The little cabin in the woods had been empty for nearly a decade by the time Tabitha entered it. All that time being abandoned had caused it to fall into a heavy state of disrepair.
The damp, somewhat humid and musty smelling air, the old broken down furniture, everything about the place had a haunted feel. It was exactly what Tabitha needed.
She had found the place a couple of weeks ago when she'd been wandering through the trees, bored. She'd asked her parents about it. They didn't know who built it but they did know it hadn't been used in years. Maybe some old hunting cabin her dad had suggested. Being responsible parents they had made it clear she was not to go near it.
She already knew exactly what she wanted to do. Tabitha had decided her and a few of her friends were going to have a sleepover. She couldn't wait to see their faces when she showed them where they'd be spending the night.
Her friends reactions were mixed. Erica loved it while Katie and Destiny were less than thrilled. The twilight sky made the cabin look even more eerie than it had during the day she'd first stumbled across it.
Katie was the first one in after Tabitha while other two girls shuffled in after her. Erica dumped her sleeping bag on the floor and plopped down to start digging into her backpack.
Tabitha had told them to bring sleeping bags and camp lanterns. After the lanterns were lit, the four of them looked around the desolate living room. Katie wrinkled her nose in disgust. 'I'd rather sleep in the woods.' She declared.
'Well, at least it's warm.' Destiny told her. Katie just shrugged and began brushing off an area of the floor before putting her things down. 'It does smell pretty bad in here though.'
Tabitha made her way to a small window a few feet from the door and slid it open, letting in the fresh nighttime air. 'Problem solved.'
'What's with the creepy cabin Tabby?' It was Erica who broke the silence. At her question, all the girls turned to Tabitha, waiting for her answer.
She took a deep breath and looked at them before speaking. She'd been preparing her story for over a week and now it was time to tell it.
'This is the old Kilner place. Old man Kilner found out his wife was having an affair. When he found out the little girl he had been raising for six years wasn't his, he went off the deep end and killed them both. Shot them right in this very cabin. They say he was raving afterwards. Consumed by guilt until he couldn't take it anymore so he drowned himself in the bathtub. Legend has it, anyone who trespasses, has to deal with his angry ghost.'
The girls stared at her in stunned silence until Katie shot to her feet, causing them all to jump. 'You brought us to a murder cabin? A haunted murder cabin? No. No way. I am not staying here.'
'Ghosts aren't real Katie.' Destiny sighed.
'So not the point. What if there's bodies here or something? I mean, do we know what he did with them? Maybe he shoved them in a closet or buried them under the floorboards.' She countered.
'Tabitha shook her head. 'We'll be fine. We're all here. We'll keep each other safe. And there's no bodies here. Promise. She had wanted to scare them a little but she hadn't expected Katie to react so strongly.
She wasn't hearing it though. 'Forget it. I'm going.'
Tabitha sighed. 'Katie, relax. It was just a joke. It's not real.'
She froze. 'Seriously?'
'I've been working on the story since I found the place.'
Katie eyed her warily. 'You really made it up?'
Katie sighed and slumped back to the floor. 'Good. I didn't want to walk in the woods alone anyway.'
They spent a good part of the night sharing snacks and gossip until they finally decided to turn in around two thirty in the morning. They were just dozing off when they heard a loud bang that had them all sitting up and staring at each other nervously.
Destiny let out a breath as she looked around the room. 'Guys, it was just the window. Must have slammed shut.'
All four girls let out a collective sigh of relief and huddled a bit closer together before dozing off again.
A half hour later, Tabitha woke up to the sound of light scratching. She tried to ignore it but as she did, it got louder. She heard something shift on her right and whipped around to see Katie staring at her with wide, frightened eyes.
'You hear it too. The scratching?'
Tabitha nodded and put her finger to her lips. The other two girls were still sleeping soundly and she didn't want to wake them.
'It's probably an animal.' She whispered in what she hoped was a reassuring tone.
'Yeah. Maybe.' Katie hugged her knees. 'I can't sleep.'
'Have you been awake the whole time?'
Katie nodded and looked over at Destiny who was muttering in her sleep.
'I was just laying here, thinking about your story and the scratching started.'
Tabitha frowned and moved closer to her friend.
'Sorry about that. It was mean.'
'It's cool. I shouldn't have freaked out the way I did. You just made it seem so real, you know?' She smiled. 'You did a good job.'
The creaking of a floorboard in the other room along with the steady sound of heavy footsteps made them both freeze. The other girls were still asleep so who was pacing in the kitchen?
'Guys, keep it down would ya?' Murmured Erica as she rolled over and went back to sleep.
Destiny shot up suddenly, terrified and shook the other girl awake. 'Wake up. It's not them.'
Erica opened her mouth and Destiny quickly shushed her. Realization worked it's way onto Ericas face as she saw that all of her friends were still in the room.
Who? She mouthed to the girls.
Katie got to her feet and made a beeline for the door intent on getting out as fast as possible but the knob wouldn't turn. At her frustrated growl, the footsteps in the kitchen stopped.
They waited in tense silence, four pairs of eyes glued to the darkened doorway. After a solid five minutes, there was still nothing and Destiny had had enough. She got up, grabbed a lantern and walked over to the kitchen picking up a broken piece of wood on her way.
Tabitha followed slowly. She was the one who insisted they spend the night here so she was responsible if her friend got hurt.
Katie gave her a pleading look, still too afraid to talk and Erica just sat there, frozen.
'What the hell?' Destiny whispered as she shined the light into the kitchen. The very much empty kitchen. 'We all heard that, right?'
They nodded their heads.
'Maybe they left?'
Destiny looked at Tabitha incredulously. 'From where? There's only one door in and out of this place.'
They surveyed the kitchen and checked the little bathroom off to the side before going back into the Livingroom. The only other room in the cabin was a small bedroom right off the Livingroom and nobody could have gotten by without Erica noticing.
There was a loud scream from the bathroom and all three girls ran. Tabitha was the first to reach the doorway. Katie whirled on her, eyes somehow managing to convey both rage and fear. 'I thought you said you made it up!' She screamed.
'What are you-' Katie continued to yell drowning out Ericas question.
'You said it wasn't real! You lied! You lied and now we're all going to suffer! We're trapped in this creepy cabin with some murderous ghost!' Katie finally seemed to run out of steam and sank to the floor crying. 'It's real. It's real and it's going to kill us.' She muttered hugging herself and rocking on the bathroom floor.
Destiny reached for her but she jerked away, still mumbling under her breath too low for them to hear now.
The three girls looked at each other. Erica motioned for them to follow her into the other room.
'We need to get her out of here. Can someone call her parents? I would but my cell is dead.'
Destiny and Tabitha pulled out their phones. 'Mine too.' They said in unison.
'Wait, all of our phones are dead? How is that possible?' Destiny asked.
Erica hesitated 'There is one possibility.' They looked at her. 'I've heard spirits can drain batteries.'
'That's insane! I told you this place isn't haunted. I made the whole thing up!'
Destiny frowned and lifted a shoulder. 'I don't know Tabs, I don't normally buy into that kind of thing but how else do you explain everything? The dead phones, the footsteps, and something really freaked Katie out in the bathroom. I'm gonna go check on her. See if I can get her to talk.'
Erica and Tabitha listened but couldn't make anything out.
Tabitha turned to her. 'You really think it might be a ghost?'
'It's possible.' Their conversation was cut short by the sound of something metallic being tapped against wood in a steady rhythm. There was now a man standing in the kitchen doorway not three feet from them, holding a gun and staring directly at them.
'What the hell are you doing in my house?' He demanded pointing the gun at them.
'Your house? You're the-the ghost?' Tabitha asked shakily.
The man stopped dead and burst out laughing. 'Ghost? I'm not a ghost little girl. But you still didn't answer my question. What are you doing in my house?' He turned and called in the direction of the bathroom. 'Come on out. See if you can't get your friend there to calm down huh?'
Destiny came out of the bathroom gently dragging Katie with her. She was careful not to take her eyes off the man and his gun.
The man sighed and lowered the gun slowly before placing it in a holster on his hip and putting his hands up.
'I'm not going to shoot a bunch of teenagers. Especially girls.' He assured them. 'Thought you were thieves.'
Tabitha took a deep breath. She felt a little more at ease now that there was no longer a gun pointed at her. 'We thought this place was abandoned.' She said by way of explanation.
'It was up until I inherited it from my uncle a couple weeks ago. Got a lot of work to do to make it livable but I plan on fixing it up.'
Katie had finally stopped crying though she was still shaky.
'We thought we heard footsteps in the kitchen. And I saw someone, you go through the kitchen wall just before I closed the bathroom door!' She told him watching him warily.
He laughed again. 'I wasn't going through the wall girl. There's a hidden door I use to get in and out. I saw lights on and came in to check. I saw more than one person and figured I'd better go get my gun.'
'Then how do you explain the front door? It won't let us out.' Destiny questioned.
'Easy. Place is old. The door sticks. That's why I don't use it. Now, here's what's gonna happen, I'm gonna leave and when I come back in four hours, you'll be gone, got it? Use the door in the kitchen.'
Tabitha looked at the man in disbelief. 'You're letting us stay, why?'
'I can't stay here with four teenage girls. It wouldn't look right and I'm not sending you out into the woods in the dark. But as soon as the sun comes up, you need to leave. Unless you want your parents to find out about your little adventure...'
All four girls shook their heads and the man left. Over the next few hours despite knowing the place wasn't haunted, none of them slept and as soon as it was bright enough for them to see, they left and promised themselves and each other that they would never go back.