Black crows punctuated the damp April morning with bleak conversation. Long-neglected hedges and comically unkempt shrubbery guarded the perimeter of a vast, overgrown property. A young woman fought her way through the snarled branches and emerged from a particularly slovenly-looking clump of bushes. Her appearance suggested she had already endured a gauntlet of physical indignities, of which this was the culmination.
“Come on, Alice.” She perked up. “Urban exploration is a dirty business. I should’ve thought about how messy this was actually going to be, though.” Next time she’d bring a towel, and...she looked down at her clothes...maybe a plastic jumpsuit, on second thought.
Wiping her muddy hands down the front of her jacket, she shifted attention to the object of her efforts.
At last she had a clear view of the mansion. Alice gasped. Abandoned for decades, it had slumped into an exquisite state of disrepair. “What a spectacular wreck.”
Things of beauty succumbing to the ravages of time and nature sent her heart leaping into her throat. Was it the catharsis of tragedy, the ache of nostalgia for a bygone age that thrilled her so much? Or the fact that she wasn’t supposed to be here? D, all of the above.
She forgave herself a mischievous chuckle at the thought of her phone ringing in the medicine cabinet where she “accidentally” left it. Why was the concept of voluntary solitude so difficult for some people to grasp? Certain places practically clobbered you over the head, demanding to be designated as tether-free zones. Nothing can rip the cheesecloth from the lens of a Tolkien-esque
excursion faster than a techno ringtone or someone handing you their soda so they can pee in the bushes while badgering you about how late it’s getting. A badass adventuress can only tolerate so much pestering; she was entitled to a little harmless payback.
Her eyes roamed across the decaying exterior as she strode through the long grass to the top of the hill. After rummaging for a moment she produced a small digital camera from her pocket and took a picture of thick, tangled vines embracing the chimney, which lurched as if recoiling from the side of the house. She relished a delicious gothic shiver before resuming her assessment of the formidable structure.
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