Amarian, usually a chill kind of guy, gazed through the window. He loathed road trips [especially ruined plans] with having nothing to do. His parents forbade all electronics and handheld devices. The only handheld 'device' they allowed were mini travel board games and books. He abhorred reading and doing anything productive. Mini travel board games required thinking –and that gave him a headache. He was, he surmised, quick witted enough –what need did he have for books and solving puzzles? As it was, there was nothing really interesting going on outside either. At least there was no traffic like there was earlier. That really made him miserable –it lasted all of 45 minutes, wasting his precious time of doing nothing to go [in his point of view] nowhere. Meanwhile, his parents were having the time of their lives, dancing to some 'music' of their generation; some music that he didn't think you could really 'dance' to… really –but here they were, doing just that.
He was Especially livid that they were going on this trip during the summer when he and the boys had already planned out their whole vacation with camping trips and loitering at the local mall and other 'un-loiterable' places… well to see how long they could loiter before getting in trouble. They weren't going to do anything harmful to the building or to themselves like smoking or something –because then that wouldn't literally be loitering. They came up with such a brilliant plan because this group was clever! Most of all they intended on exploring abandoned places –ESPECIALLY the old mansion that used to be owned by the richest couple in town. But that was a paltry 40 years ago...
Urban legend claims that when the mansion was first built, about 160 years ago, it wasn't a mansion but an inn. The Inn's owner, an up and coming businessman, purchased the land and bought out the surrounding area with the intention of creating a mini-town with his inn as the hub. To say the least, his vision proved rather successful, and many from far and wide patronized his town and vacationed at his inn [*this for at least 30 years]. He resided in his own inn –and one fateful day fell in love with a young woman who stayed at his inn during winter vacation. He hadn't known that she was a close cousin of one of his business rivals he had ruthlessly bankrupted. Revenge is a dish best served cold ~ or some such expression. Because he was smitten with her, it was simple to gain his trust and long story somewhat shorter, she ruined him. But not just financially, completely and publically humiliated him. He committed suicide in his bathroom… so claimed the newspapers. The police did not release any of the autopsy reports to the public, it was assumed, because of the nature of his business. Rumors soon grew surrounding the details of his death and the mysterious woman who supposedly singlehandedly took down his, for want of a grander imagery, empire. Yet, the locals reported of never seeing her publicly or of hearing about her involvement in the news prior to his 'suicide' or during or after. He always kept his life private and the few who did know him fairly well only knew that he had an actual love interest and not another infatuation on a whim. But they also knew that his [real] first love was his ambitions: and he would never trust anyone to such an extent as to partner with them or include them –man or woman in the decision making process. He had the final authority. On. Every. Thing. Secondly, he would never commit suicide, especially not when his town was not only flourishing but expanding –and that his most recent objective included building a completely new city nearby –this time with a university as its heart. During that time, his mother, who was quite old but still very much alive knew that something was amiss and hired a private investigator to allay her fears about her son. She believed that he was murdered; and she wanted hard evidence that his 'lover' was the murderess. Public rumors are more robust than whatever truth is still left buried; henceforth the following is the most common, widely accepted [circulated] version: there really was no woman who brought him down. A woman existed in his life, but like his previous brief relations[hips], she seemed more interested in his wealth and so would not do anything to sabotage her lifestyle. Instead, his undoing was meticulously carried out by a cabal of his rivals. Up until his death, accidents would happen at the inn. One year, it was almost burnt completely to the ground –cause of fire unknown. It was believed to be arson. Other incidents included death of certain prominent guests. Or vandalism committed by local hood rats who were paid by the cabal. Several times he'd discovered professional thieves [or so they believed themselves to be] who had tried to steal his documents –at other times he was directly blackmailed –mere desperation on their part –it had never held. But finally when they did manage to mask his death as suicide, something sinister happened. It wasn't immediate, or even noticeable at first. There were no more incidents at the inn and no hauntings. Instead, the incidents happened to all who were [speculated to be] involved in the attempt to collapse his empire. To be sure, it wasn't the usual bankruptcy claims or sex scandals –although those were not uncommon –but the inflictions, lacerations that appeared upon their persons: these deep, angry, painful slashes on the same body parts as the victim, would bleed them to exhaustion but not kill them. Doctors could not explain the condition. It drove many in the cabal mad enough to commit suicide while the few remaining desperately tried everything from spiritualists, witch doctors, mediums and priests. To no avail, they would continue to receive these inflictions. Only, it grew worse and ever more persistent as time went on until they too succumbed to the sweet release of death. If indeed death is sweet.
The inn itself never closed in fact it became popularized because of the mystery surrounding his death and the [supposed] supernatural annihilation of his enemies from beyond the grave. His ageing mother became the sole proprietor –a position she never wanted. She was unable to find a suitable replacement for herself as, for lack of a grander term, empress, so had settled on selling off the town back to the government – except for the inn. She opted to sell the property rights to private owners. Because the inn was still doing so well apart from the town, she continued to upkeep it and sell it as is to the highest bidder [*this for at least 10 years]. The new owners who purchased the inn from her, she decided, were respectable enough –a newlywed couple. The wife's profession was in hospitality and the husband was a co-founder of the then innovative agribusiness [venture?]. The couple owned the inn with few incidents and continued relative success. During the 20th year of their ownership, they undertook an expansion project. The inn was remodeled and became even more prestigious. They intended to repurchase the town to urbanize it. However, they passed away before their goal could come to fruition. Their children weren't mentioned in either of their wills as new proprietors –and none of them fought for the right to own the inn, either. The eldest son claimed that their parents didn't die naturally –he wanted nothing to do with 'that inn.' But pressed for details he refused to expound further. The youngest daughter hired a private investigator because she suspected foul play. Did her parents have any enemies or [rather] fierce competitors? Were they nearing any financial ruin? Not that she was aware –but she wished they did have rivals at the least so that she wouldn’t have to wonder if there was a 'curse' upon those who assumed ownership of the inn. The middle son and daughter did not hesitate to not dispute their parents' wills or even wanted to associate with them.
And so, the state claimed possession of the inn. Depression set in and the town suffered. Wealthy patrons no longer graced their presence there and soon the inn came into disrepair [*this for about 5 years]. The state decided to reopen the inn as a government owned orphanage. Since the inn was quite grand, the state installed many social workers. The situation seemed positive and there were even predictions about how much the inn could create new jobs and provide economic relief. The inn –orphanage was teeming with life again. Except that there were claims that it was a sweat shop under the guise of an orphanage. It came to light when an undercover journalist investigated and reported the veracity of that claim. The conditions were so deplorable that the orphanage –sweat shop was immediately condemned. It had been an 'orphanage' for only about five years –no one knew who the actual proprietor was at that time. Perhaps the journalist knew which was why he mysteriously disappeared only a mere two years afterwards. For 10 years the inn –orphanage –sweat shop wallowed in disrepair for about 10 years until its final owners, the richest couple in town, obtained the rights to the land and remodeled it into a palatial mansion [*this for 40 years]. No incidents were reported to happen. In their will, they wished for their residence to be turned into an open museum which was honored until four years ago. During the time which it was an open museum, some of the workers as well as tourists had anywhere from minor injuries to being fatally wounded because of falling chandeliers; being trapped in rooms that should not have locked on their own and fire [causes unknown… or undisclosed. But locals began speculating that it wasn't unknown but because of the curse]. So unto this day it was abandoned. No one wanted the responsibility (or 'curse') of the inn…
As Amarian sat fuming, lost in his daydream of exposition, he didn’t realize that they were already at their destination.
Incredulously, "Are we already here?"
His father answers, "Yes. We hadn't really had a family outing in a very long time. I've been quite busy, but this year, I decided to spend more time with you."
"Now, son –I realize that I don't really know the first thing about you. Maybe you think it's too late for me to become involved. I really hope not. If you need me –please, tell me. I don't want to make you feel like you can't come talk to me."
"…Okay… I mean, I really don't know what to say to that. What are we doing here, anyway?"
"Your mother told me that you have a fascination with abandoned places. Well, not quite what she said, but I thought we should go visiting specific historic universities…"
"…But… I wasn't planning on going to college. I've been to school all my life. Besides, if I go to some haunted university away from my friends, there's no point. I doubt I'll see anything 'spooky' happening during the middle of the day anyway."
Exhales, "Whoa, I really am out of touch, then. Guess there's no scoring brownie points..."
Non sarcastically, "Are you trying to bribe me? Who says that?"
"Your old man just did. Hmmm… but while we're here, maybe you'll change your mind about going to college. It's not like it's mandatory so you might even *gasp* like it."
Amarian gave his father the side eye and a surprised chuckle.
"Why do you like abandoned places anyway?"
Shrugs, "We just go to see who's bravest… but I like the mystery behind it."
"Would it be any less interesting if you were able to solve it?"
"…No... I don't think so…"
"You know, even though there's so much rumor surrounding curses and whatnot, there's something in common –a thread tying itself to the grain of truth…"
"Okay, dad? I get your point –and you better just stick to your day job. A writer, you're not."
Dad's turn to give a side eye quickly followed by huge grin.
Mom, "Perfect time to ruin Father-Son bonding, but I could use some help unloading the car…"
Devious grin, "Oops! Sorry mom, your husband likes to lecture!"
"Hey, look. I'm your father." Non-intentional partial famous movie character quoting.
He gave his dad a 'really, you just said that?' look, shook his head and proceeded to help mom.
The hotel they checked into was no abandoned inn, but it would have to do. Embarrassingly enough, his dad asked the hotel clerk if there was anything special about the hotel. The clerk who looked to be no older than his own son only shrugged helplessly and apologized. Amarian just shook his head at the poor guy in a 'don't worry about it, it's just my dad' manner and rushed to the elevator. Their room was on the top floor directly across from the elevators. However, in case of fire, they were quite a ways from the staircase… his father had booked a suite so he assumed that this hotel would serve as their base of operations… of sorts. He snuck a look at the 'master' bedroom and nodded his approval. Then he tossed his crap in 'his' room and waited around for instructions. Mom asked if he was hungry at all. He thought about it and decided that he was a little bit.
"Alright 'dad' so what are we going to eat?" Mom asks her husband.
"Hmmm… I'm tired of making all the decisions… what do you feel like?" he turns to Amarian.
"Uhh… honestly? I could be quite happy eating pizza every night…"
"Aaaa ppalling. We can order pizza and you can eat the leftovers… but we're not ordering pizza for every night…"
"I knew it was too good to be true ~ Wait… how long are we on this trip anyway?"
"Until we're done."
That could either be a good thing or a bad thing. A look of disappointment must have shown on his face… or at least that was how it was interpreted:
"Don't be so glum, chum!" His mother always used that expression. He tried not to smile, but failed.
He wondered what could possibly be fun about touring some colleges he didn't even want to attend. But… he also didn’t want to admit that he'll look into the 'historic value' at least. He truly had no desire to live somewhere haunted. So, even though this was the 'closest' one, being this far from home [hypothetically if he chose this college] already irritated him. Back home, he was already surrounded with enough urban legendary places to occupy his time… He suspected his parents just wanted him out of their house. … [Pouts] But still… this is quite far and this is merely the first leg of the trip ~ it only goes farther. Much farther. Sighs. He was concerned in discovering the 'Founder's' blueprints for the college [or university if it expanded as his inn did] and city. There was this sense of urgency to having them completed and occupied. But… how? It's not like he could afford the land area or anything about that entire process… yet somehow, it didn't matter. None of those details mattered –he only needed to obtain those plans! He would stay true to the original goal unlike those others who, instead of being satisfied with success and expansion tried to alter the original purpose ~sought to transform his creation without understanding it as a living organism in its own right. For now he would entertain his parents' wishes; it was simply a vacation after all. But immediately after, he would set to work researching how to acquire those blueprints and implement them.
In the meantime, he just had to wait.