1 - Leaving

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We didn't move houses that much but I hated it. It was a nightmare. No one seems to get there job right. It was just simple, we didn't have any belongings but the delivery van decided to show up. Dad managed to get us some clothes and essentials and Ms Attic gave us three suitcases which I must say was very kind of her.

Ryder was throwing a strop as usually and by mistake he mentioned Mum in front of me. I went ballistic and Dad had to calm me down.

Then a chauffer by the name of Norman Kelly showed up at Ms Attic's door, stating that he was the driver for the Telfords. I said hallelujah sarcastically and got Dad. We said a very tearful goodbye to Ms Attic and told her that we'll be in touch. Then we got into the luxurious BMW and out of the depressing sight of Luton.

The journey was long but Dad sat at the passenger seat, having an in depth conversation with Norman. Ryder and I didn't talk because he fell asleep after ten minutes. I tried to pass the time by just looking at the blurred images of trees going past the car window. After a while I got bored so I had a conversation with Dad.

I tapped at the glass door that divided the driver from me. Norman lowered the window and Dad turned to look at me.

"What is it darling?" he asked. "Are you hungry?"

I shook my head. "I'm confused Dad."

"What about Freya?"

I briefly glanced at Norman, but he continued to drive. "Dad I don't get it. Why can't we just live at Uncle Johnny's house in Mayfair? I mean why go all they way down to Kent?"

Dad sighed. "In the will Uncle Johnny asked me to complete the project and there's a lot to do, like sort out the electrics, get an architect to sort out the place and -"

"So you can still do all of that and stay in Mayfair?"

"Freya, living in Mayfair is expensive. I don't know how Johnny survived. Plus I've lived all my life in a town and believe me I would like to get the odd sunshine and a breath of fresh air in my bones for once." He paused. "And you might like the country side. You always wanted to do some gardening."

"Yeah, like when I was ten years old."

"And you want to be a writer. And there's no other place better than an old manor. You'll get the best ideas. Plus there's a great university and you can do that English degree."

And it was true, I did want to go to university, but with the recent events, it just seemed too much to handle.

I ignored the last part. "Dad it's the country side. There nearest library is like three mile away."

"Then get the bus."

I sighed rolling my eyes. "How long are we staying there?"

"Till the project's complete. And if we get the time, we'll live somewhere else."

I paused. "So how big is this Ashford Estate then?"

Dad had a big grin on his face. "Wait till you see Freya. It's amazing."

I smiled because for the first time in two months Dad had found his smile.

I left him and slid back to my seat. After watching the country side, tiredness swept my eyes and I drifted to sleep.

I awoke with Ryder's hands gently rocking my shoulders. I rubbed my eyes and looked to the back of the car to see Norman and Dad talking.

I yawned. "Ryder what time is it?"

He glared at me with snake eyes. "Geez I don't know. Let me check my watch, oh wait I forgot, I don't have one coz it got burnt in the fire."

Seriously I just wanted to hit him for his sarcasm but I ignored him. I got out of the car and I hoped to be facing the Ashford Estate, but all I saw was a massive muddy field, naked trees extending as far as the eyes could see.

"Hey blindo!" yelled Ryder, "Turn around."

And so I did, expecting Ryder to chuck something dreadful at me so then I would have to chase him. But all Ryder did was walk with Norman towards what I soon realised was the Ashford Estate. And my God it was gigantic and a little bit scary with its many gothic arched windows and its rough stony yellow exterior peering down at us. I felt like a small feeble mouse against this monstrous structure.

I caught up with the rest. "Dad how big is this place?"

Dad grinned. "It's got ninety three rooms and that's only the bedroom."

My eyes popped out. It's hard to believe a common house could even have six bedrooms , let alone ninety three. "Man, must have been one massive Ashford extended family."

Dad nodded. "Tell me about it. No one's been able to buy the property and live to sell it off. Well that's what the neighbours around here say."

I scoffed as Ryder walked in pace with Norman. "Oh please Dad. I don't believe haunted houses and ghosts."

"You may not believe in them Freya," he began, putting on a ghoulish voice, "but they believe in you." Then he laughed like Dracula, which made me laugh.

We walked further up the drive. "Dad what do you mean when you said no one was able to sell it." I asked.

Dad was about to answer but Norman had his attention. They started their conversation again and I sighed. I stood next to Ryder as he stared at the estate. His eyes where fixed at the top of the building, as if he just found something.

"What you staring up there for?" I asked.

He quickly looked away. "Nothing. I was wondering if there were gonna be any mice about?"

Ryder was scared, more like petrified of mice and rats. I mean anyone would; they carry all sorts of diseases, but Ryder would scream like a little girl if he saw one a metre away.

"I'm sure Uncle Johnny took care of it when he got the place." I was about to walk away but oddly Ryder wanted to chat to me.

"Freya don't you find it a bit odd that our uncle passed away like a week after he got this place and people are saying that this place is-"

"Haunted? Please Ryder, ghosts don't exist and that's only if you want them to." I paused as I glanced back at Dad, who waved at us. I looked back to see Ryder looking up. "Come on, Dad's calling."

For a moment it seemed like Ryder would not budge, like if he was in a trance, but after a moment he walked along with me.

"Right kids," Dad began. "We've all established how big this place really is so Norman kindly has given us the plans for the house." Dad waved a rolled up A1 sized paper to us. I glanced at Norman as he stood just a few steps behind Dad. "And I proposed that we all have these."

Ryder scoffed. "A walkie-talkie?"

"I think that it's a good idea." I suggested. "Because Ryder you're bound to get lost."

He pulled a face.

Norman handed a heavy set of house keys. "All the keys are here Mr Telford, apart from one. Mr Norris has got the basement key and tomorrow he wants to see you. Do you have the address?"

Dad nodded.

"What's in the basement?" I asked.

Norman half smiled. "Some old Ashford heirlooms that Johnny didn't want to disturb, so he gave the key to Mr Norris, the estate manager. But now that you father owns this property -"

"I can do whatever I want." Dad said with glee.

"Mr Norris may decide to place the heirlooms at the local museum." Norman shook Dad's hands. "So Mr Telford I'll see you this evening," and then to us, "See you around kids."

We waved bye as Norman got into the sleek BMW and drove down the drive.

Puzzled, Dad flicked through the keys. "Now which one belongs to the front door?"

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