Author: G. Jefferies
“What are you doing in my house?”
The words stirred Amelie Hamilton from a dream about a dog she had grown up with as a child. Griff, a golden retriever and long walks in fields where it always seemed to be sunny and cool at the same time. One of those memories where hay-fever didn’t exist. It was hot, but not sweltering and being an adult was a long way off.
“Excuse me,” she managed trying to shake off a mind groggy with sleep.
“I said, what are you doing in my house?
Amelie sat up. How strange, not the sort of thing a burglar would confront you with, she thought. It was dark and her alarm clock revealed it was 12.01 a.m., barely into the next day.
“This happens to be my house thank you very much so what are you doing in it?” She was speaking to an empty room which was even more curious.
Just to make sure she switched on the bedside lamp. The darkness retreated leaving peripheral shadows. Definitely no-one in the room. She blinked and got out of the bed. Slowly, she turned around, just to be sure.
“Is there anybody there?” Rather clichéd, she thought, just knock once for yes, twice for no.
There was no response. Her light went out.
She cursed and muttered under her breath, “Another damn power cut.”
From under her door there was a flickering orange glow and voices.
The woman spoke again but sounded far more distressed.
“What are you doing in my house?”
Amelie paused. She wasn’t talking to her at all and it appeared there was more than one person in her house and downstairs. Creeping back to the bedside table she picked up her mobile. No signal.
Returning to the door she opened it and moved towards the top of the stairs to peek over than bannister rail. Things looked different. Her modernised Victorian semi-detached house no longer appeared modernised and the wall that made it a semi was missing. In fact the stairs she was at the top of were absolutely not hers at all. They were central for a start and far more in keeping with the original Victorian manse later split in two.
No wonder the voices carried.
The under the door glow was coming from gas lighting that ran at intervals down the landing. Panic was setting in. She stepped backwards and into her room and then came out again. My house, not my house. Her palms were getting clammy and she was trying to control her breathing.
Long slow breaths, stay calm this must be a very bad dream. She returned to the top of the stairs, but held back out of sight.
“But I love you Elisabeth.” A man’s voice, desperate and pleading.
She heard a chair move. The woman, Elisabeth was more urgent.
“Jonathan, you can’t be seen here. My husband will be home soon.”
The man spoke again, his voice cracked. Amelie imagined he was crying.
“But you are carrying my child.”
Elisabeth grew angry and insistent.
“Never say that.” The words spat out with vehemence. “Get out now and never come back.”
Amelie felt there was a degree of horror in the tone.
“Or I shall call for the Peelers.”
There was a thump as something hit the table. Jonathan’s fist perhaps, she thought.
“Very well,” he said, “but I shall not be held accountable for my actions.”
A door slammed and Amelie could hear crying. She returned to her room and sat on the bed shaking. This time the door left ajar so she could see if things outside reverted to normal. They did not. Settling back, she felt her own baby move. Third trimester, she felt agitated. Her own husband was at a conference in Holland presenting a paper on something to do with particle physics. She was never quite sure what that meant at the best of times. CERN was just a word meaning big vacuum tube where stuff you couldn’t see flew round in circles crashing into other invisible things that were even smaller. Did her head in, although a scatty memory and interrupted sleep wasn’t helping and made dealing with things you could see tricky at the best of times.
Downstairs she heard a different male voice.
“My apologies for being so late Torrie, the meeting ran over slightly.”
“Not to worry Alfred, these things happen.”
She lies well, thought Amelie.
There was the sound of breaking glass and a scream. Amelie moved back to her vantage point, this time daring to look over the bannister. What she saw made her heart beat a shade bit faster.
Flames expanded from drapes drawn across two windows to the left of the front door and opposite the base of the staircase. Glass strewn across a tiled mosaic floor and curtains flapping in a breeze from outside fanning the flames that were now spreading.
Alfred was moving toward the door, but staggered away as he opened it falling backwards onto the floor, his head covered in blood. Jonathan stepped through, a hammer in his left hand. It was stained red and dripping leaving a trail of bloodied drops.
Elisabeth’s mouth opened and closed as she stumbled against a table that offered temporary support. Her face was white. She spoke in a terrified whisper.
“What the hell are you doing Jonathan?”
He just glared back, eyes filled with the red mist and staggering with the gait of a mad man riddled with liquor wielding a raging slur, “If I cannot have you then no-one will.”
He moved toward the table. Elisabeth backed off. The flames were moving down the room and behind her. She turned too fast and tripped, crashing her head against the corner of the table before landing on the mosaic. A pool of red liquid grew from her hair.
Jonathan dropped the hammer and fled.
Amelie could feel the heat as her own escape route became cut off. Thick smoke was driving up the stairs forcing her to retreat back into the room. The window was jammed shut and smoke began crawling underneath the door. In desperation she smashed the glass. The ground was a long way off and thirty weeks pregnant was not making things easier. She began to cough and the smoke made the decision. Her world went black as she slumped to the floor.
Across the road, and most definitely in the present, Allan and Joseph Carmichael were surfing the web looking out at the old Hamilton place, as they had done for the five years since Amelie Hamilton had gone missing. Both sides of the semi-detached large Victorian house has been boarded up for three years. James Hamilton had originally bought them both hoping to renovate the house back to it’s original state prior to the fire in 1875.
Being paranormal hobbyists they rented this particular house because the local population believed the Victorian place opposite to be either haunted or possessed. Urban myth had it logged as a place people went into and sometimes never came out again. They said it woke up every five years and wanted feeding. To date the brothers had found numerous accounts of missing persons that either owned or visited the place. Evidence was less numerous. The police had been unable to trace any of the absent inhabitants and had even held James Hamilton in custody whilst exploring the possibility he may have disposed of his wife.
Eventually they let him go, whereupon he was admitted to a psychiatric ward for treatment. The Carmichael’s had managed to interview him but retrieved very little apart from a series of notes from a disturbed mind.
“The place is possessed by the devil.”
“There is a room that swallows people.”
“It’s alive with ghosts of the dead.”
A year later, James gave up and had the place boarded up. Some say he did this from the inside and disappeared forever. Certainly after the interview Allan had been unable to locate him and since the police had received no missing persons reports little help came from that direction.
Allan was currently staring at the house opposite. The more he looked the more unsettled he became.
“Who’s watching whom?” He was talking to himself.
His brother startled him from the reverie. “Al, look at this.”
Joseph stared into the screen displaying an archive for local news relating to the fire. “Amelie Hamilton was pregnant!”
Local businessman Jonathan Webster was, today, accused of setting a fire with intent to incapacitate and murder Albert and Elisabeth Beechworth and their unborn child. In addition the remains of an unknown female, also with child, were discovered in an upstairs room. Being of unsound mind the accused was spared the hangman’s noose and admitted to an asylum for the remainder of his days. When inquisition as to motive was applied by the prosecution the only words uttered by Mr. Webster were
“Get out of my house.”
© G Jefferies and Fictionisfood, 2016. All rights reserved.