As Hana entered the park, Julia nudged Amy and nodded in Hana's direction. Hana waved and tried to smile at them. Amy rushed over and grabbed Hana's arm in an enthusiastic fashion.
"Hana! You have got to see this place that Hayden and Tymber found! It's so creepy!" She exclaimed.
"Yeah? Where is it?"
"It's a little ways away, but not like, super far. You know where that empty plot is, near the water park?"
"Yeah, what about it?" Hana knew which plot she was talking about. Some rich person owned it and just let it grow wild. It was nice, always smelled vaguely sweet, like flowers and spring.
"It's got this super creepy abandoned church on the other side. We're gonna go there to hang out, you in?"
"It could be kinda dangerous if it's really old. You guys sure it's safe?"
"Why, you scared?" Amy retorted.
"You aren't afraid of the floor collapsing? Or the ceiling collapsing? Or any other horrible thing that can happen in old buildings?"
At this, Amy looked uneasy, but Julia scoffed.
"Of course it's safe. It's not that old. Besides, Hayden and Tymber both went in, and they're both fine."
Hana knew that that didn't necessarily mean anything, but then again, she was probably being paranoid. She did that sometimes.
"You make a good point." Hana lied. She did that too, sometimes. "In that case, I'm down. We going now, or another time?"
"We're going later tonight. Oh, and make sure you bring snacks. We're probably gonna hang there for a while."
Well, here we are. An old, dirty church. Hana thought. Not very exciting.
"Man, it looks so much creepier in the dark!" Tymber said.
"It kinda looks like it could just be an abandoned house. You sure it's a church?" Amy asked, ever playing her role as the dumb blonde of the group.
"Well, it's got the pews and the Bibles." Hayden held up a Bible with faded letters and dirt in the pages. "It's even got a cross on the wall. Not really sure what else it would be."
"We should explore." Julia changed the subject swiftly.
"Oh yeah, you guys gotta check this out!" Hayden walked around the pews and gestured to the confessional. "Do any of you have some sins to confess?" He waggled his eyebrows.
"Ha ha, very funny. But seriously, we should look at the other rooms, too." Julia walked to the nearest door, pushing it further open. Inside the room was much the same as the main one they had been in earlier, though definitely smaller. The crumbling plaster from the walls and ceiling gathered in corners and around a desk that sat at the front of the room with a blackboard on the wall. In fact, all four rooms on the first floor were nearly exactly the same, except a room more off to the side, with stairs going up.
"Are you sure the stairs are safe, Tymber?" Amy asked, her crush on him apparent.
"Of course. But we can just stay down here if you want." Tymber replied, his crush on her apparent.
"Nah, we're all going up. Unless you're all too scared..?" Hayden interrupted the awful mutual pining.
"As if." Julia led the way up, with the others not far behind, though Hana and Amy went somewhat reluctantly.
They reached the top to reveal another room, much like the others, but with a circle window, no desk, and a bit less dirt.
"Well, we've seen it all. Where should we set up camp?" Tymber asked the group.
"I liked it better downstairs, it looks cooler." Hana offered. It was true, seeing as it had more than just a desk. In fact, it had a pulpit, confessional, pews, Bibles, and possibly other hidden things between the benches.
"Yeah, Hana's right." Julia agreed.
They sat in a circle and talking and laughing, snacking on the various chips, candies, and sodas that they had brought. Eventually, Hana asked, "What time is it?"
"Oh. It's almost 10:00. But you know what? I bet I'm the only one who isn't too scared to stay till midnight." Hayden dared.
"I bet I could stay past midnight." Tymber immediately countered.
"I dunno guys.. Maybe we should go home soon." Amy nervously suggested.
"You can if you want. I, however, am curious what I could get from this bet." Julia chimed in.
"Hm... I'll give you ten dollars if you can beat me. What about you, Tymber?"
"Pfft. I'll give you twenty."
"I'll give you each thirty if you can stay longer than me." Hana chimed in.
"Yeah? And how long are you gonna be here?" Hayden asked dryly.
Hana cocked her head in thought for a second. To her knowledge, the latest anyone in the group had stayed up was midnight. None of them were actually very rebellious, even if they were frequently annoying, and this was, in fact, the most rebellious thing they had done. These thoughts were made in a split second, as most thoughts were, and Hana had her answer.
"Bet." Tymber agreed.
"I'm going to enjoy my sixty dollars when I win." Julia smirked. "What about you, Amy?"
"I'm not joining this one. If someone is scared, they should be allowed to leave with no repercussions."
"Lame!" Hayden teased.
The night went on as a normal teenage night does when they have friends with them; with a distinct lack of sleeping.
An abrupt slam sounded throughout the church, and a quick scan of their surroundings revealed that one of the doors had seemingly closed itself.
"That... Was probably the wind, right?" Amy asked, clearly on the verge of leaving the church, regardless of whether or not it was 'lame'.
"Of course it was. It's not like this place is haunted. Ghosts don't exist." Hayden mocked her, despite the obvious lack of wind.
"What time is it now?" Tymber asked.
"Why, you gonna bail? Give us those twenty each?" Julia teased.
"Nah, just wanna see how close I am to winning."
"It's 11:25. We're pretty close." Hayden informed them.
After some nervous shifting around, the conversation started to flow again.
"Hey, who here knows scriptures real well?" Julia asked, reaching for a Bible and opening it.
"I know a fair amount, but it's not like I study the Bible." Hayden replied.
"Well, it doesn't matter anyway. Looks like the letters all faded out of the book or something."
"I changed my mind, I'm done here." Amy said abruptly. "I'm gonna call my dad for a ride. Anyone else coming with me?"
"Aw, come on Amy, it's not that bad!" Tymber begged.
"No! It is that bad! It's cold and dark and dirty and I swear I'm hearing things and the cross that Hayden pointed out when we got here isn't there anymore!"
They all looked over to where Amy pointed, and saw a wall with crumbling plaster. Then they looked to find the cross.
".. Well, obviously he pointed it out on that wall. Right, Hayden?" Julia countered after locating it.
"Yeah! Right." Hayden looked slightly confused, but didn't argue. The cross was on the wall Julia pointed at after all, so clearly, it must have been there earlier.
"Whatever! It's creepy and I hate it!" Amy stomped towards the door. Tymber watched her leave, then looked at his fidgeting hands.
"Well, one down, three to go." Hayden said after she was outside the building.
"Dude, come on. We could all tell she was really freaked out. We didn't need to give her a hard time about it." Tymber defended.
"Whatever, you're just saying that ‘cause you like her."
Hana rolled her eyes and looked around the pews, till her eyes landed on something.
"Hey, what are these called again, Hayden?" She asked, picking it up and interrupting the conversation.
"Oh, rosaries. Not gonna lie, I don't remember what they're for. No one in my family talks about it much."
"And yet you know the scriptures well?"
Another thump came from one of the rooms.
"... I dare you to check it out." Tymber said.
Hayden looked nervously at the room where the sound came from.
"Hm. Do I get something from it?" Julia joked.
"First, I was talking to Hayden, second, no. However, it seems Hayden is too chicken to do it."
"Pfft. I'll go check it out. It was probably more plaster falling or something." He strode over to the room and walked in. A few seconds went by.
"We should hide before he comes back." Julia says. "It'd be funny."
"Hell yeah." Tymber agreed.
Hana rolled her eyes. It was a childish trick. Although it would be effective, considering how on edge everyone was. But Hayden came back before anyone could hide, visibly shaken.
"Did one of you write on the chalkboard in there?"
"Uh... No? We've been here the whole time. You were literally with us like, the whole time."
"Did you tell someone else to, then? Like Amy?" He was starting to sound more aggressive.
"No. Calm down, Hayden. You probably just forgot it was there."
"We all know that it wasn't there before, Tymber." He replied shortly "We would remember that. I'm starting to think maybe Amy was right to leave."
"Why, cause you think a ghost is gonna come say 'boo'?" Julia's voice practically dripped with sarcasm.
"No!" Hayden defended. Julia raised an eyebrow.
"Look, it's just not right! Go look for yourself. You can have your stupid money, I don't care, I'm just leaving." With that, Hayden pulled out his wallet and handed Tymber, Julia and Hana ten dollars each. "You can come with if you want, you don't even have to pay me for the bet."
Tymber looked at Hana and Julia, then at his ten dollars, then Hayden, then his watch.
"It's only 11:45. No way I'm leaving yet." He decided.
"Honestly, it's just sad that you're leaving so soon after Amy. Looks like you're a wimp, too." Julia taunted.
"Yeah, it is kinda pathetic. No offense to Amy, but we all know she's kind of a scaredy-cat." Tymber reluctantly agreed.
Hana did a sort of side to side nod in general agreement.
"See, not only does Hana agree, but so does Tymber, who as we previously discussed, is gone on her."
"Hmph. You know what? You're right. I'll stay. I have to at least beat Tymber." Hayden slowly sat back down, but stayed rigid, obviously on high alert.
"Want your money back?" Hana held out her ten dollars
"Nah, chickens don't get money back." Julia teased, and lowered Hana’s hand.
Hayden just shook his head, looking around some more. The conversation progressed, more snacks were had, and he slowly seemed to relax. Julia looked like she wanted to nod off, but stayed remarkably awake for someone who fell asleep during every movie night the group had.
"Well, time for middle-of-the-night-confessions. Hana, you first." Tymber was clearly bored. He hated truth-or-dare, and hated truth-or-truth even more.
"Hm.." Hana's mind drew a blank. "I don't know. I can't think of anything."
"How about... What's something you've never told anyone?"
Now, two thoughts immediately came to Hana's mind when Tymber asked this. The first was 'I don’t think I’ve ever had a crush’', the second, 'my mom died three years ago and now my dad is dating someone else.'
"Oh. Well, my mom died a few years ago, before I moved here."
"Oh. Man, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked." Tymber immediately sobered.
"It's fine. I'm getting better, I think." Hana moved on "What about you Julia? What's your midnight confession?"
"I straighten my hair before I curl it." Julia responded. "Your turn, Hayden."
"Hm... I've never stayed up this late before."
"Seriously? It's only like, 12:30." Tymber seemed genuinely shocked. He really shouldn't have been though. It was also the latest he had stayed up.
"Well what about you? What terrible acts have you committed?"
"I stole twenty dollars from my mom's purse when I was in first grade so I could buy an orange juice." He confessed, seeming almost ashamed of the actions of his six year old self.
"Dude, no way!" Julia exaggerated her disbelief. "Well, now you gotta go confess."
"Oh yeah, for sure." Hayden agreed, gesturing to the confessional.
Tymber looked over, then shrugged and walked into the booth, closing the short door and drawing the curtain, effectively hiding himself. After just a couple seconds, he cursed loudly and scrambled out, nearly pulling the curtain down and tripping over the door.
"Dude, what?!" Hayden exclaimed.
"I don't know what the hell I just saw, but I'm leaving.” He turned to leave and glanced at one of the walls, then looked over his shoulder with a pale face “You should, too."
If one were to follow his line of sight at that moment, they would have seen a wall with crumbling white plaster. However, this wall was the one where Julia had pointed out the cross.
As it so happens, one did follow his line of sight, Hayden, who noticed that the cross was no longer there, nor was it on the wall Amy believed it had been on when he had pointed it out.
"Yeah, we should. This place is messed up." Hayden stood up and joined Tymber.
"What do you even think you saw, Tymber?" Julia asked, still trying to sound condescending, but a faint tremor in her voice betrayed her.
"I don't know, and I don't want to know." And with that, he was out the door with Hayden close behind.
It was silent for a few moments, just Hana looking curiously at the confessional and Julia looking concerned in general.
"Well, just us two. Also, Tymber owes us money." Julia tried to remain lighthearted, but the fatigue of staying up, coupled with the obvious fear that Hayden and Tymber had had as they left had left her shaken. She took a deep breath and laid on a pew bench. "But, at least I never said I would stay awake the whole time."
"Good night, Julia. If you want, I can wake you up at three."
"It’s fine. Good night."
After Julia fell asleep, Hana continued to look around the room. She could hardly ever sleep in an unfamiliar location, and the church certainly didn't qualify for her ability to sleep. As she waited, she counted Julia's breaths after they got steady with sleep, gazed at the ceiling, and did other mundane things she would not later bother to remember.
However, after a while, Julia began to twitch in her sleep, her breaths becoming somewhat less even. After a few minutes of this, Julia woke up, sitting up abruptly and looking wildly around. After her eyes rested on Hana, she calmed slightly, but continued to feel greatly upset.
If only, she thought, Hana weren't so stubborn. If she were just scared enough, I could finally leave this stupid building.
And an idea formed.
"Hana, do you dare me to go to the pulpit?"
"No? Besides, I think that when it's Catholic it's a lectern."
"Pfft, you're no fun."
Hana rolled her eyes, but didn't argue. Instead, she watched Julia stand up and go over to the lectern.
Julia rested her hands on the lectern, cleared her throat in a self-important manner and adopted a self-righteous face so as to begin her impression, but as she looked up, she froze. Then tears formed in her eyes, she began to hyperventilate, and simply ran out of the church.
"Well, I suppose I win." Hana mused. A shame, really. It was only a few more minutes to 3:00. Ah well. Maybe I'll leave, too. But then, I did say I could stay past 3:00... Well, a few more minutes can't hurt.
She would come to learn that a few minutes could hurt, quite a bit.
"Did you all make it home okay?" Amy asked the group the next day.
"She's been missing for over a month, but I still hope she's okay."
"I hope so, too."
"She would never run away, Clara. Never."
"I know, Mark. And I know she loves you very much, and she wants to come home to you."
In fact, Hana did want to come home to her father, even if he was dating a woman who had a child. Hana dreamed of being home again every night she gone, and schemed her plan to get back when she wasn't too exhausted to think. Soon, she would think. I will be home soon. Wait for me.
Author Notes: This is 100% a first draft kind-of-prologue for a story I thought of a year or so ago, and might not ever continue. I have the basics of the story mapped out in my head, but I just don't think I can write it very well. Anyway, please give me feedback on it! Who knows, maybe I'll write more. Or at least re-write this part to be better.