The Weekend Getaway
Dee-Dee could barely contain herself. She wanted to laugh out loud but was afraid that her friends on the other side of the wall would hear her and thus give away the practical joke.
Dawn whispered to Dee-Dee, “I cannot believe that Dara and Darius fell for this ruse. You know Darius is going to whip yours and Dan’s butts when he finds out this is all a joke.”
Dee-Dee grinned as she peered over Dan’s shoulder at the two computer monitors before them. On each screen was a block of squares showing the different rooms in the large home they were in. “Oh Dawn don’t be such a worry wart. Besides, it will be your big head husband that takes the brunt of Darius’ anger.”
Dan grunted good-naturedly. “Heffa, I ain’t gonna be too many big heads, alright?”
Dee-Dee smacked the back of Dan’s bald head lightly. “Whatever, Ashy-Wan.”
Even Dan had to laugh at Dee-Dee’s play on words. Try as he might, he and his wife Dawn had tried it all to cure his chronic dry skin. He had developed a sense of humor about it all through the years. Besides, Dawn said ashy or no she still loved her Dan. That was all that mattered.
Still Dawn worried. This could go wrong in so many ways. She hoped Darius could take a joke otherwise Dan could be headed for an ER visit and stitches.
It was only six months ago that a friendly chat about haunted houses and things that go bump in the night had Dara declaring, “Most horror movies are stupid. There is no way I’d stay in a haunted house. First time something starts moving of its own accord in any house I’m living in and that house is back on the damn market. Period.”
Dawn had laughed. “Yeah, right. Ghosts are harmless, Dara. You’d learn to live with it.”
“Whatever, Dawn. Every living thing in my house pays bills. Even the cats pay dues, catching mice and such when they aren’t trying to kill me by tripping me.” Everyone broke up at the mention of the erasable Leo and suspected homicidal Cleo.
The subject was changed but an idea began to hatch in Dan’s truly diabolical mind of the perfect practical joke. Who better to play it on than Dara and her husband Darius?
In relatively short order everything needed for the joke fell into place. A friend who had a large furnished house on a lake in upstate New York who thought the joke all in good fun. A ruse of a free luxury getaway weekend for four at said house on the lake in the dead of winter.
A group of friendly cohorts that included Dan, his wife Dawn, their chocolate cherub of a friend Dee-Dee, along with Dave, Dren and his partner Danny, Drea, and Twinki.
The four women and four men had taken up residence in the house a couple days earlier to rig it with cameras, microphones, and of course pranks a plenty to make Dara’s and Darius’ stay one that they would never forget.
Dara and her husband drove through the fresh plowed roads to the lake house. The directions were perfect. They had stopped in a town midway there to pick up provisions for a simple supper once they arrived. It would be late by the time they arrived and the town where the lake house was located would more than likely already be asleep.
The two couldn’t believe their luck in having won a free weekend at the lake house for four. They had thought about bringing another couple but they were still newlyweds and were looking forward to the quiet time alone and away from the cares of their jobs and the city. The privacy and walls that were not attached to anyone else’s residence were just too good to pass up by inviting others along.
But when they drove up and parked in front of the huge hulk of a manse, Dara started to rethink their decision.
She opened the door and stepped out in the cold twilight. She appraised the house as it seemed to appraise her. She could not shake the feeling that she was being watched.
“Darius, maybe we should invite someone up. It is such a big place.”
Darius threw her a devilish smile. “Don’t worry, baby, we are going to use every one of those rooms.”
Dara laughed a little too loud. The hollow sound echoed off the front of the house back at her like the house laughed at her. Her laughter was cut short.
She looked around for her husband to find him in the trunk grabbing suitcases. “Go get the door, babe, and I’ll get the bags.”
Dara swallowed at the fearsome lump in her throat at the thought of approaching the house alone. Instead of heading up the stairs she walked around to the trunk and reached for two small tote bags. “Let me help you, Darius. The last thing I want is for you to throw out your back or pull a muscle our first day here.”
Darius looked up in surprise. Dara had never offered to carry luggage in all the time they had been together. Especially, not after having her nails done. Her manicure was less than a day old. He squinted at her curiously in the gathering darkness.
He could sense her nervousness. He glanced up at the dark hulk and felt a bit of unease himself but shook it off as Dara’s nerves affecting him. He gathered up the rest of the luggage and led the way up to the house.
The caretakers had been out to shovel and salt the driveway, steps, and porch. Darius put down his bags and took the key from Dara, ignoring her shaking hand.
When they stepped inside both their nervousness subsided. Inside it was cozy, country and it was charming.
Darius dropped the bags at the door and searched for a light switch. Finding it just inside the door, he flipped it and the few remaining shadows disappeared.
Dara stepped inside and shook off her fears. This place was too cute and cozy to be haunted.
In short order they got the groceries put away, picked out a room, and had dinner. Nothing special, just cold cuts and wine.
Darius had done the driving and Dara had promised him a sensuous massage. He was in a hurry to get the massage started.
They chatted amiably and listened to the house settle around them. As full dark approached Dara felt her unease return. Still there were no boogies peaking at her from around corners as they climbed the stairs to their room. Everything seemed nice and normal. She kept trying to tell herself she was just nervous because of the quiet.
They entered the bedroom and Darius fell on the bed pulling Dara with him. She landed on top of him and began to kiss him.
Behind the cameras Dan received double elbows in his sides. One elbow from his wife and the other from Dee-Dee.
Dawn spoke up, “Alright Dan, start the haunting before this goes much further. If Darius finds out that you recorded their sexy times you will not survive the beating and I haven’t upped your life insurance policy lately.”
Dan spoke testily in Dee-Dee’s direction. He knew better than to use that tone at his wife. “Alright. Alright. But I’m saying. If you don’t tell it, I wouldn’t. Ain’t like I’d post it to a porn site and open a PayPal account.” The three chuckled as Dan threw switches making the lights flicker.
Dee-Dee couldn’t help but respond. “Dan, you really ain’t worth a thin dime.”
Dee-Dee and Dawn signaled to their cohorts located throughout the house using twoways to begin donning costumes and to get into position.
Dan switched on the sound affects and fog machines as the lights flickered and heard startled curses through the speakers. His grin was so wide it took up his whole face.
Dara jumped up. “What the hell?”
Darius stood up tense. He didn’t believe in ghosts and he wasn’t about to start now because of a few flickering lights. Then the night wasn’t over.
“Calm down baby. It is an old house and probably has a short.” His explanations were cut short as an awful groaning started. Dara almost jumped into his arms.
“Darius, let’s get out of here.”
“Baby, calm down! There’s an explanation-“ Before he could finish his thoughts the cold fireplace exploded to life. A face appeared in the flames and began to laugh evilly. That was all Dara needed and she took off running leaving her husband standing in shock.
Darius wanted to investigate the fireplace but took off after his wife who he could hear running through the halls screaming. He ran out into the hall to find it freezing and a fog filling the hall.
He followed the sound of his wife’s screams and found her around the corner in front of the bathroom screaming at an apparition floating above the floor. Darius went cold. He grabbed his wife who screamed at the touch turned and pushed him into a wall as she ran past him for the stairs.
As she passed rooms that had been empty when they arrived ghostly hands reached out and pulled at her clothing as she passed. By the time she reached the stairs her feet were barely touching the floor. She flew down the stairs and fumbled with the front door before pulling it open and running screaming to the car.
Darius took a moment to recover but when he did he looked up and the apparition screamed at him. Then he was off and running too. He felt the hands and just as his wife, he never looked back to see what was after him. He ran out to the car and found his wife screaming at him to open the doors.
He searched frantically in his pockets his heart sinking as he realized that his car keys were still in his coat pocket. His coat was hanging on a hook just inside the door.
Suddenly the front door opened. He grabbed his wife and pushed her behind him and waited. His coat came out followed by five people he and his wife knew all too well and they were laughing their fool heads off.
They started taking off claws and wiping off ghostly make up. Darius’s temper flashed for a moment but then even he was laughing. Dara was not amused.
Dren spoke as he removed his mask that was the face from the fire. “Don’t get your panties all bunched at us. This was Dan’s idea.”
“Dan? I should have known! Dan! Get your fat ashy azz out here so I can beat it!”
The three who remained in the house grinned at each other. Mission accomplished.
Dan looked at his wife. “I guess that is our cue to go take our bows.”
Dawn started to laugh and stopped. Pale hands gripped her around her waist. She looked down and then back at Dan and Dee-Dee. Her eyes as big as saucers.
Then a face appeared beside hers and it was nothing that had been preprogrammed.
Dee-Dee’s voice was barely a whisper. “I don’t suppose that is one of yours is it, Dan?”
Dan shook his whole body.
“Ok then.” Dee-Dee turned and took off running for the attic stairs. “Get Dawn, Dan!”
Dan grabbed at his wife but the thing would not let go. Finally, it screeched at him so loud it was heard by the seven people outside and Dee-Dee as she ran through the house. “She’s my Dawn now! GET. OUT.”
Dan screamed and pulled at Dawn one last time as he turned and followed Dee-Dee’s retreat. Screaming like a girl as he ran.
Dan had barely cleared the door before Dawn broke out in a grin. The ghostly hands released Dawn.
She turned to the near solid apparition. “Thanks, Claire. That will teach my husband to play these little games.”
“Oh that was so much fun, Dawn. I haven’t had that much fun since I died.”
Dawn held out her hand to Claire who reached out a ghostly one to her. They both shuddered at the exchange of energy. Claire returned to Dawn the energy she had lent her ghostly form and she in turn took her ghostly energy back. It was the only way Claire could make the journey over waterways and such.
Everyone knows ghosts can’t cross water. At least not without a little help.
Claire started to fade. “See you at home, Claire. I bought a couple new dresses for you to play with. They are all hung up in my closet.” The scent of flowers was all the answer that Claire was able to give now that she had returned Dawn’s living energy.
Dawn then started tearing at her clothing to make it look like she had struggled to get free. On the monitors she could see everyone outside screaming for her including her own husband. The guilt she was about to hit him with was priceless. It was her forever get out of jail free card. Had she looked closer she would have noticed that there was one person missing.
As she made ready to leave the door slammed and the room grew cold. Dawn swallowed.
“Claire.” Her voice echoed back at her.
She turned as a hand made a grab for her and then she too went running screaming out of the house. It was now no longer an act. She’d seen Dan and everyone else outside. She knew there was no one else in the house. There should have been no other hands.
Once outside the house came to life. Lights flickered, groans that had not been programmed were heard, a woman screamed from inside and called out for help. The group ran screaming through the forest for the road to town. The Darius’ coat and car keys on the ground by the car forgotten.
Inside the house, in the attic three conspirators shared a good laugh. They were Dorian and Dristan, Dan’s and Dawn’s own children and their favorite wily aunty Dee-Dee.
“I can’t believe how fast daddy ran!” Said Dristan. “I know!” Agreed Dorian.
“Ok, boys, now let’s get our pranks and get out of here. Do you have the devices?”
The boys nodded eagerly and handed Dee-Dee what looked like a flashlight. It was however, a highly sophisticated piece of technology. Somehow, two such young boys had developed a transdimentional traveling device out of the pieces of an erector set and an old computer that their father was going to junk.
They had shown it to no one but their aunty Dee-Dee because she was always playing with them on their level. They appreciated that and so shared their secret with her. She in turn showed them ways to use it that were harmless but fun.
When they first let her in on the secret, there was only one. Now she had one of her very own and it proved to be priceless. She had convinced the boys to keep it a secret until they grew up because most grownups truly weren’t ready for such technology.
They turned off all the devices that Dan had left running and removed the devices that they had added when the others weren’t looking. They took their time as they knew no one would be back before daylight.
Once they had made two passes in the house to be sure all signs of their ghostly shenanigans were gone, they each programmed their devices for home, stepped into their portals and were gone.
The boys got home and into bed long before their sitter came to wake them for breakfast.
Dee-Dee got into bed imagining the phone calls asking her where she was. She couldn’t wait to act surprised and say she had never been there to begin with.
The three conspirators settled down and slept the sleep of undisturbed children.