Rosecliff Manor Haunting
Addison Lockhart Series #2
Addison Lockhart’s eyes blinked open, and she glanced around, surprised to find herself standing next to a tall, wrought-iron gate lining the perimeter in front of a three-story manor. She didn’t know where she was, how long she’d been there, or how she came to be there in the first place. It was like she’d been transported through time, sucked through one end of a static passageway and spit out the other.
Ten minutes earlier, it was nighttime, and she was at home, although she couldn’t recall what she’d been doing before she’d been plucked away. Now it was daytime, and the sun’s delicate rays enveloped her, pulsing shots of heat through every pore of her freckled skin.
Addison looked around. Besides the manor, there were a few other houses in view, but the neighborhood was quiet. Almost too quiet. No birds chirping. No dogs barking. No wind. No noticeable sounds of any kind.
The noise wasn’t all that was lacking either. When she glanced down she gasped, finding herself dressed in a practically see-through nightgown. Her feet were bare, her exposed arms and legs a milkier shade of white than she remembered them being.
None of it made sense.
A car turned down the road, and her eyes darted around, desperate to find a hiding spot to shield her half-naked body. She wrapped her fingers around the rails of the gate in front of her and pushed forward. But the gate wouldn’t budge, and the car was fast approaching. Having no other place to go, she crossed her arms in front of her breasts, squeezed her legs together, and hoped for the best.
The car passed by like it was gliding on air, silent, and without stopping. The teenage boy in the driver’s seat couldn’t have been more than four feet away, and yet, he never looked over. Not even a single fleeting glance. Addison stared at him as he coasted by. His chocolate brown hair was long and feathered, and the car he was driving, an orange Ford coupe with black stripes, looked out of place considering it was 2015.
The car didn’t belong.
And he didn’t belong.
Or maybe it was the other way around.
Maybe she was the one who was out of place.
Addison watched the car disappear over the other side of the hill and then turned, shifting her focus back to the manor, a three-story gray building with eight symmetrical windows lining the first two levels. The home’s exterior looked like it had been carved from a single slab of stone, except for the thick, wooden door in the center. She stared at the door for a moment, and two things happened: a wave of sound penetrated the stale air like a needle pricking a balloon, and the front door of the manor creaked opened. Two girls spilled out, both wearing yellow, short-sleeved dresses with Peter Pan collars.
The door closed behind the twin girls as they descended a series of steps in front of the house, both hopping off the last one onto the meticulously mowed grass in the front yard. One of the girls squatted, picking a thin tree branch off the ground. She slapped the wood against her flat hand, innocently taunting her twin before waving the stick in the air. The twin, who held a furry, white kitten in her arms, pressed it against her chest like the cat’s life depended on it.
The girl with the stick pointed it like it was a wand and taunted, “You better run, Grace, or the cat gets it!”
“You wouldn’t, Viv!” the other girl shrieked.
And the chase was on, both girls circling the trunk of a majestic oak several times before an out-of-breath Grace sagged to the ground, relenting. She looked at Viv and said, “You better not hurt Shadow. I mean it!”
Viv rolled her eyes and plopped down beside her, tossing the stick across the yard. “Don’t blow your top, Grace. I’d never hurt her, and you know it.”
Grace squinted, screwing up her face at Viv like she wasn’t so sure. “Oh…kay. Why’d ya chase me with a stick then?”
“Good grief, I was just teasin.’” Viv tipped her head toward the cat. “Thought you wanted to play hopscotch.”
“Why don’t you put the fur ball down then?”
Grace surveyed the area. “Out here? I can’t. What if she gets out of the yard and gets hit by a car? Or what if she runs away and we can’t find her? Or what if—”
Viv held a flattened hand out in front of her. “All right, all right. I get it. Put her back in the house then.”
Grace stroked the cat, frowned. “Can’t I just hold her and play?”
Viv sighed. “Fine. But if we’re gonna do it, let’s get on with it.”
Addison crossed her arms in front of her, watching the girls’ long, blond, pigtails bob up and down while they hopped along the chalk squares on the driveway. She wondered if they saw her watching them from outside the gate, but the few times they glanced in her direction, they looked past her like she wasn’t there.
She needed to get home. Fast.
She cupped a hand over the side of her mouth and shouted, “Hello?”
She tried again. “Excuse me. Girls. Can you hear me?”
Again, no response.
She stood for several seconds, frustrated and confused before a glaring oversight occurred to her. Nothing about this place made sense. The people, the air, the colors, the car. Everything was off somehow.
Am I … dreaming?
The more she thought about it, the more relieved she became.
That’s it. It has to be it. All of this … it’s just a dream. No one sees me because none of this is real.
It made sense because it had to. And because there was no other possible explanation for what she was experiencing. Now to prove the theory.
Addison pinched the flesh on her arm with the tips of her fingernails, felt nothing. No pain. No sensation.
Come on, Addison … wake up.
She squeezed her eyes shut then opened them.
Nothing changed. She was still there, trapped in her own twisted version of the Twilight Zone.
She leaned her head against the gate, and even considered banging against it a few times. Why not? It wasn’t like she’d hurt anything.
The word was spoken in such a hush Addison almost didn’t hear it. She looked up. One of the twins stood on the opposite side of the gate, her face pensive, eyes curious. The second twin was nowhere in sight.
“Hi,” Addison replied.
“My name is Vivian. What’s yours?”
“Addison. You can see me?”
“Of course I can see you,” the girl said. “We both can.”
And yet when Addison had called out to them just moments ago, neither of them responded.
“The other girl. She’s your twin sister, right?”
Vivian nodded. “Her name’s Grace.”
“Where is she?”
Addison reached out, attempting to place a hand on Vivian’s shoulder. Vivian jerked back. Message received.
“Oh, honey,” Addison said. “You sister doesn’t need to be afraid. Neither of you do.”
Vivian shrugged. “She didn’t want you to come.”
Still unsure of where here was, Addison didn’t push it. “Why not?”
“No one has ever seen us before.”
No one had ever seen them? How could that be possible?
The kitten bounded out from behind a bush next to the manor. Grace chased after it, yelling, “Shadow, no! Stop!”
But the kitten bounded forward. Vivian intercepted it, snatching it up in one hand before it slipped past the gate. She walked over to Grace, handing her the cat. Whispers between the two girls followed, too low for Addison to hear. Grace tugged at the layers of fabric on Vivian’s dress, like she was trying to keep her there, keep her from returning to the gate again.
Vivian escaped Grace’s grasp, walked halfway back to the gate, and stopped. “I have to go now.
Grace needs me. Try and remember, okay?”
Grace needs me. Try and remember, okay?”
Try and remember? Try and remember what?
“Wait,” Addison said. “Please. Don’t go. Tell me what I need to remember.”