Welcome Home, by Kaelci.
She stared up at the old decrepit mansion, a tremor in her heart and tears beginning to form in her eyes as they moved sadly over the broken boards
and smashed windows. This building… there had been a time when it stood so majestic! She recalled skipping across the veranda, swinging back and
forth on the now rusted porch-swing, giggling and laughing with her grandmother at tea! And now it lay in ruins. An unfitting end for a beautiful
creation built solely by the bare hands of her grandfather. A longing sigh escaped from her as she bemoaned the loss of days long gone. Her
grandparents… may they be resting in peace.
Wiping away a tear that had dared to fall upon her cheek she contemplated entering the building, perhaps there was something left that she could
salvage for her family; a long overlooked memento, old photographs, perhaps even forgotten treasures from days long lost. Her eyes slid over the
ramshackle mansion once more and the mild hope began to fade away. Anything whole would be an absolute boon… the building appeared to be in a state
of such utter disrepair. She was beginning to think that finding anything would be nothing short of a miracle.
Watching exactly where she placed her feet, lest they fell through the rickety woodwork, she carefully ascended the stairs that led to the once grand
entrance; the old wood creaking and seeming to protest the unwanted weight of her body as she took each and every step. With each step that she took,
her heart seemed to thud harder and louder, echoing through her body and reverberating in her ears. A faint sweat beginning to dot her upper lip and
her brow as she peered through the entrance and saw the remains of what had once been an almost magical foyer.
A brief flashback as her mind’s eye envisioned how it had once appeared; floors of wood the deepest of browns, immaculately polished. The finest
chandeliers dangling from the ceiling, golden coloured candles adorning each crystal teardrop. Paintings encased in golden frames hanging from the
walls, portraits of family members from throughout the ages. An angel crafted from the purest white marble had sat in the centre of the room,
chocolate-coloured staircases leading to the upper floors on either side of the marble being that exuded an aura of both hope and pain.
Reality. Her gaze clouded over as she saw what little remained. The wooden floorboards were torn and rotting… the crystal from the chandeliers no
longer remained, dull bronze fittings hung from the ceiling encased in cobwebs… the marble angel… her breath caught in her throat as she stared at
the headless statue. Where was the head!
She shivered as she peered up at the statue, an ominous feeling of déjà vu flowing through her as
she stared at the space a beautifully carved face of an angel should be.
Averting her eyes, she hugged her arms around herself as she cautiously looked around the foyer… there was nothing here. She carefully continued her
path, watching her footsteps as she avoided the more severely rotted floorboards, making her way past the headless statue to climb the stairs… she
was careful to keep her eyes focussed on the wood beneath her feet, she could not stomach the thought of looking at that un-whole statue even once
An almost inaudible voice seemed to form around her as she ascended the stairs, whispering unintelligible words into her ears as she reached the
second floor. No, no, no.
Surely her imagination was running away from her. This building of ill-repair, as perfect a building for any horror
story, the aura was simply playing tricks with her! Surely…
She stood on the second floor, momentarily and stupidly leaning against an old railing to gain her bearings, leaping back just in time as the railing
snapped and smashed onto the floor below, the echo of the shatter shuddering throughout the entire building, the sound seeming to yell about her ears,
the soft whispering almost accusing her as she fell against the wall with her heart pounding in her ears. She had to be more careful!
She sat there for several minutes, allowing her heart to slow and her body to stop trembling, watching the dust of the recent commotion lingering in
the otherwise still air of the manor. If she had fallen… that would have been disastrous. Her inner voice scolded her relentlessly for adding to the
ruin of this dilapidated former glory, not seeming to care about the possibility of lying broken and mangled on the faraway first floor. A shudder ran
through her body and she climbed to her feet, her hands still shaking as she decided where she should search first.
Gazing up and down the hallway, she clasped her hands together in a vain effort to slow their tremors, and she forced herself to ignore the soft
whispers that were attempting to penetrate her ears; they didn’t exist, it was pure imagination. She took a step forward, another and another,
slowly and painstakingly making her way through the corridor, a sadness flooding her heart as she reached the hallway’s end and looked upon a rusted
mirror coated in cobwebs and dust sitting angled against the wall.
Memories once more assaulting her as she thought back to a time when this place had been more grand. An image in her mind of her younger self staring
into this mirror, her grandmother at her back, braiding her hair and smiling at her in the reflection. Her grandmother’s smile… so gentle, so
loving, and so warm. Alas this mirror was ruined, at least she still had her memories.
She turned from the mirror, failing to notice the ghostly shimmer within as she slowly creaked open the nearest door. This room had once been her
own… her eyes shimmering with tears as they gazed upon the rotting canopy above the mouldy bed. All evidence of splendour had long departed,
anything of worth had been long removed, she did not know why she had bothered returning to this place! She took a few more steps into the inner room,
gazing about sadly as the tears once more welled up in her eyes. There was nothing here.
”Come play with us.”
She blinked, looking around wildly as she heard that whisper once more, clearer this time than before. She took
another step into the room, a chill at her back, an unnatural breeze swirling about her body, sweat dripping from her forehead as she saw her old
dolls in the corner by the door. Heads smashed, eyes missing, faces broken… her eyes widening… the head of the angel lying beside the pile!
A mist formed before her eyes, still swirling about her body, around and around, eerie whispers seeming to come from within as it wound about her
body, completely enshrouding her. ”Bethanyyy… please stay… we are so alone…”
No, no, no!
This was impossible! Her heart raced within her chest, her arms flailing as she tried to escape the encircling mist, the voices
entering her ears and her skin crawling. She spun about wildly as the ghostly mist surrounded her, she needed to escape, now! She took a step forward,
almost tripping over the head of a doll that was not there mere moments ago. Her heart pounding faster and faster, she took another hurried step away,
this time almost tripping over the head of the angel! Oh, God!