The little row boat bobbed gently on the lake. Nell shivered and rubbed her mittened hands together. “Well?” She demanded. Neville yelped and gave her a hard shove. She reeled and spluttered in to giggles. Her laughter sounded surreal as it broke the cold eerie silence of the island.  Neville muttered to himself and started rowing again. “I can feel it watching me.” He complained.

They had been born in this house, though Neville had been very young and couldn’t remember living here.  Their new house was a modern marvel of the new age, where as this was just a forgotten haven for rats and ghosts.

When they reached the shore, Nell jumped out, sloshing water everywhere. She darted up the slope that led to the porch of the old derelict mansion. Neville dragged the little boat ashore and trudged after her.  She waited for him at the front door, gleefully bouncing on a rotten floor board and making it squeak and whine. “Stop it!” He hissed. “You’ll wake the dead!” His eyes were wide with fear. They widened further as he watched her raise her hand to lift the rusted door knocker. “Nooo…”


They both shrieked and grabbed on to each other. The whole house shuddered and seemed to shake off a shroud of dust. Nell guffawed in delight. “You should have seen your face!” She howled. “You were scared too!” Neville protested. Nell untangled herself from her brothers vice grip and reached to lift the knocker again.


Before she’d even touched it, the door slowly swung open. It whined painfully as it invited them in, barely hanging on its hinges. Nell boldly stepped forward crossing the threshold and stepping in to the house.

“Don’t go in there!” Neville wailed. He watched his sister as she started to dance around the large entry hall. “You should have seen the parties and dances we had here.” She burst out. She circled the room, dancing with an imaginary partner and tunelessly trying to sing a tune. Neville edged closer to peer further inside, but his feet remained firmly on the outside of the door. “Nell I don’t like this.” He moaned. He leaned in further still but was greeted with a great whoosh of dusty air then BAM! The front door slammed in his face. It showered him in dry splinters and dust.  

He screamed and stumbled back, cupping his battered nose. “NELL!” He hollered and started to pound on the door with his fist. The house shuddered with each blow, shedding more and more dust and splinters. It gave a great sigh and then with a final heave it collapsed in on itself. 

Neville scrambled away, dodging flying boards and bits of masonry. “NELL!” He screeched as he got clear. “Nell! Nell! Nell!”  He was met with nothing but silence and the occasional  crack and groan of the house settling in it’s grave.  He let out a sob and made for the boat, his heart thumping as he fled back to their new home and their parents.

Mother was in the hallway of the grand house, gracefully greeting her dinner guests. Neville burst in, cold, wet and grubby. His face was streaked with dust and tears.  “Mother, Nell is trapped, she’s hurt!”  His mother’s face turned ashen in horror. The woman grabbed him by the arm and steered him to a side room. “I’ve told you never to go across the lake.” She scolded. Her eyes flared with a quietly bubbling anger. “But Nell..” He began, the tears brimming over again. “Nell is gone, Neville.” She said in a flat tone. “I won’t have this nonsense any more. Now go clean up and put yourself to bed. 

Neville cried himself to sleep that night, as he drifted off he was sure he heard a distant voice, giggling quietly in the night.