Untimely Death

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We had been gathered around the new grave in silence for sometime when granny spoke out, ‘well it was a stupid thing to do.’

We all looked over at her, a few of us even gasping.

‘Granny!’ Isabella scolded and squeezed the old woman’s hand.

Great grandmother and great granddaughter looked at it each other then joined us in silence once more.

Slowly, people began to drift away as they do when a funeral is over. Their whispering voices commenting on the flowers and service drifting across the cemetery.

I looked down at my older sister’s grave. It was but a hole in the ground with the edges of a pink coffin peeking through the dirt and no headstone to name her yet.

Granny had been right though. My sister should never have trusted that flashy magician or his Amazing Invisible Sword trick.

Sky Down

Body of Water in Middle of Mountain Under Cloudy Sky during Daytime

A few days after my twelfth birthday, the first clouds fell from the sky. At first everyone just thought it was snow. The stuff coming down was white and fluffy, so how could it be anything else? Plus, it was late in the night and it was too dark to see the truth.

By later afternoon though, people were beginning to wonder. This morning everyone had just got on, ‘the great British weather,’ ‘chins up everyone!’ ‘It’s only a little snow!’ but it wasn’t and it kept on falling.

I don’t know how the realisation that the clouds were actually falling was reached. I was at in school, trying hard to do maths – a subject I totally disliked- and the teacher had closed the blinds to stop everyone from being distracted. There was a knock on the door and Mr Monty shouted for them to come in.

It was a girl from the class year below us who had been picked to be the office messenger. Everybody got the chances to be messenger once and the day out of class. Though that sounds exciting it totally isn’t and most of the time you are just sat outside the teachers’ lounge room and the receptionist’s office staring at the pale peach walls. Today though, the girl looked out of breath and eager to spill her message.

‘School is being closed! Clouds are falling from the sky!’ she gushed.

Mr Monty looked from the blackboard to her, chalk covering his fingers and a large frown on his face.

‘What?’ he cried over the sudden din of children’s voices.

‘The headmistress said it. Everyone’s parents are coming to get them and we all have to go into the hall!’ she added then walked off in an important hurry.

Mr Monty sighed and left a maths’ question abandoned on the board. Everyone grabbed their things and legged it to the hall. Voices were everywhere, shouting and calling out demanding to know what was going on for real as how could clouds be falling?

Going into the hall, I went to the windows and joined lots of children there. The playground was covered in white fluffy stuff that looked like snow but really wasn’t. Above in the pale blue sky a handful of clouds did hang but as we stood there, one of the clouds began to fall.

It came straight out of the sky and landed silently on top of the other clouds. The jagged shape of it stuck out for a few moments then settled down with the others.

‘It’s not possible!’ a teacher was muttering, ‘how can this even happen?’

‘Children! Attention!’ the headmistress called.

Unhappily, we turned away from the windows to look at her.

‘The school is closing. Your parents are on their ways to collect you and until then we will all stay here. I’m sure this is nothing to worry about but for safety reasons we have to send you all home.’

Some of the kids broke into cheers and others looked upset. I just turned back to the window and looked outside, wondering if my birthday wish had actually come true.

 

(Inspired by a writing prompt at; https://thewriteedgewritingworkshop.wordpress.com/2017/02/16/writing-prompts-for-monday-february-20-2017/ with thanks.)

The Repeating Dark

Man's Hand in Shallow Focus and Grayscale Photography

Most people don’t really know they are dreaming. They just wake up realise they’ve had a dream and then get on with their day. Me though, I always know when I’m dreaming. I guess it’s because for years I’ve had the same dream. I’ve never really told anyone about it fully. When I was younger, I told my parents a few times about it but they just said it was a nightmare and it would go away.

The dream never has though.

So why now do I want to share it with you? I guess it’s because we know that by the time you read this I’ll be dead. So, it really won’t matter anymore. I’m worried though that this dream won’t die with me and it might get passed on to you. So, I thought I better write everything down and if the dream ever does come for you then you’d be more prepared and maybe do what I could never figure out; break the cycle.

The dream is the same all the time. Nothing, not even the tiniest detail changes nor does the events. I’ve tried many times to change something, but it has never worked. Also, I’ve never found a pattern for the occurrences. Nothing seems to bring them on or makes them stay away for long. The dream seems like a ghost; appearing and disappearing when it wants to.

The dream begins when you wake up in a dark room. For a few moments, you think you really have awoken and it’s the middle of the night. Then though you began to see things and the realisation that this is not your room dawns. You see a table, an empty bookcase, a tall leather armchair and a window.

As you began moving around, you’ll notice other things; the smell of flowers even though there’s none in the room, the breeze of fresh air though the window isn’t open and there seems to be no door. Soft sounds that you are not sure what they are; voices whispering maybe? Faint footsteps, the patter of animal paws. You feel the furniture, it’s solid and cold.

You study the bookcase and see that it’s not actually empty. There is a book in the bottom corner. Pulling it out, the book is thin and black, you open the pages and see a language that is beyond you. The letters seem to move across the page, twisting and transforming, but still you can’t read them. You put the book back.

Unsure what to do, you go to the window and look out. There is no curtain or netting and the window is sealed. No matter what angle and how far you look, you can never see out of the window. A blackness masks the glass, leaving you no hint of where you are.

You can continue to inspect the room, but you’ll find nothing else. Time might then began to pass but sometimes he appears quickly. Once again, I have found no pattern to his appearance. Sometimes you feel you’ve been waiting mere moments, other times it’s hours or days trapped within that room.

The man always appears though. He seems to come from the window, shifting out of the darkness. Taking the form of a shadow at first, but then becoming more solid. He is a dark man; black from toe tips to the fine strands of hair. Backed by the window as he always is, you can never make out any of his features and often he seems to be one with the darkness.

You can try talking to him, but he’ll never answer back. For years, I have questioned him, but not once has he uttered a word. Perhaps, things might be different for you and maybe he will break his vow of silence. I have also tried different things; standing or hiding in different places, giving him the book etc. But nothing works.

Then he holds his hand out and waits for you to take it. I’ve tried not to. I have fought hard to ignore him and often I have stood facing a corner with my back to him. No matter what, somehow my hand always ends up in his! Then his hand closes on mine, holding it tightly and I feel a strange coolness.

He begins to fade back through the glass slowly. You can’t take your hand out of his. I’ve tried but found no solution. He vanishes totally and you see your hand has gone to and the darkness is creeping up your arm. Even if you panic and scream, nothing can be done. The fear is so over-welling that you get dragged down with it.

Then you are surrounded by total blackness and nothing else can be done.

When you awake because despite everything you always do, the dream will seem gone but it never really does. It lingers at the back of your mind and you’ll catch yourself questioning the dream though you might have been thinking of something else. Nothing will resolve though and the memory of the dream will stay with you like a scar.

I really hope that you don’t have it. I hope it dies with me. But since I can’t be sure, I hope you can find some comfort in this letter and know that you weren’t alone.

In A Corner Of The World

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I’ve no idea how I ended up walking through this field. But here I am surrounded by long grass, wild flowers and the calling of birds. It’s a warm afternoon, but I can’t see the sun above me and the sky is a strange off blue color.

There’s a cottage ahead. The yellow thatch roof rising through the green leafy trees and tall bushes. There’s nothing else to do but go over and see if anybody is home. The field leads me to a small brown fence over which is a short carpet of grass. Bright flowers dot around the cottage and a wire washing line is stretched in the garden.

I go to climb over then stop. There’s an old woman beating a green rug on the washing line with a wooden tennis racket looking thing. Her white hair is piled up on top of her head and she’s wearing many skirts, a grey blouse and a pale blue apron. I can just about hear the thwacking sounds.

Climbing the fence, I walk slowly over, hoping that she spots me before I have to call out. Luckily, she does and she stops her work long before I reach her.

‘Hallo!’ she calls out and waves the tennis racket thing.

‘Hi,’ I answer back with a wave too.

‘Nice day for a walk,’ she adds.

‘Yes,’ I reply.

I come to the end of the washing line and look up. There are many green rugs hanging down…actually….they are strips of grass….

Puzzled, I look across the garden and see strips of dirt close by. There’s also a small red wheelbarrow, a spade and a large black bucket.

‘I’m just dusting my lawn,’ the old woman says, cheerily and as if that’s a perfectly normal thing to do.

I open my mouth, questions popping, but no words come out.

‘It can get quite dusty you know. And yes, there are other ways to do it but I prefer the good old fashioned method!’

She shows me how by beating a strip of grass. Only, she does it lighter then before.

I nod and slowly say, ‘how does it get dusty?’

‘Oh! Heaven knows!’ she cries and throws her hands up to the sky.

I glance up, half expecting to see a pig flying by.

‘Do you some time to spare? I’d be ever so grateful if you could help me,’ she asks and nods towards the dirt strips.

I look around, shrug and reply, ‘why not?’

‘Good. Then start digging, deary!’

Still puzzled, I walk to where the last dirt strip is as the old woman takes up beating the grass again. Looking down, I see how she’s cut the strips out and then I pick up the spade and start with the next one.

It’s actually easier then it seems as it appears the grass is use to being cut up. I slice the spade in and make my way around. It’s like a knife through butter. The smell of fresh cut grass and unearthed soil floods my nose. The grass strip comes up and I put it into the wheelbarrow. I start on another and quickly cut that strip loose too.

I look up as I place it into the wheelbarrow and I see the old woman taking down the first strip of grass. I watch her replace it into the lawn then return for the second piece.

‘This is so weird,’ I mumble.

Returning to my task, I dig up more pieces of grass and when the wheelbarrow is full I drive it over. I help the old woman take them out and hang them up. She begins beating the first one and dust raises off it.

‘How long does this take you?’ I ask her.

‘A few days,’ she answers.

‘And how many times do you do this?’

‘Oh, three or four times a year!’

‘Really?’

‘Grass gets very dusty in the summer, deary,’ she explains.

I look at her, but her face is just that of a plain woman in her early seventies. Her cheeks are fat and wrinkled like the rest of her skin. Her eyes are a warm blue, shinning with knowledge and happiness. Her white hair is long and tightly held back in a bun. Around her neck is a string of white pearls and there’s an old wedding ring on her finger.

‘Don’t you have anyone to help you?’ I ask aloud.

‘Sometimes, I do,’ she replies with a mysterious tone to her words, ‘it’s mostly just me though. I don’t mind. Keeps me busy.’

I nod and hear a shrill whistle sounding. Looking, it seems to be coming from the cottage and there’s smoke now rising out of the chimney.

‘It’s time for tea. Do you want to join me?’ the old woman asks.

‘Okay…’

She hurries off, leaving the grass strips on the washing line but taking the tennis racket with her. I follow and go through the small blue door after her. It leads straight into a kitchen. I stand in the doorway and look around.

It’s a very old fashioned farmer’s wife like kitchen. There’s a huge black wood burning stove against the far wall. A large oak table and chairs in the middle, a metal sink and draining board under a netted curtain window. Sky blue cupboards and work surfaces line another wall.

The old woman rattles around cups and things. Humming to herself. I pull out a chair and look down to see a fat old ginger cat curled up on it. I pull out another chair instead and sit down. I hear a clock ticking somewhere and the warmth of the kitchen hugging me like a old friend.

‘Here we are,’ the old woman says and sets down a tea tray.

There’s a tea pot wearing a tea cosy, milk jug, sugar cube bowl, a plate of biscuits, two pattern flower china cups and matching saucers.

‘Thanks,’ I reply.

We have tea and it’s good. I nibble at a biscuit and look around the kitchen. There’s not much else to see though. I want to talk, but I don’t really know what to say. Finally, the old woman breaks the silence.

‘I must get back to keeping my corner of the world tidied now and you should be getting home.’

‘Home?’ I say aloud.

‘Yes. It’ll be dark soon and the woods can be a dangerous place. Even for yourself.’

She pats my arm and gets up.

‘But….I don’t know the way…I found myself in that field. I don’t even know where I am!’ I cry.

The old woman tuts at me, ‘just head back the way you came, deary.’

I move my tea cup away and get up.

‘Goodbye,’ she says and gives me a little wave.

I don’t wave back, but go straight out the door, too confused to speak.

In the garden, the grass is still hanging on the washing line and there are dirt strips in the lawn. The sky is turning a dark blue and the birds are still singing. I walk off, feeling like that’s the only thing I can do. I go back over the fence and through the field. I look back at the cottage, smoke is still coming out of the chimney and the old woman has gone back to beating the grass again.

I turn, take a step and stumble. My legs go out from under me and I land face first in the grass. My eyes shut. I take a deep breath and open then again…And I am no longer in the field.

My study comes to life before my eyes. I blink and the rest of the long grass is gone, replaced by the bookcases, my desk and a fire crackling of the fireplace. I sit up in the deep plush chair, disturbing the book that’s slipped down on to my lap. I pick it up and read the title; Maps Of The Old Worlds.

Gold

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It was some stupid time in the morning. That moment between night and day. We were parked on the roadside in the middle of nowhere where we had been all night. Some strange noise broke through my sleep and I had to get up. Navigating though the new motor home, I made it to the bathroom.

Coming out, I heard my wife moving in the bed, sighing and muttering. That was not the sound that had disturbed me though. I went to a side window because I had put the cover across the front window screen. Peering out into the predawn moments, I saw winter frost on the grass and shinning on the countryside road.

The noise sounded like an engine and my thoughts went straight to a car, a lorry or a tractor. However, as the sound grew it didn’t seem to be the engine of any of those, more it was an aircraft.

I put on my coat and boots before unlocking the door and going outside. It was weirdly still outside; no wind or sound. Then though a hole in the tall evergreen trees ahead I saw a glowing golden light.

The rising sun?

The noise of an engine filled the air and without really knowing it, I pressed myself to the side of the motor home. The light grew brighter, more stronger then the sun. I turned my head away, my mind flashing though everything I knew that could possibly be this machine coming towards me.

The gold light swept over me, the engine roaring deafening above. I blinked and looked up. There was something huge moving just above the tree tops. It was an aircraft, but like nothing I’d ever seen. It had no wings or tail and seemed to be round in shape. Light was pouring off it causing the forest to look like it was on fire.

Then it was gone.

I looked around, moving away from the motor home and searching the skies. There was just nothing. I was alone in the darkness.

To my left, through the hole in the trees once more, a weaker yellow light began. I knew this time it was the sun rising. The sky changed becoming soft pink and pale blue colours   above me.

I got back in the motor home. A part of me wanted to wake my wife to tell her what I’d seen, but then what had I really just seen?

 

(Inspired by https://scvincent.com/2017/01/05/thursday-photo-prompt-gold-writephoto/ with thanks)

Tree Man (Part 2)

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Poppy pressed her face and hands to the icy cold window and looked outside. There was no sign of anyone. Maybe, the stick man shaped like a Christmas tree had disappeared? Poppy wondered about that for a few moments, but then she saw him.

Tree-man was making his way down the pathway and even though he was tiny, the bright green colour Poppy had given him glowed against the white frost.

Poppy opened her mouth to shout to him to come back but then she thought better of it. Hurrying into her wardrobe, she put on some fleece pants, socks and a jumper. Going to her door, she crept out again. The house was quiet and as she passed her parents’ bedroom door, she thought she heard the turning pages of a book.

Downstairs she crept and in the hallway put on her coat and wellington boots. She reached for the keys next and unlocked the door with a bit of difficulty. Pulling the front door open as quietly as she could, Poppy slipped outside.

A cold wind wrapped around her and her breath misted before her. The frost sparkled on the ground looking like someone had spread sugar on the road.

‘Tree-man?’ Poppy whispered.

‘Yes?’ a distant voice called back.

‘Come back here,’ Poppy said.

‘Why? You are there and I am here now. Let’s go see the lights together,’ Tree-man spoke out.

‘But…’

‘You’ll be safe with me!’ Tree-man shouted.

Poppy looked behind her at the hallway. The light was on as her mum had left it lit for her dad’s return. She could feel the warmth also coming from the house and she felt torn.

Tree-man reached the gate, he stopped and waved at her.

‘Just a few minutes. That’d be okay,’ Poppy said under her breath.

Slipping the key into her pocket, she stepped out and closed the door softly. Poppy hurried down the path and bent down to look at Tree-man.

‘Can you pick me up?’ he asked.

Nodding, Poppy held out her hand and he jumped into her palm.

‘Where do we go?’ she asked.

‘Down the street,’ Tree-man directed.

‘Okay.’

Poppy opened the gate and went though. Even though it seemed the frost would crunch under her boots it didn’t nor was it slippy. Carrying Tree-man loosely, Poppy walked down the street and admired the neighbours Christmas lights.

‘Isn’t this magical?’ Tree-man spoke after a few moments.

‘Yes,’ Poppy replied.

‘Look at that deer and that wreath and that sign,’ Tree-man pointed out.

Poppy did, but she wasn’t as fascinated as he was. She was starting to feel cold and also worried. What if someone saw her and they told her mum?

‘We should go back,’ Poppy spoke up.

‘Just a little more, please! I do so love Christmas and it’s so pretty!’ Tree-man cried.

‘But I could get into trouble…’

‘Look at that!’ Tree-man cut in.

Poppy did and she saw the house at the end of the street brightly light up in blue and red flashing lights.

‘Closer! closer!’ Tree-man called.

Frowning, Poppy walked on then came to a stop before the house. The bushes that lined the front walls were divided into red or blue lights as were other plants in the garden. Two real looking but fake baby white trees were on either side of the door, decorated with shinny red baubles and white fairy lights. The walls of the house was covered with flashing stars and other Christmas themed lights.

‘Wow,’ Tree-man breathed.

‘I’ve seen it before,’ Poppy commented and then without thinking, she added, ‘there’s a house on the next street that has a family of polar bears in the garden.’

‘Oh, I’d like to see that!’ Tree-man said.

‘No. We must go back now,’ Poppy replied and she turned around.

Tree-man put his hands on the lowest triangle on his body, ‘no!’ he shouted.

‘Then you’ll have to get there yourself,’ Poppy snapped.

‘Fine!’ Tree-man shot back and he jumped from her hand.

Poppy watched him land on the pavement then walk off. Her mind fully made up, Poppy walked back to her house. Reaching the front door, she turned and looked up the street, but she couldn’t see the Tree-man.

Car headlight lit up the road and Poppy gasped. That could be her dad arriving back!

Fumbling in her coat pocket, she took out the keys and unlocked the door. Rushing in, she closed it and kicked off her boots. As she struggled out of her coat, she heard the car pull up. Tossing her coat on the hanger, she hurried upstairs and took off her clothes.

‘Hello?’ her mum’s voice called.

Poppy stopped trying to take the pants off and got quickly into bed. She pulled the duvet up and shut her eyes. She heard her bedroom door open slightly and then the front door also opened.

Keeping her eyes squeezed shut, she heard her mum go downstairs and talk quietly to her dad. Then they both went into the kitchen or the living room.

Poppy let go of the breath she had been holding and opened her eyes. She thought about Tree-man and where he might have gone. Should she have really left him out there alone? But what choice had she had?

Settling back, Poppy listened to her parents coming upstairs and going to bed. She waited a good few minutes, counting in her head then she got out of bed again. Going to the window, she opened the curtains and looked out.

Tree-man wasn’t there and it had started to snow.

Tree-man (Part 1)

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Poppy was just about to wipe away the drawing on her new mini whiteboard when her mum walked into the living room.

‘Time for bed,’ mum said.

Poppy looked up with a frown. She wasn’t feeling tried, even though the fire had made the living room really warm.

‘You’ll get wrinkles if you frown like that. Come on now,’ mum added.

Putting down the whiteboard and pens, Poppy got up and headed out of the room.

‘What was that you were drawing?’ her mum asked as they went upstairs.

‘It was a Christmas tree, but it turned out wrong. So I made it into a tree-man,’ Poppy explained.

‘Oh okay. Go brush you teeth then get your nightie on. I need to check on Oscar.’

Poppy nodded and went into the bathroom whilst mum crept into the baby’s room.

As she brushed her teeth, Poppy thought about the tree-man. He hadn’t turned out how she had wanted either. Maybe tomorrow she’d have another go at drawing a Christmas tree.

Teeth clean, she got changed and into bed. The last of the fire’s warmth left her and Poppy felt cold. Wrapping herself up, she had made a nest when her mum appeared at the door.

‘Would you like a story?’

‘No,’ Poppy said, ‘I’m tried.’

Nodding her mum went to close the door then added, ‘I’ll send your dad up to say goodnight when he gets back.’

‘Okay,’ Poppy muttered.

She settled down and shut her eyes. Poppy lay still for a good few minutes, letting thoughts come and go. Then she threw back the duvet and got out of bed. Slowly, she opened the door and looked out. The light from her parents’ room was on and the door was almost closed.

Poppy sneaked out and went downstairs as quietly as she could. Going into the living room, she found it dark and lit only by the last glow of the fire. Poppy made her away around and found the whiteboard and pens. Picking them up, she took them back to bed with her.

Wrapped up again and with the night light on, Poppy looked at the whiteboard. The tree-man was gone. Frowning, she turned it over, but found the other side empty too. Raising the board above her head, she looked down at the bed. There was a strange green, spiky looking stick figure on the fleece blanket.

Poppy dropped the board on to the floor.

The stick figure let out a small cry and turned around.

A scream escaped Poppy’s mouth and her bedroom door flew open.

‘What is it? What’s wrong?’ her mum said loudly.

‘There was a…thing…’ Poppy cried.

She scrambled from the bed and looked through all the blankets. There was no sign of the green spiky stick man.

‘It was just a dream,’ mum said.

Poppy went to argue with her, but thought better about it. She let her mum help her remake the bed, then Poppy got in and lay down again.

‘Goodnight,’ her mum said and left.

‘Night,’ Poppy called after her.

As soon as her mum had gone, Poppy lent out of bed and picked up the whiteboard. It was still empty on both sides.

‘Where are you?’ she whispered.

‘Here!’ a small voice cried.

Poppy grabbed the night light and shone it on the floor. Crawling out from underneath the bed was the tree-man she had drawn. His body was three thin green triangles on top of one another. His legs were long and his feet flat. His arms and hands were the same, but he had long fingers. His head was made of a smaller triangle with large black eyes in the middle and there was a fuzzy green outline all around him.

‘What are you?’ Poppy breathed.

‘Tree-man,’ he replied and he give her a wave.

‘How did you come off the whiteboard?’ Poppy asked.

‘No idea,’ Tree-man replied.

He wandered across the room and stopped at the large teddy bear which guarded the foot of Poppy’s bed. He reached out and poked the bear’s foot pad with a long spiky finger.

‘He’s not alive,’ Poppy said as she slipped out of the bed.

‘He is,’ Tree-man spoke, ‘you just can’t see it.’

With a nod to the bear, he moved on and began climbing the curtains.

‘What are you doing?’ Poppy asked.

‘I want to see the Christmas lights,’ he answered.

Reaching the window sill, he went behind the curtains.

Puzzled, Poppy pulled back the curtains to make a gap of her head. She looked out and saw the house across from her light up by white lights. There was a small deer in the garden and the two small bushes by the door were sparkling with flashing fairy lights.

‘It’s so pretty,’ Tree-man said.

‘Yes,’ Poppy replied.

‘We should go out and see more.’

‘No,’ we can’t! It’s night time and I’m not allow too,’ Poppy explained.

Tree-man looked at her reflection in the window, his expression unreadable because she hadn’t given him a detailed face.

‘I’m going back to bed. It’s cold,’ Poppy announced.

She closed the curtains and went back to bed. Settling down, she ignored the sounds coming from by her window. Then though, she felt a blast of freezing air. Tossing the bedding back, she got up once again and went to the window.

One of the top windows was open and Tree-man was nowhere to be seen…

 

To Be Continued…

Objects (Part 4)

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The next day I went straight over to my Auntie Heather’s house. I took the object list book with me as proof. She greeted me at the door and invited me to a warm, clean but cluttered house. Telling me to sit anywhere, she sink back into a supportive cushioned armchair. I took a tatty smaller armchair next to her that a teddy bear was sitting on.

‘What do you know about the house Eli left me?’ I started with.

‘Nothing,’ she replied.

‘Nothing?’ I repeated.

I studied her, trying to decided if she was telling the truth. Her face was lined with wrinkles and she looked years older then she had a month back. Her eyes looked dim and she was tried. Her short hair seemed more grey then brown. She was wearing a knitted jumper, a long skirt and slippers.

‘To be honest, I wasn’t paying attention when the will was read,’ she spoke.

‘Okay…So, Eli left this small house in Lytham Saint Anne’s to me. The solicitor said it was his parent’s home.’

‘I thought he sold that years ago….It was his older brother’s first, you know,’ She recalled.

‘What happened to him?’ I asked.

‘Oh, he died in some accident. I don’t think Eli every told me the full story,’ Auntie Heather replied, ‘Eli had another older brother who went missing. Never got told that story either.’

‘What about Uncle Eli’s father? Do you know what he did for a living?’ I questioned as my mind turned over all of this information.

‘I think he was a collector of antiques…. I am not sure…’ she trailed, ‘he was always aloof and a loner. I met him about three times.’

‘And my Uncle? What did he do?’

‘This and that. He was handyman, a caretaker, a gardener,’ my auntie’s voice began to falter and I sensed tears coming.

I paused and wondered how to put my next question.

‘I should put the kettle on and make us some tea,’ she voiced.

‘No. I must be off soon and I only have a few more questions,’ I cut in with, ‘did Eli spend a lot of time away from here? Away from you?’

She nodded and the tears began spilling.

‘Did he ever say why?’ I pressed.

Auntie Heather shook her head then turning her eyes away from me, she said a low voice, ‘I thought he was having affairs. I know he was disappointed we did not have children. The deaths of his brothers and father hit him hard too….He was away more and more after all that. I thought I was not good enough anymore…but then he would come home and it was like he’d never been away….’

‘Listen, Auntie,’ I said, now well aware of her crying.

‘I don’t think I can take any more of this!’ she snapped suddenly.

‘He wasn’t having affairs. At least I really don’t think so,’ I cut in.

I stood up and held out the book. She didn’t take it but stared at it.

‘I went to the house and it was full of antique stuff. This book lists some of them,’ I explained.

She took the book from me and opened it with shaking fingers. Picking up her glasses, she put them on and began to read the pages.

‘I think he was a supernatural hunter. I found letters from people asking him to come and remove ghosts from their houses and other letters thanking him for doing so. He kept a diary every year and wrote about his visits and what he found,’ I gushed out.

She looked up at me in puzzlement.

‘I’m having a hard time with it too,’ I declared, ‘is there anyone else he might have told about this?’

‘I don’t know,’ she whispered and closed the book.

She handed it back to me and took her glasses off.

I sank down again, ‘why did he leave it to me? What am I meant to do?’

‘I don’t know,’ she muttered, ‘maybe it was because you are the youngest adult male family member. Perhaps, he saw something in you?’

I struggled for words and finally decided to ask her, ‘do you want to come and see the house?’

‘No, no, I don’t want to get involved,’ Auntie Heather responded with a wave of her hands, ‘whatever he was doing he’s taken it with him and it’s your responsibility now.’

‘All right,’ I said through gritted teeth.

She sighed and added, ‘I just want to be left I peace with the good memories I have.’

‘I’ll be off then,’ I announced.

Surprise crossed her face, but we said our goodbyes.

Getting back into my car, I threw the book on to the passenger seat and drove back to my flat. Once there, I sat on the edge of the sofa and made a list of people I could phone who might give me more answers or knew someone who would.

A whole afternoon, a lot of phone calls and no answers later, I lent back on the sofa, spent. The mystery of why no one knew about Uncle Eli’s parents’ house was just as mysterious as the house itself.

Trying to rub away a headache, I decided the only way to uncover more was to go back to the house and read everything I could. However, a part of me didn’t want to get any further involved. Even if Uncle Eli had come to me and asked me to take over this supernatural hunting business, if that truly is what he had been doing, I’d have said no. I didn’t believe in any of that! But what to do with the house and the collection of objects?

No! I had to figure this all out further. I had to know the full truth.

The next weekend, I drove back to the house. I took an old camera with me and I went from room to room taking as many photos as I could. However, that turned out to be not needed as in my search of the study, I found that the box files contained photos of every object. I also discovered that Uncle Eli’s father and two older brothers had also run this ‘business’. Before them had been Eli’s grandfather and actually it went back about five or six generations. It had passed to the oldest son and the father had trained them.

Sitting at the desk and drinking a mug of tea, I tried to work out once again what the best thing to do was. No one in the family seemed interested in this house or the contains. Someone out there would be though. Could I really just sell off all this history though? The place was a museum!

Maybe, that was the answer?

I spun the chair around and looked about the study. This house wouldn’t be big enough, but I could find a new place. People were always attracted to what they didn’t know. And if it was done right, maybe it would work….

Spinning back, I searched for some clean paper then began setting my thoughts down; a  museum dedicated to the supernatural.

Objects (Part 3)

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I couldn’t see anything, the snow was so blinding. The wind and waves echoed loudly in my ears blocking all other sounds out. I backed up into the house and wrestled the door shut. I lent against it, breathing heavily and I could feel the door shaking behind me. There was no way I could go out in that, let alone drive it! Britain wasn’t well known for it’s snowstorms, but it seemed one had hit now.

My feet knocked against the stack of papers and books. Looking down, I decided to put them all back on the desk. Dividing them up made it easier and soon everything was back again. I pulled out the chair then decided to open the curtains. That way I could see when the storm stopped. I pulled the curtains apart and they easily opened as if they were use to it.

I could see nothing outside as the window was blanketed by snow. A loud whistling came from the wind leaking through the wooden frames and house creaked. I pulled out the chair and sat down, it was cold but comfy enough. I looked at the paper pile and decided I needed a warm drink before I picked up the first book.

I went back into the kitchen, washed out and filled the kettle. I switched it on then began looking for some coffee, but the only thing I could find were tea bags. I put one of them in the mug and whilst waiting for the water to boil, looked through the cupboards. There were a few other mugs, two plates, a bowl and a handful of cutlery. Then in a top cupboard I found a large metal tin.

Pulling it out and hoping it wasn’t locked, I tried the lid. It opened and inside were army rations. There was soup, hard biscuits and packets of dried stuff I didn’t know. It was better then nothing, which was becoming my worry. Closing the lid, I made that cup of tea and went back into the study.

I turned the desk light on and decided to go through the papers first. I looked at the Christmas cards, I didn’t recognise any of the names so I set them aside. The letters were far more interesting. Most of them had been computer typed, but a few were handwritten. The first one I read went something like this;

 

Dear Mr. Eli Roberts,

I am writing to you because your services were recommended by a friend, Mrs Emily Hatchet. Who a few months ago you helped remove a ghost that had been haunting her house. She informed me you could help me with my ghost problem.

I have had a few people in so far, including; a Catholic priest, a medium and a ghost hunting team. They have gathered some evidence of this ghost but can not remove it from my house. It is causing me problems as the house is rented and I can not get anybody to stay there for longer then a few months.

I would be grateful if you could contact me to arrange a meeting to discuss this further.

Yours sincerely, Mrs. Jane Bogget.

I put the letter down, my head spinning and picked up the next one. It was almost the same, but someone else was requesting my uncle’s help in getting rid of a ghost. And all these letters were in the same vein! Only a handful asked for helping in dealing with something else supernatural;

Dear Mr. Roberts, I believe there is a demon in my attic!

Dear Mr. Roberts, I think my granddaughter has been cursed by a evil witch.

Dear Mr. Roberts, I am under the spell of a vampire.

I moved on and read the thank you letters. The first two were really just notes, but the third gripped my attention;

Dear Eli, 

Thank you so much for visiting and helping me to figure out my ghost haunting problems. I am glad to report that since you removed the South African tribal mask and bone statue from my house things have really settled down! No longer are we hearing chanting in the night, or a woman crying. My children are no longer seeing shadows and complaining of whispering and crying.

You can’t believe the changes this has made to my life and the lives of my family! I will be forever in your debt and I know you didn’t want any money, but please accept this cheque. Though I feel I owe you so much more. 

Best Wishes, 

Maggie Bradwell. 

I had a quick glance around for a cheque but didn’t spot one. I checked the date on the letter and it was three months back. So, Uncle Eli would have had time to cash it. I looked through the other letters and they were similar to that third one; people expressing their thanks to Eli for getting rid of their supernatural problems and giving him money.

I set the letters and cards big to the side where they had originally been.

So, my uncle is a hunter of the supernatural? My brain finally concluded. And this house is full of things he thought contained these spirits or he used to capture them? But this is….not real…not possible. No one had ever said anything about this to me. I looked out the window, trying to make sense of all this whilst at the same time my rational mind wanted to forget all about it.

The snowstorm was still happening and all I could see was whiteness outside the window. The wind had also picked up and was now howling. I felt cold suddenly and my mind turned to looking for something to warm myself with. There was nothing in the room, but maybe my Uncle had a haunted blanket or a possessed sleeping bag?

Laughing to myself, I got up and wandered through the house again. It felt even colder in each of the three ‘storage’ rooms and I could find nothing that would be suitable. I raided the kitchen again and with nothing else to do, made some more tea and one of the soup rations. They helped take some of the chill off. Whilst I ate and drink, I wondered about this house, my uncle and his supernatural hunting and gathering. How had he kept it secret all these years? Why not tell someone else about it? Surely he had meant someone to take over? And why leave this all to me?

I went back in the study and trying to keep as warm as possible, I read through my uncle’s diaries for this year and last. However, I found nothing but an account of his appointments with people and his visits to their haunted places. He had noted down what had happened briefly including what he had found, thought the supernatural was and items he had taken or other actions he had done. It was deeply fascinating.

Finally and I have no idea how much time had passed, I looked up from this year’s diary and saw that the snowstorm had quietened. Flakes were still falling and wind was still blowing, but it was more drive-able now. I closed the diary, deciding to leave it and the others here.

Getting up, I stretched and found my body stiff with cold and a numbness in my feet. I picked up the object list book and turning off the lights went to the front door. Opening it, the wind brushed snow at my feet, but I could now clear see my car and the other houses. I made a dash for it, shutting the door behind me and hearing the lock click back into place. I unlocked and got into my car. It was freezing, but the engine started and I turned up the heater.

I drove off home, being careful and taking it more slowly then normal.

To Be Continued…

Objects (Part 2)

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Getting my phone out again, I searched and found the light switch to the room and flicked it on. Just sticking my head around the door, I looked in. Perhaps, this room had once been designed to be a space for guests to wait or a living room or a dinning room, but now it was full to floor to ceiling with furniture. There were bookcases, shelves, glass cabinets, chests of drawers and in the middle a large red velvet armchair. Some of theses things looked antique and maybe a few had been original to the house.

However, it was more what the furniture held that drew me. The shelves, bookcases and cabinets were filled with all manner of objects. There were watches and clocks of all kinds, but none of them working. There were old weapons; pistols, knifes, daggers, a sword and to go with them; bullets, sheathes and holders. Figurines made out of all kinds of things, in different styles and scenes. There were framed photos in color and black and white of people and places. Old stuff toys, dolls and children’s play things were dotted around too. There was a few books, but they looked so old and broken that they’d fall apart in my hands.

A creeping feeling crossed over me and my hair stood up. A coldness that was totally different from the weather outside touched me and I felt the urge to close the door and walk away. However, I carried on standing there in wonder. Had Uncle Eli run an antique business? Had he been a hoarder? Perhaps it had been his parents’ collection or business? The solicitor had said it was their house….But he’d said it had been rented for a time too and surely this all hadn’t been here? Maybe, the tenants had been to blame?

I stepped into the room and tried to see if I could figure anything out. If there were price tags or description cards then that would suggest a business. There was nothing on any object though and the more I looked the more I saw. Feeling a sense of suffocation, I walked out and closed the door behind me. Maybe the next room would have the answers?

Crossing the hallway, I opened the door that had been on my right and went in. Once again I had a challenge finding the light switch, but when the bulb overhead came on, I saw this room was totally different from it’s neighbor. There was a huge oak desk under the curtained window and on it was a colored glass lamp, a stack of papers to one side, an A4 black leather notebook in the middle and there was a fountain pen next to it. A large padded chair was resting under the desk too.

Floor to ceiling bookcases took up the wall in front of me and to the right. They were filled with books, files, diaries, scrapbooks, notebooks and box files. The last wall was covered in picture frames which held certificates, photographs and newspaper clippings.

I walked in, feeling like I would find answers in here. I went to the desk and opened the notebook there. Turning the pages, I read the clear fancy handwriting and discovered it was a list of items. There was the object’s name, it’s location in the house, the date it was got, where it came from, who it had been it’s last owner and strangely a danger level.

What did that mean? My mind puzzled over. I turned the page and ran my finger down another long list and for no reason at all I began to speak these things aloud;

‘Mantle clock, nineteen-twenties, fruit wood, white face, classic style numbers. Downstairs front room, back wall, shelf number two. Nineteen-nineteen-seven. Blackpool. Mrs. Pennyworth. Low danger.’

‘Dagger, plain sliver handle, tip broken off, no sheath. Late eighteen hundreds. Downstairs front room, cabinet B, shelf three. Nineteen-nineteen-seven. Liverpool. Mr. Gardener. High danger.’

I read a few more enters, but couldn’t make any further sense of it. Closing the book, I looked through the stack of papers and found they were all letters. Most of them were asking my Uncle Eli for help or thanking him. I hardly glanced at them really. There was also a few Christmas cards that must have come from neighbors and these people in the letters. There was too much to read and I wanted to stay in here longer, but the urge to go upstairs was too strong.

Leaving the room, I went up the creaking and rickety stairs. There was no light on this hallway, but I could see three doors. The first was in front of me and led into a very dirty bathroom. The light above me was dim, on it’s way out but I was actually glad I couldn’t further make out how filthy this room was. I used the toilet and when I flushed it the noise was as loud as the sea waves crashing into the cliffs outside. I tried to use the sink and even though water was dripping out of one of the taps, I couldn’t turn either one. I avoided looking into the large and deep bathtub and hurried back into the hallway.

Going first to the door on my right, which was above the study, I opened it and found it to be just like the first room downstairs. It was fuller though and packed more tightly with furniture and the objects were just everywhere! I could hardly squeeze through the door. The only spot that seemed to be clearer was the window sill. There was a table next to it and as I got closer I saw why. There were four large brown pot jars against the curtained window that were also balanced on the table.

I read the carved in words on the front of them; souls of demons, souls of lost ghosts, souls of children, souls of evildoers.

What the…?

Shaking my head, I caught sight of a thin bookcase that was crammed full of glass jars. Each had a paper label and though some of the words were faded, I could still see things like; the ghost of Mr. M. Barlow. Spirit of a large dog. Ghoul number 23. Curse of a hag and protection spell, once use only! 

I couldn’t look at anything else. I left the room and without stopping went into the final one. I hoped it would be different, but knew as soon as my fingers wrapped around the door knob it wasn’t going to be. Opening and going through the door, I spent a few moments finding the light switch. My hand knocked into a thing on the wall which rattled then I turned on the light and quickly wished I hadn’t.

The room was full of tribal items and bones. Most of the walls were covered in masks, pipes, tribal weapons, instruments and on the shelves and chest of drawers tops were bowls, pots and other such things. They seemed to belong to a vast number of tribes that had once been throughout the world. Also, there were human leg, arm, rib bones and two skulls dotted around as well as bones and skulls that looked to belong to animals. Some of these had been made into ceremonially pieces, decorations or jewelry.

I turned the light off and left. I went downstairs, but every time I blinked all I could see were the empty eye sockets of those two skulls and the countless masks. Going straight into the kitchen, I turned on the cold water tap which thankfully worked and I washed my hands and face. With my mind clearing, I went into the study and stood for a few minutes looking around. The diaries drew my attention and I went over had a look at them. On the spines they were all dated and shocking I found they went back over two hundred years!

I took the first one which was dated 1811 off the shelf. It was a heavy book, made from brown leather and the pages were yellow, but still intact. Going back to the last few diaries which were all in the 2000’s, I looked for this year’s; 2016, but didn’t spot it. I pulled 2015 out instead and went back to the desk with them. Placing them on top of the object list book, I collected the stack of papers and piled them on too.

Then I searched the desk. Surprising there were many drawers and they contained a mix of items, most of which I ignored. I found this year’s diary in the top right drawer and taking it out put it with the other books and papers. In the last drawer; the bottom one on the right, I found a few family photos. The first was the most recent and it had been taken at Christmas last year. I spotted myself, next to my adopted parents and brothers. The rest of the family was gathered around and there was a huge Christmas tree in the background along with the traditional fire place scene.

Adding this to my pile, I picked it all up and staggered to the front door under the weight. Placing everything down, I had to unlock the door before I could open it. As soon as I had opened it the wind snatched the door from me and flung it back against the wall. Large snowflakes tumbled in and stuck to the hallway floor. Struggling against the wind and snow, I stepped outside and found myself in a snowstorm.

To Be Continued…