**Warning** You should be aware that if you are a fraidy cat, do not click on the links to movies I am making reference to. You may not sleep tonight. You have been warned. Carry on.
‘You better get there before dark!’ the lady in the village had said.
‘Huh…wonder what she meant by that?’ we drove away.
As we drove along the twisty tiny road, looking this way and that for a sign that said ‘Glenmore Country House’ we wondered what it would look like. Three days before we had boarded the plane that would start our journey to Scotland, we still had no accommodation for days 10 and 11. All of the other nights were planned.
On the spur of the moment we looked at Expedia.ca to see what spoke to us. We found a place that was both within our budget and available, oddly enough. When we looked at the pictures, I remember saying how it looked haunted. ‘Booked!’ Goose spouted. Sure, three thousand miles away in the daylight, it had looked safe. Now as we were driving along the small, curvy road we realized we had no idea what Glenmore looked like on the outside. And it would be dark soon.
‘I wonder if it’s a castle…’
‘I wonder if it’s big…’
‘I hope it’s clean…’
Then we see the sign. It’s beat up and painted over, one half hanging down off it’s chain. Someone had misspelled ‘country’. As we turned into the laneway, the tiny little shack was all we could see. The structure itself wasn’t horrible looking…but the junk around it made me wince. Our tires crunched on the stones. We went a few feet further and noticed three men standing by the woodpile. They looked dirty, like they had been working all day. Not the hosts of a B&B ready to greet us. The one holding an axe nodded his head at us.
‘….ahh…Glenmore Country House..?’ Goose scratched out.
They pointed further down the lane. We saw nothing but woods, but continued on.
‘You have no idea how happy I am that wasn’t it,’ I murmured.
The road was bumpy, rocky and narrow, dropping away to the left and disappearing up into the trees on the right. A creamy colored castle loomed up from behind the trees on our right.
‘That can’t be it…’
‘No, it isn’t….but that is,’ Goose pointed through the trees on the left. Across a long grassy sheep-spotted field, sat a stately old mansion.
‘Oh. My. God.’
Our plans that day had changed and we arrived an hour earlier than we had told our hosts. When we knocked on the front door and interrupted her hoovering, she apologized and hurried off to put on the kettle. When the Mrs. took us through the house, she would close the heavy wooden doors behind us from room to room. I knew Goose was thinking of ‘The Others’ and when our eyes met, my spine felt a chill. We went up and around the wide carpeted staircase. Not even one step creaked. At the top of the stairs there were two hallways. We were only shown down one. Another heavy wooden door opened out of three.
‘This is your sitting area,’ she said plainly with an English accent. I couldn’t help but think how she contrasted with all of our other boisterous hosts. Very calm, very sober. Not un-friendly, but not seemingly excited to see us either. Perhaps she wasn’t. She showed us through our ‘rooms’ deliberately skipping heavy closed wooden doors and not opening them, nor mentioning them. The bathroom off our main bedroom was larger than our kitchen back home in Canada.
The ‘king-size’ bed we were expecting…would normally be the size of two twin beds put together. This was two double beds literally pushed together. With nothing fastening them in place. I had never seen a bed such a size. After she left us, we put our bags down and I dropped onto the bed. It reminded me of my Great-Grandmother’s old feather beds that we sunk into and got lost.
‘Oh, I could just go to sleep….’
‘Can’t…remember, she’s putting on ‘tea’ for us,’ Goose pointed out.
‘oohhh…yeah,’ I creaked more than the bed and followed him out the door.
Back down the staircase, left by the wooden squirrel, left again by the little wooden man, left yet again at the wooden owl. Down the hall and through the large wooden door into the parlour, closing it carefully behind us. As we waited for the Mrs. to bring tea (her real name is Melissa, but that hardly suits the mistress of such a mysterious old mansion, nor does it help build suspense in my story, so we’ll call her Mistress Glen)….as we waited for Mistress Glen to bring tea….we, and by we, I mean I, explored the parlour, looking at pictures and touching the fabrics. Everything I had seen before, in my Grandparents and Great-Grandparents’ homes. My Great-Aunt Iva used to have an old picture of a black & white woman (the picture, not the woman) and the glass over the picture was rounded out oval. When I walked past it, the woman’s eyes would follow me. I hated that picture. This parlour was full of old black & whites just like Aunt Iva’s. The furniture was all ancient, the rounded benches circling the breakfast tables were nestled into large bay windows that reached the ceiling. The drapes touched the floor and were heavy pink silk. I could tell by their weight if we closed them, the room would be pitch black even with the sun still up.
The pictures on the mantle and piano were of a couple, man and woman and their children in various poses. Once in a while, there were others…but mostly just the four. I noticed they showed a young girl with blonde hair…..an older girl in her late teens with a handsome young man, possibly her boyfriend. One of four young men at what seemed to be a graduation. I looked for pictures of the young man as a boy, but there were none. I recognized Mistress Glen right away with who must have been her husband. She looked the same as she did now, so I assumed the picture was not very old. I heard a door close and quickly sat down next to Goose.
‘The house is beautiful!’
‘Oh, thank you….’
‘Have you owned it very long?’
‘This house has been in my ‘usband’s famlee since 1827…’
‘Wow’…..that was before my Great Grandfather George Moir left Scotland to come to Canada. But ‘wow…’ was all that came out.
She was very pretty, young looking with her short skirt and high leather boots. Blonde curly hair. She had mentioned there were other guests that had not arrived yet.
‘Not expected till after dark,’ she said on her way out the parlour door.
As we had our tea and biscuits, we looked out onto the grounds. There was a sprawling field of green and sheep before us. Off to the side of the house we could see two elderly people bent over in a garden. I wondered fleetingly if Goose could see them as well.
‘Of course I can!’
‘Okay, okay…just wondering…’ rolling my eyes.
Mistress Glen had said her muther-in-law lived in the east wing, but we would probably never see her. I wondered if that was her in the garden. Was that the old lady’s husband with her? And thought it odd she did not mention him if it were.
‘Oh well…’ I took another sip of my tea.
‘Oh well what?’ Goose narrowed his eyes at me.
‘Nothing,’ I lied.
‘But….don’t you think it’s strange?…..the pictures all look so old…yet Mistress Glen looks the same age. She mentioned her son is here, but there are only pictures of a daughter when they were little….where was he? I’m sure the pictures are at least twenty years old…just look at their hairdos, the clothes…’
Goose just shook his head, ‘Let’s go for a walk.’
Not more than two hundred feet from the mansion, we discovered a high stone wall.
‘I wonder what’s behind that? another house?’ he wondered aloud.
‘Nahh…too close to this one, it’s all their land.’
‘Maybe another graveyard?’ we had crawled over numerous cemeteries and burial mounds in the past 10 days. Many right on the grounds of the old homes, stones covered with moss and the engraved names barely legible any longer.
Finally we came to a gate in the wall and walked up to it. It was locked, but we stood on our tiptoes to peer over. We saw grass and overgrown plants, an old swing set and rusty toys. A shiver went through me.
‘What the hell is that?’ barely a whisper.
Thoughts of old abandoned playgrounds outside of bombed hospitals flitted through my head as we made our way back towards the main house. Come to think of it…almost every scary movie we had ever seen was flitting through my head since we arrived. I had taken pictures of the rooms when we were alone. Goose wouldn’t even come into the bathroom. Said it felt wrong. I didn’t think anything of it, till later when looking through the pictures, I noticed when he said that I had been standing at the other end of the bathroom with the window behind me. I feel like whatever kept him from entering was standing there with me. But I couldn’t turn to see.
We drove into town for supper that night, ending up just having dessert in a tiny pub and rushing back before darkness fell. There was no television, no radio, no wifi in the room…no clue towards even what century we were in if you looked around the room. Although I’m sure if there were music it would be scratching out of an old wind-up phonograph. All of the furniture, I realized, was original. The wood on the head and foot boards matched the wood in the trim around the room.
‘Why not?’ I thought to myself. The home has been in his family for almost two centuries. They didn’t have to go antiquing to find old things. They were already here…and had been since 1827. The old wooden wardrobe in the corner had a mirror on the door, that Goose wouldn’t go near. Reminded him of ‘The Conjuring’ where the spirit lied in wait for the children.
‘Remind me not to play “hide & clap” later,’ I chortled.
‘Jesus!’ Goose had left the room.
Now we were back up in our rooms and it was getting dark. I had my bath in the 7ft bathtub.
‘Oh my god! I have NEVER been able to lie down completely flat in a tub before!! Come look!’
‘No thank you!’
When it came time to turn out the last light, we were terrified. I had never seen so much blackness. Normally at home, even on the darkest nights with no moon…I can still open my eyes in the dark and adjust. Eventually I will see…something. But here, there was nothing. It was as if someone’s hands were over my eyes. Which made me shut them even tighter! Goose had gotten up to close the heavy drapes. He felt as though someone was going to see us through the windows. I waited for the heavy footsteps of the demon who would whip them back open. But I heard nothing. Nothing but our own heartbeats.
I knew we were safe…we were on the second floor for Pete’s sake. Nobody can touch us on the second floor, I argued.
Then I saw the red-eyed, long haired man from ‘Insidious’ that traipsed back and forth on the balcony outside of our sitting room. I knew it would only be a few moments before he switched from outside the wall to in.
‘What the hell were we thinking?’ I whispered as I pressed my body up to Goose and wrapped my arms around him.
‘I have no idea…’ as he clung to me for dear life, neither of us barely breathing.
I realized at that moment, I was lying on the huge crack in the middle of the bed. As we worked our way together I imagined the bed adjusting and spreading apart….bony cold hands coming through the crack of the bed and pulling me under.
‘oh God…please let it be quick..’ as I slipped into the darkness.