The Woman in White

The full moon hung above the Doon School, night-sky putting a dark blanket over the Martyn House. Gloom settled into the hollows of the trees, the lights went off, and silence replaced the noise of the day.

The fire stretched up to the sky as ten boys had gathered in the backyard. They had sneaked out after the housemaster went to sleep and had secretly put on a fire. The flames licked the air as they grew taller, illuminating the surroundings with bright orange and golden red. The dancing sparks looked like tiny animals, eager to break out of their cages. Glow spread onto the boys encircling the fire, reflecting in their curious, youthful eyes.

The students sat with folded legs, staring at the rippling flames, sensing the mystery that they'd been searching for. Fear oozed into them as the night got darker, and the sound of the ember crackling was the only one breaking the silence.

The quiet became heavy, and the boys' faces began burning up before Sai, sitting between his best friends, leaned in, his dilated pupils sparkling from passion.

"I have a story to tell," he said and ran his fingers through his hair. "About the woman in a white dress in Tata House."

He glanced to the sides, eyeing his friends before they nodded as if agreeing on what Sai was about to say.

Others gawked at him with wide eyes and gaping mouths, features quivering from interest, bodies tending toward him to listen closely. They were residents of the Martyn house - the youngest and most innocent ones.

An enigmatic smile spread on Sai's lips before he rubbed his palms, preparing to strain his memory to remember every detail.

"It happened a few months ago. I was about to go to sleep," Sai began, and his voice floated above their heads like a cloud. "But Aryan messaged me, suggesting we watch a movie in his room," he glanced at the boy sitting to his right, smiling. "The time had passed 12, and the whole Tata house was enveloped by silence. The housemaster was asleep too, but I knew even a step across the corridors would wake him up, and I'd get in trouble. But I couldn't sleep anyway,

and the new film we were all hyped up about had just dropped on the internet. So, I thought, why not? And decided to take the risk.

The door creaked as I peaked out, seeing nothing but a dim, vacant hallway. Tiptoeing out of my room, I closed the door and headed to Aryan's room. Shivers rippled up my skin as my bare feet touched the cold tiles, the sensation spreading

into my whole body. I kept glancing back, scared I'd be caught, but no one seemed to be in sight.

Quietly knocking on Aryan's door, I opened it and walked inside. Aryan and Sathvik were already buckled up on the bed with a laptop open in front of them, the blue screen light brightening their faces. Knowing that we were breaking the rules filled me with more excitement and intrigue. I hopped next to them, and with our eyes pinned on the screen, we began watching the movie.

An hour passed. We were immersed in the film when suddenly, something rasped outside of our door as if heavy footsteps trod across the corridor. Thinking it was the housemaster, we immediately turned the laptop off to halt the light and held our breaths, listening to him fumbling outside. But I'd be lying if I said I was afraid. Quick giggles left our mouths as we tried to trap them inside and stay quiet, but we felt like rebels, having fun and being young.

But when the creaking and grating became louder, our smiles vanished, and I felt foreboding surging through me. Sharing a perplexed look, we stood up, peering out of the narrow gap of the open door. But what we saw made freeze run through our veins, turning our blood into crystals. Fear and panic hammered me to the spot, and I couldn't do anything but stare.

A tall woman with a long white dress and black hair ran from one end of the corridor to the other. The sheer layers of her dress fluttered around her bony ankles, the messy hair falling to her chest, framing her ashen, almost transparent face. Blue veins were visible under her thin skin, and the dress hugged her skinny body as she swooshed by in the hallway. She didn't touch the ground but floated above it like a puppet being pulled with strings. She was shining in white through the darkness, but the white didn't radiate purity or calmness but the opposite - dread and utter loneliness.

Scare gripped my throat as I gazed at the woman hurrying across the corridor, her arms slightly spread in front of her as if she was reaching for something. My hair stood on its end when I caught a glimpse of her face - bones stuck to her skin like sharp-edged stones, her skin had turned whiter than a sheet of paper as if she was about to fade into the air or evaporate like

water. And her eyes were brimmed with black membrane - she had no pupils or iris, but darkness filled her whole eyes. It looked like blood had pulled up in her head and was about to pour down her cheeks like tears.

Suddenly I felt a pull from my back before Aryan slammed the door close. We exchanged a terrified look as we realized that it was that ghost everyone talked about - the ghost of a woman with a white dress roaming the Tata house. Now we knew that it had been true all along.

Locking the door from inside, we jumped in the bed and turned on the lights as the gloom scared us even more. But only seconds lasted before the light bulb began flickering. It kept going out and then turning back on within seconds, brightening or darkening the room.

Horror taking over us, we wrapped blankets around us and waited for the light to stop flickering. It finally did a few minutes later, but we couldn't sleep all night, afraid the ghost would be back and scare us with new tricks.

We returned to our own rooms in the morning, but we knew well that the nights wouldn't be the same for us anymore. We had seen the woman in a white dress and could never erase her from our memories. She is real, and she lives with us in this house."

Sai finished the story and looked over the boys. The dying fire kindled their faces, pale from shock.

Sai exhaled and stood up.

"It's up to you if you believe it or not," he said. "I just told you my story." He turned, heading back to the house, vanishing in the darkness.

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