2 - The Room

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It took us some time to figure out the right key and as we did Dad said. "Hold your breath, the place might stink a little."

And he was right, even though I held my breath when Dad pushed the double oak doors with all his strength, I could feel the moist air brush past me. It was like the house let out a very deep sigh of relief, happy at the fact that it was going to be lived in.

My hair flapped around my face. I brushed it away and I breathed in the stale air. "I'll go and open the windows." I suggested.

Ryder came silently along with me and helped with the windows. There were the old fashion types, sash windows, where you have to unwind the leaver and the window lifts upwards. It was stuck at first but with Ryder's constant banging, it opened.

"One down five to go," he commented.

As we silently opened the other five windows, Dad stood at the bottom of the stairs, waiting for us to finish. As soon as Ryder and I were done we grabbed our suitcases.

"Stay to the side of the stairs. Don't walk in the middle."

"Why?" Ryder and I said in unison.

Dad laughed. "You never know, you might just fall straight through."

As I have watched many horror films, it made sense. You can't trust the stair floor boards, it might just decide to give way and suck you all the way to the pitless dark. So I took Dad's advice and heaved myself along the rickety banisters and the suitcase to the top. There were around about forty steps and I did get out of breath.

"Hey Dad," I managed to let out, "if we turn this into a grand hotel, PLEASE invest in some lifts."

We got to the top and Dad consulted the plan. "Right follow me. Through here you will see a ghoulish gargoyle thing poking out, but let me assure you that it not alive." Dad laughed, impersonating himself as a tour guide. "I've decided that our bedrooms should be as close to one another, just for the couple of nights that is."

Ryder moaned.

I said. "If it was up to Ryder, he'd live in the attic."

He pulled a face and Dad laughed. "Plus there is no running electricity."

"So what we gonna eat tonight then?" Ryder asked.

Dad moved along the corridor and stood outside a locked door. "That's when the Crofts' come in."

I chose the room diagonal to Dad. "Who are they?"

"Old family neighbours from around here. They were pretty close to your uncle. It was them who suggested that we should eat around their place and maybe stay the night."

I said. "Can we trust them?"

Ryder moaned. "So why did we have to bring these suitcase up then?"

"Stop moaning." I snapped. "And we've packed lightly anyway."

Dad laughed heartedly. "And Freya I'm sure we can trust them. Any friends of your Uncle Johnny could be a friend of ours." He tossed the key to me as Ryder slithered to the floor, back against the door. "It's the brass one."

I put the key in the lock. "Hey Ryder you'd better sit up. You never know, they might be rat and mice poo down there?"

"What!" he yelled as he shot up like a bullet. I brushed the door open before Ryder could get me.

And as I entered, this was my new bedroom. It was very spacious, bare, smelled musky with a hint of a dead mouse, and really dusty. A large dusty white sheet was draped elegantly around an armchair and a king sized bed was not ready to be slept in.

First I decided to open the damn windows because I was suffocating with a deathly smell. I dumped the suitcase on the floor and headed for the windows. But as I got there I heard the sound of a nearby chair scrap backwards. I was very cautious and I silently decided to open the window. Then I heard other sound; a wardrobe opening and shutting and the squeakiness of the bed.

I whispered to myself, "I don't believe in ghosts. I don't believe in-"

"Freya."

I turned around to see Dad at the door way.

"Jeez Dad."

"Darling, what's the matter."

I lied, shaking my head. "Err, nothing."

He walked up to me before placing something on the dusty bed. "Look let me help you."

And he had done so with little effort. Maybe I had gotten weak I thought as Dad went to the bed.

"I thought you might want an extra walkie-talkie, radio thingy because you know how I can be very careless." He passed the walkie-talkie towards me.

"Thanks." I paused. "Dad were there-"

"Would you look at that," he said cutting me off, "a genuine big piano."

I followed Dad's gaze and I swear that the piano wasn't there before I came in. He strolled towards it, placing his big hands on the deck.

"That wasn't there before." I muttered.

Dad didn't hear what I said. "I don't have a piano in my bedroom and Ryder doesn't. Whoever owned this bedroom clearly loved this. Hey, do you remember once you said that you wanted to learn to play the piano but-"

"But Mum didn't want to waste her money of something that wasn't going to benefit me." I scoffed recalling the moment when Mum said that. I was twelve when that happened and it seemed like yesterday.

"Yes she did." He paused as he stroked the piano and looked away. "But don't worry. It's never too late. We've got the money and we'll get a professional to teach you."

"Or you could just get Ms Attic to teach me and get a discount."

"True," he said as he got up. "Well I'll be next door if you need anything." Then he got up and left the room.

For a moment I forgot about the strange encounter when I was at the window. I took a deep breath, said 'I don't believe in ghosts' line, picked up my suitcase and started to rummage through some of my new belongings with the walkie-talkie package and manual on my bed.

Before Norman showed up to collect us, Dad took us shopping, just to get the bare essentials; like toiletries, two sets of clothes, two pairs of footwear each, a watch and a new school uniform for Ryder. I took each item out and decided where to put them. I placed a pair of trainers and knee high boots under the bed. With a fresh pair of socks I decided to place them in a near by chest of draws.

Knowing me I would have just dumped the things in, I wasn't the type of girl to fold and place items like that neatly away, but at that moment something came to my attention. It was a golden key and it was still shiny. It lay there, inside the chest of draws and all I could do was wonder as to what it was for. I chucked my fresh socks back in the suitcase and picked up the key. It was smooth and looked quite old fashioned, the back looking all fancy with its swirls.

Then I heard that noise again, the scraping noise, I dared to look around but I couldn't see any movements. Had that chair been isolated from it desk when I came in, surely it wasn't like that? I glanced at the east side wall and that's when I saw it. A vault, dusty and gone with colour somehow gleamed at me when I cautiously strolled towards it. Stuck at a wall that was chest level to me, I dusted the cobwebs that hid the key hole.

Did I really dare myself to open the vault? I mean God knows what could be hidden behind there; a moulded head/skull, a dead rat [yes I can finally scare Ryder!]. I have a bizarre imagination but I've seen many horror films. But then I thought that this vault could lead to a different place, like the world of Narnia hidden behind a wardrobe or something rather extraordinary. One way or another I had to put that key in.

And as I did I nearly cringed at the thought of a dismembered body part. I held my breath and I was surprised at the fact that the vault wasn't dusty like the other things in the room. And that's when I saw an item that was going to change my life.

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