The UNEDITED / SHORTENED VERSION of the shortstory
Written by LAURA CHOUETTE | Genre: Horror
Chapter 1 - Ravenscourt Manor
Winding along the narrow dirt road the bare, dry branches of the mighty oak
trees stretch out to each other directing the warm, gold shimmering sun
rays to beam in stripes on the pathway. The heavy wooden wheels of the
black coach twist and turn the dust and dry autumn leaves in spirals high
up into the air. Reflecting, Emilia thought that this late autumn afternoon
was more like a cold, dreary summer afternoon. The north of England had
clearly not seen a single drop of rain in weeks and there was a heaviness
in the air, like, Emilia thought, the early hours of the morning in London,
when the city sleeps and the streets and alleyways are empty, and the only
movement is the occasional stray cat and the hovering of isolated clouds of
fog over the River Thames. A stifling sadness clouded her thoughts like a
dark shadow that blurred out any pleasant memories. She always loathed
leaving Mayfair and was feeling a little homesick.
Neighing unruly, the two black horses pulled the coached across small
wooden bridge. Below, the river's waters shone like liquid crystal in the
dim sunlight of the evening. Emilia turned her gaze to the wayside where
she caught sight of the knee-high stone sign post with the barely
decipherable inscription "Ravensbrook".
The weathered sign had, over time almost completely faded the artfully
engraved letters of the long-established family name. Dark green ivy
creeping over the dull grey of the stone had almost obliterated the sign
of the aristocratic family. Emilia felt an unexplainable cold shudder. The
dirt track narrowed heading to the high rugged stone wall whose splendid
grandeur looked out of place in this rural countryside of New Haven County.
It was as if this idea had sprung from the builder on a simple whim. Mr
Ketwick, the coachman, pulled up in front of the wrought-iron gate and sat
in silence making no attempt to ascend.
Emilia cleared her throat clearly puzzled by his behaviour. The coachman’s
sharp gaze remained glued to the gate as he explained, “I don't have the
key for the gate, Miss Watford," adding, "but don't worry, Mr. Finchley,
the butler will be here any moment.” he added. Emilia turned to him smiling
weakly, "are you sure?" she asked uncertain. The coachman looked at her
reassuringly, "Yes Madame, I telegraphed ahead shortly before your train
arrived in New Haven. Mr. Finchley is aware that it is no more than a half
an hour to Ravenscourt Manor from the station.”
The sound of footsteps followed by the crunching sound of the rusted lock
confirmed his words and with a creaking groan, the gate swung sideways,
allowing a glimpse of Ravenscourt Manor that was in the shade of the old
oak trees. Emilia tried to spot the butler at the gate, but could not see a
soul. “Magically disappearing into thin air,” Emilia thought, suddenly
feeling the harsh cold against her cheeks. The sun was rapidly fading and
the surrounding woods were bathed in a menacing darkness. You never
experience complete silence in London, she thought to herself, but here -
not only was there a stillness of sound but it seemed as though time too
had stood still. The only sound to be heard was the soft, steady wheezing
of the two horses. How dreary the estate appeared in the dim light of dusk
she thought as her curious gaze wandered up the ivy-covered facade of the
mansion. The building was completely lost in the middle of the huge trees
under the seemingly endless sky.
Her thoughts turned to her Aunt Amy lee. On previous visits her Aunt had
gleefully lapped up her accounts of events in London whenever she visited
her, begging her to tell every detail and not miss out one bit of gossip
and her Aunt would listen eagerly while she sipped the herbal tea that
smelled of marzipan. She was sadly aware of why her aunt Amy lee had sent
for her on her deathbed.
Looking up at the house, her thoughts were interrupted by the eerie feeling
that she was being watched.
Scanning the building for the secret observer she noticed bars on the ground floor – bars that had not been there before.
“We had a recent break in Madame.” the coachman told her catching her observant eye. A sudden movement coming from
the far window of the top floor caught her attention and she froze.
It was the figure of a woman with skin so pale it almost glowed in the dark, the female figure stood motionless.
Emilia had an unexplainable feeling of fear as she looked up at the woman transfixed.
The loud clatter of her luggage being hauled down from the coach broke her thoughts and she stepped down from the coach straightening up her long grey coat. “May I ask you something Mr. Kentwick,” she asked rubbing her cold hands together, “just how poorly is my aunt?”
He shifted from foot to foot clearly uncomfortable as she continued her questioning. ” Uncle Robert, wrote me most concerned.
Is she as bad as he believes her to be?” The coachman turned his head towards the entrance of the house,
“Aye, Madame,” he said picking up her cases and heading for the door. Once again, Emilia glanced up to the bedroom window.
Only this time, the pale figure of Mrs. Ravensbrook was no longer to be seen.
The complete version of the shortstory will be soon available.