The sounds of footsteps in the attic registered slowly in her sleep drugged mind. She was wide awake in an instant but then she lay back on her pillow. She knew she could not do anything about this, she knew her family had made a mistake when they moved into this house. She turned on her and still could feel the footsteps in the attic. She was pretty sure there was something, human, animal or spiritual, locked up there but her father always forbids her to go there. She knew she will check it out eventually. Little did she know that her life would take a U-turn if she took one step towards that attic? Sometimes, when she was alone, she could hear voices. Great cries of agony, as if someone was in pain up there or sometimes she heard weird laughs. When she discussed this with her family, they laughed at her because no one else heard such voices. Positioning a pillow over her head to muffle the sounds, she went back to sleep.
The library was packed but still she managed to grab a chair. With her books in front of her, she sat down to study. Fifteen minutes of trying hard to study, she closed her books and leaned her head on her arms. Her mind kept going to the attic, the voices there, the vibes coming from there. She was certain that either it was haunted or someone was locked there. Her friend, Anne, came just then and dropped in beside her.
“What’s happening?” she asked, turning towards her. “Sarah, what’s the matter?”
“It’s the new house,” she told her, “I think it’s haunted. I hear all sorts of voices which no one else in the house can hear. The direction of the voices is from only one side and that is the attic. I want to go there and see but my dad, as you know how paranoid he is, has forbidden me to go there.”
“Hmm, so what kind of voices are these?” Anne, her friend inquired.
“It seems like someone is in pain. I want to go and check it out.”
“But, if you dad forbid you, then there must be some danger.” Anne looked at her, their eyes met and there were identical expressions on both the girls’ faces.
“When? How?” they both said in unison and smiled. Sarah lowered her voice.
“Tomorrow my family is going to a wedding.” Her grin was devilish. Anne nodded.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, then!” she promised and left.
The clock chimed the hour of twelve and the excitement in both girls was growing. Their eyes kept drifting towards it, waiting for the exact moment. Their excitement heightened, hearts beating fast, their breath shallow. Anne looked at Sarah as her eyes widened in recognition. She signaled Anne to follow her. Holding a candle, Sarah inched up the stair with Anne following her, their heartbeat fast; cheeks flushed due to adrenaline their rush. The attic was darkened; the wooden boxes seemed like ghosts in the moonlight. Anne drew nearer to Sarah.
“There is no-one here, Sarah! Let’s go back home!” she said in a scared voice. Sarah turned to look at her.
“Are you being coward now?” she asked, and then she started to laugh. Anne, being afraid, was humorous to her. She laughed hard, tears of joy streaming down her face. She looked at her white face, her eyes wide with fear.
“Sarah!” she choked.
“Come on, Anne! How scary can it be?” Sarah mocked her, bent on teasing her. Anne was watching something beyond Sarah; she quickly grabbed Sarah’s hand and turned her around. Sarah’s eyed widened in shock. Both girls had identical expressions on their face, an expression of shock. Standing in front of them was Sarah’s uncle, whom they all thought had drowned two years before. Sarah stood watching him, speechless.
“Uncle! What are you doing here?” Anne asked the question since Sarah was in a shock paralysis. Two years ago, Sarah’s family and her father’s brother’s family went on a holiday together to the island near San Juan. Three days later, her father and uncle left for some surfing and her uncle never came back alive. All they knew was that he was lost in the tides and his body not found. So, when his body was lost in the tides, how was he alive? That question kept coming to Sarah’s mind.
“Uncle Sam?” Sarah said, disbelieving. “Uncle Sam, how come you are here?” He looked at her with a blank, glassy look. He didn’t recognize her, Sarah realized.
Sam knew this was the time and opportunity to act upon it. He would not get another chance like this again. He didn’t know who she was and why she called him Uncle Sam but his urge was uncontrollable. He took out the knife at his side, contemplating. He craved blood like a starving man craved food. He wanted to be strong but day by day he was weakening. The younger girl had inched out of the room, he noticed. She was nowhere to be seen. Holding his knife steady, he moved closer to Sarah. She was staring at him in bewilderment.
“Uncle, what’s wrong? Why won’t you speak to me? I am your little Sarah!” she wanted to stall, ask for answers and it was then she saw the knife in his hand. Her mind registered panic before she took a step back. He came slowly towards her, knife poised at her throat. Sarah knew she was going to die and tears burnt at the back of her eyes. Instantly, there was a boom as the door crashed on its hinges and her father strode in. He fired his gun, making her uncle drop the knife and rushed to her side. Behind him, he motioned two guards to lock his uncle back into his cell. Sarah became conscious sometime later, watching her dad sitting there with her.
“Daddy, how come Uncle Sam is locked up here?” this was the question he was dreading and one that he was supposed to answer.
“Daughter, he was found right after our surf expedition. He was unconscious with a big bruise on his head. The doctors were afraid that he had some damage and we couldn’t test him until he was awake, so we waited. A few hours later, when he came about, he lunged for the nurses, trying to kill them with a knife. He would repeatedly say that he wanted blood, he craved it and if we don’t give it to him, he will kill us all. The doctors suggested placing him in an asylum but I am mistrustful of them places so I brought him here with us, locked him up so that he couldn’t hurt anyone.” He finished.
“But daddy is he the one who makes those voices? Of someone being in pain, as if they are being tortured?” she asked, confused.
“Yes, when his urge is out of control he screams, breaks things, lashes out. Those are the noises you hear, and for your safety I had forbidden you to come up here.” Sarah was speechless.
“Come, let’s go back now. Your uncle has been taken care of.” Her father held her in his arms he descended the stairs. Anne was standing at the bottom, looking worried. Sarah gave her a small smile.
“If it wasn’t for Anne, I wouldn’t have been able to come there on time Sarah.” He told her, with anger.
“I am sorry, papa.” Sarah said. “I love you!” she hugged him.
Her father smiled and patted his only child.