On the hill behind the town amid the unidentified vegetation stood an impressive old Victorian house. In spite of the fact it had been almost entirely burned by the fire that happened unexpectedly many years ago, it still emanated with pride and coolness. Through the years it gloomily watched the joyful life in the town, not expecting any visitors. Curiosity would not be the sufficient reason to visit this frightening building with a vague history shrouded in mystery. The more improbable it would be if any children want to go there on a reconnaissance.
Eilidh was an inquisitive ten years old girl. Playing with other children and exploring the neighborhood she was encountering more and more relics of the past which highly fascinated her. While wandering around town, the girl from time to time looked at the towering house on the hilltop reflecting on its history. She noticed that her friends avoided looking in that direction. Day after day it grew in her a strange inner need to visit the bizarre house. She did not want to go there alone but she knew that it would be difficult task to persuade others to accompany her. One day a brilliantly simple idea came to her mind. She would tell her friends that she heard about an amazing playground hidden in the backyard of the house. Next morning right after breakfast she ran to the agreed place of meetings and informed the group about the ostensible playing field, which she heard about accidentally in adult conversation. All the children responded enthusiastically ready to meet a new adventure.
They set off in the early morning. Equipped with torches, food and a pen knife they walked through the sleepy hollow town shrouded in thick fog. Gradually the majestic house emerged. They approached the hill with a certain amount of anxiety but burning curiosity made them go further, the house seemed to invite them. They climbed the hill breaking through the strangely shaped plants and damp ground. After threading their way through the thorny shrubs, the imposing construction appeared in front of their eyes. The old Victorian villa must have looked truly impressive in its glory days, before the unlucky event. Despite the destruction by fire, quaint pediments and stucco walls still could be observed alongside with other fashionable decorative details. After a moment of silent admiration, children slowly and carefully approached the facade of the building. Eilidh gathered up the courage and pushed the monumental door. The door creaked and revealed a spacious hall with a ornate fireplace on the opposite wall.
All the space was bathed in shades of grays with a small amount of light coming through the window. On the right there was a broad staircase, surprisingly in a very good condition. As the kids went up the stairs, they marveled richly decorated wallpaper, striving to understand presented intricate floral motifs. They reached the second floor, then the attic, which was full of strange objects. A small bed and bedside table standing in the corner emerged from the gloom once the eyes had adjusted to the darkness. The sense of desolation was overwhelming. The children stood confused in a group, unwilling explore further. Eilidh looking around the place spotted something between the heavy ruby curtain and remnants of the carpet. There were weird pattern on a dirty floor. The girl approached the markings and stood there speechless and absent for a few moments examining it with a peculiar fascination. Her peers looked at her anxiously, wondering what she could see in an ordinary stain on the floor. Finally Tom, a faint-hearted boy, called her to go into the garden behind the house to the promised playground. As the group made their way to the garden, Eilidh awoke as if from a trance and calmly followed the rest. Tom threw one last look in the direction of the curtain where the stain seemed to radiate an hideous fluorescent glow.
The children breathed a sigh of relief when they found themselves in open air. They felt that their perception of the surrounding reality had changed. They perceived the world with more than natural clearness. Soon they found a picturesque neglected garden with a predominant unnaturally large tree, which they had never seen before. Its branches were twisted in an abnormal way resembling a distorted human silhouette. It was magnetizing and repulsive at the same time. A delicate wind blowing through the garden mysteriously sounded like soft whispers. The sun broke through from behind the clouds. Tom looked at Eilidh. The rays of the sun fell on her face. He noticed alteration in her countenance. Not seen until now, sneering expression. She was creating the impression of being mature, but it was not her own maturity, it looked as if it was someone else, what also could be seen in her facial features, mainly her eyes. The sun quickly hid behind the clouds, but Tom managed to note something else... Her shadow. It did not reflect her petite figure but it was grotesquely twisted as the garden tree.
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