Something In The Night (Part 1)

abandoned, architecture, building

It was raining heavily but inside the security cabin, Abe was dry and warm. The electric heater was humming loudly and beside from the rain hitting the metal roof there was little other sounds. Out of the window, though the darkness, Abe could see the looming front of the main building of the long abandoned asylum and hospital.

He knew the place like the back of his hand, but not because he had lived or worked there, it was because he had been watching over the place for the last five years. Some big development company had brought the buildings and land when the government had sold them off. Abe had been hired to keep an eye on the place for a few months whilst work on knocking everything down got started. However, things hadn’t gone to plan for whatever reason and no work had been started. Nobody had ever bothered to tell Abe but they had kept paying him so he carried on being the night guard.

Getting more comfy in his plush desk chair, Abe reached for his sandwiches on the desk before him. He began unwrapping them, wondering what his wife had put on them. Suddenly, a small bright light shone through the night and the rain. Looking up, Abe saw the light coming from a middle window.

A few moments later, the light vanished. Abe kept his eyes to the windows and just as he thought; the light appeared in the window to the left. The white ball seemed to bob and flash around. Abe sighed, it could only be one thing; a torch. Which meant someone was trespassing inside the asylum.

Wrapping his sandwiches up again, Abe picked up his large heavy torch and the ring of keys from his desk top. Then checked he had his mobile phone in his trouser pocket. Signal was hard to get out here, but there was just enough to phone the police if he had too. Then he put on his thick coat, woolly hat and gloves. It was cold outside but even colder in the asylum. He went to the door, unlocked it, turned on the torch and stepped out.

The rain hit his face like he had just got into a cold shower and the wind yanked him around as if he was an old newspaper. He closed the door, locking it again then set off. Fighting against the weather, he made bad time and it took him twice as long to get to the side door. Pressing himself against the freezing stone walls, he fumbled to find the right key and put it in the padlock.

Opening the door, he hurried in and closed it behind him. The light from his torch bounced in the small corridor. The beam was so bright and large that it was a spotlight in the darkness. He breathed in deeply, smelling the rot and mould of the place. Shuffling forward, he avoided the peeling paint walls and the long cracks in the floor.

The corridor ended in a door which Abe had to unlock.Once through, he came to stand in the entrance hall of the asylum. The huge open space engulfed him and the light. A cold chill ran through him and he felt like he was being watched. Abe swung the torch slowly around. The floor was made of large stone slabs that were covered in dust, but a few footprints could be made out. The walls were dark wood panelling which give away to large arched doorways which were dotted around.

Abe moved, breaking the silence which lay as if caught in the end of time. He walked slowly to the centre of the entrance hall. There was a pattern on the floor here; a large many pointed red star or flower which was surrounded by a large blue circle. To the right of him were the huge front double doors that seemed to be more from a Medieval castle then an asylum. To the left, the grand staircase rose up, guard by two towering winged lions.

He went to the staircase and shone the light up the stone steps. Through the dust he could only see his old footprints. That didn’t mean he was the only one to enter the building though. There was lots of side doors, windows, the underground tunnels and cellars which a person could get inside by. The two hundred year old buildings were a rabbit warren.

Abe thought about calling out, but decided against that. If there was a trespasser he wanted to catch them, not give them a chance to escape. Reaching out for the once over polished stair banister, he began to climb upwards.

 

To Be Continued….

 

Objects (Part 4)

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

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

‘Nothing,’ she replied.

‘Nothing?’ I repeated.

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

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

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

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

‘What happened to him?’ I asked.

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

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

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

‘And my Uncle? What did he do?’

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

I paused and wondered how to put my next question.

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

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

She nodded and the tears began spilling.

‘Did he ever say why?’ I pressed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She looked up at me in puzzlement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘All right,’ I said through gritted teeth.

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

‘I’ll be off then,’ I announced.

Surprise crossed her face, but we said our goodbyes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe, that was the answer?

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

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

Objects (Part 3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dear Mr. Eli Roberts,

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

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

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

Yours sincerely, Mrs. Jane Bogget.

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Eli, 

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

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

Best Wishes, 

Maggie Bradwell. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued…

Objects (Part 1)

old-237123_1920

If I’m being totally honest, I hardly knew Uncle Eli but for the sake of my family and Auntie Heather, I accepted the house he left me in his will. At the time, I pretended that I knew about it, but secretly I wondered why he had even remembered me and decided to leave the place to me.

A month after the funeral and with everything slowly being sorted out, I decided to drive out and see this house. Firstly though, I had to pick up the keys. When the solicitor handed them  and the papers over to me in his office, I asked him, ‘what can you tell me about this place?’ So far, I hadn’t asked anyone. Not because I feared their answers, but because of the questions that were bound to follow.

‘Well, Mr. Roberts, not much. I believe it was your uncle’s parents’ house which he inherited. He did rent it out for awhile. All the copies of that paperwork are there. But as far as I know the house has been empty for years,’ the solicitor explained.

‘Did Eli say why he was leaving it to me?’ I asked.

‘I’m not sure….I will have to check the will again,’ he replied and began shuffling papers around his over crowded desk.

‘It’s fine,’ I cut in, ‘all right. Thanks.’

I got up and left, even though he seemed on the verge of telling me more. Out of his office building, I walked across in the car park in the drizzle. I tucked the papers into my coat, there wasn’t many of them anyway and slipped the keys into my pocket. I went to my car which was parked alone by itself.

Getting back in the car, I put the postcode into the Sat Nav and set off on the hour and seven minutes trip to Lytham Saint Annes. It was a small seaside town I had been to in my childhood. I had only a few memories of being there; walking on the beach, eating fish and chips, playing crazy golf and seeing the windmill that stood on the coastline. I had never known and no one had ever told me that Eli had a house there.

Driving out of Manchester, the radio on low, I wondered why no one had yet to question me about Uncle Eli’s will. Of course, in the aftermath of the death and mourning, it might have escaped peoples’ minds, but I was still waiting for someone to come to me and demand to know why Eli had left a house to me; the youngest of his adopted nephews who had only seen him at Christmas family gathering.

I wanted to push it from my mind as I got on the motorway and my old car started complaining about being made to do sixty and above. It began to sleet too and though the Sunday afternoon traffic wasn’t that bad, things started to slow down. I turned the radio up and kept my eyes on all my mirrors.

When I finally got off the motorway, I followed the signs for Lytham Saint Annes. Then the next lot of directions were misleading and it took me awhile to find the house. Pulling up outside the place which looked like a nineteenth century fish man’s cottage, I cut the engine and got out. Eli’s house stood separated from the cottages around it, which were in much better care with their front gardens well kept and the paint on the walls looking fresh.

I took a deep breath and smelt the salty sea, we were very close to the coast and I could see the sea down below. I could hear it too as the waves were crashing heavily onto the cliffs and wall defenses. The wind blew around me, bring the chill of the sea water and also the early December freeze into my face. With the sleet still falling and threatening to turn into snow as the sky darkened, I walked up the pathway to the house.

There was no gate or fence, just a little patch of scrub land that made a square shape before the front step and small paled blue door. The house was whitewashed, but the paint was grey now and peeling. Two small windows were on either side of the door, the paint long gone from their rotting wooden frames. The curtains were drawn tight as if to keep questioning eyes away. Above those windows were two more and they were also curtained.

Reaching the door, I took the key from my pocket, easily fitted into the lock and stepped inside Uncle Eli’s mysterious little house.

It was dark inside and I fumbled along the wall for a light switch. Not finding one, I dug my phone out of my jeans and awoke the screen. Using that glow, I searched again and found a really old fashioned flick switch poking out of the dated wall paper close by. Pulling it up, a light came on above as the wind decided to shut the door behind me. I jumped and spun at the loud banging sound.

Catching my breath, I made sure the door was shut and locked behind me. Then I looked around the short hallway. It was normal enough; the yellowed wall paper had a flower print on it, the floor was wooden and so were the stairs in front of me. There was nothing in the hallway but two closed doors where on either side and a door-less room ahead. The air smelled like a mixture of things; the sea, damp, mold, old dusty things.

I walked forward and to the room at the end. It was a small kitchen and it seemed for the last few years had been little used. There was no fridge or freezer, only one of those old fire ovens against the wall to my left. There was a metal sink, a few cupboards and work tops which were empty but for a kettle with a mug next to it. There was a window and a back door but both were boarded and nailed shut from the inside.

I went back into the hallway and looked further around, but there was nothing else and no indication to when anyone was here last. I went to the door on my left and tried the old turn knob handle. There was a squeak and I had to shove the stiff door hard to open it, but even then it only opened halfway. A little slice of light from the hallway leaked in, however the darkness was too great.

To Be Continued…

 

Boots (Part 2)

Silhouette, Bokeh, Man, Out Of Focus, Fig, Bent, Black

The soft knocking on the door disturbed Faith. She rolled over, still half asleep and whacked her hand into the pillows on the other side of the bed. Moaning, she lay there for a few moments, but then the knocking got louder and she forced herself up.

‘Hello?’ she called in a tried voice.

‘It’s only me, Miss,’ the voice of Faith’s maid, Mary, called through the door.

‘Come in.’

The door creaked opened and the young woman shuffled in carrying a large jug. She was dressed in a typical black dress with a white frilled apron. Her dark hair was tied up under a white cap, allowing too much of her rosy face to be seen. Mary walked across the room and over to a bowl by the window. Tipping the jug gently, water splashed down and into the bowl. then placing the empty jug down, she moved to the wardrobe.

‘I heard something last night,’ Faith said as she slide from the bed, ‘it sounded like a man pacing the hallway. There seemed to be no one there though. You wouldn’t know anything about that would you?’

Mary paused in her search through Faith’s wardrobe, ‘So, you’ve heard him have you, Miss?’

‘Heard who?’ Faith snapped.

‘The ghost solider, Miss,’ Mary said.

Faith frowned then began washing her hands and face.

‘At least that’s what the Morgans use to call him,’ Mary added as she selected a morning dress of pale blue and white trim from the wardrobe.

‘I don’t believe in ghosts,’ Faith finally responded, ‘no, no, one of my walking dress, please.’

Faith waved the maid’s choice away then waited till she came back with a totally different dress; of lime green and black strips, before beginning to get dressed. Both women stayed silent throughout then leaving the maid to tidy the room, Faith went downstairs.

Walking into the dinning room, she found breakfast all laid out and awaiting her. Even though she didn’t feel like eating, Faith sat down and made herself a cup of tea. Sipping, she heard the grandmother clock chiming eight and the maid humming above her. With some light pouring in through the window, it felt easy to dismiss the boot steps of last night.

Nipping on some toast, Faith decided she had enough and went out for a walk. The fresh morning air really brought her back to her senses. The small village was all ready wide awake. Shops were getting ready to open and people were hurrying about. Faith walked passed the small church and out into the countryside.

The smell of grass and animals hung in the air, but Faith felt at home. She looped around the village, enjoying the warm sun and the birds flapping between the trees and hedgerows. Coming back into the village, she went into a tea shop and sat down to have some lunch.

‘Are you the new school teacher?’

Faith looked up at the waitress who had appeared with her tea and sandwiches, ‘Yes. I am.’

‘Am sure the Rector is delight you are here. He has been trying so hard to manage things since dear Mrs Pieton left us.’

‘I am sure he has been more then capable,’ Faith said as she arranged her napkin and hoped the girl got the hint to leave.

‘I heard you had brought the Morgan’s house. It’s haunted you know,’ the girl added.

Faith shot her a look, ‘I believe in no such things.’

The waitress bobbed and left her to her lunch.

Upon returning home, Faith found Mary in the study. The maid was emptying some of the books onto the shelves.

‘Good afternoon, Miss,’ Mary said, ‘I thought I would get started in here.’

‘It will take a long while to sort all my books and things,’ Faith added.

She walked over to her chair and sat down at her desk positioned under a window from which the front garden could be seen.

‘Would you like me to help you dress for the dinner you have tonight, Miss?’ Mary asked.

‘Dinner?’

‘Yes, at the Rector’s?’

‘Of course. No, we still have time. Mary…what else do you know about this…ghost?’ Faith asked.

Mary slipped the last book in her hand onto a shelf then turned to her, ‘they say he was a solider, who was wounded on a battlefield close to here. He walked in begging for help, but the villagers were all scared and no one would open their door.’

Faith tapped a pencil on the desk and looked thoughtfully at the maid.

‘This cottage was empty at the time. The family in Manchester. He broke in through the back door and fell in the hallway. When the family returned, they found him dead and decided they could no longer stay here. If that had happened to me I would have left too!’ Mary gasped.

‘Where is the proof though?’ Faith asked a few moments later, ‘was there anything in the papers? Any witnesses?’

‘No, Miss. It is believed the army covered it all up,’ Mary answered.

Faith sighed and looked out of the window. The summer’s day was really getting underway and she could see the flowers in the front garden waving in the breeze.

‘Please go and get my dress ready for tonight,’ Faith uttered, ‘I wish to read awhile in here before I get dressed.’

‘Very well, Miss,’ Mary replied.

Curtsying, the maid left the room quietly.

Faith turned and began searching through the boxes. She found one of only three books she owned on the science of the supernatural and took it back to her desk. Flipping through, she read a few passages about ghosts before Mary knocked on the door and requested if she was ready to dress.

 

To Be Continued….

 (Inspired byhttps://wordpress.com/read/feeds/34771988/posts/1062669023)

Camp Fire Story (Part 3)

People, Children, Child, Kids, Girls, Women, Woman, Man

Cody stopped and stared at the shimmering shadow which stood out against the surrounding darkness. He thought about running back inside or bolting for the tent, but he was fixed to the spot. He tried to tell himself it was nothing, just an animal maybe? Or moonlight on the water?

He looked up and began searching the pitch black sky for the moon and stars. The crying drew his attention back and he felt the urge to go and actually prove that there wasn’t anything there. Once again, picking the shimmering shape out, Cody stepped slowly down the steps and went up to his tent. Stopping again, he tried to utter an hello, but nothing came out of his month.

Swallowing and licking his lips, he tried again. His voice was less then a whisper. He put his hands together, then decided he couldn’t let this go. What would he tell Luke? He disliked his cousin calling him a baby as it was. Slowly, he shuffled off again, feeling the dry loose soil and small patches of grass under his bare feet.

Wishing he had a torch, he made it close to the edge of the lake. There he stood still, listening to the water lapping on the small outline of sand. He couldn’t see the dark shimmer shape now, nor much else. Shrugging, Cody turned and made to leave.

The girl’s crying came loud in his ears, startling him so that he almost tumbled over.

‘Who are you?’ he shouted.

‘Who are you?’ a girl echoed his words.

‘I’m Cody. What do you want?’

‘Abigail,’ came the whispered voice.

‘I have to go,’ Cody gushed and made to leave.

A small, icy cold hand grabbed his.

‘Don’t. I only want someone to play with me. Do you want to play?’

Cody shook his head, ‘no.’

‘Why not?’ the girl’s voice pressed.

‘It’s late….I should be in bed.’

‘But I’m so lonely…Will you be my friend?’

Cody screwed his face up, not sure what to answer the invisible girl. He thought about trying to move his hand, but it was numb all ready and he couldn’t feel his fingers. He wiggled them and tried to remember what his mum had said about telling people nicely about not wanting them to be friends.

‘You don’t want to be? Okay…’ Abigail said sadly and let his hand go.

‘I don’t…’ Cody scrambled for the right words, ‘I’m sorry, it’s just…’

He stopped and waited, but the ghost seemed to have gone. Shivering, he went into the tent and woke Luke up again.

‘What’s it now?’ Luke mumbled.

‘I just saw her and spoke to her. She wanted to be my friend!’ Cody rushed.

‘Who? What?’

‘The drowned girl!’

‘You were dreaming. It’s a story. It’s not real.’ Luke moaned.

‘No!’ Cody snapped and started shaking his cousin.

‘Okay!’ Luke shouted and scrambled out his sleeping bag, ‘Show me. Where is she?’

Cody pointed outside then, headed out again. The tent flaps rustled against him and he heard Luke making the same sounds. Then the torch beam flickered on and lit a line down to the lake shore.

‘Turn it off. She might not like it,’ Cody said.

Luke shot him a look and walked down to the edge of the lake. He shone the small torch about, the light picked up some small rocks and the gentle waves. Nothing shimmered under the beam and they could hear only the lake and an owl hooting somewhere.

‘You lied,’ Luke shouted, ‘there’s nothing here!’

‘She was here. She touched my hand!’ Cody countered back.

He held up his hand and Luke shone the chair on it, but his hand looked normal.

Luke pushed him hard and Cody hit the ground with a thud. He cried out and felt sharp pebbles grating under his palm. He looked up, but Luke was all ready heading back to the tent, the torch beam bobbing before him.

Cody wiped his face, catching the start of tears that had watered his eyes. He got up and decided there was no way he was getting back into the tent again. He stumbled up the porch steps and opened the back door again. Going into the welcoming glow of the lights, made him feel better and he went quietly up the stairs.

At the top, he went into the bathroom and turned the light on. There before the mirror, he saw his red flushed cheeks which looked damp. He held up his hands and saw the imprint of pebbles and flakes of dirt. He washed his hands then went into his bedroom. Putting the light on, he crossed the small floor and got into the far single bed.

He turned on the lamp and turned off the main lights. He got into the bed, feeling safer and warmer. He settled down and tried to tell himself it had all been in his head. Rolling over, he shut his eyes and tried to get back to sleep.

‘Hello?’

He stirred at the voice and slowly opened his eyes. He wasn’t sure how long it had been or who had spoken.

‘Your friend isn’t  very nice, is he?’

‘What? Who’s there?’ Cody uttered.

‘It’s me, Abigail. Remember?’ the girl’s voice whispered.

‘What are you doing in here?’ Cody gasped.

He sat up and clutched the duvet right up to his chin. He peered out trying to see her. Was that a really dark shimmer near the wardrobe? He couldn’t be sure.

‘I came to see you…Is that okay?’

‘I guess.’

‘I could go and haunt him, if you want? I do a really good moaning sound,’ Abigail spoke.

‘No. It’s okay…What do you want? I don’t think we can be friends…you being a ghost and all…’ Cody trailed off.

‘Maybe, you could set me free though?’

‘How?’ Cody asked.

He released his tight grip on the duvet and let it slide down. He could see her now; an eight year old girl in a torn up dress and long loose hair, though she still seemed to be a black outline. She was at the foot of his bed, looking over the railing at him, though Cody couldn’t see her eyes or any features of her face.

She sighed and seemed to wave her hands around, ‘I don’t know,’ she finally admitted.

Cody lay back down and looked up at the ceiling. He thought deeply, trying to recall what he knew about ghosts.

‘Maybe, you have to do something, like settle something…’ Cody said aloud, ‘or we need someone who can talk to ghosts. I don’t know what to do.’

‘It’s okay…actually, I kind of like it,’ Abigail replied.

‘You like being a ghost?’ Cody asked.

‘It’s not so bad, but it is lonely.’

‘I guess.’

Cody yawed and rubbed his eyes.

‘I should go…’ Abigail stated.

Cody mumbled a reply and shut his eyes.

The morning felt too normally. Cody woke and for a few minutes whilst he was in the bathroom and dressing, he couldn’t remember anything. Only at breakfast, when asked by his mum why he had come in, did he recall Abigail. Deciding not to tell, he lied about coming in to get some water then going upstairs instead of back outside.

Luke shot him a look, but carried on eating cereal. The girls seemed too sleepy to care or maybe they hadn’t heard. Cody didn’t add any more, but let the sounds of breakfast fill the air again. He looked over at the back door and wondered if he’d see the ghost girl again.

The Crying

England, Terraced House, Stone Facade, Masonry, Facade

Bradley paused and listened again. The faint crying of a baby brushed his ears once more. He looked over at the wall next to him, with its slightly peeling and faded floral paper and old family photographs. The noise seemed to be coming from behind there. He wondered if someone had finally moved in next door. He tried to remember if he had seen any signs this morning or before when he came back from work.

The crying stopped and Bradley, with a shrug, unmuted the TV and started eating his pasta ready meal. The news was full of the latest political scandals, murders and weather. Bradley hurried through his food, trying not to notice the gloopy, bland taste. He turned the TV channels over and turned on his game console.

The crying came again, muted only slightly by the single brick wall between the houses. The wailing noise rose and fall and Bradly couldn’t help but think about a baby in a cot seeking comfort. Shaking his head, he got back to his game, the sound of gun fire blocking out any more noise.

He went to bed far too late. The creaking of the stairs in what had once been his grandfather’s house, but was now his, seemed to accuse him of laziness. Getting ready for bed, Bradley just knew he was going to be grumpy for work in the morning. He flipped back the covers and stopped. The baby was crying again, only it seemed to be directly behind the bedroom wall now. Bradley walked over and put his hand on the wall then his ear. There was most defiantly a baby living next door to him now.

Groaning, he got into bed and put a pillow over his head. Luckily, he was far too tried and drifted off quickly.

His phone alarm clock broke into Bradley’s dreamless sleep. He reached out and turned it off before rolling over and snuggling back down. He awoke suddenly minutes later and hurried out of the bed, nearly tripping in his desperation. Flying through his morning routine and skipping breakfast, he dashed out of the house and into his ancient red Mini.

Driving, he had no other thoughts other than to get to work on time and he did barely make it. Dropping into his chair, he dragged a few breaths of stale, coffee scent air then cracked open the window next to his desk. He spent a few moments straighten his black tie, white crinkled shirt and trying to flatten down his mop of blond hair.

‘Morning, Brad.’

He brought his hand down and nodded at Mark, the only real friend he had in this Hell hole.

‘Sleep okay? Looks like you didn’t,’ Mark chucked.

‘I think someone moved in next door,’ Bradley began.

‘Oh yeah?’

‘They have a baby,’ he finished.

‘Damn. Unlucky. When my neighbour had her brat it kept me up all night too. You’re going to have to invest in some ear plugs, my friend,’ Mark stated and patted Bradley on the shoulder.

Mark walked to his own desk, which was behind Bradley’s and began shuffling papers around. Bradley nodded and looked down at his clutched desk. Too much work with left over from yesterday and he knew today’s would have to wait.

‘Hey, you coming to the pub tonight?’ Mark called out.

‘Maybe,’ Bradley replied over his shoulder then threw himself into his job.

 

Work done for the day, Bradley couldn’t talk himself out of going to the pub even though he didn’t feel like it. He sank into a plush sofa that felt too hard and still stank of cig smoke though the ban had been years ago. He nursed his pint and thought about all the trouble he was going to be in on Monday. He couldn’t risk getting fired; there were too many outstanding bills of his grandfather’s left to pay. Someone brought another round just as he had finished his first and he couldn’t refuse a free drink.

It was late by the time he left, the sky was dark with clouds and no stars or moon peered down. Bradley got into his car, sure he was over the limit as he put the key in. He drove back straight enough, with the street lamps flashing by like a count down. A light rain started falling as he pulled up outside his house.

Getting out, he wobbled up to the terrace house on the end and let himself in. He stumbled in the dark upstairs and into his bedroom. There he threw himself on the bed, grabbing pillows and blankets to wrap himself in. He was fast sleep when the crying began.

In the morning, his head hurt so much, it took him a while to clock the sounds of crying coming from the wall. He sat in the living room, sipping too hot coffee and regretting last night. He put a hand to his head and thought about the fact he could have gone into work and tried to catch up on everything. The baby screamed.

‘Shut up!’ he yelled and almost threw his coffee at the wall.

Instead, he splashed it down and stormed to the front door. Opening it, he walked out and around to the gate of the next house, he went through and was at the front door before he realised that the front bay windows were boarded up and so was the front door. A for sale sign stuck up from the front fence and the street was as silent as ever.

Unclenching his hands, Bradley looked about confused then quickly left. Going through his house, he went out the back door and looked over the wired fence that divided the two gardens. He could clearly see the boarded up back door and windows of the house next door. Wondering what was going on, he went back in then out onto the street once more. Maybe a neighbour had had a baby and the noise was carrying a lot?

Undecided, he went back in and spent the day being too hungover to do much else. As evening came through, he heard the crying of a baby once more. Getting up, he went to the living room wall and really listened. The noise was just too loud and there could be no doubt it was coming from next door.

Maybe, squatters got in somehow? He thought.

Grabbing the phone he dialled the police and told them what he now believed.

‘I’ll send someone around as soon as I can,’ the too cheery female voice on the other end replied.

Bradley hung up and turned the TV on to block out the noise.

The knocking at his door came hours later and it was now dark outside. Bradley let the two male officers in and told them about the baby crying. Together they went to the front then the back of the house, looking for away in. The wooden board was nailed down too well and no corner had come away at any of the doors or windows. There was no access inside.

‘Maybe it’s an animal they left behind?’ one of the officers suggested.

‘I don’t know,’ Bradley replied, ‘I’ve been here four years now and before that it must have been empty for about six years or so…would a pet survive that long?’

‘No,’ the other policemen put in, ‘it could be a wild animal that has got stuck though. We’ll get the RSPCA and come back tomorrow.’

‘It just doesn’t sound like an animal though…’ Bradley muttered as the cops left.

He went back inside and got into bed. As soon as his head touched the pillow the crying started again. Growling, Bradley put the other pillow over his face and tried to ignore it.

Finally the morning arrived. He awoke, sore eyed and tried as if he’d had another night drinking. The sound of hammering and a drill buzzed through his head. Scrambling up, he threw on some clothes and rushed outside. A police car, an RSPCA van and a locksmith’s van were parked outside.

He looked across and saw a burly man removing the board over the front door. Two different police men and a female animal inspector were standing next to the gate, watching him work. Bradley eager though he was to join them, decided to stay where he was and just watch. Soon the locksmith had gotten in and they all entered the building.

It seemed to take forever, but at last the animal inspecting came out. She was gulping down air and looking very pale. She walked down the path and back to her van, where she rested against it as if trying not to throw up.

‘What did you find? Was it an animal?’ Bradley called out.

She looked at him, wiped her hair back then got into the van. Starting the engine, she drove off, leaving Bradley more puzzled. He went and lent on the wall to try and peer into the now open front door, but he couldn’t see anything. For a few minutes, he debated jumping over and going inside to see for himself, but then the locksmith and cops appeared.

‘What was it?’ he asked.

The cops looked at him, whilst the locksmith hurried off as if desperate to be far away.

‘I was the one that phoned about the baby crying last night,’ Bradley explained.

‘Oh…did you know the people who lived here?’ one of the officers asked.

‘No. I never saw them and I never asked my grandad about it,’ Bradley answered.

‘All right then, I’ll go and call it in,’ the second policeman said.

‘Wait, wait! What was it?’ Bradley shouted.

The two cops eyed each other, then the second walked away as the first turned to him, ‘I shouldn’t be telling you this,’ he said a low voice, ‘but we found the mummified remains of three babies…..Now, are you sure you know nothing about the people who lived here?’

Bradley shook his head, too shocked to open his mouth.

Dear Diary #21

Dear Diary, why am I so fascinated by the Suicide Forest in Japan?

I watched another online video today of four young men exploring the place. It was raining and you could hear the rain dripping off the trees. There seemed to be no birds or any other animals in the background, just the men walking and talking to the camera. The forest was mega wild and they said the ground was made of fallen trees, roots and undergrown plants. It looked almost like an evil fantasy forest.

They found three broken umbrellas then a camping spot where two light green single person tents were still intact. Off to the side, were the remains of a small camping fire, badly damped by the heavy rain. An empty rucksack lay beside the first tent, the zips all undone. A white baseball cap was behind the second tent and there was a scattering of Japanese sweet packets.

They looked into the tents and I held my breath believing they were about to discover someone, but there was only litter and water. They even searched the area, though they claimed the video wasn’t about them looking for bodies…but I guess if you came across an abandoned tent in the middle of a forest will known for suicides then you’d want to know what happened to the person.

I sort of want to know too, but I think it’s clear what happened…

I want to go, more desperately then before. I want to know why people are driven there and why they decide they don’t want to live. Plus, there are all these claims about it being haunted and not just by the souls of those poor people, but by evil spirits that lure people in. Okay, maybe I’ve seen too many movies, but there must have been something that started the stories, there always is. Maybe, it would be a good thing for my PhD? And it’d give me a reason to go…Though this would be the third ‘haunted’ place I’ve submitted in my applications. But from a psychologic point of view, it’s just super interesting.

Hopefully, my fascination will die down soon enough, but right now I’m going to start a new application and see what the universities think about it. Maybe, there’s a reason why I’m so attracted to these creepy place? Perhaps, I need to do some mind testing on myself!

A Foot In The Past (Part 14)

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

Scarlett couldn’t believe it. She sit in the dark, listening to the storm and staring at the blank TV screen. She picked up the control and pressed the on/off button a few times. Nothing happened. She placed the control down and went to the light switch, trying that she found the lights didn’t come. Frowning, she tried to recall where the fuse box was, but only remembered it was somewhere in the basement.

Slowly, feeling her away along the hallway in the pitch blackness, she made it the kitchen. Scarlett felt her way around and finally opened the bottom draw. She pulled out a torch and turned it on. The light beam cut through the darkness and she was able to pick things out. Grabbing some batteries, she went to move, but heard someone using the heavy rings at the front door to knock three times.

Pausing, she listened to the knocking echo before the thunder covered it up. Walking into the corridor, she wondered, had someone been out walking and got caught in the storm? Unlocking the apartment door, Scarlett walked out and spent a few moments wrestling with the manor’s front door lock. The ring knocked again, three times just like before.

‘Hang on!’ Scarlett yelled.

She yanked open the door and the wind whacked her in the face and drenched her with rain. Scarlett stumbled backwards, regained her balance and shone the torch out on to the porch. The light barely cut through the darkness. She stepped into the doorway and searched, but couldn’t see anyone.

‘Hello?’ she shouted.

The wind howled back at her and the thunder added it’s voice too. Lightening stroke and for a brief few seconds, Scarlett saw there was really no one there. Closing the door and locking it again, she went to put on the alarm, but then remember the lack of electrical.  Worrying and glancing back at the door, Scarlett went back into her apartment and bedroom.

Using the torch to guide her into the bathroom, Scarlett grabbed some candles and matches. Carefully placing them and lighting them around the room, she felt the press of darkness lessen. She checked the clock and saw it was almost four in the afternoon. Sitting on the bed, she pulled her book into her lap and with a shrug opened the pages.

Settling down, she read a few pages and then heard the knocking again. Three loud booms from the metal ring echoed and vibrated through the manor. Looking at her closed bedroom door, she wondered about getting up. The thought that it could be an actual person lost in the storm, drove her to going to the front door again.

Once again, she struggled with the lock and door, before the wind stole it out of her hands threw the door against the wall. Scarlett shone the torch out and saw the wind had wiped the chairs and tables off the porch. Tucking back her hair, she called out a few times, but when nothing happened, she tried to shut the door again. Fighting against the wind, she finally pushed the door back into place and locked it again.

Turning, she saw a shadow moving on the staircase. Scarlett stopped and stared. She tried to believe her eyes and mind were playing tricks, but then the shadow moved and the form of a tall man stood halfway up the stairs. Scarlett gasped. Remembering the torch, she lifted it up and shone the light on the man. He was gone. She rushed to the stairs and flashed the light wildly about.

‘Hello?’ she called, ‘I saw you!’

A child screamed.

The torch slipped from her hands and Scarlett scrambled to grab it. The torch hit the floor and the light spun before dying. Crying out, she knelt on the floor and felt the torch. Her hand knocked it and she heard it spinning away. Going after it, she picked it up and fumbled for the switch. The torch wouldn’t turn on. Getting up again, a tiny white glow appeared before her.

Scarlett stopped and watched the white ball take the form of a small girl.

‘Charlotte?’ Scarlett whispered.

‘Hello,’ the ghost girl answered.

‘What are you doing here? it’s day time.’

‘I came to see you,’ Charlotte spoke, holding her head high.

‘Did you see that man on the stairs?’ Scarlett asked.

‘Yes. That’s the headmaster. He is not nice. We should stay away from him.’

Scarlett nodded and glanced up the dark staircase again. The thunder, rain and wind filled the silence, making everything seem more scarier. Scarlett looked down at the ghost girl, who seemed to be watching the door.

‘Do you know who was knocking?’ Scarlett asked.

Charlotte shook her head.

Soft crying, that somehow they heard, come from above. Scarlett looked up then tried to get her torch working again. The soft glowing light coming off Charlotte was enough for Scarlett to see the that the torch was broken.

‘A school boy died tragically during a storm like this,’ Charlotte spoke.

Scarlett looked at her.

‘He fell from the headmaster’s window. But people say the headmaster pushed him as punishment for sneaking around.’

‘Is that what happened?’ Scarlett asked.

‘I don’t know.’

The sound of breaking glass and a window banging in the wind filled the air. Scarlett made to move up the stairs then stopped. A scream echoed then faded, sending chills up her back. She shivered and turned to the ghost girl.

‘Is it over?’

‘Yes,’ Charlotte answered.

Scarlett breathed deeply and clutched her shaking hands together. She shut her eyes for a few moments then opened them to see that Charlotte had vanished. She turned and made to head back into the apartment. The door knocker sounded.

Growling, she went to the door and half debated not opening. Still, she unlocked and opened the door. The rain and wind drove in once more, but this time there was someone standing there.

‘Scarlett?’ Greyson’s voice called out.

A dim light from a phone flickered on.

‘Greyson?’ Scarlett gasped

‘Yes. Are you okay?’

‘I am now!’ Scarlett cried and through her arms around him.

They hugged and kissed as the rain pleated down and the wind whipped around them. Greyson laughed and pulled her inside. Struggling they closed the door together.

‘The lights have gone out,’ she explained.

‘Ah, that’s why you’re in the dark. I thought you’d planned a party or something,’ Greyson said, ‘damn, my phone is out of charge.’

Scarlett grabbed his hand and led him into the apartment bedroom. There candles chased away the shadows and they were able to see each other. They laughed at the state of each other and Scarlett got some towels from the bathroom. They both changed then lay on the bed, holding each other.

‘There’s something I’ve to tell you,’ Scarlett said.

‘Oh?’ Greyson replied, rubbing the top of hair with his chin.

‘The hotel’s haunted. I’ve see and spoke to a ghost. Her name is Charlotte. She’s one of the original owner’s daughters. She has this nursery in the attic with a doll’s house that looks like the manor did and there’s a rocking horse too!’

‘Scarlett? What?’

‘It’s true!’ Scarlett cried.

Greyson held her tighter and kissed her.

‘You don’t believe me, do you?’

‘I…maybe you should rest? I’ll go and find the fuse box,’ Greyson said.

‘No!’ Scarlett grabbed him. ‘Say you believe me!’

‘I do,’ he murmured and squeezed her.

Scarlett snuggled into him, knowing he was lying, but she would soon change his mind.

The End

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….