Hide and seek
Honestly, Julia didn't want to go to this party. It would be boring, dull, a waste of a perfect afternoon. But Eric wanted to go and he wouldn't be happy if she stayed behind.
They arrived somewhere after twelve. The venue was an old house, small and neat.
"It's beautiful!" Julia breathed, clutching Eric's hand tightly in her own.
He laughed. "And you wanted to stay home!"
Soon, though, every guest was bored out of their mind. Beauty does not keep a mind from straying, becoming idle, and the initial effect of the house disappeared fast. Smoke in the wind. The host quickly came up wtih an idea. "A game of hide-and-seek!"
The game began. Julia rushed about frantically, trying to find a place to hide. There! The attic! No one would think to look for her there!
The attic was clean and well kept. A wardrobe, a desk, a chair, a chest, all neatly tucked away in the corners. Julia pouted. If someone were to come up here, they would find her immedietely! She had to find a good hiding spot.
A creak downstairs made her jump. Quickly, she dived into the chest. The attic door opened. Soft footsteps. Closer...closer...pausing...then leaving. A click. The door was closed. They were gone.
Julia grinned. How clever she was, to have found such a hiding spot! Now to get out and see who had been caught. She pressed her hand to the lid and pushed.
It didn't move.
She frowned. That was peculiar. Maybe if she pushed harder...
Pushing, pushing, pushing...No use.
Cold terror seeped into her bones. What if it had locked? No one would hear her! She remembered Eric telling her that the insulation in the ceiling was so thick, the house was practically sound proof. Julia panicked. She kicked at the lid, pounded at it, rammed it with her shoulder.
Lungs burning. Running out of air. This had to be a nightmare, this couldn't be happening. Not to her. She was the main character of her own story. She couldn't die! No, no, no, she would wake up.
But she couldn't. She couldn't wake up. Because this was real. This was reality. No holes in the wood to let in air. Suffocating. Screaming, screaming, using up all her air...
Eric searched the house for Julia. "Have you seen her? Have you seen her? Excuse me, have you seen Julia?"
The answers were all the same. "No, sorry. Have a good day!"
Confused and worried, he set off home. She must have left during the game, Eric thought.
For years, Eric was heartbroken, thinking Julia must have left him. His friends and family shook their heads, tut-tutted, told him to move on. Eventually he did. He re-married and died a happy man.
One day, a new maid was sent to clean the attic of a beautiful old cottage. She decided to start with the windows, then dust the furniture so she could sweep the floor.
Sparkling windows. She hummed to herself and began dusting off the furniture. I wonder what's in the chest, she thought.
And screams shredded the air on its opening.