Part one

One day Todd Hollins was Todd Hollinzing along when he came to a scary looking house on a hill.

"That house looks very dark and frightening," he said aloud for the benefit of the reader, "like it might be full of evil spiders that drink blood or something."

Todd knew he should avoid investigating such a house but his wife/sister/investigative journalist Joanna Hollins (who had a legitimate degree in investigative journalism that she'd bought for three dollars from a street vendor in Cambodia) insisted they go inside.

"Come on, Todd. Don't be shy," said Joanna, even though the speech tag was unnecessary because it was obvious who was talking. "This could be a big story for me. I mean us, because obviously I'm in no way just a self-serving hack who's only interested in furthering my career regardless of how it might endanger others."

"Okay," said Todd with equal redundancy. "I suppose it wouldn't hurt to take a quick look. Unless of course the house really is full of vampire spiders like I suspect it is. In which case we're going to get seriously hurt or even killed. But what the hell. You only live once. Unless of course you're bitten by a giant vampire spider and turn into a vampire yourself. Then you'd live twice even though technically you'd be dead."

"Please stop talking like that, Todd," said Joanna with even more redundancy. "You know I don't like logic, especially the kind that might get in the way of a good story."

They walked up the hill carrying their camera equipment which the author had failed to mention at the start of the story the same way he'd initially failed to mention Joanna due to his trademark incompetence. Actually, the camera crew were the ones carrying the camera equipment, which was another detail the author had forgotten to mention until now.

"I wonder if the door will be conveniently unlocked so we can slowly push it open and call out something like "Hello, is there anybody here?" like they do in horror movies that cater for the teenage demographic?" said Todd wonderingly.

"Yes," said Joanna enthusiastically, "and I wonder if the door will make a sinister creaking noise that will create a sense of foreboding that is even more sinister."

"Listen, Jo. You should really try to avoid using the same word more than once in the same sentence," said Todd loftily. "It's one of the rules of good writing. As a journalist, I'd have thought you'd know that."

"I'd call you a hypocrite, but I'm not entirely sure what it means," said Joanna thoughtfully.

"Maybe it's like adding redundant adverbs to speech tags?" Todd suggested suggestively.

"Is that also one of the rules of good writing? Joanna enquired enquiringly.

"I think so," said Todd uncertainly.

"Come on. Let's not waste time on this just because we're scared," said Joanna irritably.

"Okay," Todd agreed agreeably.

They put on a brave front and walked up the front steps and stood in front of the front door. The huge old house stood there silently, which was understandable considering houses generally don't talk.

Todd pushed on the door and it creaked open in a sinister manner, just as Joanna had thought it might. They stepped inside and were struck dumb or at least dumber than usual, by the decaying opulence and shadow shrouded Gawthic Gothicness of what was clearly an ancient aristocratic home. The camera crew also stepped inside and stood around like incidental cardboard cut-outs waiting to be called upon when needed. Joanna was the first to notice the huge chandeliers covered in thick gray nets depending from the ornate ceiling high above.

"Look at those huge chandeliers covered in thick gray nets depending from the ornate ceiling high above," she said excitedly as she pointed them out to the assembled group.

"Oh my god!" said Todd fearfully in a tone of rising fear that perfectly suited the climax of an opening scene to a horror story, "those aren't nets, they're cobwebs!"

There was a sharp intake of breath as everyone inhaled sharply, and then everyone jumped at a sudden scuttling sound from the shadows...

To be continued…