Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction

The Technology Trap By katie mccall

“What on earth do you mean?” My Mother looked horrified, her mouth hanging open like a slack wound.

“She’s disappeared.” Aunt Isobel looked flustered and wrung her hands together nervously as she stepped back into the gloom of the hallway.

Mother looked wildly around, her eyes searching every inch of the grand entrance hall. Despite the odd situation, I couldn’t help but admire the faded glory of the luxurious surroundings; vast Baroque paintings, intricately decorated antiques and an imposing mahogany grandfather clock.

“She must be here somewhere! She was only supposed to be staying here for the weekend; you should have been looking after her!” Mother’s voice was shrill with desperation.

Isobel looked utterly perplexed and allowed Mother to barge past her, calling my sister’s name loudly. “Jennifer! Where are you? Come here!”

The house returned an empty silence. I rolled my eyes in frustration, confident that my sister would be busying herself in her usual way. Despite her usually quiet demeanour, it had always struck me as strange that Jennifer spent hours each day chatting online to her virtual friends whilst completely failing to nurture any real friendships.

I checked my phone and flicked through to Jennifer’s profile. Admittedly, it was unusual that her last photograph had been posted more than 48 hours ago. I imagined that the plush décor of our Aunt’s home would have provided a sumptuous backdrop for Jennifer’s social media posts, and I found it hard to believe that she had voluntarily foregone the opportunity to share such an opulent setting with her digital following. In a flurry of noise and panic, my Mother and Aunt swirled away down the corridor to continue the search for my sister. In a bid to escape Mother’s unsettling hysteria, I decided to climb the dark staircase to see if Jennifer had taken refuge in the attic or another disused room. An sense of unease pulsated through me as I reached the landing. I gripped the worn material of a nearby curtain to steady myself, trying to forget the eerie tales that our Uncle had regaled us about the peculiar misfortunes that had befallen past residents of the ancient house.

Chilled with the melancholy atmosphere of the place, I thrust the nearest door open to find a PC and keyboard lying sedately on an oak desk. As I looked around, I noticed a faded image of Jennifer on the screen and stooped to get a closer look. To my surprise, the PC appeared to be switched off yet the flickering picture remained fixed on the display. Her hands were pressed up against the glass as if she had somehow become trapped inside the monitor. Cheeks streaked with tears, her anguished face was imprisoned behind the screen. An unearthly shriek erupted from my lungs, causing my Mother and Aunt to thunder up the staircase and burst through the door. Frozen with horror, we watched as my sister’s image faded away into dreadful obscurity.

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