought a shaking
grey hoof up to her cheek to reassure herself and continued on down the corridor.
The house was huge. She hardly ever saw her cousin Snoki, the skunk Kyrii. Only
once a year when he came to visit the house. Filled with all manner of nooks
and crannies, crawl spaces, passages, cupboards and corridors, it had seemed
the perfect place to play Hide and Seek with Snokiobe since the rain had cancelled
their Trick or Treating plans. Now, Okitaya was not so sure.
A tree bough just outside the window creaked
as the wind blew it against the window, its twigs dragging themselves down the
glass like nails down a blackboard. Okitaya winced and continued on with a brief
glance over her shoulder.
"Snoki?" she called nervously. "Snoki? Are you
here? I don't want to play any more."
Okitaya swallowed nervously. No reply. Her heart
was pounding and her chest felt tight with fear. She hated being the 'Seeker',
never knowing when you pull back a curtain or peek around a door if you'll be
confronted with the shock of a silent figure, hunched with anticipation, staring
back at you.
"Snoki! I'm serious! Can't we stop now? Please?"
She listened, head cocked on one side waiting for a response. Nothing.
The flame of the candle in her hand flickered
as an icy breeze blew through the corridor. The shadows around her cast by the
pale light flickered too, fooling her eyes in to believing the paintings of
her ancestors that were hung along the tapestried walls were coming to life.
She heard a rustle just ahead of her. It came
from behind a pedestal holding an outsized ornamental urn that had been in the
family for generations. Placing her candle on the low, wooden, heavily padlocked
chest next to the suit of armour opposite, she tiptoed toward the hideyhole.
Approaching the tall, stone pedestal she paused,
her hands out in front of her ready to pounce...
"FOUND YOU!" she shouted, leaping behind the
She was met with darkness. A small leaf, blown
in through an open window, was caught between the pedestal and the wall. It
fluttered in the icy breeze - the only sound inside the dim, echoey corridor.
"Rats," she thought to herself and turned back
to get her candle. She stopped, frozen. There in front of her stood a huge,
looming black shape. Its twisted, grotesque limbs held above its head were silhouetted
by the candle behind the creature and threw a terrifying shadow against the
Okitaya threw her hands to her face and screamed.
"Gotcha!" exclaimed Snokiobe in glee as he leapt
from the chest and pulled the material from his head. "I found these old curtains
in a cupboard down the corridor; I couldn't resist!" he said, flashing a grin
and rolling the material up.
Okitaya just stared at him with wide staring
eyes, one hand over her heart in an attempt to regulate the beat. Eventually,
she dropped her arm and blinked at the floor before looking up at the Kyrii
with flashing, angry eyes.
"Don't EVER do that again, Snoki! You scared
me half to death! I can't believe you!"
"Aww, I'm sorry," apologised Snokiobe, looking
slightly guilty at how much he'd scared his friend. "I only ever see you once
a year and on Halloween too! Who else am I going to play my Trick or Treat tricks
on if we're not going out? Besides, it wasn't that scary."
"Snoki! You terrified me! Haven't you heard the
stories about this house?"
"Stories? What stories?" asked Snoki looking
around nervously himself for once.
"You mean you've never heard the tale about the
ghost who supposedly haunts this house?" asked Okitaya, casually.
"Stop it, Oki!" Now it was Snokiobe's turn to
"No really. Sit down and I'll tell you all about
it." Okitaya walked to the window and sat down on the floor next to the padlocked
chest, under the large, ornate windowsill.
Snoki chewed his lip for a second contemplating
whether or not he wanted to hear this before eventually joining Okitaya on the
floor. He unravelled the heavy velvet drapes he still had in his paws and threw
them over both of them to keep them warm.
"Okay, start," he said, staring at his friend
"Very well," started Okitaya, making herself
comfortable. She took her candle placing it under her face allowing the glow
to create playful shadows on her face, making her look like a spectre herself.
"It was many, many years ago when it happened.
In the days of those whose portraits you see hung on the wall in front of you.
It was in Midsummer, the day in question. The house was warm and light. Pale
sunlight filtered through these very windows highlighting the dust sent up from
the corridor carpets. The house was quiet. The lazy calm interrupted only by
the occasional distant shouts of children in the ornate gardens outside as they
played Hide and Seek. A boy stood against a tree, his hands over his eyes as
he counted down from one hundred as several children scattered, squealing, in
all directions and they sought a place to hide. One girl, a pretty young Ixi,
ran towards the house. Inside, she glanced around the pantry before gathering
up her skirts, running to the hall and up the staircase. She glanced around,
unsure, before choosing a likely corridor and running down it. She hunted around,
poking in the alcoves and looking in trunks trying to decide on a suitable place
"Looking up and out of the window she saw
a group of the others in the garden below searching under bushes and behind
trees as they helped the Seeker find the remaining hiding children. She would
have the best hiding place, though. They'd never find her, she swore. It was
then that she noticed a small old door hidden behind a suit of armour. It was
made of wood, unpolished and dusty, with a large rough keyhole set in to it
with a wrought iron handle set above. She touched the wood and recoiled quickly
as she caught a splinter in her skin. In the distance, downstairs, she could
hear the other children entering the house, searching for her. She didn't have
much time! She could already hear them on the stairs. Without thinking, she
opened the door and threw herself inside letting it close behind her with a
quiet click. Hours passed as she scrabbled at the door, frantically tugged at
the handle to try and get out. The other children searched and searched, but
the girl was never, ever, found. They say her spirit still haunts these walls,
rattling the door handle, waiting for someone to find her."
Okitaya finished her story and quietly lowered
the candle. Snokiobe looked at her face in fear, his eyes staring directly in
to hers looking for any suggestion that Okitaya was lying.
"Are you... are you serious?" he asked vehemently,
"Of course," stated Okitaya gravely. "The story
has been in my family for... what was that!" She stopped short.
A rattling noise echoed down the corridor. Snokiobe
shot up, terrified.
"It's... it's her!" he yelled.
A crash of thunder outside was all it took to
send him running down the corridor at full pelt to the safety of his bedroom.
Okitaya chuckled as she stopped rattling the
padlock of the chest. She rolled up the drapes and headed off to find the cowardly
"That'll teach him to scare me!" she said to
no one in particular. "As if anyone would believe a story like that! I mean,
I totally made up the part about the door..." she muttered as she walked straight
through the stone wall and in to her bedroom.