Wednesday, November 4, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 4: The Horrorphiles (2.0) Starting Over

After struggling through my words yesterday, falling short, and pretty much hating everything I'd written, I decided to start my beginning over. The idea actually came to me last night, right when I closed my eyes and I was way too exhausted to open them again and write it all down. I started over first ting this morning with fresh brain, fresh eyes, and fresh optimism.

Day 4 has been the best day so far. Not that it wasn't difficult still but it was easier than it had been and I get to call it quits before midnight for a change. I like Veronica/Ronny better, I like how the story is going too. And I'm still going to use that other stuff I wrote. Weave it into the new stuff, sprinkling in the backstory of who Ronny was and how she ended up at the front door of this unnerving, possibly haunted house. Mostly I feel more confident about making it to the end of this thing.


The Horrorphiles by Stephanie Thompson, 1,751 words
Read the previous days work (just don't try to make sense of it yet) Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

Greyson Manor didn’t jut or pop out from it’s overgrown landscape. The gray, worn, old Victorian mansion stood between two huge sycamores, faded and threadbare, like a ghost haunting a patch of dirt surrounded by English ivy choking the crumbling garden beds.
Ronny, short for Veronica Granger, ignored her trepidations and marched on to the front door with the gravel drive crunching under foot. She was taking life by “the great big hairy cahones” now, as her Aunt Wanda was fond of saying, and a little bit of creepiness wasn’t going to stop her. Besides, the house was suppose to have atmosphere that was the whole point. Nobody wanted to go on a Halloween weekend haunted retreat in some post modern glass and cement altar to 21st architecture now did they?
The doorbell rang out through the house in a long series of deep chimes. Ronny waited at the door trying harder and harder to ignore the pit of anxiety that use to be her stomach. Six months ago she wouldn’t have dared trying to pull this whole thing together. Six months ago she was perfectly happy with her little blog, it’s 25 followers, her 75 Twitter followers, her weekly Meet-Up of 15 people at the local Panera’s, her best friend Becky, and her funny and sweet boyfriend Jordan. Ronny, six months ago, never saw her currently burgeoning horror community empire, now over 10,000 followers as anything more than a dream, but having your life catapulted upside down has a tendency to drastically change one’s point of view.
The large front door creaked as it was opened, not unlike one on a Halloween horror house soundtrack tape, and Ronny plastered a huge smile on her face, big enough and bright enough to chase away those shadowy memories from months ago. The ear to ear fake smile didn’t falter when the door opener was a young man dressed in dark wash jeans and light grey v-neck sweater over chambray button up when she’d been expecting a stooped old man in a shawl sweater, corduroys, and orthopedic shoes. But grabbing the big, hairy cahones of life required a distinct lack of faltering or showing surprise. Especially when that surprise was the most beautiful man she’d ever seen.
“Mr. Peabody?”
“No, I’m Adam Newbridge,” There was a slight pause between his first and last name, like he couldn’t remember it or was unsure if he should be saying it to the stranger at the door. “Mr. Peabody is my uncle. Great uncle.”
“Oh, you’re the gentleman CC’d on all the emails,” she said, relieved that at least one tiny piece of the too-good-to-be-true internet created opportunity seemed to be somewhat true in real life. “ Veronica Granger, you can call me . . .”
“Ronny,” he interrupted. “Of course, come in. My uncle was expecting you a bit later, I think.”
She stepped across the threshold into the house and was unnerved by the foyers grand size and unnaturally saturated crimson color of the staircase in the center of the black and charcoal gray entrance. It looked the same as in the pictures she’d been sent, twin staircases growing out of opposite sides of the second floor with black railings and red steps but in person it had a feeling of otherworldliness, like the wagging red tongue of a gaping monster’s mouth. Still she was not cowed into  silence, she would not be stopped. The-Brand-New-Spanking-Cahones-Grabbing Ronny Granger would stop for nothing and no one and especially not for her own easily riled up sense of unease. She adjusted her weekend bag on one shoulder and her laptop bag slash purse on the other and continued with what she was going to say.
“Yes, I know, but he insisted that I could not visit weeks ago, when I wanted, and as accommodating as your uncle tried to be, providing the photographs and proof of ownership, as well as agreeing to accept payment on the day of arrival, rather than beforehand, I was not going to show up with the group to find this whole set-up some elaborate hoax .”
He lead her down a hallway, much less intimidating than the foyer. More gray, this time with super clean white moulding around each door, too clean and bright to be believable, like it was freshly painted just moments ago. They passed several doors before he opened one that lead to a large library.
The ceilings must have been at least twenty feet high and across one wall the windows stretched from the floor to to impossibly high ceiling and they were shuttered, rather than dressed with curtains, in humongous sheets of ornately carved black iron in shapes of butterflies, flowers, angels and skeletons, that only let the light in oddly shaped patterns made into narrow tunnels by the tall dark walnut bookshelves, stuffed with books she’d never heard of in between each one. The back wall was covered from side to side and again floor to impossibly high ceilings with books as well and had two rolling ladders sitting in opposite corners. The center of the rom had desk and chairs spaced out and set up just like you would see at any college or university library.
“I’m just wondering,” he said. “What were your plans if it was a scam? You’re only a few hours early, how or where could you arrange meeting rooms and accommodations in that short time?”
There were no plans. She had no idea. Not the slightest clue. She had considered, on the drive up, that she might say she died and the whole weekend was cancelled, return the money, and then move and buy, make, or steal a whole new identity and face but she wasn’t going to mention that to Mr. Adam Newbridge. Instead she said, “Is Mr. Peabody here? Or expected here soon?” 
She didn’t know why exactly she added the last part other than the room, the whole house, in fact, felt completely empty aside from her. Even with Adam only a foot away, it was utterly still, utterly silent outside her own sounds, like a tomb. She was starting to assume that Mr. Peabody and anyone else of the house was out on some errand or for whatever reason hadn’t arrived yet.
“He’s resting at the moment. He’s quite elderly and he wanted to save his energy for the night’s activities,” he answered. “To be honest, I don’t know how much he will be able to appear at any of the weekend’s functions. He’s not in ill health or anything just . . . Quite elderly. In fact, I didn’t want him to host this weekend at all.”
She had been looking around the room to avoid staring at his distractingly handsome features but she turned back to him now. “Oh? Why not?”
He was rolling a paperweight from hand to hand beside lion claw footed desk. “But he wanted the house full of people again and he always loved Halloween.” He spoke as if he hadn’t heard her. He set the paperweight down and shrugged. “And who was I to refuse anyway.”
A heavy silence fell between them. Every pause in conversation in this place, so far, seemed heavy and uncomfortable. And in it’s silence, the house transformed Adam’s smooth, clear brow, his caramel brown eyes, his strong jaw dappled with the perfect amount of 5 o’ clock shadow, and his kissable pouty lips into somber, menacing bits of flesh under a thin skin of ghoulish pallor. Was this what a truly haunted house feel like? She’d thought it would be full of dust and cobwebs with furniture and fixtures just as crumbling, grey, and threadbare as it’s outsides. Instead it was clean, in good condition, and just eerily quiet. How was it so damned quiet here?
Maybe it was the heavy tapestries hanging on the wall opposite the windows absorbing the sounds. The splendidly embroidered fabrics depicted the same scenes as the iron shutters this time in vibrant teals, violets, golds, greens, whites, and red.
“Well, then,” she said mostly for something to say, to fill the oppressive air around them.
“How about you set your bags in here and I can show you around the house.” It was worded like a question but it didn’t sound much like one. “I promise not to lead astray.” He said crossing his right index finger over his heart.
She set her bags on the nearest desk. “If Mr. Peabody isn’t available, then I would appreciate you showing me around the rooms we’ll be using over the weekend,” she said. If she had to waste time before she could meet, and pay, her actual host, she could at least make it seem professional and useful.

Ronny was retiring, that’s what Adam had called it “retiring” in her assigned room.  When he’d said it she wanted to say she wasn’t some Southern belle prone to fainting spells at slight exertion, but A) she didn’t want to sound rude and B) she was tired after the walking tour.
Her FitBit tracker exclaimed she’d racked up over 5,000 steps, but it wasn’t just the walking that had been somewhat exhausting, the house was built like a labyrinth for some elaborate mind fuck because it wasn’t full of twisty turns or anything but when she looked down one of the long straight hallways, they seemed to go on forever and then subtly and slowly turned until the whole thing was the wrong way round. But as she walked down the hallway one way and looked back to where she had been, it looked as though it was that side that was upside down. By the end of the whole thing she felt like eyes were permanently criss-crossed and her brain was shaped like a corkscrew. 

She sighed and stared up at the ceiling from the bed she was on. The ceilings weren’t as high in the bedrooms as they were on the first floor, which felt like a blessing to Ronny’s poor worn out brain. The whole room was refreshingly normal, free of the gothic decadence and strange art of so many of the other rooms but it was just as clean. In fact, she was coming to believe that somehow this 200 some odd years old 15 bedroom house with no staff or other caretaker besides an old man and his nephew was cleaner and more spotless than her two bedroom apartment back in D.C.