After turning off the ignition, the wiper blades stopped their rhythmic beat and Megan stepped into the mist. She pulled the mail from the wrought iron box and then shook rainwater from the plastic sleeve covering the newspaper. Glancing at the Victorian home cloaked in a gray shroud, she shrugged uneasy feelings from her tight shoulders. The home was horror movie cliché with its peeling paint and saggy railings propped up around its wraparound porch. Taking care of the Friedmans’ house while they traveled through Europe was easy pocket money, but something about it creeped her out. One more week.
She avoided stepping in puddles on the uneven sidewalk and made her way to the front door under a canopy of ancient oak trees. Megan imagined they stood guard with watchful eyes hidden within gnarled trunks until their knobby and arthritic branched arms reached out with claw-like fingers to snatch a length of her long hair. She shuddered.
Tapping the number into the lockbox, she retrieved the skeleton key and slipped it into the brass lock. The heavy door scraped open with a sigh as if disappointed to see her. The chandelier, with its myriad of dusty prisms and one working bulb, offered light like a feeble candle too far away from the room filled with period furnishings. The scent of furniture polish and sour antiques tickled her nose. After adding to the collection of newspapers and mail on the walnut sideboard, she began her inspection of the drafty house. Megan kept her head down to study the worn carpet. She had tripped last time.
Megan jumped. The radiator kicked in and she let out a breath.
She made a quick sweep of the first floor and entered the kitchen. Yawning, she checked her watch. There would be enough time to stop for coffee if she hurried.
A footstep groaned above. Her heart skipped. Did I imagine that? She shook her head and continued her routine. The back door was locked.
Another floorboard creaked through the ceiling. Adrenaline pulsed and her heart hammered in her chest. “Hello?” she said. Someone clipped down the wooden steps. A burglar! She peeked into the hall.
An old woman with gray hair in a topknot, dressed in a housecoat and slippers, stared at the sideboard and shook her head.
Grinning, Megan let out a breath. She strode up to her. “Mrs. Friedman. I didn’t expect you until next week. You gave me a heart attack.”
She looked away.
“Is Mr. Friedman here?”
Mrs. Friedman ignored her and walked back upstairs.
She has to be ninety. I’ll let them sleep and will come back tomorrow.
Megan vaporized through the closed and locked front door.
Did you expect that ending? What gets you into the Halloween mood?