Sandwich Public Schools

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Video Production 1

VIdeo Production 2

Video Production 3 - Advanced

Sports Broadcasting

Broadcast Journalism - Full Year

The Curse of Curiosity

Emily Saunders

Loose dirt floated across the weathered ground of the small Georgia town. Cracks ran through the dirt as far as the eye could see, exemplifying the battery that it had endured. Two young kids by the names of Henry and April entertained themselves by tossing a stone into a circle that they had drawn for themselves, and seeing who made it closest to the center. April’s curly, dirty blonde hair bounced up and down as she lept in excitement, shouting, “I beat you again Henry!” Henry sheepishly picked at the dirt beneath his fingernails and decided to closely study the ground surrounding his bare feet. Despite Henry’s inescapable timidness, April had taken a liking to him, and the two of them had been each other’s only friend for the past seven years. Living in the small, torn apart town of Rutledge Georgia, the two did the best they could to have fun. Rutledge was left in shambles when the civil war was finally over, and it was a vision of flattened shops and homes. A pungent stench of gloom hung over the town, a stench so strong it followed you wherever you went. 

As April picked up their rock to resume the game, she noticed a sleek black crow staring directly at her. While Henry was distracted in studying the desolate town, April contemplated the animal. She studied it, from its cracked and calloused gray legs, to its oily black wings that clung tightly to its body. While these things interested her, her attention was stolen by its eyes. She crept closer to its stoic figure, and saw an almost demonic gleam in its crimson eyes. They were hypnotic and pulled her in closer and closer. At this point she was down on her hands and knees and as she continued to inch forwards, she heard Henry shout, “April! What are you doing?!” She snapped upright, eyes wide, and instructed Henry to look at the mysterious visitor. In his cautious personality, Henry was immediately suspicious of the bird and its sudden appearance and proximity to them. They were used to seeing crows all around, but this one was different. This one beckoned them to follow it, manipulated them to trust it. Henry shared his two sense as he said, “April, I don’t get a good feeling about this crow. Let’s just go back to our game.” 

Despite Henry’s logic, April felt differently. “We need to follow it, Henry, we need to follow it! I don’t know why but I feel like it has something to show us.” 
“April I don’t…”

“No. We’re going to follow it. Trust me,” she stated, “what are you scared!?” she added with a playful mocking tone. With that, she skipped off in the direction that the crow had already started flying. Reluctantly Henry followed suit, muttering to himself that this was not a good idea.

The two followed the crow through the dusty town as the summer heat beat down on them. They passed piles of rubble and observed the siding that was just barely hanging onto many of the shops, the ones that were still standing, at least. The crow continued to fly, unceasingly, until they were deep within a shaded wood. April and Henry had been following the crow for around an hour now, and they were met with a chilling shade from the canopy of trees. Little sunlight dared to venture down into the depths of the woods, the depths where the children walked. They were surrounded by towering trees, some with foliage like bony fingers, ready to reach down and grab them. While Henry took note of the eerie feeling that the woods exuded, April still skipped onwards as if they were in wonderland. Every once in a while the crow would perch on a tree, and through its devilish eyes, it would make sure the kids were still close behind. Deeper and deeper they ventured into the daunting woods, the air growing colder with each passing minute. The light getting dimmer. 

At last they reached a clearing, and the woods spit them out into an empty plot of land. Empty except for the presence of a single house, positioned directly in the center of the field. High above the children’s heads the crow circled them and emitted a screech that echoed across the barren acreage. Henry and April stood at the mouth of the woods, trying to comprehend the sight they were met with. The house had a front porch that dipped down lower in the middle, as if to form a grin with the second-floor windows. Just as Henry was about to suggest they turn around, April exclaimed, “Let’s go see it Henry come on!” and took off with a run. An intense feeling of unease crept over the young boy. His dirt-ridden brown hair was tousled by the breeze, and he twisted his tattered t-shirt in his fingers. April’s dirty light pink dress billowed behind her as she ran. How is she so fearless, Henry thought to himself as he moved towards the intimidating structure. As they got closer they were able to examine the chipped white paint that exposed the dark, corroded wood underneath. The window shutters were hanging at angles, and the house curved in places that it should not. The children carefully guided their bare feet over shards of glass that had once been windows. 

The two continued around the perimeter of the house. “April I really think we should leave. I have a really bad feeling about this.” pleaded Henry.

“Stop worrying so much, we are fine. This is clearly an abandoned house, don’t you wanna explore?” chirped April. 

Exhaling deeply and looking at the sky, Henry continued to try to reason with her. “What if something bad happens though. Or what if… I don’t know. I just want to go home.” Still looking at the sky he was met with silence. “April? Hello?” He peeled his eyes off of the impeding gray clouds and turned around to where she was standing. Instead of seeing her curly hair and bright blue eyes, he stood looking at a wilting rose bush, with browning petals and protruding thorns. Rolling his eyes in annoyance he thought to himself, She ran off. I can’t believe she ran off on me. He continued to circle the house, in search of his friend. By the time he had made two complete laps, he began to get concerned. Judging from past hide and seek games the two had played, it wasn’t like her to hide for this long. Henry called out her name continuously, each time with no reply. He stared at the peeling white front door. It stared back, intensely. Driven solely by the love for his only friend, he stomached the daunting task of investigating inside the house. Cautiously, he stepped onto the rickety porch, and with each step, the boards flexed and complained in high pitch creaks. He slowly eased the door open and with terrified, squinting eyes, he walked into the house. 

The place was decrepit, with old furniture strewn aimlessly across what once might have been a living room. His eyes scanned the lifeless room for any hint of light pink linen or the dirty blonde curls of April’s hair. As he set his foot down to advance, the floorboards moaned in protest, loud and angry. His presence was now very known. “April!” he whispered, “April!” No reply. He moved through the house taking meticulous care to make as little noise as possible. His heart pounded vigorously in his chest at each corner he turned, in fear that someone might be hiding behind it. After he had surveyed the entire first floor, he turned his attention to the staircase. Located at the center of the house, it was unavoidable, and he knew in his gut what it would lead him to. Squeezing his eyes shut and doing his best to expel his incomprehensible nerves through his breath, he started up the stairs. With each step, his small body shook more violently. With each creak in the stairs, his face twisted with more agony. He tried his hardest not to, but he finally reached the top of the stairs. He was met with a thin corridor. A wall on one side and a railing on the other that opened up to the stairs. The wall housed a single door and a single picture frame. As Henry got closer to the frame, he was able to decipher the words “To Mommy from May” and the picture displayed two small stick figures with one taller stick figure in the middle. After contemplating the picture, his eyes fixated on the doorknob. The last thing he wanted to do was touch that doorknob, to open that door, for the dread of what he might see behind it. He glared at it. He resented it. He even turned around and started walking back towards the stairs but he stopped himself. Do this for April. You need to save April, he tried to convince himself. He walked back over to the door and with his shoulders up to his ears, he opened it. 

When he saw nothing but darkness he realized that he had unintentionally closed his eyes. With his trembling body and pounding heart he peeled his eyes open, a grimace on his face. Within seconds his eyes were wide with terror and his mouth open in shock. There in front of him stood a gaunt woman, with thin strands of silver hair, so fine that nearly half of it could have been thread through a needle at once. He stared at her. She stared back with one eye. His eyes panned down her body, starting from the empty socket where her other eye should have been, all the way down her bony suggestion of a human form. “Hello Henry,” the woman said, “looking for someone?” Detaching his eyes from her disturbing image, his eyes went to April. She was sitting in a chair in front of the woman with her small pale wrists tied to the seat and her ankles tied to the legs. She tried to scream but her cries were caught in a dirty handkerchief that was shoved in her mouth and down her throat. As Henry peered into his best friend's pleading eyes, he saw crystal drops of anguish spilling out of them. She kept moving her eyes to the right of her so Henry followed her gaze. What he saw made his stomach drop through the floor. He snapped his head to face the other direction and he felt a repulsive wave of nausea roll through him. Sitting not even three feet away from April was the corpse of an even younger girl, probably only five or six. Her decaying wrists and ankles tied in the same fashion as April’s were. Henry’s young mind could not comprehend the horror that he was experiencing. The room had a deathly odor from the girl's rotting body that Henry found increasingly hard to ignore. After the woman had experienced her satisfaction in seeing the terror on the boy’s face, she spoke again. “Oh her,” the woman said with a beaming smile, “don’t mind her that’s my other daughter May!” Henry was startled by her enthusiasm and perplexed by her statement.

“What do you mean other daughter,” Henry asked in a troubled voice, “where is your other one?” 

“Why she's right here!” she responded, her one eye wide and glaring. Standing behind her, she slowly rubbed April’s shoulders with her hands as she continued, “she finally came home to her poor old mother.” A demonic grin slowly trespassed across her wrinkled face. 

“You are April’s mother! You can't be! April has a mother back in town and she doesn’t have a sister! Old lady, please let her go!" 

After hearing his wish she quickly drew a knife. “The more you wish for her freedom the more I torture her. Secondly, please dear, call me Lydia. Mrs. Lydia.” With this comment, she snickered and ran her finger along the edge of the knife. 

“April is my best friend. I have known her since we were three. She is not your daughter, you need to let her go!”

Mrs. Lydia positioned the knife at the base of April's neck. “I had two daughters. I named them April and May.” As she spoke she ran the tip of the knife along April’s jawline. “After they were born I did everything I could to give them the best lives possible. Unfortunately,” she punctuated, pushing the tip of the knife into April's neck, “they did not appreciate the life I tried so desperately to give them. When they were three they both ran away, leaving their poor helpless mother all alone.” said Mrs. Lydia with a condescending frown. “SO,” she said pushing the knife further, “I made it my mission to hunt them and show them just how good they had it before they decided to betray me!” The entire time the ghastly woman spoke Henry listened in shock and watched April. With each push of the knife he saw pain crawl across her small pale face. As Mrs. Lydia explained her side of the story, April’s tears eroded rivers down her cheeks. She shook her head side to side as the woman spoke and looked down at the tops of her thighs. Henry’s eyes widened when he saw what she was looking at. Thick scars ran across the tops of both of her legs, and the knife in Mrs. Lydia’s hand told him where they came from. He had never seen them before, as her dress always hung far below her knees, but now as she sat exposed in the old dusty chair, Henry could see the truths of his best friend’s life. What a liar, he thought to himself. A deep resentment for Mrs. Lydia ignited inside of him and grew at a furious rate. She didn’t give them “the best lives possible”. She tortured them. 

He wanted more than anything to free her from that chair and run back to the lives they had always known. Taking one more glance at the decaying skin of her dead sister, he started to run at April’s chair to try to free her. As soon as Henry took his first strides he saw the woman raise the knife and start to drive down with force. He looked away just in time to hear April wail in agony and then fall silent. Forgetting entirely about the woman, Henry’s trembling body collapsed in a heap on the ancient wood floors. He sobbed and felt this body move violently with the rhythm of his cries. He sobbed until no sound even came out, and he was nothing but a silent, shaking mass. He sobbed until he felt sick. When the small boy was finally able to raise his head he did his best to avoid looking at April’s now lifeless body, and turned his attention to escaping. The woman now stood over him, the knife still in hand now dripping with his best friend’s blood. “Now she will stay with me forever, see how much she likes it now,” said Mrs. Lydia, wiping the knife off on a blood-stained apron she was wearing. Slowly bending down to him she cooed, “I wonder who might be next…” Henry scrambled to get his footing as the woman lunged at him, and he took off out the door. There was one last thing that caught his eye as he left. Staring directly at him, the crimson-eyed crow perched patiently in the window. 

For a woman who looked so old, she was incredibly fast. She chased Henry down the stairs and out of the house. The blade of her knife never reached farther than three inches from him. Still crying from what he had experienced, his vision was distorted and blurred. He flew to the line of the woods and then did his best to navigate over protruding roots and rocks. He sprinted as fast as he could for what felt like days. He ran, and ran, and ran until he could no longer feel Mrs. Lydia’s putrid breath on the back of his neck. Once his body could physically endure no more, he melted into the ground. His chest heaved and he gasped for breath on the lonely forest floor. At this point, it was pitch black, and he was relying on the dim sliver of moonlight that was provided to him. He pushed himself up against a log and let his face fall in his hands. He let his emotions tear through him and tears streamed down his face. He was terrified. Alone in the middle of nowhere, his best friend was murdered by her own mother, the possibility that he could be found, all of these things devoured his mind and body. The young boy wailed uncontrollably, no longer paying attention to his volume. He had never felt more alone. He thought of April and her bubbly personality, and undying quest for adventure. Who would he have now? He had only ever known her, besides his parents, he had no one else. He let his body sink into the damp wood and he questioned how he would go on without her. He decided that he should try to get rest so he had the energy to find his way back home in the morning. He deeply inhaled and the rich scent of the leaves surrounding him filled his nose and lungs. Everything is going to be ok, he tried to convince himself, everything is going to be ok. He managed to calm himself down enough for the night, and finally started to relax. Before long he was starting to doze off, except there was a slight rustling in the leaves that stirred him. When he looked up from the ground in the pitch-black night, he saw one single eye staring back at him.