She had planned the trip to the attic to be the last chore since her Mother’s passing.
It must be done and today has to be the day. She was due back to her office on Monday. She had been here for two weeks already orchestrating the
funeral arrangements, signing the checks, and cleaning out the living quarters of the house. The only thing left was the attic and turning the keys
over to the Realtors.
As she climbed the stairs twilight shone through the cold and dirty windows. She knelt down beside the barrel trunk that Mother had brought from the
homeland when she sailed across that vast ocean to meet her intended and begin her new life. Mother had been an artist; oh how Mother loved to work
with clay and paint and she expected to find secret works Mother had done that she could now, proudly, display in her home. She wiped the years of
dust off of the dome top and squeezed the latches, surprised that they opened as they had become rusty from years of dampness and neglect. Being an
only child she longed for the companionship a sibling would have brought while peering into the box of art that once contained her Mother’s
The lid opened with an ominous “creak”
and her eyes fell upon a small book. It was a leather bound photo album of sorts. As she turned the
first page the inscription read:
“To whoever has found this book, and I pray it is not my loving daughter, this is a book of both horror and truth. Do NOT allow the beast to know
that you have discovered it. Keep it hidden as it has been for all of these years. Pray keep the vile secrets locked away”.
She turned the next page…
“This is where I and my captor were married. It turned out to not be a joyous occasion although I was charmed in the beginning. If you are reading
this book, it means that I have passed from this physical world, finally, and the chains have been cast aside. I and my parents were tricked into
sending me here to be married to the most evil and awful man. This is his temple. He is the Master of Death. His Master was the Evil One and in his
realm, he is known as ‘The Collector of Souls’ and ‘souls’ he did collect. You, who have been designated to open this trunk, will discover
more as you look deeper.”
The book contained many photos of Mother and Father through the years. Odd, there were many pictures of Mother holding children. There were boys and
girls of all ages. Some were as young as infants and others were a little older. Who were they she wondered? Having been an only child there were no
siblings that she was aware of and no cousins came to spend summers on the large estate. As a matter of fact no one visited ever. Her father was a
very private and dark man though and there was no one but the governesses for her and the staff that kept the home and grounds running nice and
She laid the photo book aside and picked up the old mirror. She laid it aside, next to her on the floor and removed the compartment just below the
album. Inside was a green velvet bag with gold tassels. She picked it up and it rattled. What was that sound? It sounded like bones. She opened the
bag and turned it upside down so that the contents spilled onto her lap. It was… the heads of dolls? There was a small wicker basket with even more
heads inside the trunk space. Why would Mother have a sack full of broken doll heads?
As she lay the bag aside, she heard a rustling. She reached into the bag and felt a piece of paper. She brought it out into the quickly waning light.
This writing, as well, was in her Mother’s pen. It said:
“I was not permitted to keep all of the children. He stole their souls. These, molds of clay, are all I have left of my many children who I loved
with every inch of my being. I created them to never forget their precious memory or the pain I felt at the moment of birth and the moment they were
taken from me. I fought to keep the only child he let live. My last born. My precious Lydia. My daughter. He allowed me to keep just one.”
Lydia slammed the trunk lid shut and raked the doll heads off of her dress. The mirror wobbled on the uneven wooden floor as she scooted back away
from the horror of the trunk. Tears welled up in her eyes and she felt a cold shiver creep up her back. She took the mirror in both of her trembling
hands and turned it, in the approaching moonlight, in hopes of catching a glimpse of her own face. To somehow make this all a dream or make believe.
She raised the mirror and peered into the glass. Her reflection was not there! She turned the mirror over and inspected it. What sort of glass was
this? Perhaps it was too dark in the attic. She stood up and went to the dingy window begging for any light there may be left of the day. To her
horror and confusion there was NO reflection to be seen. Her head began to swim and she felt as if the room was closing in. She must get outside to
freedom and air. Lydia dropped the mirror and took off running toward the staircase. Down one flight of stairs, down another, she made it to the grand
foyer and cast opens the heavy carved wooden door. She ran down across the gently rolling front yard. She saw something dark and appearing to stand
about 10 feet tall standing between her and the front gates so she turned and ran toward the woods.
Lydia hadn’t entered the woods since she was a young girl. She ran with swiftness until something caught her foot and she fell into the briars and
ivy. With her head still swimming and night time swiftly approaching she reached for a hold and felt something cold and hard. A brick or a stone? She
pulled the ivy away and saw, then, a tiny headstone.
Lydia raised herself up and crawled toward the stone. She pulled more of the ivy away and read just a name and two dates:
January 12, 1892-January 12, 1892
Just beyond that was another stone with a name and dates:
November 20, 1892-November 20, 1892
September 14, 1893-September 14, 1893
They went on and on. There were many across the hillside..
were the stolen souls, the souls that her Mother had written about, the souls of her siblings whom she never met!
The horror and shock of the discoveries was too much for Lydia and she blacked out for a moment. She suddenly heard footsteps crunching in the leaves
behind her. As she turned there appeared the dark figure from before. It resembled her Father. She tried to stand but, her legs were weak.
The figure spoke, it sounded like Father as well.
It said, “My precious Lydia, you’ve come home. I’ve been waiting for you since your Mother passed. I knew you’d return and she is not here to
save or barter for your soul now”
Lydia fainted into the damp, cold ground. She looked up to the sky just before her eyes closed forever and prayed that the end would be quick and she
may now see her Mother and her siblings, all of them could be together, finally…
edit on 9-4-2016 by TNMockingbird because: (no reason given)