NaNoWriMo 2015: The Horrorphiles, Part 5
By Stephanie Thompson; 1,703 words
Chapter 8 (they are more like scenes), continued
She was half-way down the row of chairs before she remembered Jordan was standing in the back. Her plan had been to stand or sit in the back, not to detract from Mr. Peabody, now Adam’s presentation but, like all her other plans today, she would have to make a swift decision on the fly. How distracting would it be to back to the front or maybe find some seat in the middle, with people on either side? She didn’t really have to ask the question to know the answer. Ridiculously distracting, like something from The 3 Stooges.
“If the original Grayson Manor had remained standing from it’s first building, it would be among the oldest houses in the United States. Unfortunately, like so many other structures with a long history, it’s story is marred with tragedy and multiple destructions, mainly by fire, and multiple rebuilding. Only the foundation stones and crawl space under the main body of the house still remain from it’s first construction.” The original Greyson Manor was built in was built on this site in 1663 by Reverand R. Greyson for his first wife, Ruth, and their newborn son, Richard, Jr. They lived contented and respected lives in the home, then called Greyson House, for awhile until the first of several fires that have marred the history of the Greyson’s and their dwelling. In 1666 on June 3, the house burned down to it’s foundation stones, the reverend and his son were the only survivors.”
Veronica sat in the first empty seat she came too. It wasn’t all the way in the back but was a barely populated row. The seat beside her was empty and though she tried block Jordan by setting her portfolio on it, he just picked it up and sat down anyway.
“I’ve missed you,” he whispered. The hot breath accompanying his words reminded her of those mornings, or nights, and sometimes afternoons, when the tingling sensation of her hairs standing on end was followed by kisses upon kisses, and the kisses followed by gentle hands.
Behind Adam an artist’s rendering of the first Greyson House was replace by a rendering of the second Greyson House. At first glance, it seemed much the same but the longer Veronica looked at it, and she was looking with determined dedication to ignore Jordan and the mixture of emotion his bubbling up, the longer she looked the more different it looked.
“The reverend, still grieving rebuilt the house for him and his son but various accidents, mishaps, and a natural disasters delayed it’s completion for years. By the time it was finished, Reverend Greyson had remarried to Josephine Goodbody, had a second child, this time a daughter named Rachel, and Junior was 7. When the family returned to Greyson House, the ghost stories began. People gave we reports of hearing a woman screaming like she was being burned alive, a woman crying, a woman calling for her baby and so on. Generally a woman was always heard, supposed to be Ruth Greyson, and always at night, sometimes from miles away. Purportedly Josephine refused to be alone in the house, so it wasn’t unusual to see all the family out together, even when the reverend was visiting parishioners to old or otherwise ill to attend services.”
The house looked sad and angry, Veronica decided, that’s how it was different than the first. The structure was simple enough, a door, windows, a roof peak. Yet, the roof looked weak and sagging, the windows, like the eyes of the house, had the curtains drawn like it was weary of seeing the world, but the ones below had curtains partially opened and the bit of open window looked like a stream of tears. The lawn curved out in front like a giant frown.
“I shouldn’t have left. I shouldn’t have left you. I’ve regretted every minute since,” he whispered.
She wished she could move without cause a fuss but her portfolio was now on the other side of Jordan, if she leaned across to reach for it, if she pressed against him, she couldn’t guarantee her steel against him would last. She would listen to what he had to say, she would forgive him, she would take him back. She knew she would because she wanted to already. She’d wanted to since her first walked in the front door of Greyson Manor.
“This lead to a separate tragedy common in that day and age.”
The slide changed to a woodcut print of gallows with two bodies swaying from it. In small letters beneath, it read Josephine Goodbody and Richard Greyson, Sr - guilty of witchcraft. Swaying? The bodies weren’t swaying, couldn’t be swaying. Her eyes flicked back to the gallows and the bodies moving back and forth like they were moved by a gentle breeze. She could even here the creak of rope and wood.
“On (some made up date), after many of those elderly and ill citizens passed a way, a great few in short time period, so it seemed.Josephine Goodbody was accused and later convicted of practicing witchcraft. Reverend Greyson too, one of the few males to ever be accused, although of the less crime of covorting with a known witch. The children were only spared, not because they were thought to be innocent, but because they were thought to be young enough to ‘be corrected to God’s righteous path’.” The slide changed to on old document with the phrase Adam had used highlighted.
This slide said: Actual Court document. “Richard Junior was 12, Rachel was 4.”
“I called you so many times. I called and texted. You never replied,” Jordan whispered.
Veronica felt sick. Sick to the very pit of her stomach. She could still here the swaying dead bodies.
“Mary Godbody, an aunt of Josephine agreed to raise the children, with strict church supervision. She moved in to Greyson House the same day as Josephine and the Reverend’s hanging. She and the children moved out less than a month later. Mary claimed that the spirits of Josephine, Reverend Greyson, and even Ruth would come to her each night torturing her from dusk ’til dawn, sometimes riding her naked body across the county until would fall down from exhaustion and the spirits had to carry her back to bed further torturing her with hot pokers.” The slide changed again, to more court documents. “Witnesses verified the marks on her body. Remarkably the Greyson’s were accused a second time of witchcraft and found guilty. Their corpses were dug up from their unmarked, unsanctified graves and doled out a second punishment. They were decapitated and their hearts were removed, then reburied in a church graveyard, while their bodies were burned to ash. Ruth, though not accused or tried posthumously, suffered the same fate. The Greyson House remained abandoned until Richard Greyson Junior inherited it at 25 years old. (1688)”
“I love you, Veronica. Please forgive me for making the stupidest, biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my life.”
She thought she was going to throw up. Vomit right here, on what she was sure would find out if she could keep listening to Adam’s thorough history was some kind of family heirloom surviving one of the fires and very priceless rug. And dizzy. She was dizzy too. And she couldn’t breath any more. She thought she was breathing a second ago, even though breathing is something she’d never had to think about or had to remember to do before, she was pretty sure she could breath just fine. Now it felt as though vacuum had sucked all the oxygen out of the room or maybe the vacuum was just around her and that’s why she couldn’t inhale.
She didn’t care any more about making a scene, being polite or professional, she had to get out of that room. Away from the creaking sound, away from the flickering lights like a burning fire, and find a place full of oxygen. She stood as normal as she could, holding on to the seat back to be sure she wasn’t going to faint, then she forced her self to put on foot in front of the other, slowly, at normal pace, not running like she wanted. A regular normal pace, like she was leaving for the restroom or to sort something out with the catering. It was excruciatingly slow.
Chapter 9 (ok?)
She left by the second door at the back of the room. It took even more restraint to not slam the door and press her back into it, keeping whatever was wrong with the room in there and not allow it to follow her. And Jordan, to stop Jordan too. Instead she shut it normally, silently, slowly and walked in the direction she thought the kitchen was. She wanted to run but knew Jordan would be on her heels and she didn’t want to look as crazy as she felt. Like sanity and reality were slipping away, like she’d lost grip on the merry-go-round of the real world.
As she suspected, in the hallway it was silent. No ghost sounds, imagined sounds, she corrected. No sounds of the wait staff cleaning dishes or talking shop in their off time. No echoey sounds of Adam speaking from the library. Not even footsteps of Jordan following her.
She was breathing normally again, at least, even if she wasn’t finding the kitchen, or seeing anything in the hallway that felt familiar from the afternoon. She stopped where two hallways split from the one, did they turn right or left to get to the pair of swinging doors that lead to the surprisingly modern, gleaming stainless steel kitchen that wouldn’t be out of place in a 5-star restaurant? She looked down both hallways and down at the one in front of. Why were there no distinguishing features? No art work or suits of armor or whatever the hell large creepy houses where mysterious creepy rich people lived had in them. She was feeling well enough to give up her pursuit of food or drink or the sound of other people now that she turned around and jumped out of skin when she stepped straight into Jordan.
Keep Reading in Part 6
Keep Reading in Part 6
Thanks for Reading!