Burden City, Missouri
The sway of the windshield wipers was hypnotizing for Valerie Chambers. The woman rubbed her tired eyes and gave herself a mental slap. She had been driving all night long in order to make it to Missouri from Texas. The entire reason for the trip was explained in a letter sitting open on the passenger seat along with a few empty chip bags and snack wrappers.
Even thinking about the letter made Valerie's blue eyes roll. How sweet were they to inform her of her great uncle's death. She didn't even know that she had a great uncle until that letter arrived. Valerie had thought it was some prank that her co-workers in the office had pulled. But then the letter was followed by a phone call from Burden City Police in Missouri confirming that it wasn't a prank at all.
Dear Miss Chambers,
I am sorry to inform you of the death of your great uncle Charles Chambers. It is insisted that you appear in person to acquire all assets that were collected by your relative. You have inherited his estates and all that belongs in it, including the surrounding marshes. We look forward to meeting you.
Valerie really did have a great uncle Charles Chambers and he was dead. Mysteriously murdered, she had been told.
"Nice to meet you too," she muttered at the note as if it could hear her.
The tires of Valerie's white Camry crunched over seashell gravel as it drove onto the estate drive. It was a blessing that she was alone or else she would have suffered embarrassment. Her mouth hung open all the way down to her ankles. The front gate was wrought iron and had stone pillars with gargoyles watching over entering visitors. Valerie didn't even think that people decorated in the Gothic tastes anymore.
She pulled through the elaborate and ornate gate to make way for the manor.
If Valerie thought the gate was grand than there were no words for the manor. It was huge. It was huge and it was made from stone, stood three stories high, and had to have had at least ten bedrooms.
Okay so Uncle Charles was loaded. And now it all belonged to Valerie to do with as she pleased.
"Holy shit," Valerie cursed out as she put the car into park. This was ridiculous. There was no way something like this was happening to her. Things like this only happened in really bad horror novels. People didn't come into inheritances like this in real life.
After she stepped out of the car, Valerie took a look around. The front garden was in disrepair. Apparently the gardener hadn't been called on for months. All the hedges were overgrown and had branches sticking out wildly. The flowers were all hodgepodged with weeds sticking up between their bright colored petals.
And then Valerie saw the tree. It was enormous with massive branches sticking out and swooping toward the ground. Even though it was the beginning of spring there was not a single leaf on it. It was as dead as dead could get. There was an eerie feeling to it too. Even looking at it made Valerie shudder but she shrugged it off. She'd seen one too many horror films.
Valerie checked her watch. It was five 'til noon. The cop she had spoken to over the phone was due any minute to speak about her great uncle. She was going to tell him exactly what she had told him from Texas. Uncle Charles hadn't existed until three days ago.
"Alright, let's just get this over with already," said Valerie as she leaned against her car to wait.