Paula and the Gang.
“So, what do you think, can she join the gang or what.?” Cindy, the self-appointed leader of the group of neighbourhood girls, looked at the others.
In all, there were twelve, all of various ages and nationalities.
“Well I like her,” said little Samantha.
“Yes, but we aren’t asking if we like her, we’re asking if she should be allowed to join us,” said Margie.
She was getting fed-up with these newcomers to the district just thinking they could join the gang.
No, there will have to be some form of initiation, she thought.
“It’s not enough that she wants to join, she has to agree to an initiation of some sort, you know, to test her courage like real gangs do.”
They thought about, and suggested, many things, but they were all dismissed for one reason or another.
“I know, said Cindy. She has to go into the old house alone.
You know, she winked at the others, the one that is haunted.”
Paula didn’t like the thoughts of going into any old house alone, but she desperately wanted to be accepted by the others.
“Well she can’t go in at midnight because we would all be in trouble with our parents if we stayed out so late,” said little Samantha.
“It doesn’t have to be midnight. Just so long as it’s dark, and it gets dark about seven o’clock this time of year,” said Margie.
She was trying to make it as difficult as possible for Paula.
“OK, I’ll do it,” said Paula putting on a brave face.
It was agreed that they all meet at the old house at seven o’clock.
The hour arrived and they were all assembled before the old empty house.
“Right, said Cindy. Here is a candle and matches, you have to go to the top of the house and shine the candle out of the window so that we all see it. Then you can come down again, and you are a member of the gang.”
Paula’s face was flushed with excitement and uncertainty.
Margie licked her dry lips. She wouldn’t want to do what Paula was about to do.
Paula walked up the steps leading to the door of the old house.
She was nervous, but determined not to show it.
She pushed on the front door and it opened without a sound. She turned and gave a cheery wave to the faces of the others who stood there spellbound.
She entered the house and with shaking hands she lit the candle.
All around her was silence.
She suddenly felt as though she was being watched by a hundred pairs of eyes, but she knew that that was silly.
This was only an old house.
Empty and unused for many years.
The thought that it was haunted was ludicrous.
She quickly made her way up the stairs.
The faster she got this initiation completed the better.
She climbed the second set of stairs which led to the top bedrooms.
Finally she came upon the landing and walked straight into the first door that she saw, but then she realised, when looking through the grimy window, that she was at the rear of the house.
She quickly walked to the opposite side of the corridor and into the front bedroom. Approaching the window she saw her new friends all gazing up at her.
She stood in the window and waved to them.
They appeared to be pointing back to her, and as she raised the candle to the window, she saw behind her, reflected in the glass, a figure which froze her heart.
She tried to open the window, but it was stuck fast.
Before she was able to turn she felt the icy fingers closing around her neck.
Her friends below were transfixed at the sight before their eyes and they all started to run, but not in the direction of the house, but in the other direction.
“Right, said her Father as he pulled off the grotesque mask, that should prove that you are brave enough to join this bloody gang. Let’s go home.”
Hand in hand they walked down the two staircases and into the now empty street.
Only a stray dog heard their laughter.
At the upper window the wizened old lady shook her head, so near, yet so far. Why, on why, hadn’t they came at midnight?
She was so lonely…