Willie’s Billiard’s Club and Bar had sat abandoned for… well, no one really knew as much of it’s history had been lost in the fire, but at least long enough for it to be called a “Billiard’s Club” instead of Pool Hall. It was originally built on the edge of the small Virginian Town as a way to bring in big city folks from Richmond, as that was the biggest place at the time, but it was never a popular spot. The man who owned it, Benjamin “Franklin” King (Not his real name) had big dreams of fame and fortune, all of which died the day of the lightning strike.
Six months after it opened, he staged an exhibition billiards match. As this tiny Virginian Town was only known as being “relatively close to Richmond”, it didn’t exactly attract the top talent. That’s when he had a idea: He would bill it as a battle of the sexes, and hold a tournament to determine who was the best. It worked after a fierce and very profitable (for Benjamin “Franklin” King”) tournament eventually came down to William, “Billy Felt” Goodman and Janice “Cueballs” Manford.
“And no matter what happened, Billy Felt and Cueball couldn’t beat each other,” James explained. “They kept playing and playing and lightning hit the building, and it burned down!”
Emily rolled her eyes. “And they just kept playing while everything burned around them?”
James nodded enthusiastically, not noticing that his date had not only heard this all before, but knew that Willie’s was the make out spot for everyone in their school. They tell a ghost story, people get scared, then the magic happens. She had been there just last week with Christine, who even brought a speaker to play spooky sounds and tried to get to second base. If she wasn’t going to do that with the captain of the cheerleading squad, James was not going to get anywhere.
Emily conveyed as much to James, who examined every inch of the musty, charred room they were in.
“But that’s the thing,” he said, “That was LAST week. Tonight is the anniversary of the fire, over 30 years ago!”
He seemed to be more excited for this than for the fact that after two months of begging Emily finally relented to at least one date with him.
Off in the distance, there was a faint clack as two pool balls hit each other. Emily rolled her eyes as James breathily asked if she heard that and swung his flashlight around towards the source of the sound.
“Funny.” she walked over to a decorative table that had survived the fire. On it was a white vase that at one time had been pretty, but now bore several scorch marks and was somehow even prettier. Emily picked it up and looked inside, expecting to find the same speakers that Christine had placed a week ago.
The vase was empty.
“Ok, where did you put it?” Emily asked.
James was already creaking down the hall, towards the sound of two more pool balls hitting each other. Emily eyed the window through which they had entered the burned billiards hall, debating if she should leave or not. On the one hand, she was happy he was putting in more effort than Christine, who didn’t even go through the effort to find a billiards game being played, and had thrown on cheesy Halloween sound effects, and didn’t even bother to hide that it was streaming from her phone.
Emily decided to play along for another minute as the sound of two more pool balls collided.
“So who do you think it is?” she hissed in his ear as she caught up to him.
“It has to be Cueballs and Billy Felt,” James replied, “they need to finish their game!”
They had 30 years to finish it, Emily thought, but decided to follow anyway.
They continued to creep down the dilapidated hallway, pushing away cobwebs and avoiding pieces of the ceiling that had fallen down. Every once in a while, there was the faint, familiar clack.
Not many had made it this far, the lobby of the building had a nice couch that survived the fire, so they just ended up there. Emily realized, after another clack, that despite the number of kids that came here, she had never heard that anyone came on this day, the anniversary of the fire.
At the end of the hall was a door. It had been closed off long ago, perhaps to try to stop the spread of the fire, perhaps to scare two kids who showed up after the fact, one of whom was hoping to at least get a little tongue action. The only way to know was to open that door.
There was another clack as Emily clutched the vase tighter, getting soot all over the shirt she carefully picked out to convey maximum disinterest in their date. James turned to her, then put his hand on the door, and pulled back quickly.
“What’s wrong?” she asked. He was putting in effort.
“It’s cold,” he said. Too cold. Indeed, they could see their breath. There was another clack from behind the door, this one louder.
James shook his head, and bravely started walking in the opposite direction very quickly. If this was an attempt to get into her pants, he was going the wrong way.
“What are you doing?” she hissed.
He just kept walking faster, dodging and tripping over fallen debris.
Curiosity got the better of Emily. Her hand went to the icy knob, and slowly turned it. The door creaked in the most cliched manner for a building this old and supposedly haunted.
There was a clack, then the sound of a vase as it hit the ground.