Betsy died 20 years ago when she fell down the stairs and knocked her head against the railing. While murder couldn’t be proven, many suspected her husband Bernard of killing her. Shortly after, Bernard disappeared. People suspected he was overcome with remorse and grief and he killed himself. Not long after that, rumours of the house being haunted began.
Their house was the largest house in the little town, located at the very end of May Street. You couldn’t see it from the road as it was at the end of a long driveway which wound up the hill and out of sight into the trees.
The house, or more accurately, the mansion, was older, but well maintained aside from the windows which were long gone and boarded up. The owner didn’t live there and it was mostly abandoned throughout the year. No one except an assistant named Andrea knew who now owned the house and she was very tight-lipped.
Andrea showed up at precisely 8 am every weekday and left at exactly 4 pm. Even though the other townspeople pried her with questions, she refused to answer. Each time she was asked, she simply gave a little smile and shook her head. Some suspected even she didn’t know.
Occasionally, she would hire a plumber, or a painter, or other contract worker, and each time, she would hover nearby, closely monitoring their work. Despite high hopes, no one ever had anything mysterious to report when they left.
The neighbours, on the other hand, had plenty to say. The ghosts, they say, only came out at night. Not every night mind you. Quite rarely, if the truth were told, but when they did it was gossip fodder for months. People reported loud banging, crashing, and even the occasional explosion. Lights flickered on and off. Some even reported to have seen Bernard himself, still the same age as before.
It had been a full year since any mysterious noises or appearances had occurred when Sarah Miller officially finished grade 5. It was the first day of summer holidays, and normally she’d be thrilled, but for the first time she wasn’t excited it was summer. In fact, she’d been dreading today.
She had lost an ill-advised bet with her best friend Sam and the loser had to sneak into the house and spend the night by themselves. They’d bet on who could sell the most chocolate bars for the fundraiser their school was running. She’d been winning the whole time. That is, right up until the last week when his entire family came into town for his older brother’s wedding. Suddenly aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents were buying up chocolate bars left and right. Not to mention, Sam was the youngest of 10 kids. All of his older siblings were back in town, some with wives and kids of their own. She lost by a landslide.
When she made the bet, she was sure she’d win. It didn’t even occur to her that there might be a possibility that she might lose. She was terrified of ghosts.
That afternoon, she packed her backpack and sleeping bag and just before the streetlights usually started to flicker on she called to her mom who was in the TV room and announced she was off to Becca’s house for a sleepover.
“Ok, have fun! Be home by 10 tomorrow.”
No problem there. She planned to run home as soon as the sun blinked over the horizon.
When she got to the driveway at the very end of May Street she found a small crowd of kids waiting for her.
“Took you long enough,” Sam smirked. “I thought you were going to chicken out.”
She glared at him and hoisted her sleeping bag up onto her shoulder. “Never.”
She stood as tall as she could and with as much determination and courage as she could muster she stepped on the footpath and followed it up the hill.