It is past my bedtime and I should be asleep for I have to get up for work in the morning. Instead, I just transcribed the last handwritten pages my notebook and the chilling conclusion of Part One of The Happy Valley. There is still the rest of the book to translate and transcribe and a rough draft of about twenty chapters that should be whittled to down to about ten, and that is just part one. I decided at work today that I want to call the genre Quasi-Autobiographical Semi-Historic Doom Fiction. ( I also wrote this paragraph at 12:30 am two days ago, which is late for me.)
ARE YOU FINISHED?
“Are there any spirits in the house?” Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge called aloud after Deeds went down for an inopportune nap on the couch in the parlor. Once roused from his delirium and realizing the state of his attire, the man who introduced himself as Maximilian Grander bolted up to his bedroom and slammed the door behind him. The spiritualist was, incidentally, left alone downstairs with a ghost. Whether she actually saw him or not was another story. It had all happened so fast and she was fairly certain that she had been dying at the time. “Are there any spirits present?” She repeated aloud, “let yourself be known.” It was then Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge realized she didn’t actually know how to summon a ghost. She was just good at reading people and putting on a show. “Umm,” she looked down at the floor and nudged a book with the toe of her shoe. It was one of many in a large pile that had cascaded off of the upended shelf. Around her, the manor was quiet. Although quiet wasn’t the right word, she thought, as an impenetrable stillness settled. “Give me a sign?” She regretted the words as soon as they left her mouth. For all she knew it could be that awful cat that answers. Is it even still in the house? She wondered, last time she saw the bestial thing it had been dashed upon the floor and laid there unmoving aside from the occasional twitch. She hoped it had chosen to hide somewhere and nurse its wounds and was not currently stalking her. It was then she heard a rustling in the other room. “Snake,” she whispered and cringed, appalled at her utterance. The noise was followed by a ringing in her ears, which at first caused her to swat her at cheek as the intensity grew. “I don’t think Bracken is here,“ Max Grander said as he strode up behind her. The noise went away. “Or if he was even here in the first place; he might have been my imagination. I’m sorry I haven’t been myself as of late. I assure you I am on the mend. Thank you for that,” He bowed his head and gripped her hand in both of his in a show of utter devotion.
“I’m not too sure I had anything to do with that,” she pulled her hand away wondering if she should give herself credit, did she really free Grander of his torment?
“Please, you’re Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge famed psychic medium, renowned spiritualist, piercer of the –“
“I’m aware. It’s just-“she paused for a moment wondering what to say next. “How is your ear?”
“I’d rather not talk about it,” he reached a tentative hand to the bandage wrapped around his head. “You know, I have heard about you. I’m a bit of an occultist, you see, and a collector.” He motioned a broad hand around the overturned room.
“I do see.”
“I have relics from many lost religions and secret societies.”
“Maybe they should have remained lost and secret,” a wet voice growled from behind him.
“Oh Gods!” Grander exclaimed as he turned to face Deeds. “You’re covered in sweat.”
“That’s not sweat.”
Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge balked as Deeds approached, “are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Deeds grumbled as she pushed past them on her way to the kitchen, leaving behind a trail of soggy footprints. “Do you have any coffee, or tea, or anything?”
Grander followed the rattling, and slamming of the cupboard doors as Deeds rummaged for a tea kettle. “What are you doing in my kitchen? “He asked as he grabbed the kettle from her and set it on the table.
“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m making tea. Look, we’ve all had a rough time here lately; I thought some tea would be nice, okay?”
Evelyn folded her arms and leaned into the kitchen doorway, “tea, does sound nice, actually, while you explain to us what the hell is going on here.”
“I’ll explain to you what is going on here,” she spun around to face her picking the kettle back up along the way, “It’s-“ Deeds had every intention to say more but instead she gasped as she aspirated on her own saliva sending her into a coughing fit.
“Are you okay? You don’t look okay,” Grander took the kettle away from her again lest she dropped it.
“Yeaas,” Deeds wheezed and took a seat at the table, “I’ll tell you what’s going on,” she said when she gathered enough breaths to do so then she inhaled an extra time and held it. Evelyn edged in closer and Grander made the motion that he was waiting for her to continue. “It’s the same thing that I’ve been telling you all along!” she exhaled her breath in the form of a shout. “But no one ever listens to me!” She hit the table with the palms of her hands, “Everyone just looks at me like I’m crazy!” She yelled causing the spiritualist and the collector to take a step back. Upon realizing what she had done, Deeds clamped her mouth shut and gazed down at her hands before meeting the questioning stare of the others in the room. “I do realize that did sound crazy.”
“You think?” Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge and Maximilian Grander said simultaneously.
Octavia Deeds held up her hands in recognition, leaving wet prints on the surface of the table.
The spiritualist shrugged and took the teapot, filled it with water and set on the stove. Tea really was a good idea. She had felt a presence at her back and silently prayed it wasn’t the cat. “What now?” She asked.
Deeds let her hands fall to her lap and studied them for a second. “You know what?” she replied finally looking up as the others looked onward expectantly.
“No, I don’t know what,” Grander huffed, “and don’t you tell me that you don’t know either.” He had enough and he said as much. “I’ve been terribly ill for the past few days, seeing things, horrible things. I’ve talked to ghosts, well just the one. I witnessed the world end more times than I would like to admit, well twice. But that is more than what I’d prefer. I’ve been raving mad, running around in a bathrobe- sorry about that.” He turned to Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge his cheeks red with modesty and the spiritualist mumbled an acceptance to his apology. “I’ve been in and out of consciousness so often; I can’t tell what is real anymore-“his composure slipped and his words trailed off but he gathered himself to continue. “Something took ahold of me, it was evil and ancient, and oh so powerful… I feel so violated, I just, I just don’t… know anymore.”
“Are you finished?” Deeds asked regarding Grander as he fought to find his words.
“Yes, continue,” he nodded.
“I was going to say, you’re right. I don’t know. I really don’t know what is going on, or what is going to happen next. What I do know is that I did all that I came here to do. Granted, I failed miserably, but I did my best. The spores have spread because of your indiscretion in the basement, Mr. Grander,“ she shot him an accusatory look.
“I wasn’t in my right mind.”
“A great chaos has been unleashed in the fair town of Knowlton’s Corner and things are only going to get worse from here. If there is any consolation, Ms. Bainbridge, Mr. Grander, is that it is out of my hands. It is out of your hands and your hands. It is out of everybody’s hands. There is nothing left to do but to give up.” She looked back down at her own hands again and slapped them upon her lap bracing herself to stand up, “which is exactly what I’m going to do. You know what? Forget the tea,” she said as she stood up just as the kettle started to scream. “I don’t even know why I’m here anymore. I’m going home.”
“But –but-“the spiritualist turned the stove off as the kettle pitched higher and moved it away from the burner. “What about the cat?” She whispered the word as if she didn’t want the infernal beast to hear.
“Yeah, what about the cat?” Max Grander touched the bandage on his head and cringed. “It has gotten the taste of human flesh, my human flesh.”
“What about the ghost?” Ms. Bainbridge asked, “What did you say his name was?”
“Bracken,” Deeds and Grander answered concurrently.
“Well, what about Bracken? What about the basement? What is going to happen?”
“You’re the psychic,” Deeds replied as she exited the kitchen. “Good luck?” She stopped and spun to offer them hopeful words of encouragement, “I’m going home.” Octavia Anton Deeds turned back around and exited the house on Abernathy Avenue leaving the spiritualist and the collector to stare at each other in a stunned silence.