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“How can this be? No, this can’t be real, why would this happen? I never did anything wrong, one moment I had a great life and in the other... No, I need to get my thoughts straight, I need to know how I even got to this moment, because right now... it all seems like an illusion, it feels like it isn't real. Calm down Michael, just breathe and think, how did I got here? What is in the attic?”
It all started on a normal day. I was at home, watching television with my wife, Anna, and our two kids, Susan and Jeremy, were playing in the backyard.
“Oh, I just remembered, can you go get the mail, Michael? I haven't thought about it and it’s been sitting out there for almost three days.”
“Okay Anna, now that I think about it my boss told me he would send me a letter about work, some complaint from a client that he wanted me to solve.”
I stood up and walked to the front door and as soon I opened it, a ray of light came through the little space that the door allowed.
“Damn... it feels like I haven’t been out in days,” I thought to myself. I had lived in this neighborhood for almost fifteen years and for as long as I can remember, nothing wrong has ever happened in it. This place had always been a favorite choice for families who wanted to start a life in a good city with their children.
Shortly after, I came back and put the letters on the kitchen table. It was the same boring routine as always, junk mail, magazine subscriptions, a few bills to pay and the letter from work, but there was another letter which had no sender address.
To this day, I still regret having opened it.
“You think you know your life all too well, don’t you? But there is one detail you don’t know, one that your parents have kept away from you. A detail from your childhood.”
I was freaked at that message, I didn’t know what the hell it was talking about and the fact that it had no sender didn’t help.
“What... What is this? Who sent me this letter? What is this about?” But those thoughts were interrupted when I started to remember the times when I was a kid, playing in my old house backyard just like Susan and Jeremy now play in my house. All the hours I would stay up at night exploring... with my... brother...
I realized something.
I never had a brother. At least not a brother from my parents. But I couldn’t remember much else other than that. After a long night thinking about it, I came to a conclusion.
“I need to go back, to my old house.”
Since it was a Friday, it was the perfect time for to go, but not before I said goodbye to my family.
“Don’t worry Anna, I’ll be okay, I just need to do this alone, this is my problem, not yours.”
“Okay dear, just don’t take too long, you know how the kids can be when you go away, I will tell them you went on a business trip and that you’ll be back by Sunday.”
“Okay then, Love you.”
“Love you too.”
We kissed and shortly after, I was on the road, on my way to the house. Before I could arrive there, it got dark so I stayed at a motel. As soon as the day appeared, I got in my car and carried on.
I was determined.
I arrived at 7:00 p.m, so I had to get inside before it got dark. Surprisingly, the lights still worked, so it was easier to search through it.
But there was a problem.
There was barely anything to search.
When I was young, my family had moved from our home and took almost everything with us.
As I explored the house, I couldn’t help but notice that what remained was covered in a thick coat of dust, not being disturbed for more than fifteen years.
There wasn’t really much to see, just a few chairs and some pieces of furniture that were too big to be moved back at the time.
When I searched the closet from my old room, I found a cardboard box with the name “Daniel” written on it.
“Wait... Daniel? I’m starting to remember. Daniel is my brother... My adoptive brother”
I opened the box and the first thing I saw was an adoption certificate with Daniel written on it, which only fortified my thoughts even more.
I continued to search it and found three more things:
- A letter, from my parents to the orphanage where they got Daniel, that said they wanted to take him back;
- A newspaper with the headline “Kid Escapes From Orphanage, Police Have No Leads.” with the date 05/02/1956;
- And a note, which looked written by a small child that read “Moving Day” with the exact same day as the newspaper.
I started to piece it together.
My parents adopted Daniel only for a month before they took him back to the orphanage. I didn’t know back then, but when I used to play with Daniel in my backyard, we weren’t always alone... we also played with Daniel’s “imaginary friend.”
Every time me and Daniel played, we didn’t play catch or hide and seek.
We did things far more dangerous.
My parents were scared of Daniel and what he could do after he almost killed me when we were playing near a river. So they took him back to the orphanage. When they saw the newspaper the next day, they knew that Daniel would come for us, and we moved to another house.
My face turned white, unable to accept that so much had happened in my life that I had forgotten, that my parents forced me to forget.
But it wasn’t over.
I still had a strange feeling.
“But if Daniel escaped from the orphanage, where did he go? The only home he ever knew was..."
I stopped talking and immediately ran to my car. I knew what was going to happen. It was night, but I didn’t care. I knew it was Daniel who sent the letter, but I didn’t know why. All I knew was that Daniel wanted me away from my house, away from my family.
When I arrived it was raining, but it didn’t bother me.
I just had to get to my family.
I opened the front door and the house was engulfed in complete darkness. When I flipped the light switch nothing happened.
“But the lights outside are on, so that means that someone cut power supply to my house.”
I used my phone to give some light, and the first thing I saw left me frozen in fear.
There was a huge trail of blood on the floor. I followed it and realized that it ramified into three rooms, and each time it got thinner.
I was not prepared for what awaited me.
In the first room there was Anna, dead, not only that but she had her skin completely peeled off of her body and was hanging in the window. The light that came through the skin coated the room in a red colour. The body, which was lying on the floor, was all flesh and meat. The light reflecting off of the body gave it a shining effect.
I vomited right there, I couldn’t take it.
But I had to move on. I didn’t go into the other two rooms. I knew who were in there and I knew I couldn’t take the psychological trauma, so I moved on.
After the trail ended, there were still a few drops of blood leading up to the attic. I stopped for a brief moment to think about what I would do afterwards.
If I would spend the rest of my life in an asylum, trying to repair the irreparable damage done to my brain or if I would just commit suicide.
I was more inclined to do the second one.
I had no more will to live anymore so at least I would be together with my family.
I moved up the stairs and what I found shocked me, even more than what I already was.
There was a man, dead, with a cut to the neck, in the centre of a circle of candles, holding a letter to his chest.
I took the letter and the front read “To: Michael. From: Daniel”
It read, “I have always envied you. You always had a perfect life and I always lived in that place, alone, with no friends. So when your parents came to pick me up, I couldn’t hide my joy. I would finally have a real family. But he ruined it. The one you called “imaginary friend” ruined it all. He was the one who made me push you into the river, and because of that your parents took me back, afraid of what I could do. In the end, I convinced him to help me escape, and after that, I knew I couldn’t just come back to you. Things would never be the same. I started to follow you all my life. But things didn’t turn out as expected. He always hated you, because I gave more attention to you than to him. But he infected me. His hatred towards you started to spread to me, and as the years passed on, you repressed your memories about me and created your own happy life. But it’s over now. You will suffer the same way I suffered all these years.
I killed your family. I ended your life, but I won’t kill you. We are brothers, I could never do that.
But there is someone who can.
He never hurt you because I would never let him. But I’m dead now, and at least you are going to die here, with me.”
As soon as I finished reading the letter, the attic hatch slammed shut and the candles blew out.
“If this is the case, then I am ready to die... with my family”