Behind The Doors
There it is.
The rusted door. The object of nightmares and hallucinations, and yet you stand right in front of it. Of course, whenever you're curious about something, it always leads to trouble in one form or another, you days of Neoschool being a prime example. But this time, it all started with a vacation.
It would typically sound absurd to some, but it had. Your friends had noticed you'd been extremely harried recently, what with the economy being so unstable. They'd "generously" arranged for your Neopets to go to Cockroach Towers while you spent a week in Neovia. Little buggers.
However, it hadn't been all bad. While the journey through the Haunted Woods to get here wasn't exactly fun, Neovia was at least interesting. You'd visited a gypsy camp last night, where you heard the tale that brought you to this horrible place.
Your insides squirm. Your instincts have never been wrong before, but then again... What could be so bad about it? Ghosts don't exist, you think. You sigh deeply, before steeling your nerves.
You open the door and enter the infamous Meepit Oaks Sanitorium.
The first thing to assault your senses is the smell. While your nose isn't as trained as a Lupe's, it's fairly good. Having lived in the country before, you know this smell well. It's rank and pungent, but has a sickening sweetness - it's the smell of death. You wave your hand in front of your face, trying to keep down bile. You step forward into a lobby, covered in cobwebs of all shapes and sizes, and shudder. You hate spyders.
As you push forward, taking in every little detail from the old-fashioned upholstery to the mahogany desk, sight is the next sense to be abused. A flash of a dark purple dress, an eye staring at you, a tail whipping 'round the corner, a fog when there are no windows open. You get the odd feeling that somewhere, someone is watching you.
Impossible, you scoff. There is no such thing as ghosts, you tell yourself, and the feeling of dread washes away abruptly. You've now entered a hallway, and it's like that of a prison. Heavy metal doors with a small slot at the top, filled with bars. The architects were either really paranoid, or the people here were seriously insane.
You turn into another corridor, only to find that the paranoia has returned. Your eyes turn left and right as you wander along. You are quite literally sick to your stomach, and stop to try and calm down. Quite suddenly, something touches the small of your back, and you feel a warm breath on your neck. You utter a guttural scream, whirling around. There's nothing there. "There's no such thing as ghosts, there's no such thing as ghosts, there's no such thing as ghosts..."
Your mantra of madness is interrupted by a voice, light and girly, slightly muffled. "There's no such thing as ghosts," it mocks.
"L-leave me alone!"
The voice laughs. "I just want to play. I won't hurt you, I promise." A Kacheek appears in front of you, fading in. It - no, she - has long, tangled chestnut hair that was once probably elegant. Her dress is stained, torn and worn, dark purple with sheer sleeves, reaching the floor. She carries a fan of the same color.
The most startling thing about her is her body. She's emaciated, thin to the point of starvation. Pale, pockmarked with darker spots, she has the appearance of the undead. Wide, pale eyes like moons, with large eyelashes. She smiles, revealing a mouth devoid of teeth, framed by dry and cracked lips. "I get so lonely sometimes."
You approach warily. "Who are you?"
She sighs. "Oh, names are such a formality. My friends and I don't need names, but I suppose you may refer to me as Cora. I lived here, you know." At the word 'friends', a dark shadow frames her face, then quickly disappears.
You can practically feel your thirst for knowledge. "You did? But it's...abandoned..."
She laughs again, high and cold. "It wasn't always. Do you want me to tell you a story?"
You nod shakily.
"I was born in Neovia to Mr. and Mrs. Brightington. My father was the town secretary, my mother a figure of high society. Naturally I grew up polite, and was always comfortable. However, unlike my parents, who had always been so keen to stay inside the town barriers, I longed for life in other places. I would beg for just a day in the countryside, but Father was always busy. When I was eight years old, I finally visited Meridell. It was there I met him.
"We were having a picnic in between a string of farms when I met Teddy. His real name was Theodore, but he preferred his nickname. He was my age, but wasn't exactly the same. He was a ghost, you see, perished in a Kau stampede. We quickly became friends, and Teddy followed me home. I was an only child, and though I had plenty of dolls, I was often lonely. Teddy became like a brother to me, and we always talked.
"One day at the private academy I attended, during recess, he came to visit me. The other children said I was talking to no one - apparently, only I could see him - and called me names." You watch her shudder, rocking her entire body, which only makes her seem more fragile. "I was 'lunatic', 'dark child', 'insane'. One of them went to the headmaster, who called a meeting with Mother and Father. Naturally, two of the most respected people in the town couldn't have word get out they had an insane daughter who talked to people only she could see. They had a long talk, and said we were moving to Meridell." She smiles with a strange kind of vacant sweetness. "I was esctatic, and packed hastily. We took a carriage to this awful, awful place and they left me here, saying they would come back for me when everything was ready. They never did. I later overheard one of the nurses say they let out a rumor I was lost in a terrible blizzard."
Your stomach sinks. This girl, abandoned by people too selfish to love their daughter as she was? "Go on."
She nods. "I lived here for a while. I was taken care of, and Teddy kept me company. I made new friends, and was a favourite among the nurses, especially Miss Lucy. One day, Lucy said that the other 'inmates' were rioting, and locked me in my room, saying she would come back when it was safe." Her eyes glaze over, and your heart is in your throat. "She never came back either."
The girl stares at you, cold malice gleaming in her eyes. You can feel the hatred burning in her soul, and serve her right. Anyone treated like that by someone they trust is allowed to be angry. But still, you can't shake the feeling that somehow, there's something deeper than absolute revulsion - something deeper, more psychological.
"I'm sorry," she says after a few more seconds. "I guess I kind of... forgot you where here. Do you want to know anything?"
You think for a moment, elaborating in your mind on one detail that bugged you particularly. "Yes. How are you out of your cell? What did you eat?"
She shrugs. "I'm no longer alive. It's been that way for decades. When I passed, I was able to leave. I can eat, but I don't have a heartbeat. As for food..." Her smile is wide, psychotic, and her eyes become dilated. You back up. "I ate bugs for as long as I could. My friends brought them to me. However, it wasn't enough..." She begins walking toward you. "Now, as I mentioned, I can make up for that. I just eat whatever's lying around..."---
Cora sat in the room that was once her prison. She closed her eyes, breathing deeply. She floated over to the freshly-collected bowl of water, seeing her reflection. "Ugh, that will never do." She washed her face, leaving the water crimson. "Much better. Thank you, Teddy," she said, looking to her right.
Anyone else would have saw nothing.
Neither did Cora, except in her mind.
Somewhere in the Sanitorium, footsteps echoed, dark and heavy. "Oh, yay!" she laughed. "I get to make a new friend."