A Foot In The Past (Part 8)

House, Haunted House, Spooky, Scary, Old, Creepy

Scarlett peered up the attic steps as Greyson fumbled around for a light switch. Turning her torch back on, she shone the beam along the bare narrow walls and staircase. Unlike the rest of the hotel, all grandeur had been lost here. A thick layer of dust and spider webs lay around, though they had been recently disturbed. Boot prints and paw marks of a dog trailed their way upwards and down again.

‘Found it,’ Greyson uttered and clicked a switch.

Two naked bulbs pinged on and started to buzz softly. They were positioned at the top and bottom of the stairs, so their dim light was unable to cut properly through the lingering darkness.

‘Still sure?’

Scarlett nodded as she pushed away the creeping feeling on the back of her neck.

Greyson turned on his torch and slowly climbed the steps. They creaked under his weight, the sound adding to the eeriness that weighed heavily in the air. Scarlett shuffled after him, keeping her torch down as a guide to her feet. At the top, Greyson paused again and looked for another light switch. As she waited, Scarlett flashed her torch around. There were three corridors to pick from and each looked lined with doors. Just like the stairs though, a layer of dust and cobwebs decorated the area.

Scarlett rubbed her chest, feeling the heavy, still dry air settling into her lungs. How long had it been since someone had last been up here?

More naked bulbs came to life overhead and Scarlett saw what Greyson had said the police had stated. Only some of the bulbs were working, so the dim light came in patches. Trying to look through the gloom, she also wondered if they had searched every room. She looked down at the floor and saw a trail of prints in all directions.

‘Where should we start? Forward?’ Greyson asked in a low voice.

‘Sure.’

He moved to the first door and Scarlett closely followed him. Her breath caught in her throat as he swung open the door and they both looked in. From the light of their torches they could see a cluster of old wooden children’s desks and blackboards. Greyson slowly moved in, the floor groaning loudly under him. He swept his torch around, but there was no way anyone could be hiding. Scarlett studied the blackboards, but couldn’t make anything out of their wiped surfaces.

‘Next one?’ Greyson called over his shoulder.

She nodded and they left, closing the door behind them. The next room also held more classroom furniture. Then the third and four were empty. Reaching the fifth, they found it locked. Greyson rattled the handle, but the door did not give.

‘I left the keys down there. I’ll be right back,’ Greyson stated.

‘Okay. I’ll check the others on this side,’ Scarlett replied.

‘Be careful.’

‘I will be.’

Patting his shoulder, Scarlett moved to the next door, whilst Greyson walked back. She put her hand to the cold handle and turned it. The door did not open. Leaving it, she turned and tried the end one on the other side. It was locked too. Wondering what was up with that, Scarlett moved to the next one. Just before her hand touched the handle, she heard a soft whispering. Pausing, she flashed her torch down the corridor, but did not see anything. She opened her mouth, Greyson’s name on her lips. The whispering tickled her ears again. It sounded like a female voice asking a question, but Scarlett couldn’t make the words out.

Shaking her head, she turned back to the door and tried the handle. It was locked.

Stepping to the next, the boards groaned under her and she decided that really that’s what she’d heard. Or maybe it had been the wind through a gap or even Greyson muttering, she laughed at that and tried the next door.

It easily opened on to an empty room.

‘Scarlett?’

She jumped slightly at his voice, ‘Yes?’

‘You okay?’

‘Yes.’

Closing the door, she waited till he had joined her and for a few minutes they searched through the keys and tried them in the locks. The keys jingled nosily, breaking the deathly silence that seemed to have taking up residence in the attic. Metal scrapping metal echoed then faded and the rattling of handles became too loud.

‘I give up,’ Greyson moaned, ‘I can’t see properly and there are too many unlabelled keys.’

‘Let’s try these then,’ Scarlett said, pointing out the other doors that they had not opened.

The last few revealed more school supplies, including some old science lab equipment, books, bookcases, tables, desks, chairs, photos and documents.

‘I want to take these. Maybe there’s something interesting them,’ Scarlett said about the last two items.

Greyson glanced at her from looking at an old photo. It showed a group of boys posing on the front steps of the manor. He shuffled through a few more that all looked the same then gathered them together with some others.

‘We can leave them at the top of the stairs and collect them on the way back.’

‘Fine. What about the rest of this stuff though?’ Greyson asked.

He looked around at the stacked chairs and a shelf containing animal organs. Feeling a tightening in his stomach, he turned his torch away from the dark liquid jars and back to his wife.

‘I’m not sure yet. Maybe get a dealer in? Here can you take these?’

Nodding, Greyson helped her collect the photos and papers. They stacked them at the top of the stairs then checked the last room on that corridor. Like the first they had looked in, it contained blackboards and desks. Scarlett walked in and looking closely at one of the boards, saw faintly the five and ten times tables written in a loopy hand.

‘Anything?’

She shook her head and they left.

‘Which way now?’ Greyson asked.

‘To the left,’ Scarlett said and went to the first door.

‘I can’t believe children lived up here,’ Greyson spoke out.

Scarlett, her hand still on the handle turned to him, ‘I guess no one really cared back then and don’t forget the other floors probably looked the same as this one.’

‘Maybe it wasn’t so bad then…’ Greyson mused.

Scarlett opened the door and looked in. Out of the gloom rose sharp teeth and flashing eyes. She cried and jumped back, crushing Greyson, who quickly caught her. Shoving her behind him, he looked into the room then laughed.

‘What is it?’ Scarlett screeched.

‘A stuffed bobcat or something like that,’ Greyson chuckled.

Scarlett peered past him, fighting for breath and to calm her racing heart. She saw the small spotted cat enclosed in a glass case. Greyson walked in and his torch lit up more animals. Scarlett saw birds of prey, a sausage dog, rats, a domestic cat and an array of butterflies.

‘These must have belonged to the school,’ Greyson muttered.

‘Or the original owners of the manor house,’ Scarlett suggested, ‘I don’t like them.’

She shivered and turned away. Brushing her hair back and holding her torch in both hands, she waited for him to re-join her. Resting against the wall, Scarlett looked into the dusty corners and tried to turn her thoughts away from the encroaching darkness.

Greyson appeared in the doorway, ‘maybe we should call it quits?’

‘No. I want to see what’s in these other rooms. I’m okay. Just wasn’t expecting that,’ Scarlett stated, ‘you open the next one.’

Greyson paused, ‘as long as you’re sure?’

‘Very.’

He walked out and opened the next room. The door squeak then came to a sudden stop. Scarlett felt her breath catch in her throat and she tried to tell him to be careful, but the words wouldn’t come out. Instead, she watched Greyson trying to lean around the door and shine his torch into the room. He gave the door a shove, but it still would not move.

‘Something must have fallen and got wedge,’ he said.

He closed the door and moved onto the next one. As he reached it, Scarlett heard a small sound. She turned, lifting her torch up. The sound came again. It was a door moving. She fixed her eyes down the corridor and listened as the door continued to creak open. A flicking of movement caught her eye and a shadow seemed to detach itself from the wall. The door clicked shut.

Wetting her lips, she glanced at Greyson over her shoulder, but he had disappeared. Swallowing and keeping one hand on the wall, she walked backwards slowly. A floor board squealed. Scarlett gasped and spun around to look down. The beam of the torch shook, but she couldn’t see anything other than the dusty floor. Looking up again, she quickly walked into the room Greyson was in. He was looking at more piled desks and chairs.

‘Did you hear that?’ she asked him, breathlessly.

‘No,’ he replied and turned to her, ‘what was it?’

‘A door moving…’

‘Like the one I just opened?’ Greyson suggested.

‘No, it was one of the others…’ Scarlett stopped, her own words sounding silly.

‘It was nothing. There’s a drift from below. You can feel it.’

Scarlett pressed her lips together and walked out of the room.

‘Scarlett? Let’s go back now. Somethings…not right up here,’ Greyson called after her.

‘There’s a room I want to check first,’ she shouted back.

Sighing, Greyson hurried to join her at the top of the steps.

‘It must be this way,’ Scarlett muttered to herself and started walking down the right hand corridor. In her head, she count the rooms till she reached what she thought was about the middle. Her hand reached for the handle. She felt Greyson come to her side then she pushed open the door.

Shining their torches in, the light revealed two rows of small metal framed beds on either side.

‘Wow. Did they just leave these here?’ Greyson uttered.

Ignoring him, Scarlett walked into the room and straight to the window. She lifted the heavy curtain and looked out. She could see the darkening gardens far below her, but the angle was wrong. Letting the curtain drop, she left the room and tried the next one.

‘What are you looking for?’ Greyson asked.

‘Before…’ Scarlett started then shook her head.

She opened the next room and walked in. Like the other next door, beds lined the wall. She went to the window and lifted the curtain again. The angle still seemed to be off. Dropping the curtain, she spun and headed out.

‘Before what?’ Greyson picked up.

‘In the garden, I saw something up here…’

‘Scarlett!’

Greyson grabbed her shoulders and brought her close to him, ‘tell me!’

‘A curtain moved,’ she replied nervously, ‘and I wanted to really make sure it wasn’t my mind playing tricks on me…’

‘Oh, kitten,’ Greyson breathed and hugged her tightly.

‘I don’t believe in ghosts,’ Scarlett mumbled into his shoulder.

She felt tears pricking her eyes and took a few deep breaths of his familiar scent.

‘Let’s go,’ Greyson murmured.

‘Okay, but let me just check this room.’

Before he could stop her, Scarlett had left his arms and was opening the door. She stepped in and he followed her. She went to the window, lifted the curtain and looked out. She could see the bench she had been sat on fully now. Breathing deeply, she let the curtain go and looked at the floor.

In the torch beam, she saw the bare footprint of a child.

 

To Be Continued…

A Foot In The Past (Part 7)

House, Haunted House, Spooky, Scary, Old, Creepy

 

Scarlett sat on a white marble bench in a small hedge enclosed flower bed square. Currently, all the beds were empty expect for dry soil. The late afternoon was a hum with birds and flying insects. Frogs were croaking in the ponds and a gentle breeze was rubbing bare tree branches together.

She looked up and back at the hotel. She could only see the attic windows and the roof from where she was sat. Sighing, Scarlett turned back to her book, but couldn’t concentrate. She closed the pages and reflected on all this mornings’ activities instead. The police and dogs had searched the manor and gardens, but had yielded nothing. There had been no sign of life in any of the out buildings and all the floors were empty. Scarlett toyed with the edges of the book.

It’s been a long time since I’ve looked a fool, she thought, maybe it was just animals or my tried mind playing tricks.

She glanced up again at the attic windows. They were blacked out by heavy curtains and looked smaller than the ones of the floors below. Suddenly, she wondered about them. As far as she knew the hotel had never used the rooms up there had been made for the overflow of the orphanage. Though they might have been used as storage or perhaps left abandoned?

Curious and with her mind running wild, Scarlett daydreamed what she might discover. Perhaps, antiques they could use in the re-modelling of the hotel? The long lost story of some orphan that had very historic significance? A gold mine of sellable items? She pictured fabulous paints and furniture, Victorian children’s toys, ancient books and clothes.

Smiling, she re-focused and decided one day soon she’d have to go up there. Moving to glance down at her book again, a slight flicker of moment caught her eye. She looked back at the central attic window.

The curtain seemed to be moving.

Scarlett clutched her book and shuffled to the edge of the bench, trying to see more. With her eyes firmly glued upwards, she saw the curtain move slowly to the left side. As if someone was trying to peer sneakily out of the window. The curtain dropped back into place. She couldn’t look away.

Swallowing the raising lump in her throat and realising she was shaking, Scarlett broke the contact. She looked down and took a few deep breaths. It’s all in your head, she chanted over and over again. Letting go of her book which was now badly curling at the top, she rubbed her sweaty palms on her dark grey trousers.

Avoiding looking again, Scarlett got up and quickly walked out of the garden she was in. Stepping onto a yellow and cream coloured stone pathway, she broke into a jog and went passed the other garden entrances. The path led her to a main doorway constructed out of an arching hedge, on the other side of which was the sprawling lawn. Scarlett ran across the short grass, the breeze messing up her carefully made up curled red hair.

Reaching the flag patio, her flat shoes slapped loudly and she almost tripped. Regaining her balance, she slowed her pace. Scarlett flung open the back door, dumped her book on the kitchen counter and called for Greyson. His voice replied from the study and she rushed in. He was standing behind the huge, but low oak desk shuffling papers around.

‘What’s wrong?’ he asked, his face crumpling into concern and his hands dropping papers.

Scarlett tried to steady her breathing and unexpected excitement before responding, ‘did you go into the attic before?’

‘No,’ Greyson answered, ‘but the police and dogs checked it. They said it was so dusty that it would have been easy to tell if someone had been there.’

‘Do you remember what’s in there then? What the estate agent said?’ she pressed.

‘No, I don’t. What’s this about, Scarlett?’

‘I want to go up there and have look.’

Greyson put his hands to the table and looked seriously at his wife. Her hair was loose and messy about her small shoulders. Her cheeks were flushed pink and her skin looked damp. Her breathing was still loud and gaspy. Her expression was difficult to read, even for him, but she looked excited, nervous and scared all at the same time.

‘This isn’t like you…’ he whispered under his breath.

Scarlett paused in smoothing out and tucking in the cream blouse she had on. She looked at him puzzled, not having heard him, ‘excuse me?’

‘Will it make you feel better? Though I don’t see how…’ Greyson said instead.

Scarlett nodded.

‘We’ll need a torch. I think the police said some of the lights weren’t working or something.’

‘There were at least two with the kitchen stuff, I think,’ Scarlett spoke.

‘I’ll get the keys,’ Greyson added.

Pondering, Scarlett turned and went into the kitchen. Looking through one of the bottom drawers, she found two large torches and some new batteries. Collecting everything, she turned to see Greyson standing in the doorway with his arms folded over his chest, the ring of keys dangling from his right hand.

‘What?’ she asked.

‘Are you sure about this?’ he questioned.

She gave a single nod and a soft humming sound.

‘You never want to get dirty though. You didn’t even want to go into the cellars when we visited,’ Greyson pointed it.

‘I did the third time!’ Scarlett snapped back, ‘but we never did the attic. Did we?’

Greyson rubbed his forehead and looked complexed at his wife.

‘Please. I just…want to make sure.’

‘But the police-’ Greyson tried to point out.

‘I know!’ Scarlett cut in, ‘but for my own piece of mind, Greyson!’

‘All right, all right,’ he rushed, ‘Let’s go take a look.’

Scarlett handed him a torch and the batteries. She checked her’s worked then made to move out of the kitchen.

‘There’s probably nothing up there,’ Greyson uttered.

‘Did the police say that?’ Scarlett asked back.

Greyson shook his head, ‘they didn’t say.’

Clutching the torch, Scarlett squeezed passed him and out of their apartment’s front door. Aware that he was following her, she crossed the entrance hall and began climbing the stairs. Their footsteps were slightly muffled by the carpet, but some of the steps did creak. She turned to the left and when she reached the top, hit the lights before going on and up the next spiralling case.

‘I found the information for the alarm and CCTV by the way,’ Greyson’s voice called out.

Scarlett paused and waited for him to join her.

‘We can set it tonight. Then if anyone does break in we’ll know.’

‘That’s good,’ Scarlett said.

‘Also, the alarm has a connection to the police station, so we won’t have to phone them. They’ll come right away.’

Scarlett nodded and they carried on walking. When they reached the top, they turned on the lights and went down the right corridor, passing all the numbered doors. At the end and unlike the opposite corridor and the ones below, was a door marked with a sign. In white peeling letters were the words, Staff only, no admittance.

‘Well?’ Scarlett said in a low voice.

Greyson looked down at the ring of keys in his other hand then began searching through them. The clanging of metal hitting metal and soft jingling echoed around them.

Scarlett nipped on her bottom lip, feeling the nerves building and replacing the excitement. She clicked on her torch, checking it again then rubbed her finger over the switch.

Greyson found the right key and slotted it in. It turned easily and they both heard the lock click. He took the key out and turned the large brass knob as he slowly opened the door.

 

To Be Continued….

 

A Foot In The Past (Part 6)

House, Haunted House, Spooky, Scary, Old, Creepy

Scarlett collapsed onto the sofa and shut her eyes. In the background, she could hear her husband and the two male police officers talking. They were just finishing up the search of the house, which after two hours had revealed nothing. Their footsteps drew nearer and Scarlett sat up. Straightening her top and jumper out, she then picked up one of the steaming mugs from the coffee table and balanced it on her knees.

Greyson walked into the living room, the policemen behind him. They were both dressed in yellow high visibility coats, which were open to show off their padded body vests, black trousers and black boots. Walkie talkies were clicked to the coat pockets’ and their matching police belts looked weighed down with items.

‘I made tea,’ Scarlett pointed out.

‘Thanks,’ Greyson spoke and sank down onto the sofa next to her. He put the ring of keys on the top with a loud clinking.

The two men lingered in the doorway, looking serious and slightly uncomfortable.

Scarlett realised there was nowhere for them to sit. Getting up, she grabbed two of the kitchen table chairs that had been abandoned at the back of the room amongst some other stuff.

‘Sorry. Please sit down,’ she added, placing the chairs on the other side of the coffee table.

‘Thanks,’ the first officer, PC Callahan replied.

Scarlet sat back down on the sofa and waited till he and PC Blakely had sat down. She looked at them and decided the hard Yorkshire men were just what she needed to get over her fears. Callahan was tall with a short black beard on the lower half of his face and black hair poking out from under his flat hat. His eyes were dark blue, cold and tried looking. His hands, resting on top of upper legs, were scratched up and bruised due to a recent fight with someone.

Blakely seemed to be the opposite. He was shorter with brown hair and chocolate coloured eyes. He looked too young and nice to be a policeman, but the stern expression plastered on his face give him a mean edge. He wore a wedding ring which he played with as the silence grew.

‘We could call more officers and a dog unit,’ Callahan suggested.

Scarlett shook her head, ‘it’s fine.’

Greyson yawed and rubbed his forehead then face. Scarlett patted his knee and out of the corner of her eye saw the two policemen share a quick nervous look.

Callahan cleared his throat and Blakely picked up the nearest mug of tea.

‘How much do you know about this place?’ Callahan said in a low voice.

‘I know most of the history…’ Scarlett trailed off, realising that was not what he meant.

‘We’ve had a few calls out here whilst it’s been empty over the years. From people in the village,’ Callahan explained, ‘they’d say lights were on or they thought there was a fire. The alarm would go off too, in the middle of the night and early morning. On inspection, there’d be nothing.’

‘Sometimes, they’d hear crying and screaming too,’ Blakely butted in, ‘and horses pulling a carriage. My old gran swore she once saw the figure of woman which then vanished in one of the front upstairs windows!’

‘Ben!’ Callahan hissed.

Scarlett squeezed Greyson’s knee and felt his reassuring hand grip in return. She sipped her tea and decided not to voice her opinions. Flicking her eyes to Blakely, she saw the young officer staring sheepishly into his mug and wrestling to keep his mouth shut.

‘There’s always been rumours about this place,’ Callahan spoke.

‘Of course! It’s over three hundred years old,’ Greyson cut in, ‘there’s always going to be stories! But I don’t believe my wife heard a ghost. There could be squatters or teenagers messing with us. They could easily know hidden ways in and out. There’s out buildings all over the place and the cellars and attic.’

‘Sir, calm down,’ Callahan said with a gentle hand motion, ‘We don’t doubt you or your wife. I’m just saying…’

‘Maybe, we should get more police and dogs,’ Scarlett suddenly cut in, ‘could you arrange that and come back later? You might be able to find something in the daylight.’

‘Of course. We’ll get right on that.’

‘I’ll show you out,’ Greyson uttered.

The men stood up and left. Scarlett sank back onto the sofa, pulling her feet up. She listened to them walking, the doors opening and voices drifting back to her. She drank her tea and looked around the living room her thoughts turning to where to place things.

Greyson returned, ‘Let’s go to bed for a couple of hours.’

‘What time is it?’ Scarlett asked.

‘Around half past five, I think.’

‘I’m too awake now. I’m going to get something to eat and start unpacking in here.’

‘You sure?’

She nodded and gave him a little smile. Greyson pulled a face and lingered in the doorway for a few moments.

‘I’m fine. You go to bed. I’ll wake you when the police return,’ Scarlett stated.

‘Okay….You know I don’t believe that nonsense, right?’

‘Nor do I. And I can’t see how a ghost could’ve been making all this noise. It’s doubtless animals and some kids or homeless people. We’ll find out soon enough.’

Greyson yawed. He put his hand in front of his mouth then swept his hair back.

‘Go to bed,’ Scarlett said.

He nodded and walked away. When the door closed behind him, Scarlett turned the TV on and set the volume down. She put the news on and finished her tea. Gathering up all the mugs, she went to the kitchen and placing them in the sink, made herself some porridge. After eating that in front of the TV, she began sorting through the boxes and finding a place for everything.

Processing slowly, Scarlett soon give up with she realised, the sofa and arm chairs would have to be moved. Also, the bookcases and cupboards had to be put together and moved too. Getting off the floor, she went to the two bay windows and opened the curtains. Dawn was breaking and the sky was a tinted pale blue, pink and yellow. Scarlett sat down in the window box and watched the lawn lighting up.

From here, she could not see an hint of the out buildings that Greyson had mentioned before. Though she recalled the first was far to the left and was a stable. The others dotted beyond had been gardeners’ cottages, storage sheds, the ice house that had been used to keep foods cold before freezers had been invented, and the summer house.

Getting up, Scarlett walked into the study, which had become the dumping ground for all the paperwork. Searching through everything, she found the folder that had all the blue prints of the house. Taking it back to the living room and sitting on the floor, she opened the folder and poured over the plans. She looked at the layout of the grounds and saw the buildings she remembered. The last owners had rented out the four cottages as holiday homes and had used the summer house as a bar area and wedding venue.

Flipping further back, she looked at the original plans for Bruntwood manor. She had to hold the old paper up to her face to make out the faint lines. It had just been this main square building, divided up into smaller old named rooms. Placing the blue prints back, she looked at the next lot which showed the newly added wings when the manor had been converted into a private boy’s school.

Scarlett heard a soft sound and raised her head. Greyson was snoring. He must have left the bedroom door open. Sliding the plans back, she watched the TV for a few moments as the weather forecast came on.

‘Well, it’s going to stay dry and mostly sunny for the rest of the week,’ the young suit wearing weather man announced, ‘there’ll be a northerly wind arriving this afternoon which should fade in the evening. The temperature is set to get warmer as we approach the spring equinox this Sunday. Tomorrow, there’s a slight chance of showers on the higher ground in the morning, but the afternoon is clear.’

Scarlett turned back to the folder, leaving the reporter to drone on. She turned the page and looked at when the manor was switched to an orphanage. Not much seemed to have changed, but the attic had been spilt up into rooms. Moving on, she found the plans for when the government had taken over and used the manor during the wars. Afterwards, sometime in the late nineteen-fifties, it had been emptied and put up for sale. Brought, the manor had been fully re-done up and transformed into the hotel it was now.

Reaching the latest plans again and the front of the folder, Scarlett left them out, deciding they might useful for the police search. Getting back on the sofa, she channel flicked till she found a nature documentary to watch. Wrapping herself in the blanket and resting her head on the cushions, she dozed off.

A loud constant knocking and Greyson shouting he was coming, woke Scarlett up. She jumped, knocking the cushion to the floor and scrambled to her feet. Padding after him, she came to a stop behind the front desk as Greyson unlocked and opened the door.

‘Good morning, sir, you requested a full search of the premises?’ a broad Yorkshire policeman’s voice said from the doorway.

Scarlett saw Greyson nodded, ‘my wife and I did. Seems, we aren’t alone here. Please come in.’

He stepped aside and a large group of officers, there must have been around fourteen of them, plus the two with German shepherd dogs, filed into the entrance hall. They all seemed to look around and take in the place as if they had never been inside before.

‘I have all the blue prints,’ Scarlett piped up then dashed off to get them.

Snatching them from the living room and turning back, she almost slammed into Greyson.

‘Your hair,’ he whispered.

‘Oh?’

Scarlett handed him the plans then ran her fingers through her hair.

‘I’ll take care of this. Why don’t you have a shower and get changed?’ Greyson suggested.

‘Do I look that bad?’

‘No,’ he laughed and pulled her in for a hug and kiss.

Scarlett playfully whacked his shoulder and wriggled out of his hold. Stalking off, she went into their bedroom and closed the door firmly. She heard Greyson’s footsteps and voice in the main hallway. Sighing, she took a shower and got changed.

 

To Be Continued…

A Foot In The Past (Part 5)

House, Haunted House, Spooky, Scary, Old, Creepy

The sink tap was dripping again. Scarlett could hear it as she came awake and rolled over. Moaning, she tried to bury her face in Greyson’s shoulder blades, but she was too hot and sweaty. Rolling again and tossing the duvet away, she tried to ignore the echoing water and the creaking of the manor.

Moments later with a deep sigh, Scarlett give in and sat up. Looking around the bedroom,which she was now becoming use to in the darkness, she traced her way to the bathroom. Stealing a glance at Greyson, who was snoring gently, she slipped out of bed and walked quickly across the carpet.

In the bathroom, she ran the tap and splashed water on her hands and face. Feeling around for a flannel, she picked it up and soaked it. Wiping down her neck and shoulders, she felt better. Turning off the tap, she used the toilet then headed back to bed. A soft crying halted her feet at the bathroom door.

Her eyes shot across to Greyson, but she knew it wasn’t him. Slowly, walking back to bed, she sat down next to her pillows and listened. The crying was child like and steady, though she couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl. Nor where it was coming from. Maybe it’s not crying, Scarlett thought, It’s some other sound in this old house or an animal? Maybe one got caught, but not killed and now it’s injured and in pain. Do rodents cry like people? She paused at the thought, surprised by it.

‘Greyson?’ she hissed, ‘wake up. Greyson!’

‘Huh?’ he mumbled.

‘Listen!’

Greyson rolled over, before she could stop him and stretched out. The bed creaked and Greyson yawed loudly. Scarlett pressed a hand over his mouth and hushed him. Turning her head back, she tried to listen again, but the crying had stopped.

Greyson removed her hand, ‘what is it?’

‘I heard crying,’ she answered, ‘maybe the traps only half worked. I’m turning on the light.’

Scarlett clicked on the light and blinked away the pain in her eyes. She got up and went to the trap they had set under the dressing table.

‘Anything?’

‘No,’ she called back.

Leaving the bedroom and going into the kitchen, she checked the trap in there and found it also empty. Wigging her toes on the cold floor, she glanced around. The night was pressing against the kitchen windows and the panel in the back door. Without really knowing why, she walked over and peered outside. She couldn’t see anything.

‘Perhaps, you dreamt it?’ Greyson said from behind her.

‘I was awake,’ Scarlett replied, turning to him, ‘I was in the bathroom.’

Greyson frowned, ‘it was something else then. Come back to bed.’

Nodding, she crossed the kitchen. Turning out the light, they went back to bed, but Scarlett couldn’t sleep. She lay awake, listening to the movements of the manor. Half an hour or so went by then she heard loud, heavy, running footsteps on the main staircase. She froze. The footsteps faded. She looked up at the ceiling and heard a door opening and shutting.

‘Greyson? There’s someone in the house,’ Scarlett hissed.

She turned on the light and got out of bed.

‘Huhuh? What’s it now?’ Greyson’s sleepy voice mumbled.

‘I just heard someone go up the stairs!’ Scarlett whispered.

She went to the wardrobe and began changing, putting on the first things that came to hand then grabbing a woolen jumper. She crossed back again and picked up her phone.

‘Are you sure?’ Greyson asked.

Nodding, Scarlett dialed and pressed the phone to her ear, ‘Hello, police please. The Bruntwood Hotel. I believe there’s an intruder in the house. Thanks.’

Hanging up, Scarlett saw Greyson padding over to the wardrobe. She watched him change into jog pants and a turtle neck jumper.

‘You’re sure about this? he asked.

She nodded, ‘They ran up the stairs and into a room.’

Greyson went to the close the door then reached in and pulled out an old, worn cricket bat. Scarlett stared at him.

‘Just in case,’ he muttered.

‘I’m coming,’ Scarlett burst out and hurried to put her shoes on.

‘Fine, but keep back.’

Quietly and slowly, Greyson open the bedroom door and walked out. Scarlett followed him to their door then out into the entrance hall. Turning on some of the lights, they stopped to listen. Wood cracked softly and the fridge freezer hummed. Moving to the stairs, they stopped again.

Looking up, Scarlett tried to see any movement above, but everything was cast in shadows. Keeping her distant from Greyson, she trailed him upstairs. He was sticking to the side of the steps, cricket bat handle at his side. He reached the square landing and looked both ways, before glancing back at Scarlett.

Scarlett tilted her head to the left and looked up that staircase. She saw Greyson nod before he moved off that way. She waited, watching his muscles under his top bunching in tension. Reaching out for the banister, she steadied herself then carried on climbing.

At the top Greyson, turned on the lights then checked the first few rooms on the right. He opened the doors and peered in, turning on the lights then turning them off and moving on. Scarlett watched him, holding her breath and clutching the banister. He crossed to the other corridor and checked the first few rooms on that side.

‘If anyone is here, the police are on there way,’ Greyson called at as he made his way back to the stairs, ‘We will find you,’ he added.

‘Let’s check the other rooms and turn on all the lights,’ Scarlett spoke.

Greyson nodded, ‘Maybe you should arm yourself, just in case. Here.’

He give her the cricket bat. Scarlett wrapped her fingers around the handle, feeling a lingering warmth from his tight grip. Balancing the weight, she held it half up and give it a small swing.

‘Shout me,’ Greyson stated then went back down the corridor.

Scarlett shuffled her feet over the thick carpet and turned on the rest of the lights. Gingerly, she walked passed the rooms that had all ready been check and to the next one. Opening the door, she flicked on the lights and looked into the hotel bedroom. A bare double bed was against the wall to her right with a curtained window opposite. There was a small wardrobe, cupboards, a desk and chair and a door in the corner leading to the bathroom.

Had Greyson checked in there? She walked in, nerves rushing through her and tried the handle. The door opened. She felt for the light and turned it on. There was a bathtub and shower to her side, a sink to her other and a toilet before her. Turning out the light, she headed out and went to the next room. It looked the same as the first. She repeated everything and saw nothing in this room either.

Stepping back out, she turned and saw Greyson entering a room in the distance. Looking across at the next room, she tightened her grip on the cricket bat and went to the door. Opening it, she turned the lights on. Nothing. She checked the bathroom. Moving the shower curtain aside, she sat down on the edge of the tub and took a deep breath. Perhaps, I was wrong again, she thought.

Resting the cricket bat on the floor, she looked into the empty bedroom. She heard another door opening and the dim click of lights. Greyson’s voice called out hello. Getting up, she walked out, turning out the lights as she went.

‘Greyson?’ she called, ‘Let’s give up and went for the police.’

She saw him come out of a room and began walking over. Doing the same, they met at the top of stairs.

‘They can’t actually get out from up here can they?’ Scarlett questioned.

‘If they used the fire escapes. But then the alarms would go off,’ Greyson added.

Scarlett sighed and looked down the stairs. Her eyes and body felt heavy with tiredness and was repeatedly questioning herself. She felt Greyson’s fingers brushing her hair way then dropping to her arm and hand.

‘Let’s go downstairs and wait,’ he said and took the cricket bat from her.

They went downstairs and at the bottom heard the distant blaring of police sirens.

To Be Continued…

A Foot In The Past (Part 4)

House, Haunted House, Spooky, Scary, Old, Creepy

Scarlett wiped her hands on her jeans and looked around the bedroom. She was finally happy with it, though it had taken all afternoon, but everything had a place now. The bed was probably made, all of her and Greyson’s clothes put away, the bookcase was between the windows and filled up, her dressing table and mirror positioned next to the wardrobes and the bathroom stocked.

Smiling she walked out and headed into the kitchen on her left. The smell of cooking meatballs mingled with a waft of spring evening air. She stopped just inside and saw Greyson at the sink, filling the kettle with his back to her.

‘The bedroom is done,’ she declared.

He glanced at her then turned off the tap, ‘that’s great.’

‘I thought we’d set the traps after tea,’ Scarlett added.

‘Sounds good. Fancy a drink?’

‘Yes, Please.’

Greyson replaced and clicked on the kettle before grabbing a bottle of red wine from the metal rack. He dug out two glasses, uncorked the bottle and half-filled each glass with the dark red liquid.

‘A toast to the new place,’ he said, giving Scarlett a glass.

She nodded and they chinked the glasses. Sipping the wine, she hovered for a few moments, watching him turn the meatballs over and get out a large pot for the spaghetti. Then Scarlett walked to the back door and stepped outside.

The large expanse of light green lawn sloped gently before her, leading to a tall hedge row and a number of openings and gates. To the right she could make out a flag stoned patio area that connect to the hotel’s dining room and bar. A number of plastic and wicker chairs and tables were spread out, almost as if they were about to be used for a party. Lastly, she could see another disused fountain centred on the lawn. On this one’s plinth were three naked nymphs holding tipping Greek style vases, out of which water should have been flowing.

Scarlett took a deep breath. The air hummed with the soft scent of newly opened flowers whilst birds were singing the evening chores so charmingly. The sky was an artist’s wash of pastels which promised an even better day tomorrow.

‘Why don’t we eat out here?’ Greyson asked.

Scarlett turned to him, not having realised he’d joined her.

‘We could bring one of those tables closer.’

‘They are so big though,’ Scarlett pointed out, ‘Why don’t we get the kitchen one out?’

‘We’d have to carry it all the way from the entrance hall. Where are we actually going to put that? The kitchen is far too small for it,’ Greyson added.

‘I don’t know. Okay, let’s go see if there’s a smaller table over there.’

Scarlett handed her glass to Greyson, who ducked back in the kitchen to set them aside. Together, they walked over to the patio area and found that there were a few smaller tables. Selecting one they carried it back and returned for two white wooden chairs. They ate in the fading light, complementing the food, the evening and the garden.

Afterwards, they went into the living room and Greyson set up the TV. Scarlett rummaged through the boxes and found the one with the DVDs inside. Deciding on a newish romantic movie, she then helped set up the DVD player and move the sofa around. Curling up, they settled down to relax.

‘Tomorrow, I’m going to do this room and the dining room,’ Scarlett said.

‘I’ll do the study then,’ Greyson responded.

He kissed the top of her head as the movie started playing.

Scarlett yawed, feeling a sudden wave of tiredness. She pulled a fluffy blanket over her knees and snuggled into Greyson’s chest. He wrapped an arm around her and rested his head on her’s. Focusing on the TV, they both let everything go and dozed through the movie.

A gentle tapping brought Scarlett fully awake. She listened and thought it sounded like someone knocking on the manor’s front door.

‘Greyson?’ she whispered.

‘I hear it too,’ he muttered back.

‘We should go check.’

‘It’s probably the wind and branch or something,’ Greyson suggested.

Scarlett shook her head and took the blanket off her knees, ‘it’s too much like someone knocking.’

Getting up, she went to the front door of their apartment and unlocked it. Opening the door slowly, she looked out into the darkness of the entrance hall. The tapping continued, but it was louder now. Opening the door more, she looked back and saw Greyson stepping behind her with the ring of keys in his hand.

Scarlett turned the lights on and walked around the reception desk and to the front door.

‘Hello?’ she called loudly.

The tapping stopped.

Greyson opened the door and swung it wide open. They both looked out and saw nothing but the new night settling in. Listening, they heard the last of the bird songs fading and the soft rustle of leaves. Greyson stepped out and looked around. Scarlett hung back in the doorway, wondering what could have caused the soft knocking.

‘Maybe it was an animal?’ Greyson said as he came back in.

‘We need to set the traps,’ Scarlett recalled.

‘Go and get them. I’ll lock up again.’

Nodding, Scarlett hurried back to their rooms and the dining area, which was currently a storage room. She grabbed a heavy plastic bag and took it into the living room. Sitting on the sofa, she began taking things out of the bag.

‘All done,’ Greyson’s voice called from the hallway.

He came into the living room and set the keys back on the coffee table.

‘We need to find a good place to put these,’ Scarlett said, indicating the basic rodent traps.

‘The bedroom and the kitchen? I’ll set the outside ones up in the morning,’ Greyson responded.

They set the traps up together and placed them in out of the way areas. Checking everything was turned off and locked up, they went to bed. Scarlett set the alarm clock then grabbing her book, got under the sheets. Turning the pages, she began reading whilst Greyson was in the bathroom.

A gently tapping brushed against her ears.

Scarlett looked up, frowning. The noise was the same as before, only this time it sounded liked it was at the apartment’s front door.

The toilet flushed and the sink tap ran.

Scarlett shook her head and began reading again. She heard Greyson humming as he brushed his teeth.

The tapping remained, though it seemed to be growing louder.

Closing her book, she slipped from the bed and walked to the bedroom door. Listening, she became sure that the sound was actually in the apartment. It probably was a rodent or some draft causing the breeze to move something. Scarlett’s hand went to the door handle. She turned it and opened the door onto the dark hallway.

Peering out, she couldn’t see anything and the tapping was still continuing. Gently, she walked out and headed towards the noise. At the opening to the living room, she stopped and looked in. The knocking really was something tapping on wood. She flipped on the light, eyes darting everywhere possible.

The noise stopped. Silence filled the air.

Scarlett studied the floor. Thinking at any moment she’d see a furry body shooting away. Seconds tick by. Finally, she let go of the breath she had been holding and went into the living room. Puzzling, she tried to see what could have been making the noise, but there was nothing obvious. She peered under and around things, hoping to spot anything that would give her a clue.

Putting her hands on her hips and standing in the middle of the room, she decided to give up and go back to bed. Turning, she walked back and switched the light on her way. Heading into the bedroom, her feet paused.

There was creaking on the grand staircase.

Scarlett’s hand reached out for the wall. She pressed her palm against the cool surface and turned around. There was a slice of light coming from under the doorway of the apartment.

‘Greyson! You forgot to turn out the lights!’ she shouted.

‘Huh? What?’ his distant voice called back.

Scarlett stomped to the door, unlocking and opening it. Darkness filled her vision. Stepping back, her hand slipping from the handle, confusion seized her.

‘What?’ Greyson said coming into the hallway.

‘I saw…there was…’

‘Scarlett? Are you okay?’

She turned to him, ‘there was a light coming from under the door. I thought you’d left them on.’

‘No. I turned everything off and I double checked before we came to bed.’ Greyson stated.

Scarlett looked out into the black entrance hall, her thoughts tumbling. Slowly, she closed and locked the door. Stepping back to where she was before, she looked at the gap under the door.

‘Your mind’s playing tricks on you,’ Greyson explained, ‘it’s been stressful and tiring. Maybe you’ll feel better after some sleep?’

‘Maybe,’ Scarlett mumbled.

‘Come on. Everything will be fine in the morning.’

Greyson took her hand and with a gently tug, led her into the bedroom. Scarlett’s eyes lingered on their front door.

To Be Continued…

A Foot In The Past (Part 3)

House, Haunted House, Spooky, Scary, Old, Creepy

Something was rustling. Scarlett opened her eyes, but stayed still in the bed. She was lying on her side facing the bedside table and wasn’t sure if Greyson was still next to her. Making herself fully awake, she listened harder. The sound seemed to be coming from the foot of the bed and it was as if someone was looking through a bin bag.

Slowly, she rolled over and was met by Greyson’s back. She touched his bare shoulder, feeling the rise and fall of his breathing. Rubbing then squeezing his upper arm, Scarlett pressed her face into him and whispered his name. No response. Trying harder only equalled in a soft groan and Greyson slightly shifting.

Leaving him, Scarlett sat up, ears still prickling at the rustling noise. She looked into the darkness, but couldn’t see anything. Reaching over, she clicked on the lamp. Light cast along the wall and floor. The rustling stopped. She slipped from the bed and walked carefully towards where the light ended. Looking at the floor, she could see the shapes of boxes and bags.

Greyson snorted and rolled over.

She glanced back at him and saw he was still asleep. Tucking her hair back, Scarlett retraced her steps and picked up the lamp. Holding it out like a weapon, she tried to spot anything moving on the floor. Walking as far as the cable would reach, which was almost to the end of the bed, she inspected the area.

‘What are you doing?’ Greyson’s rough, sleep filled voice cut in.

‘I heard something in one of the bags. Maybe it’s rats or mice. I’m trying to see it,’ Scarlett replied.

‘Probably gone by now.’

‘Maybe. But what if it comes back? I don’t want it eating the silk bedding.’

Greyson groaned loudly, ‘just come back to bed.’

‘I need the bathroom now,’ Scarlett hissed back, ‘turn on the lights.’

Grumbling incoherently, Greyson hit the main switched and flooded the room with light.

Scarlett placed the lamp back, leaving it on and picking her way across the bedroom floor, went into the ensuite bathroom. Turning on the light, she shut the door and did what she had to do. Coming out again, she hurried back to the warmth of the bed.

‘I have to go now,’ Greyson uttered.

‘See if you can spot anything,’ Scarlett responded.

‘Yeah, yeah.’

He got up and weaved his way to the bathroom. Scarlett watched him over the edge of the duvet before resting back down. She shut her eyes, the sounds of him in the bathroom filling her ears. When he returned, they took a few moments to turn off the lights and settle back down again.

‘We’ll have to get some traps,’ Scarlett muttered.

‘Sure, tomorrow or whenever,’ Greyson said into the top of her hair.

Pressing her face against his chest, Scarlett tried to fall back to sleep again. She listened to Greyson’s heartbeat and breathing as well as the distant sounds of the house. She could hear wood creaking and the fridge freezer humming. Yawing, she snuggled down further and tried not to think about rodents roaming along the bedroom floor.

The shrill piercing of the alarm clock brought Scarlett wide awake. She quickly sat up, flipping the duvet over and looking, in the dim light, to the bedside table. Not spotting the ringing clock, she peered over Greyson’s humped up form and at his table, but it wasn’t there either.

‘You didn’t unpack the alarm,’ Scarlett snapped.

She climbed out of the bed and instantly felt a chill. Swallowing a soft moan, she went to the end of the bed and looked at the jumbled mess on the floor. She couldn’t pinpoint where the loud beeping was coming from and there was now ringing in her ears.

‘Greyson? Greyson? Get up and help me find it!’

‘What?’ his muffled voice asked.

Stepping over some stuff, Scarlett went to the nearest suitcase and opened it. Though, in the little light that had made its way through the curtains she couldn’t see much. Letting the lid fall back, she stumbled her way around and switched on the main lights.

Greyson cried out and flung the duvet over his head.

‘Come on,’ Scarlett urged and yanked the duvet down, ‘this is your fault!’

‘Why?’ Greyson threw back.

‘Because, you should’ve unpacked it last night when you made the bed!’ Scarlett shouted as she walked away.

Bending over, she began rooting through a box marked bedroom. Aware that his eyes were lingering on her, she turned her head, ‘what?’

‘I like the view,’ Greyson replied in a low voice.

Scarlett sighed, ‘I don’t know where my dressing gown is.’

‘Alarm first,’ Greyson stated, getting up.

‘Do you remember what box it’s in?’ Scarlett asked.

‘Nope. Probably with the stuff from my bedside table.’

Greyson came to her side and together they rummaged through all the boxes. Finally at the last one, Greyson pulled at the large red alarm clock and turned it off. Scarlett sighed and waited for the ringing in her head to stop. Pushing her hair back, she went over to another suitcase and opened it up to reveal some of her clothes. Kneeling down and searching through, Scarlett pulled some things out.

‘Leave that for a minute,’ Greyson said, huskily.

Scarlett felt his hands on her shoulders and the slow press of his legs into her back.

‘Come back to bed.’

‘After all that?’ Scarlett questioned.

She looked straight up at him and saw him shrug.

‘I’m sorry. I should’ve thought about it, but it just slipped my mind. I was tried too, you know.’

Scarlett smiled a little. She turned and he helped her up. Pressing her body into his, she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him. Hugging him, she breathed deeply and decided she couldn’t be angry. Greyson nuzzled into her hair, trying to angle his head to steal another kiss. Scarlett gave in and after they went back to bed.

Bathing in the afterglow, Scarlett studied the dappled white ceiling, lost in thought. Greyson was dozing beside her and she felt too warm and happy to move. Still though the sense that too many things had to be done lingered and finally, she got up and had a shower. Letting the hot water wash everything away, she recalled the rustling from last night and decided to add getting some poison and traps to her shopping list. They couldn’t have anything scampering around if they were going to reopen the hotel in a few months’ time.

Drying off, she wrapped the towel around her and went back to the suitcase she’d abandoned before. Selecting comfy underwear, slim fitting jeans and a loose long sleeved top, she got dressed. Digging out the hair drier, she sat on the bed and poked her husband awake.

‘Shower’s free. We need to go shopping,’ she stated.

‘Okay,’ Greyson responded and rolled out of the bed.

She watched his naked body going into the bathroom and couldn’t help but smile.

 

To Be Continued…

A Foot In The Past (Part 2)

House, Haunted House, Spooky, Scary, Old, Creepy

Scarlett sat on a sofa cushion in the corner of entrance hall, surrounded by cardboard and plastic boxes. Peering into another box and seeing more of Greyson’s model plane collection, she sighed deeply. Pushing the box away, she glanced backwards, before sprawling out on the floor. Straight away she felt the coldness of the marble floor sinking through her blouse into her shoulders and back.

She looked up at the ceiling and notices a smaller painting she’d missed. It was a white winged horse flying in a blue cloudy sky. She wondered how the artist had even gone about painting it up there. Resting her hands on her waist and shutting her eyes, despite the uncomfortableness of the floor, she listened to her own breathing for a few moments then focused on other sounds.

She could hear Greyson still struggling to put their wooden king size bed together in the background. There was the hum of the fridge and freezer too, due to the doors being open. Also, the slow drip of the tap into the metal sink that had been annoying her all day, but they hadn’t been unable to fix. Finally, there was the almost inaudible sound of wood cracking as it cooled and heated.

Scarlett felt herself drifting and decided if Greyson didn’t get the bed up soon, they’d just make the mattress up and sleep on the floor. Opening her eyes, she was just about to get up when a stair creaked loudly as if someone was walking down it. Pausing, she looked directly at the underbelly of the spiral staircase just to her left. The stair cried out again, but softer this time as if someone was aware of the noise they were making.

Easing herself up and dusting off her trousers, Scarlett stepped around the boxes and went to the base of the grand staircase. Looking up, she could see the other set of stairs fully illuminate in the lights hanging from the towering ceiling. However, she couldn’t see the landing of the first floor nor the top of those stairs.

‘Hello?’ she called.

Sliding a hand on to the banister she listened, but heard nothing. Heading up the stairs, she stayed to the edge to avoid any possible squeaking from the wood. The banister felt smooth under her palm and fingers. Reaching the small landing, she turned to the left and went upwards. Peering over the edge, she saw the entrance hall happily blazing with light, whilst above her seemed to be cast into a gloom.

At the top, she recalled where the light switches were and turned them on. The staircases re-joined together to her left forming a half balcony which overlooked the small landing and base of the grand staircase. From there they split off again and spiralled to the second floor. Scarlett looked down both long corridors, but didn’t see or hear anything.

‘Hello?’ she called again.

Her voice echoed faintly then faded.

‘Scarlett?’

She jumped, spun around and almost lost her footing on the top step. Grabbing the banister, she steadied herself and looked down.

‘Scarlett? Where are you? The bed’s up,’ Greyson shouted.

‘I’m here!’

He came into view at the bottom of the stairs and looked up at her, ‘what are you doing?’

Starting her descent, Scarlett replied, ‘I thought I heard something.’

‘Huh?’

‘A stair creaked twice as if someone was walking on it. It least that’s what it sounded like.’

‘It was probably just the wood moving,’ Greyson suggested.

Scarlett reached the landing and with her a shake of her head looked back, ‘I forgot to turn the lights out.’

‘We can do it from down here. Don’t worry about it.’

Rubbing her face and sweeping her hair back, Scarlett went down the rest of the stairs and joined him. Greyson took her hands and kissed the top of her head.

‘You’re tried. It’s been a long day. Let’s go make the bed and get some sleep.’

‘Okay,’ Scarlett muttered.

Stealing a last glance at the stairs, she let Greyson led her to their new bedroom. He turned out the lights on the way, throwing everything but the hallway leading to their new rooms into darkness.

Going through the first door behind the reception desk led them into a medium size apartment. The hallway opened to the right into a spacious living room with an archway in the left wall leading to a dining room. They passed the door in the hallway that also led into the dining room and second that led into a small rectangle kitchen. The hallway ended with two doors facing them.

Greyson took Scarlett through the first door then let go of her hand. The room was big having been converted from a study or a lounge area. Massive windows in the left wall designed to show off the side gardens of the house, were covered by thick drapes. The bed was taking pride of place against the back wall and Greyson had put the bedside cupboards into place and the huge bedding box at the foot of the bed. To the left, on the other end wall, their twin wardrobes looked to be at home. The floor though was littered with bin bags, suitcases and more boxes.

‘I’ve no idea where the bedding is,’ Scarlett said.

‘It doesn’t matter what we put on it. We just need a sheet, some pillows and the duvet. We can sort everything else tomorrow,’ Greyson pointed out.

He went over to the nearest black bin bag and undid the knot. Scarlett moved to another and began opening it too. For a few minutes they searched until they had found everything they needed. Quickly, making their bed up then undressing, Scarlett got between the sheets and pressed her head to the pillows. She shut her eyes and listened to Greyson turning out the main light and joining her.

‘Hey, how about we christen the new bedroom?’

Scarlett groaned and tried to swat at him, ‘I’m too tried.’

‘Just a quicker?’ Greyson pressed.

‘No,’ she mumbled and rolled over.

‘In the morning, then?’

‘Maybe…’

Settling, Scarlett yawed and felt herself drifting off as Greyson snuggled in behind her. She felt his arm and hand resting against her skin. Placing her hand on top, so he wasn’t tempted to move his hand any higher or lower along her body, Scarlett surrender to sleep.

 

To Be Continued…

A Foot In The Past (Part 1)

House, Haunted House, Spooky, Scary, Old, Creepy

Scarlett Johnson stepped down from the black Land Rover and smoothed down her dark blue blouse. Pulling up her black trousers, she debated tucking the blouse in, than decided that she was not at the bed and breakfast’s office anymore. Still though, she tied her loose soft curled ginger hair back before craning her neck up at the seemingly giant gothic Victorian manor house.

The main square structure with two wings running off it was intimidating, yet magnificent looking in the early spring sunshine. The yellow and grey bricks were covered with patches of ivy and moss, giving the impression of a secret place. Large rows of windows on all four floors were covered by dark heavy curtains adding to this image and making Scarlett think of someone trying to keep the outside world away.

The grey flat staircase, decorated on every other step with potted small palm trees, lead up to a porch area and the double front doors which were flanked by dirty white Roman columns. At the top of the staircase, on either side, lying down on rectangle daises were huge stone statues of a lion on the right side and a lioness on the left. There were facing each other, with bodies and paws in relaxed poses. Scarlett marvelled at them, whilst deciding that the palm trees looked too out of place for Yorkshire and would have to go.

The slamming of a car door brought her back and she looked across as her husband, Greyson, started walking over the discoloured white stone chips. He was dressed in comfy black cotton pants, a green polo t-shirt, a black padded body warmer and pale blue trainers. He slipped his large hands into the pockets of his body warmer then stopped and looked back at her.

‘Having second thoughts?’ he called over.

‘No,’ Scarlett replied, ‘are you?’

He shook his head and turned back to the manor house. He began slowly moving forward, footsteps crunching loudly before he paused again. He tiled his head up as if listening and Scarlett listened too. Now that the rumble of the Land Rover’s engine had gone, she could hear birds singing merrily and a gentle breezing moving the trees that were growing at the wall boundary surrounding them.

Closing the passenger door, she went over to Greyson and slipped her arm around his. Leaning in and giving his muscled upper arm a squeeze, she felt reassured. Greyson dropped his head and Scarlett stood on her tiptoes to meet his lips with her’s. Gently, they kissed then walked on a few more paces till they reached the large circle fountain in the middle of the courtyard and parking area.

The dark grey fountain pool was empty but for a handful of loose coins and green slime. Rising above the pool on a circler stand were three large and badly water stained stone dolphins. Their meeting tails were stretching to the sky as their graceful long bodies curved downwards. Their flippers reached out and just touched each other’s in mid-air before they heads came to rest on the edge of the plinth.

Scarlett looked into the closet dolphin’s open mouth and saw the end of a rusty pipe. The water had once flowed from their mouths, blow holes and the space between their meeting tails. She recalled the photographs the estate agent and the internet had shown her that proved the fountain had once worked and been illuminated. It had looked spectacular.

She frowned as Greyson lent over and picked one of the coins out. He rubbed it before holding it up and inspecting it.

‘It’s an old penny,’ he stated, ‘looks like nineteen thirty six…?’

‘It’s someone’s wish,’ Scarlett pointed out.

‘Was. They’re properly gone by now. We should clean this out,’ Greyson said with wave of his hand.

Scarlett looked into the murky fountain and nodded, ‘I’m sure a gardener could. Wouldn’t it be nice to see it working again?’

‘Might need a plumber instead then. Put it on the to do list,’ Greyson added with a chuckle.

Scarlett tutted and give him a light whack on the shoulder.

Faking a hurt expression, he rubbed his shoulder and pouted at her. Scarlett rolled her eyes then turned as tires crunched on the driveway behind them.

‘Moving vans are here,’ Greyson pointed out, ‘I’ll go greet them. You want to open her open?’

Scarlett glanced at the manor house then back to him, ‘sure.’

Whilst he walked away, she realised that though this was her four time being here, she still felt like an intruder. Shaking that thought away and telling herself this was their new home and business now, she went over to the Land Rover and got the heavy ring of keys out from the plastic wallet. Most of the silver and bronze coloured keys were labelled and looked well used. Whilst some of the others were rusting and the smaller keys had questionable or even suggestable labels attached.

Instead of searching through them, Scarlett selected the master key that opened everything. Locking the car, she walked over and up the steps. The porch area held two marble benches against the walls opposite the door, a scattering of white wicker chairs, tables and more potted palm trees. She knew the estate agents had stage this scene to give the idea of people actually using the porch space. In her head though, she was all ready doing away with the tatty wicker stuff and the dreaded palm trees again. She imaged more tasteful, possible marble to match the benches, small tables and high backed wooden chairs.

Scarlett approached the massive dark wooden door with its large ring handles and lion head knockers. Just before she slipped the key in, she looked across at a blue placard nailed to the wall. The words Bruntwood Hotel Est 1972 caught her eyes and written underneath, though badly faded, was a brief history of the building. Turning the key, she pushed open one of the doors and stepped inside.

Letting her eyes adjust to the gloom, Scarlett tried to remember where the light switches where. Thinking back to the times the estate agent had turned them on, she remember a panel being to the right of her and the door. Patting down the oak walls, her fingers tripped over the switches. She hit them all causing the grand entrance hall and great splitting spiral staircase to light up.

Trying to allow everything in at once, she stood still and looked around. Of course, it was just as she remembered it from the other three visits. The floor was dark white, light grey marble with black lines scattering through. The walls were all covered in dark oak panels with sculpted grape and flower vines hanging down from the top edges, whilst the ceiling was divided up into large oval boarded paintings. Putting her head all the way back, Scarlett looked at the largest and central painting which showed a Greek Goddess surrounded by angels and cherubs. The other paintings also seemed to be on the same theme.

Telling herself, she needed to find out more about the paintings, she looked at the handful of furniture. There was a long, thick, reception desk to her right that had been designed to match the wall panelling. To her left, four over stuffed Victorian arm chairs were around a too low coffee table. Two matching sofas were beyond them around a higher table and there was a faded red chaiselong against the back wall. Dotted around were also a number of tall lamps with heavily pattered shades and dangly frills.

‘It can be fixed,’ Scarlett muttered.

It was the staircase that really drew her eyes though. The large dark and heavily polished rose wood banisters ends were intricately carved with scrolling patterns of roses, leaves and twisting vines. Atop them were two large lamps with multi-coloured glass shades, which let out a dim soft light. The banister swept upwards on both sides then seemed to curl onwards like a snake as the staircase spilt into two twin spirals. A red and green patterned carpet covered the centre of each step, safely secured down with a golden rod. Looking at the mid-section, which was a large square landing, Scarlett decided they were defiantly going to need a large painting of that back wall, but the green ferns growing in tall marble column vases sitting in each corner could stay for the moment.

Behind her a loud clattering made her jump and she turned to see Greyson barging his way in with a large packing box. Pressing a hand to her chest, Scarlet took a few deep breaths and watched him dump the box on the reception desk.

‘We should’ve hired more men,’ Greyson gasped.

‘We couldn’t afford them, remember?’ Scarlett pointed out, ‘anyway, we know where anything’s going. It shouldn’t take us long.’

‘Do you really think we’ll fit the bed through there though?’ Greyson spoke, looking at the two doors behind the reception desk.

‘It’s in pieces. I’m sure it’ll be fine.’

‘Where’d ya want these, Love?’ a rough Yorkshire accented voice cut in from her elbow.

Scarlet glanced at the fat, beard moving man in his blue overalls holding two cardboard boxes and she pointed a finger at a space just next to the bottom of the staircase, ‘just there if you will. Thanks.’

He nodded and stomped over to place the boxes. His three friends trailed in behind him, each carrying boxes, which they placed beside the first two. Quietly, they looked around as if they couldn’t believe they were being allowed to enter such a grand place.

‘I’ll find the kitchen stuff and put the kettle on,’ Greyson said.

‘Didn’t we pack that box with us?’ Scarlett put in.

‘I think we did…’

‘Could do with a cuppa,’ the first moving man called over.

‘Right. Let’s get cracking then,’ Greyson stated and rubbed his hands together.

 

To Be Continued…

Sundays

Fairy Tale, Night, Girl, Fish, Sky, Bird, Fly, Flight

Sundays are for the dreamers, the creatives, the wanders. Sunday’s are days for relaxing, pleasant weather, time stopping moments. Sundays are for being alone and reflecting. Sundays are ME days when I lock the door, unhook the phone, turn everything off and just with my pen and paper slip silently away.

Shopping Trip

Shopping, Business, Retail, Shopping Cart, Transport

Why does everyone have to go shopping on a Saturday? Does everyone have the same thought when they wake up on Saturday morning; hey I’ll go shopping now! I don’t know, but whatever happens, I’ve decided not to be a sheep ever again.

Leaning on the shopping trolley and watching my granny hobbling passed all the can goods, I blow my long purple fringe out of my cold blue eyes. Dropping my head down, my hoodie falls back into place and I go into hibernation mode again. Wheeling the trolley after her, I look through the metal mesh at the floor going by.

‘Flora? What are you doing?’

The sharp voice of granny has me raising my chin off my folded arms that I’d rested on the handle bars of the trolley. Only she calls me by my full name. I look at her walnut like face and smile brightly. I hurry over and she drops a can of mushy peas into the trolley.

‘I thought something fell on the floor,’ I lie.

She holds my gaze in that –I-know-you’re-lying-and-were-messing-around-scowl- that my mum has given me so often. I shrug and look at the rows of can veg. Photo shopped images of too green peas and too orange carrot slices met my eyes.

‘What does your mother want?’

Speak of the devil.

I dig out the crumpled scrap of paper on which is my shopping list and check it.

‘Carrots and sweetcorn,’ I read off.

I grab two sliced carrots and one sweetcorn. Putting them in, I double check there’s nothing else.

Gran is shuffling away, her own list clutched in a gnarled hand that reminds me of a twisty tree branch. She reaches the end of the aisle and heads off to the right, ignoring the ready-made world takeaway food on offer before her.

I go to check it out. Mmmm…chicken tiki masla… I pick up the plastic bag, but the food inside just looks like a smear of colour. Dumping it back, I trail after granny, who is now musing over rice. I over take her and see what else was on mum’s list. Not much. Surprisingly. Which means that she plans to go shopping again by herself mid-week. I sigh and wish that the twins didn’t football practise and then a laser quest party this afternoon. That’s why, I’m here by the way; shopping with granny and being the taxi.

‘Flora? What are you doing girl?’

I turn then spin the trolley and come back to her, ‘Nothing. I was seeing what else mum wanted.’

Gran puts a small bag of brown rice in and inspects the contents of the trolley, as if I had sneaked something. She seems satisfied so we carry on, weaving around people, avoiding the running wild children. A baby starts screaming somewhere in the frozen section.

The time and my boredom drag. Finally, after triple checking both lists, freedom begins to shine through. We go to the checkout, load everything on the belt then pack. Or I pack and gran sits on a plastic chair in-between two old woman. I wondered if they are waiting for grandkids or their adult kids to come and claim them? Gran seems to fit in so well, I can hardly tell her a part from the other too heavily wrinkled woman with short wispy white hair.

With the trolley repacked, we leave and head outside. The cold air feels so good on my face that I shut my eyes and take a deep breath.

‘What’s wrong with you, Flora?’

‘Nothing gran,’ I mutter.