It was a dare, and I took it. You know how people get when being pressured by their friends, being clucked at like a chicken and calling you a scaredy cat. Well, they were my friends... yup, friends.
It was an old broken down mine shaft. Cliche, I know. It had caved in during a mine blast that went wrong, and many miners were injured. Luckily, no one died... that is, until a young girl was curious enough to explore the ruins. The mine was, and still is, unstable.
The girl's name was Aida, but her last name was never released for unknown reasons. She was ten when she crawled in to look around, hoping to find some little treasures to take home. She was very adventurous. Unfortunately, part of the ceiling fell down and crushed her to death. She wasn't found until a week later when they discovered her footsteps in the mud leading to the mine. Her body was carefully recovered, and there was a closed casket funeral.
Well, years later, stories were made and rumors were spread that Aida still haunts the mine. And of course, my friends pressured me to go in. "You're afraid of her ghost," they were saying. I assured them that I was more afraid of meeting the same fate as the little girl, but... I dunno, I gave in because their taunts really hurt.
Equipped with nothing but a flashlight, I carefully made my way into the unstable mine. There were a few cracks where the sun shown through, but it wasn't enough light to really see. I had to be careful not to bump any rocks or fixtures so as to not cause another cave in.
I didn't believe there was a ghost, but when I reached the area poor Aida had died, I indeed found myself scared. There was a large rock, and it, as well as the ground, was still stained with her blood. I could see a small fragment of cloth that must've ripped off of her clothes.
Disturbed, I continued forward. I should've just turned around, but curiosity kept me going. Malicious thoughts about sending my friends in here ran through my head. Bet they'd be too scared... I thought to myself.
Just then, I ran the beam of my flashlight over a wall not too far from the bloody rock, and I had to double take when I thought I saw something move.
"H... hello?" I said tentatively. There was no answer. I slowly stepped closer, watching the wall carefully. Just then, I heard very soft crying coming from just ahead of me. My heart was pounding. "H-h-hello...?" I squeaked.
"Leave... me... alone..." said the disembodied voice. I froze on the spot. I wanted to scream and run away, but I couldn't budge. A figure of a small girl stepped through the wall. I felt like I couldn't breath; it was the most terrifying thing I had ever experienced in my life.
The ghost girl had long blonde hair that was matted with dried blood and dirt, and it fell over her pale face. Oh god, her face... Her eyes were wide and sunken in, and her skin was scratched and bloody. The rest of her body was just as scraped up, and blood covered her ripped, dirty dress. Her right arm bent at a weird angle, looking like it had been broken.
The ghost of Aida was crying dark tears, as if the water had been mixed with soot. She tilted her head at me, and her joints cracked as she moved. I felt like I'd die from fear.
"LEAVE ME ALONE!!" she shrieked, the sound of her distorted voice sending ice cold chills through my body. I wanted to run away, but I still couldn't move. Aida didn't scream again, just continued to cry. "Why won't you leave me alone?" she whimpered. "Everyone else leaves me alone..." My tense body relaxed a bit, and again, I considered running. However, I was struck with sudden bravery.
"Why... do you... want to be... alone...?" I asked in a shaky voice. Aida stared at me with her haunting eyes. They seemed less menacing now, and more distraught.
"Everybody screams at me and runs away," she sniffled. "I'm all alone because no one likes me anymore..." She wiped her eyes, smearing more dirt and dried blood across her face.
"Well..." I said softly, still full of fear. "You're... a ghost... and people are afraid of ghosts..."
"But I'm just a little girl..." she replied, taking an unnaturally shaky step forward. When she moved, it looked like she was in a stop motion film. I tensed again.
"I kn-know..." I breathed.
"You're scared of me too..." said Aida, still moving closer.
"Y-yes..." I admitted. "But... weren't you afraid of ghosts when you were alive?"
"Yea," she replied, finally reaching me and looking up into my face with those dead eyes. "But I'm not scary... I'm just a little girl..." I didn't have the heart to tell her how scary she really was, but she saw it on my face. She fell to her knees and wailed, sobbing hysterically. "Everyone hates me!" I don't know what made me do it. Maybe I remembered that she was indeed just a little girl. She was robbed of her life, of friends, of boyfriends, and developing talents. I knelt in front of her and gently set my hands on her shoulders. I was surprised that I could touch her, though she was ice cold.
"Everyone doesn't hate you," I whispered, and she looked up at me. "We just don't understand. We're afraid of death, and we're afraid that the dead will come to kill us too."
"I don't want to hurt anyone," said Aida, still sniffling. "I always come out when people come in here, but they scream and run away. They all leave, so I should just be alone... but I don't want to be alone..."
"I'll be your friend," I said without thinking. Her haunting eyes suddenly became a little brighter, more lifelike. I could see a hint of blue in them.
"Really?" Aida whispered. "You're not scared?"
"I'm not going to lie," I said, trying not to tremble as I took her hand and helped her to her feet. "I am terrified. But you don't deserve to be alone. I'm willing to try and overcome my fears to help you."
"What's you name?" she asked, and I could hear her childlike excitement in her hoarse voice.
"Catherine," I replied. "But my friends call me Cat." Aida giggled, holding onto my hand tightly.
"Can I call you Kitty?" My heart calmed down a bit.
"Of course." We walked carefully through the mine toward the entrance. However, I stopped a few yards away from it.
"What's wrong?" Aida said.
"Can I ask a favor from you?"
"My friends dared me to come in here. They made fun of me for being scared, not caring that I could get crushed just like you did. Do you mind giving them a little scare?" Aida thought for a moment, and then smiled, revealing bloody teeth.
"Scare meanie friends? Okay." So together, we formulated a plan before leaving the mine...
"Do you think she's okay?" asked Mitch.
"She's fine," said Patty. "She's probably just sitting in a corner and crying."
"What if the ghost girl got her?" asked Flora in a hushed whisper.
"Don't be thick," Patty replied. "There's no ghost girl."
"I hope she didn't get crushed by something," said Mitch. "Do you realize that'd be all our fault?"
"She's fi--" began Patty, but there was suddenly a blood curdling scream from inside the mine. The three teenagers watched the entrance in horror, and gasped as Cat staggered out and fell forward into the mud. Her eyes were wide, lips parted slightly...
"Oh god..." Flora squeaked. "Oh god! She's dead! SHE'S DEAD!!"
"Shit!" said Patty urgently. "We need to get out of here!"
"We can't just leave her!" Mitch shouted. Just then, they heard soft humming from just inside the mine, echoing eerily.
"Is... is that... 'Ring Around the Rosie...?'" whispered Flora in a high pitched voice. The three of them watched in horror as the humming got closer and closer...
"Would you like to play a game?" said a childish voice as the ghost of a young girl stepped out from the mine. "Let's play..." Mitch, Patty, and Flora screamed bloody murder and tore down the dirt road toward the town.
Cat let out a snort and sat up, laughing. Aida started giggling as well, watching Cat get back to her feet.
"That'll teach them," she said, flicking mud off her hands. "I can't wait to see their faces when I go back to school."
"They were so mean!" said Aida. "Why were you friends with them?"
"They weren't always like that," Cat replied. "But I assure you, I'm not their friend anymore. Anyway, wanna come home with me?"
"Yes," said Aida with a bloody smile.
"How're we gonna transport you?" asked Cat suddenly. "I think it'd be quite a sight to be walking down the street with a ghost." Aida walked behind Cat to the backpack she was wearing, opened it, and flew inside as a wisp of smoke. Cat laughed. "I can't wait to see what other ghostly stuff you can do." There was a muffled giggle, and Cat walked home.
"Cat!" Flora exclaimed when Cat walked into math class. "What... how..."
"We saw you die!" Patty exclaimed. The other students were listening intently, having been told the whole story.
"Die?" Cat asked, feigning ignorance. "What are you talking about?"
"Yesterday, we dared you to go into the haunted mine shaft!" said Patty. "You staggered out and fell dead right in front of us! And we saw the ghost girl!"
"Wow," said Cat. "You'll say anything to get attention, won't you?" Her three former friends were silent. "Why don't you tell the class the truth. That I dared you to go into the mine, but you were too scared of the ghost girl." The class suddenly shot evil looks at Mitch, Patty, and Flora.
"What?" said Mitch. "She's... she's lying!"
"Who are you going to believe, me? Or the ones who claimed to see me die?" And just like that, those three became the most hated kids in school.
Cat was sitting against the wall next to her backpack, eating a sandwich and watching other students conversing with friends and throwing their own lunches at people. She sighed contently and suddenly felt an ice cold hand on her forearm.
"Hey," Cat whispered to her backpack. "What have you been doing in there?"
"Sleeping," Aida replied, her dead little eyes peaking through the opening of the bag as she retracted her hand.
"Ghosts sleep?" Cat asked, brow furrowed.
"Sorta," said Aida. "It's hard to explain."
"Can you eat?" said Cat, holding up her sandwich.
"No," Aida replied sadly. "But it's okay. Just another downside to being dead."
"Are you cramped in there?" said Cat. "Do I need to get a bigger backpack?"
"No," said Aida again. "It's cozy."
"Just let me know if you're ever uncomfortable."
"Hey Kitty?" said Aida, and Cat smiled.
"Yes?" she asked.
"I'm glad you're my friend." Cat laughed and reached her hand inside the bag to touch her stone cold face.
"I'm glad you're my friend too."