As we ran back toward the mansion, Jasper stopped us at one point. He placed his hands on his knees, his breathing heavy and labored.
“Okay, I think we’re not being chased. They can’t leave the house anyway. I hope.” He looked at me, sweating and sucking up air. “I’ve never seen the others. The other ghost. Why can you see them?”
I looked at him then shook my head. “I’m going insane aren’t I?”
He shook his head and kept walking. I followed him. “Violet was killed by Mr. Harmon. Not only Violet, but Violet’s mother too.”
I stopped in my tracks. A chill ran down my side. “Violet’s mother is dead? Mrs. Harmon is dead?”
“Mr. Harmon has a crazy obsession with, live art. He took his obsession too far when he turned twenty. He used animals at the time. Violet says when she was three, she saw her father kill his own parents. She said she never forgot. Mr. Harmon was living with his parents while Mrs. Harmon was still in college. It was sort of a long distance relationship thing at the time.” He took a deep breath after talking so fast. “Violet says he’s killed more people than just his own parents, but she didn’t realize until she turned fourteen and asked him about it.”
“Then he killed her?” I asked, looking back.
Jasper shook his head. “Not at first. Violet said she started waking up in the morning in so much pain. First it was just her stomach and the inside of her mouth. She even woke up with a missing tooth. Eventually body parts like her fingers, toes, and patches of hair went missing but were patched up. Mr. Harmon was drugging her at night and using her body parts for his sick creations of what he calls art. When she tried to escape, he set her room on fire and watched her burn.”
I nearly wanted to puke. I was living with a psychopath. A psychopath that used my brother for art. I started to cry. “We have to hurry and find this…box,” I said as I started running. Jasper ran along beside me. “What is this box?”
“Um, I’m not really sure. Violet said if she had this box, she could be free to wander off wherever she wanted to. That she’d be free. But, I don’t think she’s sure of that. Before her father moved out, as a ghost, she saw him putting bags inside of a box after every art piece he finished.”
“We could get caught!” I exclaimed. “We need to just call the cops.”
“And tell them what? We have no evidence of what Mr. Harmon is doing,” he said.
“Not yet,” I said.
We were about three minutes walking distance away from the house. It had been five minutes since we spoke. “If we get the box and return it, I just want you to know that you can always trust Violet.”
I looked at him, confused. “Why do I need to trust her?” I asked.
He smirked. “She’s your friend.”
I made a face like, ehhh, she’s dead.
“But she’s also a friend,” he said as if he read my mind.
We were in front of the house now, hiding behind the shrubs.
“He’s not home. Mrs. Harmon is,” Jasper said.
“Wait how do you know?” I asked while looking at him.
“Violet told me,” he said.
“Earlier today,” he said.
I stared at him. “Did you guys know this would happen? That Caleb would be killed?”
“Not until we saw you.” He looked at the ground. “We didn’t know your brother would die. We wanted to tell you, but if you tried to leave Mr. Harmon would kill you right then and there. Violet had a plan to get you both out safe but…” He shrugged. “We tried… I’m sorry. But Violet says she can save him. Please, just trust her.”
I realized I was crying again. Jasper noticed and hugged me, causing me to cry even more. “First my parents, then Caleb, now me. Why us? We don’t deserve this.”
He rubbed my hair. “No one deserved it, Emily.”
The door to the mansion opened. It was Mrs. Harmon. I ran to her quickly. She looked at me with a shocked expression on her face.
“I told you to leave!” she yelled.
“Please. I need your help. I’ve talked with Violet!” I said.
“My daughter? She’s alive?!” she asked.
I looked at her. Her face went from hope to hopeless.
Jasper shook his head. “She’s not.”
“My husband said she ran away a long time ago,” Mrs. Harmon told us. Tears rolled down her cheeks.
“I should have known.”
“Mrs. Harmon,” I said reaching for her hand. “Violet says if we find…a box…?”
Mrs. Harmon’s eyes widened. She started to shake her head rapidly. “No! No! Not the box.” She started to hug herself. It was so dramatic.
Jasper waved his hands in front of her face. “Hey, calm down.”
“The box can’t be in the wrong hands!” she yelled.
“Mr. Harmon is the wrong hands!” Jasper yelled back. “Think of your daughter!”
“I do and I am!” she yelled back at Jasper. They stared each other down for a long time.
“Jasper,” I said to get his attention. I then looked back at Mrs. Harmon. “Fine… let me just say one last goodbye to Caleb before I go.”
She stared at me for the longest time before nodding. “He’s in his room.”
Jasper and I started to walk into the mansion but she stopped us. “But Jasper stays here with me. You have seven minutes before Mr. Harmon comes back.”
“But…” Jasper started.
“That’s the deal!” She looked at him, then to me. “Don’t go looking for the box,” she said. “You won’t find it.”
Before I walked inside, Jasper stopped me. He leaned in toward my ear. “The secret to hide and seek is to never hide where a human hides. Hide where a ghost hides. In plain sight. The box will be in plain sight,” he whispered and then ran back over next to Mrs. Harmon as I opened the door and walked back inside. I closed the door behind me. Time to find this box.