Saturday, 29 October 2011

Tales of Terror: Man in the Mirror - Part One

Welcome to Chalbo's Tales of Terror - cue maniacal laughter and/or gothic organ music. What we have for you on this chilly October night is a tale of a young couple moving into their newly-inherited home. Is everything as it seems? Of course not. Enjoy reading!

Robert Wilde was not impressed. From his memories of the (very) few visits he made to his uncle as a child, he saw Graystoke Manor as a grand building. It had seen better days even at the time, of course, but it was still an impressive house. Now, as he stood inside it, all he could think was how decrepit it was.
“It’s still amazing. Look at the size of it,” perked up a voice behind him. Robert looked over to Sara, her mouth hanging wide and her face aglow as she looked over the bannister at the floor below them. Robert huffed. She did not have as privileged a lineage as her husband and so was not as used to the scale of the building around her.
“Uncle Monty could have smartened the place up a bit before he decided to pop his clogs though.” Robert spoke half to himself while lifting up a dust cover from a very old-fashioned dolls house.
Sara shot him a glance. “Don’t be so cruel. It’s not as if he knew that it was going to pop- to
pass away, was it? Poor man. A sudden heart attack, didn’t they say? Like he died of fright…”
Robert murmured an agreement, his mind on other things as he bent down to inspect the dolls house that looked as if it hadn’t been played with in so long a while. The porcelain dolls sat awkwardly in their chairs, perhaps only held there by the delicate silver cobwebs that entwined them.
“Are you even listening?”
Robert broke out his thoughts and went over to his wife and smiled. “Of course I was.”
Sara couldn’t help but smile back. When he was lost in his thoughts, Robert’s eyes clouded over as if he wasn’t aware of anything around him but when he snapped out of it, she couldn’t help but get lost herself in his brilliant blue eyes.
They stared at each other awhile without reason as couples in the bloom of romance do and then Robert noticed something adjacent to the nursery room they were in.
“Hey, it’s The Locked Door.” Robert called, breaking from his wife’s embrace.            “What?” She said slightly irritated.
She joined her husband outside a very old mahogany door. “When I used to visit Monty as a kid, I always wanted to see what was behind this door but he would never let me.”
“Well, now’s your chance.” Sara said, holding the skeleton key they had been given for Robert to see.
“And that’s why I love you,” he beamed as he turned the key in the lock. The child inside him filled with a sort of excited anxiety at the forbidden place he was about to enter. He pulled the door knob.

It didn’t budge.

Robert pulled with more force.

Still no movement.

 “It’d better be worth it after this build-up.”

With all his energy he heaved at the door and this time it did give way and swung outwards with a piercing creak that perhaps lasted just a tad too long.

The space in front of them revealed a small dusty staircase that they realised as they ascended its steps led to a small attic room; its floor space occupied by a long wooden desk, covered in neat piles of paperwork, and a wooden cupboard that had faded over the years due to a small ray of sunlight that came emitted from a tight, square window.

“It must have been your uncle’s old study.” Sara said to her husband. “I s’pose he locked it cos he didn’t want you rifling through his private things.” She looked up from the paperwork she was inspecting and saw that Robert was standing in front of an old fireplace on the other side of the room. She joined him and discovered that he was engrossed in an ornate oblong mirror with a golden frame encrusted with glittering jewels and a shining surface, hanging from the fireplace wall on a thick chain. It must have been the most lavish item she had seen in the house and also, when she thought about it, the only thing not caked in dust and cobwebs. Sara looked up at Robert and found his unblinking eyes not straying from the lozenge mirror.

He could not help but stare at it. He had always been interested in the history of some things. The mirror looked pristine as though it was polished everyday (did that even make sense with the door being so stiff?), but Robert could tell it was very old. How long had it been hanging on that grubby wall. Imagine if it could show you what it had seen…

Sara huffed to herself. Although she saw its attraction, she was not as captivated by her husband and, eager to explore the rest of the house, made to leave. Robert saw his wife leave and so turned to see her. Out of the corner of his eye he saw his reflection.

Standing still.

Instinctively, Robert called his wife’s name, as his eyes shot back to focus on the mirror.

“The mirror…” He began but then trailed off. Had he really just seen that? He moved his head from side to side and was pleased to see that it copied him exactly.

“…Is not that interesting?” Sara offered.

Robert detached himself from the mirror. “No, sorry. Let’s look around.”

(C) Christian Bone
------------------------- Return tomorrow for the tantalising second part -------------------------

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