Horror Sweet Horror
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December, 1993

Lorraine was an avid reader. From a very young age, she was often found with her nose buried in a good book, and she enjoyed finding comfortable reading nooks in quiet, private places. But in all of travels she took to faraway lands and make-believe places, she never encountered any place half as terrifying as her own home.

When Lorraine was five years old, she climbed up the rickety stairs that led to the attic of her family's old house. With a copy of the latest Junie B. Jones book in hand, Lorraine hid among the family's storage items and began to read in peace and quiet, alone.

But that wasn't completely accurate. The attic might have been peaceful and quiet, but she wasn't alone.

When Lorraine looked up from her book, she was surprised to see another girl in the attic. She appeared to be about fifteen years old and was standing in a shadowy corner on the other side of the room, silently watching Lorraine read. Her hair was curly, long enough to reach her waist and such a bright shade of red that it looked like her head was wreathed in flames. Something in the redhead's expression made it clear that she was extremely lonely.

""What's your name?"" Lorraine asked, not afraid of the teenage girl.

The redhead didn't answer Lorraine's question. Instead, she continued to stare at Lorraine from the shadows.

With growing sympathy for the older girl, Lorraine asked, ""Do you want to play with me?""

The redhead answered not with words, but with a wide grin. And then, without having uttered a single word, she disappeared.

November, 1999

Years passed and Lorraine wondered whether the red-headed ghost had been a figment of her imagination. But then one late night, when Lorraine was eleven, she dozed off while reading. This wasn't unusual. What was unusual was that she had fallen asleep in the rec-room in the basement and woken up standing in the dark attic. She figured she must have been sleepwalking. She crossed the room, gripped the doorknob and turned it. It didn't budge. The door was locked. But that didn't make sense - there was no lock on either side of the door. It felt as if someone was holding the door closed, trapping her in the attic.

Lorraine tried opening the door more forcefully. It still didn't open. She banged on the wooden panels and screamed at the top of her lungs. No one heard her, not even her parents.

The window, Lorraine thought desperately. She raced across the attic and tried to push the sole window open, but something held it in place too. That's when she heard a faint whisper behind her. Even before she turned around, she had a feeling where she would find the source of the quiet sound. Sure enough, the ghost was standing in the same corner where she had spotted her six years before. She still had her distinctive curly red hair, but her face, hands and legs were covered in burn scars, leading Lorraine to believe the teenage girl had died in a horrible fire.

She stared at Lorraine in silence and then flashed a wide grin and disappeared, just as she had done before. The attic door immediately swung open. Lorraine wondered if, instead of sleepwalking, the spirit had possessed her body and led her to the attic. The more she considered this, the more convinced of it she became. But she couldn't fathom why.

July, 2001

The ghost didn't wait another six years before reappearing, nor did she feel the need to remain in the attic. One summer morning when Lorraine was thirteen, she slowly woke up then grew alarmed - she couldn't move a muscle. It felt like someone very strong was holding her down. More than that, it felt like her body had been encased in cement. Although she could still open her eyes, she probably wished she hadn't.

Lying in bed beside her was the red-head, her skin once again covered in burns. She looked like she wanted to speak, but instead of words, blood ran out of her mouth and then she disappeared.

After this horrific encounter, the ghost haunted Lorraine more regularly. For the next three weeks she peered out of alcoves and followed Lorraine around the house. One day, Lorraine looked in the bathroom mirror and realized with a swell of panic that her reflection was beginning to resemble the redhead. Every time she looked in the mirror she looked a little less like herself and a little more like the spirit.

Over the years, the ghost has continued to terrify Lorraine. The redhead appears, grins and disappears. The next day she appears, grins, and disappears. And again she appears, grins, and disappears.

Lorraine has come to believe that the ghost is no longer haunting her house; the ghost is haunting her.

Lorraine doesn't know the ghost's name. She doesn't know where, when or how she died. She doesn't know why she has chosen to haunt her house or her soul. But she does know this:

The redhead ghost's intentions don't feel innocent or benign. Lorraine is convinced that it's only a matter of time before the ghost does something truly terrible to her, and she hopes she can figure out a way to stop her before it's too late.

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