The disappearance of Eliza Matthews had been a burden for the small mining town of Prospect Hill for nearly ten years. A spritely girl of six, she was the youngest in a group of children playing an innocent game of hide and seek in a forest behind the town’s church.

Eight year old Kane had already found his best friend Lucy, as they chanted playfully whilst searching for the others.

“One two three, can’t escape from me.” 

Hearing some giggles nearby, Kane and Lucy shared a knowing look and crept either side of a fallen tree.

“Four five six, better hide real quick.”

The little squeak of excitement clearly gave Tamara away; who was never good at this game and always hid in the same place.

“Seven eight nine, when I catch you you’re mine.”

They clutched onto Tamara who wriggled in delight and laughter. Eliza was much better at this game and crouched lower in the bushes nearby; holding her breath to keep as silent as possible.

“I know where Eliza is!” Tamara whispered loudly to the other two. “Somewhere in the bushes over there.”

Eliza burrowed herself further into the thicket as Kane looked toward the bushes in disdain. He never had much time for Eliza; finding her presence annoying around the group and wishing she would play with kids her own age. He turned to the girls with a mischievous grin.

“Let’s leave her here.”

The other two girls stared blankly at him until they were interrupted by a loud noise nearby.


“Tim!” Tamara screeched as she ran off.

Kane started to follow but Lucy hung behind uncertain.

“C’mon Lucy, let’s find Tim!” he insisted. Lucy reluctantly followed as they clambered through the dense vegetation and began the chant again to find Tim. “One two three…”

Eliza sat still. Mildly pleased with her ability to remain unfound, she heard their voices become softer in the distance. The thickness of the silence around her was matched only by the darkening sky as Eliza huddled in the bushes, shivering from the cold night air. Her fear of being caught by the others had long been replaced by the night creatures that surrounded her. Having an overactive imagination may have served Eliza well every other day, but now it meant far too many possibilities of what may be lurking in a bush nearby – so she ran.

Without the gift of moonlight, Eliza kept stumbling over stumps and rocks as the night animals seemed to get louder. She was lost, scared, not knowing which way to turn when her foot gave way and she slid down an embankment.

With her pretty dress torn, and bleeding from her arms and legs, Eliza found herself inside the abandoned quarry; a place she knew her father would be angry about if he ever found her there. Sobbing in pain, she attempted to pull herself to her feet, but with just a few steps, the ground had given way and she found herself hurtling downwards into the darkened chasm of a deep mine shaft.

Time made no sense at this point for Eliza. She wasn’t sure how long she’d blacked out for but knew the pain had increased ten fold. Her ankle clearly broken she broke into an adrenalin filled sweat. Ignoring the breaking finger nails she began to claw her way up the sides of the shaft hole like a caged animal. Her breathing escalated to levels of intensity that no six year old could possibly endure and with every ounce of her strength used to drag the weight of her body she had nothing left to scream for help.

She felt a brief moment of hope as the smell the night air was close by, yet dampened by the loosened stone she had just clung onto – which gave way. Eliza tumbled downwards, as silent as the large stone that followed.


The party was winding down in the town’s church; signifying the end of another group of year twelve students as they drank their way to the verge of looming adulthood. Some of them would never see each other again but shared memories that would last forever. Keeping a friendship together for so many years is hard for any group of kids, but these four had something holding it together. The memory of what happened to Eliza created a bond that could never be broken.

Kane, Lucy, Tamara and Tim were the last to leave; being the minister’s son, Kane had the job to lock the church after it was all wrapped up. The others agreed to help Kane tidy the mess of spilled food and empty bottles. Tim and Tamara’s offer for help was short lived as they found themselves sneaking into the confession box for a little fun time. Kane and Lucy share a knowing glance and left them to it.

“So you have you had a chance to think about it?” Lucy questioned Kane as they straightened up some of the pews.

Kane struggled to respond. He knew Lucy had been on him for the whole year about what his plans were after they graduated. She wanted him to follow her to university near the city but he struggled to find the courage to leave the town.

“Not now Luce.” He replied.

She shook her head knowing it was becoming fruitless to think they could sustain a relationship beyond this night. But before she could retort with a final ultimatum the power cuts out. Only the feint moonlight glowing through the stain glassed windows gave minimal visibility. The large wooden statue of Jesus loomed above behind the altar.

“Damn it!” Kane grunted as he headed for the storeroom.

“Everything okay out there?” Tim shouted from the box, Tamara trying to shoosh him.

“Power just went out.” Lucy replied, “Kane’s sorting it now. He’s good at fixing things.”

Kane ignored Lucy’s comment and entered the storeroom nearby. Inside, he shone a torch onto the decaying fusebox. Every fuse was burnt out.


He tried to pull out a burnt fuse, but it sparked in his hands. “Ow!”

The torch dropped and broke in two. Another light suddenly shone over him and he spun around in fright. Lucy stood there with the light from her phone.


“Can’t leave you completely in the dark can I?” she retorted.

Kane mustered a small smile, and she reluctantly smiled back, giving him a playful thump in the shoulder. He knew she could never stay mad at him for long. He liked Lucy for that. She would always forgive him without him having to go to much effort, but he also wondered how long that would last.

He unhooked the power and began to re-wire the fuses.

Meanwhile in the confession box, Tim and Tamara were deep in a passionate kiss and didn’t hear the front doors slowly close…the bolt lock gently sliding into position.

“One two three, can’t escape from me…’ the soft voice from Eliza wafted through the congregation area, but the increasing groans from Tamara meant her and Tim heard nothing.

 “Four five six, better hide real quick…’

Tamara’s face was pushed against the confession window as Tim began to undress her. Spontaneous sex was something that they both relished in, especially in places they felt they shouldn’t. They knew how sinful this was, inside a place of worship, and it gave them an even bigger rush.

“Seven eight nine, when I catch you you’re mine…”

The ruby ring Tim gave Tamara earlier that night quivered as she clenched her fist in raw ecstasy.

“Now it’s ten…”

Tamara, in writhing pleasure, opened her eyes briefly. Staring at her from the other side of the confession box window…was Eliza in a blood-stained dress.

“Found you.”

Kane and Lucy bolted back into the room at the sound of Lucy’s guttural scream.

“What happened?!” Kane exploded.

Tim sat on the floor, cradling a quivering Tamara in his arms.

“She said she saw something.” Tim explained.

There was no time to process anything as the haunting hum of Eliza echoed through the church.

“Let’s get the hell out of here!” Lucy demanded as they all scrambled towards the door – which was locked – the bolt bent out of shape.

Kane and Tim tried shouldering and kicking the doors but they weren’t budging. Then a scratching, dragging sound caught their attention. They turned around to see the pews moving  towards them. Eliza’s voice still humming playfully.

“Tim! The window!” Kane yelled as he and Tim grabbed a pew and ran towards an image of Mary with angels embedded in the stained glass. The windows were far too high to climb up but the help of a pew gave them something to leverage themselves upwards. Lucy helped Tamara out first, then turned to pull Tim up as they tumbled out to the fresh night air.

Kane began his climb when he was stopped by the melancholic sound behind him.

“Kaaaaane.” Eliza sweetly moaned in a tone that Kane had often heard when they were kids. But this time his little sister wasn’t playing games.

Terrified, Kane turned to see the wooden statue of Jesus now bleeding from his hands as the windows all shook violently. He clambered up the pew but as he reached the top, the windows exploded around him – glass shards rocketing through the room. The pew slipped from its wedge as Kane tumbled to the floor.

The screams from his friends outside paled in comparison to the deafening crunch of the pews now plummeting towards him. He dodged the first two but the third clipped him in the side of the leg, sending him hurtling sideways. Ignoring the pain, he spotted his target ahead.

He rolled away from another pew heading this time for his head, as he weaved his way toward the altar where he knew there was a small trapdoor underneath. Somewhere he would hide when their father got angry.

As he fumbled the latch, another pew drove fast towards him. He quickly dived into the underground hole moments before the deafening crunch above as the pew exploded into splinters.

Lucy and Tim ran around the church to meet Kane at the back, dragging himself through the tiny exit.

“Tam’s gone! We have to go find her!” Tim was on the verge of tears.

Kane pulled the rest of the cobwebs from his jeans. “Did she say what she saw?”

“You know what she saw.” Lucy added.

Kane did, but he didn’t want to admit it. “Maybe Tamara just needs to cool off. She’ll come back when…”

“Are you fucking kidding?!” Tim shook his head in disgust and ran off into the fog. “Tam!”

Lucy followed, after a disappointed glare to Kane. “Seriously?”

Tamara kept running. She’d been haunted many times over the years, thinking she saw or heard Eliza, but this time it was clear – she wasn’t going crazy. Eliza was there in the confession box and she wanted to get as far away from her as possible.

She found herself at the edge of the dam; the fog rolling thick made it hard for her to see the edge of the water. Seemingly deaf to the shouts of her name in the distance from the others, she crept along the edge of the dam; the fog was now so thick she didn’t know which way to go and soon found herself at the start of the small pontoon that stretched out into the middle of the dam where they used to catch yabbies as kids.

“Taaaaammy.” Eliza’s voice whispered eerily through the fog.

Tamara froze in fear and shakily turned towards the pontoon. What happened next, caused her to scream in terror. A scream that split the night air, giving a beacon to the others.

“This way!” Lucy beckoned the other two as they ran towards the dam.

 Minutes later, they arrived at the dam; the fog still a thick blanket. No sign of Tamara. Tim runs straight out onto the pontoon.

“Tam! Tam!” he screamed, on his hands and knees searching the surface of the water below.

The fog thickened and Tim disappeared from Kane and Lucy’s sight as they watched from the bank of the dam.

“Tim! She’s not there.” Kane cried out.

No response. Lucy and Kane looked fearful toward each other and headed towards the pontoon but their feet sunk in the mud – struggling to move.

“TIM!” Lucy shouted.

“I’m okay guys!” he replied, “I just need to find her!”

Lucy and Kane latched onto each other trying to pry themselves loose but failed at every attempt.

“Tim?” the feint voice of Tamara trickled through the fog. He looked closer to the water and Tamara’s saddened face appeared from the ripples. “I’m stuck Tim.”

He turned to see a limp hand rise to the surface wearing Tamara’s ruby ring. Without thought he reached below the surface to grab her arm when the hand latched onto him – dragging him into the water.

Kane and Lucy were half submerged into the mud when they heard the splash.

“Tim!” Kane shouted at as he stretched wide to latch onto the edge of the pontoon with one hand and Lucy with the other. He dragged them out and ran into the water.

Tim thrashed around as he’s pulled further under when suddenly Kane pulls him out and drags him to the muddy bank. Breathless, Kane falls to the ground.

“But I thought…” Tim began as Lucy comforts him.

“It’s okay, it wasn’t her.” Lucy reassures him.

“How can you be so sure?” Tim pleaded.

Kane knew he couldn’t keep quiet anymore. “It’s Eliza.” He uttered, “she’s back.”

Tim and Lucy had nothing to say. Too many years of memories, guilt and paranormal encounters had rendered them speechless. They all felt unresolved grief that had tormented their childhood but Tim still harboured anger towards one.

“Damn you Kane!” Tim thumps into him until Lucy pries him off.

“Tim! It’s not his fault!” she protests. Tim just walks away, sobbing in defeat.

The tension between Kane and Tim over the years took a lot of smoothing over. They had always remained friends when ???? Although Tim was part of the game, he always felt a victim of circumstance, not having anything to do with the decision to leave Eliza behind.

“I know where Tam’ll be.” Lucy interjects. “The place she always hides, especially when she would cry over you.’ Lucy gives Tim a dark glare and heads towards the forest. Tim and Kane start to follow her, keeping a healthy distance apart.

Sniffling behind the fallen tree in the forest, Tamara shivered in the cold. She was far too overwhelmed to make sense of how to get home so was drawn to her place of comfort; tucked into the knot of the large limb.

“Hey.” Lucy piped as she walked around to Tamara’s hiding place. She was met with nothing but a lunging hug from Tamara who began to cry deeply. “It’s okay hun. We’ll get through this.”

Tamara knew Lucy was saying what she always said, but she didn’t care. She began to rely on Lucy’s mothering nature over the years and it was simply nice to hear her soothing voice in the midst of any chaos that life presented her.

“It’s never been this bad Lucy,” Tamara whimpered, “it’s never been this bad.”

Kane and Tim approach the girls as Tamara breaks from her comforting embrace.

“It was Eliza.” She tells the boys who simply nodded their understanding. “

Tim goes towards Tamara but she nestles further into Lucy; preferring her comfort. Tim looks gutted but Lucy steps in.

“Just leave it Tim.” Lucy states as Tim reluctantly backs off. Lucy knew she had found herself in between her friends years ago, but couldn’t help herself when it came to Tamara’s wellbeing. Tamara had often felt Tim pressured her into things earlier than she ever wanted, and never had the courage to say no to him; despite Lucy’s ongoing advice that relationships shouldn’t be so one-sided.

“So what’s going to stop her?” Tamara cried out, “we have to stop her!”

“Maybe big brother has the answers.” Tim belted. “He’s probably got it hidden like he made the rest of us do!”

“Cut it out Tim” Lucy replies.

However Lucy knew he was right. Kane had swore them all to secrecy about ever being with Eliza that day. Having a strict father meant Kane feared the worst if he ever knew Kane could’ve prevented his daughter from peril. Over the years Kane had convinced himself and the others to believe that it was best the town didn’t know what happened to Eliza, that it would only cause more pain and suffering. However now it had meant they carried the burden for life and no-one was coping.

Tim, getting no response from Kane, tried again to connect with Tamara. This time Tamara accepted his comfort as Lucy stepped aside.

Lucy felt like she was the only rock holding the group together; a task that had worn deep on her for the past ten years. She pulls out her ventolin puffer and draws deeply on it; shaking the last bit to get as much as she could as she felt she was going to need it.

“Y’know Tim is right,” Tamara scoffed, “if it wasn’t for keeping this secret we wouldn’t be chased by a ghost!”

“C’mon Tam that’s not fair.” Lucy interjects.

“It’s true Lucy!” Tamara replies, “it’s obvious Eliza has some unresolved issues with Kane and is punishing us all for it!

“Shut up Tam you watch too many movies.” Kane retorted.

“Hey watch it mate!” Tim defends Tamara.

The flurry of accusations began hurling between all of them as the seams of friendship burst open. The bottled up anguish of the past ten years erupted into a messy display … which could only be silenced by a strange crackling nearby.

“What was that?” Lucy quizzed; not really wanting to know.

The wind had picked up through the trees and began to circle around them along with a splintering echo reverberating through the forest; followed by the chilling voice of Eliza.

“One two three, can’t escape from me…”

They all spun around not knowing which direction it was coming from when Kane spotted it first.

“Look out!” he cried when WHUMP! A massive tree had crashed beside them. They stood still in shock as the forest went silent. A small crackling began again, a hundred fold, as the splintering sounds returned with a howling wind. Trees were falling around them as they ran.

Kane led the way as Tim pushed Tamara along. Lucy stumbled at the rear but found her footing again until her ankle wedged in some ground roots.

“Kane!” she cries out; yanking at her foot in desperation.

Three tall tress come crashing down nearby as Kane spins back and pulls Lucy free. He’s suddenly shoved over by Tim.

Another tree thumps to the ground where Kane was standing and he shares a momentary glance with Tim.

“Keep going!” Tim shouts out as they continue to run through the pelting of trees around them.

The wind howled ferociously through the forest as they crawled through the thicket at the edge of the forest in a frantic attempt for relief when they all began to tumble downwards.

They had reached the edge of the quarry and slid down the steep embankment. Their desperate attempts to grip onto something to stop them, a tree root, a clump of rocks, all proved futile as they continued to fall towards the bottom.

Finally reaching the end, they lay in excruciating pain amongst the rubble that littered the ground. No one could utter a word beyond a throbbing groan; each carrying numerous broken bones.

Kane began to move, crawling toward the first body he could see. Lucy had clearly snapped her ankle and lay sobbing beside him. He reached out with his bloodied hand but retracted in pain from a dislocated shoulder.

The moans nearby from Tim echoed clearly as he struggled to reach Tamara.

The ground began to rumble and loosening silts gave way as they each began to sink into the ground.

Kane tried to grab Lucy but she kept sinking beyond the ability to breathe. Kane out of desperation spun around to see if his friend was there but Tim was also struggling under the silt as it covered his head and only Tamara’s limp hand could be seen protruding from another shaft hole.

The quarry shook like an eruption was about to explode as Kane used his last ounce of energy to scream out.

“Eliza! Stop! Take me! Leave them out of it just take me!!!”

The quarry snapped into silence. Kane took a moment to find his breath,

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled, “I’m so sorry.”


Choosing self sacrifice over self preservation is a concept that had always felt foreign the Kane.

Kane lifted his head; groggy from the ordeal but a spark of relief gave him strength to pull himself onto his knees. He scanned the desolate quarry around him as the morning sun began to pierce the night sky. Around him lay the bodies of his friends; still breathing, as they slowly found consciousness.

Kane drew in a deep breath of relief, still bewildered at the torment he’d just experienced he now felt a sense of glint of comfort that perhaps it was nothing but a bad dream. He tried to convince himself the excessive drinking had spawned the chain of events until something caught his eye.

Kane watches the ethereal vision of his little sister skipping through the quarry; she pauses at the entrance of the shaft hole where she had died and shared a knowing look with her brother. She smiles warmly at him, then skips away; whistling the playful tune from their hide and seek game.

Needless to say when Kane showed his mother the final resting place of Eliza she was a complete mess. She crumpled to her knees in a moan of tears and release as she draped flowers over the cross Kane had made from sticks. Kane shared her pain as he knelt beside her, cradling her in his arms. She looked to Kane with a smile he wasn’t expecting. She cupped the side of his tear soaked face with her hands and gently kissed him on the forehead. A wave of unconditional love for her remaining child flowed over Kane with such a cathartic intensity he could hold no longer. He finally sobbed his heart out. Repeating over and over how much he was sorry only enhanced his mother’s affection for him. They sat by the gravesite until the sun began to set. Kane helped his mother home as the feint breeze that began to stir, now carried the playful giggles of little Eliza Matthews.  

Ten years later she haunts the friends who let her die. They all carried the secret, fearing what would happen if they were to blame. The leader is her brother Kane. (most of them were 8 when it happened so theyre all 17&18 now, graduating from high school or just a party.

Eliza was reported missing but never found.

She haunts them to let them feel what its like to die painfully. Then once dead they help eliza find the others and kill them – gang up until only kane left (and girlfriend?)

To end the torture he chooses self sacrifice over self preservation and breaks elizas curse – eliza is happy now and can move on

Kane takes his parents (or just one) to the burial site and they place flowers; kane makes a cross out of sticks. Then sees her ghost smiling and skipping through the meadow.