Some places are haunted.
Most of the time, buildings are just plain old buildings, with nothing special about them; nothing to hide.
But sometimes, some places are haunted.
Like the house that was down the street from our place. My bothers and I had to walk passed the empty old house on our way to and from school each day, and we would always hold our breath and sprint by while passing it.
My oldest brother had said that no one had lived there for years because a young boy had died there horribly and his spirit haunted his family each night until it drove them mad and they had to be taken away.
My mother had said not to listen to him and that the family had just moved away and no one would buy the house because it would be so expensive to fit up.
But still, you could feel the house was wrong, even though we were just kids, we could tell, it was haunted.
Every year at Halloween we would dare each other to go up and ring the doorbell to see if a ghost would answer, and every year we would all chicken out.
Then one day I had to stay late at school to finish a collage I was making for my fall project. My brothers would not wait for me and so I had to walk home alone; passing the haunted house, all by myself.
All of my concentration was on the looming house as I came closer to it so I did not see Ralph Dedramin ahead of me with all his cronies and I bumped into the back of him.
All the worry about the house vanished because Ralph posed a much more real threat, being the biggest jerk and bully in the neighbourhood.
I stammered an apology but he just sneered and grabbed my brother's baseball I had borrowed at recess. He threw it at the old house and it smashed through one of the front windows.
"Go fetch." He had said as he shoved into me with his shoulder and left, laughing with his stupid buddies. Their braying was muffled in my ears as I stood and stared at the foreboding house, tears welling in my eyes.
Not tears of fear or embarrassment, but rage at Ralph for thinking I was such a baby I would not go in and get my brother's ball.
I would show him, I would go in and get it and show up to school with it and prove I would not be bullied by him and his group of jerks.
Using the anger as fuel, I made my legs start moving toward the walkway that led up to the rundown old porch. The creaking steps startled me and I realized I had arrived at the house already. Only then, did the fear creep back into me and I hesitated on the first step.
I looked into the window that the ball had gone through; a round, cracked hole was the only trace of change the house had had in many years.
The ball was probably just inside, and fairly close to the entrance I tried to convince myself. I could just grab it and run out again in less than a minute; if I could get in.
Gathering my courage, I climbed the creaking steps onto the rickety porch and walked shakily across the bending boards to the front door.
Trying the knob, I gave it a turn and was surprised when it turned rustily in my hand. However, the door did not budge when I pushed against it. With a sigh, my heart sank further as I let go the knob and moved to look into the grimy old window.
As I started to move though, I heard a click and a slow creak as the door fell open slightly on its own.
A coldness ran through me as I turned to see the blackness that lay beyond the door, as if it was alive and beckoning me to enter inside of it.
Steeling myself, I held my breath and rushed into the opened door; the lack of light inside causing a temporary blindness until my eyes adjusted to the light from the still open door and grimy windows.
Dust settled in a thick layer on the floors and mouldings of the dilapidated entrance; as though no one had disturbed it for decades.
Through the doorway to the right I could see into what must have been the living room. Its wooden floors caked with dust as well. Except for a trail of circular impact points and a thin, straight line where the ball must have bounced in and rolled to a stop.
And, just as I had thought, sitting in a pile of dust, the ball sat only a few meters away. A rush of relief made me brave again and I stepped quickly though the doorway to the living room.
At almost a run, I reached where the ball lay and stooped to pick it up.
In one motion I grabbed the ball and pivoted to turn and run back out, but as I did, the old floor boards groaned under even my light weight, and the world crashed suddenly around me and I fell into darkness.
The last thing I can remember before being enveloped into the blackness, was feeling my brother's ball slip from my hand.
That was so long ago; a lifetime. And yet, here I am, still searching in the dark; searching from room to room, hall to hall.
Will you help me please? Help me find my brother's lost ball?