Running. The rush of wind. The freedom. Maria loved it.
She had been out running every morning since school had finished for the holidays. She just loved to. The sun shone brightly that day. As she ran along the country lane she was greeted by cows and sheep in the surrounding fields. This is where she felt most at home. Where she belonged. The air was calm apart from a gentle summer breeze that stroked her skin and ruffled her long, wavy, auburn hair.
There were not many buildings around here. Just one house. Abandoned long ago. It just sat there. A shell of what it once was: black and burnt out. It had become overgrown with plants and weeds. No one went near it. Even birds did not fly overhead. According to legend, it was cursed. Years ago before she was born, the house was attacked by a demon in the night burning it to ash. Most people claimed it was more likely arson or accident. Despite the warnings to stay away, Maria could not conceal her curiosity. There was something about the house that drew her to it. Beckoning her.
It loomed up like a shadow against the morning sunlight. A shiver ran down her spine but she did not flinch. Despite the sense of eeriness she couldn't help drawing closer.
The empty windows watched her approach in an almost mocking state. Sunlight glinted through the holes casting small pools of golden light on the ground. Normally Maria would run past but this time she turned up the drive. Stopping suddenly she gazed at the dead shell. It stared back. Slowly she advance forward. There was no door. It was burnt during the fire. She gingerly stepped inside. Or outside since there was no roof. The floor was covered in a carpet of grass scattered with wild flowers protected by the black walls. It appeared strangely beautiful. She could hear creaking from part of the ceiling above. No one had been here for years.
Through another doorway there was an old staircase. Burnt out but seemed sturdy enough. Maria climbed it cautiously, ready to jump back down if it gave way. Apart from the sound of creaking wood it didn't budge. As she reached the top she found yet more rooms. Only one seemed intact. There was a pile of wood and ash in the corner. Stepping lightly she bent down beside it. There was something buried beneath. She could see the sunlight reflecting off it. Pushing aside large lumps of debris she found a large stone. Red in colour glittering in the morning sun. As she gently picked it up it seemed to glow and felt strangely warm to the touch. Knocking it lightly she noticed it sounded dull, like something was inside.
"What are you?" she asked out loud.
Glancing at her watch she realised she had to get back. It was dangerous to stay here. Holding the stone tenderly in her arms she climbed back down the stairs. She decided it was best not to bring it home so left it in a corner near the entrance where it was bathed in warm sunlight.
With that, Maria turned and made her way home. Thoughts of the stone lingering in her mind.