(Originally added by Sandyseeker)
“Are we there yet?” whined Alan and Megan, in unison.
Eyes still firmly focused on the dark highway ahead, their father Steve answered without turning his head to see the kids in the backseat.
“Not yet,” he said in a dull, tired monotone.
“Kids, please be quiet,” sighed Janet, the mother of this family. “You know we're still at least two or three hours from home. If we hadn't had to take that lengthy detour from construction, we'd be there by now. Just be patient. We're all tired and eager to finally sleep at home in our own beds.”
Janet was a pear-shaped, middle aged woman who had once upon a time been a high school prom queen and captain of the cheerleader squad. Although her face was still attractive and she carried herself with the graceful poise of a professional woman of the world, Janet had acquired a heavier, more rounded body over the years. Her once champagne colored hair was now dishwater blonde. Faint wrinkles now lined her eyes. Two pregnancies had widened her hips and swollen her breasts, while years of a sedentary lifestyle had added padding to her ass and thighs.
Alan, age fifteen, sighed impatiently and turned his attention back to a hand-held video game he'd been toying with all day long. He never thought he'd get bored with it, but after being cooped up in the family car for so long, he found himself eager to do something... anything else! Alan was normally an athletic, outgoing teenager who was active in sports, had lots of friends, and regularly had a pretty girlfriend he was dating. Although he enjoyed video games like any other teenage boy, he wasn't a stereotypical gamer geek.
Megan, age twelve, got out her ipod for the umpteenth time today, popped the ear buds in each ear, and started re-listening to the same songs she'd been amusing herself with all afternoon. Megan was a very self-conscious preteen girl, embarrassed by her braces, her stick thin figure, and the occasional zit on her perpetually over made-up face. Where Alan was successful at fitting in socially, Megan hadn't yet “found herself,” and remained in that nebulously ambiguous no man's land of social awkwardness between childhood and adolescence.
Steve Donaldson looked over his family through the rear-view mirror of the car. He was a tired, paunchy, easily irritated man. Steve worked as in middle-management for a big insurance company – work he found to be monotonous and uninspiring... but at least it paid the bills. Just like Janet, he had let himself go over the years with regards to his physique. Where once he had been strong and athletic like Alan, now Steve was soft and doughy with a pasty complexion, a rapidly receding hairline, and a slowly expanding pot belly.
Just then, the concentration of the entire Donaldson family was harshly interrupted by a sudden loud, sickening, dull explosion.
“Shit, we just blew a tire!” yelled Steve, hammering his fist down on the steering wheel.
“Well, just pull over,” said Janet, striving hard to remain the cool and calm voice of reason. “We have a spare. You can change it.”
“It's pitch black out there,” grumbled Steve, parking the car on the shoulder of the road. “I'm not changing a damn tire in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere!”
“Well, we can't just sit here until morning,” protested Janet.
“Hey, guys...” Alan started to say.
“Be quiet!” snapped Steve. “Now... I guess I could call for a tow truck.”
“I don't think so, honey,” muttered Janet. “I've been trying to get a signal on my phone for the last twenty minutes. We're in some weird dead zone out here.”
“Dammit, you're right,” grumbled Steve fiddling with his own phone.
“But guys...” said Alan again.
“Alan, not now!” snapped Steve.
“No, listen Dad,” protested Alan. “There's a house right off the road. I can see it from here. Just look!”
Steve and Janet squinted into the darkness.
Sure enough, just a few yards off the dark, lonesome highway, there stood the shadowy silhouette of a tall, Victorian style mansion... utterly isolated and looking eerily out-of-place.
“Do you think anybody lives here?” asked Megan.
“Who would live out here?” wondered Janet. “I don't see anything else out there – no other houses, barns, or anything.”
“I don't even see the driveway,” said Steve. “Even assuming there's somebody home and they have a telephone we could use... How do we get there?”
“Just walk through the ditch on the side of the road,” said Alan. “Hop that little fence, and we're practically in their front yard.”
A cold shiver suddenly ran down the spines of each member of the Donaldson family. Then, wordlessly, they each exited the car and did just as Alan had suggested. In less than five minutes, the family stood at the front door of the old mansion. It loomed much larger over them now, bigger than it had seemed from the relative safety of the family car back up on the highway.
“Well...” said Steve. “I guess I'd better knock, I suppose.”
He loudly rapped his fist against the heavy, wooden door. The sound of his quick, staccato knocking echoed in the dark, still night, air. The family stood, shivering quietly, for a moment.
“I don't think anyone lives here,” said Janet.
“Let's just go inside,” suggested Megan. “Dad can change the tire in the morning. We'll just camp out here for the night.”
“We can't just go inside,” said Steve. “That's called trespassing and...”
Before he could finish his thought, Janet had turned the knob on the front door and opened up a dark, gaping maw in the house. Warm, dry air wafted from inside the building, almost inviting the family in.
“It isn't locked,” said Janet.
“Dad, let's just go in,” said Alan.
“Fine,” said Steve. “Just don't touch anything. No snooping or vandalizing anything. The owners might just be away right now.”
Janet, Alan, and Megan nodded in agreement... and followed Steve into the mysterious house.