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Dead of Night (Halloween story)

posted 10/31/2013 12:25:16 PM |
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Dead of Night

Chapter 1

The sun slipped beneath the horizon. Low billowing clouds caught the last of its rays to turn the sky first pink, then lavender then a deep shade of purple. Within minutes the purple deepened then disappeared altogether. Twilight emerged.

To the east, the harvest moon lay low in the eastern sky. A bright orange orb against an ebony sky. As it arose, it took over the heavens, stealing away the last of the twilight from the setting sun. Stars appeared. The moon turned silver. An occasional bank of black clouds covered its surface and their edges became lined in a silver ribbon.

At the edge of town, the Stanbury Estate loomed on a hill amongst the evergreens, tall and stately with branches that hung like tattered garments to sway in the wind. Maple and Oak trees, whose leaves burst with red and yellow fire during the day, in the dark of night were colorless and black. Their season nearly at an end, they would flutter to the ground like wayward ghost to gather then skitter on invisible feet, coming to rest against the tombstones in yonder graveyard…the Stanbury/Dunsworth Cemetery.

The Stanbury house had been built and occupied by Augustus Samuel and Adeline Elizabeth Dunsworth/Stanbury in late 1800. Augustus owned and ran the silver mines while Adeline tended their social life with grand gatherings in the newly built mansion.

The town of Stanbury was born. It thrived as did the Stanburys for generations until the silver mines dried up. There was little else to support the town and no business wanted to build in a mountain town so far from growing cities. Growth dwindled and so did the town. Those that stayed, etched out a living however they could. Most families were poor but few were destitute or dependent on welfare. The were proud people. They worked hard and in this small town, there was no bad side of town. Neighbors helped neighbors. Lawns sported flowerbeds and gardens, manicured and neat as a pin. Homes were maintained and those who needed a helping hand, got it.

Then there was the Stanbury Estate just outside of town. It had been vacant for many years. The paint had disappeared years ago so this gray monolith sat forbiddingly on it’s hill behind a tall rusting rodiron fence whose hinged, locked gate kept it secured on overgrown grounds that no one had tended since the last of the Stanbury and Dunsworth families had either long moved away or moved to the nearby cemetery.

People clucked that it was such an eyesore. They nudged one another occasionally and said, “Be a shame if it burned down” followed by a wink. It was often the topic of conversation at Molly’s Café. So much speculation and it kept the locals entertained for years. Most had grown up cutting their bravery teeth on the old Stanbury house. Some had even managed to squeeze through or climb the fence only to get to the house and chicken out to do no more than touch it and run like hell.

Most all old mansions like the Stanbury house had stories of ghosts and hauntings and the Stanbury house was no different. Ghosts seen in the turret windows, mysterious lights at night. The rattle of chains, creaks and groans, moaning coming from deep inside the house. A lady in white strolling through the old gardens, a child crying. There were no end to the stories and most took in consideration the embellishments of over active imaginations. The town’s children had endless fun with that old house, scaring the wits out of the younger kids with tall tales of murders and during Halloween season, witches, goblins ‘n a hoard of ghost stories.

Lately, there were new stories circulating…not by the children either. These stories came from adults, solid citizen adults. Of course, they were spread in hushed tones because, face it…no one wanted to be made fun of or laughed at. Old Doc Milford was the first to speak out loud ‘n clear…he’d seen a woman sitting on the old verandah, just sittin’ there, mind you, and “By crappy, she was real!” he declared, “And no white flowing gown, just a pretty gingham dress ‘n granny apron!”

Next it was Charlie Allen…sheriff (of sorts) of Stanbury. Wasn’t much need for a sheriff in Stanbury but Charlie was a good ‘n honest man and was sorta edged into the sheriff’s job way back when. No need for a new one when the old one is doing a ‘right nice job!’ Charlie said he was making a run over to Strawtown on business and decided to make a loop past the old Stanbury house, what with all the talk lately, to see if anything was amiss. To his surprise, those old, heavy gates were open ‘bout a foot, just enough for somebody to squeeze through. He had an appointment so there wasn’t time to stop and investigate but when he came back, those gates were closed and locked as though no one had been there.

Charlie had stopped, got out of his car, shook the gates to make sure they were secure. He’d thought maybe the lock had rusted and broken and the wind was making the gates swing open and closed. But the gates were secure, locked tight. He stood gazing at the old house on the hill and remembered…

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Oct 31 @ 12:26PM  
He was one of those kids who managed to scale that fence at the dares of his friends. He was gonna look in the windows, check to see if the doors were locked…oh he was so brave! His friends had squealed like little girls with delight as he’d dropped over the fence. But even being a kid, he could still tell that their delight was edged with fear. He had his own fear, making his heart pound wildly in his chest but he wanted, needed, their admiration. He was the youngest of the group and subject to their jokes and now he was determined to show them, once ‘n for all, how tough he was.

He remembered slipping through the brush, running from tree to tree. He made it to the verandah steps. Now he was exposed as he climbed those steps and he thought he was going to pee his pants as he took them a step at a time, nearly regretting his stupid act of bravery. But Charlie was also stubborn and he wasn’t about to stop. Fueled with pumping adrenaline, he reached the front door. Locked! (He was secretly glad for that!) Now he got down on his hands and knees and crawled to beneath the big bay window with the tattered curtains.
With pounding heart and blood rushing through his ears like a nor’eastern blizzard, he raised slowly until his eyes cleared the sill. Still he couldn’t see anything. Moving on to the next window, what happened next he would never forget…

He ran! Like the wind and never remembered his feet hitting the ground once! He didn’t remember scaling that fence or hitting the ground on the other side. He wasn’t screaming or crying, he just ran! He told his friends to run! And he never told them what he saw…never. He lied for the first time in his life…he saw nothing…couldn’t see through the curtains…nothing happened…he’d just got spooked was all. He’d gained their admiration but he’d never forgotten anything.

Now, he stood their and remembered it all…

©bl David
All rights reserved

To be continued….

Chapters will be posted throughout the day and the last chapter at midnight! (or sooner if I can't stay awake...LOL)

Oct 31 @ 1:29PM  
Ok, now I gotta know what it was Charlie saw that day!

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Dead of Night (Halloween story)