The Haunted Manor

March 1, 2008
By Alexandra Copp, Greenwich, CT

Rain poured down on the hulking human-like figure silhouetted in the darkness. Still and threatening, it made no move to cover its bare arms or protect itself from the steady grey drizzle. It watched silently as two girls emerged from the trees nearby. The first of them smiled despite the gloom and weather. She had reached her destination. The second only trudged on, weighed down by two heavy packs. They walked through the clearing, and under the stone arch that was the entry to the abandoned mansion.

Knocking expectantly, the girls waited. After a moment the taller girl knocked again. Then, with an exasperated sigh she flung open the door and strode confidently inside. The second girl hesitated. Unlike her companion, a shiver ran down her spine. With a nervous glance over her hunched shoulder, she shuffled unhappily after her mistress. The hidden silhouetted figure made an ugly grimace that was a mockery of the human smile and silently walked away, leaving no footprints on the slightly muddy ground.

Tall and confident, Alice sniffed the stale air of the Tudor mansion with a dainty nose. She was a beautiful girl with a cascade of long golden curls that fell to her waist. Her eyes were a dark topaz blue which danced and twinkled in the evening light. Her companion was exactly the opposite. Where her mistress was tall and striking, she was small and plain. Alice strode forward, and with a disdainful glance at the smaller girl said, “Not what I’m used to but it will have to do. Girl find me a bed.” Ann, for that was her name, sighed. “Just once,” she thought “just once she could call me by my name. I’ve worked for her since I was eleven years old and still not a smile, or friendly word.” But Ann did not voice her opinions. She just pushed her disappointment down into the unfathomable gloominess of her soul, where it would lie dormant with the thousands of other slights she had endured over the years.

For the first time, Ann surveyed her surroundings. The style of their shelter was magnificent yet also crumbling from neglect, and lonely too. The foyer had a grand staircase covered in a tattered velvet red carpet. It looked like pooled blood against the stark white marble floors. The room had been elegantly furnished with delicate Victorian furniture, now smelling of mildew and rot. Yet the floors were clean and scrubbed. On the discoloured walls there were leering paintings of the predecessors of this house. “Mam?” Ann asked hesitantly, for it was not the servants place to question her master, “Don’t you think we should ask the owner of the house if they’ll let us stay?” With a look of great scorn Alice replied in her most dignified way “And what, you stupid excuse for a girl, would make you think someone actually lives here?” Ann gulped “We-we-well Mam the floor is clean, and there are candles burning.” Alice glared at the girl. “Well then,” she said very slowly, as if speaking to an imbecile, “why don’t you find them!” Ann scurried away fearing her Mistress’s slap, or a cuff to the head.

Alice sighed; life was so difficult for one of noble birth. For the hundredth time she wondered why she had she run away with only a few belongings and a wretched servant girl. Walking over to a dainty oak chair she sat and arranged her skirts around her. Once she was satisfied with her appearance, she returned to her thoughts. Would it have been so bad if she had married Francis? “No, he was too smelly and had no taste whatsoever in clothing.” She gave a slight shudder. Even though he was the son of her father’s richest business partner she could not bring herself to marry him! Thump. Alice stood with a jolt. A cold breeze had blown across her face. She glanced around “An open window, I suppose. No need to be scared of some wind.” But then another thump sounded, this time right behind her. She twirled around, but there was nothing there “Ann.” she called “Ann, where are you?” But no one came. Feeling for the first time unsure of herself, she walked up the grand staircase following the path of her servant. If she had bothered to look behind her, at one of the tapestries, she would have seen a shadowy figure grinning in the darkness.

Ann hated her life. When Alice had decided to run away she had been pulled from her job, her bed, her life! Grumbling, Ann searched for the owners of the house. She had walked up the grand staircase and faced a long corridor of doors. “Good Sir. Kind Mistress? Come out, come out wherever you are.” She walked along the corridor apprehensively. Something wasn’t right. There was a cold draft on her face, yet no windows open. Pulling her plain shawl a little tighter around her, she thought back on the not so exciting adventure that had lead to this place.

After two days of heavy riding they had come to a small dingy town with no inn. Having slept outside for the first time in her life, Alice did not want to relive the experience. She paid a small boy dressed in rags to give shelter the horses, while they looked on foot for a house to take them in. Alice, in a swirl of skirts and petticoats, stopped a man and demanded that they be given shelter. The reaction from the man was the usual sort that happened when humans met Alice. He first scowled at her commands, looked closely at her, then smiled with a dreamy expression floating across his pockmarked face. “Mam, I’m sorry but we just don’t have any room. I would be happy to let you stay in the barn though.” Disgusted, the pompous spoiled mistress looked away. “Never will I, Alice Pascal Laffont, stay in a dirty barn! There must be a Lord or Lady of this town, an overseer perhaps?” The man was silent “Speak, you fool!” “Mam, there is one place but I tell you, do not go! It is a grand house with beds and kitchens; a place of luxury in its day. But no, please do not go!” Alice just snorted. Reluctantly the man told them how to get to the mansion. As they were walking away Ann turned around and called out “But Sir, why mustn’t we go?” He just shook his head and sighed. Now Ann had wished she had pestered the man more. This house was not natural. She thought. “Even though the house is crumbling, the floors are clean and the lights are lit. Yet no living thing is present.” And what was that feeling she had right before she entered this manor? It reminded her of hopelessness, horror and death. Ann stopped and realized that her hand was on the brass knob of the last door in the corridor. Turning it, she opened the door.

“Ann!” Alice shouted as the door swung open “What are you doing you doing you cur?” For some reason Alice was enraged! “You bastard child. You daughter of a prostitute! You are lucky you to have had my family take care of you! Even when we were little I was always the beautiful, and you the plain one! People talked to me and looked past you, as I am beautiful. I am rich and I am your Misstre-. “But her words were cut short, never to be uttered again. Ann Smith plunged a knife into Alice’s throat. And Ann smiled as the blood slid down the knife, pooling on the floor. Ann laughed the maniacal crazed laugh of those gone truly mad. Kicking Alice’s body over, so the face was pointed towards the ceiling, she began to dismember It., singing all the while.

The world never knew what happened to Alice Pascal Laffont or Alice Smith. But legends circled around the two. The man who last saw the girls was interviewed by the Laffont Family’s detective. The man said they had gone to the haunted manor, against his advice. Chuckling at this country bumpkin, the detective asked what the haunted manor really was. “Sir I have been plagued with guilt ever since I sent those girls away. They needed shelter for the night and we had no room here.” The detective looked around. Indeed, it was a very small town. “I told them of the grand Tudor mansion in the woods yonder but urged them not to go!” The man now grew more hysterical. “That place. It has been possessed. Often we hear screaming and laughter coming out of the widows. It is said that on a bleak cold night the phantom of the Master can be seen!” “And what,” the detective looked quizzically down his long nose “is the Master?” “Sir he went mad and murdered his wife and two daughters, stabbing them in the throat, dismembering their bodies and” the man gulped “using their bodies as slop for the pigs. It is said that he possesses all who enter the house.”

The detective frowned, not at all please with the lies that the dirty, pockmarked man was telling him. Deciding to see for himself the so called possessed mansion, he rudely took his leave. As he proudly strode away the old man shook his head, frightened of what was to come, but also smiling knowing how the detective’s insults would be repaid. The pigs would be fed tonight.

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