Cat Life

Black and White Cat in a Tree

In the mornings, he would sit in the tree and watch the village. At lunchtime he would come down, visit three houses for lunch then curl up somewhere warm and quiet for the afternoon. In the evenings, he strolled around till late then mewed at doors till someone let him in.

 

(Story inspired from: https://first50.wordpress.com)

 

 

Monies

Copper Cent Coins

Jasper loved money. There was something comforting and reassuring about the feel of coins in his hands. He liked the weight and the coldness which quickly became warm. The sounds the coins made as they clinked together or on to things was music to his ears.

He marvelled at all the different designs there were on the backs of coins from all over the world. He enjoyed watching the British Queen’s face changing through the years, the USA Presidents switching around and special editions for events like the Olympics.

Coins was not were it ended though, Jasper also enjoyed paper notes. He liked the rustle sounds of them, the feel between his fingers and the oily printing smell of them. He hung on to notes that were crisp from the machines, not parting with them till he had no choice.

Jasper’s collection was huge and though it took over his house, he wouldn’t give it up for the world. He had perfectly fitted cabinets and drawers made to protect and store the money. The most valuable coins and notes lived in numerous safes hidden in the walls, floors and ceilings.

Even his job in involved money handling! Jasper would hurry to the bank five times a week and carry out his role as a finical accountant manger. He loved watching money roll in and out of accounts and the stock market changing. Sometimes he would go into the vault and look at what was on display down there.

However, he loved home time when he could return to his collections and study his coins in greater detail.

 

The King’s Skull

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By the time the goblet was handed down to Wisdom, the legend that the sliver helmeted skull was that of an forgotten ancient King killed in an unknown battle, had long been lost.

Wisdom placed the goblet on to his bookcase, not knowing what else to do with it. Staring at the empty eye sockets, he decided the skull was too real looking and he turned the goblet around.

Feeling a little better, he sit down at his desk and loaded a fantasy war game up on to his PC. For some reason though, his eyes kept drifting to the goblet and he couldn’t concentrate on his game.

There was something creepy about the goblet he decided and he didn’t want it in his bedroom. Getting up, he picked the goblet off the shelf and took it downstairs. He went into the dinning room and placed it in the glass corner case. The helmet wearing skull goblet looked out of place beside a small crystal rabbit and a hand painted porcelain box.

Wisdom went back upstairs and sat down at his desk again. He felt a lot better now. He got back to his game and forgot all about the goblet.

 

(Inspired by; https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/sunday-photo-fiction-january-15th-2017/)

Bare

Brown Red Floral Decors in Red Box

The house seemed too bare. All the Christmas decorations have come down and packed away for another year. Walking from room to room, they wondered how to replace the brightness and magic the decorations had created.

Mug

blur, coffee, cold

He noticed the mug in the frosted over window and decided to go in. The front and back doors were locked and boarded over with thick wood. However, a broken window allowed him access. He put his rucksack and sleeping bag through first. Then being careful not to snag any of his clothes, he squeezed in and found himself in a kitchen.

There was very little left. Just a few cupboards and the sink. He tried the light switch, but found the power to be off. Next he tried the sink taps. No water came out which meant there was none or it was frozen in the pipes.

Collecting his rucksack and sleeping bag, he decided to see the rest of the house. Every room was almost empty. There were a couple chairs knocking about, scraps of newspapers, a few books and empty cans. The walls were blank and the floors bare. The abandoned house felt colder then it did outside.

He went back to the kitchen after his wander. Putting his stuff down again, he decided it was better then nothing. He went to the window and looking out the dirty glass, he saw it was snowing. The flakes were melting just as fast as they were falling though. The wind seemed to be picking up though and the sky was already darkening.

Looking around the kitchen, he found a cupboard door that had come off and was resting on the floor. Picking it up, he used it to cover the broken window and that helped lessen the draft from outside a bit.

Then even though he didn’t really want to, he got his sleeping bag out and set it in the far corner of the kitchen. The window was further down, but still close if anyone else decided to come in. He got in the sleeping bag still wearing his shoes and coat. He lent against the wall and crossed his arms over his chest.

Looking at the mug on the other window sill above the sink, he wonder who had left it there. The last owner of the house? A builder? The new owner who’d stripped the place then maybe ran out of money to carry on? Perhaps, it had even been another person like him?

A homeless cast out. Forgotten by everyone, seemingly invisible in many places and surviving however they could. Until, God decided the struggling was over and called them back.

Trying to keep warm, he changed his mind into getting some sleep. Letting the wind howling be his lullaby, he dozed fitfully, never falling completely into the dream realm. It was a sad habit he had gotten into over the years. Too many times people had robbed what little he had or kicked him whilst he slept in doorways and upon street corners. Even though the abandon house should have been safe, he didn’t trust it.

The wind continued to howl outside, sending the snow flying thickly. Night came, a seemingly impenetrable darkness. The only sounds to be heard were the wind and the house creaking and moaning.

He listened to those noises as he lay awake. There was nothing unusual about them and he was too old to believe in ghosts. He settled onto the floor, using his rucksack as a lumpy pillow. He rested, trying not to fall asleep. However, days of walking and not eating had taken it’s toll. He fought actual sleep off for has long as he could, but give in without fully knowing.

When he next awoke, he was warm but still cold. Sitting up, he looked around then turned his face to the window. It was lighter out there now, but still looked like night time. He got out of his sleeping bag, regretting it, but knowing he had too. Going to the window, he looked out and saw it was daytime. The snow had stopped falling too and it was time he moved on again.

 

After The Madness

And after the madness what happens? I wondered as I stood by the sink still washing pots from yesterday. Life returns to normal and the Christmas glow disappears.  It was a true conclusion, but not the one I wanted.

Placing another plate on the drying rack, I wondered what was the conclusion I wanted. Behind me in the living room came the sounds of children at play. My two younger brothers, one sister and two step-sisters, were going through presents again. Arguments were breaking out backed by the sound of electric toys playing music and other sounds.

My parents were still slummed in bed; tried, drunk and stuffed from yesterday. They had done a great job though and it had been another Christmas to remember. Today, was their day off, but there was so much to do.

Blocking out the now loud sounding voices, I started cleaning a pan. It was easy scrubbing having been left to soak. What really was the point in this whole Christmas thing?  I thought, going down a different path to try and figure out the answer to my first question. Wasn’t once a celebration of winter and the final harvest?  Then it was religious and now it’s mix of those and consumerism. 

Finishing the pan, I shook the water off and towered it on top of the pile. I went to sweep a loose strand of blonde hair back but stopped as I caught sight of the yellow washing up gloves. I tried shaking the hair away, but it didn’t work. Sighing, I tucked it behind my hair and felt a slight wetness.

The sounds from the living room increased and one of my step-sisters burst through the door.

‘Chis just hit in the face!’ she shouted.

‘I didn’t!’ Chris called from the hallway.

I rolled my eyes and let the next pan I had grabbed sink into the soapy water. I looked at her face, there was a slight red mark on her left cheek.

‘She started it anyway!’ Chris cut back in.

Someone started crying in the background and I knew it was time to give up on the washing up again. Taking off the gloves, I left them by the sink.

‘Both of you say sorry and forget,’ I spoke.

Sweeping past them I went into the living room and saw my other siblings sitting amongst wrapping paper and cardboard boxes. It was the youngest who was crying; my other step-sister. I picked her up and all thoughts about Christmas went out of my head. Even though That madness was over, more were sure to happen in this house.

Objects (Part 4)

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

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

‘Nothing,’ she replied.

‘Nothing?’ I repeated.

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

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

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

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

‘What happened to him?’ I asked.

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

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

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

‘And my Uncle? What did he do?’

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

I paused and wondered how to put my next question.

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

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

She nodded and the tears began spilling.

‘Did he ever say why?’ I pressed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She looked up at me in puzzlement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘All right,’ I said through gritted teeth.

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

‘I’ll be off then,’ I announced.

Surprise crossed her face, but we said our goodbyes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe, that was the answer?

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

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

Objects (Part 3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dear Mr. Eli Roberts,

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

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

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

Yours sincerely, Mrs. Jane Bogget.

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Eli, 

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

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

Best Wishes, 

Maggie Bradwell. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued…

Objects (Part 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the…?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued…

 

Objects (Part 1)

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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…