Abbottstown, Pensylvania has a population of 957. Things are pretty slow-not much ever happens to the small town. Everybody knows each other, and the community is as tight-knit as it gets. So, when the abandoned house up on Moss Mill road is suddenly occupied, it doesn't take long for the news to spread.
“Mom, did you see that van that’s up at the old mansion?”
Gabriella’s mother turned from the carrots she was chopping, holding the knife up.
“Of course I did. The whole dang town did, Gabby. Don’t ask me a stupid question like that!”
“Well, it is all that everyone’s gossiping ‘bout these days. Wasn’t sure if you’d heard too.”
Gabriella had a southern accent nearly as thick as her mother’s, with the same blue eyes and wheat-gold hair. Neither of them bothered with formalities, and the townsfolk did the same. Abbottstown was a small town, to the tune of a population that had been at 957 for the last sixteen years. It was 956 before that and then, of course, Gab had been added to the count.
“I did hear, thank you very much. Get back to your schoolwork, girl. I need to get this cooking done.”
Gabby considered reminding her mother that it was summer vacation but, choosing to remain silent, got off the wicker chair and jogged out the screen door and onto the dusty road, looking to catch a glimpse of the neighbors. The mansion was just up Moss Mill road, the only house to the left of Gabby’s property. It sat on top of a steep hill, surrounded by crooked, gnarled trees that jutted towards the heavens. The house itself was massive, three stories high and at least half an acre wide. It’d fallen out of repair, but hopefully its new occupants would fix it up. Gabriella kept jogging towards it alongside the road, feeling excitement bubbling up inside her. Abbottstown wasn’t a very exciting place-this, other than that new jam flavor, was the biggest news in months. No one ever moved to this town, and no one ever moved out. It was simple as that. Tourists kept away, and only the occasional truck would pass through, massive cargo boxes attached.
When she had finally reached the house, panting from the effort, she climbed the few steps it took to reach the front door and, curious as ever, rang the doorbell.