Kaylee often tried to hide it, but she was a little bit scared when she had to be all by herself.  She always tried to arrange it so she was going here or there at the same time as another family member to avoid being by herself, especially after dark.  She never had any special reason for being afraid, it just got her imagination going when she had to go into a dark, empty room by herself.  So, when her family moved into a new home with a second story where Kaylee would have her very own room all the way upstairs away from her mom, she was a little nervous about her new surroundings.

To top things off, her room had a connecting door to a huge attic.  She had never lived in a house with an attic before and she didn’t know what to think.  On the one hand it was kind of neat, exploring the dark recesses of hidey-holes and opportunities for lots of room to play pretend games.  On the other hand, it was a little creepy.  How many scary stories had she heard or movies had she seen where the attic was always the spot where the ghost hung out and waited for the next opportunity to get some unsuspecting little kid who was too stupid to be afraid to go up there in the dark.  She didn’t want to be that stupid kid in the movie.

After a few days in the new place she forgot most of this nonsense as she got settled in and found all sorts of fun ways to use all this extra space connected right to her very own room.  It was like having her own apartment now since she had a whole extra room all to herself.  She got so comfortable she even started spending hours up there sitting in the window sill, looking out over the yard, thinking her thoughts and lining up her plastic animals on every vacant spot available along the window sill and on the floor all around her in arm’s reach.

One day as she sat playing in her favorite spot, right in front of the window it started to get dark a little sooner than she thought it should (she was always careful to make sure she left the attic before it got dark – after all, there are some things you just don’t test and sitting in an attic after dark is one of those things).  She could hear thunder in the distance and realized it was getting dark because a storm was brewing.

Now, most of the time, Kaylee would have just gotten up and left everything exactly where it was and gotten the heck out of there.  But this time she had a dilemma, she just had a little bit of time and she would be going to the ice rink with her mom and big brother.  Her big brother Tyler is a hockey player and Kaylee had been tagging along for as far as she could remember to all those dumb ‘ole practices and games that she wasn’t the least bit interested in watching.  Her solution was to pack herself an entertainment package and it included her set of plastic animals that were now all lined up in front of the attic window.  Hmm, if she just hot-footed it out of the attic now, she wouldn’t have time to come back and get her animals before it was time to go to the ice rink.

It would only take her five minutes tops to sling those animals back in the box, she thought she could tough it out.  Afterall, she hadn’t seen or heard anything to make her think there was any reason to worry and she realized there might be an element of truth in her brother’s teasing that she was being a baby when he realized she was afraid to be in the attic or even upstairs in her bedroom by herself in the evening.  “I am not a baby”, she thought.  So, she steeled her nerves and set about picking up the animals as fast as she possibly could, trying not to think about how dark and scary it was getting and how loud that thunder seemed to be getting.

The lightening was now flashing brighter and brighter and closer and closer to each deafening thunderclap and Kaylee was losing her nerve just as quickly as the storm was advancing.  She made up her mind to reach for just a few more of her favorites and just leave the rest for later when there was a loud thunderclap, a bright flash, then complete darkness!

The storm had knocked out the power and there stood Kaylee, her very worst fear realized as she trembled in the pitch blackness of the attic, only an occasional lightening flash to cast an eerie glow.

What happened next came tumbling out in an incoherent babble as Kaylee tried to tell her mom and brother what had happened to her in the attic.  When she could finally be assured nothing was coming down the stairs behind her Kaylee explained she had seen something in the attic.  She saw what looked like the ghostly form of a little girl, right in the very place she’d been sitting, in front of the window.

She explained that as she turned to try to feel her way to the door she caught her foot on something and tripped.  She kept it to herself that she was already scared out of her wits at just at the idea of being in the attic in the dark.  “They’ll never believe me as it is, why add to the problem?” she thought.  She went on to say that as she was grappling to get up off the floor and find her way out she saw a glowing figure just a few feet away from her hovering near the windowsill.  Of course, she was terrified at this sight and plunged away from the window and in the direction she thought was the door and plowed right into the door facing nearly knocking herself out.

The lights came back on, the room filled with light and the figure was gone.  Kaylee lost no time running as fast as she could out of the attic and all the way downstairs to find her mother in the kitchen.  Tyler was there too, the big jerk, and he was having a field day with this story.  “Why am I such an idiot” she thought, “I shouldn’t have said anything about this in front of him”.

As she finished her story it was just as she thought, Tyler immediately started laughing his big head off.  Now that the lights were back on and she was not alone she started to wonder about things herself but she wouldn’t dare admit it.  Her mother was soothing and reassuring though except for insisting they go upstairs together and have a look.  “No way I’m going back in that attic”, Kaylee thought.

Of course, she did go back in the attic.  Her mom and Tyler were there too.  It looked like a normal room again now.  Bathed in warm light it was hard to even imagine the figure she’d seen earlier.  She quickly collected the rest of her animals, took the box and left right behind her mom and brother.

Later that night she realized something.  Tyler hadn’t said one more word to her about the incident.  As she thought about it, that seemed really strange.  Usually he would have teased her to death about something like this, why hadn’t he said anything about it.  He was even extra nice to her as they came up to get ready for bed.  He even came in and helped her make sure the attic door was locked and turned on the bathroom night light.  She would have to ask him about that tomorrow, all of a sudden he was being way too nice.

She drifted off to sleep thinking about the day, what she’d seen and how Tyler was acting.

The next morning, Saturday, Kaylee bounded out of bed, got dressed and hurried down to breakfast.  She was anxious to talk to Tyler.  “When would he get out of bed” she wondered.

When he finally came down she asked if he wanted to go outside, he usually said no, he seemed to think he was too mature for playing outside anymore, but this time he surprised her by readily agreeing.  So after they finished breakfast they headed for the best place they had for kids-only-grown-ups-not-allowed-conversation, the barn.

Kaylee was still impressed at how easy it had been to get Tyler talked into coming outside with her, plus going to the barn.  They always had fun in the barn but it was still tough to get Tyler to come out there.  Kaylee had the barn loft all fixed up, the perfect Club House.  She had a “Horse Club” sign at the top of the ladder to the loft, a sign in sheet for members only and lots of pictures of horses taped up all around that she’d cut from magazines.  She thought it looked like a pretty cool place.  Tyler always wanted to do dumb stuff like pretend they were spys.  Kaylee preferred to pretend they were a herd of horses being chased and rounded up by cowboys.

Today they headed up to the loft and Tyler was the first one to talk.  “Kaylee, what was all that stuff you were saying yesterday about seeing a little girl in the attic?”  he asked.  She told him the story again and he didn’t tease her.  Instead he shocked her by telling her he thought he’d seen her too.

“What?” Kaylee exclaimed.  “You saw her too, when?”

Tyler went on to explain he caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of his eye one other time he’d gone in that same side of the attic (Kaylee had a brief flash of anger, wondering what he was doing snooping around in her stuff but she let it go) to get something.  At the time he thought it was his imagination but now he wasn’t so sure.  Plus, it had been starting to storm that night too.

They decided to try to see her again.  They watched the weather forecast with far more interest than they had ever shown to the surprise of everyone around them.  Finally, pay dirt.  A storm front was moving in and they decided to stake out the attic and see if anything happened.

Finally, the night came when the winds started to howl and thunder could be heard in the distance.  Tyer and Kaylee took a board game to the attic and just waited, passing the time with a rousing game of Monopoly.  A few fights erupted over whether or not one or the other counted accurately, or really landed on Park Place legitimately when finally the storm was arriving in force.  Thunder and lightening shook the house.

Kaylee screamed, “There, there she is”.

Tyler saw her too, they both wanted to run out of there but this time the apparition was between them and the door.  They were trapped!

They were terrified.  Then they started to look at the girl more closely.  “Look” Tyler said.  “She’s smiling, she looks friendly”.

The girl appeared to be trying to speak, but they couldn’t hear her.  She had something in her hand, what was it?  Kaylee recognized it.  “A note, she’s carrying a piece of paper” Kaylee said.  The apparition smiled broadly, appearing to be looking right at Kaylee.  Then she just vanished.

Tyler and Kaylee stood there, stunned by what they’d seen and not knowing what to think.  Then Kaylee spotted something on the floor.  She picked it up.

“Look, Tyler, look, a note, a drawing and it looks like it’s on old paper with that fancy kind of writing” Kaylee said.

“Wow, it’s a map Kaylee, she’s trying to tell us something.  Let’s see if we can figure out what it is”.

They hurried to Tyler’s room to take a good look at the map.  It really looked old and it looked like a child’s drawing.  It took awhile but they finally saw something they recognized.  There was a drawing of a man at one edge of the paper with the initials I.M.  They knew it right away, it was the iron man figure that stood in front of what is now a convenience store.  The iron man had been there for years.  It marked a historic spot in the area.  The iron man was a a sign post that had stood in its position since the 1800’s.  It now marked Iron Man Rd. but back when it was originally put in place it marked the General Mercantile that stood on the only main road in town.  It was a man shaped sign made of iron, just a sign put up by the storekeeper and it was so well-made that over the years it became a landmark.  Everyone called it the Iron Man since it was made of heavy cast iron, the kind of iron old skillets are made from.  It was still in it’s place today all these years later.

Using that as a reference they were pretty sure they pinpointed the area that contained an X.  Sure they were holding a treasure map in their hands they took off to the barn to sneak a shovel out of the tool room.  Several hours later, they came dragging in exhausted and empty handed.  Finding nothing but a huge old Oak tree in the vicinity of the X.  They dug around in a spot or two but it would take way more than they could do to dig that up in a way that counted as a thorough search.

They gave up for the moment.  Taking to watching for the next forecast of storms.  Curious more than scared now, they waited for the next opportunity to talk to the ghost in the attic.   (continues  October 15th, 2010)