Journals (Part 1)

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(Please be aware this story contains adult sexual content.) 

I wasn’t even thinking when I came across Grandma’s journals. I had just opened another dusty cardboard box of old books and was moving it to the side when the bottom give out. Leather bound volumes scattered across the attic floor and I swore loudly.

‘Maya? Are you okay?’ my husband called over.

‘Fine,’ I answered then sighed as I knelt to stack the books together.

‘Let’s get out of here. We’ve done enough.’

‘I really want to finish this, Dan,’ I replied.

I looked up at him as he felt silent. My knight in shining armour was pressing his lips together in a frown and looking stern at the back of the attic. There still seemed so much to sort out. He ran his hands through his thick black hair, tugging out strands, which he always did when he was stressed.

I left the books and went to him. I wrapped my arms around his growing pot belly stomach and pressed my head into his back. He was tall and I only came up to his chest, even though I wasn’t that short. He patted my hands then turned to pull me into a tight hug. I breathed deep his familiar smell of aftershave and sweat which was mingled with the wood and dust of the attic.

‘I get it,’ he muttered into my ear, ‘but there’s enough time. We’ve been at this all day and I want to go home and see the kids.’

‘Okay,’ I breathed.

I looked up at him and he rose my chin with one finger. Our lips meet and for a few moments I lost myself in his embrace. It was amazing that after all the years, he still had this power over me with one simple soft kiss. I felt him touching my short blonde hair and my cheek. His hand dropped further, coming to squeeze my  left breast. I gasped into his mouth and he took the opening to dip his tongue passed my lips.

For a few moments more we were lost in the touch and taste of each other. The attic and the present seemed a distance separate thing. Right now there was just the two of us; roaming hands and fingers, rolling wet tongues and eager kisses. Our bodies pressed so tightly together and tingling with the anticipation of more excitement to come.

The ringing of a phone slowed then stopped the kisses. I realised it was mine and dug it out of my pocket whilst Dan was still holding on to me. His hands were squashing my bum and I could feel his hardness pressing against my thigh.

‘It’s Darla,’ I spoke and answered the call, ‘hi, sweetie.’

‘Hi, mum. When are you coming home?’ our oldest child asked.

‘Now actually. We were just getting ready to leave.’

‘Cool. Can we have pizza for dinner? I did all my homework and Freddie hasn’t cried once today,’ Darla said.

Dan kissed my cheek then dropped his head to my shoulder, where he started planting soft kissing up and down my neck.

I tried not to giggle or moan and just to concentrate on being a mother, ‘and Ty?’

‘He’s been okay….Mrs J had a bit of a argument with him. He wanted to go and play at a friends’ house and he came back late. But it’s sorted now….So, pizza?’

‘Okay. We’ll pick it up on the way home. Tell Mrs J, we’ll be back soon.’

‘Thanks, see you!’ Darla rushed and I heard her shouting, ‘we’re getting pizza!’ before she hung up.

I ended the call too and glanced at my messages, but I hadn’t missed anything. I felt Dan lick my neck, then trail his way up. He kissed my cheek, then our lips meet in a soft embrace. I broke off the kiss and stepped out of the hug, before he could distracted me again. I slipped my phone away then put my hands on his lower arms.

‘The kids want pizza. I said we’d go and pick it up.’

‘Sounds good to me….First though…’ Dan murmured.

He draw me back in and tried to kiss me again.

‘It was you that wanted to go home to the kids!’ I playfully called out.

‘I know…but then I saw you with dust and spiderwebs in your hair and you looked so sexy and I just have this urge-‘

‘Urge?’

‘This urge,’ he growled softly as he grabbed my bum and squeezed it roughly whilst pulling me hard against him.

His manhood hit me right in the crotch of my jeans and I let out a squeal of delight and passion. I laughed and pressed my face to his, we kissed. In a low voice into his ear I said, ‘I guess the kids can wait a few more minutes.’

I licked my lips and dropped my hand between his legs.

‘We can’t have you going home like this, can we?’ I whispered.

‘No,’ he purred back.

I wrapped my other arm around his shoulders and stood on my tip toes. We kissed deeply whilst I kept my other hand rubbing his jeans. He broke the kiss and moaned into my ear.

‘Bedroom?’ I breathed.

‘Huh-huh.’

I slipped out of his hold, took his hand and led him from the attic. We went into what had been the guest bedroom and now the only room in the house to have a bed in it. The thin curtains were already drawn over the window, not that any light was actually coming in as it was pitch black outside. I turned on the lamp and we stood next to the bed, wrapped in each other’s arms and kissing.

Dan eased me down onto the bed and whilst my head sank into the old feather pillow, his warm hands pulled up my t-shirt. His nimble fingers slipped quickly across my cotton bra then down inside it. I gasped and moaned against his mouth whilst my body wiggled at his touch. He dropped his head to my chest, his fingers peeling down the bra cups. I felt his lips, his tongue and I fell into an ecstasy.

He took off my jeans and I kicked off my pumps. He kissed down my stomach and I put my hands on his head and guided him further down. I turned my head and moaned loudly into to the pillow. I felt his fingers hooking the edges of my underwear and gently removing them. He spread my legs, running his hands up and down them slowly. I moved my head back into time to see him undoing his jeans and tugging them down.

I smiled and reached for him as he came to lay on top of me. We kissed tenderly and I felt him sliding inside me. Gasping and breathing deeply, I wrapped my arms around his shoulders and lower back. He pressed his head against mine and in my ear muttered something.

I hummed questionably.

‘You’re so wet,’ he said louder.

‘Your doing,’ I mumbled.

‘Oh yeah?’

He shoved hard against me, I cried out in surprise then felt small vibrations of pleasure tinging through me. He picked up the rhythm and we rocked together till both us reach climax.

To Be Continued…

 

Attic

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There’s something in the attic and it wants to get out.

At night, it groans and wails, throws things around and makes sleep impossible.

The problem is though, only I can hear it.

 

Family Secrets (Part 4)

Pedestrian, Walking, Shadow, Night, Evening, Street

Em’s eyes scanned over the objects in the steam trunk. There was a heavy mix of papers, thin books, photos, objects wrapped in newspaper and letters. Instead of looking through them, Em stood up and ran her hands over the inside of the lid. It was covered with flowery wallpaper which was peeling at the edges.

She dug her finger tips into the top right corner and pulled down. The inside lid easily give way and dropped quickly downwards. Em tried to shelter the contents from flying out, but all they did was bounce before settling. She looked over them, finding for a few seconds all the baby stuff a strange compared to the old woman items.

Em knelt down again and started picking up things and moving them neatly to one side. Sometimes she would linger on items like the small teddy bear, the blue booties, the small patchwork blanket and a baby’s white jumper. When she came to the only photo of the baby, she stopped. She looked closely at the image and saw  her very young self cradling a small pink baby. He was wrapped in a hospital blue blanket and just the side of his head could be seen.

With one finger she touched the baby’s head and wondered where he was now. All the memories rushed back taking over her completely. Sighing and giving into her sobs at last, Em dropped her head. She cried hard, letting everything out and the tears wash over her. She curled on the floor, her body shaking and no longer able to keep herself up.

Slowly, her sobs grew quiet and the tears stopped. She wiped her face and pulled herself up. Gently placing the photo back in, she closed the inside lid on those memories again. Using her jumper sleeves, she scrubbed her face and palms. Glancing at her grandmother’s things, she pulled out a few letters to distract herself with.

Opening the first one, she saw it was a love letter. It was one she’d read before and she knew it was to her gran from her granddad’s childhood friend who was also looking for Em’s grandmother’s attention. Reading it, made Em smile. Putting it back carefully, she opened another one and saw it was a returned letter that her gran had wrote to her granddad close to the end of the Second World War.

Scanning it, the history of her family opened like  a book in her head. She fell into that, forgetting for a few minutes her own past as she became lost in someone else’s. Once she was done, she put all the letters back and closed the steam trunk lid. She turned the key in the lock then removed it. Getting to stiff legs, she put the key back on the roof beam.

Weaving her way out of the attic, Em wiped her face again and felt her cheeks still damp. At the hatch, she turned out the lights and went down the ladder. When her feet hit the bottom the sound of the TV came fully back to her. Folding the ladder up, she closed the attic hatch and went into the bedroom.

It had grown darker and she turned on some of the lights. Catching herself in the mirror, she saw her dust smudged face and clothes. Not stopping to see what the TV was now displaying, she went into the bathroom and had a shower.

The hot water combined with the smell of lime and lemon body wash cleared her head.

Why did I even go up there in the first place? Em thought, did I think it would be different this time? I should get rid of all that stuff. 

‘No!’ Em cried a loud.

She pressed her hands to the wall, the water rained down and soaked her hair.

‘I can’t…’ she shook her head.

Sniffing, she tried to hold it together and told herself that it was okay. Em straightened and started washing her hair. Letting all the thoughts go again. Hair washed, she got out and wrapped herself in a massive towel. Glancing back at the shower, she longed to be back under the hot spray again.

Drying herself as she left the bathroom, the sounds of the TV called her back. Going into her bedroom, Em put on a nightdress and turned off all but her lamp. Then she curled in bed and watched the news telling the world’s updates. She felt herself drifting, but not wanting to be alone, she left the TV on.

Snuggling down, she dozed and felt sleep easily take her away.

Family Secrets (Part 3)

Pedestrian, Walking, Shadow, Night, Evening, Street

He was gone when she woke. Em rolled over and looked at the dip he had left in the bed. Reaching her hand out, she felt the cold sheets. Sighing, she lay there and thought about why her husband would have an affair. He’d never seemed to look at any other woman but her.

Maybe I’m unattractive in my old age? She thought, I’m only thirty odd though! 

She then took a few moments to work out how old she actually was then how many years they had been married for; eight.

Perhaps, that was the problem? We married too young.

Pulling a face, she decided that tonight she’d find out the truth no matter what. Getting up, she noted the time and turned her thoughts to time tabling her day. She didn’t need to be in work till this afternoon, so she had time to tidy up and maybe do some more snooping.

She got herself sorted then went downstairs. Rick had left his breakfast things on the kitchen table. She paused in the doorway, realising he must have been late for giving a lecture or a workshop at the uni. She tidied up as she debated what to eat. Em had done most of the kitchen cleaning, when she decided on toast and a coffee.

After breakfast and feeling a bit better, she decided to go and clean the study. Rick would complain like hell, but she could face it, if I find a clue, she added. Grabbing everything she needed, she clambered up the stairs juggling the vacuum and the plastic tray of cleaning stuff. At the study door she stopped to get her breath.

Opening the door, it was clear he had been looking for something. The desk and floor were covered in papers, open books and files. It reminded her of freshly fallen snow. Leaving her cleaning stuff at the door, she tried to step around it all to get to the desk, but failed when she stepped on a book. The spine cracked loudly, the noise like a snapping twig in the quietness of the house.

Rolling her eyes, she picked up the book then begin plucking other books off the floor and stacking them in a pile. Next she did all the papers though she tried to divided them into subject matters. With that done, she started on his desk. Picking up a notebook, the side of her hand hit the computer mouse and the screen woke up.

Her husband’s diary was displayed. She looked and saw that he’d been due to give a lecture on ‘creating fictional characters’ at nine this morning. Then he had a follow up workshop after an early lunch. Biting her lip, she scrolled back and forth through the days, looking for any hints that he had put a meeting with the other woman in.

Soon though, she realised this was his only uni schedule. Growling, she looked through the other tabs he had open, but it was only his lecture notes, presentation and handouts. Abandoning that idea, she turned the computer off and looked through the notebook that was still in her hand. It was a mess of story ideas in her husband’s handwriting. None of them made much sense to her.

She placed the book back and started looking through everything on the desk, but nothing else stood out. She sank onto his well worn leather desk chair and wondered where else she could look. Though it would be hard in all this mess….

Em started tidying again. Luckily, she had cleaned her husband’s study enough times to know where most things went. The things she didn’t know, she placed piled up on the low, long coffee table which was against the right wall next to his great-granddad’s leather armchair. By the time she was done, Em had to leave for work.

Instead of driving directly to the office where she was a part-time admin, she took the route her husband had headed last night. Slowing down at the place she had lost him in, she looked at the houses and tried to see if there was one… that what?  she thought, had a sign post outside saying mistress’ house? Or maybe cheating husbands’ grotto? 

She smiled at her silliness and drove to work. The afternoon passed in a blur of phone calls,  paperwork and filing. Driving home afterwards, she felt too tried to do anything and when she got in, Em lay on the sofa trying to get rid if a small headache.

The ringing of a mobile brought her back. She fished the phone out of her bag and answered it without looking who was calling, ‘Hello?’

‘Em, I’m sorry but I forgot to tell you about this dinner I’m going tonight,’ Rick rushed.

‘Dinner?’ Em questioned as she noticed the breathlessness of his voice.

‘With some colleagues. I totally forgot about it! I’ll be home real late too. You’ll be okay though, right?’

She nodded then said, ‘of course.’

‘There’s no need to wait up. I’ll try not to disturb you. bye’.

‘Okay. Love-‘

The phone beeped in her ear and Em tutted. Placing it down, she decided she wasn’t feeling hungry and that if her husband wasn’t going to home anytime soon she’d go into the attic for a bit. Collecting her things, she went into the bedroom and let her stuff beside the bed. She got changed into jog pants and an old jumper. Realising how quiet it was, she turned on the TV which sat on her dressing table. The news channel came on and she left the steady voice of the news reporter talking to the empty room.

Out in the hallway, she pulled the attic hatch cord and watched the ladder descending. Climbing up slowly, she then felt for the light switch at the top and waited till the blinking light bulbs had settled to step inside. The attic felt hot and stuffy. She breathed in old air and dust as she made her way to the back left corner. The wooden boards creaked slightly under her feet and the voice of the news reporter followed her like a warning spirit.

She reached the back of the attic where behind a dining table and six stacked dinning chairs from her grandmother’s old house was a seemly abandoned steam trunk. Going around the table and chairs, Em reached up to wooden beam and felt along it. Her fingers brushed something small and metal. She brought the key down from it’s hiding place and knelt before the trunk.

She looked over her shoulder and listened, holding her breath like a child waiting to be caught. However, all she could hear was the now the faint sounds from the TV. Turning back, she put the key into the steam trunk’s lock and slowly opened the lid. She breathed in a very faded scent of lavender then looked down at the contents.

To Be Continued…

A Foot In The Past (Part 13)

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

The child was see through and defined by a white outline, but she looked as real as anything. Scarlett’s brain was making a strange beeping sound and she felt dizzy and sick. She tried to reach out for something as the floor began moving under her. Her finger tips brushed something hard and she remembered the rocking horse. Concentrating everything on that, she stopped herself from fainting.

Sitting down on the floor, Scarlett drew in a few shaky breaths and shut her eyes. She could hear the ghost girl humming and the doll tapping the wooden floor. Calming herself, Scarlett opened her eyes again and tried to think of some questions to ask. Thinking back to her internet research, she recalled a few things.

‘Do you know your name?’ she asked.

‘Charlotte,’ the girl replied.

‘I’m Scarlett.’

‘I know.’

‘How…? Never mind…’ Scarlett trailed off.

Charlotte placed the doll into the attic and selected another which was dressed in a suit. She placed him in the kitchen then carried on arranging the others. She hummed an old nursery rhyme that Scarlett could only half recall.

‘So how many of you are there?’ Scarlett asked.

‘Eleven,’ Charlotte replied.

‘All children?’

‘No,’ the ghost girl answered, ‘there’s only five children, me and four boys.’

Scarlett nodded.

‘There’s a baby, an older girl and the rest are all adults.’

‘Okay…’

‘I’m the oldest though,’ Charlotte declared.

‘Pardon?’

‘This house belongs to me.’

Scarlett thought hard. She glanced up at the ceiling and noted a large spider crawling across a huge web. From the back of her mind, she half remembered reading about the death of a daughter from the manor’s originally family, but hadn’t there been lots of childhood death in the eighteen hundreds?

A door creak, distracting them and causing Scarlett to turn her head towards the nursery doorway. She couldn’t see anything but the dim light coming from the hallway.

‘I have to go now,’ Charlotte declared.

‘Will, I see you again?’ Scarlett asked turning back, but the ghost girl had all ready gone.

Getting up and avoiding the toys on the floor, Scarlett made her way out. She closed the door, but didn’t lock it. Walking down the corridor, she heard nothing but her own footsteps and as she paused at the top of the attic stairs, only the natural sounds of the manor filled her ears. Turning out the lights and heading downstairs, Scarlett turned things over in her mind and decided she had to hurry back to the apartment and looked through all the papers. Leaving the attic door unlocked, but the lights off, she picked up her pace and reached the staircase. Grapping the banister, she heard a soft laugh behind her. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw a small figure like shadow. Pressing her lips together, she decided not to speak, but instead went down the spiral staircases and back to the entrance hall. From there, she went into the apartment, locking the door behind her, and into the study. Turning on the computer, she began looking through all the papers she had tidied away the day before.

Finding the file containing information about the original manor, she pulled it out and set it on the desk. The computer screen loaded before her and she notices the time was almost five am. Rubbing her eyes, Scarlett opened the file and pawed through it. She scanned over documents till she came across one of interested.

There had been a child called Charlotte, who had belonged to the original family. She had died in 1862 of scarlet fever.  And her baby brother had died too.

Sitting back and letting out a big sigh, Scarlett felt suddenly drained. Getting up, she went into the bedroom and lay down. Thoughts tumbled in her head, but sleep wiped them all away and she surrendered to it.

The ringing of a phone dragged her out of sleep. Scarlett felt along the bedside table for it, but couldn’t find it. Coming more awake, she felt the vibrations against her thigh and pulled the phone out of her jeans pocket. Answering it, she murmured a sleepy, ‘hello?’

‘It’s only me,’ Greyson’s voice spoke, ‘just thought I’d check in. You okay?’

‘Yep, just sleepy,’ Scarlett answered.

‘Where there noises again? Did the alarm go off?’ Greyson asked.

‘The alarm?’

Scarlett’s mind skipped back a few hours, she had never heard it, but she had no recollection of switching it off before she had gone up to the attic. Sliding from the bed, she walked out.

‘You remembered to set it right?’

‘Oh! I think I forgot,’ Scarlett gasped.

She unlocked the apartment door and went into the staff room as Greyson’s voice scolded her. Checking the alarm, she found it off. Sighing, she brought herself back to what her husband was saying.

‘At least you are safe.’

Scarlett nodded, ‘I’m fine. When are you coming home?’

‘This evening, hopefully. There’s meant to be a storm coming this afternoon though.’

‘I haven’t seen the forecast…’

‘It’s not meant to be that bad. Do we need anything? I could pick stuff up on the way,’ Greyson asked.

Scarlett thought and walked back into the kitchen, asking him to wait. She searched around for a few moments then gave him a list. Putting the kettle on and grabbing a box of cereal, she listened to Greyson talking about his night with his parents and the problems with their old business.

‘Are you sure you don’t need me?’ Scarlett finally cut in.

‘No. I’ll sort it. You just finish off making a new home for us,’ Greyson said.

Scarlett laughed and glanced into the dining room, which was still cluttered with boxes and furniture, ‘I’ll try.’

‘I have to go. Love you.’

‘Love you too,’ she said and hung up.

Going into the living room to eat, Scarlett got all thoughts of her night time adventure out of her head and put the weather forecast on. Greyson had been right. A storm was predicated around lunchtime. She looked out of the windows at the dark, grey morning and felt the urge to get some fresh air.

Finishing breakfast, she dug out her hiking boots and thick winter coat. Picking up her phone and the apartment keys, she walked out on to the patio area. Cold air greeted her and tried to sneak under her coat. Scarlett shook it off and locked the back door. She walked briskly across the lawn, through the hedge archway and on to the path that lead through the gardens. Avoiding looking back at the manor, she put up her hood and walked on past the entrances to the flower beds and to the end of the path.

She went left at the fork and walked around past more lawns, trees and empty flower beds, till she reached what had been the kitchen’s gardens. Here, the soil beds were in small rows and often in raised wooden boxes and there were two green houses. Scarlett went to have a look at them as the wind picked up around her.

The first seemed older and had more missing glass panes. Dirt covered the floor and she could make out the remains of wooden work tops. The second greenhouse was in better shape and she entered it. Glass crunched under her boots then become dirt and small stones. Plant pots were still lined up on the work top and there was even a rusty trowel.

Scarlett looked up at the dark grey sky which was really threating to rain. Shivering slightly, she turned and walked out. Heading back to the path, she debating carrying on then decided not to risk it. Heading back, she walked through some of the gardens, admiring the shallow ponds where the frogs were hiding and the just budding bushes. Spotting a small shelter made out of white stone and with two almost naked women statues on either side, Scarlett ducked inside.

A damp smell hit her nose and her face crinkled. Slime and moss covered the floor and walls, making what once had been a pretty hidey-hole ugly. Scarlett sat down on the cold, wet marble bench and looked out at the little pond and small water spout poking out. She listened to the wind start violent shaking the bare tree branches. A bird squawked in the distance then came the heavy patter of rain.

Scarlett watched as the large drops splashed into the pond and sent ripples rocking the surface. The dry soil and pathways quickly changed to a darker colour. A rumble of thunder sounded across the garden. She hugged herself and though a part of her wanted to huddle in the shelter for longer, she knew the weather was only going to get worse. Getting up and fixing her hood, she made a break for it and ran back towards the house.

The manor loomed before her, looking menacing with the darkening sky above it. The thunder rolled again, louder this time. A white flash flickered past and Scarlett stopped to search for lightening. She was too late and the bolt had all ready gone. Picking up pace and going into a run, she made it to the main lawn. Spotting the back door, she headed straight over.

Going in, she slammed the door shut behind her and went to the kitchen window. There she saw a flash of lighting jag across the sky as if tearing it in pieces. Scarlett caught her breath back then took off her wet things. Stripping and leaving everything, she went and had a shower. The hot water wiped the chill away from her skin and made her feel better. Getting dressed into comfy clothes, she sorted her wet things out and made a hot drink.

Settling on to the sofa, she turned the TV on and watched the news as the storm raged on above her. A crack of lightening and roar of thunder made her jump and glance at the window. It was black outside, but she could just see the rain drops cluttering the glass. Scarlett turned back to the TV screen but suddenly it and the lights went out.

 

To Be Continued….

A Foot In The Past (Part 12)

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

Scarlett’s mind wheeled as she listened to the noise. How could there be a rocking chair in the hotel rooms above her? Throwing back the duvet, she got up and hurriedly dressed in the clothes she had spent the day in. Putting on her trainers and grabbing her mobile phone, she went to the bedroom door. Opening it and going into the hallway, she paused and listened again. The rocking chair was still thumping.

Unlocking the apartment door, she walked into the entrance hall and turned the lights on fully. The shadows scattered and fled into the dark corners where the light couldn’t reach them. Scarlett calmed her breathing and eyed the stairs, she was about to go up when she remembered the CCTV. Turning and going through the other door, Scarlett woke up the computers and looked at the cameras. The outside ones showed nothing but a windy and wet night. The ground floor ones were clear. She tried the staircase and first floor corridor. The camera on the far left was just a black screen, but the others showed nothing. Checking the second floor, she saw that the same camera there wasn’t working either and it was the one that showed the attic door.

Straightening, she grabbed the ring of keys that Greyson had for some reason left on the desk and headed out. Making sure all the lights were on, Scarlett climbed the stairs. At the square landing, she went right and carried on climbing. The thumping sounds seem to slow down and as she reached the top, the noise had all but stopped.

‘Hello!’ Scarlett shouted.

She let the echo surrounded her then waited a few moments.

‘Who’s there?’ she asked.

Tightening her grip on the banister, she heard the rocking chair stop moving. Silence returned. Scarlett stepped forward and looked at the doors to her left, trying to decide which ones were over the apartment.

A child like giggle from the left caused her head to whip around.

‘I’m not alone!’ Scarlett yelled, ‘and the police are on their way. If you come out now and stop this messing around, we can help you.’

What sounded like a whisper followed by a moan touched her ears, but she couldn’t tell where it had come from. Putting her shoulders back and trying to stay confident, she walked over to the first room on the right. Unlocking and opening the door, she went into the lit room. Looking around, she discovered nothing and moved on to the next.

‘It’s no good hiding you know,’ she spoke out, feeling reassured by the sound of her own voice, ‘we’re going to get you soon enough!’

Scarlett walked into the second room, ready to face a teenager or young homeless person. The room was empty. Growling softly, she walked out and checked another four rooms. Each was empty and as Scarlett also noted none had a rocking chair. Making sure, she had locked the doors, she checked the first handful on the other side and found them just as empty.

‘I’m not going crazy,’ she muttered.

Coming back to the stairs, she paused and let the silence settle again. The floor creaked above her. Scarlett looked up and heard the sound of the chair rocking again. She ran up the next flight of stairs and looked down both corridors. The light closest to the attic door flickered, drawing her eye and suddenly she realised where the sound was coming from.

Clutching the ring of keys, she stomped over to the attic door and opened it. A dark maw met her. Scarlett fumbled around for the switch and finally found it. Dim light drifted down, hardly touching the darkness of the walls. For a spilt second, she debated going back for a torch and maybe the cricket bat, but the sound of something rattling stopped her.

Listening, she heard what sounded like a baby’s rattle toy which seemed in time with the rocking of the chair and the creaking floor boards.

Taking a deep breath, she started the climb. The stairs groaned underneath and dust rose up towards the naked bulbs. At the top she looked down the three corridors and tried to figure out where the noise was coming from. Swallowing, she decided to call out and see what happened.

‘Hey, I know you’re up here! Show yourself!’

Her voice echoed deeply and came back to her loudly.

A voice said something, but it was too low for her to hear.

‘I mean it! The police are coming and my husband is right behind me!’ Scarlett cried.

‘No, he’s not,’ a voice hissed.

Scarlett jumped. A scream bubbled in her throat and she fought to wrestle it down whilst urging her feet not to run. She took in a few breaths of hot, heavy air and clutched the key ring tighter.

‘How do you know that?’ she finally squeezed out.

‘I saw him leave,’ a voice, which sounded like a young girl whispered back.

‘Who are you?’ Scarlett asked.

There was pause, a small laugh then nothing else. In the background, the rocking and rattling continued.

Slowly, Scarlett moved and began opening the rooms she and Greyson had searched through before. Even through it was dark, she couldn’t see anyone or anything that seemed out of place. Going back to the top of the stairs, she searched the keys and selected the skeleton one. Wondering if it would open any of the doors up here, Scarlett walked back down the right corridor and going to the first locked room there, slotted the key in. She turned it and heard a faint click. Smiling, she pushed open the door and looked into a pitch black room.

Pulling out her phone and calling up the torch, she used the surprisingly bright light to look around. She saw piles of decaying cardboard boxes going from floor to ceiling and completely filling the room. Closing the door, she tried the next and found it to contain bedframes and mattress.

A chuckle came from behind her, but she didn’t turn around.

‘I am going to find you!’ Scarlett said through gritted teeth.

She walked out of the room and tried the next and the one after, both rooms held dust sheet covered furniture. Going to the final room, she slotted the key in and turned it. The lock clicked and she pushed opened the door. A loud gasp seemingly coming from inside the room caused her to pause.

‘Hello?’ Scarlett said.

The rocking and rattling began to fade. There was the sound of running bare feet on the floor boards and something, a book perhaps, tumbling to the floor.

Scarlett flung open the door and shone her phone torch in. Her mouth dropped and a loud oh sound escaped her. The room was a Victorian style children’s nursey. Dust covered toys were scattered across the floor and a large rocking horse dominated the room. A small table surrounded by stools was set up for a tea party and there was a doll’s house underneath a curtained window. Against the far wall, were a bookcase and a small writing desk.

‘Hello?’ Scarlett called softer.

A muffled cry tickled her ears. She paused, but hearing nothing further, she walked into the room and began looking for a light switch. Finding it, she flicked it up and down, but the light didn’t come on. Dropping her hand, she turned and looked around the room again. She walked over to the rocking horse and gently touched it, making it rock. The sound it made was just like the one she had heard.

‘Don’t be scared,’ Scarlett called out then wondered if she was saying that to herself.

Shaking her head, she panned the floor and moved to the doll’s house. Looking at the dust and spider webbed building, she thought it looked like the original manor house. She went to open it and felt a touch of icy air on her hand. Pausing, she shone the torch on the back of her hand and finding nothing, opened the doll house.

Inside all the rooms were complete with furniture and small dolls were scattered about.

‘Wow. Amazing,’ Scarlett breathed.

‘It’s mine!’ a voice that sounded similar to the one before cried out.

Scarlett glanced to the side and thought she saw a grey shadow moving closer to her.

‘It’s nice,’ she said and began shutting the front panel.

‘Wait!’

She stopped.

‘Leave it open,’ the voice cried.

‘Please,’ Scarlett added.

‘Please,’ repeated the voice.

Scarlett swung open the panel and moved slightly away. She watched as the grey shadow came to hover in front of the doll’s house.

‘Can I see you? I won’t hurt you. I just want to talk,’ Scarlett said gently.

‘Why?’ the voice asked.

‘Because…I’ve never seen a ghost before and I want to. You’ve been the one making all that noise, haven’t you?’ Scarlett questioned.

‘It wasn’t just me!’ the voice replied stiffly.

‘There are more?’

Scarlett blinked and tried to refocus her eyes on the grey shape, but it was transforming before her. A girl no older than ten, was knelt on the floor in a long dress with her hair nicely tied back was staring up at her with wide white eyes. In her right hand, she held one of the small doll house dolls and her left was resting in her lap. She smiled a little.

Scarlett’s hand went to her chest and she tried to regain control of her breathing and heartbeat. Everything was screaming for her to run away, but she felt frozen to the floor.

 

To Be Continued…

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…

Being Followed (Part 2)

Ghost, Gespenstig, Shadow, Silhouettes, Mystical

 

Briony snapped her mouth shut, biting her tongue and cheek at the same time. She threw her book at the shadow figure looming over her and scrambled off the bed. Her foot tangled in the blanket and she tumbled. Landing sprawled across the floor, pain shot in her chest, arms and stomach. Struggling upwards, she crawled passed her bed then got up.

Not looking back, she rushed to the door, flung it open and raced into the bathroom. Ramming home the bolt lock, she turned on the light and climbed into the still damp bath tub. Her breathing heaved loudly in her ears and she pressed her hands over them. Curling up, she rocked back and forth like an upset child.

Wetness soaked into her pyjamas bottoms and Briony began to feel uncomfortable. She raised her head off her knees and listened. She couldn’t hear anything other than the normal house sounds. The fridge was humming, the pipes gurgling and outside a car was going by. She leant over the edge and looked at the door. Stiffly, she got up and out of the tub. Curling her damp feet on the mat, she reached for a towel.

A soft tapping froze her hands.

Briony’s eyes shot to the door. The handle was slowly moving downwards.

A scream fired in her throat, but she quickly grabbed the towel and stuffed it into her mouth. Peering over, she saw the handle stop then flick back up. The noise vibrated and she felt it through the floor. Swallowing, she tasted rough cloth in her mouth.

Was that a footstep?

She listened harder, but couldn’t hear anything else. Then the handle began rattling. Briony screamed and dived back into the tub as someone tried violently to open the door. Throwing the towel over her head, she curled up and tried to quieten her sobbing.

The handled stopped and what sounded like shuffling moved down the hallway. Wiping her face with a shaking hand, Briony looked up. The bathroom light glared down at her and the ceiling was pooled with light. Sitting up, she fisted the towel then carefully climbed out of the tub.

She stood for a few moments watching the door handle, before she reached out to touch it. The metal was icy cold. She unlocked and opened the door, taking a deep breath and expecting the worse. There was nothing in the hallway. Looking both ways, she quickly ran back into her bedroom and hit the main light.

Closing the door and leaning against it, she looked around and saw everything looked normal. Going to the bedside table, she snatched up her mobile and rung the police.

‘What’s you emergency?’ an eager female voice asked.

‘I think there’s someone in my house,’ Briony breathed into the phone.

‘A burglary? What’s your address, please?’

‘I don’t know…I’m not even sure it’s…’

‘Your address?’

Briony’s eyes flickered to the bedroom door as she give her addressed and listen to the woman’s instructions. The soft sounds of fingers tapping on plastic trickled through the house.

‘I’m going to try and get out,’ Briony hissed into the phone, cutting across the woman’s words.

‘Do you think you can?’ the calming voice replied back.

‘Maybe. I think it’s, he, is in the attic.’

‘Is there a neighbour you can go too?’

‘Probably,’ Briony answered, putting on a dressing grown and slippers.

‘Can you stay on the phone?’

‘I’ll try.’

Shuffling to the door, Briony opened it and looked out. Slipping through the gap, she walked downstairs and to the front door. She took the spare key from its hiding place behind a small picture and went to unlock the door.

Wood creaking sounded loudly in her ears.

Briony’s breath caught and though she tried desperately not to look, her eyes glanced over her shoulder.

At the top of the stairs a large black figure was standing watching her.

She could make out the outline of the legs, body, arms and head, but no further details. The figure seemed to be made up of shadows which swirled around. Sluggishly, the figure lifted  a foot and placed it down the first step.

‘The police are coming!’ Briony screamed.

She scrambled to fit the key in the lock and turn it. She yanked open the door, darted out and slammed it closed again. Locking the door, she saw through the fuzzy glass the shadow man stepping down the last step. Not waiting to see if it tried to get out, Briony jogged down the path and out on to the street.

A drizzle of rain brushed her face and she moved her hair back. Hugging herself, she wondered who’s door to knock on then remember her mobile in her pocket. Digging it out, she saw the call had been disconnected. Her finger hooved over the redial button, but then she heard sirens in the distance.

Letting out a big sigh, she tried to tuck herself into the hedge so she was half hidden. The streetlight next to her glowed down, effecting her sight as she tried to look back at the house. Upstairs, in bedroom she thought the curtain moved slightly. She pressed her lips together, but didn’t see anything else.

A police car swerved up and parked half on the curb. The siren was cut, but the flashing lights were left on. Doors hurriedly open, a man and a woman officers got out. They looked like twins in their crisp blue uniforms, complete with hats and short dark hair cuts. They quickly moved towards the gate as one.

Briony stepped from the hedge, ‘I got out and locked him inside. He came at me, but I’m okay,’ she gushed. ‘He can’t get out. Here’s the key,’

The police woman grabbed her as she stumbled. Briony wrapped her hands around the officer’s thin arms and thought she’d never be able to let go.

‘Don’t worry, I’ll get him,’ the policeman said, taking the key and heading towards the house.

Briony watched him go, the streetlight illumining the fear in her eyes.

‘Everything’s going to be all right now.’

She turned to the soothing voice of the female officer and took in the hard thin looking face.

‘I’m not sure what’s be going on, but all day I’ve been followed. I kept seeing things and I thought I was going crazy, but I think I was being stalked,’ Briony explained.

‘Do you have any idea who it could be?’

‘No,’ she said with a shake of her head.

‘An ex? A friend you had a falling out with? An admirer? Someone you meet online?’ The policewoman questioned.

Briony pulled a face, ‘no. There’s no one.’

They both turned at the sound of the door knocker banging slightly. The male officer was back and alone. He came over and they both looked puzzled at him.

‘There doesn’t seem to be anyone inside,’ he stated.

‘No! There was someone! A man, a black man!’ Briony shouted.

She tore away from the police and darted inside. She ran through all the rooms and the back garden, but even after turning on all the lights and looking in all the hiding spots possible, Briony found no one.

Returning to her front door, breathless and shaking, she leant against the frame and watched the two officers studying her.

‘Did you check the attic?’ she sniffed, ‘I thought I heard him going in there before whilst I was hiding in the bathtub.’

‘No, I didn’t, where is it?’ the policeman asked.

Briony turned and led him to the attic’s trap door.

‘You open the door and the ladder comes down. You can pull it up once you’re in there too,’ she explained.

Stepping back, she watched the officer open the door, climb the ladder and go in with his torch. She heard him calling out then moving around and shifted a few things. The beam of his light swept the attic portal. He called out again before reappearing, ‘there’s no one here.’

‘Could he have got out any other way?’ the policewoman asked.

‘No. Everything was locked,’ Briony pointed out.

‘Very true. All right, lets double check then take a look outside,’ the male officer suggested as he came out of the attic.

Briony trailed the police around her house, helping them to look everywhere a person could fit themselves. They asked her questions, but she couldn’t give them enough details. Finally, they left to do a search outside and recommend she find somewhere else to stay for the night.

Closing the door behind them, Briony went upstairs, fighting down the urge to get her mental health checked out.

She closed the door to her bedroom and began sorting herself. Repeating to that she wasn’t insane, she changed and packed an overnight bag. Leaving a few lights on, she left and got into her car. Slotting the keys in, she looked up and saw the police car at the end of the street.

Deciding to drive to her parents’ Briony started the engine. Her eyes flicked to living room window as she pulled off.

There was a tall black figure standing in front of the closed curtains, hands pressed to the glass, watching her with glowing red eyes.

 

To Be Continued…

Trust (Part 38)

Candle, Meditation, Hand, Keep, Heat, Confidence, Rest

Fern ran her hands down the dark red velvet dress and decided she really didn’t like it. The heavy material dropped straight from her shoulders to the floor, giving no hint at the shape of her body underneath. She pulled back the sleeves, which sloped into an open triangle shape, covering her hands. They fell back straight away.

Glancing down, she had to pick the dress up to see the floor and the tips of the flat red shoes. They felt too small and were already pinching her toes. She took them off, balancing on one leg then the other. Dropping them to the bare white wood floor, she looked around for anything else she could wear.

The tiny room held a single bed fitted against the far wall with a black curtained window overlooking it. A large wardrobe was within an arm’s reach to her right. The door was behind her, closed and locked. Above her, hung a single candle bulb in a white shade, casting a dim light on the room. Fern made out a running network of old beams and slate tiles in the ceiling.

She went to the window and peered around the curtains. A single panel of glass, flashed the reflection of herself and the room, before showing her the empty land outside. She pressed her hand to the glass, feeling the damp coldness under her fingers.

Is my mind really mine again or is Raphael still controlling me? She thought.

Letting her hand slip from the glass and the thick curtain fall back, she went to the wardrobe and stared inside. A number of different coloured dresses, tops, skirts, pants hung together. On the top shelf the tips of many shoes poked out and in the two fitted draws in the bottom lay underwear, nightwear and a few other items. Reaching inside, she shuffled through the clothes then looked down at the dress. She had no memory of putting it on.

Taking it off and letting it fall to the floor. Fern choose some black cotton trousers and a blue silk blouse. She put them on, finding that they fitted better than the dress and that she looked more like she was going for an interview then to a vintage tea party. Searching through the shoes, she found some black ankle boots which were one size too big for her.

Shoving the dress and shoes back in, she grabbed another pair of socks then paused. Her ears twitched at the creaking of the attic stairs. Quietly, she got up, swung the wardrobe doors shut and went to the bed. Sitting just on the edge, she put the socks and boots on. The footsteps carried on, but stopped before they reached her door.

She listened as the room next to her’s was opened and someone walked in. A bed, probably just like the one she was sat on, she thought, let out a loud groan as someone lay on it. Voices drifted and she snatched a few meaningless words out before they faded again.

Fern breathed deeply and got up. She went to the door and tried turning the round handle. She tugged, but it didn’t open. She tried the other way, but felt the same resistance.

She wandered around the room, it only taking a few steps before she was back by the bed again. She picked up her wet clothes, folded them then stood on the bed. Looking up at the rafters above, she wondered if she could hide her clothes up there.

Why would I even need to do that? She thought, looking down at the clothes.

Getting off the bed, she took them and her shoes over to the wardrobe. Opening the bottom drawer, she put her stuff inside and looked at the other items. There were two black swimming costumes and a white bikini. Followed by; a neon green scarf, a long pair of black silk gloves, two pairs of winter woollen gloves, tights and stockings still in the packets. Fern pulled a suspend belt out then shoved it back in.

Closing the drawer then the doors, she stood up again and looked at the empty wall space on either side of the wardrobe. To the left of her, were the window was, the wall didn’t look as if it perfectly fitted and there was a slight gap between where the two walls meet. She went over and inspected the walls. She ran her fingers along the white cracked paint.

There was a soft knocking on the wall.

Fern froze.

‘Who’s there?’ a male voice whispered though the crack.

‘Who are you?’ Fern hissed back.

‘I’m Ollie. Hey, are you the newbie Raphael rescued?’

‘He didn’t rescue me,’ Fern scoffed, ‘he kidnapped me.’

She heard a soft sighing.

‘Did they take you too?’

‘They found me,’ Ollie said back, ‘Ike and Zara. They said my maker had left me for dead in a hotel room. But I know that’s not what happened. They killed her. I remember. Though, they keep trying to erase it from my mind.’

Fern pressed her hand to the wall, feeling flecks of paint under her nails.

‘You still there?’ Ollie asked.

‘Yes.’

‘What’s your name?’

‘Fern,’ she uttered.

‘You can’t let them into your head or they’ll take you over. Just pretend their mind control is working and do what they want you to do. It’s the best way to survive,’ Ollie explained.

‘And don’t trust any of them,’ Fern said under her breath.

The sound of footsteps on the stairs turned her head again.

‘We’ll try and talk more later. Remember what I said,’ Ollie’s disembodied voice came through the wall.

‘I will,’ Fern answered back.

She stepped away and into the centre of the room. A few moments later, she heard the lock opening in her door. Taking a deep breath and making her head blank, she watched the door slow open and Raphael appear in the frame.

To Be Continued….

Banana Bread

She sniffed and wondered what that smell was. Pausing for the first time in hours, she half turned her head to glance at the attic door. A thin paint brush was glued to her dry lips and three more brushes stilled their ball juggling like movements in her hands. The large canvas before her demanded her attention back.

She looked at the overall painting and not just the small bottom sections she had been working on. It was a dark under the ocean scene with just a hint of rolling waves on top. She put down the paint brushes, gently removed the one from her mouth and stood up. Her body ached and protested, but still her bones clicked back and her muscles moved.

She walked away stiffly, like an hundred year old woman then turned once she had reached the bookcase. The painting filled her vision and the sweet banana smell lingered around her. What is that? She wondered and smelt the air again. It was a warm and rich aroma that hummed of homemade baking. It sang to her like a child with a sugary voice.

She shook her head and zoned back into the painting. The wreckages of ships both wooden and metal loomed out of the dark and eerie water. Sea weed and other salt water plants floated next to them whilst sea creatures of all kinds filled the rest of the space. It was good, life like yet with a handful of dark fantasy.

She took a note of different things, for example; the Kraken wrapped around the first wooden ship needed finishing. The hammerhead shark in the porthole faded too much into the background and she needed luminous paint for the jellyfishes. She hobbled back to her stool and sat down again. The two tables on both sides of the canvas and easel where packed with paints, brushes, jars of water, mixing trays, paper sketches and printed coloured photographs. She shuffled through everything and found an image of the hammerhead shark.

The colour is too dark, she realised as she compared things. Gathering a selection of grey paints, she began to figure out which one was accurate. The heavy whiffs of banana hugged around her and tugged her stomach away. Putting down the paints were a sigh, she got up and undid the apron covering her. Abandoning the paint encrusted fabric on the stool, she went to the attic door.

Opening it, she went down the steep staircase with bubbling regret. She stopped at the bottom and looked back up, knowing the painting wouldn’t be finished in time if she did this. She breathed deeply and the cake smell reassured her. She’d feel better it seemed to add. She went across the landing and down the two flights of main stairs to the kitchen.

She stopped at the half opened door and looked in. All she could see was the side of the fridge-freezer, some cupboards and to the other side, the edge of the kitchen table. The smell was at its peak but mingling with the hot oven and lemon cleaner. She opened the door, unable to stop herself and walked in.

From the table, her husband looked up guilty. Wordlessly, he slid an already full bowl over to her. The sight of banana bread in custard brought her almost to tears.

**********

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