Sometimes its is hard to distinguish between the actual reality and the perceived reality.
|There Is Light In Darkness
I was sitting at the window; the rain was thrashing down and ricocheting off the glass. Where I was sitting there was a leak in the window putty, drip, drip, dripping down onto the floor as it splashed up my ankle. I could see a slightly distorted image of myself in the glass, I looked like a ghost. Pale and opaque, with a transparent outline. There was a draft coming from the outer corner of the room, where the wood had begun to peel away from the base as if shedding a spare layer of skin. I still sit there crooked and my back is beginning to ache. I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck rising as if summoned by a general, the rain is still thrashing down and the leak still persists and keeps in rhythm with the grandfather clock perched up alongside the corridor wall.
The chair I am sitting on is begging to collapse; it is on the more lenient side of a century old and has sentimental value to it. It has a dark brown tarnish that is cracking and shedding away; the steel caps in the bottoms of the legs are scratched and rusted but still grip the floorboards. The house is cold, cold enough to make you develop a sixth sense. But I can't leave, this is home. It is not my home but it is. Everyday I sit at this window and I watch...I watch people walking their dogs, I watch children chasing red kites in the wind...I watch you. I watch all of you. You cannot feel me looking at you, but you know Iâm there. I always sit in the same place, same position, and same time. I like to keep in time with the rain and you...I know when you are coming I can hear you, they tell me, when and where to wait. They are never wrong.
It is now 5 o'clock as I sway to the pendulum swinging beneath the head of the grandfather clock. I look at my face in the glass, again. My pupils dilate and my hands begin to shake, my leg taps quickly and all I can hear is the thumping of my own heartbeat. It is getting louder like a drum set keeping up with the beat. It will be dark soon...bad things happen, that is when it gets dark.
The first thing that happens is it all goes quiet, and then you hear the footsteps. You never know where they are, but you know they are coming for you, coming for me. Your back tightens; you legs get stiff as if you have been strapped to a spinal board. No matter what happens, you never turn around. Turn round, you're dead. But the truth is you never leave this house, dead or alive you're trapped.
Thump, thump, thump my heart is pounding, it's pounding hard. Can't you hear it? But I have found a way around this constant torment. I have built a labyrinth, way down under the floor. I have got a steel bolt on the door. The door is 3 inches thick. When it gets dark, I go down there and I lock myself in. I have no other option. At sunrise thereâs always that panic as to what is going to be standing in front of you when you open that door. Sometimes the fear, well it takes your breath away. The only thing is it can only keep them out for so long. Sooner or later...they will find a wayâ¦a way to get me.
As a child before they vanished my parents told me that I was always safe inside the circle, inside the circle. As long as you let the light in, they cannot harm you. But shame on you if you let the lights go out. Because when it gets dark...bad things happen.
I approach the stairs leading down to the labyrinth. I inhale deeply and begin to choke on the dust, the clouds of dust swirl in circular motions whilst I cough. The noise is sometimes a more welcomed relief than the silence. I know itâs not long now, until things start happening. They always come out of hiding as soon as the sun goes down. Theyâre like ravenous beasts, you can hear them scratching and growling as they're looking for you...looking for me. You are probably thinking, why haven't you tried to leave? I have they make you feel like you are so close to freedom but then they drag you back in, the door slams and locks. It might as well have been me throwing away the key, a key no one would ever find. It's just how do you fight something, you can't see?
We haven't had guests in this house since it was built, in 1882. The people who walked through that door, well they never really left. I would like to believe that they got away, but they were naive and careless. They foolishly ignored the warning signs. I tried to tell them, but they wouldn't listen, I was screaming under my breath. It was too late. They turned around, they were all taken. Picked off one by one in front of my eyes. They were dragged by their ankles down the corridor, screaming and I had to watch it, because I couldn't turn around. I willed to close my eyes but they wouldn't shut, I was mentally fixated to watch the unraveling horrors that were happening in my own home. They were shredded to the bone and torn flesh covered the floors and walls. The blood flooded the corridor and seeped through the ceiling of the basement. Organs and other soft tissues scattered at random and grinded into the carpet, they left nothing in the skeleton but the eyes so that the dead would stay awake for all eternity. This meant that the spirits would not cross over; they would keep re-living these horrors over and over again. Forever, trapped in purgatory. That image will be forever engrained into my head, they made me watch, they told me to.
I am sitting in the circle, surrounded by candles that are burning bright. The flames make my eyes heavy and I begin to drift off. My eyes still fluttered as I was entering my sub-conscious. When I woke a few hours later one of my candles was blown out. It was the candle facing the door. A ring of salt and burning sage, to repel bad spirits, outlined the circle; the salt directly in front of the candle was disrupted. I heard a growling, a deep growl much deeper than that of any animal. Then I saw a puff of white wispy smoke appear from where the growl originated, it was as if it had been exhaled. As I said it was a cold house. I reached out my hand and the air was ice cold, so cold my fingers felt like they had frost bite. Then whatever was producing the deep growling noise gripped down tight onto my hand, forcefully pulling me forward. Fortunately and unsuspectingly it let go. I lent back and cradled by hand, it was bleeding heavily and I had lost the vast majority of my index finger. But I couldnât get out of the circle, I should have listened. I quickly wrapped my hand up with my checked shirt and tied it tightly as to prevent much further blood loss. I lied back down and began to cry, soon later I must have passed out from the pain.
It was daybreak; I looked at my watch it ticks quietly to itself, time passes slowly each second seems to last for a lifetime. The sun peeks through under the door and lights up the room with incredible precision as it bounced off the contours of the room. I perched myself up against the left wall and embraced the warm humble feeling that the sunlight gave me as it mathematically crept up my body releasing a feeling of overwhelming relief.
I picked myself up and fumbled through my jean pocket until I found the key, it is a small key for such a massive bolt lock, of which there are also metal bars that rotate and lock into the wall to act as a blockade. I walked up to the door and I forced the key into the bolt lock after turning back the steel bars and the key ground it's way clicking and scraping with tolerably high friction. The locks withdrawal suddenly clicked and it pulled out towards me and there it sat slightly agar. In my head I was counting 3...2...1 and I placed a trembling hand onto it unsure as whether to open it or close it back up. I knew it was morning but the uncertainty was still there and I was afraid of what I might see when I opened it. My watch was still ticking but the seconds felt like minutes and the minutes, hours. I stood toe to toe with the door for a while; I stood dead still, palms sweaty and jaw quivering. For the second time I gripped the door and hesitantly began to open it. It creaked and the floorboards on which I stepped groaned. As I moved closer to the door and looked around the corner to my relief there was nothing. But in my currant dazed state I forgot to lock the door. I walked up the 17 steps and hurled myself onto the couch. I embraced the fluffy cushions as they had warmed up in the sunlight of a merry Monday morning.
For a few hours I lay on my back, hands across by stomach staring up at the ceiling hoping that it would open up and I could fly away, anywhere just to be away from here. As I said sometimes I would rather be dead, but if I died here. I would never leave. My stomach was hurting; I hadnât eaten anything in 3 days now. I was starving. I usually order take outs as I cannot leave but now people are getting weary of this place and most, well they won't ever walk past the fence that lies at the end of the garden. But in the currant depression some people are so desperate for the money they will do anything. I donât need any money yet.
My parents before, what happened, they left me a solid block of money, old money. People don't really know what happens inside these walls, they just think the people who have lived here are complete mental murderers who will do anything to be in the public eye. If only they knew the full extent of what was really happening. We are all being tormented...I am being tormented. It does bother me that I don't know what happened to my parents, well I do and that is what bothers me. Its just I never had the chance to say goodbye.
When I was younger around 6 years of age my father got terminated at work and then they fell back on rent and payment of bills, sometimes it got so bad we would have breakfast for dinner because they could not afford anything else. So eventually the government reclaimed our house and we were left with nothing more than the clothes on our backs. The house belonged to my great grandfather on my dad's side. I never got the chance to meet him but from what I heard he was a strange slightly demented man who spent a lot of time by himself. When he got older he bred vicious dogs to guard his house when he was asleep incase of a break in. This was common for that time as street crime was at an all time high. In the years that followed he fell sick, later that year he died. With no one to care for the dogs they soon followed. He was a man with a tormented soul and he liked things in a specific way. He loved that house; some say it was his only love as he never married. The most bizarre twist to the story was that he never had a funeral and his remains were never found but some people claim that on the anniversary of his death you can still see him at the window staring at you, with eyes that emit pure hatred.
I sit down on the wooden floor in front of the window, staring out and watching the people walk by...I watch the lovers walk hand in hand as the man reaches down to pluck out of the ground a freshly opened rose. I am envious of everyone, even the poor, the disabled...they have freedom. Why do I have to be a prisoner in my own home! I can't let him hear me because, because last time. Last time he heard me, bad things happened. It is not like I can even open the window because they are all bordered up except this one, I don't know why this was the only window left open. The bottom had been nailed shut although if I raised the will to open it I could but I am deathly afraid of the consequences. The glass had metal bars welded to it so if I broke the glass I still wouldn't be able to climb out. It has gotten to the point where I feel as though there is no point in even trying. The clouds grew ever more dark and prominent; I could feel a storm brewing in the heavens.
About 2 hours later I welcomed the first spit of rain as it gracefully slip down the windowpane. I lifted myself up off the floor and slouched over the dining room table and began to drink some substance that had turned cold and thick that was remaining in a mug, I downed what was left and left the dregs in the bottom. I watched the mug as the drop that I left at the top of the rim slowly trailed down the side and onto the tabletop. I got up and grabbed the cloth next to the sink and wiped under and around the mug making sure not to leave any stains. By this point the rain was again thrashing down and I could here the rumbles of thunder, through the corner of my vision field I could see the lightning tear up the sky and penetrate through the clouds. It was a truly amazing light display that I felt privileged to watch.
I began to open the cupboard doors furiously to find some source of food, in the far corner cupboard I found a bread roll that had begun to ferment and had mold around the edges, at this stage I was so ravenous I carnivorously tore a massive chunk out of the bread and started to devour it without thinking. My stomach craved for more food but I found none. With the storm raging on again the phone line was down so I could not call. The room was getting dim with the clouds blocking the sun so I went to switch on the light. The power was down. I began to panic, repeatedly flicking the switch on and off. I ran to the armoire standing tall in the living room, running into tables and chairs on the way. I ripped open the draws looking for matches. I found a couple in the corner of the forth draw. I scraped them along the side table and lit as many candles as I could find. It was too early to go back down into the confined space of the labyrinth and so I sat back down at the window...swaying back and forth...back and forth. My hand was hurting more than ever, I needed medical attention but I couldn't put anyone else in harms way. The bleeding had stopped but it could get infected.
After about forty minutes the skies began to clear I realized with an infection almost inevitable I had to stitch the wound up, with no pain relief it was going to hurt like hell. I found a little red box filled to the brim with thread and pins and needles. I found a tough thread and with hands shaking after many attempts managed to work the thread through the head of the needle. I tied a messy knot in the end of it to stop the thread coming loose. In the freezer I found an ice bar and I kept it over my hand for about ten minutes. I then placed a wooden block into my mouth so I had something to bite down on and then I forced the needle through my tender exposed flesh. I bit down hard as the blood flooded out onto the glass table. Then I pulled and forced it through again and again and again, until it was closed up. Then I passed out. When I woke up I put more ice on my hand and then started with the next deep gash. In went the needle and by this point the thread that was once a dark shade of white was now blood red. I passed out again. When I came round for the second time the table was smothered in blood and so was the ice and my arm. I glanced at the clock and it was nearly 6 o'clock. I grabbed my key and I raced down to the labyrinth to find the door was unlocked.
This was the worst thing I could have done, if they are in here I am not safe anywhere. I had a countdown of 3 minutes until sundown, I lit the candles stood in my circle and waited...I waited for the fun to begin.
I awoke to the chime of the grandfather clock as it struck midnight. I lay crouched up with my knees within four inches of my face. My hands grasped the calves of my legs as my paranoia got worse. The sweat on my brow had beaded and had begun to drip onto the cement floor that I was strewn on. It dripped like the rain, drip, drip, drip the constant dripping. My eyes became frantic as they fluttered under my eyelids, looking for something. Maybe I wasn't hoping to see something. My breaths started becoming shallower and more rapid as my heart rate increased but I did not want to get noticed or heard by anything. I was afraid, deathly afraid.
I had been lying on the concrete flooring in the circle awake, wide-awake for on the more decent side of half an hour when I heard scratching. It was coming from the door. I rolled over onto my stomach and got up on all fours. I sank my chest down towards the floor and laid my flushed right cheek level with the stone cold floor. From this level I could see two dark shadows under the door, they were rapidly jolting from side to side as if it were a person pacing. Then I heard the scratching again. Someone wanted to get in here...to catch meâ¦to hunt me down...to steel me away in the night. Within the blink of an eye it stopped, the shadow beneath the door faded and the scratching dispersed. As I rolled back over onto my side and shut my eyes that appeared reluctant to close I knew the worst was yet to come. He was not going to leave and nor was I.
Tick, tick, tick my watch still kept in rhythm as it strummed away, pushed up against my ear. I sat up; legs crossed and wiped the sleep from my eyes. I felt as though down here was the only place I was safe and now even here I was being tormented. I got up and walked towards the door, placing one foot in front of the other, left then right. I unbolted the door and swung it open. As I turned to lock it back up I noticed numerous scratch marks on it. They were deep and the wood had curled and frayed at the sides. There were some of the splinters left on the floor, I picked one up and noticed a dark hair with a white pigment towards the thicker end of it. It must have been about an inch long and appeared to come from some sort of mammal. It was the only one I found, but it was not mine and an animal could not get in as all the doors and windows have been nailed shut and have wood panels covering them. This was far from expected, if they can bite and tear away at human flesh and shred a three inch thick door to pieces, what is stopping them from...from, from making bad...worse things happen?
After a few minutes examining the remains of last nightâs horrors I walked up the 17 steps for the second time and then down the corridor where I stumbled up the stairs and into the first room on the left. It was a pretty room; the wallpaper was old fashioned yet humbling, there was a four poster bed that was finely finished with a Chestnut glaze, the bed sheets were trimmed with flamboyant lace and next to the bed was a dressing table that was garnished with pearls. Directly behind the dressing table was the window, it had a massive bay that was tarnished with decorative ornaments and to the centre stood a frame. It was very peculiar as there was no picture, no back it was simply a frame with a black piece of card tucked into it. Towards the back of the room was an arch that led directly through to the bathroom.
I grabbed a towel from the back of the door and turned the hot water tap on in the shower. I let it heat up as I got undressed, leaving my clothes in a pile on the floor. It was one of those bath showers that had floral tiles scattered randomly amongst cream tiles surrounding the bath. I legged it over and started to rinse my hair, I let the hot water trickle down my face and down my chest as my hair went from a dark blonde colour to almost a cherry wood shade. The hot water burned as it hit my newly stitched hand. But I had to keep it clean. As I looked down at my feet I noticed the water had turned red, blood red. I immediately assumed my hand had started to bleed again as a stitch had come loose, but it was not coming from my hand. As I looked back up my vision field went red and so I turned around, the water that was gushing out of the shower head was red, so was the shower curtain and it was clinging to my skin. In a last ditch attempt I fell shoulder first out of the bathtub and jumped to my feet looking at my reflection in the mirror. To my utter disbelief there was no blood on me, I cowardly rotated my head to glance back at the shower, the water was still running and it was normal, there was no blood...nothing, not a single drop. I reached down to the floor and picked up my clothes, with a towel half wrapped around me I raced out of the room and slammed the door behind me. At this point I was not sure as to whether it really happened or if it was all some overly exaggerated hallucination...the water still dripped from the shower head, drip, drip, drip.
Later that morning I decided to do a little bit of research when in the library which is situated on the third floor, I found a rather interesting book. It was a record diary of all the people who have lived on this estate since 1705. I was scanning the pages but I could not find my great grandfathers name. I even looked under the deaths and the people who had been buried at the St. Angelo's church across the road. I could not find a record of him anywhere. The library is quite a large room on the third floor. It is about 16 foot by 12 and has many shelves and cabinets and bookcases. At a rough estimate I would say there are around 2000 books; ranging from Bram Stoker's Dracula to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. At the front on the room there is a small porthole shaped window with coloured glass in it. However it allows only the least amount of light into the room so I like to take a glass burner up with me, as there are no lights. In the middle of the glass window is a small circular patch of glass that has no colour, it is thought that on a full moon it shines red and that is the point at which the devil claims his next victim.
From the corner of the room I hear a screech. I twist round suddenly like a startled barn owl. From the dark realms of the bookcase runs a small field mouse. He has beige coloured fur with a white stomach and sock, his eyes are dark brown so dark and glossy you can see you reflection in them. He scurries across the floor until he is within six foot of my boot and then raises himself up onto his hind legs as if to impose superiority. I humorously look down at his small stature as he wrinkles his nose up at me. For a moment I let out a grin as he amusingly attacks his tail, then from the landing on the second floor comes an almighty thud. It can only be compared to someone dropping a heavy metal case down onto the floor. I look back at the mouse, he is gone, only the tip of his tail remains, limp and lifeless on the wooden plank.
I slide the book into my inside pocket and grip on tightly to my glass burner as if expecting it to save me. I place my hand onto the door handle and twisted it carefully, trying to make as little noise as possible. The door creaks and groans as I open it and I peer around the door...ding, ding, ding. The grandfather clock chimes. I tiptoed down the corridor hopping from one foot to the other to avoid stepping on the cracks in the floorboards. I creep step-by-step down onto the second floor where I see..I can see nothing. No scratch, dent or mark...not a single scrap of evidence to suggest where the noise had come from. But the one thing that did in fact peek my interest was that all the doors on the entire floor were closed. They were all open except for the first door on the right when I had left them. I went room by room and opened every single door. I turned back and began to strut down the staircase, however when I reached the bottom I heard...Bang! Bang! Bang! They all slammed shut as if it were a domino reaction. They...he was angry at me, but for what reason? Had I done something wrong? I stood there, on the last step. Frozen. I was terrified to turn around so I just stood there quivering like a leaf. Tick, tick, tick I heard the clock strum and I watched the pendulum swing.
I enter the room; it is lit with hundreds of light bulbs. There are chandeliers and desk lamps, light bulbs hanging from thread bare wires and numerous floor lamps all from different time periods. Some of them have aged lace and some have ribbon. Most wear some sort of strange attire consisting mostly of floral or art deco patterns. The shadows begin to sway and move direction from left to right. The ceiling light directly in the centre of the room is swaying from left to right as if something has moved it. One by one the light bulbs begin to flicker...click...click...click. That is the first three gone, then smashing and glass shattering follows, I run to the middle of the room and hung onto the last light bulb hoping it would not go out. I did not want to be left in the dark...I was not ready...I was not finished; I had to complete the task at hand. He told me to. As the light penetrated the corners of the room the shadows remained distorted. When I looked down the glass had gone and one by one the lamps disappeared. I looked at the walls and they too seemed to be getting further and further from reach. It looked like a never ending room. I buried the light down into my jacket as I curled up into a ball; I just needed that one light bulb. As long as it stayed glowing I was going to be..hoping to be...click. The light bulb went out.
I open my eyes to see I am curled up in the circle; all the candles are flickering but still shining strong. All of a sudden I here a ringing in my ears. It was as if...well I don't know what I can compare it to, it was really loud as I squinted my eyes and wrinkled my nose. I covered my ears and I felt a tickling sensation down my left forearm, I looked and realized my ears were bleeding; a drop of blood was rolling down my arm, then onto the floor drip, drip, drip. I wiped the blood off and onto my jacket. I went back to sleep. Soon later I was awoken by someone calling my name...it was more like a whisper, but then it sounded like a conversation between two or three people. I rose to my feet and demanded what they wanted; all I heard was a chuckle. It was not just any chuckle...no, no this one was eerie it was deep and gruff, it sounded demonic and then it slowly morphed into a growl, that same growl I had heard the other night. He was here, and he wanted me to know it.
I am sitting at the window, I am watching...watching the wind whip through the trees. It grabs the leaves and detaches the fruit. The draft from the corner of the room is howling louder than ever before. It is a cold day, the post came this morning but as usual I use it as fuel for the fire place. I can still here him, that chuckle...should I have laughed too? I shuffle through the things in my pockets but I cannot seem to recover the book that I brought out of the library, I start retracing my steps. I look all over the fist floor...nothing, I look all around the second floor...nothing, I look all around the third floor...nothing...I look in the basement...in the basement I find, the book. It is perched on it's spine in the middle of the circle, opened to page 128 on the left but on the right it is page 131...a page is missing. The doors slams shut...bang, bang, bang! Each of the bolts locks itself and then the bolt lock clicks...click. I frantically search for a lighter. Quickly and without hesitation I light every single candle and I sit in the circle. I clench the book close to my chest. My heart is pounding, boom, boom, boom. I close my eyes and I listen, I can here nothing so I listen again I can here the swaying of the pendulum and the whistling of the wind. Then...the footsteps. They creek up behind me...I can feel the cold brush of air and the whispering. He is telling me to look. I know I cannot open my eyes because I donât want to see him...he will...he will make bad things happen again. Silence...I can here nothing but the silence. The door opens with a creek and the missing page is sitting on the second step.
I am faced with a dilemma do I stay in the circle where I am safe or do I try to find out the truth by risking my own life? I have decided, I decided this a long time ago. I pick myself up off my knees and I stand parallel with the steps, I look at that page, the page I desire so very much. I place one foot out of the circle...nothing, I place the second foot out of the circle, again nothing. I charge towards the steps and I grab the page, it was blank.
Drip, drip, drip, droplets of blood splashed down onto the blank page, I looked up and there was the face of...
Now there would be no point in ruining the ending would there? To have courage is doing what you are afraid to do, to have courage you must initially be afraid.
But shame on you if you let the lights go out.