The Mystery of Stedwin Estate (A Green Hill Manor Mystery Story)

Written for the one-shot contest on Movellas. When Team Sescape (consisting of Mara, Stuart, Irene, Pearl, Shara, Tara, and Lil'Marie) investigate a strange house behind Shara's house, they are completely unprepared for a blast from the past.

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1. The Mystery of Stedwin Estate

Long before Shara Shinnok and her family moved to Harrison Creek, Oregon, Stedwin Estate was once a home for children born at the infamous Green Hill Haven Sanitarium. The sanitarium was notorious because of its alleged reports of patient abuse and isolation. Also many people feared the place because it was common knowledge that once you went into the Green Hill Haven, you weren't coming back out.

But that's enough of that place; instead, let us focus on the mystery of Stedwin Estate.

From the front, the place looks like your standard family home. But very few people knew that the children's home was placed behind the family home. In fact, no one knew that the children's home even existed. The children's home operated from the years 1987 to 2003, when the city ordered the place to be shut down. The 13 children living in that home ended up being adopted into various families. Yet, because the children all knew each other, they ended up attending the same schools and staying friends.

Shara, however, did not have any idea that a children's home had existed until she saw a huge brick wall where the backyard should've been.

"Did you find anything?" Kelsey said to her.

"Nothing but this brick wall here," said Shara. "I wonder if having a brick wall in your backyard is illegal."

"Well, blocking access to your house is illegal," said Kelsey. "You'll never know when you have to escape from dangerous situations. If your house is blocked, then you cannot get out and will probably become a victim of either a disaster or a home invasion."

"I see," said Shara, "but I'm still confused. Why is there a brick wall in my backyard?"

"Who knows?" said Kelsey. "Let's take a look at that wall and see what's behind it."

The girls quickly glanced behind the wall and to their surprise, they saw what appeared to be a small house covered by grasses, vines, and moss. The house itself was twice the size of the house in front and appeared to be filled with rooms as well as a kitchen, a dining area, and a play area.

"What kind of place is this?" Kelsey said as she continued to stare at the house.

"I don't know, but I think it must be some type of boarding school," said Shara.

"Well, whatever it is, your parents need to know about it," said Kelsey. "They could be sitting on a gold mine without even knowing it."

"Who knows?" said Shara "I've heard a lot of horror stories about people finding strange things in their houses, such as mummified human corpses or old treasure. Let's hope this is not one of them."

Well, that was the end of that story, as Shara told her parents about the house behind their house. A house inspector was called; within a few weeks, the moss and vines were cleared away and the brick wall was demolished. Yet, Shara couldn't help but wonder who had lived in that house before her family came to own it. Even though she had spent most of her weekends exploring the house, she had 1,000 questions to ask, such as "how did this house even get built in the first place" and "who lived in the house before my family bought it". Yet, there was a time and a place to ask questions and for her to ask those questions while she was still settling into her new house was inappropriate.

Like all things, nothing lasts forever. Especially secrets. And one day, Shara was going to solve several of them.

It was no surprise that she became friends with Mara Llewellyn, Stuart Greer, Irene Haughton, and Pearl Tanner. They, along with Tara Schindler and Marie Lewis, became known as Team Sescape, an elite team of heroes that fought against bullies and helped students that would have been forgotten about. Yet, the team also fought against the Upright Students Brigade, a group of students which sought to oppress the geeks, nerds, and popular students while promoting a return to the traditional way of high school. (But that's for another story.)

Today, the kids were going to solve the mystery of the house behind Shara's house.

"Well, I must admit I have seen this place before, but only in a lost memory," said Irene as she stared at the old house.

"Why do I suddenly remember this place?" said Lil'Marie.

"Who knows?" said Shara. "My mom and I have cleaned out this place, and we've found a treasure trove of toys from decades past, as well as pictures of children. My mom's in the process of contacting the Harrison Creek Historical Society to identify the children in those pictures and to authenticate the place. Something like this should be preserved for future generations, not torn down and forgotten about."

"I know, as people want the Green Hill Haven torn down, but the historical society is fighting them tooth and nail to keep the place standing," said Mara. "I personally don't think the city should have shut down the place to begin with."

"Well, let's go inside and see what's there," said Stuart as the kids inched closer to the door. They all walked inside and saw that not only did Shara and her mother hire a team of house cleaners to clean and repair the house, but there were piles of clothes, toys, and pictures stacked on various tables all over the house.

"What is this place?" Mara cried out.

"I don't know," said Tara. "But I seem to remember it for some odd reason."

"How do you know this place?" said Pearl.

Just then, an alarm went off on a table in the living room next to a window. The table was covered in pictures; a sign on the table read 1999-2003. "Darn, and just as we were getting started," Pearl frowned as the kids went to the table.

"I've noticed," said Tara as a message was seen on the table. The message said, "You've come so far and the end is near; and now, you are here."

"OK, what are they talking about?" said Stuart as they read the message. "How are we...here?"

"I don't know," said Shara. "Maybe we've reached the end of the scavenger hunt."

"Yeah," said Mara. "I must admit I'm glad this scavenger hunt is over. Can you believe that hunt has taken us at least five months to complete?"

"I know," said Lil'Marie. "Plus, that hunt had us mistrusting everyone we knew and questioning everything we thought we knew. Plus, we had to revisit our shared past and remember the things we did that annoyed the other kids and scared the teachers."

"We'll, we were great back then," said Irene. "I wonder what happened to us?"

"You all grew up and moved apart," said Shara. "Hey, it's easy to find your other friends as they're all in the same school as us. Remember, all roads lead back home."

"Or in our case, everythjng comes back here, and before that, Green Hill Haven," said Stuart.

"You mean," said Mara.

"I've seen the pictures, and those pictures are of us," said Pearl.

"Really?" said Stuart. "You must be kidding! How do you know that's us in those pictures?"

"Because our names are on those pictures," said Pearl as she pointed to a picture of the kids sitting at a table. The picture appear to be of a birthday party, with several children sitting around a young boy with a birthday cake in front of him. The banner read "happy birthday Trevor". Sitting next to him appeared to be Irene, Stuart, Tara, Lil'Marie, Mara, and Pearl.

"Well, I don't believe it," said Irene. "We all used to know Trevor?"

"You all knew Trevor?" Shara cried out. "How?"

"Maybe because some of us once lived here," said Mara with a sad look on her face.

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