The House of Enchantment

From midnight until the first glimmer of sunlight, the old clock only tocks. It ticks and tocks as normal during the daylight hours and up until midnight, but then it loses half of its rhythm. Also, equally as strange, between midnight and the first glimmer of sunlight, it only chimes once on the hour. For the rest of the day it chimes out the number of the hour. On the wall opposite to the clock, every night from midnight, a strange reflection as if from a window appears, and over by the corner, on the same wall, a smaller reflection reminiscent of nine smaller windows in a door shows up. There are no windows in this room, for it is an internal room. The door is on the wall opposite to the clock, but over by the other corner. And every now and then, between midnight and the first glimmer of sunlight, an echoey sound of a door can be heard opening and closing, followed by whispered voices or laughter.

The room is cold. Bitterly cold in winter, pleasantly so in summer. But on four certain nights of the year, the room feels warm between midnight and the first glimmer of sunlight. Tonight is one of those nights.

Who’s that knocking at the door?

Last night, late on, the doorbell rang. I don’t think any of the staff were on, actually, thinking about it I haven’t seen any of the staff for a while (I must look into that later!), so I had to trudge all the way to the door and answer it myself.

It can be quite a trek across the Foyer, but I made it in one piece this time. The door creaked open, and stood facing me were three people, two women and a man, who looked as thought they’d just arrived from a bygone age.

“Jinkies!” Said the bespectacled woman, “This place is huge, Is it haunted?”

The blond man standing next to her poked her in the ribs. “I apologise for my friend, she’s very inquisitive. No, we wonder if we could ask for your help?”

I told them it really depended on what help they needed, as I was in the Mansion by myself.

The man continued. “We’ve called at that crumbly old looking building right at the bottom of the lane and got no answer.”

“Ah,” I said, “That’d be Old Man Winters’ place. He’s gone away, I believe.”

“I see.” Said the man. “Our van has broken down just by the bend on the lane, and we think it just needs water to cool the engine down some. Could you please fill this bucket?” He pointed to a bucket on the ground between his legs

“Of course,” I replied, trying desperately to remember the way to the Kitchen. “By the bend you say? The dark bend by the gnarled old oak tree?”

“That’s the one, sir!” The man was very polite.

“It isn’t the best place to leave a vehicle unattended there.”

“Oh, no worries – we’ve split up, and left our friend and his dog there. They’re looking after things there.”

“If they aren’t eating all the midnight buffet that is!” The quiet redhead spoke.

“Step inside a moment,” I said waving them in. I’d decided to go to the Bathroom for the water, which was just up the Stairway and along the Landing. As I went up the stairs with the bucket, I noticed the lights flickering on and off again. “Stop it!” I whispered to the banister, hoping the message would somehow get through to its intended recipient and not the trio waiting by the door.

“Jinkies!” I heard the bespectacled young lady say again, just as I filled the bucket in the Bathroom. I then returned to the visitors with the full bucket.

“Thank you, sir!” the man said again. “Actually, is this place haunted?” He asked.

“Parts of it is,” I replied, “but not here in the Foyer. Why do you ask?”

“It’s just my friend here could have sworn the eyes in the portraits on the walls were moving.”

“Oh that!” I exclaimed. “Don’t worry about that – if it isn’t a trick of the light, it’s just a trick of the Mansion.”

I waved the trio off as they crossed the Courtyard, strangely running in a line for some reason, as they headed toward the Driveway that led onto the lane. I closed the door behind me as I walked back into the Mansion and back to the Living Room.

“You…! I said the Mansion. “Behave when we have guests! And there’s no need to roll your eyes”. I noticed one of the portraits on the wall doing that as I walked passed.

I didn’t even get their names, these out of time visitors, but they looked awfully familiar. I’ll have to check the door’s security camera footage to see if it caught a good picture of them.

——

If you don’t already know who the visitors were, click the peephole below to go to the recorded picture within the door’s security footage. Although the clues are all there…

Broken Ruins

Broken ruins of times gone by
Still standing but weathered and cracked
Their frames may be crumbling, falling apart
With their histories
And mysteries
Intact

Wordle: Shadow Monster

It can. It does.
It knows. It must.
The creature on the fringe of shadow,
A swirl of darkness in a shaded place;
Sometimes in a room
Maybe at the side of the road
Perhaps in a lightning-charged storm
The list goes on, anywhere
Everywhere.
The mystery creature that appears at will
And leaves to a sigh of relief
With spirits lifted once again;
The star of an internal power struggle
Between darkness and light.
It can know. It does.
It knows. It must.
Light always wins in the end.

 


The Superhero Diaries 4.7: Apparitions

The Elite Force of Britain: a group of superheroes who joined together to eradicate problem after problem. Recently, the team appear to have disappeared from existence… or have they? The diabolical supervillain organisation Supervillains United are going to great lengths to try to prove newspaper reports to the contrary that the superheroes appear to be making a comeback. Nothing definite, but such reports are giving citizens everywhere the hope they are longing for. Here’s a report from the local newspaper The Mid and Up Chronicle:

What links Moyobamba, Peru, Adelaide, South Africa, and Dalvík, Iceland? Certainly not their geographical locations, weather systems, populations, or distances from London. But each of these three places and, it is beginning to transpire, other places around the globe, are starting to experience a most unusual – but certainly linked – phenomenon.

A coach party in Moyobamba report being held up at a crossroads by a team of heavily armed and military clothed men, one of whom was about to step aboard the coach when all around them the sound of a beautiful dawn chorus was heard. The would-be highwaymen fell to the floor, screaming and holding their ears as the sound was deafening. The coach party heard relaxing birdsong. The man who tried to get onto the bus was lifted by the collar of his jacket and thrown back out through the open door. There was no physical presence, but a lady sitting close to the front of the coach caught glimpses of the colour crimson and the scent of a familiar perfume.

A traffic warden in Adelaide was lifted off her feet shortly before an out-of-control jeep careered into the brick wall by which she was walking. Although she remembers seeing nobody around her, she could feel a pair of extremely long arms lifting her over to the other side of the road; and she definitely remembers feeling the arms become shorter as she was placed back onto the ground. She also remembers hearing the words “You’re safe now”.

And a couple of tourists in Dalvík found themselves an unusual problem when their popcorn making machine failed, when suddenly the corn in the bag started popping all by itself, the top of the bag bursting into flames briefly before opening, allowing the tourists to devour the delicious and hot popcorn.

These reports point out to us here at the Chronicle that the powers of three of the Elite Force of Britain are being used: Crimson Songbird’s warbling in Peru; Bettystretch’s stretching ability in South Africa; and Firetop’s heat control powers in Iceland. Why they are in those places remains as much a mystery as why the superheroes disappeared in the first place, but if they are where the stories are filtering through from, it means that the superheroes are here on Earth with us. Hidden, and appearing as ghosts or apparitions, but they are here.

Supervillains United have discounted these reports as fake news, and dismissed them as fireside ghost stories.

The team here at the Chronicle feel otherwise, and hope that these reports are the start of the return of the Elite Force of Britain.