It was as if she were in a trance. Everything around her faded into nothingness. Her eyes were riveted on Grimwood Manor. She walked towards the imposing, Gothic facade of the house. It loomed like a foreboding giant watching her come closer like a spider watching a fly lured to its web.
She paused and looked up at the top three windows. A light went on and the curtain moved in the middle one. The spell was broken. Her heart lurched in palpable fear. The house was supposed to be deserted. She thought she saw a figure. Terrified, she turned and ran as fast as she could, falling a couple of times as she tumbled across the field.
She didn’t stop running until she was safely back at the cottage. She darted inside, closed the door behind her and leaned against it to catch her breath. Her aunt was in the kitchen and she bustled into the foyer when she heard her come in. “Good heavens,” she exclaimed. “What happened to you? You look like you have seen a ghost.”
She stumbled over to the sofa and sank heavily on to the cushions. “I just came from Grimwood Manor,” she said. “I thought it was supposed to be deserted.”
“It’s deserted but not abandoned. Now and then someone, perhaps the caretaker goes there and tends to the place. They have to keep it in good condition in case they wish to sell it one of these days.”
“Who would want to buy it? It looks creepy. I saw a light at one of the windows, the curtain move and a figure standing there.”
“Granted it’s not one of the best looking mansions but it’s not haunted as some like to say. I there-say, it use to be full of life back in the 1800s. The family was always throwing balls. It was deserted in the early 1900s but cared for. It’s not so bad during the day. Why did you go there tonight?”
“I hadn’t planned to but on my way back here, I had to pass it. I was drawn to it. I had never seen a Gothic mansion before. I read so much about them. Do you suppose the caretaker would show me around?”
“I don’t know. You will have to ask him. When you go take someone with you. Don’t go alone.”
“Would you like to go with me, Aunt?”
“No, thank you. I don’t fancy traipsing about in a rundown old mansion. Such things don’t interest me.”
“Very well, Aunt. I will ask Joe to go with me.” Joe was her Aunt’s neighbor’s son. This was her way of asking Joe out on a date without really asking him. She liked Joe but was still not sure how he felt about her. Hopefully, while exploring the mansion, she would find out.
“Good idea. Joe’s a upstanding young man,” her aunt said. “Are you hungry? You should be after your gallivanting. Your supper is on the table.”
She smiled and got up from the sofa. “Thank you, Aunt.”
She went to the kitchen where a large plate of piping hot, mouth-watering beef stew and dumplings awaited her. As she tucked into them, she thought about Grimwood Manor.
It was hard to believe that it was once filled with life and laughter. Now it looked like a dead, empty husk. Yet, in spite of its lacklustre appearance, she had been irresistibly drawn to it. If she hadn’t seen movement in the upstairs window, she would have gone inside if the doors were unlocked. And who knows what she would have found lurking in any of those rooms. She shuddered at the thought.