Aunt Millie's Warning
Millie And Sandra
‘Sandra, where are you going?’ Millie asked out of breath and five steps behind her twin.
‘Here,’ she called back.
Up ahead of them was the old barn their parents said they could never go into, but Sandra was a daredevil. She just had to go where she’d been told she couldn’t. Millie was more than a little frightened, she knew what went bump in the night, and their parents never told them why they couldn’t go into the barn. It’d also been at the centre of every horror story Sandra ever told.
‘Come on,’ Sandra called, ‘we can go inside for a look and be home before dark.’
‘I don’t know if we should,’ Millie said. ‘Mum and dad—’
‘They said we couldn’t go inside,’ Sandra said coming to stop a few feet from the barn doors, ‘they never said we shouldn’t.’
Millie was still running and didn’t see Sandra come to a stop. She ran straight into her and they tumbled to the ground. Sandra broke into fits of laughter making Millie laugh too. They lay on the ground with their arms folded under their heads staring up the old barn.
‘I don’t want to go in there,’ Millie said.
‘But it’ll be fun,’ Sandra said, ‘and we’d be the first to go inside.’
‘But what if there’s ghosts... or wild animals?’
‘Yes, what if there are ghosts,’ Sandra said, ‘wouldn’t that be wonderful?’
Sandra got to her feet and pulled Millie up. They stood holding hands staring at the hay loading door.
‘What’s that?’ Millie said looking at something shining on the ground.
‘Wow,’ Sandra said.
There was a trail of coins that led into the barn. The girls began to pick them up and put them in their pockets, and before they knew what had happened, found themselves inside the barn. Millie had just picked up a $0.20 piece, and pocketed it when she realised where they were.
‘Stop,’ she whispered, and Sandra looked up, ‘we’re inside.’
There was an old tractor, an old, but sharp, rotary tiller and bales and bales of hay. The hay was so old it was mulching from the ground up. Millie didn’t see the ladder to the loft, but Sandra did and was halfway up it before she could say anything.
‘Come on,’ Sandra called, ‘there’s nothing to be worried about. It’s just an old barn.’
Millie really didn’t want to climb the ladder. Her heart was racing, pounding against her chest, and she wasn’t certain if it'd been the tales Sandra had made up about the barn, or if the chill that moved through her was the thing that made her very aware of where she was.
What’s goin’ on? Millie thought. Something’s off.
‘Wait for me,’ she said. Millie didn’t want to be alone and knew Sandra was going up to the loft and there was no stopping her. 'I’m coming up.’
As Millie moved closer to the bottom of the ladder that chill grew into an awful dread. There was something otherworldly in the barn, Millie knew it, she just couldn’t see it.
Should have known, she thought, the minute I saw the money. All that’s missing are the chocolate bars and white van.
‘Are you coming or not?’ Sandra called from the loft. ‘It’s really cool up here. I can see our house. Come on Millie. I know you’re stalling. Just one foot after the other, then raise your hands up to take hold of the rungs above you.’
‘I don’t know,’ Millie called, ‘something’s not right. I don’t know what it is?’
‘You think too much,’ Sandra said then disappeared from the top of the ladder.
Millie felt a sudden panic. She knew how impulsive Sandra was, so climbed the ladder as fast as she could and before she knew it, she'd reached the loft. She pulled herself up onto it but couldn’t see Sandra anywhere.
‘Sandra?’ she called, and thought she saw movement in the dark places at the other end of the loft. ‘Is that you? I know you’re tryin’ to scare me. It won’t work though.’
That was a blatant lie, but Millie was trying to fight of her dread.
‘Why not? It’s worked before,’ Sandra said, startling her.
Sandra wasn't in the dark places, she was standing at the hay loading doors. She had a hold of either side of the frame and was rhythmically swinging out and back making Millie catch her breath every time she leaned outside.
If she’s here, what's back there? Millie thought and a shudder of fear rode through her.
‘Come on silly Millie,’ Sandra called, her voice was full of mischief.
Nothing seemed to bother Sandra. She never stopped to think, she just did. Millie on the other hand was the cautious twin. She always checked before doing, and looking back into the darkness, she was certain there was something hiding in the shadows.
‘I really think we should go,’ Millie said holding tight to the top of the ladder.
‘There’s something here, Sandra. Down there,’ she whispered pointing to the darkness, but Sandra was too busy breaking the rules and having fun doing it. ‘I mean it.’
‘I know, I know. You always mean it. Why can’t you just have fun for once?’
‘I have fun—’
‘No, you don’t. You know, mum thinks you're just like aunt Millie.’
‘How do you know?’
‘I’ve heard her talking with dad.’
‘Anyway, what’s so bad about that? I like aunt Millie.’
‘I know, we all know you see the oogity boogity in everything,’ Sandra said and laughed. ‘Lighten up and have some fun.’
‘There's something down the other end. It's hiding behind those wooden boxes and hay.’
‘Alright,’ Sandra said letting go of the frame, ‘let’s see.’
Before Millie could say a word, Sandra had run past her down into the dark, and suddenly everything went quiet. Millie knew it was an odd darkness; ominous some might say.
‘Sandra?’ Millie called but got no reply. ‘Sandra?’
That ominous feeling made the hairs on the back of Millie’s neck stand on end. Her sister had disappeared into the darkness and wasn’t responding to her calls.
This is just like Sandra, she thought, she’s never happy unless I put my life on the line too.
Millie let go of the ladder, the one thing that made her feel safe, then stepped into the darkness.
‘Sandra? Sandra?’ she whispered into but got no reply. ‘I’m not playing, something’s seriously wrong… answer me!’
Millie stood in the middle of a deep darkness terrified of what was hiding there. Sandra had been right; Millie did take after her aunt and aunt Millie had taught her a few tricks… quite a few. Her aunt also warned her to never use her powers in front of anyone because most people tend to overreact when faced with something they cannot comprehend.
‘I should know,’ her aunt had said on their last visit, ‘my parents sent me away to an asylum when I was your age… for over a year. I don’t want that for you.’
Millie had heeded her aunts warning and never even told her sister about the things she could do, but this was an exceptional situation.
‘In darkness shall light grow and lead the way,’ Millie whispered, holding her right hand out as a small white flame rose from her palm.
Using the flame, she walked further into the darkness and it seemed to go on forever.
Surely, I’ve walked further in the size of the barn? she thought, where is she?
‘Sandra, if you can hear me make a noise, if you can see my light come towards it.’
Just when Millie thought she’d lost her sister, that she'd have to go deeper in, a low thud reverberated across the old floorboards.
‘If that’s you, Sandra, do it again,’ she said and as she spoke those words, another thud shook the boards beneath her feet. ‘I’m coming, Sandra. Stay where you are.’
With the flame fluttering in a strange odorous wind, Millie looked up and saw in front of her a shadow person. They were smokey black and had glowing yellow eyes, and in her terror, Millie almost forgot the basics her aunt had taught her.
‘Be gone dark night,’ she whispered, and an ethereal breeze rose up around her until it became a bubble of compressed air. Once it filled to bursting, Millie threw it at the creature.
For a moment she thought it’d worked because her flame caught up in its rush and illuminated the whole area. The creature dissipated into the air, but only for a second, that's when she saw Sandra. Something otherworldly had bound her to the farthermost corner of the loft. A translucent arm covered her mouth, another was tight around her arms and torso.
Gotta think, she thought. Aunt Millie, aunt Millie… those coins…I’ve got it.
Millie remembered something so basic she mentally berated herself. Her aunt had told her about coins.
‘If you ever see a trail of coins, young Millie, never follow them. Never pick them up. They are a price and by putting them in your pocket you sell yourself to whatever nasty laid the trap in the first place,' her aunt Millie had said with a surprising sterness to her voice. 'If you forget this warning and find you’ve pocketed the coins, there’s only one way to escape the grasp of those otherworldly creatures. Lay each coin out, just as you found them, but make sure the last coin is yours and place it in the light. Make it shine, it will be the price of your escape.”
Millie pulled the coins from her front pocket and began to make a trail from the darkness into the light. As luck would have it, it had been pocket money day and unlike Sandra, Millie still had some in her pocket. To make sure the shadow creatures were drawn into the light, she pulled a $0.50 piece from her back pocket and laid it in the middle of the light coming in through the hay door.
Stepping into the light at the end of the loft, Millie uttered these words, ‘Be gone dark ones. I give to you your price and more. Come take your reward and it keep it for another.’
She had no idea how long it would take, or even if it’d work, but she saw the sun had begun to fall behind the mountains. She didn't have long. Suddenly, a shadow creature stepped from the darkness. It stooped to pick up each coin, and with it's last step, the creature stood in the dull light of a disappearing day. That $0.50-cent piece though, it shone bright.
It was as if the shadow creature had no will, that once they saw the coin, they could't control their actions It walked straight into the light and picked up Millie's coin. It shuddered violently and began to dissipate, but it wasn't until it picked up the $0.50-cents that the final piece of the puzzle came into play. A ray of warm sunlight shot through the creature, and a hole appeared in its chest as if it’d been blasted by a lazer.
‘Millie? Millie?’ Sandra’s voice called from the darkness, and as she neared, she witnessed the moment the shadow creature burst into a puff of black smoke. In her panic, she ran straight into Millie knocking her to the floor.
‘Shush,’ Millie said holding a finger across her lips, and they listened to the sounds of otherworldly creatures screaming from the darkness.
‘Wanna get out of here?’ Millie asked when they stopped.
‘You bet,' Sandra said, 'I’ll never doubt you again, sis.’
‘Come on then,’ Millie said, ‘let’s go.’