Ali was an average person. Normal, really. She had curly brown hair and hazel eyes. She was of average height. She lived in the suburbs of a small town with her parents. That pastel world where everything was orderly and seemed untouched. Yes, there wasn't anything really strange about Ali. She was an ant in a colony of millions.

That is, until she met a strange man with scissors for hands...

The day it happened was an ordinary one. Ali was in her room, her nose burried deep within the pages of a novel. This one about a journey somewhere high in the mountains. She wished she could go there. Anywhere really. Anywhere but here. Ali had lived in the suburbs her whole life, and she just wanted out. Even if it was only for a while.

Her mother, Theresa, called her from her room to eat lunch. She dog-earred her page and put her book down reluctantly. She met Theresa in the kitchen where a sandwhich was waiting for her. "There you go, sweetie", her mother said setting the sandwhich down in front of her.

Theresa was a good mother. She was kind, caring, and a good role model. Her hair was blond and usually kept in a loose bun. Her eyes were tired, anyone could tell that. Another thing anyone could tell was that she cared for her family. She'd be nothing without them.

Ali picked up her sandwhich and bit into it after saying a quick thanks to her mother. after the sanwhich was gone, Ali put her ploate in the sink and ventured back into her room. She stopped at her window and threw back the curtains. She pulled up the panell of glass that was blocking her from the fresh air outside. Once the glass was removed, Ali stuck her head outside and starred up the street.

Pastel houses and pristine lawns met her eyes. Disgusted, she looked further up the street, where the road ended at the hill. Her eyes wandered up the long, winding path to the mansion that was settled on the peak of the hill. It loomed over the town. Menacing, almost. It reminded her of a crow, no, a vulture perched upon a limb, prepared to snatch up its prey.

Often Ali thought of going up there. Everyday she caught herself thinking of it,often more that once. That mansion was questionable though, wasn't it? After all, did anyone live up there? Ali was sure no one did. Well, the whole place looked as if it would collapse at any second anyway. Who would be crazy enough to live up there?

When Ali thought of that, she often pictured herself up there. She wanted to go up there more than anything else. She had wandered to the base of the hill before, ready to make the climb, but something always stopped her. It was like some invisible force was pulling her back, telling her she musn't cross that line.

It was like she couldn't bring herself to break the rules. No one hadn't ever told her not to go up there, but still, there seemed to be some unspoken truce. Whatever it was. Was she afraid? She told herself she wasn't. But in all honesty, she really didn't know. All she knew was that she had to go up there.

She pulled her head back through the window and sat down on her bed. She tossed her bookon her nightstand. There would be time to read that later. She grabbed her tennis shoes and pushed her feet into them. She laced them up quickly, and headed downstairs.

She was at the door when Theresa asked, "Going out?"

"Uh... Yeah. I'm going to Tess's. Is that okay?" She didn't like lying to her mother, it made her uncomfortable.

"Sure. Just don't get back too late. I'll have dinner ready at seven."

Theresa waved her off as she headed down the street. But she didn't stop at Tess's house. In fact, she walked right by it, not even slowing down to see if she could catch sight of her long-time friend.

She and Tess had been friends since the fourth grade when she had offered to share her lunch with Tess, since she had forgotten hers. Besides, she didn't like meatloaf anyway. Tess was a great friend, nonetheless. She had been there for Ali when her grandmother died two years ago. She had been there for her when her first and only boyfriend had broken up with her for Lesha Carter. Tess was great and always would be.

Once past Tess's house, she made for the hill. It wasn't really much of a walk, maybe half of a mile at the most. Ali wandered what her parents would say if they could see her now. Would she be grounded? Would she have any privleges taken away? She wasn't sure what punishment she would endure if caught, but the thought of breaking this one unspoken rule made her excited. This time she would make sure she didn't back away from the hill. She would go up it. Now or never.

Before she knew it, she found herself at the base of the hill. She starred up at the mansion. It was much bigger than it appeared to be from her bedroom window. She took a deep breath and started up the path.

"All right", she said aloud, smiling to herself. This would be an adventure.