House of the Blue Bloods

From the start, Kaleb knew going along with Jonas was bad news. But to escape from Jonas’ slightly insane, occasionally life-threatening ideas was to chicken out of them, which would ultimately lead to public humiliation and the questioning of his manhood.

And wouldn’t that be a sight to see?

“Use your athlete legs, dude. I don’t want to go to school with a frozen behind.”

A loud, frosty exhale escaped Kaleb’s lips. “Don’t go blaming me. This was your idea to begin with.” He paused with a hint of unwanted curiosity. “Why are you so psyched up, anyway?”

A half-crazed grin slithered onto Jonas’ freckled face. “You’ll see.”

“What?” Kaleb raised an eyebrow, mildly curious. “Your smile’s creeping me out, man.”

“You’ll see when we get there.” To Kaleb’s surprise, Jonas persistently kept his lips zipped and closed, leaving him to grapple with this vague response as they trudged further on in silence.

A group of sparkle-winged fairies, fueled with sugar and adrenaline from the ostentatiously-decorated haunted house, chaotically stampeded across the asphalt street. Only then did Kaleb manage to catch a glimpse of Jonas’ inscrutable expression.

“Stop looking at me like that, dude. You’re creeping me out.” Jonas’ voice jerked Kaleb out of his reverie.

“Looking at you like what?”

Jonas grimaced. “Like my ‘rents when I told them my secret. Like I’m insane.”

“Of course they think you’re insane,” Kaleb’s voice was heavy with sarcasm. “All synonyms of ‘crazy’ apply to you.” He laughed, his hazel eyes melting gold in the setting sun. He squinted and focused his gaze back at his friend, expecting him to laugh it off like he’d always done.

But Jonas’ face was serious — too serious for Kaleb’s liking. “Nah, man. I mean legit insane. As in, they want me to visit a counselor and have tea with a British therapist.”

Kaleb frowned, the humor dropping dead on his face as his insides twisted madly at Jonas’ response. “What the heck did you say to them? You must’ve been really out of your mind or something — ”

Jonas laughed out what seemed like a bitter sigh. “Man, this takes the fun out of everything.” He grinned half-heartedly, forcefully. “But, whatever. You would have gotten to know it eventually.” Jonas lowered his voice until it was barely audible, with a glint of toddler-mischief in his eyes. “I told them I saw a girl in the Witchlight Manor.”

“She must’ve been a knockout to catch your eye,” Kaleb responded jokingly despite the cloud of apprehension that began to loom over his head. “What’d she look like?”

He’d expected a full-blown, objectified description about this non-existent girl’s hotness, but all he got was a curt “You’ll see” returned back to him.

What in the world —

“What do you mean, ‘you’ll see’?” Kaleb demanded angrily over the distant, ghostly laughter of children. “There couldn’t have been a girl in there! You know the old witch is and will forever be an absolute hermit!” A heavy, suffocating fog of silence settled like ashy residue from a recent volcanic eruption.

Witchlight Manor stood at the end of the neighborhood, still intact even after a couple centuries. Mrs. Hepzibah Harwood, the solitary resident after her niece’s mysterious death, blatantly refused to step out of the premises of her ancient homestead. Although there’d been no evidence to pinpoint the suspect, the neighbors had decided that Mrs. Harwood had boiled Alice alive in a cauldron, just as she’d done to her husband thirty years ago.

“So what?”

Kaleb jerked himself out of his private thoughts. “Huh?”

Jonas sighed exasperatedly. “It’s all over your face, man. I know she’s a witch and whatnot, but will you please calm down and maybe allow your brain to mature? It’ll do some good to the five-year-old grown-ups that live around here.”

Kaleb shook his head. “You’re a newbie, Jonas. You haven’t been around long enough to hear enough.”

“Now you sound like my great-grandfather when he drones on about his slightly-depressing childhood days he survived without proper television channels.”

“Jonas — ”

“Look, Kaleb.” Jonas spun around, an unidentifiable spark blinking in his gray eyes. “Dude, you just have to trust me, okay? My parents think I’ve got a screw loose or something, and so will everyone else if I blurt it out to the rest of the world. You’re the only one I can possibly depend on right now. So tell me if she’s real or not when we get there.”

The hazel-eyed boy opened his mouth to protest, but closed it again, shocked by the passionate desperation that seemed to drive his friend into oblivion. Wordlessly, he shuffled towards Witchlight Manor, Jonas trailing by his side.

They simultaneously reached the weather-beaten door — a gray barrier that seemed to have been robbed of its colors as time passed. Cautiously, with slightly trembling fingers, Jonas reached for the knocker flaking with rust-

And let out a petrified scream.

Kaleb jumped back as an eye, blood-red, peered at them through the crack of the ajar door. And it remained there with an unblinking, unmoving stare – the creepy sort that summoned goosebumps from even the most audacious people.

Before either of them could unfreeze themselves to provide any sort of lame explanation, a broken, high-pitched, almost hysterical stream of screaming gibberish was thrown in their faces as the door banged shut. The two friends stood, wide-eyed, immobile, and peppered with goosebumps. The world seemed to stand still with them — quietly and submissively — as the warmth sluggishly resurrected itself.

“Instrument of the Devil,” Jonas muttered under his breath. Kaleb nodded robotically in agreement and turned, only to be pulled back by an acute, numbing frost that stole his breath away and left the insides of his mouth parched.


Pale, thin, transparent, and beautiful fingers. He wouldn’t have been so freaked out if they didn’t appear so unreal.

Beside him, Jonas inhaled sharply in wild excitement as Kaleb’s eyes trailed up towards the hauntingly bewitching face.

A girl.

Ash-black curls cascaded down her back, and her blue eyes — amazingly, breathtakingly blue yet so hauntingly devoid of any sort of sentiment — bore into his own.

“Kaleb.” The innocent rose-petal lips moved, planting his name on his cheek with miniscule explosions of electricity. He could almost feel her lips moving against his ear – lovely, enchanting, and sincere. “Thank you. You’re giving it up so easily.”

“Giving what up?”

The terrible, gleeful, unfathomable giggle tinkled into his ear canals — a last-minute flicker of change before a chilling blade buried itself into his ribcage, feeding on his blood. “Your life.”