“Let’s look around,” my sister said, pulling on my arm. “Mom and Dad will be busy for a while.”
“Whatever.” None of my friends were there to see me, so I followed her up creaking stairs and through musty rooms hung with cobwebs. I thought about sneaking away and hiding somewhere, to give her a scare.
Tania paused at an open doorway. I started to sneak past, down the hall.
She gasped. I looked back. She swayed in the doorway, eyes wide and face white. “What?” I asked.
“The ghost!” she hissed.
My stomach gave a flip. I pushed next to her and looked into the room. Nothing but dust floating in the light from grimy windows. Just for a second, she’d gotten me. But I couldn’t let her know that. I rolled my eyes. “Nice try.”
She kept staring ahead. “Don’t you see it?”
I snorted. “You can give it up now.”
“He’s right there!” She stepped into the room, slowly. She moved in a half circle, like she was skirting something. She reached out a hand to the empty space in the middle of the room. It was creepy. Does that sound stupid? Well, you weren’t there.
“Hello,” she whispered. “Can you hear me?” Her hand passed into a beam of light, looking dead white and almost translucent. She gasped and jerked back, like she’d touched something painful.
“Cut it out,” I said. “It’s not funny.”
She cringed back. Her hands clutched at her throat. “No!” She was half bent over backward. She should have fallen, but it looked like someone was holding her up.
I stood frozen in the doorway. My legs felt like water, but I couldn’t let her see that she was getting to me.
She thrashed, still scratching at her throat, and made a gurgling noise. Could something really be wrong?
She was my little sister. It was my job to protect her. I rushed forward. I reached out for her.
I slammed through a wall of cold. I struggled for balance as the room tilted crazily around me. Tania’s face swam in my vision, an arm’s length away.
Strange feelings swarmed around me, spewed up inside me. Anger. Hatred. Blood pounded in my head and I saw Tania’s terrified eyes through a haze of red. My hands were around her neck. Squeezing.
I couldn’t stop. Some part of me tried to pull back, but my rage was too great. I had to keep squeezing until those hated brown eyes closed and the body fell limp to the floor.
Her lips moved. No sound came out, but I could see her form a name. “Jon.” My name. Blue eyes bulged in her face. Tania’s eyes, pleading.
She was my little sister. It was my job to protect her. I fought back the rage. I struggled to control my hands. I forced them open, forced my arms to drop. The feelings welled up, battering me. But I was not him. I made my own choices. Her death would not be one of them.
The emotion faded. Tania slumped and I caught her. We stood trembling in an empty room. She gasped for breath, her face pressed to my chest. “What was that? What happened?” She looked up at me.
She was my little sister. It was my job to protect her. I grinned. “Gotcha!”
Her eyes narrowed. She punched my arm. “You jerk!” She stormed away.
I had protected her this time, but .... Nothing was ever the same again after that.
The Haunted series stars Jon and Tania as kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show. This story was written based on a writing prompt for the opening sentence (and is creepier than most of the books, which are fun action stories).