Characters Environments 
Author Marian Parisher-Nichols
Poems and short stories, free to read.
"When I write, I shoot from the hip!"

the Curse

 

Chapter One;, the First Encounter

As thunder rumbles with each flash of lightning, the lone figure hovering in the far recesses of manor is momentarily illuminated.  Although no one living inhabits these premises, this unfortunate apparition makes for itself a home.  Far from the world of the living, never the less it can, enjoy the material luxuries that this mansion once offered.  Having found no joy or peace when it walked the land as a mortal, it now reflects on the reasons why it could not enter the other plane of existence.  These issues must be resolved before passing on to the next level; but having no idea how this will come about; it ponders its resources.  It seems as if it has existed here for an eternity that time has no value, and does not move forward into the next day.  It is forever darkness, with little chance of the tiniest bit of brightness breaking the gloom.


Unexpectedly, there is a knocking on the large oak double door at the front of this residence, a sound that startles even this recluse from humanity.  Thinking to itself that some lost traveler has found their way to this abandoned and isolated area, it hopes that they will soon tire of their long wait for an answer to their request for entrance and seek shelter elsewhere.  However, it is not to be, for with persistent shoving at the rusting latches, the door protests with a groan, then swings open, allowing the cutting bites of rain to infiltrate the receiving hall.


There stands an ambiguous form, small, and clutching her arms tightly across her breast, as if she can stay the chills from penetrating deep into her bones.  The entity stu-dies this wisp of a girl for she is young and obviously cold and scared.  It wonders how such a waif finds herself stranded in the middle of nowhere.  A flash of lightning abruptly lights the hall as bright as day, while the roar of thunder shakes the very foundation of this extremely old estate.  At that moment, the girl is bath in a distinct radiance that defines her small figure, and gives a feeling of awe to her being.  She has hair the color of spider's silk, long to her waist, very straight, not a hint of curl, but is wet and hanging in long blades down her back.  She is breathtakingly beautiful, so exquisite is she that she appears to be a portrait instead of a living person.  She is dressed in a pale blue day gown, for this is the season of summer, mid-July.


She hesitates for a brief moment, and then deciding that inside is much better than outside… she quickly enters, not bothering to close the doors behind her.  So here she stands, wondering as to how she will ride out the storm and if she will be able to locate help in this god-forsaken place.  The hall is pitch black and only with the lightning's strikes is she able to make out a little of her surroundings.  It is quite apparent that the house was unoccupied for an incredibly long time, for all is desolate, with cobwebs spread from ceiling to floor.  There is no color left to the walls, but which are now muted shades of gray.  High to the ceiling, the windows are dark and broken allowing only bits of light from the storm to flash eerily about the room.  What once were drapes now hangs in tattered strips down each of the tall panes.  There are a few pieces of furnishings scattered about, odd pieces that are broken and very dusty.  There in a far corner she notices a divan, with a section lying broken on the bare floor and one end raised up at an angle.


Using the light from the storm, she cautiously eases her way across the shattered room, leaving small footprints in the dust as she goes.  Having brushed dusk and cobwebs from the settee' she eases her small form into a comfortable position.  It sinks from her weight, but feels so good to get off her feet for a brief time.  Clenching her hands tightly together, she contemplates her difficult situation.


All the while, the phantom is studying her every move and marvels at her nerve to enter herein.  This at least breaks up the monotony of its day-to-day existence.  Where has she wandered from, for this estate is many miles from any settlement, not receiving visitors for more than a century?  This is its place of damnation, doomed to wonder these halls until one would come to break the spell cast over it a hundred and fifty years before.  It has long ago relinquished the hope of ever being release from this living death.


Wet as well as cold, the young visitor removes her sandals and pulls her legs up close to her body wrapping her arms about her knees in an effort to retain her body heat as she sits there shivering.  Being ever so weary, she drops her head down on top of her knees; with the sound of the rain pelting the mansion, soon she is lulled into a light sleep.


Noiselessly the entity drifts over to where she is slumbering; it knows that she will not detect it, so it takes its time examining her.  There is not anything too unusual about her per se, only that she awakes a longing in the spirit that it has thought long dead, a longing for more life.  A feeling of great protectiveness comes over it, and it is unable to fathom why.  It has had no concerns for mortals since its demise some hundred and fifty odd years ago.


So, through the long night it stands watch over the slumbering girl, at some point she slopes over to one side and rests her head on the arm of the sofa.  The storm continues unabated until the wee hours of the morning, when it promptly ceases as quickly as it began.


She stirs; the entity, in silence, retreats to a far corner of the hall, where it can still examine her in seclusion.
Myra opens her eyes slowly, for a moment she does not recognize her surround-ings, but then realization floods her memory, and she discern where she is.  However, it is morning, how could she have slept so soundly all through the night?  The storm is gone and her clothing has dried, she feels somewhat better, but famished.  Having not eaten since the day before at noon, “I am sure there is nothing in this old place to eat.”  She speaks aloud and it is strange to hear her own voice echo throughout the room.


It is also disturbing to her unseen host, for it has not heard a mortal speak for as long as it has been here, old memories return to haunt it.


Myra rises and stretches then slides her feet back into her sandals and smoothes the wrinkles from her dress.  “I must be a fright,” she speaks audibly again, “I just must explore this old house, there ought to be some old antiques or relics up these stairs, could find something really unique.”  So with that she ventures off in the direction of the stairs.  Not a spiral staircase but still it turns back on itself leading up to the second floor.


“I wonder if these steps are study enough to hold me,” Myra asks herself.  “Well there is only one way to fine out, that’s to give it a try.”  She reaches out her hand and places it on the banister, and with a determined gait, she proceeds up.
The entity did not foresee this, thinking that surely this young girl would have left at dawn, but no, instead she seems incline to stay and explore the manor.  It decides to follow her around to learned what she might uncovered, and so it stays a slight distance behind her while floating above, so not to give her a sign of its presence.


Myra quickly advances up the stairs; on reaching the landing, she halts briefly to survey this part of the mansion.  As with the downstairs, everything is covered with cob-webs and dust, where did it come from, there must be centuries of it?  Myra shudders ab-ruptly; an odd chill is here.  “Old place is drafty.”  She turns around, halfway expecting someone to be behind her, but of course, not a living soul is there.  “I’m getting paranoid,” she speaks softly to herself, just in case.
Myra has detected its presence, the specter realizes, it had strayed much too close, so to give her more space, it backs off and continues to shadow her.


Myra studies her surroundings intensely, and assured of being alone, she makes her way to the first door; the entity is immensely amused as it follows her.  Since her in-tentions are unknown to the specter, it feels that it must accompany her on this excursion.  The landing is ten feet wide and runs the length of the house with a balustrade along the perimeter; there is an alarming drop of about twenty feet to the floor below.  Here are six doors, some open, others shut, Myra pauses at the first one; it is partially open, so she leans against it and it creaks open, but only far enough to allow her to pass through.  There is not much to see here, for it is empty, the walls has peeling plaster, revealing the wooden slates underneath. 

 

The next room appears to be a nursery, with an old style cradle, and an ancient rocking chair that is slightly moving as if just vacated.  Adjoining the nursery to the left is a smaller room, with the door taken off the hinges and propped against the wall.  Here is a small bureau with a porcelain pitcher and washbowl sitting atop, and a cot with a feather mattress and nothing more.  “This must be the nanny’s room,” she remarks and in here as well are more cobwebs and dust.  A large window is directly across from her having no drapery and darkened panes.  Further along the hall is the third door, which is shut and locked; it cannot be open; it is as if a supernatural power is holding it fast.  “I’ll try it later,” she mumbles.
She has more luck with the fourth door, it is slightly open and she enters easily.

 

Here is a four-poster bed with a canopy, bedclothes on the bed looks like a just made bed, even though it is covered with dusk while cobwebs hang from the canopy railing.  In here also is an old-timely sideboard, a freestanding garment closet, and a small chair at a dressing table; all are as dusty as the rest, with even more cobwebs.  She tiptoes further inside with her invisible host close behind, “This must have been a beautiful room at one time,” she imagines. 

 

On the outside wall is a stone fireplace with a wide mantle over it; on each side of the fireplace are two tall windows with heavy dusky drapes completely covering them, not allowing any light to pass through.  Above the mantel hangs a life size painting of a young woman.  She is stunning, with pale straight hair which has the luster of mother-of-pearl and flows loosely to well past her shoulders.  Alabaster skin; large violet eyes with dark arched brows; a finely trimmed perky nose and soft full pink lips with a hint of a mischievous smile, these features are set in a small oval-shape face.  She is magnificently dressed in a purple evening frock reminisce of the Victorian era.


While concentrating on this portrait, Myra realizes she is looking at an identical rendition of herself, but how could that be!  This discovery is extremely disconcerting.


This is not lost on the phantom, now it understands why it feels such a compassion for this uninvited visitor!


Myra exits this bedroom, with a feeling of déjà vu, the whole mansion has a musty and rancid smell, “A good airing would certainly improve things,” she declares. 

Myra is able to enter the fifth room but it has little to offer other than an aged spinning wheel with a stool standing beside it, looking as if it is waiting for its mistress to return and finish the spool.  “How odd,” she remarks as she walks around this piece of history.

  “Spinning wheels aren’t that easy to find.  I’ve got to have it, I'll come back later for it,” Myra speaks to herself again.


There is one more room, the sixth with a close door, and with a little effort, it swings open.  WHAM!  Something rushes out with a great swish, a flurry of wings, all flapping, trying to escape.  BATS!  Swirling over Myra’s head, she waves her arms frantically trying to ward off the intruders.  Swooping down to the receiving hall and out the opened doors, the bats make a hasty retreat. 

Myra leans against the wall with her right hand above her heart, allowing herself to recover from this shock, “I think I have had enough for today,” she says breathlessly.


Things have changed causing the entity to be apprehensive; for well over a century and a half, no one has found their way to this isolated manor but a young girl on this ferocious night has done so unaided.  What force has guided her here?  There is only one explanation; she is for certain a descendant of the Worthington Family!


Myra retraces her steps back along the landing while deep in thought about how uncanny it is that this house seems somehow tied in with her life.  At the third door she halts, “I’ll try it just once more,” again, she leans against the door with her full weight, but still it will not open!  “Enough is enough, I got to get out of here and find help so I can go home!” she cries softly, absentmindedly she descends the stairs to the receiving hall below and takes a final look around the down stairs area, and in a way she hates to leave, but she must.  She heads for the door, as she approaches, it suddenly slam shut with a BANG!


“The wind?” she questions.  Grasping the handle she shoves and tugs, something is obstructing the door.  This was easier last night.  “There’s got to be another way out.”  She runs her hand through her hair, it needed combing, she needed a bath, it was getting hot and she was still starving!


She turns back to the interior of the room and is horrified; she puts her hand over her mouth and lets out a low gasp!  There is a bluish vapor surrounding what appears to be the semblance of a woman.  She is a striking figure with long flowing color-less hair; she is semi-nude, lucent and floating three feet off the floor!


This being the first time Myra has ever seen a ghost makes her try that much harder to get the doors open, but to no avail, tears are swelling up, and running down her cheeks.  On this level, there is another exit, she heads for it but the spirit obstructs her.  She races for the front; again, the spirit blocks the way.  Tired of running, Myra stops, looks at the spirit and wails, “What do you want from me?” at that the apparition points a slender finger out and up.  “Must I go back up the stairs?” she cries.


Silently Myra follows the spirit, feeling she has little choice, at the third door, it pauses, then vanishes.


After materializing, the spirit feels drained, having never used this ability before this very moment, but feels it is essential to keep this girl from leaving the Manor.  There are certain things, which need revealing to this girl before she leaves here.  The spirit is convinced that she is the one who will liberate it, releasing the spirit from the haunting of Worthington Manor.


“I can’t open this door!”  Myra declares, “I’ve already tried,” while speaking a glint catches her eye.  “A key?” she query, it is jutting from the lock; with trembling hands Myra turns it cautiously, remembering what had happen with the last door.


A rush of stale, stagnate air greets her; a sickening taste rises in Myra’s throat causing her to gag.  Myra feels she is suffocating, and rushes from the room to get fresh air into her lungs.  She takes great gulps of air, coughing and choking, seeking relief from the burning in her mouth and throat, several minutes pass before she is able to take an easy breath.


“I don’t think I can go back in there,” she addresses the ghost although it is not visible; with that the specter reappears and directs Myra’s attention to the partially open door, encouraging her to enter, again it vanishes.


Myra faces the open door and with enormous effort enters.  Her eyes slowly ad-justs to the darkness; against the wall to her right sits a massive writing desk with a roll down front and five drawers, two on the left and three on the right.  A huge French window directly facing Myra has shredded curtains and dark, cracked panes.  A dusty French sofa with a low table in front stands to her left, but what is lying on it sends chills up her spine.  There lies the corpse of a woman; Myra feels the need for a closer look, as she draws nearer she can tell that the body is mummified.  It is wearing a crimson dress made of velvet and old lace.  She effortlessly identifies the corpse as that of the lady in the portrait and protruding from her chest is a knife!


MURDERED!  Myra is suddenly struck with pain as she grabs her chest with both hands and with a cry, she faints and collapses to the floor.


The specter also feels this agony and remembers its own death!  She scrutinizes Myra lying in a heap on the floor; it draws nearer to the girl and tenderly attempts to touch her brow.  Myra opens her eyes to find she is gazing into the face of her captor; it is wearing a look of concern that turns into a smile of relief.  Myra now knows that the spirit means her no harm.  Myra struggles to her feet feeling very weak and wobbly.  She concludes that this spirit, the portrait Lady and the murdered woman are the same individual.


This is an earthbound spirit and a horrible tragedy has befallen it and this magnificent house.  Myra now understands that the need for something to be done to release the specter from this Earthly plane and allow it to proceed on to the next realm.


With the entity gently urging her, Myra crosses the room to the desk, brushing away dusk and webs with a silk scarf found on the floor.  The top of the desk squeaks, as she rolls it back, here are the usual things, mostly in an advance state of decay, nothing helpful here.  She checks each drawer; in the left top are papers that disintegrate at her touch into dusk.  The drawer below has a pair of ladies gloves, and earmuffs.  The top right drawer has a tarnished silver letter opener, a quill or two, and a bottle of dried up black ink.  The middle drawer contains more decaying papers; in the bottom drawer is the family Bible.  She picks it up, blows the dust from it.


She leaves this third room and heads back down the staircase where the light is better for reading.  Here she opens the Bible to the first few pages where they commonly keep records.  They record marriages, births and deaths of all family members and the family name is Worthington.  There in the center sections of all the listings, in faded handwriting are these names, Abigail Mason married to Don Worthington, May 16, 1840.  Three children are listed, all boys, Thomas, Ronald, and Lance, their birth dates, mar-riages, offspring, and deaths.  The oldest son, Thomas has married a Mariah Parisher in 1868 and a son had been born to them, Richard Worthington, born March 2, 1869.  This is all of the hand written record.  What has happened to the others?  No one notified the authorities and why?  Some how this tragedy has gone unreported all these years.  The manor house gives the appearance of having been wrecked, as if someone has gone on a rampage and destroyed as much as possible, leaving no clue to the perpetrator’s identity.


Mariah, the spirit, knows what the Bible reveals and that Myra now has the essential information she will need to help solve this mystery.  Although the murderer is long dead, before Mariah will be able to rest, he must be identified and she must discover the fate of her infant son.


“Mariah?  Is that your name?”  Myra speaks to the seemingly vacant room.  “I can only tell you I will do what I can to right this dreadful wrong done to our family, ‘cause I feel we are related somehow.”  Myra pauses, waiting to see if there would be a response but there isn’t. 

 

“My name is Myra, and I am desperately in need of help, my car is wreaked and I am miles from anywhere.  Will you let me go if I promise I’ll return?”  The double door now opens with no assistance and Myra knows she can to leave.  “I’ll take this with me,” she indicates the Bible.


Although completely understanding what Myra is saying, Mariah’ energy is dep-leted and she is unable to respond just now.  She feels a strange sensation in the depths of her soul, that very soon she will have the answers she seeks.


Myra slips through the partially opened doors onto the fair size veranda, with four towering columns supporting the roof, to the nine steps that lead down to the vast courtyard.  She spins around to review this aged manor house.  There are more than two stories, there are at least three, with very tall and steep roofs and several dormers are located on both the north and south sides, with miniature rectangle windows, they are dark even in daylight. 

 

Tall stately pines are scattered about the back, while oaks grow along what used to be an access road.  Trailing vines cover much of the house and thick shrubbery cluster around the front steps.  Marble appears to be the building material and Myra guesses its age at around two hundred years, dating back to just after the Revolutionary War.


Myra heads down the winding road until she reaches the thick forest.  She looks behind her but can no longer see the mansion for a grey mist has risen  hiding the manor and now she can barely make out the path.  She does not remember all of this underbrush being here; maybe this is not the way she came. 

 

She is amaze that she was able to find the old mansion in the first place what with it being in the middle of a tall pine forest like this.  As she emerges from the thicket where she had abandon her car last night, there is a State Trooper examining it.


“Good morning, sir,” she addresses him.


“Good morning ma’mn, by chance is this your vehicle?” he asks.


“Yes sir, it is, as you can see, I ran off the road last night during the storm and had to take shelter in the old Worthington mansion until the storm let up.  My cell phone wouldn’t work so I spent the night there,” explains Myra.


“Did you say an old house is back in those woods?” he replied looking strangely at her.


“Yes, Worthington Manor, back up that road there, I stayed there last night.”


“Road?  I see no road, are you certain?”


“Yes sir, there,” Myra points towards the path but to her shocked, it has vanished.


“That’s odd,” said the trooper, “ I don’t recall any manor or house being in this area, and I am from around here.  Are you sure it was back in those woods and not further down this road.  As you can see there is nothing along this stretch of roads for miles.”


“Yes sir I am definitively sure about this.”


“Well we will check this out later, right now we need to get you home.  I’ve phone your parents and told them that I had found your abandon vehicle and your father is on his way right now.”


“There’s one other thing,” Myra speaks haltingly.  “There is a corpse of a murdered woman on the second floor.”


The Trooper looks sharply at her, “What do you mean?”


“It has been there for a number years, you can tell easily.”


“I will call the Nash County Sheriff and report this.  They will have some questions for you, so expect a visit from them.”  All this time he is taking notes on a pad.


Not too long after Myra arrival back at her car, she sees her father’s car coming down the road.  She rushes into his outspread arms and despite herself, she begin to cry.  He comforts her and they get in the car and head for home.


●      ●      ●


Mariah watches from a second story window as Myra makes her way across the courtyard, giving Mariah a feeling of emptiness and dread.  A black mist hovers over My-ra’s head that only Mariah can see.  It trails Myra until Mariah loses sight of her, with Myra totally unaware of this nomad.  This is the Dark Spirit that at times occupies the third floor.  It is capable of leaving this mansion but Mariah is not.  Mariah is not certain of who or what this wraith is, but she does recognize it as malevolence and now, it has followed Myra!