Pleasantly enough, I’ve spent the entire day in the mansion, the weather was also phenomenal and I was falling in love with the beauty of this place. Whoever owned the mansion a long time ago paid particular attention to detail, probably a perfectionist and a pain in the ass – but they were long dead, and I was still appreciative of the effort they went to, to create this fantastical place.
Weirdly the mansion felt like mine. Just a fun daydream. At least for this moment, for this job, I could pretend.
By the end of the day, feeling like a Duchess, I sit in my favourite room, the master bedroom.
All the furniture remains… even a four poster bed, which is kind of weird, but it had a nice smell and looked almost liveable.
The elderly man who hired me said he liked to keep it preserved in a living state. Like a historical museum, I guess.
I take my spot in the large bay window, leaning against an ajar window while going through my footage.
I listen to myself describing the drawing rooms, the kitchen, the dining, the study and the greenhouse in the middle of the mansion. It was overgrown but so cool.
Each scene I set the camera down and choose a place to sit as I rant. I was used to talking to myself for this kind of thing.
I got a few good shots of the rooms, which I’m proud of.
Finally, I go back to the start, the first video where I turn around and decide to introduce the location.
“Welcome to… Fontaine’s Red Wing Mansion.”
Ha. It’s dramatic and encases all the items that decorate the entry hall, but the door to the living area is slightly blurred and moving, almost ruining the shot. It looks like a trick from the lens. I rewind and watch the corner.
There is nothing there.
Until I start to say Fontaine.
I see a shadow, life-sized and right behind me in the footage, looking toward his hand and then at me, smiling and leaning on the doorframe, watching with his arms crossed over his chest and his head leaning on the frame. At first I’m not scared. It’s clearly a distortion, trick or projection from the windows near the door, reflecting whatever he was doing outside when I shut the door on him. Right?
Maybe he lingered for a moment and eavesdropped on what I was saying.
My slightly elevated heartrate drops back down, while I look through the footage again.
I’m… intrigued… a little… okay, maybe a lot.
This time, I obsessively look for any other shadows just in case I’m going crazy.
I see slight shadows but nothing discernible.
Despite this fact, I watch the footage again, hoping to see more of a shape similar to the first scene.
By the time I’ve investigated a fourth time through every clip – I glance up from my phone and notice a discernible difference.
The beautiful orange hues of the setting sun have faded significantly and it’s already nearly dark.
I stand up swiftly and turn to exit, noticing the mansion itself it a lot darker because no electricity runs to this place. There wasn’t a single lightbulb.
Anyway. No big deal. I just had to head down one level and straight out the door.
I don’t know why I left it this late, but seriously, no biggie.
I start to move. Okay… this kind of does suck right at this moment.
This quiet seemingly gentle place has turned creepy real fast. Every shadow feels like it stretches out to touch me and everything beautiful or decorative now turns obscure in the fading light.
I ignore the hard shiver down my spine as I head for the steps to the first level. I admittedly go from power-walking to a run fairly quick.
I head down two at a time, the darkness messes with my vision and I roll my ankle like an idiot on the last step. I don’t fall however, I catch myself on the railing but I bang into it hard – causing an echo through the whole mansion.
I also heard a snap, and when I look to the railing the wood has broken near the last pillar.
“Ah,” I want to swear but I also don’t want to. Weird feeling. Can’t explain it.
I ignore the incredibly sharp pain to limp to the front door, opening it wide.
Thank god my car was parked close to the front steps, and not down the drive.
“Did you injure yourself?” I almost scream, as I turn to see Claudius walking toward me through the front garden, his dark hair glinting in the moonlight, he’s looking concerned but also a little peeved at my presence, and his eyes pierce through mine with questions he wants answered, “Alix? Are you okay? I came to check – it’s getting really late… and I saw your car was still here…”
“I’m fine, I just got carried away, it’s a beautiful place,” I blurt out and try to rush past him, but end up stepping too heavily on a stone and rolling my hurt ankle twice. I can’t help but cry out and stop with my arms out either side of me before I drop. I balance and I lift my foot up as I watch Claudius approach.
I try not to cry.
I think the handsome neighbour is going to grab my hand but he just avoids it at the last second, coming to stand in front of me instead.
He overshadows me, and stands too close.
I’m staring at his tunic.
“Go. Slowly,” Claudius let’s off a straight command, and I have to avert my eyes from the intensity in his drilling through me with his judgement. He really cares that I hurt myself, or he thinks I’m a clutz.
“…slowly…” I just agree, because I’m tired. As I hop forward, he steps aside to watch me go straight for my car.
I had to drive with the foot I rolled.
I realise it as I lean on the car door, sucking in a breath.
I had been so scared, then I injured myself – and now I just felt like an idiot for being so dramatic.
I turn around to apologise to Claudius for coming across as such.
But he’s not there.
I look around. Carefully this time.
“Ah… Sir?” I call out, confused, quietly. Why did I say Sir, “Claudius?” I snap his name, annoyed at his vanishing act.
I look up. It’s almost completely night… but the moon is only a thin crescent, barely giving off light.
When I look back to the porch I see I left the door wide open.
I roll my eyes as I slowly limp my way back over, swearing incoherently under my breath.
I make it up the steps, and I firmly shut the door. As soon as I shut the door, I do a quick check in my bag for my phone, needing the light to head back to the car just to be safe.
As I rummage through, I can’t fucking feel it.
But I swear I put it in as I got up to run.
I know I put it in my bag.
So where was it?
Did I imagine putting it in?
I feel my pockets. Nothing.
…maybe the bang by the railing was my phone falling out of my bag when I rolled my ankle and almost face planted forward… maybe…
I sigh and lean my forehead on the door this time, wondering if I should just leave it and not worry. I look over my shoulder and Claudius is nowhere to be seen.
Still, I felt safer with my phone. Not without it.
I open the door a little bit and glance inside.
It’s so pitch dark, now even more dark than outside.
But I know the way, and the door being opened lets in enough light to help me out.
I swing it open fully, and put in an old fashioned heavy weighted doorstopper of an owl.
I know I should be careful, but I can limp fast – so that’s what I do. I go as quick as I can for the stairs. My phone isn’t there. Maybe it fell out sooner. I decide not to look too hard down the corridors, as I just focus on the master bedroom. In and out. In and out. That’s all I needed to achieve right now.
I straighten my back, throwing off my chills, I walk right up the stairs and into the room like nothing is wrong or weird or creepy about this mansion.
Ahah! My phone is still by the bay window, right on the edge of the seat, about to fall off.
I approach with a lighter step and lean over, my fingers touch the corner, I pinch it, lift it and slowly turn. Finally.
I swipe and look for the light function, brainless in this state of slight panic, combined with pain.
But as my finger keeps slipping over the button – something brushes my chin. Then grasps it.
My phone slips through my fingers and bounces off the floor as I look up at the ghost holding my chin steadfast in one hand.
With the moonlight, I finally see the blue tint to his white marble skin. The twilight obscured it. Now it’s just all I see.
Claudius Fontaine is keeping me still with shock and adrenaline slightly delayed. I want to scream, but I’m also acquainted with him so…
It’s delayed just enough to hear him say this.
“I told you to leave,” his drawl is dead, and his cold thumb brushes over my chin, as if he’s considering a thought or two, “Go home, Alix.” I was. I was. I was. Why stop me?
I blink and my brain glitches with the most ridiculous thought.
Never acknowledge they’re a ghost – that’s what everyone says right?
Don’t scream. Don’t do shit.
“Thank you. Goodnight,” I speak robotically but I manage to get the words out as I turn and walk stiff, out of his icey touch toward the door.
Was I fucking high?
I get two steps before the wood creaks behind me and I’m stopped by his hand slipping over my shoulders, over my neck and collarbone, then back over my neck… where he holds my neck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
Claudius drawls, “It’s Fontaine or Sir only… do not disrespect me again. This is my mansion. You are a guest. Nothing more.”
I say nothing, but his hand strokes my neck toward my jaw, and the words fall out of me.
“Goodnight Sir,” I choke on them, but the moment they leave my mouth, the touch on my neck disappears.
I walk a little bit.
I look over my shoulder to the empty air.
Confirming it all.
I had been welcomed by a ghost and then farewelled by one.
And taught a lesson in manners too, apparently.
This time, I carefully make my way out of the house.
And into my car.
The moment I start the engine, the past feels like a dream.
I can’t acknowledge it.
Did people go crazy on their own? Hear voices? Feel things? Imagine things?
I needed to get laid. Badly. But first I needed to get drunk.