Chapter 1: The Tower
The explorers grabbed their supplies, turning to leave the haunted house. Suddenly, thunder crashed and a secret door behind them fell open. The wolf man and the vampire ran forward, arms held out before them and maniacal looks on their faces.
“Chet, throw the garlic!” cried the lady with the big eyes.
A burly man tossed garlic at the vampire, which recoiled in disgust.
“Now, the wolfsbane!” yelled the lady.
A smaller man threw what looked like purple flowers at the wolf man. He howled in pain and ducked away.
The burly man grabbed a wooden stake while his companion loaded a gun.
“Time to dispose of this squad of monsters!” yelled Burly.
He raised the stake up high – and disappeared.
Jack sighed and fell back on the couch, watching the old-fashioned TV’s screen crackle and slowly darken.
I’m not sure I can handle any more of these terrible old movies, he thought to himself.
Downing the last of his milk - not even flavored - Jack stood up and looked around the living room. He could hear the radio from the kitchen, playing some golden oldie song.
Thirteen years old with a shaggy mop of brown hair, Jack was short for his age but managed to make up for this by being quick on his feet. He was always one of the last to get taken out in a game of dodge ball, even if he couldn’t throw the ball back very fast.
Jack began to make his way to the kitchen.
Walking to the hallway, he stopped at the foot of the stairwell and looked up. The twisting circular staircase ran upwards along the walls of the tower. To Jack, the sight of the tight curving line of the rising bannister reminded him of the barrel of one of great uncle Rupert’s ancient muskets. He began to climb, pausing at the first window. There was nothing to see but dark clouds and pouring rain.
“Summer sucks,” he sighed.
Jack had been staying with his great Aunt Alberta since finishing school. His parents were busy running their restaurant and figured he would enjoy staying out in the country.
“You’ll love it!” his dad had said. “I used to go there every summer. There’s fishing, sailing, hiking - it’s great.”
That had sounded good, but the fact that it had rained literally every day since arriving had Jack bored and frustrated.
“Why not explore the house?” Alberta had suggested. “It’s a grand old building; built in 1872, don’t you know? There are lots of hidden surprises. Just make sure you’re back for dinner. At five.”
Jack had already explored the conservatory, marvelling at his great aunt’s collection of exotic plants. He’d looked around the old library, and flipped through more than enough books for the entire vacation. He’d even checked out the kitchen, searching in vain for snacks or something to do. There was no internet out there, and the TV only had three channels.
I’ve got to be the most bored kid on the planet, he thought glumly, turning away from the window and slumping to sit, back to the wall. The spiral staircase was at the southern end of the house. It rose from the doorway through to the main floor, then to the second floor, where the bedrooms were. Jack pictured the house from the outside and then sat up with a start.
He looked up and saw the landing at the top of the stairs. There was no doorway there but he remembered that from the outside, the staircase looked like a tower...and there was a room with a window at the top of that tower.
He stepped up to the landing, cautiously, and looked around.
“Hmm, is there a secret door or something?” He looked at the walls in the gloomy light but couldn’t see any marks or lines to indicate a hidden doorway.
A flash of lighting lit up the room. Jack looked out the window as the rumbling thunder trembled around him. He sighed. Had he imagined the room? Maybe it was just this window.
A sprinkling of dust fell on his head. Jack felt his nose crinkle up before letting out a massive sneeze. He looked up, and saw the clear outline of an attic door. The thunder must have caused the dust.
He noticed the door had a small knob, almost hidden. It was, of course, way out of his reach. He remembered Aunt Alberta had a stepladder in the kitchen so she could reach the higher shelves. He bounded downstairs, grabbed the ladder, and ran back up two steps at a time.
“It’s probably nothing. I mean it’s an attic. Why am I so excited? Why am I talking to myself?” he said and laughed. “Maybe I should’ve grabbed some garlic while I was down there in case there’s a vampire!”
Reaching the landing, he propped the ladder up between the railings and the wall and stepped up. Looking down, he gulped as he realised how far he’d fall if he lost his balance. He could imagine how much trouble he’d be in if he slipped and broke his leg.
Reaching up, he managed to grab the knob. He pushed, then pulled, and nearly fell as the door flew open, shaking out with a crash. Steadying himself, Jack looked up and saw a collapsible ladder on the attic door. He pulled at it, and it slid squeakily down.
Grabbing his phone – full charge, thanks to the total lack of internet – Jack stepped up and turned on the flashlight function. He shone it into the room. It was dusty and dark, but he could see some light coming in through the window.
Reaching up, he grabbed the edges of the ladder and climbed into the attic.