A deep voice could be heard from inside. "Well, well, well. Lookee at we what we havee here."
"Leave me alone, Dan. Stop bothering me," Tess could be heard saying, although she didn't sound very bothered.
Althea and Alanna suddenly perked up. "Dan Perkins?" they said in unison. Alice would have laughed if she wasn't so busy trying to remember who this Dan Perkins was. The name sounded so familiar...
All of a sudden the backdoor was thrown open and a tall, athletic looking boy stood there grinning down at them.
"Hello, hello," he said and Alice was finally able to place him -- Dan was the quarterback on their school's football team and had helped bring them to victory this past year. He was in Alice's pre-cal class. He also happened to be Gwen's ex-boyfriend.
"Hello yourself, jerk," Gwen muttered as she pushed past him.
Dan's dark and rather caterpillaresque eyebrows knit together as in confusion. It resembled the expression he often wore while trying to figure out an especially tricky equation.
"Don't mind her," Althea all but purred as she twined her arm through his and led him into the house. Alanna followed fast on their heels, a murderous look on her face.
Walking in behind them, Alice's eyes blinked as they tried to take in her new surroundings. They were standing in what appeared to be a kitchen. Every visible surface was covered in dust. Gwen had her flashlight on, as did Alanna and three guys Alice couldn't see too clearly to recognize. All of their faces glowed eerily in the half-light, seemingly devoid of features.
One of the three guys, a tall black boy named Shaun whom Alice recognized from her Economics class, said, "I want to check out the master bedroom. I hear someone once found a skeleton in the bed!"
"That was just a rumor," Gwen scoffed.
Tess skipped over to Alice's side. "Come on, you have to see the attic. Last time I was here, I didn't get to see it, but I hear it has some amazing things. I bet we can score some cool stuff."
"Oh, everyone takes something when they break into The Stanley House. It's tradition. Think of it as a souvenir."
"What was your souvenir when you came here the first time?"
Tess led Alice to a staircase next to the kitchen marked SERVANTS. "These stairs should take us all the way up. I didn't take anything my first time. I was in too much of a hurry." She smiled sheepishly. "And yes, okay, maybe I was a little bit scared. But I had nothing to be scared of. It's just an abandoned house with some really neat things left behind by the original owners. You know this house is almost a hundred years old?"
Alice chose to answer this question with another question. "Aren't we going go to need a flashlight to go up those stairs?" The dark stairs loomed ominously above their heads. It was too dark to see the top.
"Good point. Hey Tommy?" she called to a surfer-looking dude standing with the others. "Be a dear and lend me your flashlight, would you?"
"Sure thing," he said, tossing it to her.
Tess caught it readily and turned to Alice with a brilliant smile. "Want to lead or shall I?"