Friday, February 27, 2015

Into Thornwood || Chapter Eight

By Becca

Chapter Eight

                  Never had she heard such terror. It tore her from sleep and out of bed. It stretched on forever, reaching out, straining, and snapped.  
         Then it came again; another scream. Cecile stood still, the sound of it wrenching through her. Her heart nearly ripped in two. She raced to the curtain, found the knob and threw open the door. It was louder, echoing, spiraling down from the higher stories. The house trembled with the cries, such desperate, miserable cries. She flew to the staircase at the end of the hall, nightgown softy swishing around her legs. She grabbed the rail and climbed.
Each level carried the voice nearer; every step brought her closer to the screams. At the final landing she came onto a room with a wall of solid glass, bars of iron crisscrossing the stars. The moonlight poured down and threw a pattern on a cluttered desk. At the end of the room the navy sky curved down a hallway, and bookshelves lined the opposite wall.
                  He was at the end of the hall; whoever was making that horrible sound. 
She covered her ears as he began again, another breath, another cry. A lump formed in her throat as his voice shattered into heaving sobs. The glass panes melted into the night and Cecile crept down the hall. 
                  Here he was. She arrived at the place where the sound came through clearly. The shelves ended and a cozy cushioned nook filled the corner. She crept onto the seat, placed her hand on the wall and pressed her ear to the smooth plaster.  Now there was only weeping and the grating intake of breath. 
                  “Hello?” At first it was just a whisper, then she raised her voice. “Hello? What is wrong? Are you hurt? Please tell me.” At once, they stopped. She could not hear anything.
                  “I know you are there. Are you in danger? Please, I only wish to help you. ” Then she felt movement on the other side of the wall. 
                 He was right there, listening.
                  “You are the automaton’s prisoner as well, aren’t you? I was sure it was lying. Yours was the face I saw in the window, just this morning.” That seemed like ages ago… A shaking exhale was the only response. Why would he not talk? He wasn’t mute, not with those screams.
                  “If you would only speak to me…” Silence caught the end of her words, smothering the sound and hung in the air for minutes. She longed for another human voice, to know that she wasn’t alone with the automaton. After a long wait, she turned and leaned against the pillows, the urgency fading, the fatigue growing. The stars twinkled and blinked through her lashes before Cecile let her eyes close. Somehow she felt safer here then the bedroom below.
“Dear God, I am very afraid.”  She spoke aloud, hoping that he was listening. “I don’t know what is happening, it all feels like a nightmare. You know why I am here, and You must have a plan for all of this… help me to trust in You and be brave. Please comfort the someone behind this wall, You know what scared him so and You can give him peace. In Your Son’s name, amen”  
Cecile curled up on the cushions, with a solid, comforting wall at her back. 
                  “Well, here we are. I don’t know why you are ignoring me, refusing to speak won’t help you-” The borrowed words trailed off in a odd little laugh as she realized what she said. 
                  “I suppose this might be a taste of how it feels. It's terrible…” Drowsiness gathered around and reached a heavy hand over her. “I would ask you who you were,” She murmured. ”and where you came from, how long you have been here… but you probably won’t answer… will you?” Putting her ear to the wall again, she thought she could hear a pulse, as if he too was against the wall. She tapped three times, and smiled as the rhythm was repeated on his side. 
                  “I hope you are feeling better. If you aren’t hurt, that must have been a terrible dream… I have nightmares too. My father died at sea not long ago, and sometimes, at night, I can see it; the storm that took him away. But he is in heaven now… he is with mother.”

Her voice was sweet and sad as she spoke of her family, her life, and what the last few months had brought upon them. 
He drank in every word, savoring every moment of broken silence. It grew quieter as she must have been falling asleep. He pressed his ear to the wall, straining to hear her whispers. Afraid to speak and content simply to listen, he relaxed and shut his eyes. He could hear her beating heart. 
The stillness closed in as her words came no more. He lay awake for hours, just to hear the steady cadence of her breath. 
                  “Hello, Cecile.” He whispered, his voice rough and cracked. She couldn’t hear him now, and that gave him courage.
“I’m sorry I woke you, but I’m am very glad you found me.” With closed eyes he pictured the red haired girl in the garden, her face turning to the sunlight, looking up at his window. She smiled when her gaze found him; looking right back. She had almost waved, but then there was a shout and she ran away. 
His fists clenched as her cries carried through the memory.  
                 “Yes, it was a nightmare… the same nightmare I’ve had for five years.”

                  Wood creaked as Cecile came down the staircase and every step released the odor of mothballs. Her dress was one of a dozen that were stuffed in the wardrobe. It felt so strange wearing someone else’s clothes. Then she noticed a dark footprint by the front door. Farther on there was another, and another, leading across the chamber. Taking the last stairs two at a time, she bent down for a closer look. 
                  It was dried blood; bloody boot prints. Cecile followed the prints into the dinning room and in moment realized that they were Dax’s. Of course they were, he was here first… the blood must be from his wolf bite.  
                  He will come back.
                  Lost in thought, she sank into the chair where Dax had sat just two nights ago. A steaming cup of tea and a plate of breakfast lay on the table, but she wasn’t hungry.
The automaton wasn’t there and overflowing emptiness of the room was a relief. Cecile was glad for the silence and didn’t want another strained conversation with that fizzy crackling voice.  
                  Something touched her. Goosebumps tingled over her arms as a stroke curved and wrapped around her ankles. Forcing herself to look under the table, she saw the wide flat face of a Persian cat, it’s blue eyes staring back at her.  
It chirped a hello, or perhaps a ‘give me that food’ and she exhaled in a shaky giggle.
                  “Well, hello there. You certainly gave me a fright.”
The cat sauntered out, its white plume swaying, and sprang onto the table. Sniffing intently, it approached the food.
                  “Is this your breakfast? I’d like the tea and maybe that piece of toast with marmalade, but you can have the rest.” She took the toast and then pushed the plate towards the cat. The bacon was snatched in an instant. 
                  “Dear God,” She bent her head in prayer.  “Please take care of Dax and Frank… and Caprice. Grant Dax healing for his wounded leg, and please bring them back for me… I want so badly to go home. Thank you for taking care of me. In Your Son’s name, Amen.”  
She looked up and watched the cat devouring the meat.  Slowly she reached out to touch the white fur. It glanced up, smacking it’s lips, and did not seem to care. Cecile ran her fingers through the softness, so smooth against her rough scabbed skin and smiled as low rumbling purr started.
Two things from last night kept rising to the surface of her mind.
                  No door and the blanket. 
“If there is someone in a room, surely there must be a door to enter said room.” She mused aloud. “But there isn’t. There is no door, at least not on the top story… “ Could there be another staircase that led to the secret room? She blew a curling vapor from the tea and sipped thoughtfully, the day’s plans beginning to form. 
                  Then there was the blanket. She awoke, in the nook, with a soft comforter laid over her body, pulled all the way up to her chin. 
Who did that? Cecile imagined the automaton tucking her in, shivered at the thought and took a bite of hot toast. The sweet citrus taste reminded her of home.
                  Of one thing she was certain. When she was rescued, that poor soul she found last night would not be left behind.
The cat, after clearing the plate, jumped off the table and swaggered to the door. 
                  “Where are you going?” Cecile called after it. Draining the last drops of tea, she left the table with toast in her hand. 
The white tail slipped around the corner and she reached the door it time to see it vanish through another archway.
                  “Well now,“ She told herself with a smile. “You did want to see the inside of this mansion, didn’t you?” 


  1. Oh, my, more than ever I want more!

  2. Hee hee, I'm grinning at the thought of the automaton tucking in Cecile. I'm glad I haven't had time to catch up yet because now that I do have time, I can keep reading continuously and I don't have to wait for the next part!


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