The abbey was off by itself in a wooded area near Black Springs, site of North America’s first oil well. On the outskirts of the village, the cruiser turned off the highway onto a side road and slowed at the nearly-hidden entrance to a heavily treed property. A laneway twisted through tangled bush before passing between stone gateposts and ending in a cobblestone parking lot.
Now in plain view, Black Springs Abbey loomed before them, a neglected neo-gothic structure. Ivy wrapped itself protectively around the building’s pale yellow brick exterior, creeping across windows and partially obscuring ornate brackets under the roof's projecting eaves. Third-storey dormer windows gazed blankly from the once-elegant mansard roof, slate tiles now faded and chipped. Wide stone steps, worn and cracked, led up to a double oak door with a rectangular transom window.
“Creepy,” breathed Hilma. “Why would a guest want to stay here?”
“Peace and security, I suppose.”
Hilma couldn’t imagine finding either in a place like this but kept the thought to herself.
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