"Look," I whisper, "please don't be scared."
"My son's room... is..."
Those were the four words she said before she cried. I mean the bottle-up-your-emotion to the point of crying. Oh boy, this was going to be hard to explain.
"What exactly happened to your son? Oscar is it?" Ryder asked, slowly treading his steps.
The women sat on the edge of the bed. "I cannot believe – I did not believe my son. And now here we are."
I side glanced Ryder. "What's happened to Oscar?"
She shook her head. "How will I ever get home?"
"They took my brother away." The little girl spoke. "No one listened to him. I miss him."
Tentatively I crouched in front of her. "You must be Helene. Oscar told me about you." She sniffled, calming down.
Her mother cleared her throat, calming her shaky breath. "You must be her. Freya? My name is Eliza. I couldn't believe him. I thought –"
"He turned mad? Look, even I can't explain how any of this works. How your year somehow connects with mine, all though this vault." All the while the woman, Eliza stared at me in awe, at my clothes and at my mannerisms, all so different from her.
"He's not dead... is he?" Ryder asked
She shook her head. "No, but it is a fate worse than death. My husband, Logan has sent Oscar to Ticehurst House Hospital, a mental asylum. "
My legs felt like lead in that moment. How was that even possible? Oh my, did I do this? Did I turn him mad and he's gone...
"But," I stammered, "How is that possible?"
"I found my son solemn a few days ago. He confessed about you, a girl he's in love with and I – I didn't know what to believe. His father overhead and punished him. He locked him up for two days without food. Oscar collapsed, but he did not change his mind. My husband sent him away." She paused to catch her breath. "Oscar claimed the estate will be in danger, our name and this house will all perish, yet my husband did not believe."
Ryder asked. "How does he know all of this?"
"Because I told him." I closed my eyes, thinking about how I could do this to Oscar.
"You did what?" He came up to me. "What the hell. You know you can't say stuff like that. Don't you know anything about – well I don't know – the butterfly effect and not messing with the past."
"I know, I know," I plead. "But I had to do something. I've only gone and made everything worse." I leaned against the wall, sliding down. All I want to do is curl up in a ball or run away.
Helene left her mother's side and sat next to me. "You ought not to blame yourself." She stroked my shoulder. "I want my brother back."
"What we need is a plan." Ryder went around the desk. "We've got to get him out of there."
I stood up, wiping my tears. "Who would help us?"
The door creaked ever so slightest but enough to make my head turn.
Dad's had many expressions over the years. But he could only say this. "What the hell is going on here?"
I don't know how long Dad had been standing there, or how much he had heard, but it was enough to see a puzzled expression and his eyes darting at the two out of place ladies.
A game of stares and turning heads had begun but not one of us could explain what was going on. How did Oscar manage? Yep, it got himself sent to the asylum. But this is Dad, my Dad. Surely he wouldn't do something drastic as something like that?
"Anyone care to explain?" Dad demanded, sternly.
From the silence were you could hear a pin drop, now all of us started to explain the situation in chunks of information. It made absolutely no sense.
"Oscar's in trouble."
Ryder pointed. "This is his mother"
"My brother is in a loony bin"
Eliza pleaded. "Please help us."
"Right," Dad yelled. "One of you speaks. The others shut it!"
Well fell into silence once more. Helene ran behind her mother, hiding behind her skirt, shaking from my Dad's booming voice.
Dad's eyes locked onto Eliza, probably because she was the eldest and knew better. Before she could say a word I began. I told him about the vault, about Oscar, what I researched about them and now his imprisonment. The more I explained, the lighter my heart had felt, unburdening all that has happened since we've arrived.
I had expected Dad to laugh and say something like, "Now Freya, that's a pretty good prank. You almost got me. Where did you get these actors from? Next you'll say this place is haunted."
But no, he just stared at us all. I hoped he'd just laugh and say something witty, not stand there in silence.
"Oh, dear," Eliza said. "I realise this is a huge shock to everyone. However this is the truth. Somehow this is all real. My son is paying the price of knowing the future."
For a while, Dad didn't say a word. He walked in, glanced around the furniture as if he's seeing this for the first time. The silence seemed to last forever.
"You know," Dad began, turning to look at us. "I didn't want to believe the things that have been happening around the place. I thought it's an old house, with creaky doors, but I've seen things; furniture moving on its own, whispering down the corridor, doors slamming shut."
"Why didn't you say something?" Ryder asked.
"I didn't want to scare you guys and honestly I thought I was seeing things. But when I found the portraits, I researched this place. I never thought I'd be face to face with these lot." He stared at Eliza. "I don't know what the future will bring for your family. You've come this far, so how can we help."
YOU ARE READING
Aspiring writer Freya Telford has a lot on her plate: mum left, her house caught fire, Uncle Johnny died: plus she's inherited Ashford Estate in Kent that's apparently haunted like a horror show. With her father Steve and younger brother Ryder, they...