When hinges creak in doorless chambers: A Haunted Mansion story

A/N: My butt needs to get back into gear with writing these short stories. I love this attraction so much so I need to make the time for it. Comments are welcome-hope you like!

-/-

New Orleans, 1925

Edward Gracey was a smart man, or rather, he would like to think so anyway. He had just graduated Summa cum Laude from Yale University, landed a job at an infamous firm in New Orleans and was finding good prospects for homes nearby. Luck was in his cards, most assuredly. He smiled as he parked his car down the street from the last prospect: a towering three-story Colonial piece with four large pillars gracing its entrance and iron facades framing the wrap-around porches on the first and second floors. Giant juniper trees stood its height along the right side of the house, symmetrical with the brick chimneys on the left. Overgrown shrubs and wax myrtles framed all corners, enveloping the home in a mysterious beauty.

Edward looked at the piece of scribbled paper in his hand. This couldn’t be right. The house was beautiful, but no way could it fit in his price range. His hand went up to the iron gate of the entrance, leaning his head so that he might get a closer look. He felt a prick on the outside of his wrist. A vine full of thorns had snaked through all of the bars–he could have sworn they weren’t there moments before but figured it a trick of the light–and they now had decorated themselves with drops of his own blood. Edward nervously chuckled, pushing away a small anxiety rising up in his throat. He heard the car door close shut and his trance broke suddenly at the sight of his fiancée in a buttercup yellow dress. Her rosy cheeks and matching lips suited the color, a vision of Spring in this eternal Autumn.

“Edward, is anything the matter?”

He crumpled the paper in his hand, stealing another glance at the thorns. “I’m afraid I’ve led us in the wrong direction. Or perhaps the clerk in the land sales office may have transposed the address. This can’t be the right house. We will return to the office and I shall inquire–” But her eyes had drifted from him and focused their attention on the manor. Her breath caught in her throat and Edward could honestly not tell if she was breathing. Her lace gloves were wound tightly on the iron bars, the vines now nowhere near her. “Darling, best you stay away. We know nothing of these current residents and their temperaments.”

To his surprise, she turned back and smiled. “Edward, it’s beautiful.”

He knew that tone. He was all too familiar with it. The vibrato of it shook him, the warm tone of it turned him into mush, the smile that accompanied it made his mind bend to her will. She only used that tone when she had her heart set on something and would do anything to get it. She was tenacious but always a lady; it was always what she didn’t say that made Edward jump to her requests. But at this, he would be a broke man in two month’s time and with a wedding to plan, it wasn’t logical. “Darling, it must be far out of our price range. And who knows if it is even up for sale?”

“But it is for sale,” came a voice from the gate.

A relic of a man appeared on the other side. His eyes were sallow and his face skinny; his large nose practically coming at them from the bars. He held an unsightly beagle by a rope leash, his other hand gripping a lantern. Dusk was beginning to fall and the fear on his face indicated dire consequences should the proper street lamps in front of the house were not lit. He stared at Edward and brought an insincere smile to the corner of his lips. As quick as it came, it went–he was unaccustomed to speaking with visitors, Edward guessed. Edward smoothed his waistcoat, stuffing the piece of paper in his pocket. “It is, you say? Unfortunately, I do believe I don’t quite have the means. The sales clerk–”

“If you show an interest, I can bring you up to meet the Mistress. She is preparing for an expedition to the West Indies and would like to sell the home at the earliest, at any price.”

“We would love to see the house,” his beloved blurted, her arm circling and nesting in the crook of his elbow. “Wouldn’t we, Edward?”

He looked into her dark eyes, a glimmer of mischief circling in her irises. It was that tone again. Oh, how she loved to use it and what a fool he was to fall for it. He smiled despite a bead of perspiration dripping down his temple. He looked at the groundskeeper behind the bars–his smile was so forced, it looked painful. There was certainly more than what he was letting on. Edward could swear he heard the whole house creak from where he was standing. Unsettling whispers in the twilight hour settled squarely on his shoulders. His free hand squeezed the piece of paper in his waistcoat pocket. He was a smart man. He’d be foolish to let a good deal go to waste. He swore the groundskeeper gave a subtle shake of the head but ignored it, turning to his fiancee instead. “My dear, sweet Leota, how could I say no?”

The groundskeeper let out a sigh under his breath and unlocked the gate. Vines snapped and Edward thought he heard small screams echoing out from the stems. Caked rust flaked off onto the grass as the groundskeeper held it open for them. “Welcome to Gore Manor.”

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night blossom.

A small fanfic that blossomed into something I rather liked.

-/-

There were times when she smelled flowers.

Not the ones that he had planted outside of their window – English lavender, peach & white gladiolas and yellow buttercups – but the ones that grew by the bay, that held the ocean spray in the velvet of their petals. He would go out to sea, gone for only an afternoon or night at a time, and each time would bring back of sprig of wildflowers from the docks. She woke up to their smell next to her pillow, the first peeks of sunlight illuminating them in the new day.

She groaned, her fingertips clutching the empty pillow next to her, lines of sheet forming to meet in the heart of her palm. The wildflowers spilled over the edges, filling the room with their scent. She turned her head, her eyes squinting at the window. He stood there, his jacket off for once, his shirt loosened from his trousers. He held his hand on the windowpane, looking out over the bay but turned when he heard her stir.

“Morning,” she mumbled, pillow fluff half hanging from her mouth. He smiled, walking over to her and sitting on the edge. His nearness pulled her body up like a magnet and she draped an arm over the back of his shoulders. She rested her chin in the crook of his neck, taking in the salt air still pressed on his skin.

“Good morning, love,” he whispered, the stillness of the dawn not yet ready for anything other than hushed voices.

“Tell me,” she uttered. It was more of an order than a request, a permission for him to lose the weight of what he held onto.

He took a deep breath, in and out, his chest letting out a small shudder. She felt his heart in hers, the layers of skin and organs the only barriers between them. “A calm night, all clear. The town remains safe on the water another night.”

“And?”

He smiled, looking at her, the moon still an echo in his eyes. “I saw it again.”

His past. It still haunted him, drowning him in dreams and nightscapes. “Tell me,” she repeated, a gentleness in her tone. The serenity put him at ease again, his muscles loosening just an inch.

“I keep thinking the day would be more soothing, but the night helps more. The stars help. They keep me on track, keep me sailing back to you. I keep seeing the gates and the river and the shadows. So many shadows.”

She rubbed his back in small circles, her hair draping down his collarbone.

“I feel like it’s suffocating me, sometimes. I feel wound, constantly waiting for it to end. I see this blackness, this rope of black smoke choking me.”

“Honey-”

“But then I open my eyes and I see you. I see you in the stars…and then everything just disappears.” His voice was normal now, no longer a whisper, a small wave of nerves rippling off his tongue. She kissed the curve of his ear, pulling him into the bed, clothes and all. She wrapped her arms from behind him and across his chest. He tightened and loosened all at once, the pain of the day folding back into hibernation.

“Sleep, darling. You’re here, you’re home.” The petals crunched beneath their bodies, the remnants of the sea enveloping them, welcoming them back into pleasant dreams.