Once Upon a Time…

I believed that there were such things as Fairy Tales. I don’t believe this any more. Fairy Tales are dreams that do not exist. They are fantasies that are created to conceal reality. They are fictional stories with just the right mixture of truth and falsehood to ensure that we only believe them to be false.

I sat silently in the car beside Jocelynne while we rode towards the outskirts of town. Though she was the person to whom I considered myself closest, I was never completely at ease in her presence. I constantly fidgeted, unsure of exactly what to do with my clumsy limbs. She, in comparison, was always so sure of herself. Even amidst a dangerous situation, Jocelynne appeared as though she could survive anything with a smile. I both admired and feared this about her, and I often wondered if her unchained spirit held more danger than it did freedom.

“Have you ever wondered what the story behind that house is?” I asked her as we passed.

Instantly, Jocelynne became rigid in her seat. It was such an unnatural posture for her that I was nearly alarmed at the sight of her stiffened muscles.

“It looks ancient,” I continued, “I have always liked old houses. I’d like to go see it up close some time.”

Jocelynne laughed. Her voice was playful, but something scathing was hidden underneath her tone.

The house passed out of view behind us and we were once again covered by the canopy of trees overlapping the road.

I look down at my feet, wondering at the strange atmosphere that suddenly overtook the interior of the car.

When I looked up again, it was as if I were experiencing the moment in slow motion. Jocelynne’s face was contorted in fear and I faced forward to find out why. There, in the middle of the road appeared a figure that seemed to take the shape of a small girl with long, black hair standing in the middle of the darkened street. Jocelynne wretched the steering wheel, swerving into the treelike.

I was opening my eyes again, but I was on my side. The driver’s side was empty, though all of the doors were shut and locked. The keys dangled from the ignition. There was a ringing in my ears as I sat up, disoriented. My first realization was that the front end of the car was wrapped around the solid trunk of a tree, the second was that Jocelynne was nowhere to be seen.

There was no living soul anywhere in sight, and as I attempted to open the car door, I noticed that a mist had begun to arise from the ground. The thickly forested terrain now appeared to be a scene directly constructed from a macabre work of Dark Romanticism. I wasn’t certain if my decision to begin to walk back towards town was my own or if it was derived from my disoriented state of mind, but I began to walk in the direction from which I came nonetheless.

After what seemed like hours, I came across a black wrought iron fence situated alongside the path that I now treaded. It was beautifully crafted and much higher than I could hope to scale. As I continued parallel to the barrier, I realized that it belonged to the house I had mentioned to Jocelynne right before she wrecked the car.

Had Jocelynne been driving, though? I still had not been given the slightest assurance that Jocelynne was anywhere near my location. I began to wonder if I had been driving alone.

A movement from the direction of the gate caught the corner of my eye, and I turned my head quickly to catch sight of it. What had seemed to be a black shadow was probably some sort of wildlife emerging too quickly from the fog. Although the mist made it difficult to see, I saw no need for fear. I continued on my way, reaching the stunning gate of the property. From here, I could only make out the outline of the enormous house that occupied the earth beyond this gate. Through the mist it seemed a solid black and looming structure, but the irresistible craftsmanship declared itself even through limited visibility.

Another black figure moved amongst the trees behind the gate, but this time I heard the sound of heavy hooves to accompany it. I immediately stopped, still unafraid, and peered into the distance to search for the source of this sound. My fingers unconsciously found the cold iron bars, twisted into fantastic design, and I stood as though I were a prisoner looking past my cell into the freedom beyond. Faintly, I could make out the image of an immense horse with what seemed to be an equally superior rider. My eyes widened in surprise, as the two disappeared once again into the fog.

I wished I could trust my senses, but I knew that I must have suffered some sort of head trauma in the accident. I couldn’t bring myself to believe anything I saw, let alone allow myself to fear these things. The old house must not have been lived in for years, judging by its condition. There was nothing there. I released the bars of the gate and continued on my way. It wasn’t long before I heard the wailing of a siren and I saw the lights of a police car.

Jocelynne must have gone for help.

The squad car slowed and came to a stop beside me. The officer stepped out of his vehicle and approached me.

“Are you okay, ma’am?” he inquired. I explained to him my situation, but to my surprise he hadn’t heard of the accident. He was headed in my direction for another reason altogether. As we spoke, another squad car passed us hurriedly. “Are you Ivy Hawthorne?” he asked abruptly.

“Yes, I am.”

“I’m going to have to ask you to come with me.”

(Currently Drafting Chapter 5)

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One thought on “IV. Houses and Shadow

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