The word around town was that Carson place was haunted. No one stopped to think about what that really meant except that it was best to stay away from the place. The house had been condemned for years but nothing had been done to demolish it. Old man Carson had died and it was assumed the bank took over the property. But when Sheila Frey arrived in town, her moving van drove straight up the Carson drive and stopped in front of the old house. Crowds gathered by the overgrown hedge that hung like tentacles over the iron gate at the bottom of the drive. The hum of their whispers filled the heavy August air. “What is she doing?”
A week later, the word around town was that Sheila had moved right in but then was never seen again. DS Sarah O’Reilly loved the rumour mill. It was a fascinating mixture of fact and fiction. As a detective on the local police force, it was her job to distinguish which was which and she did it well. It was strange that Sheila Frey was so elusive but then perhaps she was just unpacking an extraordinary number of boxes and trying very hard not to fall through the floorboards. “Why, in God’s name, would she move in there?” Sarah’s husband was an architect with the local firm and he hadn’t heard anything about anyone doing restorative work on the place.
A month later, the word around town was that Gavin Dobbs had been kidnapped and held captive by Sheila Frey, who, incidentally, had still not been seen anywhere. The 12-year-old boy was last spotted near the Carson (now Fey) house. He’d gone on a dare but never returned home that evening. DS O’Reilly arrived at the front doors of the Carson house the next morning with a pit in the bottom of her stomach. “How did a child have the nerve to go inside?” The front door was hanging by one hinge. It creaked back and forth in the cold October wind almost saying “Stay away! Stay away!” But she couldn’t. A boy’s life was a stake. Sarah called Gavin’s name from the opening but all she could hear was the wind moving through the hallways rushing to warn any inhabitants that someone was here.
By the end of that day there was a deafening hush that had fallen over the town. No one wanted to say a word about what might have happened to the Dobbs boy or Sheila Frey. DS O’Reilly had barely escaped the house with her life. Why the house let her go, she’ll never know. She had found no trace of anyone else having been there for years. An extensive investigation afterwards turned up nothing and no one. The house was demolished. Grief and fear stripped the town of its rumor mill. The only word around town now was that nothing would ever be built there again, upon the rubble that was once the Carson house.