Ghost House. #BlogBattle

“When you play with fire in a ghost house then expect to get burned.” Diary of Jonathan Webster, insane. Incarcerated, Bethlem Royal Hospital, 1876.


 

This is another preamble in the world of a WIP written only in the mind and a plethora of short stories. Vivacious was tricky, using its antonyms less so.

The Amanuensis still continues to search time and places trying to unlock his own temporal prison doors. I, in turn, am trying to release the story incarcerated in the grey matter to find out if he can.

There is an element of horror here as the bricked up child does have history with the previous BlogBattle story. However, using Vivacious was tricky until I started with the antonyms. That made “life” much easier!


 

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Ghost House


Local businessman Jonathan Webster was, today, accused of setting a fire with intent to incapacitate and murder Albert and Elisabeth Beechwood 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.”

 



Extract from “Letters of The Amanuensis”


 

The business man who dabbled and turned insane.

So the parchment declared. Extracts from old newspaper cuttings transcribed into his library archive. The scattered aftermath of an event that turned history.

Insane? The Amanuensis thought not. Traumatised by events that filled his head with demons, yes.

Jonathan Webster was not an innocent. A murderer with a motive baited by a child.

He sat upright. A vision drawing deep breath. Children, always there are children.

On the desk his hands rifled more parchments. His eyes remained closed allowing thoughts to coalesce. Opening them he read the extract again. His mind searching history.


 

Jonathan Webster?

“Yes.”

Murderer.

“No, I wasn’t in control.”

They say you were intoxicated and set fire to a house.

“It wasn’t me… well it was my body, but not my mind.”

Convenient.

“It’s the truth”

Of a madman.

“The house has demons.”



The Amanuensis rifled more pages. The house, not just any house
the House, whose name binds it to past, present and future. The house resting on the edge of the Black Marsh.

Black again…. in his mind images flashed. Screams growing dimmer as bricks were laid.

 


 

How many demons?

“I don’t know, one rests in the cellar. She’s madness and vengeance. The antithesis of vivacious.”

Upon whom?

“Everything.”

So you fired the house killing innocents.

“No…yes…but it was her not me.”

The child possessed you?

“Yes, yes… that’s it.”

And where is she now?

“Entombed in bricks. Bones and rags. Fingers torn and broken. There are signs inside as I tried to dig out of the darkness. He was a fool, possessed by his own defilements. He killed one of mine.”

This is no longer Webster is it?

“Good guess, Scribe.”


 

The Amanuensis felt a darkness connecting everything. He gazed into his candle flames. This time they stood unperturbed. Linear in time these events were not.

Too many unconnected deaths. Coincidences he believed improbable. The library held everything. He just needed more time. Always that confounded him. A library of eternity and not enough information to grasp the answers. He closed his eyes. Ghosts, he would visit one tomorrow. Shed more light in the fired house. Not the child, the woman Elisabeth Beechwood.

For now though, he gazed upon the woman displaced in time by a room that ate people. Her fate was sealed when her present passed into the past in a house filled with demons.


 

A door slammed and Amelie could hear crying. She returned to her room and sat on the bed shaking. This time her bedroom door was left slightly ajar so she could see if things outside reverted to normal. They did not.

Settling back she felt her own baby move. Third trimester, it was agitated too. 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 thing where other things 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 faster.

Flames were expanding from drapes that were drawn across two windows to the left of the front door and opposite the base of the staircase. Glass was strewn across a tiled mosaic floor and the curtains flapped in a breeze from outside fanning the fire that was now spreading.

Alfred moved toward the door, but staggered away as he opened it falling backwards, his head covered in blood. Jonathan stepped through, a hammer in his left hand. It was stained red and dripping, leaving a trail of blood on the floor.

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 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 across 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.

 


 

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13 Comments

  1. I was eating while reading this and I was worried that my brain couldn’t handle two things at the same time, because it felt like I wasn’t able to connect everything. Thankfully, the comment section helps put those worries at ease.

    Is Torrie Elisabeth?

    The ending was great. It tied nicely to “Get out of my house.” So spooky.

    The piece definitely draws us in and makes us want to know more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Goldie, I know things related to this character are convoluted to anyone who hasn’t seen the links previously. Part of me self excuses that as it’s helping me flesh out the world build back story. I do try to explain things more though if specific comments ask.

      Yes Torrie is Elizabeth. In Victorian times that was often a nickname.

      More is likely to appear too. I’ve several characters that have appeared before attached to this world, but probably easier to follow without knowing the full connections. The Amanuensis is a sort of glue between everything. Started from an A to Z challenge a while back when my intention was to use him to interview my book characters. By the letter D that plan disappeared as he came alive with a whole new concept! Funny where inspirations hit!

      Like

  2. Well, this certainly turned dark, Gary! I loved it. I’m not sure if I understood all of it, as there appear to be references to other works I’ve not read — I recognise the name Black Marsh from your NaNo profile! Having said that, I did enjoy piecing the bits together — much like the other parts I’ve read with the Amanuensis. Very twisty and jumping back and forth — very much my sort of thing!

    “Good guess, Scribe.” That bit gave me chills. I do wonder who the Amanuensis was conversing with, there. “He killed one of mine.” I get the distinct impression that whomever was speaking is a very powerful entity indeed! It has an almost Lovecraftian feeling, with the possession, insanity, demons, and feeling of a great evil that lurks behind the veil of our own world…

    The last fragment of the story was very action packed, and quite brutal. I liked the frankness in your description of such violence — it’s nicely juxtaposed with the rest of the story. Echoes of The Shining when Jack snaps.

    Great stuff as usual, Gary. I particularly enjoyed the line, “Her fate was sealed when her present passed into the past in a house filled with demons.” It’s got a lovely rhythm to it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Seems conversing with you is rekindling writing routes wrt dark horror. There seems to be two strands working with each other as the Amanuensis grows. One is a fantasy world build, the other is much darker. You’re correct in it linking with other works too. Much is buried on the blog roll and needs better placement once the theme is changed. Black a Marsh is a book title. That is likely what you saw on my NaNo profile. It’s the sequel to another called The Bequest. I’m finding the Amanuensis drawing another story out of them through the “interview” process. That might well be a third strand, which is adding to the slush pile!!

      The “thing” he is conversing with is actually related to the previous BB story. Again that link connected when I wrote that. Well, more a backstory connection as that entity finds “life” in Black Marsh itself. I’m also aware that when I’m on form with a good habit the language style forms without much effort too. Outside of that it’s often pants!

      The last fragment is from a short story called The Room That Swallows People. That’s where Amelie gets displaced in time. Elisabeth also appears in both The Bequest and Black Marsh. The house she died in being called Marsh Bank House. Primarily because it’s built next to the actual Marsh in a town called Houghton Fengrave. That final part is named specifically to reflect the Marsh’s origins.

      I’m not so sure the two greats you mention are worthy of comparison, but I’ll take even half of one! I do like twists and turns though. Parallel worlds bleeding into ours too. Add in more psychological horror and I’m away!

      I hope the violence didn’t come across as gore for the sake of it too. I prefer more descriptive approaches that let readers infill their own horror there.

      Many thanks again for such a thoughtful comment too. Much appreciated.

      Liked by 2 people

      • That sounds very cool, Gary — I’m picturing a double-helix of fantasy and dark horror-esque worlds twisting around each other! Yes, it’d be really nice to have convenient links to all of these works and a structure of how it all weaves together — especially for us newcomers to your stories!

        I really do enjoy learning more about this universe you’re threading together, Gary! You might not think so, but I get definite echoes of the greats whilst reading these pieces. Definite Lovecraft and King (of course) “vibes”, whilst still remaining very you.

        The violence wasn’t excessive at all — it felt very well-placed. If the story calls for it at a particular moment (such as here), then pile it on! If it serves the narrative, then it’s not gore for the sake of gore. Implied horror is always great — but that doesn’t mean we can’t give our readers a little nudge in the right direction! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • There is sort of. If you ever saw Naz and Yish who are both part of the Amanuensis’ world then you’d see fantasy. When he steps across worlds he explores the darker material that caused his citadel to crumble. The back story I like. Explaining it is harder given it’s a 70k file which should be a book prequel… hmm idea!

          I must get onto this theme revamp and stop procrastinating.

          Not sure what to make of such worthy accolades too. You mention two legends of wordcraft and somehow my seat feels uncomfortable sitting beside their names. That said, both are to be aspired to so if it’s heading that way then I shall take that as a huge positive!

          Excellent to hear too. Well placed I shall take. One can’t not have such details included if the narrative demands. I guess it’s about fine lined between too much and not enough. That’s where support in comments can be invaluable.

          The trick with implied horror is taking the reader to the edge and letting them fall off. Bit like character description. I never bog down in that. Who cares is jeans are blue or black? Dare I say that was a bugbear in the GOT books…how many times do I need to know someone was dressed in boiled leather?

          Like

  3. Pingback: #BlogBattle Stories: Vivacious | BlogBattle

  4. Plenty of horror and mystery both here! There seemed to be clues scattered all around that I tried to keep track of, and I think I got a handle on Jonathan. I still wonder, though, why Amelia was the unknown woman upstairs? It seems to be a timey-wimey dilemma, but I think I missed something … perhaps I forgot a clue? Nice job on how the dialogue changed when Amanuenis was contacting Jonathan and discovered it was no longer Jon. Congrats on getting Vivacious to work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clues are there yes, but probably fit better for folk that have read my other stuff…namely my alpha reader! Amelie is unknown because she entered a room in our time but it swallowed her in time displacing her to 1874. I should have linked that back to a short story called “The Room That Swallows People.” The house is an integral setting for two novels, so I get blasé about using it without proper reference. That said with only 1000 word to play with it’s not easy to set everything up when I’m drawing from the Amanuensis. He’s the one I mentioned on your post as having 70k of backstory. I should really stop dabbling with him and get on with the world build proper!

      Thanks Abe for the comment too, especially the note on dialogue change. That particular miscreant is connected to last months tale too. Not sure why everything seems to cross link. It’s making things proper challenging 😳

      Liked by 1 person

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