“Do I have to do this?” Will whined. “It’s gross up there.”
His mother put her hands on her hips as she frowned. “Will. You have a simple job. The easiest job, even.”
Will and his family just are moving into a new house a few blocks away. Today was the day to pack everything into boxes and clean the house up and down until there’s not a single hair out of place.
Not a fun way to spend his summer, at least for Will.
Will complained to his mom some more, but she stood her ground. She pulled down the ladder to the attic. “Listen, Will. Your younger sister is cleaning her room. Dad and I are doing everything else. I said I could clean your room if you cleared out the attic. So it’s up there-” she pointed at the ladder “-or cleaning your room, Will. You can pick.”
Will huffed. “Fine. I’ll clean the attic.” His mom sent him a tight smile. “Thank you. Here’s a duster. Call me if you ever need anything.” She patted his head before turning around and quickly disappearing down the hallway.
He stuck out his tongue, not admitting defeat. He grabbed the duster and started climbing the ladder.
Before he could open the trapdoor, he quickly climbed back down and grabbed a flashlight. He wasn’t going in blind.
The trapdoor creaked as he eased it open. Clicking the flashlight open, he peeked over the trapdoor, observing the attic.
It was like he expected. Dusty and smelled of mildew and stale coffee. A few cobwebs clung to the trapdoor and every conceivable corner. He heard a skitter to his right and immediately shined his flashlight at the noise, but couldn’t see anything moving and alive.
The attic was cluttered with boxes and random objects; a torn office chair, a broken lamp, a few coats and some old shoes.
A shiver crawled up Will’s spine. This was a bad idea. A really bad idea. He considered cleaning his room before he sucked up his fear. It’s an attic, for God’s sake. Nothing bad was going to happen. It wasn’t like a boogeyman would jump on him. It’s an attic, Will told himself.
He fully stepped into the attic, glancing at the small window at the end of the attic. It didn’t provide much light at all.
Time to clean. Will hooked the flashlight to the waistband of his pants and grabbed a box nearest to him.
It wasn’t a box, he realized. It was a wooden plaque, almost like a small suitcase. He blew off the dust, adjusting his flashlight to get a better look at it.
He frowned. It was a suitcase, made of light wood and with no engravings. He clicked open the broken lock and tensed as he slowly opened it.
A ghost, maybe? How about a haunted soul?
He deflated as soon as he saw what it was. It was a game of chess. Chess. How lame.
He remembered his grandfather was an amazing chess player. Will glanced around, already knowing he really wasn’t going to clean anything out. He put the chess game down onto the floor.
His grandfather and Will usually played chess games, and his grandfather always won. But that was years ago, when Will was still in elementary school. And besides, his grandfather passed away not too long ago.
Nevertheless, Will set up the chess pieces. He organized them, putting the white pieces on his side,the black ones on the other one.
Now what? Almost jokingly, he moved his white pawn forward.
Another scitter resonated throughout the attic. Will stood up and spun around, shining the flashlight from where the sound came from. Still nothing.
He turned back around to his chess game.
One of the black pawns was two squares forward, in an almost challenging way.