John's mind was made up the moment he saw the Locke house. Joshua introduced him to an elderly couple hired on as caretakers by the estate. It seemed that the previous owner had been committed for close to three decades and recently passed away.
During the Twenties this man had been a prominent figure within the community. Despite the power and prestige, one day he went bonkers. The reasons were never revealed since the family had no desire to tarnish their good name.
Elmer and Ida Bell did not add to the story Joshua weaved. It seemed that they found idle gossip to be uncouth. This was a trait the barrister admired, so he hired them on. Given his busy schedule and their propensity for discretion, he was sure their paths would rarely cross; an arrangement that suited both parties.
A routine was soon established. John woke up around six, did his toiletries then ate a light breakfast of toast and jam with a cup of strong coffee to wash it down. Once his belly was full and his face smooth, he headed off for the office and arrived before seven-thirty in the morning.
Lunch and supper were spent in town then he got home by around seven. This gave him the opportunity to review any pending cases before he called it a night.
The process would begin anew the new day. While not extravagant nor exciting, it gave his life purpose, better yet it kept his mind busy.
The oddities he noticed surrounding the town and its people faded from memory. Either they had been a figment of his imagination or he simply grew accustomed to the local quirks of the community (with exception of the local newspaper). People here were welcoming enough, except for those he faced in court, but that was to be expected.
During a particularly warm and muggy night in July, he woke up to the sound of thunder. John moved over to the window with eyes heavy from sleep. He opened his eyes just as a bolt of lightning forked many times over the horizon. He counted down the seconds after the strike, but was unprepared for the reverberations. The valley and its surrounding mountains amplified the sound considerably, which left him both deaf and blind.
A drop of rain made contact with the roof, followed by another and another until it sounded as though an audience were applauding. Rain pounded the house, leaving John thankful he was inside and not out at sea.
The vivid association brought about a flashback, one that put him back on the bridge of his ship while waves and rain were beating down on the deck. When a wave washed over the brim of his cap, John struggled to keep his eyes open. With stinging eyes and blurred vision he struggled to follow the silhouettes of ships ahead. It was almost impossible to see these vessels as they moved up and down with the waves...
Another flash of light brought him back to the present. Wait? Was that someone's silhouette? Thinking it was a trick of the eye, he rubbed his eyes then felt his forehead to rule out a fever. A case of delirium perhaps? But with another flash, a woman's silhouette reappeared, one that seemed familiar.
"Eleanor," John said while she turned north and headed towards the back of the property.
Bewildered, John pinched himself to make sure he was not dreaming. The expected sensation of pain washed over him, enough to reassure him before going out to the back door. In the distance, through the torrential rain, he saw her outline moving deeper into the trees. He hesitated then grabbed a trench coat before facing the storm.
The rain soaked him instantly, but John remained unfazed. This was far too bizarre for him to ignore, so the barrister pushed through his property and ventured into the woods. Since it was night, the occasional bolt of lightning not only left him blinded, but robbed him of precious night vision. Nonetheless he pushed on as the bitter rain chilled him to the bone.
YOU ARE READING
"Even things that go bump in the night need a place to unwind." You will find the Grand nestled atop a cliff that overlooks a cursed valley. Surrounded by foreboding mountains, this ritzy French palatial-style hotel is a place where a roaring party'...