Allington House – Part 2
Ginny seemed frozen to the spot as she watched Geves leave the room.
What was going on?
Michael had entered the space no bigger than a walk-in closet and disappeared. She turned around to talk with Geves, and Alex disappeared. Then the butler walked off, mumbling something about Samhain—whatever that was. And what did he mean ‘every year’?
She followed Geves and heard Walter’s giggle as he rounded a corner.
“Walter! I’ve lost my brother and his friend. Can you tell me where the, um, closet in my room leads?”
Walter looked blank. “The closet?”
“It’s probably not a closet, but it looks like one. The door in my room that leads into a space—”
“Let me finish what I’m doing, and I’ll come and see you,” he offered, heading in the opposite direction.
Once back in the room, she sat on the bed to wait. The images on the walls were intriguing, so she rose to inspect a much smaller one in the corner. A tap on the door startled her as Walter let himself in.
“Now, what about losing your brother in a closet?” Walter giggled.
Guided towards the internal door, Walter turned the handle. To her surprise, it led into the adjoining room.
“This door?” asked Walter.
“But …” she stammered, walking through to the empty room.
“Built-in closets were not a feature of older homes, I’m afraid.”
“No, the door led to a small space …”
Ginny returned to her room and studied the walls. Were there two doors?
“Geves,” Walter called. “Have you seen the two men that came with the young lady?”
“Um, no, Sir.”
“It seems they’ve disappeared.”
“Yes, I know. Miss Virginia had informed me.”
“What did you mean when you said ‘Samhain’?” she asked Geves.
“Samhain?” asked Walter, turning to look at Geves.
“All Saint’s Eve, sir.”
Walter took a step back. “Oh. Right. Well, then.”
Walter pointed for Geves to shut the door. “What do you know about Halloween?” he asked.
“Halloween? Um, it’s a day to dress up, trick or treat. Wait, are Michael and Alex playing a trick on me?”
“It’s possible. But Halloween—or Samhain—is an old Celtic festival that lasts three days. Strange things often happen within the house at this time of year. But don’t worry. You’ll be fine.”
Geves, standing in the background, cleared his throat.
Walter looked at his butler. “Not now,” he hissed before turning back to Ginny. “I’m sure they’ll show up. Just keep that door closed and locked.”
She closed the door as Walter and Geves left.
Tired of waiting, Ginny went for a walk and found a quaint, old-fashioned pub. Hungry, she ordered a meal and thought, if the others wanted to play silly games, they could be ignored and not ruin the weekend.
After eating, she continued along the main street, wondering if Michael and Alex had gone to rehearse and made her way towards the King’s Arms. Posters at the entrance announced upcoming events, but ‘Electric Gerbils’ wasn’t listed. The manager didn’t know to whom she was referring either.
More confused than ever, she returned to Allington House. Geves greeted the young woman whose furrowed brow surprised him. He looked out into the street before closing the door.
“You are alone.”
Ginny didn’t know if he was asking a question or making a statement.
“Yes. I take it my brother isn’t here?”
“I haven’t seen him, Miss.”
“Well, if you see him, can you tell him I’ve gone to bed? I don’t want to be disturbed, and his game isn’t funny.”
“Of course,” said Geves.
The butler offered a steaming beverage in a mug. “You might like this, Miss. A cup of tea. The master maintains it helps guests sleep.”
The exasperated woman shrugged, took the mug, and headed for her room.
Ginny woke and fumbled to find her phone. 06:20, and yet it remained pitch black within the curtains of the four-post bed. Despite the creaks and groans associated with old houses, she had slept well. She pulled a curtain back to discover the room shrouded in darkness and shadows. Puzzled, she got out of bed to find the light switch.
The bedside table made her stumble before eventually finding the wall. It felt cold and rough, not what she’d envisioned. She followed the line to where she expected to find the bathroom, but it wasn’t there. The only light source came from a small vent towards the ceiling. Fumbling, she retreated to bed and turned on the flashlight of her mobile phone. It was a surprise to see she wasn’t in the same room. The floor and walls were blue stone blocks. There were no windows or doors. A cell replaced the bedroom.
Her mind raced as she tried to make sense of the nonsensical situation.
“What is going on?”
She studied the room closely. Were there secret doors on the walls or floor? A chord to summon Geves? There must be an exit.
No obvious entry points, windows, lights, or chords presented themselves. She was stuck.
“Help!” she yelled. “Can anyone hear me? Help!”
The walls dampened the sound of her voice and fell silent.
A vent, high on the wall and illuminated by a dim light, could be reached if she could find something to climb on. But the only furniture in the room was a flimsy bedside table already knocked over and the gigantic bed. It was her only hope. Ginny positioned herself. Feet braced, hip, and shoulder against the furniture, she pushed with all her might. Moving to different posts and parts of the bed, she tried repeatedly, but it wouldn’t budge.
She sat puffing, reassessing her options. Calling Michael’s phone number, three beeps signified no coverage. The home screen clock showed 12:16, but the room remained dark. This couldn’t be correct. She hadn’t been awake for six hours.
Filled with fatigue, she climbed back under the blankets and closed her eyes.
A distant shriek woke her with a start. She sat up, but it took several seconds to remember where she was. With bedcovers clutched to her chin, voices mumbled and light flickered through the vent.
“Help! Is anyone out there?” She yelled rushing towards the vent. She bashed at the walls even though she knew they’d make no sound.
Something scraping across the floor had Ginny diving for the bed and the phone flashlight. She shivered from cold or fear; she didn’t know.
The home screen clock showed 01:09. Was it midnight or noon? The phone couldn’t be working properly.
The crackle of what sounded like a bonfire disappeared. Silence filled the room while the dim light through the vent continued.
She pulled at the pieces of information. If it was a fire, it must have been in the courtyard, meaning she was underground. The basement. Someone would have to realize she was missing and come looking for her.
Calming herself, she knew it was a matter of time before someone found her, so drifted back to sleep.
In the subconscious world, between sleep and awake, the ghosts came. Ginny watched as they pulled cadavers through the walls and dumped them in a corner. A pile grew before unseen voices chased the body snatchers away.
A bonfire grew, casting light on the room as people in togas and silk tunics appeared to dance and vanished. Sheep bleating and the juvenile bellow of calves grew louder before fading into the distance.
Afraid of what she might see, she watched through a crack in the curtain at the end of the bed.
She scrambled up the bed as the curtains were drawn, revealing a man standing before her.
“You must come,” he stated. A broad smile lit his face as Ginny looked around, puzzled. Frightened and backing further away, the man held his hand out and motioned for her to follow. As his face became stern, he commanded, “Come!”
Reluctantly, she followed as the man clapped and jigged across the room, replacing his sternness with jolliness. Jack-o’-lanterns lit the room. Water swished in a keg as apples bobbed on top. She stopped by the barrel and peered at the dark waves.
“Ginny! Are you in there?”
Mesmerized by the water, she continued to listen to the distant conversation.
“Ginny! Open up!” called Michael, pounding on the door.
“I fear we may need to break the lock, sir,” said Geves.
She heard kicking on a wooden door until it gave way.
Startled by the rude awakening, the young woman sat up in bed to see Michael, Alex, Walter, and Geves enter her room.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
Michael was first to her side. “Are you okay?”
She seemed surprised. “Of course, I’m okay. Why?”
“You’ve been sleeping for nearly 20 hours.”
A dull headache in her temples began as she searched her memory. Her face paled as she looked at Walter and Geves. “What happened to me?”
“My apologies, Ginny. Samhain.” said Walter.
She looked startled. Michael and Alex had disappeared. “You’re back!” she exclaimed. “Where did you go?”
Alex sheepishly stepped forward. “Sorry, Ginny. With it being Halloween, Michael and I wanted to play a trick on you. I created a false room. Geves helped set it up, and Michael and I spent the evening down the pub.”
“Sorry, Gin,” said Michael.
“But then the old house lived up to its old tricks,” explained Walter. “It’s common for people to enter a dream state where spirits from the past come to take them away.”
“The Apple Bob,” whispered Ginny. “The water… it was like a trance…”
“Right, boys. Come out to the courtyard. We’re going to stock that fire and get it blazing. Ginny, get dressed. We might have a long night ahead of us!”
The courtyard was lit up by a blazing bonfire. Michael and Alex sat to the left of the fire with Walter and Geves—out of his butler’s uniform—opposite. Once again, her mind felt muddled.
“Ginny,” called Walter.
Michael stood to greet his sister. “You okay?” he asked.
She nodded, looking quizzically at him.
“Good. We have a confession.”
“You wanted to experience ‘the old days,’ so Alex and I created an old-fashioned Halloween experience.”
“Let me re-introduce myself. I’m Alex’s Uncle Walter, also known as Dr. Williams. This is my guest house, but it was all a set-up for you.”
“Sorry, Ginny. I had nothing to do with the hallucinations, except for the secret closet.”
She turned to her brother, expecting more of an explanation.
“Uncle Walter said we could feed you enough Samhain stories, give you a mild sedative, and your mind would do the rest,” said Alex.
“You drugged me!”
“It was a harmless prank.”
“You broke the door into my room? Did the prank go wrong?”
“No, no! That was all part of the theatrics,” explained Walter. “Nothing has been broken. You were never in danger.”
Astonished at the revelations, Michael led Ginny towards a seat. Lost for words, she sat by the fire.
“You okay, Ginny? We may have gone too far.”
She raised her eyebrows and tilted her head, thinking about how to reply. She turned to the butler. “Is your name really Geves?”
For the first time, he looked into her eyes and smiled. “Sometimes.”