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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Eek! (02/25/10)

TITLE: The Monstrous Mansion
By Sharon Eastman


The Monstrous Mansion

Wedged between the houses in a neighborhood of 1950s bungalows resided a monstrous mansion. It hovered over the street like the devil’s sentinel. However, it was an eyesore that captured the imaginations of the neighborhood kids.

It was one of those rainy days when the sky was black, thunder and lightening rolled, and the rain poured down viciously. The neighborhood kids, children ranging from six to eleven, sat enthralled watching cartoons on Sparky and David’s new black and white TV. Sparky, the leader of the gang, suddenly became bored. The novelty of watching TV had subsided for him. “Let’s do something kids. Let’s have some fun!” Sparky said.

“Like what?” asked Buster, the second in command.

“See that house over there? It gives me the creeps!”

David, Sparky’s little brother said, “Yeah, I heard they keep dead bodies!”

“Yeah,” chimed in Roger, the skinny little runt of the gang.

“The rain makes it look like something in Shock Theatre,” said Bobby, Buster’s younger brother.

Linda, the five-year-old “queen” of the gang, sat quietly and listened intently. She remembered her mother said to stay away from that house.

“”Look at the shutters; they’re falling down. And the paint on the brown brick is chipping. The bushes hide the front, and the shingles on the roof are curling,” said Sparky.

“I’ve got an idea!” Buster exclaimed. “Let’s go in and see what it’s really like. Since I live right next door to it, I can be the look out.”

“Yeah, cool,” said Sparky as his face lit up.

“If the weather is good, we’ll go tomorrow at noon,” Buster added. “That’s when the old man goes out. I’ll signal when it’s safe, and we’ll all go in.”

“Cool,” called David, Roger, and Bobby in unison.

“And whoever doesn’t go along with this plan is chicken,” Sparky declared.

Linda was still sitting quietly in the corner. As she pondered the plan, she knew it was wrong. It pricked her budding conscience. Needless to say, she didn’t want to be called “chicken.” Her aquamarine eyes grew damp, and she shook her long, blonde wavy hair. What would she do tomorrow?

An overcast sky welcomed the next day. A slight chill nipped the April air. The gang, including Linda, was sitting underneath the big oak tree that marked Sparky and David’s house. All eyes were glued to the monstrous mansion.

Buster shouted the signal to them at noon just as they planned. The mansion’s owner rolled out onto the gravel street in his new pink Cadillac. The scene was clear, and the gang ran to the mansion.

Like a signal from God, the kids couldn’t unlock the door. They shook and pried the door, but it wouldn’t budge. Finally they shoved skinny Roger through the milk shoot, and he opened the door from the inside.

All of the gang, except Linda, filed in quietly. Heads were twisting and turning for all eyes to consume every site. Linda sat outside the door trembling and listened to their remarks. There were lots of “eeks” and “shhhs,” but there were mostly lots of laughter.

Their exploration lasted about ten minutes when Linda spied the pink Cadillac rolling down the street. She screamed, “EEK, GET OUT, EEK!” The kids flew out the back door and ran like jaguars to the safety of Sparky’s front porch. Linda was close behind them. “That was fun and scary, too,” said Sparky. “Did you see the bullet holes in the ceilings and the blood on the walls?”

“Yes,” they all agreed.

Buster added, “Did you see the long, sharp knives and the big cobwebs with the huge spiders?”

“Yes,” they said heartily.

“I saw three black cats and even a rat in there,” added Roger.

“Well, I saw a ghost!” David said not to be out done by the others.

“And what did you see, Linda?” Sparky asked.

“Nothin’ ‘cause I didn’t go in,” Linda said shyly, afraid of that word, “chicken.”

“That’s okay,” Sparky said. “It really wasn’t something for girls.”

Linda breathed a sigh of relief. Her mother had warned her not to go where she wasn’t invited. And, the little tug at her heart made her obey.

Fifty years later the monstrous mansion still exists. It has been remodeled and is one of the best-kept properties on the block. The kids are now senior citizens, but they will never forget the mysterious monstrous mansion.

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Member Comments
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Jan Ackerson 03/05/10
Good job with the dialogue and the pacing.

I wonder if it'd be more effective without that last, summarizing paragraph? And there may be a few too many characters for such a short story, so that you had to continually address them by name.

This was a unique approach to 'eek', and I enjoyed reading it.
Marilyn Schnepp 03/07/10
A story which reminded me of my younger days, when we would sit around a camp fire and tell ghost stories. Nothing like childhood memories. Thanks for sharing those winsome olden days with us and sparking good ole memories. (*.*) Nicely done.
AnneRene' Capp03/08/10
This was an enjoyable read and your dialogue was very good. Put a smile on my face to know that 'ole house is still there and now taken care of. What fond memories for you and the others still in the neighborhood.
Gregory Kane03/09/10
You've already had some great comments on how to improve this story. One line of dialogue struck me as unnatural, where Sparky says "...the bushes hide the front, and the shingles on the roof are curling" I suspect that this would have worked better as straightforward narrative description. Somehow I don't see a mischievous child coming out with that level of description. But, hey, there's a level of menace and panic in your story and that's what you set out to convey. It's just a case now of helping you develop your technique. And FW is a great place to do just that.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/09/10
Great details and a nice moral of the story at the end.

I don't know that you needed to go 50 years into the future. I think it could have ended with Linda's lesson.

But you did a great job with all of the fantastic descriptions. It was a great thriller. It would be perfect for a tween magazine.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/11/10
Congratulations on the top 7 in your level!