A Foot In The Past (Part 7)

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The curtain seemed to be moving.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scarlett nodded.

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

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

‘I’ll get the keys,’ Greyson added.

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

‘What?’ she asked.

‘Are you sure about this?’ he questioned.

She gave a single nod and a soft humming sound.

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

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

Greyson rubbed his forehead and looked complexed at his wife.

‘Please. I just…want to make sure.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scarlett paused and waited for him to join her.

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

‘That’s good,’ Scarlett said.

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

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

‘Well?’ Scarlett said in a low voice.

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

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

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

 

To Be Continued….

 

A Foot In The Past (Part 6)

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

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

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

‘I made tea,’ Scarlett pointed out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scarlett shook her head, ‘it’s fine.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Ben!’ Callahan hissed.

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

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

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

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

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

‘Of course. We’ll get right on that.’

‘I’ll show you out,’ Greyson uttered.

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

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

‘What time is it?’ Scarlett asked.

‘Around half past five, I think.’

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

‘You sure?’

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

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

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

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

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

‘Go to bed,’ Scarlett said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Your hair,’ he whispered.

‘Oh?’

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

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

‘Do I look that bad?’

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

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

 

To Be Continued…

A Foot In The Past (Part 5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Huh?’ he mumbled.

‘Listen!’

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

Greyson removed her hand, ‘what is it?’

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

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

‘Anything?’

‘No,’ she called back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

She turned on the light and got out of bed.

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

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

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

‘Are you sure?’ Greyson asked.

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

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

‘You’re sure about this? he asked.

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

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

‘Just in case,’ he muttered.

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

‘Fine, but keep back.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued…

A Foot In The Past (Part 4)

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

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

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

‘The bedroom is done,’ she declared.

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

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

‘Sounds good. Fancy a drink?’

‘Yes, Please.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘We could bring one of those tables closer.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Greyson?’ she whispered.

‘I hear it too,’ he muttered back.

‘We should go check.’

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

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

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

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

‘Hello?’ she called loudly.

The tapping stopped.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A gently tapping brushed against her ears.

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

The toilet flushed and the sink tap ran.

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

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

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

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

The noise stopped. Silence filled the air.

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

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

There was creaking on the grand staircase.

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

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

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

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

‘What?’ Greyson said coming into the hallway.

‘I saw…there was…’

‘Scarlett? Are you okay?’

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

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

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

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

‘Maybe,’ Scarlett mumbled.

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

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

To Be Continued…

A Foot In The Past (Part 3)

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

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

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

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

Greyson snorted and rolled over.

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

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

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

‘Probably gone by now.’

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

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

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

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

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

‘I have to go now,’ Greyson uttered.

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

‘Yeah, yeah.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘What?’ his muffled voice asked.

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

Greyson cried out and flung the duvet over his head.

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

‘Why?’ Greyson threw back.

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

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

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

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

‘Alarm first,’ Greyson stated, getting up.

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

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

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

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

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

‘Come back to bed.’

‘After all that?’ Scarlett questioned.

She looked straight up at him and saw him shrug.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

To Be Continued…

A Foot In The Past (Part 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Hello?’ she called.

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

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

‘Hello?’ she called again.

Her voice echoed faintly then faded.

‘Scarlett?’

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

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

‘I’m here!’

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

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

‘Huh?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Okay,’ Scarlett muttered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Just a quicker?’ Greyson pressed.

‘No,’ she mumbled and rolled over.

‘In the morning, then?’

‘Maybe…’

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

 

To Be Continued…

A Foot In The Past (Part 1)

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

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

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

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

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

‘Having second thoughts?’ he called over.

‘No,’ Scarlett replied, ‘are you?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘It can be fixed,’ Scarlett muttered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘I think we did…’

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

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

 

To Be Continued…

Little Black Book (Part 2)

Book, Open, Pages, Literature, Textbook, School

By the time the train pulled into Manchester Piccadilly, The rain had turned heavier and become a mixture of hailstone and sleet. Kimmy gathered her rucksack as the PA pinged the arrival and the train came to a stop. She let the stamped of people pass her before getting up and stepping onto the platform.

Cold air wrapped around her, sending chills through her coat and prickling her skin. Kimmy tucked loose strands of her bright multi-colored hair back and joined the flow of people heading to the exits. The smell of oil, coffee and sweat mingled together and she felt desperate for some fresh air.

Once outside, the weather quickly changed her mind and Kimmy half-dashed to her apartment. Twenty minutes later, she was dripping wet and felt frozen to the bone. Letting herself in and catching the elevator, she went up to the place she currently called home. Unlocking the door, she found the lights off and remembered with a mixture of loneliness and thankfulness that her housemates, Sunny and her boyfriend Logan had gone on holiday on the weekend Kimmy had been away for.

Kimmy went into her bedroom, dumped her stuff and hurried into the shower. The hot water eased away the cold and aches from the cramped train seat. Getting out, dry and dressed and opened her rucksack. Emptying and sorting everything out, she spotted the black leather notebook and paused.

‘I forgot all about this,’ she said picking it up.

The silver writing glowed it’s warning at her, but unlike before when the notebook had been strange to her, Kimmy felt an odd connection to it. Setting it aside, she finished sorting out her things then climbed into the middle of her bed and slowly opened the notebook.

There was a soft creak of the binding and written a upon the first light yellow page was Sketches. The words ran diagonal with a slant and were surrounded by thin slashing lines. Kimmy turned the page. A baby dragon just hatching from a egg peeked up at her. Bold and thin pencil lines created shading in all the right areas, making the drawing look three dimensional. She looked closer and could make out some tiny spikes on the dragon’s head and the tips of the wings.

Kimmy peeled the paper and saw the next sketch to be a castle tower. On the next few pages were body parts of a horse then the horse itself, followed by parts of a medieval style knight then the knight himself till finally both images were put together. She paused over that sketch for awhile. Trying to take in all the intricate details of the knight’s armour and the muscles of the horse.

How could anyone not want to show these off? Kimmy’s mind raced, They are so good.  

Her fingertips slide along the corner of the page, but just as she was about to flip it, her mobile rang. Sighing deeply, she abandoned the notebook that had been warming in her hands and grabbed her phone. The caller ID flashed up it was her mother. Hitting answer, Kimmy mumbled an ‘Hello,’ into the phone and prayed her mum wasn’t about to rant about everything under the sun.

 

To Be Continued….

Beedingwood

Mick squeezed through the chained and pad locked gates as the rain turned heavy. Rise To Remain sung through the noise cancelling headphones, blocking out the vibrations of the fence. Pulling the stolen rain coat’s hood further down, he clicked on the torch. The beam of light circled on the overgrown road.

Thick branches from a dead tree lay snapped in the tall grass and weeds. The sudden image of himself and Rohan collecting them appeared. It hadn’t been raining that night and the wood had all been dry. Mick shone the torch upwards and the light darted up the trunk of the tree in question.

Aaron appeared balanced in the branches. He’d been cutting through the limbs with a small saw when Rohan and Mick had arrived. He had explained Sam and Ty- who was sort of their leader-were trying to get a fire going. Mick could dimly recall the sounds of the sawing and the dead tree snapping. Aaron had climbed down afterwards and collected an arm full of sticks before they had headed back with their loads.

He dropped the torch back to the overgrown road. There was no point in gathering the rest of the wood, it was far too wet. Hoping there might be some dry sticks still left over, Mick started on the road. The faces of his friends seemed to join him as he scrambled through the dripping foliage. Rohan with his bright red hair in a stubby ponytail, was the shortest of the group. He also had a pinkie finger missing on his left hand and was colour blind. What had he been wearing that night? It had properly been black or dark coloured like the rest of the Goth gang wore.

Aaron, trailing behind them, was the strongest and the tallest. He went to the gym and took steroids out of habit and addiction. His dyed black hair was the shortest and he spoke very little. His boots and ripped jeans had been covered in mud. Though he wouldn’t say where he’d been and it had seemed too dry for so much wet dirt.

The road went upwards and Mick followed it, banishing his friends from his mind. A few minutes later, he stopped to catch his breath and look around. He was standing at what seemed to be the top of a large hill in a field. The road headed to his right and climbed another hill. The bushes and trees stretched out on either side as far as he could see. He shook out the rain coat, which was doing a great job of stopping the rain soaking him. However, he really was starting to feel cold and wet. It couldn’t be much further now, could it?

He moved off again and System of a Down came on his IPod and through the headphones. It was hard going on the slippery grass, but under them small stones gave his boots some stability. His torch light shook across the ground and he was finding it hard to catch his breath. He stopped on the decline and forced his breathing to steady. Opening his eyes, he stared through the growing darkness and sheet rain to see the outline of a massive structure a few feet ahead of him. System started to fade and the IPod shuffled another of their songs on.

The road met a widening driveway, which was divided by another pair of gates, half hidden under ivy. One of the gates was open slightly because the hinges were broken. Mick stepped through and gazed up at the building now in his sight. Once it had been a glorious early Victorian mansion, but now it had been left to rot. The white paint covering the roman columns had peeled away. Ivy and other climbing plants had wrapped themselves around everything. A handful of ground floor windows had been boarded up and the others were either missing or broken. An eerie atmosphere hung over the place as if it was a dead body.

Forcing away his fears, Mick walked up to the front doors just as he had done a week before. His light hit an orange glob on the floor and he aimed the torch down. Sat by the right side door, a rotting pumpkin had sunken in on itself and collapsed. He recoiled at the sight and pushed against the other door. In a flash, he could see the Jack O’ Lantern grinning at him. The candle inside had been casting burning welcoming light on to his face.

The door gave way with a loud shuddering groan and Mick, hurrying inside, pushed it shut again. Iron Maiden’s Chains of Misery echoed through the headphones, filling his head with calming notes. The foul air of the house flooded his nose with each desperate breath he drew. He still couldn’t put his finger on all the different scents that rose within the thick dust. Waving the beam of light, he ordinated himself and crept into the first room to his left.

Alongside the music in his ears, he could hear Ty’s voice telling him and the others about that room. It had originally been a guest waiting room in the mansion and had stayed that way when the house had become a school and home for mentally and physically disabled children. Mick shone his torch about. There were two long sofas and a small table set before a fireplace. This was where it had all began.

He went over to the fireplace, which contained a heap of ashes and bits of burnt wood. Off to the side was a pile of sticks, logs, newspapers and a match box. Thanking his luck, Mike began to build a fire, recalling as he did so Ty and Sam building one as he and the other two had arrived. Sam had been scrunching up balls of newspaper mismatched painted finger nails. His multi-coloured hair covered his face and his glasses were sliding off his nose. Ty had been lighting candles, his leather jacket clinking with all the metal elements adoring it. His spiked up Mohawk seemed to dominate the room and his piercing purple eyes had fixed onto them as they entered.

Removing the coat, Mick also slipped the headphones off and let the last few moments of Maiden echo in the room. He struck a match and set a ball of newspaper a lit before dropping it into a circle of more paper and wood. The flames took and licked around the wood hungrily. The fire cracked and sparked, adding its own sound track to the beginnings of a Disturbed song, which Mick only half recognize.

As he feed and watched the fire, his thoughts swirled back again. He had lied to his parents and the police, telling them he was at a Halloween night out with his friends in Liverpool. He had gotten drunk and couldn’t remember much of the latter part or what his friends had been up to. Truthfully though, he knew all the details with an odd clarity.

Mick poked a long stick into the fire, stirring it up a little, which caused the fire to hiss. They had gathered here, in this place that Ty had called his second home and had been his escaped from foster parents. They had drunk straight vodka, JD, cider and Morgan’s, had talked girls, music, movies, life, had laughed and shouted over ghost stories. Then Ty had offered around some tablets. Taking them, they had left to hit their favourite night clubs and bars. More drinks and loud music had flowed, washing together and creating a never ending night.

They had ended back here with some girls. Rolling around on the sleeping bags covered floor and the creaking springs of the sofas. Sweaty bodies shimmered in candle light, gasps and delightful cries had roamed through the room, black lipstick had coated skin and bite marks had been left behind. He couldn’t remember the girls’ names, or what they looked like clearly as it seemed they had been a reflection of themselves. Laying there, in a tangle of naked skin and displaced dust, Mick remembered one of the girls’ asking the name of the house.

Beedingwood, Ty had replied then in a smoke haze had told tales of the manor house and the school. They had listened, hooked to the horse voice as they smoked and drank. Mick tried to recall one of the stories but couldn’t. They had all sounded so legendary and mysterious. Afterwards, Ty had offered them another hit and there had been more sex. Sleep had come, restless and hot. Mick had woken from it with the soft voices of the girls in his ears. They were dressing and leaving. He lay still, listening to them until the doors had shut and their voices had faded with the remains of the night.

It was then that all the trouble had started. Mick had woken, struggling into his clothes and boots before going to relief himself. Coming back, he’d found most of the others awake with only Aaron still wrapped up in a sleeping bag. They had tried to wake him, but he wouldn’t budge. Mick had shook him and noticed his chest wasn’t moving. He had stuck a hand over Aaron’s mouth and nose and felt no breath tickling his skin. Cautiously, he had called Ty over, who confirmed his findings. Together, they had come up with a plan and they had carried Aaron out of there in a sleeping bag. They headed to his house, carefully sticking to side routes and avoiding everyone. Somehow, they had made it and arranged Aaron in his bed.

Ty had given them further instructions and gone over all the possibilities as they had left and headed separate ways. His predications had come true and the next day there police at their doors, announcing Aaron’s death and questioning them. They had all stuck to the story Ty had told them, which beside from Beedingwood, the drugs and the girls, was the truth.

Mick threw some more wood on to the fire and looked across at the sofa Aaron had died on. He couldn’t help wondering if his spirit was now trapped here, like the other ghosts Ty had talked about. Though, he didn’t really believe in ghosts or an afterlife. The police had now concluded their case as an accidently overdose via a drug and alcohol cocktail. The gang had never been to blame, but Mick knew he’d feel haunted by it for the rest of his life.

Lost One

I watched the spider crawling across the ceiling, needing a distraction from the empty top bunk bed. How strange that he had decided to make his home in this room. My wife was always immaculate with her cleaning in here. Still, she had other things on her mind right now.

Lewis had settled down again. His breathing was soft and across his face was that angelic expression that only young children have. It was hard for me, a first time father, to stop staring at him. Leaving him to his dreams, I half closed the door behind me and went back to my own room.  My wife curled up in bed, had left the lamps on. The soft light circled her face and I could make the worry lines on her forehead.

‘He’s a sleep again now,’ I whispered.

She moaned softly and muttered, ‘Thanks.’

I got under the duvet as she rolled over and sighed deeply.

‘You okay?’

She shook her head, ‘I don’t think I’ll ever feel ‘okay’ again.’

‘I’m sorry.’

‘I’m a bad mother.’

‘No. No, you’re not.’

She squeezed my hand, tears forming at the corners of her eyes. I couldn’t think. My throat had closed and there were only echoes of images in my head. I put my arms around her. She put her head to my chest. We held each other, listening to our breathing and heartbeats.

‘I don’t want any more children,’ she whispered.

I kissed her head, ‘Alright.’

‘I mean it, Neil. It’s just heartbreaking all the time….’ she faded, chocking on a sob.

I hugged her. It made no sense to argue, it would only make us both worse. She started to cry softly, her hands clung to my shoulders and her body shook against mine. I rubbed her back and told her it was going to be okay. Though I knew it never would be again.

It was early in the morning as I padded down the hallway to check on Lewis. There was urgency in my chest to complete my task, but it was taking me forever to there. The dark was pressing, but I could still make out the cream walls and the cluster of framed photographs.

There was a dim light shining from under Lewis’ bedroom door. It was only the nightlight, I thought, though I don’t remember it being so bright. I turned the door handle and poked my head inside.

Strands of cobwebs met my eyes. The whole room had been taken over by the thick, white strands, making it look like someone had decorated the room for Halloween, but had gone overboard. I pushed through the nearest webs and began searching the room.

‘Lewis? Where are you?’ I cried.

There was no reply and the panic rose in my stomach. I fought my way through the webs, feeling their stickiness brush against my skin. I began to tear them down, but they stuck on my clothes.

I reached the bunk bed and found it empty.

‘Lewis?’ I shouted.

I tore webs from my face and looked around the room. I could see nothing, but a slight dint in the cobwebs where I had entered the room from. I turned and fought my way to the bookcase, but Lewis wasn’t there. Fighting back a scream, I ran out of the room, the cobwebs trailing out behind me and falling into the hallway. I went back into my bedroom, my breathing deep in my panic tight chest. The bed was made and my wife was sitting in the middle of it. My mouth dropped as her head turned towards me.

She was wearing a massive black dress; with frills of delicate lace falling around her white skin and a matching veil over her face. In her left hand was a bouquet of black roses and in the other was a teddy bear. She looked like a gothic bride.

‘What happened?’ I asked, snapping out of my shock, ‘Where is Lewis?’

‘He’s gone….they are both gone now…’ she replied sadly.

‘I don’t….’

‘It was the best thing really….a half life is not a full one.’

‘Half life? What are you talking about, Beth?’

She shook her head causing the black dress to scratch against her skin. ‘They were beautiful, my boys and exactly the same. It wasn’t fair….how can one survive without the other?’

‘They can do!’ I yelled, ‘Where is he? What did you do to my son, Beth?’

She shook her head again and then dabbed at her eyes with a black lacy hanky.

I grabbed the bed railing hard and screamed.

I awoke in a tangle of sheets. The sweat was bubbling on my forehead and my lungs gasping for breath. I threw the covers back and raced for Lewis’ room in a blind panic, fearful of what I’d find behind the door and praying that the nightmare was left behind me.

Opening the door, I found the room tidy. The night lamp beside the bunk bed showed me that Lewis was still there. Sound asleep in his bed. I went to him, wanting to touch his soft blond hair, to make sure he was real.

‘Neil? What’s wrong?’ Beth whispered from the doorway.

I didn’t reply, but knelt down beside Lewis and touched him. He stirred a little and turned his face towards my hand.

‘He’s okay, isn’t he?’

‘Yes.’

Lewis opened his eyes against my hand and pulled a face.

‘Hi,’ I breathed.

My wife came to my side and put her hand on my shoulder.

‘Leo’s gone now,’ Lewis whispered.

‘Yes, he is, but he’s not really gone,’ I answered him.

‘I miss him, daddy.’

‘We do too, sweetheart,’ Beth replied.

‘It’ll be all right. Go back to sleep now,’ I said and kissed his forehead.

Then I took Beth’s hand and led her out of the room.

‘I believe you,’ she said, ‘It’ll be all right.’