Nov 08
perkinsr's picture

Halloween story

Burlington, 1845

    I stood silently  in the musty attic of George F. Edmunds house with one of the other servants, Caledonia. We had made conversation in the beginning of our shift, but now it was three A.M. and we were barely awake enough to open our eyes, let alone make small talk. We had come on the same boat, but she was a few years older, and had other friends.  We were watching for the boat called Scarlestburg ll, coming from England. Sir Edmunds’ daughter Edith was on that boat. She had left to visit her mother, and was supposed to come back two weeks ago. We had waited and watched from the attic since the second the boat didn’t show up, and the shifts weren’t getting any shorter. The days stretched endlessly, with servants on foot for hours on end with no food or sleep in the eerily dark attic. There had been no sightings of the boat, and Sir Edmunds was not happy about it. We had only the sounds of mice scratching and muffled voices from the lower floors to keep us company. I was staring out the smeared window, looking at the gloomy rain hitting the other houses. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a flicker of light from the abandoned Barclay house Widow's Walk. I ran over to a window that was closer, but it was gone. No one had lived in that house since 1803, when the Barclay’s had disappeared, leaving no trace. Young kids used to dare each other to go in on Halloween, but had stopped doing that years ago.

    “Did you see that?” I asked, confused, with my back turned to Caledonia. THere was no response. I kept looking at the gray rain splattering against the window, looking for the flash again. No response. I turned around.

    “Cal?” I ask, not seeing her. Not a sound.

    “Cal! Caledonia! Where are you?” I whisper-scream, getting scared.

Out of nowhere, there’s a strangled scream from one of  abandoned corridors. I sprint across the attic and stop short at the corridor I thought I heard the scream from.

“Caledonia?”

Suddenly, an unnatural grinding from the dumbwaiter started up, scaring me so bad I almost fell over. Then I hear her laughter.

    “Cal? Where are you?” I ask, my voice shaking, scared and quiet. I collapse as she bursts out of one of the empty hallways and jumps onto my back.

    “Don’t do that! I almost called Sir Edmunds! I’m not kidding, Cal!” I scold, my voice still wavering. Her only response is laughter.  

    5 A.M.  We hear footsteps coming up the creaky, wooden staircase. We share a glance and slowly turn to the stairway.

The door opens with a bang.

    “You’re next shift is in an 9 hours. Get out of here, scumbags,” My brother says, dropping the lantern on his way to push me down the stairs. I trudge down the old stairs, almost tripping every step from sleep deprivation. I slay in bed for about 4 hours wondering about the weird light at the Berkley’s. After the designated sleeping time is up, I do my daily chores, still in a sleepless trance. My brother finds me in the middle of cleaning out the horse stalls, and almost gets hit in the face with horse poop on his way in.

    3 P.M. “Your shift. 11 hours,” he looked like a living zombie. He was too tired to finish his sentences. My shift would end at four in the morning.

    I trudged up the old weathered wood that was becoming unwelcomingly familiar. Caledonia was already up there, staring out the window.

    “Were you double shifted?” I asked her as she turned. She had such large bags under her eyes, I had to ask.

    “No, I had cook duty. Didn’t have time to sleep.” She replied, with a large sigh to add the desired effect.

7 P.M.The attic was quickly becoming darker, making the shadows longer, and the streets emptier.  The quickly setting sun made everything have a strange gray gold glow.

As soon as the sun set, I saw the flash again. As far as I knew, no one else in the town was on the boat, and no other boats had left or arrived since the boat had left for England. I had no idea why they would be up there.

    “Hey- Cal. Watch that window,” I said, hoping she would figure out why someone is out there. Again, no response. I turned around, this time a little angry.

    “Cal! Come on, stop playing,” I whispered sharply. Sound carries easily down the staircase, and I didn’t want anyone to hear that we’re not watching for the boat.

    “Caledonia Hallewall! Come out. Someone’s gonna find out,” I said louder, getting more annoyed.

    I see the flickering again, and started to get a weird feeling in my stomach. I crept toward the empty corridors, making sure not to step on any of the creaky boards. I searched  in every corner and hall, looked in every dumbwaiter and closet, but I couldn’t find her anywhere. I ran towards the window and saw a light from the same Widow’s walk I had seen it from before. I was about to turn around, when it flashed again, this time staying on longer. I looked closer, and I saw something hanging from a rope that hadn’t been there before.

    I bounded down the stairs, tripping over my striped plain brown dress the whole time. I bursted on to the quiet third floor, the plush cream carpet muffling my pounding feet. I somehow managed to get down to the kitchen without falling. Right as I got there someone grabbed onto the back of my dress and spun me around.

    “Charlotte! What in God’s name-” she sputtered.

    I twisted away and bolted through the back doors. The rain pounded on my back and the puddles splashed my bare feet. I sprinted  across the street and stopped short at the Berkley’s house. I was slowly walking up to the front door, when I heard a strangled scream behind me. I whipped around and hid behind a bush. I laughed a little to myself when I realized it was just a cat.I brushed myself off and kept inching up to the door, the nerves growing every second.      I knocked three times and waited for about  minute with no answer. I pushed the grand door open a little. It slowly creaked open, revealing a huge red-carpet grand staircase. The massive crystal chandelier looked like it was about to fall, the Victorian paintings eyes seemed to follow you everywhere you went, and everything was covered in dust. The only thing that was perfectly clean was the staircase. My hands were shaking as I made my way up the grand staircase. I couldn’t stop imagining what I would find. I put both feet on the step before I moved on to the next one. I took my time going up those stairs.  My ears were seemingly on high frequency, as I could hear every single sound that was made. I heard a muffled scream. I sprinted up to the widow’s walk as fast as I could. I pushed the door open and it opened with a creak.

    I was too late. Caledonia Hallewall was hanging from a rope, her neck snapped and her head hanging at a strange angle. She had a dusty gag tied around her mouth. Her white dress was covered with stains and rips and tears, the rips showing fresh cuts and yellow bruises. She had two black eyes, and both of her arms were broken, showing bone.  Behind her on the wall was the lantern I had seen earlier in this very Widow’s walk. I heard the door slowly shut behind me. I didn’t dare turn around. Then, I felt cold fingernails running down my back. An alienated voice came from behind me.

     “You’re next,”

    

 
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