estate office.â âMomâ¦you mean youâre just going to leave me here?â âJilly, thereâs nothing for you to do in town. Besides, youâve got piles of homework, remember?â âHow can I do homework?â Jillian asked. âThereâs no desk.â âThen watch TV.â Mrs. Warner grabbed the car keys and hurried out the door. âPlease, Jillian. Iâll be back in a few hours, and weâll get some dinner. Why donât you go exploring? There might be some real treasures left in these rooms.â âYeah. Sure.â Jillian rolled her eyes and closed the door to the room. Jillian read her government textbook for a while. But the wooden chair was hard and uncomfortable. She slammed the book shut. âIâm so bored,â she sighed, climbing into the creaking bed. She settled back and shut her eyes. âSo boredâ¦ This is so not fairâ¦ â Â The floorboards groaned under Jillianâs shoes as she made her way down long, dimly lit halls. The air felt damp and smelled of stale cigarette smoke. She opened doors and peered into rooms. But most of the lights didnât work, so she couldnât see much. Humming to herself, Jillian turned a corner. She held her breath and listened. What was that sound? Was it the cat padding down the hallway? Jillian listened carefully. She heard the sound again. A fluttering sound? A bat? I think Iâll go back to my room, she decided. Iâve explored enough. But which way was back? She had turned too many corners, wandered down too many long, dark halls with identical doors along both sides. She heard the fluttering sound again. Closer this time. A chill tingled the back of her neck. There had always been bats in her nightmares, flying at her, hissing, red eyes glowing, brushing their veiny wings against her face. Jillian turned and began hurrying down the hall. Did I come this way? Did I? She stopped when she heard the cough. Priscilla? Yes! Great! Sheâll lead me back to my room. She heard another cough. Then the creak of floorboards. She spun around. âPriscilla? Priscilla? Itâs me--Jillian Warner.â No reply. Then she saw a sliver of light seeping from under the door of a room at the end of the hall. Another chill ran down her back. âPriscilla? Are you in there?â Jillian walked up to the door and pressed her ear against the dry wood. Silence. âPriscillaâ¦â she called out again. A manâs voice, deep and sharp: â GO AWAY !â Itâs not Priscilla, Jillian realized with a gasp. âGo away! Please!â the man shouted from the other side of the door. âJust go away!â âBut--but--â Jillian sputtered, confused. âWho are you? What are you doing here?â She leaned against the door to hear the manâs reply. To her shock, the door flew open. She tumbled into the room. A young man stood hunched over a bed, covering it neatly with a dark blue quilt. Papers and books were stacked on a small desk in the corner. âP-please go awayâ he whispered. His red-rimmed eyes gaped wide. âWho are you? What are you doing here?â Jillian cried again. He seems more frightened than I am, she thought. The man took a step back, stumbling over a leg of the bed. âMy name--itâs James,â he replied, clasping his hands together tightly. âPlease go away. For your own good. Please--before itâs too late.â âI donât understand,â Jillian said, crossing her arms in front of her to stop from shaking. James swept a hand nervously through his greasy, tangled hair. âListen carefully. Iâm warning you--leave this inn before tomorrow night!â He looked so frightened, so pitiful, that Jillian felt braver. âIâm not going anywhere unless you tell me why.â James uttered a sharp cry and gestured wildly with both hands.