Flexton Forest

Author’s note: Creative Splurges isn’t just a blog dedicated to photography; it has long been my intention to include creative writing whenever I actually wrote some. This story is my first complete piece of creative writing since I graduated university in 2006 – please be gentle. This is also a first draft, so all input is very welcome.

Flexton Forest Bed and Breakfast was essentially an old farmhouse in the middle of the countryside, the only building on the quiet country lane on which it resided and at least a mile away from any other inhabited building.

The front door of Flexton Forest Bed and Breakfast was average-sized, very old, and rotting a little at the joins. The bell on the door was old, plastic and didn’t seem to work at all. The knocker was brass, dirty, and made a tinny little noise when used, but apparently it was enough to alert the lady of the house.

“Good afternoon,” she said in that cheery way old women have where you can’t tell if they’re being polite because they want to or have been raised that that’s the only way to speak to people, no matter who they are.

The man at the door smiled. “Afternoon. I have a reservation, in the name of William Wakefield.”

“Ah yes, do come in.”

William struggled slightly under the weight of his baggage as he crossed the threshold into the hallway.

“Just need you to sign in here,” said the woman, positioning herself behind a small desk and opening up an old diary. “Staying long are you?”

“Just a night or two,” came the response, as he signed his name in what he assumed was the appropriate place.

“Thank you. Let me show you to your room.” The woman ascended the stairs.

After a short time fumbling with keys, the woman managed to open the door to the room. The inside could only be described as – well, you know what your gran’s house used to look like? Too posh to actually live in and a relic of another bygone time? Something like that. Only this room at least smelt clean.

After she had dispensed the usual pleasantries about where the toilet and shower were, when breakfast was and would he like white or brown bread, she left him alone in the room.

William let his bags just fall to the floor. He strode over to the kettle on the dresser with the intention of making a coffee.

The floor was deceptively uneven and made a creaking noise that was enough to create some doubt on the structural integrity of the building.

Rummaging around the offerings on the tray that lay next to the kettle, he found various sachets of things that could only be called tea or coffee in countries with slightly more lax trades descriptions laws. He decided against a hot beverage and to instead head out and perhaps find a pub somewhere. Patting down his pockets to ensure he had his wallet, he locked up his room and started heading back down the stairs.

He caught something in the corner of his eye and felt a strong, primal shiver up his back that made him stop dead. Not the sort of shiver you get when it’s a bit chilly and your body lets out a shiver in one quick sudden movement; nor even the sort of shiver you get that makes old women say that someone’s walked on their grave. This was something stronger, predating graves and chills and [hawking] back to a time when you only had shivers when something is really, truly wrong at a deep and fundamental level. If you’ve had one you know what I mean.

He looked around anxiously, not certain of this strange feeling or where it came from.

His eyes fixed on an old photo on the wall. It was clearly taken in days gone by; it was black and white with faded edges, the sort you only get with really old photos. In the photo was a man with long chops, and the sort of eyes that follow you around the room.

That wasn’t it though. Eyes that follow you around the room are creepy right enough, but that’s usually only enough to give you one of those ‘walked on grave’ chills.

William continued to stare at the image.

“Seen the picture of Old Herbert Trenton, have you?”

The voice snapped him out of his gaze. The woman continued talking.

“Terrible shame, so it was. He was a kind, caring man, so they say. His bride was killed on the day they were to be wed.”

“Isn’t that a little clichéd?”

The woman stared at him as if she had never heard anything so rude.

“We can’t help the cards life deals us,” she replied curtly, and continued her journey up the stairs.

William glanced back at the photo on the wall, let out a short shiver of the second kind, then proceeded down the stairs.

Halfway up the stairs, seen by none but those with sight not obscured by the perceptive filters we create for ourselves – and cats – stood a solitary woman, staring longingly at the photo of Herbert Trenton with the sort of sadness only the demised can truly comprehend.

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