House of Dark Shadows

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Authors: Robert Liparulo
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gross as he could.
    David smiled and started up the stairs. “So what about And Then There Were None ?” he said.
    Xander thought again of the camera moving in the darkness toward him, and he bolted up the stairs right into David’s back. “I’ll tell you later. Just hurry it up.”

CHAPTER

fifteen
    THURSDAY, 12:01 P.M.
    They’d gotten through half of the first floor when Mom called them to lunch. PB&J and potato chips in the dining room. She had cleaned the room well, and Xander was starting to see the house’s potential as a nice home. Even the table and chairs, left there by the previous owner, had been polished to a nice shine. They didn’t look nearly as battered and ruined as when Xander had first seen them. Dad said the hardwood floor needed resurfacing, but it looked fine to Xander, kind of rustic and retro.
    â€œHave you been helping your mom, young lady?” Dad asked Toria.
    â€œI cleaned the windowsills,” she said proudly.
    â€œThat’s it?” David asked.
    â€œAnd my room!”
    Mom nodded. “Mostly, she’s been in her room.” She handed Dad a paper plate with a sandwich cut diagonally. “I take it you haven’t found anyone lurking in our house.”
    â€œNo squatters,” David said and broke up laughing.
    Mom gave him a puzzled look.
    Smiling, Xander shook his head to show that, at least in front of his mother, he was above such childish humor. He said, “We searched the whole basement.”
    â€œTalk about creepy,” David said.
    â€œYeah,” Xander agreed, “but we didn’t find anybody.”
    â€œAnd no place where anybody’s been staying,” Dad added.
    â€œOr any way to get into the house.”
    Nonetheless, Mom looked worried. She said, “Could we put a lock on the basement door? Just in case?”
    â€œSure,” Dad said. “We can bolt this place up like Fort Knox.” He popped a chip into his mouth.
    â€œWe’re about half-finished with this floor,” Xander said.
    Around a mouthful of sandwich, David said, “We’re even looking in the closets and cupboards.”
    â€œLike anybody would hide in a cupboard ,” Xander said, glaring at Dad.
    Dad shrugged. “Never know.”
    â€œLots of gross stuff,” David said.
    Mom made a face. “Gross stuff ?”
    Dad said, “Just grime and trash. Stuff like that.”
    â€œRat poop!” David said.
    â€œEeewww!” Toria said. “I’m not hungry anymore.” Xander got an image of her as a mom.
    â€œRats?” Mom said.
    â€œMore like mice,” Dad said. “I’ll set some traps this afternoon.” “And spiders,” David said.
    â€œDavid, stop. You’re scaring Toria,” Dad said. To the King ladies he said, “There are not as many spiders as you’d think for a house abandoned so long and in the woods. We’ll bug-bomb tonight when we leave.”
    â€œCool!” David said.
    â€œThey’re not real bombs,” Xander told him.
    David frowned. “Oh.”
    â€œThey’re still cool.” Dad raised his eyebrows at David. “Lots of smoke. You can help me.”
    David nodded. He was pushing an entire half sandwich into his mouth.
    Mom surveyed her family, sitting around the table in their new home. “Well, guys,” she said, smiling, “think we found our dream house?”
    â€œYeah!” Toria chimed.
    Mouth full of sandwich, David said something indiscernible.
    Xander scowled at him. “What?”
    He held up a finger, swallowing painfully. “I said . . . we’re the Dreamhouse Kings!”
    Mom laughed. “I like it. The Dreamhouse Kings.” Her eyebrows shot up as she remembered something. Pointing to Dad, she said, “Honey, don’t forget your appointment.”
    Dad stopped chewing; his eyes went wide. He looked at his watch. He swallowed, said, “You boys continue

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