The jade door
“Don’t trust him.”
The voice echoed through the vivid auras of her dreams, the tranquil tones swirled through the air reaching out to Eliza. She stood upon the burial mounds of old.
“The death was not natural and danger is close”, the voice was sanguine and came from all around. Then Eliza noticed the spectral figure stood beside her.
“That’s a fantastic choice Ell.”
The familiar soft voice in Eliza’s head awoke her from her comfortable slumber in the floral chair. The book she had been reading was still held tightly in her hand. Its leather cover was well worn and the gold writing along the spine read Celtic myths and legends. It had always been a favorite of Eliza and her grandmothers. They had both always loved the stories of the banshees the portent and protectors of the dead the most.
She stared out of the window in a daze watching as the rain plummeted freely from the granite clouds. The droplets raced to earth like newly released bombs, while all the time glistening as they spun gracefully through the air. They hit their marks randomly. The impacts created a familiar, soothing and uneven rhythm on the glass.
The strong wind that accompanied the downpour unleashed its pure rage effortlessly. It blew its way through the trees and sung as its invisible tendrils ran over the rough bark which enveloped the branches; tugging and pushing them, which caused them to creek and strain in its wake. “Cries of the banshees”, Eliza’s grandmother had always said when she was alive.
Her voice resonated through Eliza’s head and brought back the memories of the hours that they had spent enjoying the rain as they read together. Eliza now found herself curled up and alone. She had buried herself as deeply as she could into the immaculately kept armchair. She wept gently in to her grandmothers tartan blanket which she hugged close to her face. Her tears ran in to its rough fabric which scratched at her cheeks. The smell of her grandmother made the discomfort irrelevant as the aroma floated in to her nostrils. It brought about conflicting emotions; firstly it brought joy - great unbridled joy - which mixed itself equally with the sadness of her unexpected loss.
“Ell, what do you want doing with this box?“, the deep voice flowed smoothly through the doorway. “I could really do with your help, if your finished with whatever is so important in there”. An air of impatience now laced the charismatic tone of Steve’s voice.
“Ok baby I’ll be there in a minute”. Eliza stood up and placed the old green book back on the shelf before wiping the tears from her cheeks, not wanting to show Steve she had been crying.
“Good, ’cus as soon as we get this crap out of here, the sooner we can move our stuff in.” Eliza would have argued that her grandmothers stuff was not “crap,” but she didn’t have the energy to deal with one of Steve’s mood swings.
Eliza entered the hallway where Steve was piling boxes on top of each other. Even though full of boxes, the hall was still large and open. The big windows made it bright and even in the low light.
The grand chandelier that hung above the majestic sweeping staircase still twinkled. It had always reminded Eliza of something out of a Disney film. As a child she would often glide down the steps in a ball gown made from a bedsheet and her grandmother would laugh and gasp at her elegant displays.
She made her way slowly up the stairs, running her hand softly along the rail, remembering. The corridor was gloomy and the only thing visible was the mysteriously lit jade door at the end of the passageway. It was the only room she had never been allowed in as a child and up until now she had forgotten all about it.
The doors green paint flickered and swirled in the unnatural luminescence that surrounded it. The effect was hypnotizing and made Eliza feel like she had been looking at the door for an age.
“It protects us,” the voice of her grandmother resonated in Eliza’s head once again.
She placed her hand on the handle an twisted but it did not move. All of a sudden the door began to bleed. The grand colour of dark green drained away and turned into a striking crimson. Eliza stepped back in shock and in the blink of an eye there stood before Eliza; a woman both old and young, both beautiful and haggard. Her red hair flowed unnaturally with an ethereal silver glow. The hem of her green dress floated above the floor effortlessly. Her eyes were dark green and bore deep in to Eliza’s.
“Death will come again. Beware,” the disembodied voice rang in her ear. An icy breeze sent a shiver down her spine, its sting made Eliza dizzy and nauseated, then all there was, was blackness.
The next thing Eliza knew, she was awaking in her grandmothers chair. The storm had died down and it’s violence was replaced with calm and rays of sun peeked through the clouds.
“What happened?“, Steve’s voice abruptly broke the calm silence.
“Oh nothing, I just felt a little unwell,” Eliza said. She hid the truth from Steve, he would never believe her. Anyway, it wasn’t in his nature to believe in ghosts and ghouls.
“Well, let’s get out of here then. I think we’ve done enough for today, anyway,” he said with an impatient calm.
The ride home was silent and the news played on the radio. Eliza was paying no attention until Steve piped up.
“Sick, he is! Bloody sick I’m telling you,” Steves outburst interrupted Eliza’s unsteady meditation.
“Who, sorry?” Eliza responded.
“That killer. They found a 5th body, some old woman. They reckon they’re all connected...some serial killer... and they haven’t got a clue who they are! If I were them, I’d be looking in the place they’d least expect.” Steve had always thought of himself of as an amateur sleuth. He was always telling Eliza how he would “catch the perp.” Which in turn had always made Eliza squirm with awkwardness.
“I am sure you would,” Eliza said in a mocking tone.
“I wouldn’t expect you to understand anyway, it’s not like you’re the brightest bulb in the box is it?“, the joking feel of the comment could not hide the over shadowing malice in Steves voice.
Later that day Eliza tried to rest at home but the things she had seen and heard haunted her. She struggled, but once her exhaustion overcame her fear, she fell in to an uncomfortable sleep and dreamt.
She dreamt of the old Victorian building she had inherited. Its big black door, inviting her in. She made her way up the stone steps. Then she was on the landing stood in front of the jade door. Eliza felt something behind her; something cold and unearthly.
The red haired woman reached past Eliza and opened the door which swung open easily. Stood before Eliza was her grandmother, only she was old and withered. Her once kind and loving eyes were now dead and scared. Her lips moved as though she was trying to say something but no words escaped, just a white material came spewing from her mouth. It wound its way towards Eliza and wrapped itself around her legs. It quickly enclosed her body making it harder to breath and slowly covered her mouth taking away the air from her lungs. The panic set in and she fought with all her strength but to no avail and, with her last breath, she awoke. She breathed heavily; her chest rose and fell rapidly, her panic slowed just as a single white feather floated down from nowhere and landed on the bed.
Years passed, after that, and Eliza continued on with her life. Before long that day was long forgotten. She married Steve not long after they moved into the house. They spent most of their time apart. She enjoyed the library and he worked in his private study most days. The jade door sat undisturbed, becoming nothing more than a glimpse out of the corner of Eliza’s eye as she moved about the house, and soon life filled the house again.
The birth of their daughter was the happiest she had ever seen Steve. The patter of tiny feet filled the rooms and halls. Life played out, as it does. Steve grew grumpier and short with Eliza but never with their daughter.
Then one day Eliza stood at the bottom of the grand stairs and shouted up to her daughter, “Come on Marie or we will be late!”
The sound of small feet rapidly grew closer across the landing and soon Marie stood at the top of the stairs, “Mummy watch my princess glide, I have been practicing, so very hard,” her voice was soft and sweet.
Eliza looked up and watched as Marie prepared to glide down the stairs in her princess dress. As she began to do so, the red headed spector from all those years ago followed her. As quickly as she had appeared, she was gone. Eliza stood frozen. What could only be explained as the jade eyed apparition’s cold ‘breath’, it caressed her neck again; “Beware the man,” a voice whispered.
Eliza collapsed. The last thing she remembered was Steve catching her before she could hit the floor and now she was in the old arm chair looking out of that familiar bay window. Her sleeping daughter was nestled into her chest. She gently scooped up the babe and placed her on to the chair.
Eliza made her way up the stairs and stood before the dark green door. Her heart raced but she needed to know what was behind it. Why that woman was appearing to her? She put her hand on the brass knob. It was deathly cold and as it turned it slowly creaked. The click of the latch seemed to take forever but when it finally moved she pushed hard. The hinges squeaked as they resisted the effort, and the door slowly opened to reveal nothing but darkness. Eliza crossed the threshold and her eyes adjusted to the dark. The sparkles of dust glinted in the new found light which streamed through the door.
Nothingness greeted her. It seemingly went on forever in front of her. She walked forwards and struggled to make out the walls of the room, but there was just emptiness. She couldn’t believe that this was it! A sense of relief flooded over her; a realization that she had been scared of an empty room. The very thought made her laugh softly to herself until a single white feather floated downwards landing on the floor in front of her.
The cold hit her. Stood before her was the red haired woman. She smiled; her face a beautiful mix of life and death, the two women stood before each other, silently. Eliza spoke first “who are...” But before she could finish, the woman opened her mouth and screamed. The noise disorientated Eliza and she stumbled backwards before she turned to run.
Her ears rung with pain and her eyes blurred with tears. She bolted through the doorway and ran aimlessly until she hit something solid, stopping her dead. Eliza bounced back, falling hard on to the floor. She scrambled around trying to gain her barings and control her panic. The sudden thud below brought her back. She stared at the hallway banister. Her heart raced as the shrieks and cries of her daughter from underneath reached her ears. What had she done, had she pushed her daughter over in her fearful haste? She looked back at the jade door which had now disappeared. Where it had stood was now just wall. Eliza stood up and raced to the stairs.
Steve laid there at the bottom. His crumpled and bloody body laid there, motionless. She rushed down the steps and checked for a pulse, for any sign of life. Tears streamed down her face. He was dead. Steve was dead. She collapsed on to his chest and wept. Her daughters wails carried hauntingly through the grand hall.
Once the shock had subsided enough, Eliza rang the police and ambulance. She answered their questions and they took Steve’s body away.
Weeks passed and Eliza found herself sat in Steve’s study again, trying to feel close to her dead husband. She flicked through his papers in the drawers when she came across a journal hidden away. She had never seen it before and she flicked casually through the pages not really paying attention to anything that was written, until something caught her eye.
‘That makes seven now,’ the entry was dated the day after her grandmothers death. She kept reading, ‘that frail old thing had no chance of fighting me off. When I put that pillow across her face the life drained from her and god it was so satisfying. Nevertheless, she tried to fight it, bless her.’
Eliza franticly looked through the journal. Steve had written of all eleven of his murders. Some dated before he met her, others after. His victims were all old and powerless and he wrote about how he had taken a trophy from them all. There they sat in the draw. Locks of their hair.
Ten locks all tied with red ribbon but where was the eleventh? Then it dawned on Eliza, this house was his trophy. When he had killed her grandmother and had gone on to kill more after her, how could she have not known, how did she miss it?
She dropped the book on the floor. The light that poured through the window became brighter and stood in its wake was a faceless sparkling Spector. Its warmth filled the room.
“You were next Eliza. The banshees saved you for me; for us.” Her grandmothers voice filled Eliza with comfort and warmth.
“I am sorry,” Eliza blurted out, there was so many things she wanted to ask her.
“Eliza, please stop,” her grandmother interrupted. “There is no need. My time is short here. This house was built long ago and he took it from us. Now we are giving it back to you. Please, keep the legends alive.”
The light faded and the shining form slowly vanished in to nothingness. Eliza walked out of the study, shutting the door behind her, and made her way to the library. She pulled the green book from the shelf and sat in her chair. Marie climbed in to her mother’s lap, her eyes tired and heavy from crying. Eliza gave her a hug and pulled the book off the side table.
“Let me tell you a story darling,” Eliza said comfortingly. “Because one day these stories may save your life.”