The title of this post is my first sentence, which I got from a generator. http://writingexercises.co.uk/firstlinegenerator.php if anyone is interested in it.
The old house, with its wildly overgrown garden, was silent, secretive. Even though it was on a lively street in the suburbs it seemed apart from the world. No one ever said anything about it, they probably never even realized that they were doing it, but almost everybody crossed the street to avoid so much as walking next to it. Those who did go near it always noticed how quiet it was. The sounds of the city seemed to fade away to silence and the whispering of the wind through the plants seemed far louder than should have been possible. There was also a worn realtor’s sign to the gate, the words too faded to be read.
There were three of them of them standing outside of that strange house about an hour before sunset. The first woman was distracted with herself, checking her makeup with a hand mirror. She was dressed extravagantly in sundress, strappy heels high enough to be wildly impractical, with enough jewelry on that she jingled when she walked. After a while she began to talk to herself in her best host voice, practicing.
The second woman had been staring with fascination at the building, but once the other woman begin talking, she rolled her eyes loud enough to be heard across the street, then turned to just glare at the other woman., Compared to the first, she was dressed practically the opposite, in a half-sleeve hoodie that had mystery stains on it and was at least a size too large for her, jeans and a pair of cheap canvas sneakers. “You do know that the camera isn’t even on yet, right?”
The well-dressed woman flipped the lid of her mirror shut then glared at the other woman. After moment, her expression changed to a well-practiced smile. “It’s called running my lines, Taylor, sweetie. That’s what professionals do.”
“Do you actually think that you’re a professional at something? All of you are fakes. And you’re the fakest of them all. All you ever do is give off your fake smile, say all the meaningless words that everyone loves wants to hear, then shill your products to your adoring fans.”
“For someone who has that kind of an opinion, isn’t it a little hypocritical of you to spend so much of your time around us. I’ve seen you on more than a few of your sister’s videos.”
“Step-sister,” Taylor replied, her lips curling into a scowl. “I was never given a choice in the matter. She convinced my mom that it would be good for me to participate for some reason. She’s almost as fake as you are. I’m just a prop to her. Something she can point at and say ‘look how AWESOME I am. We took in this troubled teen who NOWHERE else to go, and now we’re a big HAPPY family!”
“Why would you tell me that?”
“Because it’s funny. Maybe you’ll bring it up, embarrass my sister in front of a lot people. And if not, well, it still amuses me.”
Kenzie just stared for a moment, then shook her head. Instead of responding, she turned her attention to the man. “Are you about done, Brad, we’re running out of daylight.”
“Just another minute, boss. I’m just calibrating the camera now,” he replied.
“Good. And you. Part of this whole deal is that you’re on camera tonight. You are running out of time to get dressed,” she said, turning her attention back to Taylor.
“I am dressed. This is what I’m wearing tonight.”
“You look like you’re about to get in line at a soup kitchen.”
“It is called fashion. I call it Belichick chic. You’re just not young a hip enough to get it.”
“Fine. I don’t really care. Just try not to do anything that I have to edit too bad and it doesn’t matter. Other than that, whatever you do, do not interrupt me.”
“Hey guys, Kenzie here…” she said, starting her speech went on far too long and involved her saying hashtag far too many times.
“So how are we getting in? Climbing?” Taylor asked, her hands wrapped around two of the iron bars of the gate. She had spent the entirety of Kenzie’s speech extravagantly bored and did her best to be a nuisance short of direct interference.
“I rather thought that we’d just walk through the gate.” Kenzie replied, fishing out a key from her bag and waving it around.
“What, did you think that I just was going to walk into a random house, even if it is abandoned and film myself running around it without getting permission first?”
“Well, yeah. I do it all the time.”
The temperature seemed to drop at least ten degrees the moment that they stepped through the gate. The mournful howl of the wind disappeared, replaced with the songs of birds and bugs, and a hundred other critters that seemed downright odd to exist in the middle of a city. Up ahead, the house seemed to stare back at them, unblinking, as it were waiting silently for its guests to arrive.
“I need to go set up the gear,” Brad said, overloaded with bags that no one else seemed interested in helping with. “You didn’t exactly give me a lot of time to wire up the entire house before dark.”
“Go on ahead then. The front door should be unlocked. We’re going to have a look around the outside before we go in.” Kenzie replied, indifferent to his griping. Brad muttered some choice words to himself, but nonetheless wandered off up to the building.
“WE are having a look? I certainly did not sign up for a nature hike today.” Taylor replied, staring with annoyance at Kenzie.
“You’re here to make sure that I don’t cheat in any way by keeping an eye on me. Which means that your job is to stay at my side. I’m going to check out the back of the building, ergo you’re coming with me.”
“Fine, but if there’s a bear, well I’d say that I’d trip you to make sure that I outrun you, but considering those heels, I won’t have to worry about that. I might do it anyway, just for fun, though.”
“We’re in the suburbs. There is absolutely no chance that we are going to run into a bear. And I might surprise you. I can still run in these things.”
“Then I’ll definitely trip you.”
As soon as they left the main path of the building, the foliage got as thick as a forest. Just to keep sight of the building, they had to keep very close to it, and even then, it was barely visible through small gaps in the foliage at best. It was a larger than average lot of land, but the trip was very slow going, especially with Kenzie’s choice in footwear and it took them around ten minutes before they finally reached their destination.
“Okay, I’m not doing that again,” Kenzie muttered as she surveyed the ruins of what had once been the concrete patio. She had scratches across her bare arms and legs from the trip, and hair had become as wild as the land around them, which she instinctively began trying to fix it up.
“If I knew that this was going to happen, I would have brought my machete.” Taylor said.
“The thought of you having a machete, that does not surprise me. And just, no. I wouldn’t trust you with even a butter knife.”
The concrete of what had once undoubtedly had been a magnificent patio had long ago fell victim to the overgrowth. It had cracks everywhere with plants rising through the gaps even some sapling trees growing fighting their way through. The wooden chairs had long since rotted, living mushy wood sometimes only in the shape of a chair. There was a fountain that no longer held any water with a cherub holding a vase in the center, all of it red with rust and choked with vines. There had once been four statues surrounding the fountain, but now there was nothing but stone bases that looked like someone had purposefully destroyed, although there were only a few fragments of stone left in the area, as if someone had carted the pieces off. In the distance, near the fence, there looked to be a loose pile of stone, barely visible through the foliage.
“You know, if we got some mimosas, we could have an awesome party out here.” Taylor said, walking over to get a closer look at the fountain.
‘You know, you’re kind of twisted. Nobody in their right made would want to have a party here.” Kenzie replied
“Sure they would. All we have here is decay and rot. That’s way more interesting than having some poolside party where everybody talks about nothing but boys and boyfriends, and shoes. Oh my god, the shoes! I mean, who really cares about them THAT much. And then there’s the hashtags and the perfect pictures of things that just get thrown in the trash afterwards. Who the hell would actually want to go to that kind of a party, anyway? Not anybody interesting. Not anybody real.”
“I get it already. You hate me and everything that I stand for.
“You chose the life. Part of that means that you have to deal with the hate too.”
Kenzie laughed out loud, seemingly surprising herself. She tried to raise her arms to muffle the laughter but was too late.
“What are you going to say? You didn’t choice to be an influencer, it chose you? Or some other dumb as shit meaningless words?”
“What are you trying to do, get me to admit that I’m a fake, that we’re all fakes so you can rub my nose in it? The truth is that I don’t care what you think. And even if we are all fakes, then you’re just as fake as the rest of us. You may complain about it constantly, but you’re still a part of it. You love the attention just as much as the rest of us. So please, let’s just play our dumb little parts here so we can just get this over with so we can go home.”
“Careful now. If you get all worked up like this, you might break a nail.”
“Fine. I tried with you; I really did. But I’m done with this. Is this really all you ever do, just strike out at everyone near you with your razor words?” Kenzie said, then walked away from Taylor, deeper into the backyard of the strange house.
Taylor sighed extravagantly, scowling fiercely even though there was no one to be seen. “Why did you walk out here? You’re obviously not the outdoors type.”
“Well, Brad’s in there finishing the setup, and well, no. That’s reason enough. I don’t want to stand around and watch them work, and I certainly don’t want to help them. So, I decided to explore the rest of the estate instead. It turned out to be a terrible idea, but, well.” Kenzie said, then finished with an apathetic shrug.
“Are you actually afraid of a haunted house? There’s nothing in there but a musty old house with some weird acoustics. As fun as it would be for it to be otherwise, there are no ghosts to be had. But there are plenty of assholes with cameras jumping at shadows trying to get famous from it.
“Do you think that I’m oblivious? ‘I dare you to spend the night in this specific haunted house. Oh, and you need to take my little sister with you, so she can verify that you actually stay in there the whole night.’ It’s a trap, so to. How many ‘pranks’ do you have set up for me in there?”
“Stepsister. And you don’t really expect me to give up the fun of it, do you?” Taylor said with a grin.
“No, of course not. I just wanted you to know that I do know what is going to happen and that I just don’t care. We all are playing a dumb little game here.”
Tired of standing outside and bickering, they wandered into the building. The shadows had grown long, but there was enough light to be seen for the moment. They entered into a kitchen that looked like it hadn’t been updated since the fifties. It was surprisingly intact given the neglect that the house had undoubtedly experienced over the years, with only a little bit of the cabinet paint peeling ruining the dated aesthetic, although a thick layer of dust did also cover everything.
Next, they walked into the adjoining dining hall. It was a large room set up to easily seat at least a dozen guests at the table. The curtains on the two windows were in tatters and half-rotten, but the windows themselves were still in excellent shape, although what would have certainly once been a delightful view was instead nothing more than the garden pressing into the window itself. The decorations were still intact, but some of the statues had toppled over the years. Half of the table was still set for dinner, complete with dishes and utensils, although the tablecloth was losing its battle with time. There was an ornate glass vase for the centerpiece with nothing inside of it beyond some unrecognizable pieces of plant matter from whatever had last served as decoration. The other half of the table had become a makeshift command center, with four monitors set up facing away from them and both a large computer and a laptop up and running, along with a few other pieces of hardware that neither of them knew its exact purpose. Also, there was an unknown man sitting in the chair, his attention absolutely focused on the monitors.
“Umm, who are you?” Kenzie asked cautiously, staring at the man.
The man looked up at Kenzie, scowling with annoyance. He looked both of them up and down for a moment, then, absolutely disinterested, his eyes came back down to the computers before he finally responded. “Mike.”
“Okay Mike. I don’t know you, and you don’t work for me. And right now, the only people who should be on this property should be both of those things.”
“I don’t work for you,” Taylor interjected, unable to resist herself.
“Oh, close enough with you,” Kenzie snapped back
Mike looked back up, his scowl only deepening. “Brad brought me on. Said that there he was babysitting a spoiled princess who wanted to play ghost hunter for the night and needed someone with experience in the field to help out.”
“You should fire him!” Taylor said with a smirk.
“I suppose you could do that. But all of this gear is mine. And nobody touches it except me and maybe someone else if I’m still in the room.
Taylor lost herself in a fit of laughter, but Kenzie was unfazed. She seemed even more frustrated at the unexpected change. “Fine, whatever. I don’t care. He and I need to have some words on what exactly the rules of our little relationship. Where exactly would he be right now?”
“Give him a minute, he just finished setting up the last camera. He should be back any time.”
When Brad walked into the room, Kenzie was all smiles, although she did a poor job of hiding just how forced it was “Brad dear, are there any other things that you seem to have forgotten to mention to me?”
Brad looked between Kenzie and Mike. Taylor had lost interest and was staring into her phone. “Okay, yeah he’s a giant prick, but you wanted the full experience, and I don’t have the gear to wire an entire house. And you always said that I’m in charge of the camera, so I looked for some assistance.”
Kenzie sighed softly. “Whatever, its fine, Brad. It’s just you should have told me first,” she then turned at looked at Mike, concerned. “I just really hope that he’s been housebroken already. Because I look at him and I’m just not really sure if that’s the case.”
“If I had told you first, you would have said no. And if I hadn’t brought him in we would wouldn’t be ready yet. So you can go ahead and yell at me for a bit like I know you want to, or we can go ahead and do a walkthrough if you’d like, get it out of the way so we’ll be ready for the interesting stuff that usually happens after midnight.”
“I don’t want to yell at you,” Kenzie replied, biting at her lip. ”But yes, we should do the stupid walkthrough. I have to gear for this, right? The stupid head camera and all the mic packs that I hate wearing.”
“Generally yes. Although not entirely necessary because, well I’ll be there with my gear.”
“Ugh, full experience, I guess.” She said, clearly uninterested in the endeavor. “Let’s just get set up and we’ll do the walkthrough.”