The sky was a sea of smoke, as black as coal and as dark as a bottomless well. Violent blasts of rain accompanied the eerie black clouds that shadowed the towering manor ahead. It stood on a jagged hill of rock as if it had always been there, proudly displaying its misshapen features to anyone who looked upon it.
The once-prized manor had been in disrepair since anyone could remember. Nobody knew if it had once earned admiring stares, or what purpose it had served, and nobody ever ventured close enough to care. There were rumours about that place. Rumours that weren’t entirely made up.
Humming quietly to herself, the young girl fingered her lace nightgown with sweaty palms. Cassie had climbed a set of ornate stairs which were twisted into a perfect spiral, like a child’s slinky toy pulled from each end. Now she stood in a narrow room whose oak floors were bathed in the flicker of yellow from the candelabras that hung on the walls.
As she surveyed the room, Cassie instantly found what she had been searching for. Her stuffed toy kitten was propped up against a broken mullioned window, its fur damp from the rain. She didn’t know how it had got there but decided not to question it. Eagerly, the girl lifted the kitten to her face and inhaled its faint scent of home: she couldn’t go anywhere without it. But there was something wrong…
Cassie smothered a gasp. The kitten was missing its eyes. She stared down at the stuffing springing out of the two holes where its beautiful blue glass eyes used to be. She shoved the kitten into her nightgown pocket and fiercely rubbed her own eyes like she was checking they were still there. “I should never have come here,” she berated herself, retreating to the door.
A cold shiver relentlessly weaved its way down Cassie’s spine as she tugged on the handle, but the door remained stubbornly in place. Her eyes frantically scanned the room and landed on the window beckoning to her in the corner.
Shakily, she hobbled over to the window and peered out. The wind whistled tauntingly through the shattered glass and caused goosebumps to erupt over Cassie’s bare neck. She swung one leg out of the window and cried out in pain as the glass snagged her skin, cutting it open.
Cassie jolted, and craned her head around to look at who had spoken. An old, cadaverous woman, her hair falling around her like strings of rotting straw, was leaning against the wall opposite the door. Cassie watched, horrified, as the woman’s eyes rolled back into her head and fell out into her outstretched hand. “Looking for these?” she snarled. Two glistening glass eyes sat in her palm, and the young girl realized that they were her kitten’s. “I don’t approve of intruders.” The woman leaned forward. Cassie couldn’t move; she was the fly in the web.
She should never have gone there.