A story about an old man that has made a terrible mistake.
|So he thought he would try again. The vellum was ready. His ink and quill were all prepared. A warm fire crackled contently in the corner of the study. But its owner sat nervously downstairs in the dining room. Lonely at the head of the rather grandiose dinner table. Dinner had long since finished. Guests disappearing one by one like ghosts, with phantom handshakes hugs and kisses. Short anecdotes and funny little secrets had fallen from their lips. Nonsensical to anyone else but to the man at the table, they meant everything. They were the hallmarks of old friendships and rivalries. Brushstrokes on the canvas of his long and at points bloody tiring life. Dash it all, he thought. Then he whispered to the deaf room they may as well be ghosts now. And as he said it a tear rolled down his cheeks something which he had not felt since he was a child. Terrible thoughts started to course through his head. This could be the rest of his existence. Sitting here alone cold and tired. The head of this table.
That's when the voices began.
At first, he thought it was the wind that had been rattling the windows for a while now. But then it became more rhythmic more raucous more intense. He found himself trying to listen to what the voices were saying trying to distinguish one from another. Words they were just saying words. Long words short words exotic words. Dark grim words that made his ears want to bleed. As he clamped his weak wrinkled hands over them with a desperate fierceness. The voices had to stop. But they wouldn't. He knew. This had happened before. Although not with the ear grating intensity which tortured him at present. The voices had stayed whispers then. Calm, caring protective even. A mistake had been made; a betrayal of trust. And that, that had changed everything irreversibly. He had been young then, little more than a child. A child who had written the most abhorrent stories imaginable.
Chapter one 1: The mumblings of a child.
James Arnold had only been a teenager, at 15 when the voices started. They had stayed within the confines of his brain for a while. They were guiding him: a secure and caring hand on his, oh so solitary shoulder. For he was very much alone in those days, though it didn't bother James much. He liked it that way, maybe even enjoyed it.
Anyway, the voices told him to be alone; he didn't need friends. According to them, he perhaps didn't even deserve friends. This made sense to James; why else would his own mother, of all people, abandon him.
At the time, James was extremely content to be alone with his voices. The problem was, one day he wasn't alone anymore. The afternoon was dribbling into early evening when a stranger stumbled into his imaginings. For it must have been just a blip in the brain that produced this thing. Nobody real would want to visit James, or so he had thought. Afterall, it was true that everything possible had been done to make sure the house where he abided, was as hostile to anyone who wanted to reach its sole inhabitant. Stairways had been torn down leaving only ledges and precarious handholds. James had spent hours carving spikes and laying traps. All of which was guided by his beloved voices. Despite all of that though, evidently; this extremely determined intruder had bested both him and his voices. Which would come to be a good thing for James. One thing was clear, though; the voices were not pleased.
The stranger had plunged through the house, with only the slightest bit of difficulty. Over the years she had become adept at climbing. Until the most challenging cliff face had become little more than light exercise before breakfast. James had thought his house was a fortress; impenetrable. So one could imagine, he was quite perplexed, when a confident and (although James would not notice immediately) strikingly beautiful young woman came striding into his inner sanctum.
Anna was 17 years old, from the charming little port of Berrywater. When she decided to venture deep into the old manor house. She had been raised within inches of the tempestuous Ynys Môn sea. That stormy, grey behemoth had leaked into her soul: filling her with an instantiable hunger for sagas and glory. So she would, for most of the time be found staring longingly out to sea. From dusk till dawn, she would sit there dreaming her days away as the captain of her own pirate ship.
However, no such adventures came to Anna, which made her quite solemn; a once beaming smile became twinged with bitter half-heartedness. Mahogany hair which once had been neat had become unkempt and hung low around her neck in riotous curls. It was not far from truth to say that Anna had become lost within the labyrinth of her mind. Until, mostly by chance, and a little bit of spying she had happened onto James’s inner sanctum; The manor house on the hill.
Standing in what James thought was a doorway but what can only be described (by any sane person) as a rough hole carved into a wall. Anna was just a little puffed out when she reached the place. But still eager to find the curious squirming creature that she had followed all the way here from the bay. The hole in the wall - as there is no other word for it - pitch black. Furthermore, it also stank worse than a racoon. Curiously as well, Anna heard a scraping sound emanating from inside. Despite all of that though, evidently; this extremely determined intruder had bested both him and his voices. Although this could be serendipitous for James That sound would become a serious problem for Anna. Before she knew it, the creature was on her. Clawing and biting every inch of bare flesh. It must think I’m food, Anna reflected casually. Dodging every grab the creature made easily regardless of her journey.
Well, this food fights back!
She charged forward, knocking the creature against the wall. Shouting seemed to have stunned the creature as though it hadn’t heard a human voice in many years. Anna was glad for this: the creature was relentless fury, and it was nearly becoming a hassle to deal with. If it had persevered, she wouldn’t have been long for the lunch menu. However, it didn’t continue its attacks. it just slumped miserably against the wall; defeat was written all over its dishevelled face...
Given some time to think; Anna stood back and took the time to survey her surroundings. Immediately she wished she hadn’t, for this was a place to rival any sacrificial temple of old. There were bones: fishbones, rabbit bones and the bones of other domestic animals the favourite meal seemed to have been cats. Even stranger than this motley horde of skeletons was the fact that there were no signs of a fire or light of any kind for that matter. So whatever animals had been eaten had been raw perhaps even still alive… judging from the aged struggle marks that crisscrossed the floor reflected Anna. That was just the floor, the ceiling was in yet more of a mess although that didn’t seem possible. It was low stifling so in the way that it gave Anna just enough room to nearly stand up straight but not without hitting here head occasionally. And she soon felt that on top of this it was coated in a thick sticky mass. It was moss, moss that had mingled with blood and bits of gusts that had spurted from the many many bodies that had met their end in this place. It was too much for Anna even though her mind had been hardened by the many shipwrecked sailors she’d seen and heard horror stories from. Soon she was retching and gasping for air as adrenaline gave way to her other senses.
This seemed to amuse the creature who began to let out a laugh which bubbled into a long and heart-sickening cackle.