Friday, March 6, 2015

Into Thornwood || Chapter Ten

By Becca
( Disclaimer: This chapter has some violence relating to a death ) 

Chapter Ten

                  Cecile slipped through the door and hurried up the stairs, retracing the steps from last night. The glass greeted her with strong light at the final landing, a view of the forest spread out below. She turned down the hall and paused at the reading nook. Kneeling on the cushions, she put her ear to the wall and heard movement on the other side, then a shuddering breath.
                  “Hello?” She ventured.
                  “Hello, Cecile.” His voice was low and husky, twined with sadness.
The little boy’s face came back to her. How old was he now?
                  “Well, I said I would tell you everything, didn’t I?” He sighed heavily. “I should have done that from the start…this may take awhile.” 

She settled onto the cushioned bench. “I have plenty of time.” 
                  “Where should I even begin?” The question was likely a spoken thought, but Cecile took advantage of it and quietly said.
                  “I’d like to know you name.” 
She heard a chuckle.
                  “That would only be polite wouldn’t it? Not that I have adhered to proper etiquette. My name is Lucian, Lucian Eilert. I am sorry for the pain I’ve brought you.”
                  “I forgive you, Lucian.” 

                  Her honest words touched his heart like none before, and guilt seized him. “How can you-“
This time it was her who interrupted him. 
                  “ I can forgive you because I have been forgiven. Do you know who Jesus is?”
That name summoned memories of his mother’s Bible, open on her lap. 
                  “Yes, my Mother would read me Bible stories.”
                  “They are not just stories, they are history. Real events that happened.” Then she repeated her question. “Do you know who Jesus is?”
They sat by the fire, mother’s soft voice, a pencil in his hand, drawing pictures of the stories she read.  
                  “The Son of God, or so the Bible says. It said that he was crucified, and he died, but rose again after he was in the tomb for three days.”  Lucian recited.
                  “Yes, all of that is true. All the pain, sorrow and death in this world came the day man first sinned, and through one man death spread to all men, because all sinned. We are separated from God, our creator, for He is perfect and holy. But Jesus died for our sins, and God laid on Him the iniquities of us all. If we repent and put our trust fully in Jesus, in his death and resurrection, we will not perish but have everlasting life.”
                   He looked over as his mother’s Bible, lying open on his bed, still unsure how it survived the fire. The edges were charred and but it was otherwise unharmed.  “And you believe that?”
                  “With all my heart…and I think your mother believed that too.”
“Well, a lot of good it did her!” That long festering thought came out louder then he expected. Time froze when she did not respond and the silence grew between them. 
He swallowed hard and tried to speak, “You wanted to know what happened to my mother, and I am the only one left to tell it.”
                  Closing his eyes brought it all back; crisp and real as it had been. 
                  “It was Tuesday afternoon, five years past. Mother was in the library; she always went there in the afternoons. That was her sanctuary. I was here, in that room down the hall, working at my desk when I heard a scream. As I came down the stairs I smelled smoke and the air was thick with haze. When I got to the library door I could hear the crackling flames and the doorknob burned my hand. It was like a furnace in there, the shelves were all ablaze. I could hardly see, but my mother-“  
                  Her terror ripped through him; even now he could hear the tortured cries. His voice was drowned out with saltwater and his body wrenched with misery. He could feel the burning heat creep up the side of his face, licking the scarred skin and smoldered in his mind. 
                  “I found her-” He sobbed, “underneath a fallen bookshelf. I tried to lift it but I wasn’t strong enough, and then the next shelf fell. I don’t know how it didn’t crush and kill me then, but somehow only my arm was pinned underneath. She was silent-“ Lucian wrapped his arms around himself and rocked slowly on his heels until the shaking stopped. The tears streamed down as he saw her face looking up from the flames. He couldn’t save her…
                  “Oh Lucian…” Cecile’s voice was so soft and close, reaching through the wall. He wanted terribly to have her on his side of the wall, to see her face with his own eyes, to have a hand to hold. With a breath he continued. He had never told anyone this, and as he unlocked these nightmares it felt as though old scarred skin was falling away. Somehow, as much as it hurt, relief grew with every word he spoke.
                  “The pain was worse then anything I had ever felt. I could not stop yelling while the fire ate away at my skin. Then father came with the automaton and rescued me. I awoke in my room and Father was dressing the burns.”
Lucian grit his teeth as he remembered the rasping saw. The burns were too severe, his arm had to be amputated.  His metal fingers clenched into a fist, and then uncurled. The artificial arm his father built was a remarkable design, but metal could never feel…
“I was in that bed for so long and the pain would never fade. The fire came back every night, haunting my dreams. Every time I closed my eyes it would return; the agony, the roar of a thousand flames, and the screams, always her screams.”
His throbbing head fell against the wall and he took a deep breath, held it a moment, and slowly let it out. The hardest part was over now. 
“When I was well enough, Father took me to see her grave. She is buried in her rose garden. You probably cannot see the tombstone now, she would not be pleased with how overgrown it’s become…. and not long after, Father and I had a fight; it was always about the same thing. I wanted to leave this prison of a house and see the world, or at least the nearest town. But he would never let me go. That night I went to my room and packed up my belongings. When I went to my bedroom door, it was locked… and it’s been locked for five years now. I don’t know what happen to my father, he just disappeared.”
                  “And there was no way for you to escape?” Cecile asked.
Lucian laughed bitterly. “If there was, do you suppose I would still be here? This house is built like a fortress, and believe me; I’ve tried everything. Even if I broke a window and made a rope from my bed sheets, it would be quite a gamble to reach the ground in one piece, and after the accident I would not bet my life on that. There is only one way out, find that key and unlock the door. Cecile, will you do that for me?”
                  “If I do, will you let me go home?” 
He wiped his sleeve over the tears. “Yes, of course.”
                  “So where can I find this key?”  
                  “With the automaton I have looked everywhere I could, but did not find it…. there is only one other place it may be. A ladder is the only access to Father’s workshop, and the automaton was not built for climbing. It may be down there.”
He heard movement; the soft rustling of fabric, she was standing.
                  “I will go and look for it now if you tell me the way.” The excitement in her voice was adorable. 
                  “Wait a moment, it’s nearly time for lunch. Can you start your expedition afterwards?” He didn’t want her to leave just yet, and as much as he longed to step through that door, he cringed to imagine what she would do when she saw him. 
                  “If you wish,” A tinge of disappointment followed the quiet squish of pillows.
                  “I’ll have the automaton bring your meal up, mine comes through the dumbwaiter. Then we could talk some more… that is if you don’t mind.”  He waited with bated breath for her reply.
                  “I would love to.” The sun made an appearance just as she spoke, pouring yellow light into his prison. With a little gasp she exclaimed.
                  “Have you tried the dumbwaiter?” 
Her suggestion conjured an embarrassing memory and Lucian burst out laughing.
                  “Yes, actually I have-“ Images of his lanky frame shoved in that three foot space came to his mind, fueling the hysterics. “But, I haven’t fit in there since I was twelve.” 
Cecile’s sweet high voice joined in the levity, and he closed his eyes, trying to imagine what she looked like when she laughed. After he caught his breath, stood, stretched, and, still chuckling, walked to the control panel; a wooden board wired and embedded with a series of buttons and switches. With a flip of the knob, a glass screen illuminated and a foggy image of the library crisped; the automaton was activated. 
                  “Where is your bedroom door?” Cecile asked. “I see nothing but bookshelves.’” 
He smiled and walked the automaton to the dinning room. “The first shelf is a secret door, Father had a obsession with things of that sort.  Behind the books, on the fifth row from the bottom is the keyhole.”  Lucian heard the floor in the hall creak as she must of left the nook. He directed the automaton to the dinning table and picked up her plate. There was a shuffle behind the door and a glint of light through the keyhole.
                  “Hello!” She chirped. “I can see you.” 
                  “Oh, can you now?’ He kept his back to the door and tugged his sleeve down to fully cover his arm.  “Do you like my cell?” 
                  “I think it’s nice. I can see the city from your window.” 
Past the swaying treetops, he looked over the city clustered on the hill. Many times he had trained his telescope in that direction, wishing to be there. 
                  “What is it like, in the city?” 
She sighed. “Big, dirty and loud. I don’t like it. We used to live in a manor at the edge of the city; that was lovely. I’m sure there are better places in the city than where we live now, but I like Thornwood much better. It reminds me of home, and a bit like a castle.”  
                  “Where do you live?” 
                  “We share an apartment with another family, it’s quite crowded.” 
                  “But I’m sure you’re never lonely.”  
                  “There is that, I suppose.”
The automaton had arrived at the final landing. Lucian pressed the button beside the microphone and spoke through the automaton. 
                  “Here is your lunch.” 
Her face came onto the screen as she came and took her plate. “Do you make it talk?” Cecile looked up in the camera curiously. 
                  “Yes I do, I can also see what it sees.”  He chuckled as she waved in its face. 
                  “That is remarkable, your father’s invention?” 
                  “Of course. After the accident he gave me the controls; my own personal butler. Then he wasn’t bothered as much with caring for me.” Lucian went to the dumbwaiter and started hauling up his own lunch. In the screen he saw Cecile go back to the reading corner and bow her head over the meal. After a moment of silence, her voice piped up again.
                  “So, after this you will show me where the key is?”
                  “I certainly hope so.” 


  1. I'm glad I didnt have to wait long for this!!!!

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you! I was a bit nervous about this chapter :)

  3. Oooo, and the truth is revealed! Great work! I can't wait to find out what happens next.


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