Something from behind clattered to the floor, and I let out a small squeal. The sound of electricity hummed from inside the walls and the hall light flickered on. I whirled around to see my mother bent over, picking the house keys up off of the floor.
"Sorry about that," my mother apologised as she straightened up. "I didn't expect it to be so dark when we got here. And the lights...Well I guess it's because they haven't been used for a long time."
I nodded, feeling a pang of self-frustration ricochet through me. I was too old to be afraid of something as childish as the dark!
But you cannot deny that there's something so very terrifying about it, I heard a voice hiss. My heart lurched. My body tensed.
"M-mother...D-did you hear that," I stuttered.
"What honey?" my mother asked, hanging up her sodden jacket on the coat rack.
She turned towards me and tilted her head to listen. Her face looked unearthly in the dim lighting and I could not shake the feeling that some invisible force was watching us standing there in the hallway.
"Oh that," she exclaimed suddenly, unintentionally startling me again. "That must be the electricity you're hearing. It's quite an old system, but if it bothers you I'll call the electrician tomorrow."
I nodded. The lump in my throat just kept swelling.
As I started up the spiral staircase, my mother called me.
"Are you okay? You look rather pale."
"I'm fine," I lied. "Just...Going upstairs to choose a bedroom."
I carried on ascending without waiting for my mother's reaction. With each creaky stair my heart would give a sickening thud. Why, oh why did I go up here alone, my mind screamed at me. But it was too late to turn back now. I could not reveal to my mother how much this place unnerved me. After all, she had worked so hard to get us out of the city.
As I stood on the landing dust wafted upwards into my face, causing me to splutter and choke until my eyes watered.
"Are you okay up there?" my mother's voice floated up the stairs.
"Yeah," I coughed. "It's just very dusty!"
Underneath my feet lay carpet that, in its day, had most probably been a rich aubergine. But the sun and time had bleached it a dull burgundy. The yellowing wallpaper had begun to peel off the walls and the doors inside them were made of thick oak wood. Despite the house's ageless exterior, the interior had confirmed it. This house was old.
I took a hesitant step forwards and the floorboards beneath me squeaked. Exhaling slowly, I crept towards the nearest door. I reached out and clutched the brass knob. Against my sweaty palms it felt so cold. I shuddered. It was now or never. Before I could talk myself out of it, I turned the knob and the door swung open.