The house was large, but not nearly as large as the wall, gate, and long drive might suggest. The two and a half stories under the high peaked roof had once been painted a light green, but much of the paint had peeled away, exposing grey, weather stained wood. Broad windows were generously spread around that side of the building, as if the builders meant the house to have bright, sunny rooms inside, but dark green shutters hid most of the windows dark, leaving the building looking cold and forbidding.

Four chimneys stood proud of the sharply peaked roof, like sheep heavy with wool scattered around the metal rooster weather vane, shifting back and forth slightly in the light breeze that set the trees whispering without quite coming down to Maddy’s level.

There were four chimneys standing above the sharply peaked roof. On top of the roof at the front of the house, was an old weather vane. It had a metal rooster on it, shifting slightly back and forth in a light breeze that did not reach the ground.

“Go on in and look around while we start unloading the van. The last door on the front of the house is our room, but there are three others for you to pick from,” Maddy’s mother said, already reaching for her first box while Maddy’s father unlocked the front door.

“Don’t worry, kiddo. The sleeping bags and other camping gear should only be for tonight. The rest of our furniture and boxes should be here in the morning,” he said, pausing to muss Maddy’s hair on his way past.

Dragging her feet on the way up the front steps provided time for a good look around outside before facing what fate had in store. Other than the detached garage, which  looked like it started life as a bar, Maddy could not see another building in any direction. Who knew what might be hiding in all those trees? Maddy opened the door quickly before trying to answer that question.

Rather than going upstairs to pick her new bedroom, Maddy set out to explore the ground floor first.

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