The Girl in the Attic

Written by: Ray Stone

Within an hour, the hard ground amongst the tall trees surrounding Shadbrook Hall was covered with a thin white mantle. A constant chorus of ghostly whistling alternated from whispering notes to loud wailing as tree limbs high up swayed back and forth. Despite this, snow started to cover the lower branches. The temperature was dropping toward freezing as the wind grew stronger, the snow blown horizontally as it neared the ground.

Damon eased his foot from the accelerator and struggled to see the white line in the center of the road. The wipers were next to useless as snow covered the screen after each pass. The glass started to mist. Pushing the quarter-lite, he shuddered as a gust of cold air blew across his face. A figure appeared in front of the car suddenly, barely visible. The car slewed to a halt.

“What the hell?”

“Very sorry, Sir.”

A young girl, her hair dripping wet and wearing a short coat over a bright yellow dress stood next to the window as Damon lowered it.

“Can you give me a lift, please. I live over there.” She pointed across the farmland. “Shadbrook Hall, Sir. It’s not far.”

“Goodness, you must be frozen.” He thumbed the back seat over his shoulder. “Get in out of the snow.”

She climbed in, shivering.  “What on earth are you doing out at this time of night? Your mother must be worried about you.”

“I’m Bella. I work at the hall,” she offered. “There’s a driveway further up.”

“What do you do?” Damon was relieved to see it had stopped snowing.

There was no answer. As the car moved off, he looked into the driving mirror. Bella was curled up under his raincoat. A few minutes later, he turned the car into the drive and pulled up outside the Hall. The building was in darkness except for one small attic room. A candle glowed in the window. Damon climbed from the car and mounted the steps to the front entrance. He knocked loudly but got no response.

A voice startled him from behind. “Can I help you? Are you lost?”

Damon turned to face an old man in a raincoat and rubber boots. In one hand he carried a shotgun. “Thought you be a poacher,” he smiled.

“No, I found Bella out on the road. She’s in the car. Are you related?”

The old man smiled. “No, Sir. I’m the caretaker. The Hall is empty these past three years. No one lives here.”

Damon opened the rear door. The girl was gone. His raincoat lay on the seat, soaked. On the other side of the car, he found footprints in the snow - leading away across the field.

“I don’t understand,” he said, puzzled.

“There was a Bella worked here in the kitchen, but she’s long dead. They do say she was murdered in her attic room. Back in 1873, it was. Why not warm yourself in my hut. You're not the first to meet her.”

 

Writers: Anna Zhigareva (Scotland), Linda Alley (Australia), Rosemary Wakelin (Australia), Ray Stone (Cyprus), Ken Burns (NZ), Suraya Dewing (NZ), Anthony Smits (Samos Island), Hemali Ajmera (India), Azadeh Nafissi (France), Joe Labrum (USA)

 

Comments

This is an amazing serial starter. It's spooky, eerie and crafted beautifully. My eye glided over it. I loved it.
Thank you. I hope writers get a chill each time there's a bump in the night.
Love 'ghosty' ghost stories. The Hall, the appearance of a ghost from long ago? Am in on this one, Ray!
Wow, I had goosebumps as I neared the end. Lovely starter Ray. Our Indian folklore is full of ghostly stories such as these. I hope to make a good contribution to the story.
Oh do come along and have a go. There's nothing to be scared of except the editor. Just make sure you have a flashlight and anti-shiver cream. WHAAAaaaaa!!!
Nicely understated as all good ghost stories should be! Looking forward to seeing where we take this.
Ray I have never read any of your work that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed. But this starter is amazing, it sent chills down my spine. I don't know if I'm up to the task of the final chapter but that's all that's left. I'll give it my best shot and hope I do it justice. It is destined to be among the best stories yet.
Thank you, Linda, I'm sure looking forward to this as well.
Joe, you underestimate yourself. I know you are up to the task. You always are. Your writing has a habit of going where no other writer fears to thread a surprise twist. Look forward to reading this one.
Ray, what a great starter. Absolutely loved it. Great atmosphere from start to finish - a finish that came far too soon. Could have sat and read the whole book!