When Corey's sister commits suicide, his family is distraught. Ten years on, and the hole she left still hasn't healed over. The unanswered question remains: why did she decide to die? Soon her secret is revealed to Corey, and he is left to fight for survival, his dead sister haunting his dreams. But she is only a memory. After all ghosts and daemons are just make-believe...... Right? WARNING: There are scenes of violence and strong language some readers may find offensive... Hence the yellow rating.


2. Chapter One - The Worst Day

Chapter One


                I was five when my sister died.

Maybe died is the wrong word. ‘Committed suicide’ is a more accurate term for what happened to her.

My parents couldn’t believe it when they opened the door to a police officer with his hat in his hands and a sympathetic expression on his face. A grizzled old man stood behind him, gripping his walking stick so tightly his knuckles has turned white. His skin was pasty white, as if he was ill, and he was visibly shaken.

When she saw the officer, my mother’s polite, one hundred watt smile faltered for a second. She quickly recovered, plastering a grin back on her face. Even back then she was good at faking that everything was alright when it wasn’t.

Her cheery exterior did nothing to lessen the tension that was almost visible in the air. The police officer was trying to hide a grimace, and the old man slumped down, his face darkening though still sad.

                “Hello officer,” she said in a bright cheery voice, “How can we help you?”

“I’ve come about your daughter…” he glanced down at his notes, his eyes scanning the paper he held there “Theresa?”

 “Resa? What has she done?” The tone  of a concerned parent thrummed through my mother’s voice, replacing the relaxed, happy way she had greeted the officer earlier. However, this rang with sincerity  “She’s usually such a good girl. This is the third time she’s been in trouble this week. It’s so unlike her.”

She sighed and looked at her feet, leaning against the doorframe slightly as if my sisters behaviour had caused her to lose strength. When the officer cleared his throat, my mother’s head snapped up to look at him, as if remembering we had company. For the first time she registered the old man standing there and her eyebrows furrowed in bewilderment.

“Jenna who’s at the-“

My father’s voice cut off as he saw the men standing in the doorway. He looked confused for a second, but when he glanced over at my mother any confusion he previously felt became worried. He had always been protective over her – something that only increased after this incident – and could see she was scared for my sister.

He walked over to her and put his hand on my mother’s shoulder, flashing her a reassuring smile.

“I recognise you.” He said towards the old man, his low voice echoing through the empty house behind us. “You live in the hut near the train tracks, don’t you? Employed for maintenance… and to stop people crossing who are to drunk or stupid to know better. Resa hasn’t vandalised your property or broken into your house, has she?  I promise we’ll pay for any damages, just don’t press charges.”

 Despite the calm tone with which my father spoke, the man looked shocked to be addressed by him. Any colour he had in his face, drained out, and a flame of panic appeared in his eyes. He spluttered, as if he had been struck speechless for a moment.

“I--I –“ Casting his eyes down, he closed his mouth. Whatever was affecting him had to be pretty awful.

The policeman cleared his throat for a second time, taking the attention off the old man and bringing it back to him. It was at that point he really started to get on my nerves.

 “No, his property is fine. Your daughter hasn’t done anything like that. The incident that has occurred is much more… serious. I think you should sit down before I tell you though, ma’am” he spoke gently, looking directly at my mother, who was getting more anxious by the second.

You could tell that his words were meant to help, but with his last sentence he managed to make my mother look totally terrified.  That was when I decided I didn’t like him at all.

 “Oh… O-okay. Would y-you like to come in?”

The officer ducked through the door at this, strolling through the house and into the living room as if he owned the place. The old man followed behind him, his steps tentative. He glanced at my mum, who still looked scared and flustered, and sped up.

“‘I’ll got turn the dinner off, Jenn. It looks like it’ll take a while. And I’ll sort out coffee for everyone.” My father turned to my mother, his voice low and soft, taking on the endearing tone it always did when he spoke to her. She nodded in consent, grabbing his hand a squeezing it gently.

The officer tried to protest at this, telling my dad it wasn’t necessary and that they’d be fine without a drink, a guilty look on his face the whole time, but my dad brushed off his weak argument and told us he’d only be a minute. Whistling, he strolled into the kitchen, dropping kiss on my mother’s cheek as he left.

She turned around and ushered the two strangers into the living room and I trailed after them, the hems of my too-long school trousers dragging on the carpet.

The two men settled into the two-seater sofa and I jumped up onto my mum’s lap. She smiled at me a pulled me closer to her, hugging me, making me feel loved.  The officer peered at me and, for the third time, cleared his throat. Looking back on it, it was probably a nervous tick he had.

 “Ma’m?” he said in a questioning tone.

When she looked up at him, remnants of the love in her eyes that appeared whenever she spent time with her family, he squirmed under her gaze

 “Do you think that he should leave the room? I …’ He trailed off, seeming afraid to say whatever he was going to.

“Is there reason for him to leave?” she whispered as her body tensed up. She was afraid of the answer.


 “Well… Sure.” She turned to me. “Corey, why don’t you go upstairs, get changed and get your book ready? I’ll be up soon to read to you, and we’ll have dinner. How does that sound?”

“Okay mummy... But…”

“What honey?”

“Nothing.” I mumbled and I got off of her and started to walk to the door. I wasn’t going to tell her I hated leaving these her alone with those people because I didn’t like them. She obviously trusted them, and besides, who would listen to a five year old?

When I reached the doorway a sudden thought occurred to me, so I turned back to the small group of people seated in the room I was leaving.

“Mum? When will dinner be ready?”

She smiled, as if reassured by the normality of me being obsessed with my stomach.

“Soon sweetheart, soon.”

I let a smile cross my features before  I continued on my way out of the room and up the stairs. Despite not wanting to leave my mother alone, I was happy to leave the presence of the strange men sharing the space. They unnerved me and I felt uncomfortable in their presence. Not because I felt they were bad people, in fact, I thought they were good people, but sadness and guilt seemed to roll off them in waves. The last time a person had appeared this way to me, my mother had told me that my hamster had died.

Back then, I didn’t realise how bad things were going to get; what they were going to tell us. But I knew it was bad.

I struggled up the steeper than average staircase, desperate to put distance between myself and the occupants of the front room. When I was younger my mum often jokingly called it 'Stairverest' in an attempt to get me  into bed when I was particularly hyperactive and restless.  She used to pretend we were going on an expedition, and if I got to the top and ran into bed as quickly as possible, I was the best explorer out there. Being the gullible kid I was, I fell for it every time.

When I reached the landing, I ran full pelt into my room before flopping on my bed, fingers groping for the book I knew was hidden under my pillows.

I know, I know. I had been told to get changed, but what can I say? I just wanted to read. Rebellious, right? All I cared about was finding out how the heck Alice got away from the red queen and back to this world. I wasn’t able to read most of the words, but the book had pictures accompanying every few paragraphs giving me insight into the story ahead before my mother would come up and read to me.

I understand that Alice in Wonderland is not the most obvious choice for a sports obsessed five year old, but it was my sisters favourite book, and I kind of idolised her. Which meant that by reading the book and knowing the story, I’d have an excuse to talk to her. I’d already seen the film, but when I told her, she said that the film didn’t compare to the book, and if I wanted to discuss it, I’d have to read it.

Some people may have thought it was cruel for her to say that, and she should have been happy I had seen the film on her behalf, but that wasn’t her reasoning. Resa had known the love for words that had presented itself in me, and had wanted me to enjoy the story fully. It wasn’t an attempt to push me away, but a challenge. One that I accepted with open arms.

However, when I reached under my pillow, my fingers did not find the glossy book cover they were expecting. Instead, they came in contact with the matt surface of a small, folded piece of paper that got caught on the bed sheets when I pulled it out.

My name was written on the front of the paper in an untidy scrawl I knew belonged to my sister.

I smiled.

Resa knew I loved it when she left me notes.

I unfolded the paper fingers trembling in anticipation of whatever surprise she had planned for me. After all last time it had been a treasure hunt, and the time before that she had taken me out into town for ice-cream and the library. Even back then I knew she was a great sister. Everyone I knew had older siblings that fought constantly with them, and most of them resented their brothers or sisters for it.

When I read the note, my brows furrowed and my face screwed up in contemplation, trying to work out what she meant. My first thought was 'What on earth?'. It made no sense. Was she purposely trying to confuse me? Was it encrypted with a hidden message? Or did she just honestly think I would understand?

All these ideas were running backwards and forwards in my head, when, suddenly, one rushed to the forefront of my mind.

Mum would know. Resa never took me anywhere without telling her first. She would be able to help me figure out. In fact, I bet she had helped set it up. After all, she was the one who had told me to go read, wasn’t she?

I barrelled back down the stairs, almost tripping halfway down due to the excitement of spending the afternoon with my sister, calling the woman who would help get me there the whole way.

When I reached the downstairs hallway that stairs led to, I sprinted towards the front room, navigating my way around the scattered cups, tea tray and damp patch on the carpet. That was the first clue I was given that something was not quite right.

Reducing my pace as I arrived at doorway to our front room, I paused. The silence that emanated from the place that was usually filled with sounds of life and love was broken by the occasional sorrow filled sob.

I peeked my head in, making little to no sound. Somehow my mum sensed ne there – whether from seeing me in her peripheral vision or from the soft noise my jumper made as it brushed up against the door frame, I don’t know - and her head shot round, eyes searching until the rested on my five year old self. Milliseconds later my father copied her action so they were both looking at me.

The police officer and old man, who, moments ago, were watching my parents, suddenly focused on me. I looked at them nervously, as both seemed to regard me as someone who should not be here, before returning my attention back to the two people who were staring intently at me.

When I saw their faces, I stopped in my tracks. They were both so pale and once joyful features had turned into a mask that was void of emotion. Their eyes were dim, as if they knew a dark secret, and the way they held themselves made them look five years older, almost like they had aged in the short time I was gone. They no longer looked like the kind, loving parents they had before.

“Corey?” my father asked me, his voice cracking halfway through my name. “What are you doing down here? Your mother told you to get changed.” A frown flickered across his face briefly, before being replaced with the emotionless mask once again.

I cautiously stepped into the room, glancing around at all the people that occupied the space. Everyone was looking at me, with the exception of my mother, who had resumed her inspection of the floor.

“I-I... Umm...”I stuttered, not wanting to talk in the presence of the two strangers, hating the expectant looks I was receiving. I thrust out the hand that was holding the letter and blurted out the reason I came down, unable to stand the ominous silence that had filled every crevice of the room.

“Resa left this under my pillow.”

My dad stared at the piece of paper that was clutched in my outstretched hand. I noticed a flutter of motion out of the corner of my eyes, but I disregarded it and continued looking at my dad, wondering why he was staring at the letter with an expression that seemed like he couldn’t distinguish if it was a miracle or damnation. I was confused at this; it wasn't like Resa had never left me letters in the past, but then again, I didn’t fully understand what the letter meant.

“Resa left that for you?”

The hushed voice that belonged to my mother, broke the tense environment that we were in ever since I had showed everyone the note.

I looked at her. Her clear gaze was focused on me once more, and she had sat up from her slumped position, looking alert and on edge.

“Y-yes. But it doesn't make sense. That's why I came down.” I said, knowing that everyone was watching me, my words capturing the attention of all the people in the room and holding it there, and resenting the fact I came downstairs with these men in the house.

“Can I... Can I see it?” she whispered again, her voice filled so much sorrow, I was surprised it didn’t break and fade out.

I nodded and hurried over to her, placing it gently in her hand and she cautiously folded her fingers around the paper, treating it like her last hope.

“Jenna,” my dad muttered to her. “Do you really want to know so soon?” This statement  made me even more confused than I had been a minute ago. Want to know what?

“I have to know, Robert. I have to. I can't stand not knowing.” She told him, a desperate look crossing her face. He sighed and nodded, running his fingers through his hair.

“Just.. Don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t say why. I don’t think she would have put that sort of thing in a letter to her little brother.

My mother fumbled with the paper as she opened it, fingers shaking just as mine had. Her lips formed the words as she read through the letter:

“Be brave, Corey.

You're better than I am.

I love you.

Never forget that.”

Tears spilt from my mum's eyes and she pressed a hand to her mouth to muffle a choked sob.  My father, who had been reading the letter over her shoulder, was struggling to hold back his emotions.

“Mum? Why are you crying? What does the letter mean? I don't understand.” I asked, going to her side and wrapping my arms around her, comforting her like she had done for me on so many different occasions when I was upset.

“Oh Corey...” she said through her tears, pulling me up onto her lap and pressing my face to her chest as she stroked my head.

“Sweetheart. Your sister... she.. well... She left us.”

“I know that. But she’ll be back soon. She always goes out, but she’s always home in time for dinner.”

“No, honey. She left us, like Grandma did.”

“So she’s never coming back?” I asked, confused, moving my head back, looking straight into her sorrow filled eyes.

“No honey, she’s not.”

“She's gone?”

She nodded, eyes trained on me, waiting for my reaction.

“Is.. is she with Grandma now? Are they together? I don’t want her to be alone, mummy.”

“Oh, sweetheart, of course she is. They have each other now, and they’re looking down on you, making sure nothing bad will ever happen.”

“But I don’t want her to be looking down on me. I want her here. I want to be able to hug her and talk to her about Alice and the Mad Hatter”

“I know, sweetie, I know.”

“Mum? I’m going to miss her. So much”

“We all are, Corey. Each and every one of us.”

I hugged her tightly again, burying my head in her shoulder. My dad sat next to us and embraced us as we all cried. We stayed that way for half an hour, before we remembered that both the officer and old man were still there.

We said goodbye to them, before shutting the door behind them and going up to my parents room to sleep.

I fell asleep straight away, my mum and dad holding me and each other tightly, murmuring words of comfort to me as I drifted off.

Needless to say, that was the worst day of my life.

The rest of that month wasn't great either.

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