Leslie Blackwell Leslie Blackwell
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and "he" climbed into bed with her.

Jim Miller Jim Miller
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"...she stood out like a sore thumb everywhere where she went,..."---omit where.

Leslie Blackwell Leslie Blackwell
Recommendations: 21

let's not "be" too hasty?

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Daniel Bird Daniel Bird
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The Canterbury Mansion


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She had a friend.

This writing contains explicit content and is only for adults. You have been warned.

This is my 'Halloween' Themed Horror Story. Enjoy!


Canterbury Mansion - Part One



       Dora Van Swan had heard the tales of Canterbury Mansion - tales of dark spirits, screams in the night, missing children and fire and brimstone deep beneath its foundations like a staircase to hell. The town’s people - much like the rain, cold and distant, offered little by way of comfort. Steeped in old tradition and folklore, they spoke little of it, saying in hushed warnings that it was a haunted place and that it was not wise to be poking around in such corners of the county, asking the kind of questions that brought only resentment and glares, but what choice did she have? She had not eaten a proper meal in over a week; mostly handouts in a town where that sort of thing - begging for food - was frowned upon. She had slept beneath an abandoned train only two nights ago and under the bridge just last night. She was dirty, smelly and in need of a good long sleep.


       Cold and wet, her faith in the world - in all good things - was dwindling every hour that passed. The nearest city, Fair Garden, was over sixty miles south, and with no one willing to venture out on a stormy Sunday afternoon she was running out of options, and fast. All through the day she stumbled along, begging for change, pleading her case, asking if the town had an emergency shelter, or if anyone needed help with work. She had worn out her welcome at the 9th street Diner quite quickly when she was thirty-cents short for a cup of coffee. They served it to her on the condition she was to leave as soon as she was finished, “and no...we ain’t looking for no waitresses or dishwashers. We’re doing just fine with what we got, thank you.”  And soon after she was back out on the street, cold, wet, hungry and thirsty once again.
      
       She walked right into the front door of the town Jail and spoke to the Sherriff. Gibson laughed at her, a stern warning flashing through bent teeth and dark eyes, scratching his belly with one meaty paw, while his other hand caressed his pistol, soothing the darkness deep over the room itself. “You have twenty-four-hours to make yourself useful here or get the fuck out of my town. I see you wandering about after that, and I’ll see to it you get the Book.” He winked, tipping his fat face beneath a grimy Cowboy hat, “The Judge is my cousin - likes me a great deal. I’ll see to it personally that you do hard time.” His eyes brightened to an evil green, “I’ll lay you flat out and trump some deviant shit on you.” His breath smelled of cheap cigars and cheaper Whiskey, “He laughed at her and pointed to the door, a vicious scowl painted over his face, “Twenty-four hours. Now get the hell out of my Jail before you become a permanent fixture.”


       Crying, overwhelmed with misery and uncertainty, a flood of questions slammed into her brain like a tidal wave. ‘What the hell am I going to do now?’ ‘Where the hell am I?’ ‘How’d I end up in a miserable piece of shit town like this to begin with?’ And then she remembered. It was Daddy. He began touching her more and more after mom died three years ago. She had grown used to it, shutting herself off when he would creep into her room to begin his late night advances. She would close her eyes and go somewhere far away, blocking it out of her mind when he slipped his hand up her skirt and into her panties, when his hands ran over her bottom, before they removed her underwear and climbed into the bed with her. 1 comment


       It wasn’t so much that his fingers went wild when they made it inside her that frightened her. What truly frightened her was when he began calling her ‘Elle.’ And it shoved her over the edge when she spoke out against him, “Daddy! It’s me, Dora. Mother’s dead! She’s been dead for a long while now, Daddy!” And he beat her for it. Again and again, with the belt, with his fists, with those shameful rubber ‘toys’ he’d picked up along the way. She begged him to stop. But he kept on, tearing at her clothes until she was naked as the day she came into this world. She fought back as hard as she could when the hot water washed her sins clean, forcing her lungs to submit, begging and pleading with him - anything to make it stop, “Daddy! You can do anything you want, just please...stop, Daddy!” And he indulged in his wicked ways, over and over and over again. And even now, broke, exhausted and dirty, beneath a constant torrent, amidst the cold and heartless town of Whispering Pines she felt far safer than she did at home.  


       Crying, stumbling across the tracks, into the part of town that she knew to be of lesser value - the one place where she just might be accepted, if only as trash, she found her way along the old Main street. Trudging along a six block row of sullen stores, leaning walls and grimy windows she saw a sign that made her eyes twinkle: ‘coffee: fifty-cents.’ ‘Washer: one-dollar.’ ‘Dryer: one-dollar.’ ‘Detergent/Fabric Softener: two-dollars-fifty-cents.’A hot cup of coffee would become her whole world. The moment she stepped inside the only two people in the place - an elderly white lady and an elderly black lady stopped folding their clothes, hushed and bore straight into her before glaring their discontent - before going back to whatever conversation they were having before she entered.


       It wasn’t too often that they had the displeasure of meeting a Native American ‘runaway’ around these parts, whispering beneath their breaths how she ought to go back to the reservation where she could be with her own kind. ‘Typical runaways’ one of them said. ‘No shame,’ said the other. On they went folding their clothes, paying her no mind. Barely out of her teens, what else could she be? Tight blue jeans, camouflage jacket, Army Green backpack, she stood out like a sore thumb everywhere where she went, and those shoes...red runners...what was she thinking?  At the counter she was met by an elderly fellow - tall, thin, denim coveralls and old scarecrow hat with a great big beard and moustache. “What can I do for you?” His eyes ran the length of her body, stopping at her breasts, a certain, sick gleam awakening deep inside them. And then his eyes went down to her crotch and pondered for a moment before grinning at her like a cool, glass of Home Brew waiting to be guzzled down. 1 comment


       A cold chill spilled through her blood, causing her to shiver, “I’ll take a coffee.” It was then that she noticed the bulletin board to her left, and an ‘ad’ that seemed to dance right on into her eyes, “Canterbury Estate, looking for a House Keeper Immediately! No experience necessary. Will train!” It just came out before she could stop herself, “Excuse me!” The man turned, the coffee pot in his hand, “What?”


       And like that, like the last hope in a sea of despair, a tide of bad luck and zero opportunities, she said, “No, wait!”


       “So...you don’t want the coffee?”


       “Um...no.”


       She took a pen from her backpack and wrote the number down, “Do you have a pay phone I can use?”


       “Sure. Just outside there.” He put the coffee down. “You ain’t thinking of calling that place are ya?”


       She didn’t answer. Instead she went outside, took the phone up, slipped the two quarters in and dialled the number. It was ringing. “Hello?”


       “Uh...hello! My name is Dora Van Swan. I’m calling about the Housekeeping position.”


       “Well...”


       “Is it still available?”


       “Well, yes, but...how old are you, dear?”


       She said the first thing that came to mind, “I’m nineteen.”


       “I see...” The voice on the other side was squeaky, old and rather stern in nature, “Where abouts are you?”


       “I’m in Whispering Pines. And you, ma’am...where are you?”


       “Have you ever done housekeeping before, Dora?”


       “Yeah, sure, lots of times.” She lied, “I can cook, I can clean...I do laundry - anything you need done I can do it. I’m not afraid of hard work.”


        “Well, I have to tell you that you’ll be keeping the house by yourself in my stead.” Her voice, sharp and squeaky rang with a certain edge, a kind of hesitant quality behind it, like a locked door one must never dare to open, “It is a rather large house. Fourteen bedrooms, eight baths. Old, airy and...” she hesitated, “I’ll be honest...its rather unappealing to the youth of this generation. I’m not sure it would suit your-”


       “Ma’am...! I’m sure I will be just fine.” With that her mind began an all-out assault on her soul with fancy fireplaces, crystal glassware, aged wine, all the food she could eat and above all, warmth and comfort. “Trust me, ma’am...”


       “Mrs. Hennessy. Call me Mrs. Hennessy, child.”


       “Well alright then, Mrs. Hennessy. I should tell you now,” she pressed, “that I’m the perfect person for the job. You don’t need to go through any more trouble looking for someone else.”


       “Well, Dora...let me be honest... I was rather hoping for someone...a little...well, older. Someone who doesn’t...” Scare easily. She didn’t say it. “Oh heaven’s...the time...where does it go? Now, you should know that I won’t stand for parties or recklessness, or childish-”


       “Ma’am, I’m very mature for my age, and just so you know, I don’t smoke, and I don’t party and I don’t do drugs.”


       “Well, child, that is all good and dandy, but-”


       “Listen, ma’am, why don’t you give me a try for tonight, and if you don’t agree that I am perfect for the job, then you can let me go tomorrow, no hard feelings.”


       “You sure are persistent, Dora Van Swan.” The line went quiet. A long silence passed.


       “Ma’am? Are you still there?”


       “Yes, child - still here.”


       “Well, what do you say?”


      “Well, seeing as how no one else has replied to my ad, I guess I have little choice. You go on and take a taxi, dear. Come right on over. I’ll see you shortly. Tell the taxi driver to bring you on up to the Canterbury Estate at the top of Misty Grove. The cash will be in the mail box at the end of the lane. You’ll find a winding road with heavy forest on either side, just walk on up. And don’t bother knocking. Just come right on in.”


       “Canterbury Estate at the top of Misty Grove, got it. See you soon.” She hung up the phone, a blast of relief coming over her like a warm bath, like a daisy-scented bar of soap with fresh towels to lead her off by the hand, sweetly laying her down in a warm bed for the night, caressing her soul, whispering soft silk over her naked flesh. She headed back into the Laundromat, the three sole occupants staring her down, their eyes lit with a certain fire, ...somehow warning her, “Child,” Miss Nona Louis (The black Lady) said to her, “you ain’t thinking of going on up to Canterbury Mansion are you?”


       And then it was Ms. Rothchild, “Heaven’s child...what would possess you to do a thing like that for?”


       Dickie Thomas, taking a hold of his beard, shook his head slowly from side to side, “Forget that noise li’l darling...you come on and stay at ‘ol Dickie’s t’night. I’ll feed ya real good an’ make sure you get yerself all cleaned up, good’n fresh.”


       The other two looked at him, their eyes short of glaring, a subtle shaking of the head, as though knowing his motives full well - their lustful nature just waiting to make her acquaintance. “Child, forgive us our bad manners. I’m Nona Louis, and this here is Velma Rothchild.” They smiled in unison, somehow reaching out to her, “you can come and bunk with us at the old Turtle Inn. No charge. One night and then we’ll see if we can’t fix you up with something to keep you busy and out of trouble, come morning.”


       “I thought you wanted me to go back to the ‘Reservation’” she said with a sneer, “So I can be with my ‘own kind.’”


       “Well,” the two old ladies looked at each other, “now, now, child, no need to be getting yourself so wound up. We was just being impolite. That’s how we deal with new folk come walking through town stirring up dust. We ain’t mean nothing by it. Just some good old fashion ‘looking out for the community’ is all.” Something in their eyes warned of uncertainty, of danger, “Come on with us, we’ll make you feel right at home. Call your parents in the morning and have you returned safely.”


       She withdrew quickly, “Thanks a lot, but...” She sneered with disgust, “I came in here for help - a cup of coffee, and all I got was a couple of old bags telling me to get back to my rez, and a creep who just won’t stop staring at me. Thanks, really...for being so kind and helpful.” Erupting with sarcasm, it was evident that her trust and what little hope remained inside her was crushed upon entering the laundromat. From the moment she entered - after each of them had showed their worth she would not be convinced that their motives were pure, “But I think I’ll be taking that job offer.”


       “Now, now, child...let’s not be too hasty.” 1 comment


       “Too hasty? You mean like how you two - all three of you were too hasty to send me packing before you even got to know me? You mean, like that?”


       She turned to Dickie, who - still staring at her with lust deep behind every motive he could muster - stood quietly scratching his chin beneath his grey beard, “And you...Stop being a creep, man...! Just let me use your damned phone so I can get the hell out of here.”


       Dickie leaned in close, his elbows on the counter, a look of great concern closing in on her, making her slightly uncomfortable, as though the last thing she expected from him was a real moment from him. Since she had entered only a few minutes ago this was the first time he looked at her as a living, breathing human-being with a heart and soul, without looking at her as a piece of meat he could eat all through the night.


       “Why the hell you staring at me like that, man? Jesus! What’s you problem?”


       Reaching out with his eyes, for the first time since he saw her, was a man. Not a monster. Not a lustful creep, no...just a man. A man with a real genuine appeal, with real motives that were not bound by lust. “Young lady...” He leaned back a bit, “What’s your name?” He smiled, “Just so’s I don’t have to be calling you ‘young lady.”


       “My name is Dora. Now can I use your phone to call a taxi?” She crossed her arms, “or could you be a dear and call me a taxi? I won’t bother you for anything else, Dickie, is it?”
Jus
       He tipped his old cowboy hat, “I just think you ought to hear what Mrs. Louis and Ms. Rothchild have to say.” He looked at her with the utmost sincerity, his tone gentle and rather sincere. Enough to make her wonder just what it was he was getting at. 1 comment


       “Fine. Then will you call me a taxi?”


       He nodded.


       She turned to them both, “What? What is it? Why don’t you want me to go? Its people like you I can’t stand. Always trying to keep someone down. Is it because I’m an Indian? Payoot? Tomahawk?” She rolled her eyes, her beauty coming across in a way that reminded them just how precious and beautiful life was. It was something deep inside her dark eyes, feminine nose and thick lips that they recognized outright: pain. Demons. This one came from a bad place. It was then clear that she wouldn’t go home. Didn’t want to be at home. Or maybe she had no home. “I know what you’re up to.” She wiped the first tear that fell from her face, and before her emotions ran away with her she toughened up, sending them back down into that pit of darkness where the fires burned hottest deep inside her soul; where her walls were built so thick nobody could ever reach her - where she was safe. Safe from all things. Safe from the world. Safe from daddy’s fingers. Safe from daddy’s hard thrusts.


       “Child, you should know that...” they looked at each other, their eyes grim and filled with fright, “You should know that the Canterbury Mansion is...”


       “Is what?” she asked, tiring quickly of them - their shrewd attempts at keeping her grounded. She knew their kind. She saw it the moment she walked in. The prejudice. The racism. The perversity. A town that hated outsiders. A town that would see outsiders fail. And she knew too that there were people everywhere that hated the good things people were capable of. She knew too that those same people hated seeing others rise above their own settled, deeply-embedded natures. It was those people - the sheriff, the laundromat owner and the Turtle Inn keepers, she disliked most. It was clear they would do anything to keep her down, to keep her dependent and homeless and begging in the streets. “Well...? You were saying...!”


       “Child...”Ms. Rothchild, looked to the others a final time, “The Canterbury Mansion is haunted.”


       “A dreadful place,” added Mrs. Louis. Taken somehow by a nervous air she removed her glasses and began cleaning them.


       “It used to be a ski resort, back in the eighties,” said Dickie. “Successful too. But now...” his eyes went away, “it only ever rains there. Not a drop of snow. People say that its because of the fire.”


       “Fire?” Dora’s eyes lit up, fearing just how far they would go to keep her down.


       “Thirteen people lost their lives there.”


       Her heart began to race, her mind screaming at her not to be taken by their stories. She knew in her heart that they were just trying to scare her. “Yeah, yeah...nice try, but everybody knows that ghosts don’t exist.” She stomped her foot and reached out to them with clawed hands, grabbing and prying, “Boo-ooh...! I’m so scared...!” She straightened up and laughed, “Okay, now will you call me a taxi?”


       Dickie shrugged his shoulders and began dialling the number.


       Seven minutes later the taxi pulled up. Just before she stepped out to meet it, Mrs. Louis reached out to her, touching her shoulder, her eyes all lit up with angst, “Here. Take this with you child.” She placed it around the girl’s neck, “Its Saint Michael. He’ll protect you.” And with a serious twinkle leaping out from her eyes, she said, “you keep your wits about you, Dora.” She motioned her a moment as she reached for a pen and paper from behind the counter, shoving Dickie aside, “This is my number and this is the Turtle Inn front desk. You go on and call me whenever you want. Any time of night. I’m not far away.”


       Ms. Rothchild came forward, “Pay no heed to the shadows. Keep the lights on. And no matter what...” her eyes lit with serious velocity, “keep all the doors locked after dark.”


       It was Dickie who offered the final word of caution, “Pay no mind to the...” Voices, he was going to say. His better judgement uttered something a little more encouraging, “the old creaking of the house. Its old. It creaks in the wind.” He tilted his old hat once again, “You take care now, darling.” He too waved her back in, “Here you go. Its on me.” He handed her a hot cup of coffee.


       In those final moments before saying good bye her thoughts of them had changed. They were no longer mean-spirited people. “Look...I’m sorry if I snapped at you guys.” Her hands closed around her bag. She looked at Dickie, who had somehow lost that perverse look, “Thanks for the coffee.” To Mrs. Louis and Ms. Rothchild, she said, “I have your number. I’ll call if I need to.” She winked, “or if I get bored.” She laughed, “maybe you can tell me a story before bed.”


They smiled as she entered the taxi. It was Mr. Rothchild who waved at her frantically. The taxi stopped. Dora rolled her window down just as the first drops of rain began to fall. “Hold on a second, Child!” Ms. Rothchild raced up to the car, digging deep down in her purse before bringing removing a dark object. “Here. You’ll be needing this!”


       Dora began, “But I don’t believe in this kind of thing.”


       “Never you mind about that, child. You just go on and keep it with you at all times.”


       Dora didn’t fight, “okay. I will.”


       “You promise?”


       “Yes. I promise.”She rolled the window back up and waved them good bye. It was difficult leaving. It was in those final moments that she saw that they each had so much more goodness to offer her. She placed the bible in her backpack and took a sip of coffee, the warmth of it seeming to comfort her down to her soul. And like that, all bad things melted away. Even the thought of daddy.


       “Where you heading”


       “Um...Canterbury Mansion. At the top of Misty Grove.”


       Her moment of serenity died when the taxi driver offered her a strange look. His eyes lit up and his voice seemed to have shrunken, “You know the place is...”


       “What? Haunted?” A nervous energy entered her heart, seeming to fill what little space there was inside the vehicle, “Yeah, I know.” She took another sip. “But everybody knows that ghosts aren’t real.”


       “Well...I’ve been here all my life, and all my life I’ve heard strange stories about that place. Just saying...that’s what the word around these parts is - that its haunted. A dozen people burned in there. They say...” he caught himself, “Well, you know how it is. Rumours and gossip and old wive’s tales. Pay no mind to what people say. They’re old fashioned and superstitious is all.”


       “Say, can you turn on the radio?”


       The song was already in full swing. She knew it. It reminded her of mother. She sang along with it, the electric guitar and drumbeat, somehow soothing, until she realized the words. And for the first time it seemed like an omen. A bad one filling up her soul with an air of dread and terror. The Eagle’s. Hotel California.



So I called up the Captain,
“Please bring me my wine”
He said, “We haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine”
And still those voices are calling from far away,
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say...


Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place
Such a lovely face
They livin’ it up at the Hotel California
What a nice surprise
Bring your alibis


Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device”
And in the master’s chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can’t kill the beast


Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
“Relax,” said the night man,
“We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!”


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