Friday, November 16, 2012

The Spirit

Bleeding Teddy
Image courtesy of shazbotinyoureye
I spoke a while back about my annual dark story for Halloween. Halloween has obviously past, but I did get the story written by the 25th of October. But, I wasn't happy with it so I took a couple of weeks to edit it.

The piece was written with the theme of 'Possession' and is rated 18+ on WDC, though 15 is a better rating for it.

It is posted in its entirety on writing.com, but I'll give you the opening on the blog:






Thunder claps as we roll onto the gravel driveway of the imposing Victorian Manor. In the back, little Joey starts crying. The up and down whine is a never-ending rollercoaster … and I don’t like rollercoasters.

“It’s only thunder, it won’t hurt you,” Chloe says gently, patting him on the shoulder. She’s a good big sister, but, on this occasion, I think there’s a superior motive to her kindness.

The crying dies down slightly, but the torrent of rain pummelling the car remains.

“Right, come on guys,” Fred says, turning the engine off and stepping out the car. He runs towards the sheltered walkway leading to the main entrance of the manor.

I climb out the car and open the back door for Joey and Chloe to climb out. I laugh as Joey gasps in awe at the house with its large, iron-framed windows and intricate stone masonry.

“I bet there’s not a party here like there is at home.”

“It’s a family holiday,” I tell her. “I know you wanted to go to that party, but this was a last minute thing.”

Chloe rolled her eyes. “But, Mum, it’s Halloween tomorrow and everyone’s going to be at that party.”

“Well, you can’t exactly go back now, can you? It’s hours to get back, so you may as well enjoy the holiday.”

She hurries toward the manor and I follow. I look at the door as we enter the main hallway and half-wish I am alone. Normally I would twiddle the teardrop escutcheon to make it spin, but as it’s cold, I hurry inside.

Not that it’s much warmer inside. The harsh bite of the outside may be blocked out, but a chill wafts up from the cellar through cracks in the Chatsworth tiling. Lightning flashes again, flooding the hallway an eerie light. As the thunder rolls, I’m pleased that at least we didn’t have to pay for this holiday; Isabelle from work had said there was a Victorian Manor available to stay in for free and I couldn’t turn it down. Thinking about it, I don’t think it would be wise to tell Joey why it was free…

“Mummy!” Joey calls from across the hall. “Chloe said a man died in here.”

I guess telling Chloe wasn’t such a good idea, either. “Yes, darling, but it’s nothing to worry about.”

“Cool,” he replies in a way only eight-year-olds can.

Chloe walks over. “Can I go to the party, Mum? Please…”

“I’ve already told you:  no. We are here and I’m not taking you back home.”

She rolls her eyes. “Keep up Mum, there’s a party in the village half a mile from here; it would ten minutes to get there.” Waving her smartphone at me, she continues, “iParty says all the best-looking boys will be going.”

“I don’t want you doing anything silly with boys you don’t know.”

She smiles. “Does that mean I can go, then?”

Fred walks in from the toilet. “Go where?”

“Chloe wants to go to a Halloween party at the local village.”

Fred secretly winks at me and says, “I don’t know – what do you think, honey?”

“Will you be back by eleven?”

“Err… it starts at midnight,” Chloe replies.

I look at Fred and we exchange glances.

“Go on then,” we say in unison. Fred pats her on the back and winks.

“Love you both.” Chloe wraps her arms around each of us in turn. She calls Joey over and the two of them run upstairs to explore the house.



***



With Joey asleep and Chloe quietly getting ready for the party, I sit down on the first floor landing in a comfortable armchair overlooking the pristine front lawns and driveway. It has finally stopped raining, but I imagine Chloe will still ask Fred for a lift even if she did say she wanted to walk.

A large creature chases a rabbit across the lawn. It’s so big it is almost bear-like. It’s not a bear is it? Not in this country, surely? I chuckle as I realise it’s just a big dog with an even bigger shadow.

Fred walks in with two steaming cups of hot chocolate.

“Here you go, darling,” he says, passing me a cup and sitting down in the armchair next to me. He looks behind himself and shivers. “I really don’t like that portrait. It’s as if the eyes are following me.”

I look behind, too. Filling the wall is a tall portrait of a man in a dark red tailcoat with a black waistcoat. The eyes do seem to stare at me, but that is probably the same illusion as the Mona Lisa. Ignoring the portrait, I turn back to face the lawn. Lights glisten in the distant village. Looking at it like this really makes me realise how far away we are from modern civilisation. Bliss.

“Joey said there was water dripping down from the top floor bathroom,” Fred says.

“Why do you have to bring that up now?” Is bliss such a hard thing to keep hold of?

“Sorry, I just remembered. I should check it out; I think it might just be a pipe leaking under the attic insulation.”

“You’re not seriously going to fix it now? It’s nearly midnight. Besides, Chloe’s going to need a lift.”

“Really?” Fred asks, pointing to the driveway. Light spill out onto the gravel as the front door opens. Chloe walks out, slipping slightly on the damp stones. She is wearing a stunning red dress with even brighter red shoes. Those heels don’t look particularly comfy. She looks up at and blows me a kiss. The stumbles out of the driveway.

“She said she’s going to meet with a group half way down the road and they’ll go in together. Don’t worry,” he adds, presumably after seeing my worried expression, “I rang the village hall and checked it was all OK.”

“I suppose. So, are you going to check that pipe, or not?”

“I’m only going to have a peek. I’ll be no more than five minutes then I’ll go straight to bed, promise.” He does an impression of Joey, winks, and heads up the spiral staircase.

I lean back in the chair and let the plump cushions envelop me. I take a long sip of the hot chocolate and close my eyes, falling into a peaceful sleep.

Then:

“Honey, could you just help me out?” Fred says.

I wake with a start. “Coming,” I call, climbing the spiral staircase up to the top floor. I haven’t thought much about it before, but the craftsmanship on the banister is amazing. The carpet is soft on the feet and…

I scream.



Continues on writing.com @ The Spirit


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