Part 7: Rainy Day
I've increased the brightness of some of the screenshots. Let me know if this makes them a little too... well, un-creepy.
Chapter 5: Rainy Day
It was too rainy a day to go outside--and I had plenty to investigate within the confines of the manor. As I hung up the phone, thus ending my conversation with Jerry, I turned my mind to where I would go next... and with a certain degree of regret, I decided to check the basement.
The interior of the furnace was as dark as the mouth of a wolf. In any case, I didn't want to spend too much time near it.
... Nothing. Absolutely nothing, but the sound of raindrops trickling through the cracks in the stones. I knew there had to be something else, somewhere else where I could find a hint, or a clue... with that in mind, I decided that there had to be something more for me to find in the master bedroom of the manor. I made my way up there.
Carefully, I nitpicked my way around the room, until I finally discovered something of interest!
Amazing! There was a safe behind the picture...
I didn't know the combination and safe cracking certainly wasn't my expertise...
I sat on the bed and thought about what the combination might be.. but nothing came to mind. I decided to try Jerry and see if he knew anything about it.
M: Jerry, it's me.
J: What's up, Michael?
M: I found a safe box in a room upstairs... would you happen to know the combination?
J: Sure, let me have a look... Right! I have the combination of the safe right here.
M: Oh, great! Tell me.
J: 03 2 11. Just remember to share it if you bump into any expensive jewellery.
M: Of course I will! Bye.
With those numbers in my mind, I made my way back upstairs.
The safe yielded, and with a satisfied grin on my lips, I peered inside. Its contents, however, were hardly as exciting. There was a rather meaningless building contractor's paper that explained the costs of redecorating the second floor of the house.
There was also a key.
It was a generic key, blue in colour.
The only locked door I had been faced with in the house was the one that hadn't yielded to the 'paper under the crack' trick. I decided to try my luck.
The door slid opening, revealing a room filled with grotesque paintings.
Upon one of the tables were the blueprints of the house. I picked them up and carefully studied them.
The blueprints of the ground floor didn't reveal anything of interest. But...
That was odd, I didn't remember seeing that room.
The blueprints of the first floor revealed a room whose doorway wasn't on the corridor itself. I was particularly intrigued by this, and decided to investigate, after nosing around this room some more.
Several cans of paint were scattered throughout the room, probably all dried up by now.
From the table I picked up a silver key whose purpose I cannot yet discern, and the lid of a can of paint.
The silver key was generic looking.
It was the lid of a can I had picked up for some reason.
Having finished rummaging around the room, I turned my attention to the paintings scattered around it. Each and every one sent a shiver down my spine.
Whoever painted these pictures must have been severely disturbed.
On one of the easels, there lay a hammer. Thinking it might come in handy, I picked it up.
There was nothing out of the ordinary about the hammer.
I wanted to leave those grotesque paintings behind me. With a shiver, I walked into the next room.
It appeared to be some kind of workshop.
Several dusty cans were sitting on the platform.
One of the cans was particularly dirty, so I wiped it clean with the rag I had found yesterday.
A quick cleaning revealed it was a can of oil.
Certainly that would be handy in fuelling my lamp.
There appeared to be oil in that can.
I poked a hole in the can with the boring tool.
I managed to pierce a hole in the can...
I poured some inside the lamp by tilting the can slightly. There was very little of it, though.
I also found an oil can atop the platform.
It was just an ordinary oil can.
The other item of interest in this room was the long length of rope. I cut off a lengthy bit of it with my knife, and left with it in tow.
It was quite a strain carrying around the large length of rope.
Unlocking this room and the one beyond it had turned out to be quite the bounty! With my new possessions, I made my way to the first floor corridor to investigate the missing room. After a bit of tapping around, I located the section of wall where the doorway of the room should have been...
According to the blueprints I found, a door to a room should be at this spot.
The obvious answer was to take my knife to the wallpaper! It was turning out to be quite the useful acquisition, by now. I felt, for a moment, like a true detective.
I scratched at the wallpaper, only to reveal a doorway that had been boarded up!
I was very curious to learn what was on the other side of that door... I had to figure out a way of getting in.
The bricked up doorway disturbed me a great deal -- who would despise a room so profoundly as to brick it up and leave it inaccessible? I simply had to find a way to get in... and in my desperation for some answers, I hatched a stupid, stupid plan.
With my length of rope, I made my way back to the top floor, and up the spiral tower...
The wall had a wider crack now...
The rope was hanging through the wall.
If my diagrams are insufficient, I shall explain the foolish idea: I presume that a window would lead into the bricked up room, so I knocked out a hole in the wall with the hammer and slipped the rope through it. Yes! I, Michael Arthate the estranged author far too old for such shenanigans, would rappell down to the bricked up room from the outside.
I carefully pondered the situation and thought about what I was going to do... Why was I obsessed with that room? Or whatever occurred inside this house for that matter...? I felt a strong urge to go there... even though I was about to risk my life!
Putting the doubts out of my mind, I swung through the window. ... I am, in all honesty, surprised that I am still alive.
I could only cringe as I realized what the room I had stepped into was...
With the last of my strength, I managed to get inside the mystery room. And mysterious it was, indeed...
The room was a nursery.
... Who in their right minds would brick up a nursery? I shivered as I knelt by some discarded objects.
... OBIN. Huh... Robin, presumably?
The creepy wooden horse seemed to smile at me.
It seemed as if someone took extreme measures to forget about the existence of this room for some reason. Mr. Blackwood...?
The paintings on the wall disturbed me to the core. ... Was this related, in any way, to the cracked picture frame I had found earlier in the master bedroom?
That empty cradle, inside such a dirty and neglected room, made me feel very sad.
The angel was supposedly guarding this room, but it didn't make me feel any safer...
I decided to rummage around the only drawers in the room, despite my misgivings about the whole situation.
Inside one, I found a birth certificate with the name blotted out. It was dated August 9th, 1962.
I wondered if this member of the family was still around town and would perhaps, be able to shed some light upon the past history of the house. I had to find some way of getting in touch with him...
There was nothing else to find in the room. With one last glance, and a soft shake of my head, I walked back to the rope. I hoped, and still hope, that I never step into this room again.
I decided that while I was up here, it might be worthwhile to scan the newspapers in the attic for something dated around the missing child's birth date.
And indeed, there was an article:
NORTHUMBERLAND DAILY NEWSPAPER
Wednesday, 10th August 1961
Sad news hits our beloved town today. Following an announcement that was received with rejoicing amongst many, that one of the most illustrious members of our community, Mr. James BLACKWOOD, was having a child soon, we now have to relate a macabre turn of events.
The song that was being lovingly awaited by the Blackwood family died shortly after the delivery due to a strange ailment.
Understandably, the information disclosed about this happened was succint. It appears that Mrs. Catherine BLACKWOOD was already suffering from pains in her stomach, probably an indication that there wass something not healthy about her pregnancy. Dr. Christopher MILTON who attended the birth assued us that he made every possible effort to ensure a safe delivery, but with bored head he said that the boy was already doomed ever since his conception. The cause of death has not been stated, but those few chose to the Blackwood family have said there were serious complications during the delivery.
Helping to relieve that sombre news, Mrs. BLACKWOOD was thanfully found to be out of danger. Her husband did not wish to comment about the event.
My huge disappointment quickly gave way to an empty, void feeling. Something wasn't right here... I began wondering if James Blackwood was somehow involved in the death of his son.
Poor Robin. There truly was no victory in this house. Having exhausted that avenue, I turned my attention to the other room I wanted to investigate. The gallery. I decided, though, to try and call Jerry first.
The phone lines seemed to be down... I decided to try again later.
With the phone, my only connection to the outside world, gone... I truly felt alone in the large house. Under different circumstances, this would be the perfect time for me to sit down and write--but not now. The mystery compelled me, so I quickly turned back up the stairs.
The time was 2:00 P.M.
I returned to the gallery, determined to discover whether or not my vision from the previous night held some truth.
The bottom of the case seemed to have some kind of panel.
Once again, my knife was useful, and opened the panel, revealing two rusty wheels. I oiled them both, and successfully moved the display case out of the way.
And lo! I had revealed the boarded-up doorway I had seen in my dream. I could literally feel my heart thumping in my weary chest. Hammer in hand, I made my way closer, keen to discover what lay past the barricade...
The door was heavily barred... and its appearance reminded me of something I read.
Surely this was the boarded-up door mentioned in that note I found in my room. With conviction, I pulled away at the boards.
The room was too dark to see anything.
I struck up a match and used it to light my oil lamp.
I recoiled in horror, my face twisting into an expression of sheer terror as I saw the aberration that was the wooden mask. Surely it couldn't be...?
An odd looking African mask was positioned in the middle of the storeroom. Its presence made me feel terribly uneasy.
I moved some nearby sticks of bamboo away from the window, flooding it with light.
This, in turn, revealed a box on which stood a pair of letters. Carefully, I picked and read through them (after stepping out of the room, of course--I could not bear to be near that mask for any longer than I had to).
My recent researches on the Dhalmaar have shed some light upon their terrible activities. I understand now that the lack of existing information about them was not only a cause of their small size and rarity, but also a reluctance or rather superstitious attitude towards their nature. Even some of the most important historians of South Africa will refuse to mention their name, usually referring to them as the "war tribe"
After digging into some of the most obscure books I could find about the subject, I must admit now that reading them made me very nervous and uneasy, bringing back the memory of those horrible acts I witness on that day. I can't understand why any human being, uncivilized or not, would behave in such a manner. War among savage tribes is of course very common and a recurring theme in History. But the Dhalmaar... they went even beyond war. Usually a tribe will engage in battle to conquer new territory or perhaps defeat an enemy. They did it for the sole reason of destruction and extreme love for violence.
The account of their actoins is downright scary. They'd invade villages, slaughtering every inhabitant without regard for their sex or age. Men, women, children would inevitably perish by their fury and hate. Which is, I think, the most unsettling element of their stories; they didn't use any weapons. They killed villagers with their bare hands and teeth as if they were drawing power from an unearthly source.
I find it hard to believe this, and if I hadn't seen them with my own eyes I'd say they were some kind of wild legend. Once they'd slaughtered every living thing in the village, they'd burn it to the ground, every single construction or possession of the fallen villagers, proof that they definitely were not interested in conquering or even taking some advantage of the terrain. Their motives were moved solely and purely an incredible disdain of life and hatred toward anything that wasn't from their village.
That is another curious thing; they somehow managed to sustain a constant population level, as if they controlled exactly the amount of people needed for an attack but at the same time warrant survival using their four existing resources. I fear this wasn't some kind of wondrous organization system but rather an elemination proccess of a "useless" member or an unnecessary child. I dare not think about it but I'm afraid this would explain why they didn't need to hunt for food; they feasted upon themselves.
Now that I know what the mask I took stands for... and I shiver at the thought of it. I must confess I'm worried. I don't know why, but I fear for my life.
Shaken, I picked up the other set of papers. To think that this was the mask worshipped by the Dhalmaar... the very thing that led them to commit such heinous acts!
June 24th, 1962
Please excuse the tone of this letter. I know I must sound like a raving madman, but I truly can't find a proper way to put together all the thoughts that have been taking my sleep away these past days. There is a reason behind all those recent adversities.
It's the mask. Christopher, it's that mask I told you about. I wouldn't believe it myself id I hadn't studied its origins on my own, but it's really the source of all my suffering. The tribe it belonged to... I... I must confess I didn't take the mask by "appropriate means". And I fear this might have unleashed some terrible wrath against my life and everything that surrounds me.
It's been over a year ago since I witness the most outrageous acts of violence that not even in my worst nightmares could I have imainged and the mask was the epicentre of it all. What I was thinking of when I took it is beyond me; it was probably vicious streak of greed, but I can see clearly now. It represents Evil and I'm truly convinced this Evil can somehow take shape and punish those who have disgraced it. I did, and now I must face the consequences.
I will take some more time to investigate this. I might even go back to South Africa to seek help, although something tells me not even returning the mask could do any good. The damage is already done. And I believe it's getting worse as the days go by.
Every time I walk past the gallery I can hear some incessant odd chatter, as if something was plotted inside. And those voices, Christopher... they seem to be angry.
Please, help me. Come and see me as soon as you can.
I now felt as though I understood what disturbed James so much. Could this have somehow led to the murder he comitted? I was having trouble making sense of it all, and the lengthy day was beginning to bear down on me. Perhaps Jerry would provide me with some insight; and I felt that I had to share these discoveries with him. However, I felt flooded with inspiration as I made my way out of the gallery. Now, if anything, was the perfect time to write!
Suddenly, she stopped and stood there, paralysed, hesitant to give any credit to what her eyes were seeing, and completely unaware of the potentially dangerous situation. Surprisingly, there wasn't anything unusual or strange about the event: little Cathy was hastily crossing the living room towards the huge oak door, her fancy black dress fluttering at every footstep. As the girl reached the doorknob, she turned to look back at Marian and urged her with a whisper to hurry up.
But Marian wasn't seeing Cathy; her memories haunted her back and displaced reality, giving room to the nightmarish vision she had spent months trying to forget ever since her first visit to the old house. In her dream she saw the little girl also wearing a black dress emerging from a passageway hidden in the room. She'd never actually managed to glimpse where the passage was, only saw the girl running towards her, her small face contorted in a horrible grimace. Marian quickly realised it was a twisted version of the Cathy she would know later, as if her figure was then distorted by a veil of smoke. Her exact movements through the room, reaching for the knob, facing her back... those were too many coincidences to ignore. It wasn't a nightmare that she experienced that day... nor a ghost, something she refused to believe in, but was now willing to blindly embrace as the truth, given the shocking vividness of the vision. A ghost would come from the past; what she'd seen came from the --
Her thoughts were interrupted as a figure behind her cast a shadow across the doorstep.
-"You filthy liar, you have betrayed me"-, groaned a deep voice.
Perfect! Despite the disturbing revelations that I had discovered during the day, sitting down and producing a page of good material was enough to lift my spirits. I decided to go downstairs and talk to Jerry.
It was 5:00 P.M.
M: Jerry, it's me... you won't believe what I found here!
J: Try me.
M: It's about the happenings that led to the murder you told me about. There is an impressive back story surrounding this place and many loose ends. It would seem nobody ever stumbled upon this...
J: Michael, what are you going on about? Have you lost your mind?
M: Are you listening to me? James Blackwood was into some very weird stuff... and possibly dangerous. Something tells me this case is much more complex than it was thought to be.
J: Why don't you inform the authorities? I'm sure they'll be dying to reopen a long forgotten case about some crazy old psycho killing his wife.
M: Listen, take me seriously! I think this house contains a dark secret... everything just seems so strange. Last night I heard scratching noises coming from the basement!
J: Like in that book where an old man was guarding the entrance to Hell! I bet this James Blackwood person had a doorway like that in his basement. Those dreadful noises must be the sounds of the damned coming for you.
M: Why thanks mate, that's been very helpful. Great to have friends like you.
J: Then stop talking about all this nonsense! Do you have any idea how crazy it sounds? You're a writer, not some fancy PI. You're sounding more morbid than usual.
M: James, this is more than a simple act of murder!
J: Now you're sounding more morbid than usual. "Simple act of murder". Oh goody... just somebody died, nothing to worry about. This isn't like you Michael. This whole thing is really affecting you.
M: Stop being a drama queen, I'm a grown up and I'm pretty aware of what I'm doing.
J: Fine, go chase around the ghost of James Blackwood. I'll stay here in the real world.
M: I'll let you know about my progress.
... Well, that certainly turned out to be something else. I walked away from the conversation with a disappointed feeling--perhaps I really was looking too much into the situation, and losing focus on what I really ought to be doing. Jerry's realism was a painful, but necessary thing; and had proven in the past to be a valuable trait. Wearily I put the phone down, and decided that it would be best to sleep on it.
* * *
ohm y god
am i dreaming?
Something didn't feel right...
* * *