TITLE: THE DARING ESCAPE OF MR. SMALLS
GENRE: MG Middle Grade Mystery
Grandpa Jim had to be pulling my leg. The house in front of us looked like a zombie’s hideout, nothing like the other fancy mansions we had seen as we drove through Beaufort. Maybe we had ended up at the wrong place. Who would actually want to stay here?
“This can’t be the place, Grandpa.” I squinted at a round object in the third-story window, trying to decide if it was a lampshade or a zombie head. “It looks more like a haunted castle than a hotel.”
But Grandpa Jim was too busy maneuvering Blue Bessie into the weeds at the side of the gravel driveway to respond. Gnarled branches from the huge oaks scraped and screeched along the top of his motor home. I studied the dried, rusty stains running down the mansion’s exterior. If I squinted just right it looked like dripping blood. I shivered and glanced at my cousin Jake.
“Welcome to Hotel Transylvania, Maggie.” Jake smirked and pointed his GoPro at the run-down mansion.
Minutes earlier, as we’d driven down the plantation’s long winding road, excitement had swelled inside me like a balloon. I’d leaned forward in my seat, straining to get a glimpse of Darlington Plantation Manor, which Aunt Roza had described as “the most magnificent place she had ever seen.” But when the trees finally thinned, and the house came into view, the happy balloon inside me popped.
The old mansion was the color of my mud-stained soccer cleats.