You are overcome with worry. “Am I stuck here, too?”
“You can go out the way you came,” Gerard says. “You are not bound here. None of us is. We choose to stay.”
“This is something I have to do,” Will explains. “I don’t expect you to understand.”
From the shadows, you hear a childlike giggle. “Something I have to do,” the young voice mimics derisively.
Gerard’s eyes practically bulge out of their sockets. “No,” he whispers. “Not again.”
The childlike voice cackles. “Again.”
The lights go out. You hear skittering noises moving around the room.
In the darkness, you hear Gerard shout. “What did you do? How did they find us?” You plainly hear panic in his voice.
“They find you,” the childlike voice says. The lights turn back on. A number of bones have been pulled from the walls and arranged in a perverted display, assembled to depict three people in the act of fornication. They gyrate slowly in mocking display of lust.
“They find you,” the voice repeats.
Will looks at you. “How did you get into the house?”
“I broke a window.”
His face drops. “You did what?”
“What?” Gerard grabs Will by his sleeve. “Does that mean what I fear it means?”
“The seal is broken,” Will says, resigned.
A chorus of childlike voices giddily sing in unison,“the seal is broken.”
“No,” Gerard says. He begins to push you and your brother toward the stairs. “Get out. Get out now.”
The land begins to shift beneath you. A small hand reaches out from the dirt and grabs at your ankle. You kick it off. “Stay,” the voices say. “Help us. Free us.”
“We can’t leave,” Will argues. “We have to stop—“
Gerard interrupts him. “There is no stopping them now. You will be lucky to get out with your life, let alone your sanity.”
“There is no ‘we,’ anymore, Will. I will stay. You will close the portal.” Gerard glares at you. “Couldn’t obey the fucking note.”
The childlike voices gasp, then giggle. “Fucking note.”
“I’m not leaving without you,” Will declares.
“I doesn’t matter,” Gerard says. “If they make it to the portal, all our work is for naught.”
“All for naught,” the voices say with glee.
Seven small skeletons float at the edge of the darkness. They are barely there, slight enough that if you squint they might disappear entirely. They levitate slowly toward you, growing more substantial as they do. They inch closer, and details seem to appear out of nowhere. Eyeballs appear in once-empty sockets. Muscles and sinew form around bone. Cartilage grows over nasal cavities and around ear canals.
Gerard looks at you, forlorn. He turns away and walks toward the children.