This story is by Allegra Walker and was part of our 2017 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Four girls – Felicia, Missy, Phoebe, and Hannah – were standing in a group at their high school and chatting about their plans for the weekend when they were approached by a classmate, Lucy Hayes. Lucy Hayes was quiet and bookish. She was the top student in all her classes, but she had no friends. Lucy took a deep breath, and said, “I’m having a party this Saturday evening. All four of you are welcome to come.”
Felicia grinned, and Hannah and Missy stifled giggles. Phoebe said rather unapologetically, “We can’t come. We have plans this weekend.”
“Oh.” Lucy’s face was blank. “Well, that’s alright, then.” She turned around.
As soon as Lucy had turned her back, the girls burst out laughing. Felicia said loudly, so that everyone around them could hear, “A party? Good thing we’re not going, girls. Lucy Hayes is such a nerd. She probably spends her Saturday nights reading books, or something. This party is going to be awful.”
They laughed even harder. Lucy had frozen and turned around to face them. “Um, Felicia?” said Hannah nervously. “I think she heard you.”
“Why should I care?” said Felicia, with a dismissive wave of her hand
“It’s going to be a great party,” said Lucy. “You’ll regret not going. And you’ll regret not reading those books, too.”
They ignored her.
Three days before the party, Hannah received a text:
Hey, I wanted to ask again if you could come to my party
Hannah smiled and shook her head. What a loner. She typed a quick “no.”
Hannah returned to what she had been doing a moment ago – making some nice gingerbread cookies. Humming to herself, she got back to work. She had just covered a cookie sheet with gingerbread shapes when she felt a tap on her shoulder.
“You forgot to preheat the oven,” someone said in her ear.
Hannah jumped. An old woman was standing right there! “Who are you?” she cried.
The woman raised an eyebrow. “I’m the new housekeeper, obviously. Anyway, what I was saying was that you forgot to preheat the oven.”
“Oh.” Hannah went over to the oven. “How hot do you think it should be?”
“Three hundred and seventy five should do.”
“Alright.” She turned the dial to 375.
“Look,” said the old woman, opening the oven. “There’s a big greasy stain in this oven, and you need to clean it immediately or it will become permanent.”
“Okay,” said Hannah. She grabbed a paper towel and started to reach toward the dial. “I’ll turn the heat off, then.”
“No, don’t bother.” The woman smiled. “It will only take a few moments. The oven won’t even be warm by the time you’re finished.”
So Hannah crouched down and stuck her arm into the oven, straining to reach. “I can’t quite reach it!”
“Then reach a little further!” said the old woman. “Don’t be afraid to stick your head in.”
Hannah did so. And then, with a mighty push, the old woman shoved her into the oven, legs and all. As Hannah screamed, the old woman slammed the oven door shut. She cackled, “Should’ve been more careful, you witch.”
For a while, Hannah banged on the oven door and screamed. But pretty soon, she fell silent, and a burning smell started to fill the kitchen. The cookies were left neglected on the counter.
Two days before the party, Phoebe sat in her backyard and grinned at her report card. All A’s. Her parents would be pleased.
Alright, maybe she had cheated. Maybe a friend of a friend had written all of her essays for her. But an A was an A, right?
That friend of a friend, a boy named Christophe, was now sitting beside her in the yard. “I’m glad I could help.”
“Thank you! What would I do without you?” Phoebe hoped that he’d offer to help again.
Her phone buzzed. Picking it up, she saw a text:
The party’s only in two days! Wanna come?
Phoebe chuckled. So lame. “Nah,” she sent, and turned back to Christophe.
“But now that you’ve gotten the result you wanted,” said Christophe, standing up and facing her, “you have to give me something in return. It’s a bargain, remember?”
“I’d be glad to pay you,” said Phoebe. “How much do you want?”
“Oh, I don’t want money.” Christophe’s eyes gleamed red. “I want your soul.”
Suddenly, he turned into a hideous demon. Phoebe screamed and tried to run away, but he grabbed her with his long claws. She kicked and struggled. He was dragging her, dragging her toward a crack in the ground that had not been there a moment before. As she fell into the seemingly bottomless pit with the monster, Christophe cried, “Hell awaits you!”
One day before the party, Missy’s parents weren’t home, and she was bored. She got a text from Lucy Hayes –
The party’s tomorrow, you can still come!
-but chose to ignore it. With nothing to do, she started to look through her mother’s closet. To her surprise, she found her mother’s wedding dress almost immediately, as if it had been waiting for her. Unable to resist the urge, she tried it on, and giggled at herself in the mirror. But the giggles soon dissolved into tears as she remembered how she had wanted to marry her boyfriend, who had broken up with her just a week ago.
Sobbing, Missy didn’t even notice at first that the dress had spontaneously caught fire. And when she did notice, it was too late. The dress was really flaring up, and Missy was too panicked to get out of it. She screamed, and kept screaming as the flames ate the fabric away, eventually moving beyond the dress, into her skin.
On the day of the party, Felicia was extremely scared and concerned. In the past three days, all of her friends had gone missing. Their plans for Saturday night were canceled, apparently.
So when she got a text from Lucy Hayes asking if she could come to the party, Felicia decided to go. Perhaps it would be comforting to spend time with a classmate, even if said classmate was Lucy Hayes.
No one seemed to be at Lucy’s house when Felicia arrived, but Lucy immediately told her, “Your friends are in the basement waiting for you. Come, I’ll show you.”
Curious, Felicia followed Lucy into her house, down the stairs, and into the basement. It was the biggest basement Felicia had ever seen, almost resembling catacombs. She was just starting to wonder what was going on when they reached a dead end. Lucy pointed at a shadowy crack in the wall and said, “The others are waiting.”
“Um….” Felicia was more than a little creeped out, but she stepped through the crack, Lucy close behind her.
Something was wrong. This was just a shallow niche in the wall, and there was no one here. In fact, nothing was in here at all except for some chains pinned to the wall.
Suddenly Lucy tackled Felicia from behind. Felicia, who never would have expected Lucy to be so strong, was helpless. Pretty soon, Felicia found herself chained to the wall.
Lucy’s eyes gleamed red as she stepped out of the niche and started to pick up and assemble bricks in the crack.
“What are you doing?” screamed Felicia. “Where are my friends?”
“You made fun of me for reading books. How do you think they died?”
“I don’t know! I don’t read books!”
“Tsk, tsk. It’s your own fault, then. You should at least recognize Hannah’s death – pushed into an oven, like the witch in ‘Hansel and Gretel.’”
“Because she was a witch to me, obviously. A witch who loved gingerbread.”
“I have certain powers. Phoebe was next. She was like Faust. She’d exchanged power (that is, good grades) for her soul, so I gave her a proper Faustian ending, letting her get dragged into Hell. With poor, heartbroken Missy, I tried to emulate Miss Havisham from Great Expectations, who died when her wedding dress caught fire.”
Tears streamed down Felicia’s face. “Why are you doing this to us?”
The wall that Lucy was building in the crack was almost done. “I gave every one of your friends one last chance to come to my party. They all failed the test, so they died.”
“But Lucy, I didn’t fail! I came to your party!”
“Well, I was never going to let you live. You were simply too despicable. You’re Fortunato in ‘The Cask of Amontillado,’ and I’m Montresor. You insulted me and embarrassed me in front of everyone, and I’m now carrying out my revenge. Did Montresor ever give Fortunato a second chance? No. You never deserved a second chance, either, so here you are, about to die.”
“You- You can’t do this!” cried Felicia.
“Yes, I can,” said Lucy cheerfully.
“It’s called immurement, honey”
Felicia was left alone in the dark. Immurement, indeed.
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