Those Who Live In Neovia
Kenny knew there were stories about that place.
These stories were vague, but they existed nonetheless.
Stories of people who had bought the house, only to have something happen to them. What that something was varied from story to story, but in all of them, the house was always put on sale again soon after.
At some point, people just stopped buying it, instead deciding to go to any other place.
Kenny didn’t really believe in those stories.
After all, it was just a house, right? And while ghosts and monsters existed, none of them would bother with a single house for over twenty years.
At least, that was what he told himself as soon as he bought the house with his sister. They could be happy there, as soon as all their fears were proven untrue, and they would be because the house was not haunted.
Neovia had many stories, after everything they had gone through, and sure, that story was older than that particular mess, but it was just a story. Neovia had gone through enough, and even if those houses were once haunted, they weren’t anymore. For a long time, Neovians hadn’t been afraid of anything more than themselves.
“You better be sure this is a good idea,” Lyra, his sister, said as they received the key to the house, after buying it for a price that was low even for Neovia standards.
“Trust me,” Kenny said with a wink. “I’m never wrong, and it’s better for us to not simply be scared of ghost stories. Neovians are stronger than that. We came this far, didn’t we?”
And that was certainly true. Neovia might not be a perfect place, but it was populated by strong people, who had to face their biggest flaws and come out on the other side.
Even ghosts should be scared of them.
For the first few days, the house was like any other, and Kenny once more felt confident in his decision to buy it.
But one night, that changed.
It started small, a light tap on his door in the night. Not thinking much of it, Kenny assumed his sister was on the other side and opened it, but there was no one waiting.
Weird, he supposed, but maybe he had just dreamed it, sleep being so close to taking him for the night he had imagined it, but because he hadn’t quite been asleep yet, he had thought it had been real.
Just a tap.
But it didn’t stay that way. Many noises reverberated through his room, keeping him from sleeping, and if he had just imagined them due to the ghost stories about the place, shouldn’t they have started right away?
“Did you hear anything… unusual, last night?” Kenny asked his sister during the next morning, feeling tired after all the noise kept him awake.
The Kougra looked at him confused, tilting her head. “I’m not sure what you mean, last night was fine.”
Kenny doubted himself, then. If they were being haunted, surely both of them would have been. Then again, some ghosts stayed in only one place, so maybe only his room would have it.
If that was the problem, it was a good thing that the house had three bedrooms. Kenny could just leave the room he was sleeping in and go to the other one, and things would go back to normal.
At least, that was what he was telling himself.
For two nights, it felt like it worked. He slept through the night with no problems, after all, and managed to catch up on the sleep he had lost after that one disastrous night.
But slowly but surely, the noises came back.
It started out slow, just a small tap on the door or the bed moving a few inches with no input from him, stuff that he couldn’t explain but also wasn’t that bad.
“Can I talk to you?” Kenny whispered, trying to see something he knew was invisible, but even ghosts could appear to others if they wanted to.
‘If they wanted to’ being the key here, of course.
“I don’t want to do anything bad to you, I just want to sleep,” he tried again, looking towards the mirror as it tilted a little.
The ghost didn’t answer, but every night, he would try again. Ghosts were ghosts because they needed something, right? Maybe this ghost only needed help, and if Kenny helped it, it would leave him alone.
One night, finally, as he asked if they could talk, he heard a voice answer him.
“How can I be certain you won’t just abandon me?” It was a small voice, not quite like someone young, but like someone who was afraid.
“I’m afraid,” Kenny admitted. “But I think so are you. Right?”
“Everyone tells me they will help, and then they leave. Are you different from them?”
“Tell me what you need help with, and I’ll at least try,” Kenny said. He did want to help, but didn’t want to promise something he wasn’t sure was within his power to make become reality.
“I can’t find my sister.”
“I have a sister too,” Kenny said. “I know how scary it would be to not be able to find her. How could I help you? What should I call you, anyway?”
“My name is Lyan, but it’s been a long time since someone cared to ask me what it was,” Lyan said. “I think my sister is lost somewhere within this house, but no matter how long I look for her, I can’t find her. I wanted your help because I know your sister is here, so surely you understand what I’m going through.”
“Alright, I’ll help you find her,” Kenny nodded. “Is she a ghost too?”
Lyan whispered something, and Kenny was suddenly looking at a Bori, a ghost for sure, but there was an innocent look to him.
“I know this could be hard, but I’m glad you’re willing to at least try,” Lyan said, a small smile on his face. “I think you’re telling the truth, too, and I don’t usually think that about the people who live here. Neovians have never been the most helpful people.”
“We’ve changed. It’s been quite some time since someone last bought this house, so I’m not surprised you don’t know, but a lot has happened. Even Neovians can learn to become their best selves,” Kenny grinned at Lyan, wanting to prove that was he said was true.
And so began his search for Lyan’s sister. He roped his own sister into helping him, and they looked over every inch in the house, but were unable to find her.
“I’m not surprised,” Lyan admitted. “I hoped it would be different if someone tried to help me, but just like I can’t do it alone, you guys can’t do it with me either.”
“Don’t give up this soon!” Kenny urged. “I know it feels like it’s not possible right now, but nothing is impossible, we just have to try harder.”
It wasn’t until a month into the search that Kenny finally noticed it. A tile on the floor, that looked like it had been removed and stuck back. A bit afraid of what he would find, Kenny lifted it to reveal a secret basement.
There was a small noise from the basement, and Kenny’s heart raced as he went down to see what was there.
“Are you alright?” Kenny asked as he saw someone there.
“Lyan, is that you?” The voice was weak, of someone who hadn’t said anything in a long while. It reminded Kenny of how they all had sounded in Neovia right after everything finally went back to normal.
“I’m a friend of Lyan’s. Are you his sister? We have been looking for you for a long time,” Kenny offered a hand to help her get up and she took it.
“Thank you,” she said, and it occurred to Kenny that he had never actually asked Lyan for his sister’s name.
“You’re alright now, you and Lyan can be together!” Kenny said, trying to offer a reassuring smile.
Lyan must have heard his voice, because he was suddenly there as well.
Kenny watched the reunion with a smile, knowing that everything would be alright.
Maybe it had been the wrong move to buy a haunted house, but he wouldn’t change being able to help people for anything. Neovia was a complicated place to live in, but things like this proved that they were just as good as people of any other place.