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The Tale of Blackmoore Manor

The figures, clad in the darkest cloth available this far north of London, hurried down the winding dirt road towards the tall, outlandishly old wooden house. The mansion, seldom called by its non-threatening given name of Blackmoor Manor, was more often referred to as the Field of the Dead. This unfortunate and decidedly more threatening name came about due to the abhorrently large amount of cadavers dumped in the old pasture next to the manor on a consistent basis, a ritual perhaps not entirely unbeknownst to its sole ninety-year-old inhabitant, Countess Eleanor Grey. The countess was quite senile and, although she undoubtedly had some wonderful stories to tell, most of which would have likely involved her supposed love affair with the late Prince Edward of Scotland, no one seemed to come about to hear them. I didn’t blame them…most of us were dead, after all. This, of course, made me the soul to whom she told most everything, and embrace her with open arms I did.
I, Mason Cameron, am of Irish blood; therefore, I will never inherit the throne of England, nor should I care to do so. My schooling was granted to me by a great-uncle who, by an unfortunate turn of events, happened to be the infamously toffee-nosed Duke of Westchester. He was, on his credit, a learned and intelligent man; but intelligence does not a wise man make and, dear Lord, the man was the biggest fool I have ever set my eyes upon. He believed all of this nonsense concerning politics; clearly, he was one who did not believe in spirits or the like. My disdain at wasting several years of my tragically short life was nonetheless ignored by my mother, who made it a point to tell me how fortunate I was. “You’re naught but a girl, love; you ‘aven’t got what it takes to be royalty ‘et. This man’ll change all o’ that! Look at ya now, sweet; you’ve got a foot to stan’ on!”
At any rate, I am not an Englishman, and I never shall be; and I, myself, am not offended by Parliament denying my existence. However, it is the same ties that connect me to the dreadful country of England that link me to my current task; which is to say, watching over my niece, the dear Countess Grey. Of course, she in her old age can do more for herself than I can in my present state, but I suppose I’ll never stop wishing I’d have been a mother. Eleanor, or Ellie as I’ve called her since her birth, was my sister’s daughter. How I wanted to take care of her, sew her dresses and fix her meals! But I can only be with her in spirit, for if anyone has forgotten, my body is cut to pieces. Oh, sweet Ellie.
It was a frightfully cold October morning several long, tiresome decades ago the day I realized what was going on, that it was not just a mistake or an abrupt happening but a conspiracy, in fact; and I can’t say my life has gotten any less worrisome by knowing the truth. Those shadows, delicately stealing away behind the moor grasses, creeping stealthily towards the Manor as if it were an art, were no surprise to me, although undoubtedly they were to Ellie. I was standing quite in plain sight in the middle of the road, for the intruders had woken me from a rather un-notable sleep, and yet none of them seemed to notice me; for I suppose guilt can do that to a person, though I shall never be quite sure. One hundred thirty-eight years old, and I still don’t know what goes on in their wicked minds! God help me, I know what’s coming and I’d die again to keep her from having my fate.
Under any other circumstances I would have ventured over to Ellie’s home and warned her; but alas, she was in no present state to defend her life, and I of course could do nothing against real humans such as those.
One of the men tripped, and I made no effort to conceal a laugh—after all, they couldn’t hear me; it was obvious they lacked the Gift that my darling Ellie possessed. I frowned sourly, however, as that same man righted himself and drew out a knife, one which I recognized all too bloody well. This time would be more elaborate than the rest.
Oh, they had never made such a big deal out of it before. All of the other times they had brought ropes, killing off children and adults alike one by one through undetectable suffocation, and their cold, unclean corpses would be delivered to London University for dissection; for they were perfectly healthy in every way—except, of course, that they were dead.
You may call me whatever you wish, but a human I am not—I do not have a gender, a body. I have a mind and a soul and a name, and perhaps even a face, but I should not know what it looks like. After one is killed, one tends to have a different complexion. Lucy Whitaker, the baker’s daughter from so many long years ago, was murdered in her sleep. She was the first slaying and therefore the messiest; and even today I saw her, and she was splotched with dried blood—it never really comes off, not when she washed with boiling water or scrubbed till her skin was raw. Lucy is accessory to a jagged Y-incision, for her young body was used in the freshman anatomy classes. Oh, little Lucy is such vain creature. We were friends, once; the two angels of Dublin Street, they used to call us. But she was never returned to us, to her father or her home town. I miss her so!
When my sister Anna was taken away, Father told me it was to protect her. She was just an infant then, so perfect and undeserving of death, and I beyond my eighteen years understood that she needed to be safe. But I missed her so! She was my life, that Anna-girl. I loved her with all of my being. In the fall of 1804, I received word of her death. I do trust my sources. One must never doubt the power of the spirits, for we have a bond together stronger than stone.
Dear Anna is not one of my kind. She died of the Spanish Influenza, died naturally and reasonably, and Ellie was sent away…oh, how I clamored after her, the only remnant of my human life. Oh, how I longed to be her mother, help her. But girls shall be girls, and it wasn’t until her twentieth year she noticed me. She was crying under the cicadas, whispering about a lost love and a lost child, two happenings I was never allowed the right to experience. I kissed her with the wind, and I wrapped her tightly…and I never let go.
The moor, the Field of the Dead, is a graveyard of bodies, but every once in a while one such corpse will be dumped and those of us with souls will gather around it and see if there is any living in it, and if there is, we shall try to prolong it, for all of us have that power. I cannot cry, but if phantoms could I should cry very much now, because Ellie can’t suffer how I did, she can’t. I won’t let her die like I did. The fact is, I was murdered. I was slaughtered like an animal. And my death is not avenged, is it? It will never be avenged. The blood that runs through my veins is Irish, pure Irish, and Parliament doesn’t care about us, the real people of their disgusting piggish country. There is no hope to capture our killers here, so far away from justice in this cruel world, separated from grace through sea and through death. If it’s the last thing I do, Ellie Grey will live. I swear it. The dead have ways.




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