A thousand apologies. Yesterday I published the final part of my story, Something Wicked. However on looking at the post today, I see that it is not, in fact the complete (final) chapter but an earlier (incomplete) version of it. Below is the complete text of the final chapter. I have no excuse, only an explanation, the fact that I was tired when posting. I hope you enjoy reading Something Wicked and would love to hear what you think of my story.
Charles lay awake held fast in the arms of night terrors. The dark, like a plastic bag placed over the head was suffocating. He thrashed and gasped for air. Charles tried to cry out but the sound which escaped his lips was a mere whimper.
Suddenly the intense blackness was broken by a dim light coming from the wardrobe which towered, menacingly above him.
A sound like that of claws scratching disturbed the profound silence. It couldn’t be Smudge. He had checked and the animal was definitely not in the wardrobe. Besides cats don’t generate light.
Charles lay paralysed with fear, unable to teare his gaze away from the wardrobe. Surely he was imagining it? He was certain (well almost so) that he had closed the wardrobe door properly. However it was now slightly ajar. Maybe in his desire to return to bed he haden’t shut the wardrobe correctly. As the boy watched, the door moved. So imperceptible was it’s motion that At first Charles doubted the evidence of his own eyes.
There was, however no doubting the reality of the arm which snaked through the gap between the wardrobe and it’s door (the latter had ceased to open leaving an apature just large enough for the arm to pass through). The white bone of the arm glinted in the baleful light emanating from the wardrobe. The skeleton wagged an admonitory finger in the direction of the boy who lay sspeechless with fear then, with a wave it withdrew into the cupboard, closing the door behind it. As the light was extinguished the child, overcome with fear collapsed in a faint.
Lord Brockett hurried along the narrow passage, his torch lighting the way. It was a sheer stroke of genius on his part to hit upon the idea of using the long forgotten priest hole.
Brockett Hall had been finished during the reign of Elizabeth I. The Brocketts along with other Catholic families where forbidden to celebrate mass (anyone caught practicing the Catholic religion was subject to imprisonment, torture and, frequently death). Many devout rich Catholic families continued to celebrate mass and to employ Catholic clergy for this purpose. The lay Jesuit, Nicholas Owen had overseen the construction of many priest holes which acted as hiding places for priests when the authorities raided Catholic houses in search of clergymen. Many such hiding places where concealed on staircases or in the vicinity of fireplaces, while the priest hole in Brockett Hall was hidden behind a substancial oak cupboard. A tiny apature, almost invisible to the naked eye would, when pressure was exerted open a section of the cupboard allowing a priest to pass through, close the panel behind him and escape by means of the passage along which Lord Brockett was now passing.
As a doctor Lord Brockett was aware of the heart condition from which his nephew suffered. A few more frights along the lines of that which Lord Brockett had inflicted that evening should result in Charles suffering a massive heart attack. Indeed Lord Brockett was surprised that his nephew had survived thus far unscathed.
The sombre books, the confiscation of the mobile thereby isolating the boy from his friends and the artificial skeleton where all designed to hasten Charles’s demise.
Lord Brockett was able to observe his nephew’s reactions through the infrared camera concealed in the light fitting. The moment Charles reached out his hand to open the door Lord Brockett had ceased to tap on the back of the wardrobe. The existence of the priest hole had long since been forgotten by all accept himself and his sister, Amanda who was now dead as a consequence of her car having hit a tree.
The estate was mired in debt and those to whom he owed money where closing in. Amanda’s will left everything to her son Charles however, in the event of his death all her property passed to Lord Brockett.
“Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. The boy’s death would be seen as a tragedy with he, Lord Brockett being comforted as the man who had taken in his nephew Charles only to have him tragically die under his roof” Lord Brockett thought.
Lord Brockett pulled on a rusty metal leaver. A section of brickwork swung open. Pushing aside the ivy which covered the building, Lord Brockett entered the grounds of the hall. He turned pushing the section of brickwork back into place then, with great care he arranged the ivy so as to cover the secret passage which, in centuries past had allowed Catholic priests to escape their persecutors.
“I see you Alfred”.
Lord Brockett whirled around,
“Amanda! No, it isn’t possible” he said staggering back against the wall.
“The dead see everything Alfred. I know what you intend for my son”, Amanda said.
“It, its … it’s a game. Boys love games. Its only a bit of fun Amanda”, Lord Brockett replied. He was sweating despite it being 12:30 am on a freezing winter morning.
“The dead know everything Alfred. You can hide nothing from me. You intend the death of my beloved Charles” Amanda said her blue eyes flashing with anger.
“No, no, it’s harmless fun, Charles loves a good game”, Lord Brocket said mopping his perspiring brow.
“It’s useless denying it Alfred. I know every twisted thought that infests your poisoned mind. In the priest hole I stood behind you, choosing not to reveal myself. I saw you tap on the back of the cupboard. I watched as you shonne your torch behind the panel. I saw you push the arm of the skeleton into the room but, most of all I boiled with anger at the torment you inflicted on my son”, Amanda said.
“Forgive me”, Lord Brockett said prostrating himself before his sister.
“You showed no mercy to Charles and I will show none to you. Get up you poor excuse for a human being”, Amanda said.
Lord Brockett felt himself being lifted up by unseen hands and carried towards the river which ran through the grounds of the hall.
“No for the love of god, no, please Amanda no”, Lord Brockett screamed as he felt his head being irresistibly forced towards the water.
The unseen forces appeared not to hear or, if they did chose not to harken to Lord Brockett’s pleas for mercy. Despite his struggles Lord Brockett’s head was forced under the fast flowing current. There was a flailing of legs, a desperate gasping for air then, in no more than a minute it was all over. Lord Brocket lay limp, his body supported by the river bank while his head lolled in the water.
Martin, the gamekeeper came across his master while doing his rounds the following day. The pathologist’s report showed a considerable amount of alcohol in Lord Brockett’s system which lead to the coroner’s conclusion that
“Lord Brockett had, while in a state of intoxication fallen on the river bank. His head had become immersed in the river and (probably due to his state of intoxication Lord Brockett had been unable to withdraw it leading to death by drowning)”.
The coroner commented on the dangers of over indulgence, extended his sympathies to the family and the case was closed.
Charles went back to prep school and, in the holidays stayed with his older cousin, Milly and her 2 boys. On reaching 18 he inherited a considerable sum of money which he invested wisely and now lives the life of a gentleman farmer.
Sometimes he remembers that terrible night at Brockett Hall. The horror of that evening is tempered by Charles’s recollection of his mother leaning over him, her long blonde hair touching his face,
“Everything will be OK my darling boy”, she had said her lips brushing against his cheek. Strange, the dream had been so real …