Beth didn't like scary movies. Not at all. Any time her brother put one on, she'd get up and walk promptly out of the room and she wouldn't return until she was positive the movie was over.
Sometimes her brother liked to mess with her, and he'd act like the movie was done, putting it on pause. Then just as Beth walked into the room, Dylan would unpause the movie at the absolute scariest and goriest part. Beth would go shrieking into the next room and Dylan would roll around laughing.
But after the car accident, Dylan couldn't bring himself to watch those scary movies anymore. Any time he'd try to turn one on, he'd think of Beth running terrified from the room after he'd unpaused the movies at the most horrifying scenes. An overwhelming sense of guilt would enwrap him and he'd turn the scary movies off. He didn't like to think of her scared anymore. She must have been so scared there in the end.
Her ashes stayed in the urn for several months before Dylan and his parents finally decided it was time and scattered them in a field of wildflowers. Beth would have liked it, they said. She loved flowers and sunshine and nice things like that.
Dylan didn't notice the noise for several months.
At first, his dad had complained loudly about their AC filters. Finally, he got new ones, threw away the old ones. But there was still that weird noise.
Then, they replaced the fading outdoor light and the vent that rattled.
At last Dylan realized it was humming.
He was lying on the couch, flipping through channels. Nothing was good. Nothing was interesting. He thought it was the TV, but the humming stayed with each flip. Then he turned the TV off entirely.
The hair on the back of his neck stood up. No, it was just the wind.
It was not just the wind. Dylan leapt up and spun around. The re was nothing there but the floor lamp and some family pictures.
He shivered and ran out of the room.
But in the next room, the voice was still there.
"Stop it!" He put his hands on his ears and ran into the kitchen.
There, he put his hands on the counter and leaned over, breathing hard.
Hahaha. Look who's running from the room now.
Dylan nearly stopped breathing. "Beth?"
The voice of his sister, which he hadn't recognized until now, snickered. The air around him chilled.
I think we're going to have some fun, Dylan. I've got lots of inspiration.