~ PART FIFTEEN ~
Our experience at the hotel wasn’t what we’d imagined it to be.
Have you read Part Fourteen? You can catch up *here*.
“Let’s go, let’s go!” Fred uttered. We were all seized by the fear. But whilst Fred was scrambling out of his chair, I was motionless, frozen, my heart hammering; unable to leave. I was vaguely conscious of George grabbing me by the arm.
Although, what I was most aware of, was the appearance of a dark lean figure in the doorway. Its head touching the upper doorframe. Its shape blocking the yellow light.
“Black Shuck. The Hound of Hell. You better keep off the marshes.” Said the Tall Man.
Of course, we had already met him, yesterday, upon our arrival at the hotel. I recalled how he had skillfully and quickly manipulated his chained watch between his fingers, all the time gloating, his wide thin lips working like restless snakes. His almost black eyes burning his ill intent. Neither George nor I had taken to the character then.
“We used to call her Screaming Mary.” He’d said about Mary. Whatever that meant; I didn’t want to ponder on that one.
Now that he had manifested into this evil thing blocking the doorway, I easily believed his maliciousness knew no constraint.
And, where was Mary?
In the invasive darkness where the outlines of furniture and such were barely discernible, I peered about, searching for my allies.
I heard Pendleton, cowering under the table, frantically calling her name over and over. I knew then for sure, that he hadn’t wanted any part of this sick game. He and Mary. They both wanted out.
Fred had made his way towards the other end of the room, to the door that led into the kitchen. The door was stuck shut and he was pounding his fists on it, again and again.
George had pulled me with him to the fireplace. Pushed me behind him as if he could protect me from the evil with only the iron-poker he brandished – and the look in his eyes that said he was ready to fight to the death.
Joan? I couldn’t see her anywhere.
I squeezed tighter my grip on my walking stick. I would not let my wonderful husband die alone fighting.
“MARY!” I yelled her name with all my being. “WE NEED YOU NOW!”
I heard a short cry of surprise and then a crashing. I looked to where Fred had been and saw that the kitchen/dining room door was wide open. The light from inside spilt out, but other than illuminating a sideboard and a couple of dining chairs, naturally there was no Fred. I didn’t blame him for bolting.
“Mr and Mrs Chester, come quickly, I cannot hold him off for much longer.”
Mary. Her voice; but her earthly solid presence not.
Pendleton needed no second telling, he was already scrambling out from under the table. George kept hold of the iron poker and grabbed me by the arm, pulling me quicker than I was comfortable to go, towards the sanctuary of the kitchen.
My walking stick got caught up in the rungs of a chair and I blundered over the whole caboodle. “George! Wait!” He backtracked two steps and began disentangling the stick and myself.
“Hurry!” Mary’s disembodied voice urged.
I felt my other arm being grabbed and myself being lifted by considerable strength and saw it was Pendleton. Just as the three of us crossed the threshold into the kitchen there was a colossal noise. I didn’t turn back to look but judging by the nature of the sounds – breaking, smashing glass, metal and wood – knew that it was the enormous chandelier crashing onto the dining table.
Then, the kitchen door slammed shut behind us and the wild din stopped.
“You’re safe in here.” Mary said.
Here, was a spartan kitchen – no modern electrical conveniences, no frivolous home comforts, and, no sign it was the year 2016. A deep square basin, an old Aga (for cooking and heating), a table, cupboards, shelves, and a slim door, ajar, to a walk-in pantry. The delicious dinner smells still lingered although there were no signs of the cooking utensils deployed in creating the fine feast. Everything and every surface had been cleaned and the pots and pans, with all the rest, tidied away. Only two damp teatowels, neatly stretched out and pegged, hanging on an extended wire above the sink – from cupboard to cupboard – visually attested that a meal had been cooked at all.
The adrenaline still coursing through my body, my eyes darted about the room – George by my side, as I leant my pained body against the sink; Pendleton, stiffly sat at the kitchen table that stood centrally in the large kitchen, his eyes fixed on the closed door; Mary’s chilly, though unseeable presence; but…
“Fred! Oh no! Where is Fred?” I said, feeling my body visibly shake and my stomach turn.
“He’s gone.” Pendleton said.
I felt a light breeze tickle the back of my neck. “Yes, he’s gone. But, gone where?” I was irritated.
At first, I assumed the little man was pointing at me, then it dawned on me that he was indicating the space behind George and myself. George was the first to turn. The window at the sink was open. For a moment, I pondered – and marvelled – at Fred’s adeptness for squeezing through such a small space.
“Needs must when the devil drives.” Pendleton murmured, obviously thinking the same thing.
“Stay put.” George said as he climbed up onto the wide ledge of the kitchen window sill.
I was horrified. “George!”
“Maggie darling, I won’t be able to live with myself if someone else dies, when I could have done something to save him.”
“I can keep you from harm here. If you venture onto the marshes it will surely be your downfall.” Mary said.
My husband, ignoring her wise words, was now half-way through the open window.
I grabbed one of his feet, by the heel of a shoe. “Please, George.” I pleaded. “Don’t go.”
A blown kiss through the window, and he was gone. The next thing I knew, Pendleton was up and away, following his trail.
~ To be continued! ~
Photographs and digital manipulation by me, 3rd May 2016, Great Yarmouth Row Houses.
My day out at the Great Yarmouth Row Houses.
Writing prompt: Our experience at the hotel wasn’t what we’d imagined it to be.
Writing inspiration: A strange dream. And a little Hotel California.
What’s a Short Story Series?: A short story written over several parts, around 1,000 words for each part.
Copyright Faith McCord 2016
Story and artwork belongs to Faith McCord who is the author and artist holding the copyright. This is not a public domain work. Worldwide right