The house stood alone on the desolate hillside. Its ancient windows watched with foreboding as the years passed. No one entered the rickety old gates, except the elderly couple that abided within.
It was believed in the local village that to walk within the house was to march into the arms of death. Many brave souls had ventured within but none had returned. Gobbled up by the forest some said, attacked by hideous creatures, others believed, but no one in the village knew.
Only one knew the truth. The answer lay behind a simple item hidden deep within the mysteries of the house. When uncovered by the right person, all the secrets would be revealed, everything stolen would be returned and all wrongs made right. And so the waiting continued.
Many miles away, a young girl sat looking out the window of a classroom, her face full of misery. She was a determined young person who was average at everything, including her height. Her brown hair fluffed into every spot but where she wanted, and her brown eyes were so boring. She was ordinary and fairly plain as well and it was the bane of her existence.
If only she could excel at just one thing she could prove to her Dad that she was more than ordinary and perhaps avoid the nasty scene she knew was going to occur. She doodled on the paper in front of her as she watched butterflies flit through the trees. School holidays were here and she couldn’t even get excited about it.
Dinner, normally a cheerful affair, was silent that night. Charlie’s Dad watched her anxiously while her brother Jim studied yet another physics text. The tension built until she could bear it no longer.
“I’m not going.” She blurted into the silence while glaring at her father.
“Charlotte please, I have worked to do and Jim has major exams to study for.”
“No! And it’s Charlie! ” She stated defiantly, “I am old enough now that I can be trusted.”
“We have been through this before, and frankly I don’t want to hear your excuses. You may be 15 but you are still going to your Grandparents.” He held up his hand to stop her argument, “For the whole summer.”
“Please don’t send me. You don’t know how awful it is.” Charlie begged
“I think I do, Spooky house, creepy grandparents, scary things that happen. You tell me these stories every year. I’m sorry but you are going.”
“They aren’t even your parents.” She argued, determined to win her Dad over.
“Maybe not. They are still your grandparents and they are entitled to see you. Plus I’m sure your mother will be happier in knowing that someone is visiting them.”
“Yeah, like she visits us.” Charlie pointed out sarcastically
“I know she has been acting strange but she does love you.”
“Even though, she left us.” She finished bluntly
“Stop changing the subject. You are going, whether you like it or not. They asked especially to see you. So I would suggest you get packing because the train is leaving tomorrow morning at 9.15.”
Charlie’s jaw dropped in shock as she realized she couldn’t argue her way out. It had already been decided. Tears threatened as she slammed her utensils onto her plate, stood up and ran to her room. She was doomed to spend her holidays in Dundoon. The table was silent after she left and Jim finally looked up, surprised to find his father looking so upset.
The next morning Charlie stood defiantly at her front door with suitcases surrounding her. She had so hoped to avoid going this year. But like previous summers, she would be forced to stay in that eerie house with her bossy Grandma and grumpy Granddad. And every year she dreaded it just the same. She sighed gloomily, quietly accepting her doom.
“C’mon honey, it’s not that bad.” Her Father soothed as they watched her brother carefully back the car out of the garage.
"That’s because you have never stayed there!” She hissed boldly. She grabbed her luggage and threw it into the back and before she could protest anymore they were off to the train station.
Charlie grumbled the whole way as the train trundled its way out of the city. She passed through luxurious forests, tiny country towns and massive stretches of pastureland, but still her mood deteriorated.
“We are now approaching Dundoon. Any passengers wishing to alight must do so from the rear car.” The guard’s cheerful voice interrupted Charlie from her morbid thoughts. She had arrived. Dread crept through her as she gathered up her bags and got off the train.