Up the stairs and down the back hallway, through the second door on the right. Henry watched Helena trudge up the route every afternoon, and he wondered what his sister did up there, even on the days when the sun and the cloudless blue sky seemed irresistible. But he never asked any questions. Once, on her way up the stairs, Helena turned her head over her shoulder and caught him watching her, and the blaze that flashed from her eyes to his made his eyes water. He blinked furiously, and when the tears cleared she was gone.

Henry had been avoiding the second floor since they’d first clambered out of the backseat of their grandfather’s car, at first simply because its dark corners seemed to swallow up the summer like a black hole. But when his sister started disappearing he began to imagine all sorts of nefarious activities and creatures, and soon the second floor morphed into the haunted house archetype and the foundation for his uneasy dreams.