The Sleepover A novel

Evelyn Anderson is sleeping over at Hart House, a place where tragedy happened thirty years ago in 1987. When she, and her friends, stay there they all struggle to escape from a killer whose motive remains unknown.

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1. Evelyn Anderson

~~~

Evelyn Anderson sensed fear on her face.

She wore a red dress, black socks, and black shoes on her feet. Her silver Rolex watch glistened in the bedroom; her brown eyes focused on the necklace her late mother, Eva Anderson gave her daughter once she died from cancer at the age of forty-three. Her father Danny Anderson, was forty-six. They were both school teachers. After the funeral last year, Evelyn was certain that she would behave like her mother. She didn't have a boyfriend-yet; she was sure that the sleepover would be fun...and exciting. Her long, blonde hair was messy. She grabbed a black brush that was on the creamy dresser; she was eager to think that she was sure that Barbara J. Lines, her best friend, would take care there. Suddenly she heard her father's voice cut through her deep thoughts. "Are you sure that you'll be ready for the sleepover, Evelyn?", Danny Anderson asked her. "Yes, I am, Dad", she answered her. She opened the front door, and smiled.

~~~

Barbara was waiting for her.

"Good evening, Eve. I was concerned about you", she said. Her long, black hair was clean. Her hazel eyes was filled with mischief, as she glided down the brightly-lit hallway that led to the bedrooms. Evelyn nodded. "Dad was waiting for me before I left home". She grinned. Then, by six-thirty, on December 5, 2016, they headed outside. The porch light illuminated the house, and saw the black van that was waiting for them.

~~~

Hart House was an ominous place. It was built in the late 1920's by Donald Hart, a famous architect and builder. When he was twenty-six, his wife Francine Hart, twenty-two, suffered from anxiety attacks. She, afterwards, spent more time in her bedroom...and was a recluse until her death in 1928, a year after the 1929 Stock Market crash that caused massive deaths when everyone lost millions and millions of dollars, a decade before World War II started across Europe. By 1930, Donald Hart, now thirty-one, left the house and never came back. It was as if death was a curse on the family house that wouldn't go away. The rumour was that all of the next families who went there didn't stay longer than a year or two because they were scared off by the eerie atmosphere that tainted the house over five decades...or more.

By 1931 to 1936, Alfred Gorse Briars, a London writer, arrived at Hart House with his wife, Stella.  The couple were in their forties. They didn't have any children. And, for some kind of reason, they left Hart House in the cold, December winter of 1938; by 1939 to April of 1945, the war happened. In the five years after the war ended, no family lived there. By 1946, Charles May Roberts, a keen aviator, and his wife, Ann Roberts, lived there with their five children. The story was that Ann, a homemaker, went mad after she saw a killer named Martin Grove, attacking their family before Christmas time of that year with a knife. By 1947, Charles May Roberts got his wife committed to the Lowell Mental Asylum for treatment. By 1948 to 1998, Hart House remained silent. No one wanted to stay in there. As a consequence, the Lawrence Kansas Building Historical Society, decided to renovate the house. By 1999 to 2016, it was used as a tourism museum. And, as the impending dread surfaced, the coldness of the house caused every visitor to shudder with terror.

~~~

Evelyn stared at Hart House.

"It's gothic looking, like something out of a Shirley Jackson novel", she said. She watched Barbara grin at her. She spoke in a regal voice: "No one stays the night because of the curse that's on it". She looked at Evelyn, as she attempted to see the swinging chairs that were in the middle of the children's sand pit. When they moved, Evelyn shuddered. "There's no ghosts here", she stated. "No, there's no ghosts, Eve. There's just an atmosphere that drains the energy from you". Evelyn nodded. Danny Anderson stopped driving. "Here we are. I thought Hart House was closed forever". He laughed uneasily...then he opened the doors of the car. Evelyn walked outside. The front door was guarded by goblin statues. Barbara smiled. "It's beautiful aren't they", she said. Evelyn shook her head; she stared at the front door. "​Come in!​", she said in a non-mocking voice. Then she walked towards the house, and went inside.

~~~

Evelyn flicked on the light.

She saw the red carpet that was on the dark hallway. To the end was Ann Roberts's room. She shivered with dread. She opened the door, and stared at a bed. Chains were loose around it. The temperature dropped to fifty degrees, as she felt the coldness of Hart House causing her to shiver. Barbara sensed her friend's distress. "It's going to be fine Eve. Trust me!", she uttered. Evelyn saw a statue of Charles May Roberts, the killer. "Why is there a statue of him here?", she asked her. "Because everything that comes into the house remains in there", Barbara answered her. She looked at a mirror that was to the left of her. "Creepy isn't it". Evelyn nodded. "Maybe we'll need to let the other girls know not to go here", she said.

"Fine by me, Eve", Barbara said...and grinned.

~~~

Jane Richardson watched Hart House. She sensed an aura around her. She was about to think that Barbara and Evelyn would tell her that killers didn't come back; she was thinking about Chase Meadow, her ex-boyfriend, who stalked her two years' ago after being jealous after she kissed Gordon Christian, the mascot of the New York Chiefs ice hockey team, back in the summer of 2015. She was eager to let her past relationships go away. Then she knew that Barbara was thinking about Evelyn. She wasn't going out with any boys that she knew of. Nonetheless, she had come to Hart House for the sleepover...and she was going to have fun. She knocked on the front door. Evelyn opened it. "Good evening, Jane", she said. "Good evening. May I come in?", she asked her. "Yes". And she let her go in, as she waited for the other teenage girls to arrive by seven-thirty PM.

~~~

Evelyn saw Barbara.

"Jane's here", she said.

"I know. She's waiting for us".

"And all of the other girls will be here soon", Evelyn said.

She smiled at her, as they waited for their friends to arrive at Hart House.

~~~

Vickie Sanders knocked on the front door. She smiled at Jane. "Good evening. Sorry I'm late". She glided towards Evelyn in a black nightgown. She smiled at her. "Hello, Evelyn. I see that Barbara is here". Her black shoes shifted across the black rug; her hazel eyes focused on the two girls. Then she kissed Jane, and smirked at her. "I was determined not to think I would be dealt a bitter blow by saying that Hart House has a bad reputation for evil". Jane shook her head, as she headed towards the huge Dining Room, where they awaited the other girls for the sleepover.

~~~

Evelyn heard it.

The sound of footsteps coming her way.

"I hate to begin the sleepover party when no one's here", Barbara said.

"Zara and Christine will be here soon. Then we can enjoy the evening", Evelyn said. She wasn't going to be outed as a lesbian; she was thinking about the impending news that she and Barbara were friends...and nothing else. She opened the front door, and Zara was with Christine hugged her. "We walked here", Zara said. Christine grinned. She walked inside Hart House. "You look gorgeous, Evelyn". Evelyn didn't know what to say. Suddenly Barbara gazed at her. "Leave Eve alone. She's mine". Evelyn gasped. She wasn't going to be steady with Barbara; she was eager to believe that being gay would ruin everything. The sleepover was meant to be something exciting. "The fireplace is full of black wood. It should bring some in before it's too late". Evelyn kept the front door open, as she grabbed the wood that was near the dark woods. Once she was holding two of them, she carried them inside. When the fire started to burn, she was eager to talk to her friends for the rest of the long evening.

~~~

"I can't believe that we're in Hart House", Zara said. She walked to the lounge room. She warmed her hands by the fireplace; she felt the warmth course through her slim body, as she noticed the framed picture of Ann Roberts watching them with cold eyes. "Isn't she scary?", Zara asked Evelyn. "Yes, and no", she answered her. She walked to the bedroom, and got changed into her red nightgown. She was wearing her favourite black slippers so that she could be warm. Barbara grinned at her. "Nice", she said. And she hugged her, and headed to the spacious kitchen to make coffees for everyone.

~~~

The house was dark.

Evelyn shook her head. She pondered on the fact that maybe tonight was a mistake. She hadn't dreamed of death; she was concerned about making sure her friends would have a great time tonight. "Okay, let's play cards", she said. And they all nodded as the night continued to drag on.

~~~

The killer watched Hart House. He wasn't used to curses. He didn't believe in them. His face was lined from age; his hazel eyes saw that there weren't any CCTV cameras watching him. Thinking he was going to have a great night, he saw the sleepover girls laughing in the lounge room. He gripped the knife in his right hand. Then, as he walked towards the house. Suddenly he heard a sound of heavy footsteps. He turned around. Before he could do anything, someone attacked him. He gasped in pain. Then, seconds later, he died before he could enter the house.

~~~

"Did you hear that?", Evelyn asked Barbara.

"Yes, it was footsteps outside", she answered her.

"I'm out", Evelyn said.

And she placed her cards on a brown table...and opened the front door.

She screamed as she saw the killer's body lying on the hard ground.

She grabbed her I-phone, and dialled 9-1-1.

"Police, please. I want to report a murder at Hart House. My name is Evelyn Anderson". And she waited for them to arrive.

~~~

Lawrence, Kansas Police Detective Roy Xavier Thomas stared at the dead body. "It's Peter Johan, the Midnight Stalker. Someone must've wanted to him dead". Evelyn, Barbara, Jane, Zara, and Christine, gasped in shock. Suddenly, as a forensics team arrived, Barbara spoke. "Why is he here?", she asked him. Detective Thomas shook his head. "No one has caught him for two decades. He's been silent for a long time...until now". Jane cried. "We're only supposed to have a sleepover...". He nodded. "Nothing like a girls' night in, huh". And she was comforted by Christine. "The sleepover's over girls. Time to go home early", Barbara said sadly. And they nodded, and knew that their time at Hart House was over.

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