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Dead of Night...Halloween story...(ch. 8)

posted 11/1/2013 2:07:58 AM |
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Chapter 8

They all stood quietly for a few minutes. They knew what they had to do but this night was taking its toll on them. Bone weary and tense, for the moment, each was lost in their own thoughts.

Finally Charlie spoke, “We’ve come this far and lived to tell about it. I figure a few more ghosts should just be a piece of cake. They all chuckled at the humor of it but each of them dreaded going through that opening.

The Sheriff went first, his lantern held high. The opening was really a door that had been concealed to appear as just part of the wall. As the light spilled into the other side, Charlie could see that here the gables came down at a slant and this part of the attic was small. They all had to hunch over to enter the space. At first it appeared totally empty and they thought it was just another waste of time, yet why would Adeline show them this secret room if there wasn’t anything there? Going deeper into the room, Doc’s lantern light fell upon two large trunks almost to the back of the room, beneath the sloped ceiling.

“There! Back there!” Doc pointed as he headed towards the trunks. Pastor O’Conner and Charlie followed. Now they needed their lanterns high to be able to see inside the trunks and still have their hands free. Doc spotted hooks where old, empty lanterns were hanging. Taking them down, they replaced them with their own. Now the space was well lit and suddenly, they knew the answers they sought was just in front of them yet none of them moved.

Finally, Doc said, “Well, are we ready for this?” Without answering, Charlie moved forward and pulled the latch open from the first trunk, paused briefly then lifted the lid. For a brief moment, the inside of the trunk was black as coal until the shadow of the lid cleared. There was a gasp from someone while another murmured, “What the hell…?” They had expected papers, clothes, books, but not THIS!

Inside the trunk layed a skeleton of a child. Instantly the crying filled the room; soft, whimpering…sad.

“This isn’t an answer,” Doc said, “It’s just another question.”

Charlie nodded, looked at Doc saying, “The other trunk, maybe it’s in the other trunk.”

Pastor O’Conner was the closest so he unlatched the trunk and lifted the lid while bracing himself for what they’d find inside. But this time, it was papers, documents and diaries. This promised to be a long night.

An hour later, they had papers strung all over the floor. It was like trying to put a puzzle together but most of the answers were contained in the diaries. Another two hours and a picture was emerging.
The skeleton in the trunk was Amanda Sue Kerrington. She would be a granddaughter several times removed of Augustus and Adeline. The lineage was hard to follow in exact order. Through the years as the Stanbury Estates was passed down to younger generations, the tradition of grand entertaining continued until Alfred Benjamin Stanbury (future father of Amanda) married a woman of what was considered then, of lower stature whose background and character were somewhat questionable but her striking beauty was unsurpassed throughout the region. Her name was Arabelle Clarice Hite. They soon had a son, Alfred Benjamin, Jr. and a daughter, Amanda Sue.

The fifth year of their marriage, Alfred, Sr. was killed in a hunting accident. A year later, Arabelle married Donald Edward Kerrington and he adopted the children. Now things would change in the Stanbury Estate home.

It began in the fall with the Halloween Ball. Arabelle introduced into the festivities, the Ouija board and Tarot cards. From there, matters of the occult grew within the Stanbury home. Arabelle’s background emerged and the spirits that took up residence were dark and threatening. Donald Kerrington learned quickly from Arabelle. But Amanda and Alfred, Jr. were different. Amanda had a sweet temperment and her resistance to the activities around her made her mother angry, as did Alfred, Jr.’s rebellion.

These entries into the diaries were placed there by Caroline Merriweather, an indentured servant that had served the Stanbury Estates for over fifty years. Apparently, she had enlisted a handyman to create the hidden door so she could hide the records she’d kept for all those years. She knew a day would come when the secrets of this old house would need to come to light.

According to Caroline, the year Amanda turned twelve, Arabelle had come up with a new twist to the games played on Halloween. This year, the Halloween theme would be woven around a sacrifice! “Oh but it’s just a game.” Arabelle said, flipping her slender hand in arrogance. “Amanda is just the right age and I’ll teach her well, nothing bad is going to happen.”

But it did.

Only a few were privy to this game of sacrifice. Tied to the altar, Amanda was terrified! As those in costume and mask danced and chanted around her, she squeezed her eyes shut tight but tears slipped through to trickle down her cheeks. She prayed it would be over soon so she could run to her room and hide under her covers.

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Nov 1 @ 2:08AM  
Then the blade of the sword was lifted above her, words she’d never heard were chanted. Then the flash of silver caught in the torchlight as it fell towards her. It pierced her chest through to the altar. Smoke exploded around the altar and she disappeared within its billowing clouds.

People were ushered from the room laughing and squealing at how terribly convincing Arabelle could pull off such a show. But for Amanda, the show, for her, was over forever.

Did the trick go terribly wrong? Or was it a real sacrifice? Caroline never knew but she suspected the worst. Amanda’s absence was accounted for my telling everyone that she’d been sent to England to go to an elite girl’s finishing school. No one questioned it…well, except Alfred, Jr…he somehow knew and his rebellion grew as well as his fears. A year later, Arabelle and Donald told everyone that he, too, had been sent away to school “to learn some discipline and manners”. Neither child had ever been seen or heard after that.

In the coming years, the people of Stanbury became suspicious…what had really happened to those children? Rumors were hush-hush as everyone’s livelihood depended on the Stanbury Silvermine. No one was willing to risk their jobs. The Halloween Balls ended. Arabelle, it was said, was too ill to host them. Most figured it out…she was going insane. Donald Kerrington died. Most folks speculated that he drank himself to death. The Stanbury Silvermine closed.

Caroline wrote of bad spirits in the house, crying children, ghosts and foul odors. Yet she stayed until she, too, died. Her diary ended, an old woman sad and frightened.

They looked through every paper in the trunk, records of every conceivable event in the Stanbury family but they could not find a record of the death of Arabelle Clarice Hite/Stanbury/Wellington…

©bl David
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To be continued…

Nov 1 @ 4:43AM  
This is definitely a good story for Halloween.

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Dead of Night...Halloween story...(ch. 8)