Don't be stupid, Jack told himself firmly. Houses can't want things.
The only people he saw were three kids - a girl and two boys - standing at the weedy corner of an empty lot, halfway through town. Three bicycles leaned on their sides at random angles, as though they had only just been cast aside, the front wheels still slowly spinning around and around. The kids watched the road, their shoulders pressed together and their heads moving in unison as they tracked the rental car. Jack pressed his forehead to the glass and cupped his hands around his eyes, trying to get a good look at their faces, but they were shadowed and too far away. It didn't matter, he told himself, what
they looked like - or even whether there were kids in town at all. He didn't have friends at home anyway, so he certainly wasn't expecting to make any friends in Iowa.
But the house at the end of the road... well, it was different. More than different. It announced itself. Big, bright flowers and tall, tangled grasses grew wildly in the front yard, with the house rising boldly behind, its edges shimmering in the heat.
Please tell me we're not going to that house, Jack thought desperately. Sharp pinpricks of worry erupted at the back of his neck, and the hairs on his arms stood on end. He thought he was going to be sick, though he didn't know why.
The car slowed down and they pulled up in front. Jack's mother opened the door with a rusty sigh. She pressed her lips tightly together and crossed her arms. "It's not supposed to look like this," she said, shaking her head. "This house is all wrong."
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