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Chapter Seventeen - Part 2
It didn't surprise me that I was in a corridor again. That a simple corridor could take on as many troubling dimensions as it did in my nightmares was perhaps a credit to my powers of invention and manifestation. But a sinking realization hit me during that dream:
The corridors were leading up to something not metaphorical but real and what might be found there would mean life or death at some future date. The corridors would lead up, eventually, to one. Or, at least, to several corridors. But halls all in one place.
The Denbury Estate.
Jonathon had once described his home to me while we communed soul to soul when he was trapped in the painted image of his
estate's study. The architecture
before my dreaming eye followed his descriptions. I stood at the end of a very
long, shadowed corridor with gaslight sconces down several sets of doors, all
of which were open, some dim threshold manifesting in gray gaps of light amid
the dark structure of the house itself. Dark wooden paneling and deep purple
wallpaper, arches and carving all in gothic styling, an aesthetic akin to something
the Brontës would write about. My life had followed a relative Gothic novel
style thus far, why stop there? These were just the culmination, the inevitable
final chapters, were they not? Greenwich
Looking from side to side, I noticed there were numbers painted haphazardly on each door. In a specific sequence, winding down from higher numbers to lower. The pattern; the one Crenfall had been repeating in the asylum. That was odd; houses didn't generally number their rooms. So perhaps I was to consider that a metaphoric clue, not literal.
I'd honed the skill of logical deductions while dreaming illogical things. By now I'd had a bit of practice. Perhaps my mind knew that my life would depend upon it and my every faculty was expanded as a result; perhaps when my soul had split from my body, the part of my mind associated with these realms had taken on greater strength, capability, and a certain dominion over what was presented.
But before I could ruminate further on the nature or logic of the numbers, the hair rising on the back of my neck reminded me that I was in a nightmare and that something dreadful was about to be seen, done, heard, felt, or any combination of the lot. It was the most terrible of inevitable things, to have become so familiar with that dropping, sickening dread swinging like the pendulum in Poe's ungodly pit.
I took stock of the corridor once more. It was empty, and yet, I felt I was not alone. The hallway stretched for a length that seemed absurdly long even for a grand estate, as if all proportions were off. At the end opposite me, an uncomfortably far distance indeed, I was faced by an oval portrait of a person whose details were too faint to make out. Anemic sconces on either side cast a subtle haze over the portrait's façade. I tried to walk toward it, as it might be yet another clue, and it was the item pulling focus, the only thing truly lit with any brightness in this dim setting.
But, per that terrible convention of dreams, my least favorite of all the unfortunate tricks of the troubled mind, I could not move. Not forward, not backward. Not that I could go anywhere; a wall was to my back, the corridor's end. Cool, carved wood paneling crested at the nape of my neck in arched patterns set within the fine mahogany. Leaving me to face the empty corridor with open doors and an unknown portrait. If I found my footing, at least I could go into the other rooms. But what might be in the other rooms was a question I doubted I wanted answered. The corridor answered for me.
With a slam all the doors at once slammed shut of their own accord, and I started, backing against the end of the corridor behind me.
And then, one by one, in a frightening, invisible procession forward, the gas-lit sconces went out. First the lights illuminating the oval portrait went out. Doused. Instantly. Utter blackness lay in direct opposition of my place at the other end. And then from the end of the corridor forward, one by one, each set on either side of the narrow walls were snuffed out as if by a great wind. But there was no wind. And no one there to turn the key. Just an encroaching and all-encompassing darkness, creeping toward me. One set of sconces at a time. Like footsteps, but there were no footfalls.
I tried to step back, to turn and run, but still damnably rooted. I tried to call out for someone, anyone, Jonathon's name upon my lips, but no…
And then the darkness was upon me.
My eyes were wide, the blackness thorough. There was a terrible, terrible pause in which I was helpless and sensory deprived.
Then an icy, unseen hand closed around my throat.
"This time you're coming for me, are you?" came that horrid, familiar whisper of the demon in the pitch dark. Warm breath contrasted its icy strangle as it threw its own words back in my face.
Oh, God. It would be waiting. A congealed but yet incorporeal evil could never truly be killed, could it? It would just keep lying in wait… In
New York, or …it
would always know me. Could it ever be bested? England
I renounce thee… My mind screamed, words that had helped to keep the beast at bay more than once.
The inhumanly cold vise tightened, and I choked a gasp into the encompassing darkness.
I awoke with a start, nearly hitting my head on Lavinia's bunk above. Breathing heavy, I choked but managed not to have screamed, which was for the best. I doubted making a scene or a fuss involving others on the boat would have helped my seasick nerves.
I took a moment to wonder what I could have learned from that dream, other than the obvious demonic pall. Clearly, if I was to travel to the Denbury estate, I should do so with a torch in hand. And a weapon. And avoid corridors. Noted. Also, try never to be alone. To be alone in a nightmare was a most despairing condition. Even worse, to be alone with potential dark magic swarming the air.
I thought of someone else alone in her own mind, and I pulled out my trusty notebook, neatly tore out a few pages, and began writing a letter to a girl recovering from demons' thrall far, far away. A girl who wasn't nearly as accustomed to loneliness as I had been. Despite all her faults, the Master's Society had taken too much to additionally take away the one peer, the one possible friend she might still have, and the only one that could actually understand her plight. That was me, and I needed to rise to that designation. For I bet the demon haunted her too.
"Margaret Hathorn," I murmured to the page before me. "I owe you a letter."
(End of Chapter 17.2 - Copyright 2013 Leanna Renee Hieber, The Magic Most Foul saga - If you like what you see, please share this link with friends! Tweet it, FB, + it! The Magic Most Foul team really hopes the audience will continue to grow and it can only do so with YOUR help! If you haven't already, do pick up a copy of Magic Most Foul books 1 and 2: Darker Still and the sequel: The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart and/or donate to the cause! Donations directly support the editorial staff.
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