Kristen moved into the house on the island one week after her ninth birthday. The house that her father had bought was the smallest house on the island, but at least it was big enough to let Kristen and her brother have their own bedrooms.
As Kristen and Justin walked into the house for the first time she was surprised at how clean the house was, she had always thought that old houses were dirty and filled with dust and cob webs. But the walls in the little house were gleaming from a fresh coat of whitewash and all of the floors had been scrubbed so that the yellow wood shone golden in the early morning sunlight.
While her father helped the moving men unpack the truck he told the kids to go upstairs and pick out which bedroom they wanted. Kristen and Justin ran up the stairs and into the left had bedroom. It was big and painted light green it had two big windows one of which over looked the front yard and the house across the street and the ocean in the background. The right hand room was much smaller and over looked the back yard with the tiny dock and motor boat that Kristen's father would use to get to work every day. The room was painted blue and also had two windows, the view out of the second window showed the side yard with the tall wall that ran around the perimeter of the big old house next door. Kristen and Justin stared out the window at the massive yard which had long yellow grass broken only by copses of trees and what looked to be at one time well maintained gardens that had now grown over with weeds.
The Old House Drawing By Mike
The yard offered many opportunities for adventures and places to explore, but the thing that held the attention of the two young children was the tree shrouded mansion in the distance. It stood at least three stories tall and was by far the largest house on the property. Four massive chimneys climbed above the tops of the trees sprouting from the multicolored slate roof, which seemed to be covered in leaves and sticks. There was a large porch that wrapped around the entire side of the house covered in chipped and peeling white paint; the walls of the house were weathered and grey. Most of the house was hidden by the shadows cast by the large trees and Kristen doubted that anyone lived there anymore
at least no one who cared anything about the house or the yard.
"Do you think it's haunted?" Justin asked. Kristen shook her head and told him to grow up. "There are no such things as ghosts, but I'll take this room if you're scared." Justin let out a small sigh of relief and ran back across the hall into his room. Kristen continued to stare out the window at the old mansion and as she stared she knew that she was going to have to slip over the wall some day and take a closer look at the big old house.
That night Kristen made macaroni and cheese for dinner, she had started to help her father out with some of the household chores after her mother died the previous year. He worked most of the day in the city and she didn't mind the work because it kept her mind off of other things. Besides if Justin helped it only took about an hour a day to keep the house clean. At dinner Kristen asked her father about the big old house next door. He smiled: "I thought the old Doyle place would interest you two." He smiled and leaned back in his chair. "At one point many years ago the Doyle's owned this entire island; they were a very powerful and wealthy family. This house actually used to be one of the houses where some of the servants who worked in the mansion lived. After the great war the Doyle's were forced to sell some of the land that they owned to others, and eventually the family died out until only a son was left." Kristen and Justin exchanged excited looks with each other. "Does he live in the mansion Dad?" Mr. Drexler shrugged his shoulders. "Your guess is as good as mine Justin, but if he does live there I don't want the two of you bothering him. I want you both to promise me that while I'm on the mainland you will stay on this side of the wall." Kristen and Justin both promised their father that they would stay on their side of the fence but they both knew that they were lying. The big old house was simply too great a temptation for them resist.
The following morning as soon as their father was out of sight the two children slipped over the stone wall and into the garden next door. Kristen was right about who ever lived in the house they didn't seem to care at all about the gardens. Where there were once roses only wild tangles of thorns grew, the grass was yellow and came above the children's knees. Although it was a hot July morning it seemed even hotter on this side of the wall. The air was humid and dense, and all around the children was a thick mist that collected and moved dreamily in any low lying areas on the property.
Over the garden wall. Drawing By Mike
As Kristen and Justin explored the property they found many interesting things; a grotto filled with statues and long dried up fountains. A goldfish pond that was green with slime and algae, although she doubted that a fish could live in such foul water Kristen could tell that something had made the stagnant pond its home by the ripples beneath the scum's surface. As the twins pressed on they began to grow more uncomfortable and not just because of the sweat that was seeping from their pores and the mosquitoes that the salty fluid attracted but because on more than one occasion both twins had that feeling that they were being watched.
As the twins drew closer to the house Justin pulled Kristen under a large tree, "I think someone is following us."
The Very Large Woman. Drawing By Mike
He whispered, but the words had barely left his lips when two dry leathery hands grabbed both twins by the shoulders and spun them around. The kids were surprised to see an enormous old woman smiling down at them cruelly, "Someone is following you!" She hissed and she began to drag them both in the direction of the old mansion.