posted on Oct, 12 2009 @ 06:51 PM
Isabel probably spent far too much time alone, especially for someone who, to put it kindly, was rather sensitive.
Of all the people to live isolated in a large country house she was probably the least suited.
The problem wasn't entirely the house, although it loomed large at the top of a steep hill and the windows held a sort of ‘promise’. Isabel
guessed that the larger part of her problem lurked in the deeper recesses of her mind - aided and abetted by her persistent, attention-seeking dog.
Caught between him and her own uneasiness she felt her grip on her sanity being slowly prised away.
She had gone over the house many times, looking for signs of a haunting, but the house always came up clean. Although she suspected that it was a sort
of guilty innocence. That dark corner only housed a spider, that creeping black thing seen out of the corner of her eye would inevitably be just her
own shadow. And yet, she always felt that there must be something else.
The months of being alone had seen her befriending the strangest of creatures. The damp, cold kitchen was a regular haunt for large slugs who
shrivelled when she came near to them. Gently she'd pick them up intending to put them outside where they could find some leaves to eat. Shyly, the
slugs would unshrivel, first one little horn popping out, then the other. She started to look forward to this, sometimes her only contact with another
living creature besides the highly strung mutt. She'd got into the habit of saying 'Hello' to the slugs and wishing them well as they feasted on
the plants in her overgrown and unkempt garden.
This would all happen in the early hours of the morning when it was dark outside. Sometimes there'd be a full moon hiding behind the clouds,
sometimes only starlight. It never occurred to Isabel that the sight of her hooded form lurching around in the garden might scare the living daylights
out of unwary neighbours happening to look out of their bedroom windows at the inopportune moment..
The garden’s ever-present shadows hid creatures within their depths. Creatures that Isabel knew only too well: rats, probably waiting in hope of a
little more supper, who rustled in the undergrowth keeping out of the way of the many owls and foxes who hooted and yipped and drove the dog to
Many a time, on a dark and lonely evening the dog would rouse himself from his prized position on the battered sofa and sniff the air. Then run about
excitedly scaring Isabel half to death. Much as she told herself that he had been disturbed by an animal out in the garden or perhaps a spider
scuttling under the sofa, she couldn’t always ignore the fact that sometimes he seemed to be looking just past her. Making those little motions that
he always made when he wanted to play.
She had her nerves jangled during the day too, when he would be on look out duty, snug on the large window sill. The last time he had nearly given her
a heart attack Isabel had caught what it was that he was barking at. A large black rook swooping down into the garden and its mate hopping along the
path. How hideous they looked, flapping about there among the dead and withered leaves, then disappearing into the Autumn mists.
If there was anything that Isabel prized above all else it was peace and quiet. Her nerves weren't up to coping with the rowdy modern world. Tucked
away in the country she was peacefully and quietly slipping into her inner world where eventually she hoped to remain forever.
Often there were odd noises in the house that Isabel tried to interpret in as rational a way as possible. But still, they were there. Made all the
more noticeable against the calm and quiet of the rural surroundings.
How they disturbed her. One night, when she had retired late as usual due to her chronic insomnia, just on the edge of sleep she heard it - a rustling
sound. Coming from inside the mattress. She froze and listened until she heard it again. Sure enough, an unmistakable rustle coming from underneath
her. She was too tired to investigate, telling herself it was probably only a rat as she tried to sleep. Trying not to think of what might be living
in the foundations of her four-poster bed. It was bad enough that the spiders used to hide up in the corners where the posts joined the beams but what
could have lived underneath in the hollow base was something she didn't like to dwell on.
She remembered back to a time when she lived in the city. Stupid enough to break her rule one night and drop off to sleep with her arm flung over the
side of the bed. Something had squeezed her hand. And another night she had woken up to find an old lady standing beside the bed. Now here she was,
all alone and with things rustling in the mattress. Well, she hoped they were living furry things and not spooky or invisible things. She was lucky to
be so tired and managed to drift off to sleep hoping nothing would escape.
How she hated that summer bedroom. It had fitted cupboards on two walls with doors that she had to remember to keep closed. She couldn't sleep in a
room with open cupboard doors, fearing what might creep out of them. One terrible night she had come into the darkened room and noticed a door that
was slightly ajar and had gone to close it. As she grasped its edge to push it into place she was sure she had felt a bony arm in its place. Just as
she had persuaded herself that really it was only the edge of the door, she heard a frantic scurrying coming from the attic. Or was it under the
floorboards or the eaves where she kept her most potent spell books? Or did the ‘thing’ in the cupboard have pets?
Too much - it was probably just the rats again, but why was their timing always just so to frighten her?
And it wasn’t only the rats who conspired to push her over the edge.
One dark winter morning in her winter bedroom - the one with the warm comforting stove - she’d been woken by the noise of scratching as something
trapped inside the stove tried to rescue itself. She'd lain in bed listening to the frantic tap, tap, tapping. What courage it took to investigate.
How relieved she was to find it was only a bird who had fallen down the chimney.
Later, in the springtime, when she was still sleeping there she had gone to bed late again. At nearly five o' clock in the morning as she was
dropping off to sleep, she heard an awful groaning and moaning. She'd slowly opened her eyes and noticed the daylight streaming through the window.
The night creatures couldn't get her now, it was morning. If they launched an attack, it would be cheating. Holding the thought she'd slept for a
few hours before facing the day.
How interesting it was for her later on, when she'd been playing fetch with the dog in the garden and heard the same baleful noises - coming from the
field down the road where a bull was calling to a herd of cows. She laughed then, trying to forget how she'd gone to sleep thinking that creatures
from Hell had been lurking outside of her bedroom door.
She’d finally given up on the winter bedroom after waking up one morning to feel a presence on the bed. Opening an eye she was rewarded by the sight
of a large and spectacularly malicious spider vaulting towards her on its hideous knobbly legs, only inches away from her face. How much bolder the
downstairs spiders were.
And how grateful the dog was to find her rising early that day. No dozing through the morning for him, longing for the time she’d take him to the
forest where he could play.
Oh yes, the forest. Where Isabel often found small, dead animals. Sadly, she’d bury them under a pile of leaves and wish them well on their journey
into the next world. In her black clothes, she always looked ready for a funeral. She’d judged her look to be precisely that of a modern Goth
crossed with a Medieval angel. Seeing her walking about, long red hair and long black clothes whisked about her by the wind, the neighbours thought of
something more along the lines of a Medieval gargoyle.
Having company didn't always work in Isabel’s favour either. Kindly, she'd invited a sick friend to stay with her, thinking that convalescence in
the country would do him good.
It probably did, but it did nothing to help her. She had a habit of looking in on him when he was sleeping to make sure he was still breathing and
didn't need anything fetched. She didn't have to go the entire way into the room. She could stand in the doorway with the light from the hall behind
her and watch her sleeping friend.
Until the night she opened the door to see the Grim Reaper hovering beside his bed. Heart in her mouth she entered the room, prepared to plead for his
life. Closer shewent, feeling terribly brave. Only to find that the cretinous guest had hung his black clothes on a hook beside the bed in such a way
as they formed the shape of Death himself. Even the way he had positioned his belt made it look as if it was the lower part of the handle of the
Not surprisingly, Isabel started to appreciate her own company even more having found what a liability a friend could be. She didn’t realize that he
had left her home grateful to no longer have the worry of waking to find her lurking in his doorway, a terrible sight for a drowsy man with heart
Loneliness crept up on her more efficiently than any of her night-creatures or small guests could hope to do. She started to notice her reflection in
the mirror, hoping to see a friendly face. Except, she never smiled. Always the cold, pale face would stare back at her devoid of any expression.
She tried smiling, just from the eyes. She'd have felt stupid grinning at herself. And so her eyes shone, but looked more manic than friendly.
Still she hoped - after all her reflection was she herself. It would know how she felt, supposing, oh just supposing that one day it would smile back
all by itself. Maybe reflecting a warmth that she found so hard to discover in herself.
Now Isabel was one of those people who were actually afraid to look at their reflection in the dark. She was also very frugal and would walk around
the house at night with only the dim hall light on to prevent her from tripping and breaking her neck. She would pass the large mirror in the hall
without looking. She'd go into the bathroom to wash her hands, keeping her head down to avoid seeing herself staring back from the bathroom mirrors
in the dark.
Gradually though, she started to look. Fleeting little glances, fearing what she'd see. It had started in the winter bedroom. There were two huge
mirrors in there and she'd been able to see herself in the firelight during the winter. True to form, she wouldn't waste electricity by switching on
the light when there was a warm glow coming from the fire.
She started to get comfortable with her reflection. She noticed how her dark eye-shadow gave her eyes a sunken look. Her red hair, which she rarely
combed, would hang limply at either side of her face. She had a slight stoop due to back-ache and one leg being noticeably shorter than the other.
She'd see that pale-faced creature staring back at her from the mirror and try to smile again with her eyes.
An uncomfortable intimacy started to form between her and her reflection. She started to look forward to walking along the hall and having someone
else besides the odd slug or spider to greet.
Slowly, she became aware of what an eerie presence she had. She noticed the air of gloom and decay that clung to her. She began to understand why so
many people had been ill at ease in her presence. The thought started to amuse her and now she'd look at herself and laugh.
Her in her big spooky house with spiders and slugs for company, with rats running over the roof and small birds falling down her chimney. Not to
mention the rooks frequenting the garden and the bats flitting about at dusk.
How it amused her that her life had become a horror-writer's cliche. She'd even had things that went bump in the night.
She would often recall the time when, just as she was dropping off to sleep, she'd heard two loud thuds downstairs. Gathering all her courage she'd
gone to investigate, hoping to find that the dog was up and about. No, he wasn't. He was still tucked up on the sofa where she'd left him. She never
did find out what had caused the two bumps.
Even using her computer, a modern activity that should have been safe, was fraught with disturbances.
More than once she'd had a spider descend from the ceiling right in front of her face, dangling from its thread and then creeping away over her desk
before she had time to gather herself and catch it.
Sometimes, as she was writing the bright screen would attract flies. They'd sit there presumably enjoying the warmth then move about making a
nuisance of themselves as only flies can. Why did they have to be the same shape as her cursor? Seeing them whiz across the screen made her fear that
her computer was going mad, too.
And sometimes, when the computer was off and she approached it to start it up she'd see her reflection. Looming up on the dark screen, stooped as
usual and utterly deadpan.
She started to wonder if she had been a warmer and friendlier person, maybe she would have had more of a rapport with her reflection by now. How
unfortunate that she couldn't 'do' warm and friendly.
She did her best with cold and indifferent.
And so it went for many months. Isabel getting more and more nervous as the dog found more and more things to bark at and became more and more intent
on watching, almost expectantly, just over her shoulder. The dark, dank old house creaked and groaned in the quiet of the night. Even the fridge made
a noise outside of her normal experience with fridges. A low grumbling sound that used to make her wonder if it was her tummy telling her it was
How frightened she became. However mundane the events of her life, however the noises could be put down to small creatures, still she feared the
presence she was sure must be attracting or creating these experiences.
That presence would be in her own mind, she told herself. Over and over until she believed it.
Which was a sad mistake. One evening, as she passed the large mirror in the hall, she stopped to nod at her reflection. Only to see it looking back at
her with a horrified expression on its face. She peered closer and noticed it was screaming. With great trepidation she looked around to see what it
was screaming at. What she saw was the last thing she would ever see. As she fell, her reflection sank down with her, a tear escaping from the one
good eye that was left to reflect.
The dog, ever the opportunist, came scampering out, tail wagging, to meet his new best friend who had finally found a ball for him to play with. A
beautiful white orb with a strangely sad green iris.