“Everybody, I need your ideas on what the next great horror franchise will be,” Art Kollins, the head of Tigerfence movie studios, said. He sat at the front of the conference table staring at the group of screenplay writers and production staff.
“How about a story about a ghost haunting an orphanage? Ninety minutes where nothing happens with a budget less than a million,” Leo Maziky suggested.
“Brilliant. Sounds like a blockbuster in the making,” Art said excitedly.
“Using lighting and sound effects, we wouldn’t have to unveil what the ghost looks like until the last ten minutes,” Leo continued.
“People will eat it up.” Art wiped the saliva from the corner of his mouth. He loved what he was hearing.
“We can also have a cat jump out of a closet to put a cheap scare into the viewers,” Helena Smith, another script writer, added.
“Audiences love cat scares,” Leo agreed.
“And the plot?” Art asked.
“Doesn’t need one. As long as we can every twenty minutes throw out a cheap scare, we have a hit,” Helena said.
“Leo and Helena can quickly write the script while Tamara and Stephen can work on the set designs. Make it as eerie as possible,” Art said.
Leo and Helena sat at the back table of the diner across from the movie studio throwing story ideas back and forth. Helena was reading from her tablet a story about a supposed haunted orphanage that had been abandoned since the fifties. Leo watched her closely as she read. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever met. Her long raven-black hair ran down past her shoulders. She was very short and petite.
“Leo, the orphanage is only a five hour drive from here. Let’s spend the night there.”
“In a haunted orphanage?”
“Yes, imagine how authentic our script will be if we stay there. If we’re lucky, we may encounter a ghost.”
“Don’t you mean unlucky?”
“Maybe Stephen and Tamara will want to join us.”
Before he could say anything, she was on her phone talking to Tamara. “Cool. Meet us at the diner.”
“I take it they’re on board.”
“We’ll need to pick up some flashlights.”
Thirty minutes later, the door to the diner opened and Stephen and Tamara walked in. Tamara had her blonde hair tied in a bun. Stephen was wearing camping gear and carried a large duffle bag.
“Stephen, we are only spending the night,” Helena said.
“I brought plenty of munchies. I’m also prepared for any dangers.” He unzipped the duffel bag exposing a rifle.
“Expecting a ghost of a killer deer?” Leo asked.
“You never know what may be lurking around there,” Stephen said in a deep scary voice.
“We better get going while there is still daylight left,” Tamara advised.
“I just checked my weather app. There are thunderstorms in the forecast,” Helena said.
“Mother Nature, bring it on!” Leo shouted as he exited the diner.
“Yep, he’ll be the first to die,” Tamara chuckled.
After a several hour drive, they drove off the main road and followed a narrow dirt road leading to the orphanage. The road led them through a wooded area that appeared to have been undisturbed for a long time. The sky was darkening as it was filled with storm clouds. Leo slammed on his breaks to avoid hitting a deer that jumped out from the trees to the right.
“Leo, are you all right?” Helena asked as she watched him trying to regain his composure.
“It came out of nowhere.”
“Leo, maybe it was the killer ghost deer.”
“Stephen, that’s not funny,” Tamara said as she punched his arm.
“Are we going to continue or are you too scared now?” Helena asked.
“I’m fine,” he said and drove forward.
A mile up the road they could see the orphanage. It was a large building all boarded up. The grass was almost five feet tall, being neglected for many years, making it hard for them to see the orphanage from the road. They pulled into the dirt driveway leading to the front of the orphanage. As they exited the vehicle, they were hit by the stench of decay.
“Check to see if there is any tools in the trunk. The front door is boarded up,” Helena said.
“Helena, judging by the look of the wood, it will probably crumble in our hands,” Leo said as he touched the wood. Stephen brought over a hammer and Leo used it to pry off the wood nailed to the front door. After a couple of minutes, he had them all removed.
“Who wants to go first?” Stephen asked. He waited a few minutes for someone to volunteer. “Fine, I will.” He grabbed the rusted door knob and pulled on the door. At first it didn’t want to budge, but then he was able to slowly open it. It made a loud screeching sound as it hadn’t been opened in decades. They were instantly hit with a sour smell worse than the one they were smelling outside.
Leo shined his flashlight into the foyer. Inside was a long corridor with hallways leading to the left and the right. There was a large staircase toward the back next to a door marked admittance office. There was a tall statue adjacent to the staircase. As he shined the flashlight on the floor, mice scattered in every direction.
“Forget designing sets. This place is perfect for filming a movie,” Stephen said excitedly. “And this is just the foyer. Imagine what the rest of the place looks like. I wonder what’s upstairs.”
“Let’s investigate down here first before venturing upward. Be careful. We don’t know what the condition of this place might be. The steps on the staircase could be rotted through as well as the upstairs flooring. We don’t want one of us accidentally falling to our deaths,” Leo warned.
Helena and Tamara both jumped as they heard the loud sound of thunder outside. The front door slammed violently behind them.
“The wind?” Tamara asked
“Probably from the storm,” Stephen suggested.
Helena pulled out her smart phone to check the weather forecast, but she couldn’t connect to the internet.
“We are in the middle of nowhere. I doubt there is any signal out here,” Leo said.
They followed the hallway to the right which led to what used to be the dining room. The room brightened briefly from the flash of lightning outside.
“This is going to be a long night,” Tamara said nervously.
“But a fun one,” Stephen said, nudging her.
“Stephen, stop it.”
“I’m assuming the kitchen is this way,” Helena guessed as she pushed the swinging door forward which fell off its hinges and landed on the floor. “Time hasn’t been good to this place.”
The window behind them burst inward as a large branch from the tree outside crashed through. They could hear the roar of a tornado nearby.
“I hope it’s not heading in our direction.” Leo walked over to the window and looked out. “I can see it in the distance. It looks massive.”
Helena walked over to him and looked for herself. “I don’t think this place could withstand somebody outside sneezing on it. It looks like it’s heading in the opposite direction.”
“Can we resume the tour?” Stephen asked.
“Until the severe storm passes we should stay on the lower level,” Leo suggested, moving away from the window.
They continued through the kitchen and back down the hallway to the foyer.
“Look at the statue over there.” Stephen shined his flashlight at the statue’s head. It depicted an elderly man with a mustache and a monocle on his left eye. The name plate on the bottom of the statue read: Lord William Acland. He looked back up and jumped back when he thought the statue’s eyes had moved.
“Getting jittery?” Tamara asked, nudging him.
“His eyes moved.”
“It’s just your mind playing tricks on you. You’re in a haunted house,” Leo reminded him.
“Just my mind playing tricks,” he repeated to himself.
“Let’s see where the hallway to the left leads,” Leo suggested.
The group followed him down the hallway into a large room filled with empty bookshelves. They could hear the sound of heavy rain falling from outside with continuous loud thunder. The room instantly went dark as all four of their flashlights went out. Tamara screamed as she felt something large brush against her leg.
“Tamara!” Stephen tried to feel his way toward her in the pitch dark. “I can’t find you.”
“I’m over here,” she cried.
Leo repeatedly pressed the button on his flashlight. “I think the battery is dead.”
“How can all of our flashlight batteries go dead at the same time?” Helena asked.
“Not sure.” Leo answered.
Tamara jumped as Stephen put his hand on her shoulder. “It’s just me.”
“I’m starting to think this was a bad idea,” Tamara said, trying not to go into a panic attack.
All of their flashlights suddenly came back on. In the corner of the room was a large raccoon staring at them. It ran away as Leo shined his flashlight at it.
“At least it wasn’t a cat,” Stephen said.
“Not funny,” Tamara said softly.
“All of our flashlights went off and back on at the same time. It’s too area 51ish,” Helena said puzzled.
“Guys, we’re here for inspiration for a horror movie not a sci-fi one,” Stephen pointed out.
“Why can’t it be a little of both?” Leo asked.
“Budgetary reasons. Good horror movies can be done with little or no money. Sci-fi can’t.”
“Stephen has a point,” Helena said.
“The rain has stopped. I can see the moon poking out behind the storm clouds,” Leo said as he stared out the window. “I think it may be safe enough to venture upstairs now.”
They all followed behind Leo in a single file. They slowly walked up the stairs each step squeaking under their feet. They reached the second floor and there were six doors along the hallway. Leo opened the first one on the left. Inside the room were six beds along with a large book case filled with a vast doll collection covered in dust and spider webs. He touched one of the dolls and its brittle dress crumbled in his hand. He shined his flashlight on the dolls and felt a shiver run down his spine as he realized all the dolls were missing their eyes.
“Now that’s creepy,” Helena said, inspecting the dolls closely. “Who would do that to them?”
“Maybe it happened over time from being neglected in this place.” Leo shined his flashlight toward the beds. All the mattresses were ripped apart probably from all the mice they had been seeing throughout the place.
“Still, it’s creepy looking. I’m getting a lot of ideas for a great script,” Helena said with a smile.
Tamara dropped her flashlight when she heard the screams from what sounded like a little child.
“Sounds like it’s coming from across the hall,” Leo said.
“We’re the only ones here, right?” Tamara asked.
The screams were getting louder and now it sounded like a whole group of children were screaming. They could also hear what sounded like a whip being cracked repeatedly.
“Somebody’s being tortured!” Tamara shouted frantically.
The screams suddenly stopped, and they heard loud footprints heading toward them. A large glowing green specter slowly floated into the room and stared at them with glowing red eyes. It tightly held a large whip in its hands. It opened its mouth wide, and they could hear the loud screaming again emanating from it. It closed its mouth and the screaming stopped. It cracked the whip toward them causing them to jump backward. Satisfied they were afraid of it, it floated out of the room. Again they heard the sounds of the screaming children and the whip cracking repeatedly.
“That’s our cue to leave,” Leo said.
Continue to part two: http://bit.ly/1R9591S