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Master of the Estate

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posted on Oct, 26 2016 @ 03:11 PM
It seems there isn't going to be a Halloween writing contest, so I thought I would post the story I pre-emptively wrote for it. I hope you enjoy it!

Master of the Estate

"This coach really is quite wonderful, Jonathan. I can barely feel the bumps and I don't feel like I'm about to be thrown out the window!" Eleanor exclaimed.

"It is grand, isn't it?"

"It's all grand. The trip, our coach...and you," she said, smiling and snuggling in closer to Jonathan on the wide leather seat.

"I could do without this fog, though. I would like to see the moon and stars later tonight." He pulled the curtain aside slightly with a gloved hand and peered mournfully through the window at the white mist that nearly obscured everything. He could hardly see the tops of the trees it was so thick.
Just then a particularly large bump jostled them roughly, followed closely by another. "Oh!" squealed Eleanor.
Jonathan's brow drew down. "Driver!" he called out the window. "Is everything alright?"

"Beg pardon, sir. I fear I may have taken a wrong turn at that fork back a ways. There's a house up ahead...I'll check in with them and make sure. Sturbridge Village can't be far now, and we're better safe than sorry with this fog rolling in, if you take my meaning, sir. Don't want to be out past dark in this soup."

Jonathan looked at Eleanor.

"Well, it would be nice to stretch our legs for a moment," she said. She was not quite as cheerful as she had been just minutes ago. The October afternoon was cooling off as evening approached, and Jonathan could see his breath. The coach trundled past well-maintained stone gables and a heavy wrought-iron gate, standing open on one side. Oil lanterns hung from black hooks in the gables glowed dimly in the fog, and additional lanterns spilled pools of yellow-orange light on a cobblestone drive as they made their way up toward the house. Eleanor gasped as the massive shape of the house came into view.

"It's beautiful!"

Jonathan made a surprised "hm", but otherwise said nothing.

A well-dressed footman dashed out to lower the stairs of their coach and open the door, then offered a white-gloved hand to Eleanor as she peered out. With a flashed smile at Jonathan, she accepted the young man's hand and descended. The driver was speaking quietly with another footman, and an older man emerged from the heavy oak door of the house as Jonathan descended the steps of the coach.
The older man - clearly the butler - bowed to Eleanor and Jonathan. "Welcome to the Anne Union Keyes Estate. I am Mister Walker, and I am at your service. The master of the estate has invited you in for the evening meal." The butler spoke with some kind of British accent, but beyond that Jonathan not say from where exactly.

"Good Lord man, we just arrived unannounced!"

"Yes, sir, but Herr von Graeff enjoys entertaining and was notified of your arrival as you drove up. I would be honored if you would follow me..." he gestured toward the polished steps.

Eleanor was the type of woman who, once her mind was made, up, proceeded without hesitation. She must have decided they were staying for dinner, for with a delighted squeal she headed for the house.

They were greeted in the foyer by an elderly man. Jonathan estimated he was in his seventies, hair fully white with deep creases in his face on age showing on his hands. However, the man was tall and straight-backed, and he carried himself proudly. There was a stiffness to his movements, and he used a cane to walk, but when Jonathan shook his large hands the man's grip was as firm as a man half his age.

“Welcome,” he said warmly and with what Jonathan thought was a German accent. “I am Gottfried Hansjürgen von Graeff. Please, be welcome in my home. How may I call you?”

The man’s eyes were unusual, but Jonathan could not place what it was about them that seemed so. He shrugged it off.

“Thank you, Herr von Graeff. I am Jonathan Rockport, this is my fiancée Eleanor Harrington. We really have only stopped to find our way back to the highway. We are trying to get to Sturbridge Village to stay for the night before continuing on to Fall River in the morning.”

“Ah, yes, well, you will not make it to Sturbridge Village in this fog.” Herr von Graeff pronounced the name of the town with a “sh” sound. “At least, not before dark, even if you left now. It is fifteen miles yet. Why don’t you join me for dinner, stay here tonight, and then resume your journey first thing tomorrow?”

“You are a generous host, Herr von Graeff, but I really would like to press on if possible. I have business meetings in Massachusetts and must be in Fall River by Tuesday. ”

“Ah, a wonderful town, Fall River, yes? Tell me, how is the new railway doing? I understand the esteemed Mr. Borden opened the branch line just last year, yes?”

“Indeed,” said Jonathan slowly, “The railway has been a smashing success. In fact, it is Mr. Borden I have an appointment to see. I have a business proposition for him that I think he will be quite excited about.”

“An entrepreneur!” Exclaimed Herr von Graeff. “Excellent! I always enjoy conversing with a businessman, especially you Americans. Always such big ideas, yes? Please, let us carry on our conversation over dinner. Mister Walker,” he continued, pronouncing the butler’s name with a “v”, “would you lead us to the dining hall?”

“Yes, Herr von Graeff.”

posted on Oct, 26 2016 @ 03:11 PM
Master of the Estate, cont.

Eleanor’s gaze swept from side to side, taking in the furnishings of the immense mansion. She was well-read, and enjoyed history. Unless she was mistaken, the slightly curved swords above the door to the left were called scimitars. There was a medieval suit of armor standing next to the door, and she thought she saw more weapons inside. So, an armory, and perhaps featuring items from the Crusades? Off to the right another chamber opened up to a room lined with bookshelves. She felt a twinge of longing to peruse the shelves and sit in one of the leather chairs with a blanket, a book, and a glass of wine.

Mr. Walker led them through the central doors into a well-lit hallway. Lining the passage were tapestries and paintings, cubbies with pedestals bearing the busts of Greek and Roman gods, or depictions of angels, cherubim and seraphim, or other sculpture. They passed another room with the heads of dozens of creatures mounted on the walls or on stands. Eleanor gasped at an immense standing bear at the back of the room.

“Ah yes, Fraulein Harrington,” Herr von Graeff said from a within a shadow cast by a nearby pillar, “the beast was quite ferocious. The Inuit call them taqukaq. I am many years removed from such adventures as I had in my youth.”

“Did you kill that gigantic bear, Herr von Graeff?”

“Yes, dear. I was not always a white-haired doddering old man, as I am now,” he teased, chuckling. “Once, I was young and full of lust for life. Once, I was beautiful like you young ones are.” His gaze passed from Jonathan to Eleanor, then back into the room. His eyes seemed to glitter at the memory, and it seemed to Eleanor that they caught the light and shined, almost like a cat.

They arrived in a brightly lit dining hall, furnished all around with different types of glass and crystal vessels. On the fireplace mantel stood ornate bottles; wine glasses in various shapes stood in a display off to one side; vases filled with sheaves of wheat, dried ears of corn, or branches with red and yellow leaves still clinging to them dotted the room.

After they were seated and wine was poured, Herr von Graeff turned to Jonathan.

“Now then, Herr Rockport, it was not clear to me if you are departing, or on your return trip?” He took a long draft from his wine glass.

“We are returning, Herr von Graeff. We are both from Fall River, and it is there we will be wed.” It had been weeks, but Eleanor still got a thrill thinking about it.

“We have been away for several months, actually. It all started back in May, when my father invited us to the American premiere of Ludwig von Beethoven’s latest symphony – the ninth, I believe – in Manhattan. Such an odd piece – it has a full chorus that does nothing until the final movement. And all those trumpets and drums. It was almost unsettling in its noise,” Eleanor added. It had been fascinating, but quite loud, especially at the end.

“Ah yes, Beethoven. Fascinating man, he is. Very driven, very intense. His music is not for everyone, that is true, Fraulein,” he said before drinking deeply again from his wine.
Herr von Graeff proved to be an attentive and skilled conversationalist, listening carefully and prompting them with insightful questions. The wine was delicious, but Eleanor knew the warmth of it in her belly and only occasionally sipped from her glass. Strangely, Herr von Graeff – despite having his glass refilled by the footmen twice at dinner – seemed as sharp as ever when he invited them to his sitting room. Jonathan had begun to relax a bit – he could be so stiff – and Herr von Graeff offered him a cigar or pipe. Jonathan gratefully accepted the cigar, and Herr von Graeff lit a pipe for himself.

As the evening wore on, the little wine she had consumed began to make her drowsy.

“Ah, Jonathan,” said Herr von Graeff – they had moved to first names a couple glasses of brandy ago – “I believe your fiancée has endured enough of our banter.” He rang for the servants, and promptly Mr. Walker entered the room.

“Mister Walker, please see the lovely Fraulein to her sleeping chamber. It has been a pleasure, my dear. I have taken the liberty of having your luggage brought up from the coach. You and Jonathan have adjoining rooms, to maintain propriety. I fear there are no secret passages between the two,” he teased warmly.

“You have been so kind to us, Hans. Thank you for your hospitality.”

“Ah, it is my pleasure. I so rarely have company these days. All so busy, moving this way and that, scurrying about on business. No time to sit and savor a decent meal, yes? Well, I will not keep you. Rest well, Fraulein. I shall instruct Markus make a delicious breakfast for you both before you depart!”
edit on 10-26-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: part 2

edit on 10-26-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)

edit on 10-26-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 26 2016 @ 03:11 PM
Master of the Estate, cont.
Mr. Walker showed Jonathan to his room. The stoic man said nothing about Jonathan’s slurred words or slightly unsteady posture. With a “Very good, sir” he departed the room and left Jonathan alone. The bedroom was immense and well furnished. A fire burned in the hearth, and a small table was set with glasses and an assortment of cordials. Next to that was a small spread of cheeses, dried meats and sliced sausage, olives, and an assortment of breads and crackers. Jonathan shook his head. Someday, somehow, he thought, I will have this kind of wealth.

It was late. Late enough that Jonathan was not at all excited about knowing what the time was. He was definitely not looking forward to how he would feel tomorrow morning. Somehow that old man managed to out drink him, and by a lot. Jonathan could hold liquor, but Herr von Graeff – Hans – seemed to be completely immune to even the slightest effect of alcohol.

As Jonathan lay his head on the pillow, he caught a flash from the shadows in the corner of the room. He tried to sit up, but only managed to prop himself up on one elbow, peering blearily into the darkness. Believing it to be just his imagination, he lay back down, closed his eyes, and listened to the occasionally-crackling fire.

He heard a creak, and opened his eyes. A clammy hand clamped over his mouth as a twisted shadow loomed over him. He felt something hold each wrist down to the bed and a great weight pressed upon his body. He kicked and thrashed, but it held him tight. He saw long teeth and something sharp dug into his face from the hand holding his mouth closed. Air came in frantic puffs through his nose, and another hand raised above him to strike.


Eleanor woke, heart racing. She swore there had been some kind of heavy thumping or crashes, but upon waking attributed them to her dreams. She was irritated. Occasionally this would happen to her – sleep for a short time, then wake and be unable to get back to sleep. Ideas and thoughts spun like dustdevils in her head, merging and splitting apart. It gave her a headache and made her absolutely unbearable the next day. She considered more wine, but wasn’t sure it would work. Sometimes it helped, but too much and she would be worse off the next morning. No, best to try a book tonight.

She stood and moved over to the bookshelf. Many titles interested her, but her finger came to rest on an old leather-bound book that seemed almost like a diary or journal. She pulled it out – personal accounts were always fascinating, and her curiosity of history was roused. Pulling a nightgown over her nightshirt, she added a couple logs to the fire and sat by a small lantern in front of it.

The book was in fact a journal, apparently of a scientist of some kind. The account was fascinating and she found herself engrossed. The scientist had explored a cave and found some strange metal door. He had apparently met a strange old man who had stumbled upon the cave before him. She turned the page.

“He is foreign, possibly Dutch or northern German, a veritable scholar and historian of significant knowledge, with a keen intellect and wonderful deductive powers, not lessened at all despite his advanced age that has weakened his constitution. I must note the most fascinating of things occurred as I spoke with him at length. When his eyes catch the light in the cave it one can behold almost a glow or shine, much akin to a feline. I intend to ask him about it tomorrow when we speak again. He has invited me most generously to share in his camp this evening.”

There were no other entries. Eleanor gasped. It couldn’t be possible. Quickly she flipped to the beginning of the journal. The first entry was marked “August 18th, 1702 Anno Domini.”

She quietly made her way to the next room where Jonathan slept, holding a lantern as close as she dared, its shutter open only a crack to hide the light. There was more to this place than met the eye. She had to speak to Jonathan.

Her heart raced as she peered into every shadow, trying to penetrate the darkness or catch a glimpse of shining eyes. The latch of the door seemed to make a thunderous noise, and every creak of the floorboards seemed an earthquake. The fire in Jonathan’s room burned low, only enough light to see the vaguest outlines of shapes in the dim of the rest of the room. She reached for Jonathan to shake him gently awake. She touched something hard.

Bringing the candle over the bed she screamed at the dry, emaciated corpse laying there, clothed in Jonathan’s pajama shirt, its empty eye sockets staring at the ceiling and teeth bared in a silent scream of death.

edit on 10-26-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: part 3!

edit on 10-26-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: formatting

posted on Oct, 26 2016 @ 03:11 PM
She recoiled, knocking over the bedside table. Hysteria threatened to take over completely, her breath coming in fast, shallow pants. No, no, no, no! she kept repeating in her head as tears flowed freely.

“Oh, do not fear, young Fraulein,” said a voice from the shadows.

She gibbered, “Stay away! You KILLED him! Stay AWAY from me!”

“Stay away? My dear girl, why would I do that? I need you,” Herr von Graeff’s voice said. His voice was stronger, more urbane, and his strange accent was even more pronounced.

Eleanor just whimpered, “No no no, Jonathan!” She scrabbled backward away from the voice, into the corner. A shape moved toward the fireplace. It moved logs into the fire and a stoked the embers, bathing the room in red-orange light. Herr von Graeff moved from the fireplace around the room until he stood between Eleanor and the door. It was hard to tell in the firelight, but he looked younger – fewer creases in his face, his hair a mottled gray and black instead of solid white, and he stood taller, more erect.

“Get away from me you demon!”

“Hardly a demon, girl. But to you I suppose I am a god, at least.” He chuckled, then shook his head slightly. “When I left my world, I never believed I could have such luck to find a treasure like this place. I truly love you humans, you are so full of life! And, you multiply! Oh my do you multiply! There are so many of you…why, I can virtually live forever.”

Herr von Graeff stepped stiffly closer, within the pool of light cast by the candle. His visage flickered and changed. Eleanor saw slick skin mottled gray and black, black almond shaped eyes that shined in the light, and sharp teeth as long as her thumb. Suddenly it was back to the man she had met, now middle aged.

“I told you I was once beautiful like you. Of course, with his life force and yours, I will be again for another century.” The man-creature grinned horrifically, and Eleanor shrieked.

edit on 10-26-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: part 4!

posted on Oct, 26 2016 @ 03:11 PM
Master of the Estate, cont.

“I’m telling you it’s wrong!”

“Don’t snap at me, the dang GPS just said turn right didn’t it? You heard it!”

“But now it says we should have turned left back there. We need to turn around.”

“Fine, I’ll pull in here and turn around,” Ryan said, signaling his turn into a long driveway between two huge stone gables.

“Where are we?” Alicia asked. “I hate these GPS apps. They never work for me! We should have started this trip right after the wedding, instead of waiting until the fall. Now look at this fog!”

Ryan just grunted. You needed to let Alicia vent sometimes, it was how she processed problems. He got frustrated with technology too, but he couldn’t be without his smartphone these days. It was 2016 for crying out loud. Their entire itinerary was on there, all the way up through Halloween in a couple weeks.

The driveway was long, and only wide enough for one car, so there was no place to turn around. It finally opened up to a turnabout next to an absolutely gigantic house.

“Holy…” Alicia started. “This place is huge!”

“I think it’s bigger than the Vanderbilt mansion in Newport…wow…” Ryan added.

“Let’s look around!”

“No, honey, we can’t!” Ryan exclaimed, but Alicia was already getting out. When she set her mind to it, there was nothing he could do. Sighing, he shut the car off and climbed out. Alicia had already gone up the polished stone steps leading to the massive front door and rapped the brass knocker. A bell chimed within, and shortly, the door opened. Standing there was a man in a tuxedo, with tails! Alicia conversed with him briefly, then motioned Ryan up the steps.

“Welcome to Anne Union Keyes Estate, sir. Please come in.”

They entered into a huge foyer, tiled with marble and furnished in shining cherry and maple.

“The evening meal is about to be served, and the master of the house would be honored if you would join us.”

Alicia flashed a winsome grin at him. She loved this kind of thing – a completely unscripted, unplanned adventure. The thought occurred to him that maybe she had rigged the blasted GPS – she did have a double Ph.D. in Math and Electrical Engineering, after all.

“Ah, yes, the master of the house would be honored indeed,” said a feeble, raspy voice with what Ryan thought was a German accent. A wizened old man, leaning heavily on a cane of dark wood, hobbled into the foyer. “I am Herr Gottfried Hansjürgen von Graeff. Please, be welcome here.”

“I’m Ryan, this is my wife Alicia. Thank you for the offer, sir, but we are just a little lost and trying to get to the interstate.”

“Of course, of course. But we so rarely get visitors these days, as long as you’re here why not stay for a bite to eat. Then you can get back on the road. I insist.” Ryan had been brought up that it was impolite to refuse someone who insisted, so he looked at Alicia. Her smile told him everything he needed to know.

“Ok, sure. Well, thank you, Mr. Von Graff, we were just going to stop at Subway or something tonight, so a home-cooked meal would be great.”
Smiling, the old man turned to what Ryan now assumed was his butler. “Such lovely young folk, aren’t they, Mister Walker?”

“Indeed, Herr von Graeff. Lovely, indeed.”

“Ah, let me tell you,” he said, offering his arm to Alicia who took it with a grin. “I was once beautiful like you…” Herr von Graeff said, his eyes glittering in the light.

edit on 10-26-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: part 5!

edit on 10-26-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 26 2016 @ 03:12 PM
Whoops! I got it all posted in 5 posts, so I guess I didn't need this one. Oh well!

Hope you all enjoy it - this is pretty much my 2nd crack at the spooky/horror genre ever, and the last one was when I was in 8th grade (so, around 600 years ago). Interesting exercise in writing, but fun!

edit on 10-26-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 26 2016 @ 06:31 PM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd
Shep that was absolutely amazing!!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!!! ( If there had been a contest, I would have definitely voted on this!!!)

posted on Oct, 26 2016 @ 06:45 PM
Very well written!

Too bad there was no time for a contest this year...but in keeping with tradition I'm working on a story as well.

posted on Oct, 26 2016 @ 06:45 PM
a reply to: Martin75

You're sweet - thanks Martin75!

a reply to: AccessDenied
Heck yeah, rock it out, AccessDenied!!
edit on 10-26-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 26 2016 @ 08:01 PM
Well that was fun, I always love a good spooky story!

posted on Oct, 27 2016 @ 01:06 PM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd

Flag and Multiple Stars for this Shep! Very well written! A fine read with My morning Coffee!!

posted on Oct, 27 2016 @ 01:51 PM
a reply to: Night Star
Thanks, Night! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

a reply to: SyxPak
Thanks Syx!

OK, but with morning coffee though? Now, wouldn't it be better in a creaky, dark, candlelit room with a flask?

I can hear the whispers right now: "Ah, Syx, I vass vonce young and beautiful like you..."

edit on 10-27-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 27 2016 @ 04:17 PM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd

Yah it would be real good with some booze, but since it was early as hell, for me anyway, coffee was what was needed!!

posted on Oct, 27 2016 @ 06:02 PM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd

Great story Shep.

Your a very good writer.

You should go for writer status.

posted on Oct, 27 2016 @ 06:21 PM
a reply to: crappiekat

Thank you, crappiekat!
You know, urged on by the members of The Shed, I checked with the mods on writer status. Turns out you need to be here at least 6 months to get any kind of status other than Member. It might be waived if you win a writing contest, I'm not sure. Oh well - I'm patient!

posted on Oct, 27 2016 @ 08:32 PM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd

It will be well worth the wait my friend!

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