Sarah snuck around the side of the house and lifted up the board that covered the basement window. Her and Sam had discovered it shortly before the bet and had dared each other to go inside. Neither one had been brave enough.
She pushed her backpack and sleeping bag through the hole and heard it drop to the floor. Then, she slowly crawled through after them. The drop was further than she expected and she stumbled on the landing.
Using the flashlight she’d packed in her backpack, she managed to find her way to the stairwell and slowly creaked up the stairs. Although main floor was lighter than the basement as some early evening sun found its way through the cracks between the wooden slates that covered the windows, it was still dark enough that she needed her flashlight. She used it to find a light switch.
She was surprised to find that the inside of the house looked immaculate. She was expecting spiderwebs, dust, and broken furniture. Instead, everything was beautiful. She was suddenly aware of how weird it would be if the assistant came tomorrow and found her sleeping in the middle of the living room floor. She decided to find a corner where she could hide away. She opened a door off the living room and found herself in a cluttered office. There were papers scattered everywhere with complicated sketches and numbers. They covered the walls, the desk and the floor. Lining the entirety of the far wall was a bookshelf. Books were heaped haphazardly on it and in stalks on the floor.
Along the wall closest to the door there was a giant hole through which she could see back out into the living room. It looked like someone had taken a giant sledge hammer to it and crawled through it. As she bent down to look at it, she heard a voice:
“Hello Sarah, welcome to my home.”
She leapt into the air in fright. Standing just outside the doorway she’d walked through was a tall thin man dressed in a paisley print, orange and brown polyester shirt and brown bell bottom pants.
Rather than walking through the doorway, he crawled through the hole in the wall.
“The question is, now that you’re here, what do we do with you?”
He stood up and stared hard at her. She backed slowly against the far wall, the books on the shelves pressing into her back.
“You’ve seen too much. I just don’t know what to do. You really shouldn’t have come.”
As he took a step towards her, his foot stepped onto on of the many papers that lined the floor and his foot slid out from under him. He landed with a thud on the ground.
Sarah jumped over him and ran out the door. The kids from before were long gone. She ran the entire way home and didn’t stop until she was safely inside her house.
“Who’s there?” her mom called out from the kitchen.
Sara fought to catch her breath as she said, “It’s just me.”
Seconds later her mom flew into the room and pulled her into a bear hug and started sobbing.
“Where did you go?” she asked between sobs. “Where have you been?
“Geez, Mom, get off.” She tried to push her mom away. “I was at Becca’s house.”
“Don’t you dare lie to me.” She shook Sarah by the shoulders. “You’ve been gone for a month and I want to know where you’ve been.” Sarah could feel her mom’s nails digging into her shoulders.
Sarah stared at her mom in confusion. “What?” From the corner of her eye a stack of papers sat on the little table by the door. Her picture took up most of the top page under the block letters of the word “MISSING.”