Fern ran her hands down the dark red velvet dress and decided she really didn’t like it. The heavy material dropped straight from her shoulders to the floor, giving no hint at the shape of her body underneath. She pulled back the sleeves, which sloped into an open triangle shape, covering her hands. They fell back straight away.
Glancing down, she had to pick the dress up to see the floor and the tips of the flat red shoes. They felt too small and were already pinching her toes. She took them off, balancing on one leg then the other. Dropping them to the bare white wood floor, she looked around for anything else she could wear.
The tiny room held a single bed fitted against the far wall with a black curtained window overlooking it. A large wardrobe was within an arm’s reach to her right. The door was behind her, closed and locked. Above her, hung a single candle bulb in a white shade, casting a dim light on the room. Fern made out a running network of old beams and slate tiles in the ceiling.
She went to the window and peered around the curtains. A single panel of glass, flashed the reflection of herself and the room, before showing her the empty land outside. She pressed her hand to the glass, feeling the damp coldness under her fingers.
Is my mind really mine again or is Raphael still controlling me? She thought.
Letting her hand slip from the glass and the thick curtain fall back, she went to the wardrobe and stared inside. A number of different coloured dresses, tops, skirts, pants hung together. On the top shelf the tips of many shoes poked out and in the two fitted draws in the bottom lay underwear, nightwear and a few other items. Reaching inside, she shuffled through the clothes then looked down at the dress. She had no memory of putting it on.
Taking it off and letting it fall to the floor. Fern choose some black cotton trousers and a blue silk blouse. She put them on, finding that they fitted better than the dress and that she looked more like she was going for an interview then to a vintage tea party. Searching through the shoes, she found some black ankle boots which were one size too big for her.
Shoving the dress and shoes back in, she grabbed another pair of socks then paused. Her ears twitched at the creaking of the attic stairs. Quietly, she got up, swung the wardrobe doors shut and went to the bed. Sitting just on the edge, she put the socks and boots on. The footsteps carried on, but stopped before they reached her door.
She listened as the room next to her’s was opened and someone walked in. A bed, probably just like the one she was sat on, she thought, let out a loud groan as someone lay on it. Voices drifted and she snatched a few meaningless words out before they faded again.
Fern breathed deeply and got up. She went to the door and tried turning the round handle. She tugged, but it didn’t open. She tried the other way, but felt the same resistance.
She wandered around the room, it only taking a few steps before she was back by the bed again. She picked up her wet clothes, folded them then stood on the bed. Looking up at the rafters above, she wondered if she could hide her clothes up there.
Why would I even need to do that? She thought, looking down at the clothes.
Getting off the bed, she took them and her shoes over to the wardrobe. Opening the bottom drawer, she put her stuff inside and looked at the other items. There were two black swimming costumes and a white bikini. Followed by; a neon green scarf, a long pair of black silk gloves, two pairs of winter woollen gloves, tights and stockings still in the packets. Fern pulled a suspend belt out then shoved it back in.
Closing the drawer then the doors, she stood up again and looked at the empty wall space on either side of the wardrobe. To the left of her, were the window was, the wall didn’t look as if it perfectly fitted and there was a slight gap between where the two walls meet. She went over and inspected the walls. She ran her fingers along the white cracked paint.
There was a soft knocking on the wall.
‘Who’s there?’ a male voice whispered though the crack.
‘Who are you?’ Fern hissed back.
‘I’m Ollie. Hey, are you the newbie Raphael rescued?’
‘He didn’t rescue me,’ Fern scoffed, ‘he kidnapped me.’
She heard a soft sighing.
‘Did they take you too?’
‘They found me,’ Ollie said back, ‘Ike and Zara. They said my maker had left me for dead in a hotel room. But I know that’s not what happened. They killed her. I remember. Though, they keep trying to erase it from my mind.’
Fern pressed her hand to the wall, feeling flecks of paint under her nails.
‘You still there?’ Ollie asked.
‘What’s your name?’
‘Fern,’ she uttered.
‘You can’t let them into your head or they’ll take you over. Just pretend their mind control is working and do what they want you to do. It’s the best way to survive,’ Ollie explained.
‘And don’t trust any of them,’ Fern said under her breath.
The sound of footsteps on the stairs turned her head again.
‘We’ll try and talk more later. Remember what I said,’ Ollie’s disembodied voice came through the wall.
‘I will,’ Fern answered back.
She stepped away and into the centre of the room. A few moments later, she heard the lock opening in her door. Taking a deep breath and making her head blank, she watched the door slow open and Raphael appear in the frame.
To Be Continued….