It wasn’t worth it.
Thinking logically, he knew this.
A new ball would cost … what? Five dollars? Ten?
He’d pay a million dollars not to have to go in there.
Not, strictly speaking, that he had a million dollars. He didn’t even have five. And it wouldn’t have mattered if he had.
There are things more important than money. And proving to your friends that you’re not a chicken is one of them. Besides, there was plenty of daylight left, with nothing to do. If he didn’t go in there and get the ball, the rest of the day would be ruined.
He shouldn’t be scared, he knew. It was just a building – a house, like any other on the block. But people lived in the other houses… he saw them every day, getting into their cars, going to work, coming home, making dinner, mowing the lawn.
People didn’t live in this house.
And if people didn’t live in it…. What did?
It had been abandoned for a long time. On quiet summer nights, you could hear it creaking, as if the house itself was breathing. And even as he stepped onto the path leading up to the front door, he could feel the ground shift beneath his feet, almost as if it was sighing.
He’d never believed the house was haunted before. Had laughed at his friends when they said it.
But it’s a lot easier to not-believe something from far away. It’s much easier to laugh and say ‘of course, it isn’t haunted; don’t be silly’ from a distance. And maybe he would say it from a distance, once he was safely out of the house, with the baseball in hand.
Surely, this wasn’t so bad? It was just a house, after all. Just like any other. That’s what he told himself as he rested his hand on the doorknob, turning it and pushing the door open.
The wood of the door was warped and twisted by prolonged exposure and so it sat, slightly crooked in its’ frame and pushed open quite easily, albeit emitting a loud squeal from the rusted hinges.
Beyond the doorway, the house lay silent.
And if, just for a few seconds, he thought he’d heard a chuckle, low and throaty, coming from the depths of the house, he ignored it. He’d just imagined it, he told himself.
And that, dear reader, was his first mistake.
350-500 words * conflict * abandoned building
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