Next Door Down
The woman had the creepiest smile Hazel had ever seen. She might have been charming, if not for the crooked teeth and the feverish light in her eyes.
"Welcome to Darling's Orphanage. I am Ms. Mildred and you may follow me to your room."
The building was in utter disrepair. Dust coated every surface, the wallpaper was cracked and there was a distinct putrid stench of decay as if an animal had crawled into a wall and died. Hazel had yet to see other children.
Her mind wandered to the accident. One moment her mother had been smiling and waving from the car window on the icy morning. The next there was a loud screeching noise as a truck lost control and skidded across the ice, demolishing the car. She remembered the screams and wailing sirens.
Hazel had no family. Her father had left years before and she had no recollection of him. Strange people arrived at her house and took her away. Her fear was met with reassuring words and false smiles.
Ms. Mildred paused at a door and motioned Hazel inside. Several beds had been crammed into the small room. They smelled of rot.
Ms. Mildred pointed towards a closet in the back of the room. "Children prefer not to be alone, so you can join the other children now."
Confused, Hazel walked to the door and opened it. She instinctively stepped back and screamed. She felt a hand clasp her shoulder and shove her into the closet. Hazel frantically pulled at the doorknob, Ms. Mildred laughed, and the lock clicked.