In The Haunted House of Major Weir!

A short snippet from today, This is unedited.

Standing in the doorway she gripped the knife tightly in her hand and slammed the door back against the wall sending great swathes of plaster tumbling from every wall in a choking cloud of dust which she had to bat away from her face to see anything. Through this cloud of plaster dust she could just make out the figure of a man forming before her in the dim light and her heart skipped several beats before the figure faded as the dust began to settle.

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“For the love of God, calm down!” she gasped out as a cold sweat tickled her spine and every hair on her body stood to rigid attention.

On heavy feet she moved almost unwillingly towards the bench to gaze down fearfully at the small book with its leather binding sitting proudly atop the bundle. The embossed star she realised somewhat belatedly was an inverted pentagram which did nothing to alleviate her sense of alarm as her fingers reached out nervously to poke at the book as though expecting it to vanish in a puff of smoke. It didn’t and despite her fear she flicked it open with a fingernail to read the handwritten title page. 

The Private Journal, Thoughts and Discoveries of Major Thomas Weir

Seeing this her heart sank even further as she read this and thought with a shudder that she had no wish to spend another moment in this house. With the point of her knife she flipped the book closed and then pushed it off the bundle letting it fall to the floor where she left it as she gathered up the shawl and its contents and hurried down the stairs. As she reached the upper landing she heard that same low chuckle again but this time there was no doubt it came from within the house.

With her heart fluttering like a caged bird in the prison of her chest she fearfully looked back down the stairwell once more. Near the foot of the stairs on the ground level she caught sight of a shadow moving near where the unseen front door stood. Some part of her mind asked how she could see a shadow when the day was so dark outside but she didn’t want to consider that as a fresh chill of cold sweat sent goosebumps crawling over her body.

“What do you want? You don’t frighten me!” she yelled in an attempt to sound confident but even to her own ears her voice was tremulous and full of alarm.

I think I do!” a voice said from nowhere and everywhere making her squeak in fear as she looked all around again before her eyes were dragged back down to the very foot of the stairs where the shadow could be seen approaching the wooden steps.

With her eyes almost popping out of their sockets she stared in horrified fascination as the shadowy figure began to climb the stairs and the sound of every footstep seemed to boom like thunder throughout the house. Through the deepening gloom inside the house the figure slowly climbed upwards but after she had seen him take fewer than half a dozen strides her nerves fled and with them so did she. Rushing into the room she had first entered she slammed shut the door and slid home a bolt to make it secure as on panicked feet she flew across the room to haul open the narrow window to see that outside the sun was shining in a clear sky while inside the house it remained dull and dim. Unable to understand this and unwilling to consider it she tossed her bundle out. She didn’t care if she found it later or not as she pulled herself up onto the windowsill as the sound of footsteps on the stairs became a continuous thunder. Far faster than could be humanly possible the footsteps now halted outside the door she had just bolted.

With her heart in her mouth Lise swung her legs out the window, and hung half in and half out as her feet searched for familiar toeholds on the wall below. While her feet worked on their own, her eyes stared in terrified horror at the door dreading what was about to happen next. As she felt one foot take her weight she breathed a noisy sigh of relief and wriggled backwards until only her head and shoulders remained inside the room when without warning the door slammed first open and then as quickly slammed shut again causing her to give a terrified scream. Somehow she had not lost her toehold and she told herself that when the door had opened there had been no’one standing in the hallway outside. She couldn’t convince herself this was a positive thing though as she kept her eyes glued on the now shut door as she gingerly searched for the next toehold. For the briefest second her eyes glanced down to locate the projecting stone she knew was there which would allow her to step down to the roof ridge of the neighbouring house. Once there it was simplicity itself to slip down the slates to the gutter behind a decorative roof plinth and back through the attic window to complete her escape. It took much less than a second for her to do so but when her eyes snapped back into the room she found herself almost nose to nose with the heavily lined face of an old man whose wild grey hair and beard surrounded a silently screaming mouth and the most frightening eyes full of madness she had ever seen as the face lunged at her and she flinched backwards in absolute terror away from him.

Her toes slid from the stone and her hands felt like lifeless lumps of clay as she plunged backwards through the air to smash onto the roof below and as the scream in her throat was silenced by the air being knocked from her lungs she tumbled headlong in a uncontrolled roll down the slates towards the edge of the roof fifty feet above the ground below. 

From Major Weir’s Dark Legacy (A Robert Young of Newbiggin Mystery)

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