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Pramoedya Ananta Toer

The fog hung heavy over the town of Eldridge, a sleepy community nestled between the craggy arms of dense forests and the restless whispers of the old sea. Eldridge was known for its unspoken history, a tapestry of tales woven with threads of the supernatural, inexplicable, and deeply unsettling. It was in this cloak of eerie quietude that our story began, as shared by a user named “ElliotGrayson” on a popular online forum dedicated to true creepy stories.

Elliot, a freelance writer with a penchant for the paranormal, had recently moved into an old Victorian house on the outskirts of Eldridge. The house, a towering structure of fading grandeur, was known to the locals as the Crowe Estate. It had stood empty for years, its history marred by a series of unexplained disappearances and alleged hauntings. Undeterred by the townsfolk’s warnings and intrigued by its past, Elliot saw it as the perfect backdrop for his next series of articles.

The first few days in the house were uneventful, but as the nights drew in, a palpable sense of unease began to creep into Elliot’s bones. The house seemed to breathe with a life of its own: floors creaked ominously, doors would slam shut without a draft, and the air was always tinged with the faint, almost imperceptible scent of decay.

Elliot’s first encounter with the inexplicable occurred one rain-soaked evening. While sifting through an old chest in the attic, he found a dusty, leather-bound journal belonging to Sarah Crowe, the last mistress of the house. The journal was filled with frantic entries that spoke of seeing figures in the mirrors, figures that moved when they should not, figures that whispered Sarah’s name with a hunger. It ended abruptly with a chilling, scribbled note: “They are not reflections. They are windows.”

That night, Elliot experienced the first of what would become many haunting visions. He was woken from a deep sleep by the sound of sobbing. Following the sound, he found himself standing before the house’s grand mirror in the main hallway. The reflection showed not his own image but that of a woman, her face contorted in agony and terror. She seemed to be looking right at him, her mouth moving in silent pleading.

Fascinated and horrified, Elliot took to the forum to share his experiences and seek advice. Responses varied from skeptical to encouraging further investigation. Among the community members, a user named “WatcherInTheWoods” seemed particularly knowledgeable, hinting that the house’s mirrors might be linked to an ancient curse laid upon the Crowe family for a forgotten sin.

Encouraged by “WatcherInTheWoods”, Elliot decided to delve deeper into the house’s past, visiting the local library to pore over old newspapers and historical records. What he discovered was a pattern of tragedy that traced back centuries, with each generation of the Crowe family meeting untimely and often bizarre ends. The town’s archives revealed little about the nature of the curse, but hinted at a pact made with a dark entity that demanded a sacrifice every fifty years.

With each passing night, the activity in the house intensified. Elliot would see flickers of movement from the corner of his eye, hear whispers emanating from the mirrors, and find objects moved or broken. He documented everything, sharing updates with his online followers, who were now engrossed in the unfolding horror.

One particular mirror in the study seemed to be the epicenter of the paranormal activity. Elliot decided to set up a camera to record what happened at night. The footage revealed disturbing scenes: figures in old-fashioned garb appearing in the mirror, seemingly unaware of their surroundings, until they would suddenly turn and stare directly at the camera, their expressions twisted in horrific recognition.

As the 50th year since the last known sacrifice approached, the atmosphere in the house grew increasingly oppressive. Elliot felt a pull towards the mirrors, a gnawing urge to look, to search for something within their depths. The town of Eldridge seemed to watch him with bated breath, as though anticipating the climax of a story long told in hushed tones.

The penultimate entry in Elliot’s online journal was frantic, a chaotic spill of words that conveyed a man teetering on the brink of either a profound discovery or madness. He wrote of finally understanding the nature of the curse, of plans to end it, though the details were maddeningly vague.

The final entry was simply a date and time, with an invitation to his readers to watch a live stream where he promised to reveal all and break the cycle forever. The appointed hour came, and thousands tuned in to watch. The screen showed Elliot in the study, the cursed mirror behind him. He began to speak, his voice shaky but resolute.

As he explained the ritual he believed would free the house and himself from the curse, the air around him shimmered strangely, the light dimming as if swallowed by an unseen force. He stepped

towards the mirror, his back to the camera, and began to chant words in a language not meant for human ears. The mirror’s surface rippled, and hands, pale and trembling, reached out towards him…

And then, the feed cut abruptly to black. Attempts to re-establish connection failed, leaving viewers around the world in stunned silence, staring at their screens.

The story was left hanging there, a thread pulled taut, ready to snap or weave into the next chapter, dependent on the whims and whispers of the unseen, the untold, and the undead. In the eerie stillness that followed the sudden blackout of the livestream, the online community erupted in frantic speculation. Concerned and curious, a group of Elliot’s followers, drawn together by the shared intensity of the unfolding horror, decided to take action. Among them were a tech-savvy paranormal enthusiast, a local historian familiar with the dark lore of Eldridge, and a psychic who claimed sensitivity to supernatural disturbances. They agreed to meet at the Crowe Estate to uncover what had happened to Elliot and potentially intervene in the dark forces at play.

The trio arrived under the cloak of a stormy night, the sky grumbling with thunder as if voicing its disapproval. The house loomed out of the darkness like a sentinel, its windows dark and unwelcoming. As they approached, the wind seemed to carry whispers, snatches of laughter and cries, as though the house itself was populated by invisible specters.

Armed with various tools—EMF meters, thermal cameras, and audio recorders—the group cautiously entered the house. The air inside was cold and musty, filled with the heavy scent of old wood and a faint, almost cloying smell of roses, which seemed out of place. The main hall, dominated by the grand mirror where Elliot had last been seen, was shrouded in darkness, the mirror now just a dim silhouette.

The tech enthusiast, named James, set up a command center with his equipment near the entrance, while the historian, Lisa, took to exploring the rooms, hoping to find clues in the Crowe family artifacts scattered throughout the house. The psychic, Marianne, was drawn inexorably towards the study, the site of the last transmission.

As Marianne approached the study, the temperature dropped sharply. The door creaked open by itself as she neared, revealing the dimly lit room bathed in the light of the full moon streaming in through a cracked window. The mirror stood at the far end of the room, its surface strangely opaque as if fogged from within.

Marianne’s breath caught in her throat as she stepped closer to the mirror. The air around her vibrated with an unspoken energy, a palpable sense of dread that seemed to pulsate from the mirror itself. She reached out tentatively, her fingers nearly touching the cool glass, when suddenly a handprint appeared on the inside of the mirror, followed by another, and then another, as if desperate souls were trying to escape some unseen horror within.

Back in the main hall, James monitored the screens, which flickered intermittently as if responding to an unseen interference. He switched to the thermal camera, and gasped as he saw the outline of a person in the study with Marianne, visible only in the thermal imaging. The figure stood close behind her, its features indistinct and blurred, yet unmistakably human in shape.

James yelled for Lisa, who rushed from the library, her arms laden with old books and manuscripts. They hurried to the study, calling out to Marianne, who seemed unresponsive, transfixed by the mirror. As they entered the room, the temperature plummeted further, their breath visible in the icy air. The figure behind Marianne faded from the thermal camera’s view as they approached, leaving no trace of its presence.

Together, they pulled Marianne away from the mirror, her eyes wide with shock. She whispered hoarsely about voices calling to her from within the glass, pleading for release, for closure. Lisa, flipping through one of the ancient books she’d found, discovered a passage that mentioned a ritual involving mirrors, used by the Crowe family to communicate with the dead and contain their spirits within the glass.

The group realized with horror that the mirrors were not just reflecting images but were holding trapped souls, bound to the house by the ancient curse. The Crowe family, it seemed, had dabbled in far more than mere ghostly communications; they had created portals to a spectral dimension, a limbo for those caught between life and death.

Determined to uncover more about the ritual and perhaps find a way to help Elliot—if he was still part of this world—the group decided to delve deeper into the house’s secrets. They split up to cover more ground, James and Lisa heading to the attic to search for more family records, while Marianne stayed behind in the study, her psychic senses a crucial guide to navigating the unseen perils.

As they each ventured further into the darkness of the Crowe Estate, the storm outside crescendoed, the house groaning and shuddering as if alive. Shadows seemed to move of their own accord, and the air was filled with the sounds of whispers, cries, and laughter, a cacophony of the damned.

The story, far from reaching a conclusion, had only twisted deeper into the shadows. As the group faced the unknown terrors of the night, their discoveries promised only more questions, more intrigue, and more dread, the tale of the Crowe Estate unfurling like a dark flower blossoming in the moonlight.

As the storm intensified, so too did the activity within the house. The walls themselves seemed to pulse with a dark heartbeat, the echoes of the past bleeding into the present. James and Lisa, in the dust-choked attic, unearthed a collection of letters and diaries that shed light on the darkest practices of the Crowe family. They discovered references to a ‘Master Mirror’, a central piece that controlled the bindings of all other mirrors within the estate. It was hinted that breaking the Master Mirror could either release the trapped souls or unleash something far more sinister.

Downstairs, Marianne, alone in the study, felt the air thicken around her. The mirrors began to cloud over, swirling with shadows that clawed at the silvered glass from the inside. She heard Elliot’s voice faintly, as if through a thick veil, pleading for help, his words cut with static. Steeling herself, she reached out to touch the mirror, her fingers meeting cold glass that suddenly felt like the pulse of a living thing.

At that moment, James and Lisa rushed back, bearing an ancient iron hammer they found wrapped in a black velvet cloth inscribed with protective runes. It was, according to the scribbled margins of a diary, the only tool that could shatter the Master Mirror and hopefully end the curse.

The trio convened in the grand hall, where the largest mirror, assumed to be the Master, hung ominously against the wall. Its surface rippled as they approached, images flickering within: faces of the past Crowe family members, their eyes hollow, their expressions pleading.

Marianne, guided by her psychic senses, and James, armed with the hammer, moved towards the mirror. Lisa, holding the collection of diaries and letters, recited words of an old rite intended to weaken the spectral barrier. Thunder boomed, shaking the house, as if the building itself protested their actions.

With a determined cry, James swung the hammer. The impact sent a shockwave through the room, the sound deafening, the air electrifying. The mirror’s surface cracked, a web of fractures spreading like lightning across the glass. The shadows within howled, a cacophony of rage and relief mingling in a tempest of released energy.

The house shook violently, dust and debris falling like rain. The mirror bulged, as if something immense was pressing against it from the other side, its form grotesque and shifting, a nightmare made manifest. Marianne screamed a warning, but it was too late. With a deafening crash, the mirror shattered, the shards flying like shrapnel, glittering dangerously in the dim light.

Silence fell, heavy and absolute. The house ceased its groaning, the storm outside muted to a gentle drizzle. They stood amidst the wreckage, panting, their ears ringing. Slowly, the darkness receded, the oppressive atmosphere lifting. It seemed they had succeeded, the binding broken.

But their relief was short-lived. From the remains of the mirror, a dense black mist began to coalesce, swirling with a malevolent grace. It formed into a towering figure, its features blurred and shifting, eyes gleaming with a malicious intelligence. The figure spoke, its voice a multitude of whispers, an echo of all the souls once trapped within the glass.

“You have freed them, yes, but in doing so, you have freed me as well,” it hissed, its form expanding, filling the room with cold dread.

James, Lisa, and Marianne backed away as the figure advanced. It was clear now that what they had unleashed was far beyond a mere accumulation of trapped spirits. They had released the entity bound to protect and perpetuate the curse, the entity that the Crowe family had feared and served for generations.

As the entity moved towards them, its form becoming more defined, more terrifying, the reality of their situation dawned on them. They had not ended the curse; they had merely transformed it, given it freedom to roam beyond the confines of the house.

The story ends here, for now, with our trio facing an unknown and possibly malevolent force, the future uncertain, their fates hanging in a delicate balance. What lies ahead could be a battle for their very souls, a new chapter in the haunting legacy of the Crowe Estate, ready to be told when the shadows lengthen once more.

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