It's a little after midnight when we decide to go swimming. Pulling on our bathing suits, and creeping through the house to the back porch.
I grab two towels off the railing, one for me and one for my cousin, Brandon. We jump off the porch and race down the short, steep hill to the pool. I hear a thump behind me.
"Fucking goddamnit," I hear Brandon swear before I even turn around.
He's laid out like a starfish on the damp grass, groaning dramatically as he pulls himself up. I laugh loudly while opening the rusty, chain link gate that leads to the pool.
I can almost feel him glaring at me.
"Shut up," he says in a whiny tone.
"Last one in the water has to go into Alabama's barn!" I shout. Ignoring him in favor of jumping into the deep end.
The water is still pleasantly warm from the heat of the summer sun, that was out just hours ago. I hear a diluted splash just before I come up for air.
Quickly pushing my hair out of my eyes, I look around at the water surrounding me. The dark makes it nearly impossible to see any movement in the water.
Slightly put off by the eeriness of it, I glare at any disturbance on the surface.
"Brandon, get up here!" I yell nervously, and quieter, "If he touches me, I swear to god..."
A hand grabs my ankle suddenly, pulling me under. At least I was expecting it and held my breath. I reach down to pry his hand off my leg, kicking him as hard as I can underwater.
We reach the surface at the same time, but he's staring at me before I get the water out of my eyes.
"I ain't going into Alabama's barn."
"Oh come on!" I say as I hit his shoulder, "I'll make sure he doesn't come out of his house."
Brandon gives me a flat look before sighing,
"He got real mad at me last time though. Threw a bottle at me and everything."
"Please? You know I have to go home soon. I'll even go in with you."
"But Aaron said he keeps knives and torture stuff in there, and that there might be bodies."
"Pfft, yeah right. It's probably animal bodies anyways," I scoff, rolling my eyes.
I watch him slap his hands on the water loudly, looking around like he can see the possible outcomes laid out in front of him.
He thinks a second longer, before finally giving in, "Fine."
I splash water into the air in victory, off to Alabama's it is. We swim to the edge of the pool and pull ourselves out.
Grabbing our towels to dry off before walking down the road to the neighbor's house. I feel a smile sneaking its way onto my face even as anxiety rushes through my limbs.
The walk is quiet, Brandon in no mood to talk with his perceived imminent death awaiting a quarter mile up the road. I stare at my bare feet as we walk on the blacktop.
The red barn comes into sight too soon. Without pause, I swallow any fear I feel.
Brandon disappears from beside me, I look back to check on him. He's wringing his hands again, looking at the barn. Scoffing at him, I look away and keep walking.
I hear his feet dragging behind me seconds later.
The grass around the barn is thick and long. Chips of paint lay on the ground surrounding it, along with some old spare parts.
Looks scary enough in the light cast from the barely working light bulb above the doors. There's a chain connected by a padlock looped through the door handles.
I reach out to grab the handle, tugging at one. They open up together, so I hold one back with my foot.
There's just enough room to squeeze through if I make myself small, and Brandon's smaller than me so he'll fit no problem.
I glance around, checking the house to the left of the barn. All the lights are off, so Alabama's probably sleeping. I feel a little tension release from my body at that.
Alabama was a grumpy old man with a white beard, wrinkly hands and a big belly. He was always angry, especially at us kids. He doesn't scare me as bad as he scares Brandon though.
He's scared of lots of stuff though. I turn my head from the house to Brandon behind me.
"Cmon," I nod my head towards the opening.
He shakes his head violently, whispering, "You go first."
"No! I'm holding the door open, you have to go first."
"I can hold the door."
"I've already got it! Just go, scaredy cat!"
He bristles slightly at the name, "I'll just go home then."
"Fine! Fine. Just don't leave," I say quickly to stop him from leaving me alone.
I take a moment to peek inside the doorway, before putting my leg through. Holding my breath, I pull myself the rest of the way through.
The wooden doors leaving slivers in my hands, throbbing slightly. I stand just inside, frozen, waiting for Brandon to follow.
"Hurry up!," I whisper when he takes too long.
His head appears shortly after, peering around. He gets in a little easier than I did, no slivers because I was already holding the door. I reach for his arm, gripping it with force.
"It's really dark, I can't see," He mumbles quietly, shuffling closer.
"How are we supposed to check for bodies and torture stuff?"
We both tense up at the mention of dead bodies. Looking intently at the back of the barn that is void of any light. Holding our breath just in case we can hear what we can't see.
"Maybe we should come back tomorrow night with flashlights," Brandon suggests hopefully.
I nod and start pushing him back out the door. How were we supposed to look around if we couldn't see. It was a good idea. I let go of his arm so he can get through and start to follow.
I hear something, and freeze.
"What was that," He asks shakily, as it happens again.
It sounds like something crawling around in the dark. I imagine someone rushing around on their hands and knees like in the scary movies my uncle watches. Another noise sounds.
I snap out of it and rush towards the light. Pushing Brandon out of my way in the process. He stumbles a bit, but I grab his wrist to pull him with me as I run towards the road.
"Oh my god," I say while panting heavily, partly from running, mostly from fear.
We stop when we reach the driveway, ducking behind the mailbox. I look over, Brandon looks a little paler than usual.
"Let's go home," He says.
I nod my head in agreement, "But we'll come back tomorrow, with flashlights?"