The sun was still up, but the house already gave him the chills.
Three stories tall and built completely out of black wood, the mansion stood out as an intimidating shadow in a quiet suburb filled with pastel-coloured houses. Normally, he wouldn’t even walk on the same street as the ancient building, but today was not a normal day. How did he end up here?
First, they had a new team leader.
While the council had received complaints about the haunted house for years, the previous heads had always been happy to put the requests on the backburner. Their new leader was cut from a different cloth. Optimistic and fresh to the field, she was determined not to leave any task pending.
Second, he was the most junior in the team.
Well, technically the newest member on the team was their leader, but they weren’t presumptuous enough to tell their superior what to do. No one wanted to take on the task themselves, so he got volunteered.
So here he was, standing in the shadows of a dark porch on a sunny day, knocking on a door that no one had seen open ever. One knock, two, three. He pressed his ears against the pitch black door. Was anyone inside?
The answer was yes. He found this out not by hearing any footsteps, but by the door opening without warning. It was only his years of playing with climbers as a kid that let him regain his balance before he crashed into the mysterious inhabitant.
“Excuse me, I’m from the council…”
Dressed in a soft pastel sweater and a light white skirt, the lady who answered the door looked nothing like the gloomy house. The entrance hall behind her was as dark as the wooden exterior, but that only served to make the bright decor pieces inside stand out in cheerful pops of colour.
“Can I help you?” the lady prompted.
He had a script, carefully written and practiced before he came. What came out was, “We thought this house was haunted.”
The lady, obviously much better at adulting than he was right now, responded with a polite smile. “I work from home and shop online. As for the house, the materials and workmanship are excellent. It would be a shame to tear it down.”
Put that way, the structure wasn’t as intimidating as the rumours said. Feeling foolish, he nodded and excused himself at the first opportunity.
Their new leader would be happy that they could finally close this old case.
* * *
The door closed with a quiet click. Safely out of sight, she sighed and released her glamour. Under her pale clothes, eight dark tails slipped out like mushrooms through a cracked bark.
Although identification was harder to forge compared to a century ago, it was easier to hide in the modern neighbourhood. Now that the man’s curiosity was sated, she should be able to continue hiding unnoticed for another decade or two.
In the meantime, she would fully enjoy the modern wonder that was the internet.