Tuesday, March 19, 2013
MY SHORT GHOST STORY
To my wonderful god daughter Angela Bacon, you gave me the idea for this short spooky story so I have decided to dedicate this in honor of you my dearest!
Always I love you
THE STAIN AT BENTFORD MANOR
It was only midnight. That wasn't too late for a girl of Cassidy Bentfords age of seventeen summers to still be awake. She couldn't sleep and even if she tried it wouldn't have done her much good. The house was awful. Except she was the only one who thought so. Her dad was a lover of anything historical, and was infatuated with their isolated and weather beaten old manor. It was his families estate and he wasn't about to let his daughters childish and overactive imagination scare them back to the city. He’d waited all his life for his Grandfather to die and have his turn in the old house. Now they were here at last. They were dwelling in history as her dad had said over and over since arriving six months ago.
Cassidy had tried everything to get comfortable in the manor. She rode the pretty horse her dad bought her around the lush property. She painted by the pond in back, and even tried planting a new bed of roses in the enormous garden. She reminded herself that her dad was right where he wanted to be. He had his dream job at the university teaching history and her mother was rising fast at the clinic she’d landed a nursing job at. What did it matter that Cassidy was seeing things. That she continued to hear things no one else could hear, or that every night she had the same insane dream. A dream that she was running from someone in the house and tripping on a satin gown she didn't own. She was losing her mind and no one seemed to notice.
She was hungry now. Her stomach growled into the darkness of her gilded bedroom bouncing off the soft silk drapes and delicate dark cherry wood furnishings.She rolled onto her side trying to ignore her discomfort. She willed herself to relax and fall asleep. She couldn't very well get a snack from the kitchen at this hour, not with the house so dark. She mustered just enough exhaustion to emit a tiny yawn. She then counted in her head. When she was almost at one hundred she drifted off. She eased into that exotic place in her mind where sleep engulfed her. She began to dream but this time it was very different.
Cassidy could see her legs at first but she couldn't move them. She was rooted in place by a thick swirling grey mist that began to take on a solid black color. Her hands were free, and she used them in earnest trying to push the mist away. She screeched as her hands were sucked inside its thickness rendering them as useless as her legs were. Panic seized her chest, she looked all around her, but there was nothing. There was nothing but the grey and black shapeless shadow that offered her no aide. She opened her mouth to scream for help but wasn't able to. The black mist rose up fast and began forcing its way into her mouth. It pushed hard and straight down her throat. Tears sprang to her eyes. She gagged and sputtered but it kept fighting its way into her body.
She awoke in her room as the pale light filtered in through her windows and banished the darkness from the far corners of her bedroom. It did little to calm her racing heart. She was soaked through. Her pajamas were soaked with perspiration. She sat prone in her bed massaging her throat with both her quivering hands. She felt strange and vague like she should do something. Her door opened wide and the short older Italian woman her mother had hired to watch after her strolled in.
“Good morning my dear I see you’re up already.” Gina Romaine didn't look at the young girl as she opened the curtains wide and let the full sunlight flood the large room, “What a marvelous day out there! A perfect day for a horse ride hmm?”
Cassidy fought to find her voice. Her mouth was thick and dry, after several long seconds she answered, “I guess so.”
Gina spun about and eyed the girl searching her up and down, “Are you feeling bad hon?” her voice was strained and deeper than it should be making Gina wonder if the girl was catching a cold.
“I'm Just tired. "Cassidy didn't like the invasive look the older woman gave her and left the bed. She went to her bathroom and locked the door behind her. She looked in the mirror and checked her face. She noticed her eyes were somehow a darker green and her skin looked more olive than it had before.
She took a quick shower but couldn't wash away the disconnected feeling inside her mind. She thought about her dream when she put on fresh clothes and stood again before her mirror. Her eyes were even darker than before and her black hair had a light red undertone. She gasped and tucked her hair into a cap she found under her vanity and put drops in her eyes. Her head hurt right at the base of her skull. A dull constant ache that wouldn't be ignored. After taking some pain reliever she emerged from her bathroom. She gave the older woman a small smile trying to assure both the older woman and herself that things were fine.
Gina had a bad feeling but she shoved it aside. The girl looked odd, like she wasn't quite herself. She wasn't vomiting or acting like she was sick so she shrugged it off and suggested, “How about some breakfast and then maybe a short ride on that horse of yours?”
Cassidy shook her head and followed behind the woman. The house was quiet as they made their way to the large dining hall. There was already a side board full of various breakfast dishes when they entered the dining hall. Cassidy wasn't hungry she grabbed a roll. and scarfed it down wanting to keep the woman from growing anymore concerned by her odd appearance and distant behavior. She left the house and went to the stable to tend to her speckled mare Rosemary.
The mare was sweet tempered and she’d rode her almost every day since her dad brought her here a month ago. The horse was her one real haven and her only friend. She grabbed a handful of the fresh oats and entered the mares stall. Feeling lighthearted she reached out her hand to feed her pet. She was surprised when the horse snorted and dodged her out stretched hand. She didn't back down at first, instead she moved closer to the animal still offering the treat. But it did little good because the closer she got the further away the horse went. Confused she dusted the oats from her hand and tried soothing her.
“What’s the matter girl?”
The horse began to huff and continued to shuffle on its feet. Its large rump pressed against the wall behind it leaving no more room to back away. Cassidy was nervous now and she could feel her hands start to tremble. She out one last time attempting to stroke the horse’s long snout. The horse bulked and reared up enough that Cassidy shrieked. Frightened she ran from the stall. Once she had the latch secure she looked at the mare and glared. She could feel the white hot wrath bubbling up from her stomach to her chest she narrowed her eyes at the mare and hissed between her teeth.
“You filthy beast!”
The anger dissipated as she made her way on foot to the small pond. Once there she stood beside the green water staring at nothing. Her mind was rather blank now. She’d almost lost her temper with her horse. She'd wanted to smack it soundly for its refusal to allow her near it. As she calmed down she was struck by her anger. It wasn't like her to show such lack of restraint on her emotions. She’d always been a kind and gentle person, and she was always gentle with animals. She’d never been one to become angry at feeling slighted or unwanted. She rubbed her hands across her face then pulled her hat down further onto her head. She blew out a long breath.
She saw something in the distance across the pond in the thick woods that lay beyond when she looked back up. Again unlike herself, she walked around the water and slipped into the woods compelled to follow the wispy shadow she’d glimpsed. To her left she saw the same movement she veered in that direction unafraid.
After over half an hour of walking she came to a small ruin. All that was left was a single stone wall with a deep hearth still intact. She was drawn to the hearth. She could hear it calling and took the remaining steps to stand before it. She hunched down and peered into the dark hole where once a warm fire was continuously stoked. She could almost feel the heat that used to be. The stone felt cold and lifeless beneath her touch as she traced the lines where some mortar still clung to the grey stone. Cassidy felt at home here.
She felt at peace almost like this place held something nice and loving for her. She had a bizarre feeling like she had been here. She recognized the hearth and she remembered what the missing mantel had once looked like. She stood back up onto her feet and surveyed the small clearing. She could see the house that used to stand here in her mind. She knew it had been burnt even before seeing the charred evidence at the base of the wall. She knew there were graves nearby as well.
She walked directly to them. She wiped away the dead vegetation then tried to make out the names and dates. It was useless. Time had eroded the letters from the fire damaged granite headstones. There were twelve total and one had enough of the first name for her to read. She said the name out loud.
Searing pain slashed across her heart ripping away every conceivable layer, exposing all her rawest nerves. She didn't know a single Beth. Not in France back at boarding school nor in her life in Chicago. Somehow, some way, she knew this child. She knew her enough to mourn her death, find it unjustifiable, and desire retribution for it.
Cassidy remained in the clearing still sitting beside the broken headstones for a long time. She tried to place why she had memories that she shouldn't have. She contemplated why she felt pain for these long dead strangers. The sun had already began to dip below the line on the horizon blanketing the well-manicured grounds in hues of brilliant red and orange. Cassidy made her way back to the old manor.
Gina flapped her arms at the girl when she entered the garden, gaining her attention. She’d kept her absence from her parents and she intended to give the child an ear full for scaring her so badly with her disappearing act, “Where in heavens name have you been child?”
“I took a walk in the woods and I lost track of time. I’m sorry Gina.”
Cassidy ducked into the French doors that let into the parlor filled with the original antique furniture. She hated the room. It was oppressing and dark which was an odd contrast with the bright cream colored fabric of the setae and two matching chairs. Even the wooden tables were a light oak and the wallpaper a soft hazy green and silver stripe. It should have been alluring instead of so repulsive. She couldn't look at the fireplace either. Not since she’d seen the black shadow standing near it. She had the distinct feeling something guarded that spot and that something didn't like her very much.
“Your parents have dinner guest tonight and I have only twenty minutes to have you dressed and in the dining hall for dinner. Sorry dear for being so catty at you but I must stress for you not to go off like that!” Gina had the girl dressed and her long thick black hair brushed into a nice shine in just under her allotted time.
She stood back admiring her handy work when she saw something that made her hair stand up; the girl wasn't the girl. Her eyes were no longer green but were turning into a dull brownish color. Her hair wasn't its normal raven black, but a reddish black, and she looked older as well. There was something not quite right. Gina felt it all the way to her bones.
“What?” Cassidy saw how the woman looked at her and it frightened her, “Is there something wrong with me?!”
Gina was tongue tied for a few seconds. She knew there was something wrong but she couldn't explain it even to herself much less to the girl she was staring at, “I think you have caught yourself a fine cold dear, maybe tonight you should take something to help you feel better.”
“Okay.” She followed the woman to the dining hall and watched her walk away. She entered the long room and sat beside her mother. Her mother, Ruby, was as beautiful as she was smart. Her hair long and flaxen blonde, her eyes crystal blue, and framed by long thick lashes. Even her voice was smooth like fine china.
“How interesting Dr. Mathews and what drove you to study that particular field?” Ruby asked the middle aged, balding man across the long table.
Cassidy didn't bother to listen to his answer. This wasn't her first dinner party and she knew her place was to be seen and not heard. It went on for close to an hour before desert was presented by fancy clad staff. Cassidy stared down at her delicious coconut pie and was about to take a bite when she saw a shadow to her left. She looked in that direction and saw a man standing there. He was very tall and thin. His skin was ashen and almost translucent, he wore an out dated suit. He smiled at her with his black beady eyes.
She looked around the table but no one seemed to see him but her. She squeezed her eyes shut and opened them but he remained there still staring at her. She was trembling and put her fork down so she could hide her hands in her lap. He began to float to her where she sat pushing her back against the thick padded chair. He pointed a finger at her and opened his mouth. He had neither teeth nor tongue. His mouth was a solid black mass of nothing that threatened to consume her. He was just across the table now. He stood behind the doctor her mother was speaking with. She didn't know what they were discussing. She couldn't hear them over the hammer of her own heart as it sped up in her chest threatening to explode. She couldn't breathe either. Her face grew red and her eyes bulged. He spoke than in a low grating pitch just like she imagined a monster would sound.
“I know who you are.”
Even if she could speak she doubted anything useful would come out of her mouth. The man refused to disappear he continued to point his long bony finger at her. His mouth wouldn't close and the black within it seemed to move and beacon her. She couldn't seem to turn her eyes away. She looked again at the dinner guests and her parents. They were each engaged to each other talking about various things while she sat there froze in horror at what surely must be a dead man.
He leaned over the table his hands not touching the tabletop. His spine made crunching sounds as he continued to bend his back in such an unnatural way until his face was but a few feet from her. She continued to sit trying in desperation not to bring any attention to herself. She knew the rules. She knew better then to upset their important dinner party, but the dead man didn't care about any of that. The black from inside his mouth began to spill out and make its way to where she sat paralyzed. She couldn't sit any longer fear winning over her need to please her parents she finally reacted. She leaned over and touched her mother’s arm and whispered in a trembling voice.
“May I be excused mother I feel a bit ill.”
Ruby scanned her daughters face and frowned, “You look very pale love are you okay?”
“Yes I’m fine I just need to lay down for a bit.”
“Alright then go and lay down for a bit I will check on you before I retire.”
Cassidy stood up and pushed her chair in. She watched the dead man unbend his spine again making the same sick crunching sound. She heard her mother explain her departure and as fled the dining hall. Once she cleared their sight she ran the rest of the way to her bedroom. With clumsy fingers she locked her door behind her and dived under her covers tucking them in all around her.
Gina had spent the hour the girl was in the dining hall fretting. She had a bad feeling something was going to happen and she couldn't continue to ignore it. She waited until she heard the girl return and sought her out. The door was locked she used her thin skeleton key to gain entry and found the girl sobbing beneath her blankets. She liked her new job of looking after the girl. She was much older then Gina had assumed she would be. She’d imagined the girl would be a small child to need someone to watch after her rather than the capable teenager she was. The parents were odd and far too stuffy. They did very little with the girl. She existed but not much more than that to them. Gina cleared her throat and saw the girl go stiff. She said in a gentle tone.
“I’m sorry dear I didn't mean to startle you I just thought maybe we could….talk? I thought maybe you might tell me what’s been going on with you. Something doesn't seem to feel quite right to me.”
“You wouldn't believe me.” Cassidy wanted to tell somebody. Her chest was full and ready to burst like a busted dam but she was afraid to tell the truth.
“I promise not to say a thing to your parents if you tell me the truth.”
Cassidy pulled her covers off her head and began to tell her story, “Ever since we arrived I have seen things that can’t be real. Like shadows that move on their own, I have heard muffled voice, I can only make out some words like murderer and liar, but worse still is the dead man that appeared with a black mouth and eyes. He says he knows who I am.”
An icy finger ran up Gina’s spine but she hid her reaction, “What did the man look like?”
“He looks dead his skin is grey and hangs on his bones loosely he has white hair and he’s really thin and tall.” Cassidy shivered but went on, “his face looks a bit like my dad maybe an older version of him why does it matter?”
“How well did you know you great-grandfather?”
“I spent most my time at a boarding school overseas I’m only home now because of how close this manor is to the school my dad claims is the best in all the world. Every time they came here to visit I never came with so I guess I didn't know him at all.” Cassidy sat up and asked, “You think that dead man is my great-grandfather?”
“What all do you know about ghosts Cassidy?”
“Nothing really just what I have seen on television.”
“I know a few things about ghosts and I know a bit about the history of this place as well….” Gina paused and thought about what she should or shouldn't tell the girl, “You must promise not to tell your parents what I am about to tell you.”
“I promise.” Cassidy tossed the covers off her body and scooted to the edge of her bed. She was prepared to listen.
“It’s an old story really and I don’t know all the facts. I know it’s a tale of murder. There used to be an old stone house just past the pond it burnt long ago, and the path has grown over, but the graves are still there. It was the groundskeepers house or at least it was once, before the scandal.” Again Gina paused unsure just how much she should say, “It was told that your great-grandfathers eldest brother fell in love with a woman his father thought beneath him. The woman was found face down in the pond and the young man accused his father of killing her.”
Cassidy couldn't hide her fear. She knew the stone house and she knew those graves, “There are twelve headstones only one has a name you can read and it bears the name Beth.”
“It was rumored the child was a Bentford but she too was found dead. It was thought she fell from the attic window where she was playing. The child belonged to the woman and used to come with her to help her mother clean the bedrooms. Things went very badly after the child died and the woman made accusations. That's probably why she ended up dead.” Gina cleared her throat, “after the man accused his father of murdering both his lady love and daughter he shot himself in the burnt ruins of the stone house. It was also believed the old man burnt the old house wanting everything to be destroyed.”
“What do you think the woman wants from me?” she could feel something inside her shifting and moving wrestling for control and she knew now who it was.
“I don’t know sweetheart maybe some kind of redemption. The woman wasn't buried properly she was burned in a pile of rags by the your great-grandfathers father he had hoped to hide the fact from his son but staff had witnessed the old man retrieve her form the pond and take her off to burn her.” Gina sighed, it was a sad story, “I suppose he wanted his son to forget about her and maybe believe she’d just run off.”
“Do you think he drown her?”
“It was rumored he threw the child from the window and then drown the woman. But in those times such things were seldom looked into. Especially if the perpetrator was of wealth and the victim a simple woman of no quality.”
“I think I would like to sleep now Gina thank you for telling me all this.” Cassidy didn't change into her pajamas instead she rolled over in her pink and pale green dress. She was tired and as soon as her eyes closed she was fast asleep. Gina left her there slumbering in her bed.
Cassidy was dreaming but it was unlike any dream she’d had before. She was in the large old manor and it was dark and foreboding. She walked through the long and wide hall to the grand staircase without pausing. Although she could feel her legs she wasn’t in control of them. She was taken down the stairs to the first floor then she was taken to the kitchen. She there stood unsure of what would happen next.
She tried to open her mouth to speak but she wasn't able to. Fear spread like butter over warm bread and so did the panic. She wasn’t dreaming, she was standing in the kitchen. She heard a noise but wasn’t able to search for the source. She was forced to stand in place facing the window. The light changed and suddenly the dark was replaced by the warm sunlight outside. An object dropped and landed with a sick thud. Unable to stop her own body she ran out the back service door and stood staring in disbelief.
It was a small child no more than four she laid twisted her small frame lifeless blood ran from under her in every direction pooling and thickening quickly. Cassidy’s head tilted of its own accord and she could see from the open window above a figure the sun made it impossible to make out any features but she could plainly see it was a thin male. Without any warning she collapsed onto her knees her hands came to her face making her heart speed up and her lungs become tight. She tried with everything she had to take back control she tried to scream but nothing worked. Without warning again her body moved once more this time she came to her feet and began to walk away from the small child and the manor.
The sun faded back into the darkness of night and she still couldn't control her body. She was being taken to the stone house. After what felt like an eternity she was there at what should have been the ruins. Instead the old cottage stood before her. She entered the thick door and stood in the common room. There was a fire in the hearth as she stood in the center of the room. A man lay quiet on the battered sofa and she went to him. With her hand she touched his fevered brow. Her lips began to move and words came out, “Tis I father, your only daughter and I came to say my goodbyes.”
The man was too weak to answer. He moaned and rolled over giving her his back, “I do not think you will survive your fever father. God speed and I shall see you in the shadows soon enough.”
It was madness she tried again to force her legs to stop but they continued onward leaving the old stone house behind. She stiffened every muscle she could and screamed as loud as her lungs would allow. Then just as sudden and explainable as her loss of control had been, she was once again in control of herself. She stood there in the woods horrified. She could feel the dark seeping close against her skin and as fast as her legs would go she ran back to the manor. Once she was in her room she went to her bathroom and stared hard at her own reflection.
With a shaking hand she reached out at what she saw in the mirror. Her eyes were no longer green but a dark brown. Her hair was no longer black but reddish brown. She was completely gone now and she had become someone else. She removed the dress. It was dirty and torn in two places and she knew her mother would be unhappy with her. She put on a sturdy pair of jeans and a plain dark blue t-shirt and again she stuffed her hair beneath the cap. She waited until the sun began to kiss the horizon and left the manor. She didn't wait on Gina but went straight to the ruins on her own. The woman wanted something from her but she still didn't know what it was. She had to find out she needed to know what she had to do to end this.
It was useless. There was nothing here. It was the same thing as it had been the day before. The graves sat undisturbed and the names unreadable. She didn't know which grave belonged to whom except the child. She knew which one that was. She bent down to it now and ran her hand across the name. It was sad and it looked bad from what she'd seen. The child had been murdered. She knew someone had been in that attic that day. She stood up again and looked back in the direction of the manor. She felt the urge to go back. She needed to see the attic for herself.
She ran the entire length and was startled when she heard her mother’s voice call out from the hall, “I detest caps of any kind why are you wearing that!?”
Cassidy stopped in the hall and gulped. Her mother would have a fit if she saw the color of her hair, “Sorry mother, may I go and fetch a scarf to wear. The sun has been fading my hair lately.”
“Run along then, and by run along, I mean walk because one does not run inside one’s home.”
She walked to her room and tied a scarf about her head and started to go to the attic when Gina stopped her, “Maybe it’s not so wise to poke about something we don’t really know anything about.”
“She wants something and I have to find out what or else she might…” Cassidy hadn’t any idea how to explain things. She didn’t know what the woman might be able to do to her or the dead man by the hearth, “I have to find out what she wants, please.”
“When terrible things happen child they can stain a place and leave behind ugly things that can haunt the most unlikely of people.” Gina lowered her voice and said, “You cannot let her be in control, you don't know if she is for the good or for the bad.”
“I didn’t give her control last night. I awoke unable to do anything to stop her and she showed me her daughter’s death. Gina there was a man looking out the attic window.” Cassidy looked at her hands and her feet, “She had complete control of my body I have to find a way of getting her to rest.”
“Then I will come along!” Gina looked up the attic steps they were narrow and steep, “Follow me dear.”
Cassidy followed along. She didn’t say anything in protest. She wanted to stop Gina but she also didn’t want to be alone. Together they climbed the steps to the top of the attic in silence. They found it was full of boxes and trunks. It left little room to move around. Cassidy didn’t know exactly what she was searching for which made looking even more difficult. After riffling through trunk after trunk they found something. It was just another trunk at first glance but once they peered inside and saw the charred remnants of a wedding dress they knew they were onto something. Gina took the dress from the trunk and started to examine the lace and silk. Cassidy retrieved a small dress stained with a rusty red substance.
“This was Little Beth’s dress.”
“That poor mite, such a terrible way to die for anyone much less a wee child. I can’t imagine falling from such a height.”
“I feel her loss in my heart.”
Cassidy looked inside the trunk she shifted through everything within it. There were old photos and she recognized every face she saw. The woman, the child, the woman’s family were all accounted for. She finally found her great-Uncle George’s personal effects that were all laid with care inside the old trunk. She saw movement from the corner of her eye and before she could say anything she again lost control of her body. She was forced to stand and walk to the boarded up window. Before her eyes the boards faded away and a window with sparkling stained glass sat in its place. Her hands moved on their own and she began to push the window open wide and stick her head out. The wind felt nice as it blew onto her sweaty brow. There was a sound behind her she turned around fast and saw the old man stood at the attic door.
“A bastard child rummaging about my attic!”
Cassidy was too high up. She felt like she was standing on something and it was flimsy making her body sway. The man began to come at her and a shrill scream erupted from her throat in a voice neither her own or the woman's. It was the sound of a small child. She felt her body slip and she fell out the window. She saw the solid cement ground rush up to greet her. She watched as her arms and legs flapped useless before she hit the ground. She was again standing in the attic staring at the boarded up window her breath rushing in and out of her lungs.
“What did you see?”
“The child wasn’t shoved! She tripped! The old man came in here and said something nasty but I think he may have tried to catch her before she fell.” Cassidy was shaking she could hear her voice quake as she spoke, “I think the little girl showed me the truth.”
“My grandma used to say that some people had the rare gift of seeing the shadow world.” Gina patted the girl on her shoulder, “she also said the gift was more like a curse some times.”
“I still need to know what the woman wants and what happened to her.” She shivered still staring at the boards. They were old slabs of wood. She assumed it was hammered up right after the little girl fell to her death. It was sad but she couldn’t do anything to change it.
They left the attic and Cassidy went to her room to dress for dinner. She was almost ready when her mother knocked and informed her they would be going to town for a dinner party. But just the two of them would be going and that Cassidy would be on her own for a few hours. She was relieved and watched from her third story window as her parents rode off in their coop. once she was alone she spoke out loud cringing with each word she said.
“I know who you are and you know who I am. What is you want form me?”
There was no answer and she was slightly relieved. She thought about the pond and left the manor. She didn’t let Gina know she was going. She didn’t intend to be gone long. She sat patient beside the pond watching the sun start to disappear, nothing happened. She was frustrated and ready to get to the end of this journey. She remembered the stone house and headed in that direction. Whatever the woman wanted it had to be in order. The last thing she’d seen was at the little house.
It wasn’t there, not at first. She approached the ruin and bent to look into the hearth. She closed her eyes tight and when she opened them next the house was again there. The was man still on the sofa in the throws a high fever. Then she wasn’t in control anymore. All she could do was let this thing play out and see for herself what this dead woman needed from her. Like before she said her goodbyes to her father. It felt cold and she began to think this woman had no real feelings for her ill father. Again she departed the small dark stone house and started along the well-kept path that led to the manor.
Half way to the manor the woman came to a stop on the path. There was a noise just to her left. Then there was movement and without any warning a man emerged from the tree line. He had a long menacing lead pipe held tight against his side.
“You might kill me, but you will not stop your brother from telling your father the truth. Your father will know you raped my baby sister!”
“Oh I think I can stop him just fine as soon as I deal with you.” The man waved the pipe about teasing her with his intentions, “All I have to do is help you with a little accident in the pond then burn down that damn house and no more pesky woman no more ranting groundskeeper. It will again be just the Bentford’s and that’s how it should be.”
Cassidy could feel the woman’s panic as well as her own twisting together making it impossible to think. She didn’t doubt for a second this man was the reason for the grisly discovery on the pond. She took ragged breaths as she felt the woman tense up and ready herself to run. She did she run and she ran fast. She didn't look back as she darted into the tree line to her right. She could feel the underbrush snagging at her clothing. She almost made it to the clearing of the pond when she felt the jarring blow to the back of her head laying her flat onto her face. The woman wasn’t dead she was dazed as she watched his feet walk up close to her head. He leaned down his mouth a scant few inches from her face. His mouth was like a black hole. She couldn’t see his teeth or his tongue as he spoke in a dark whisper.
“I know who you are. You thought you would get yourself with child and become the mistress of the Bentford manor and that sister of yours always teasing me!”
Cassidy felt her trying to respond. Her lips moved but nothing came forth only tiny broken gasps. He straddled her from behind and lifted her up by her waist. She drooped in his arms like a rag doll as he walked to the pond. Once there he said in hissed into her ear.
“My father didn’t toss your whelp out the window love. He actually tried to snatch her before she fell. He came close too and nearly caught her by the ankle. His misguided guilt has made him rethink your love match with my brother but it changed nothing for me. I intend to be the master of this manor and you and that love sick fool of a brother of mine will be dead. That fever already claimed the rest of your family leaving only you to deal with.”
She knew this was her dead great-grandfather and that this was how he, the younger brother had taken the manor and the money. He snatched something from around her neck and laughed into her ear, “Rest in peace my dear.”
She was struck by horror as she was thrown into the pond landing face first into the green moss coated water. She couldn’t use her arms and legs she felt herself sinking like a stone to the bottom when a hand snatched her up by the back of her shirt.
Gina drug her free of the dark water and sat her on the muddy shore and chastised her, “foolish child I warned you about running off like that you almost got yourself drown!”
“I know who killed her! It wasn’t the old man it was my great grandfather who did it! He was greedy and he was accused of rape!” she coughed and sputtered trying to catch her breath still shaking from what the woman had showed her, “He took a locket from around her neck and I think he may have shot his brother.”
“You swallowed some of that awful water honey now you’ll be sick for a week. Let’s stop all this ghost business for now and get you to bed okay.” Gina reached her hand out but the girl didn’t take it.
“I can’t stop until I find out what she wants. I have to see this through please Gina you can go with me but I must go back to the stone house its almost over now I promise.” She shivered as the cool night air blew against her wet clothing and skin, “please?”
“Only if you hurry up your parents won’t be gone all night.” Gina said a quick pray and followed after the girl into the woods.
It didn’t take long to reach the house. It was quiet and pitch black. The house again was not there. She stood beside the hearth and waited for something to happen. It didn’t take long. She turned and there was day light and the house was behind her. She could see the man that killed the woman. Her body was there too and another man as well. The man who’d killed the woman spoke first.
“You should have allowed father to burn her that would have been best.”
George didn’t move from where he stood. He had the shovel resting in his hands and his dead fiancé lying at his feet. He’d suspected his father of having first slain his daughter, then maybe having slain his love, but now he realized the truth. It was too late.
“It was you, my brother, that did this to her. You did all of this to silence what you did to her sister.”
“I gave her one nice crack to her skull and tossed her into the pond. If only you had been less careless of where your little bastard spent her afternoons playing. I would not have had to do any of this. Father intended me to have everything and I warmed up rather nicely to that idea. Then that damn child hurled herself to the ground and riddled him with guilt! So I do what I must do to have what I deserve.” Tomas smiled wide at his brother’s low growl. He wasn’t intimidated by his stronger and better looking older brother. He had the upper hand by way of the pistol he held in his pocket, “You chose to accuse father and drove him to the brink, making him give you back your inheritance! No one, not even you really gave a damn about that girls sister!”
“Had I known you wanted all that I would have given it to you freely! If I had known that house would cost me everyone I love I would have been glad to see it gone! One thing I have that you cannot take is my heart I would never dehumanize any woman! I am a man and you are a monster!” George lunged but fell hard when his brother shot the pistol. His aim was true.
Cassidy knew the woman’s body had been burnt. She saw him tuck the locket into his pocket after he set the house with the ill man still inside ablaze. It was raw and ugly and it made her blood run cold. It was the past and it couldn’t be undone. Before she could escape her vision the dead woman reappeared and stood in front of her. She was ashen and dripping wet from the pond. She reached at her neck then pointed to the little girl’s grave and Cassidy knew what she wanted.
“You better answer me right now Cassidy!” Gina watched the girl go into some kind of trance not responding to anything she said.
“A locket, my great grandfather took a locket from her and she wants it brought here to her daughter’s grave!” Cassidy ran toward the manor not checking behind her to see if the older woman followed. She knew where the locket was. She knew what her great grandfather had done.
Gina was silent and stayed close to the girl when they entered the house. They went to the parlor still dressed up as it had always been. The girl stooped down and reached into the hearth pulling at a loose brick within the left hand side, “what are doing?”
“It’s here! That locket he put it here and something else too!” she got the loose brick free and pulled out a small metal box.
“How did you know that would be there child?”
“I kept seeing something linger by the hearth. It was dark and oppressing, it was him trapped by his own dirty deeds.” Cassidy pried the lid off, “look I found her locket. It is inscribed by Uncle George. It says one day we shall all be together and here is my great grandfathers diary. He wrote down what he did every single detail is right in there.”
“We give the little girl the locket.”
They went back to the stone house ruins and Cassidy dug down into the earth above Little Beth’s resting place. She placed the old fragile locket into the moist earth, “There you are little one, maybe you can rest now and your mom too.”
Gina watched the girl grow younger, her hair return to black, and her eyes again were bright green, “It’s over?"
“For them it is, but for me I don’t know.”
“My grandma always said it was more curse then gift child maybe you should get some sleep for now.”
Cassidy knew about the stains left behind by terrible acts. She knew the soul might leave and journey beyond but left a trace of who it was behind to rattle its own cage seeking justice. She’d been terrified but now that it was done she wasn’t scared anymore. She wasn’t just relieved for herself but for her great-grandfathers victims as well. What had happened was sad and she couldn’t undo any of it but she felt like she’d finished something. It was over now but she felt changed. Maybe even she felt aged just a bit past her own seventeen years.