The Maybrick Estate

The cover of darkness

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The sun set deep into the horizon as if someone had covered the world in a dark blanket with tiny pin holes which were the stars.
The Estate was quite as I had expected, aside from light bulbs that crackled at random intervals and a low humming noise which I could only assume was generator of some sort, churning away in some unexplored room.
I felt like a prisoner in my own home. I lay on the mattress in the room I'd made my own on the first night of staying here, unable to get any sleep out of fear that my unwanted guests could take advantage.
The woman whom I was lead to believe was called Maria had set up camp in one of the rooms down the hall and hadn't left her room in quite some time. I could only assume she'd fallen asleep, either that or she was too afraid to come out. The native looking man on the other hand could still be heard below, pacing about in the foyer, opening doors and allowing himself access to explore the first floor of the building. He was adamant that he wanted to stay awake and keep a look out for the "others" that were due to arrive. He didn't explain when or why he was expected to meet them, but his anxiousness and pacing gave me the feeling that the "others" were long overdue to arrive and that there was an unexpected double crossing that didn't go in the couples favor.

I sat on the mattress with my back propped up against the wall, staring into the corner of the room in which I'd seen someone or something perched the night before. I tried to convince myself either way to make a decision on what it was that I'd seen. It was animal in appearance and certain mannerisms but also had human qualities, most notably it's ability to stand on two legs like a man and run off down the hallway with ease. If I had to apply scientific logic to what it was that I'd seen then the only thing I could best describe the creature as would be an emaciated gorilla due to its skinny yet muscular build and dark coloured skin. But why? here of all places would a gorilla live in an abandoned house? what would it feed on? where would it have come from in the first place? Surely I would have been more of a threat to an emaciated gorilla, especially after throwing a shoe.
However, on the other hand could it all have been a dream? much like the corpse in the bathtub and the encounter with the murderous woman whom was practicing acts of sacrifice in caverns under the house. Were they even dreams themselves? on a second inspection of the bathroom the bath appeared as though it was intact, and falling through the bathtub on the second floor in a maze full of underground tunnels just didn't make any sense. But on the other hand the woman I'd seen there looked just like Willard had described Cadence looking like - even down to singing Ave Maria. Was that an uncanny coincidence or is it something that's too "real" to ignore? If the Ketch brothers were anything to go by then perhaps there was no truth to Willard's story at all, meaning my encounter was nothing but dream and a coincidence at that. But what about the key? had it been a dream then how is it possible that I have hard physical evidence of taking something from it, after all dreams and reality are meant to be opposites, it's just not possible for them to co-exist.
I reached over to the set of drawers beside the mattress and snatched the small key into my palm, turning it in my fingers as I studied it, wondering where its matching lock was, wondering what mysteries could be uncovered that were worth locking away in the first place. Would it be anything significant at all?

I closed my eyes as I held the key, trying to remember anything from the moment the key had come in to my possession. But my mind failed to come up with anything new. I remembered the woman placing the key in my hand, I remember her kiss, and then I remember waking up on the mattress. The events in between the kiss and waking may as well not have existed. It was as if the events had unfolded on a tv set that had been switched off at one point and turned on again showing the same characters in a different scene, everything in between remaining a mystery.
And then It hit me, like slap in the face. It was obviously worth a try - when I first came into the room upon my arrival I had tried the dresser drawer, it was locked. By the size and shape of the key it only made sense that it would be the perfect match for the small lock.
So I tried it, I slowly inserted the key into the small lock and turned. The snapping sound of the locks mechanics moving out of place came as quite a relief, I wasn't entirely sure why, I could have potentially unlocked Pandora's box for all I knew. But at least the mystery of the key was solved, I no longer had to rack my brain over it.
The drawer was stiff, It squealed as it slid along its wooden runners. Dust leaked out of the open drawer like a mini tornado, taking its time but eventually clearing and settling enough for me to inspect the contents.
Inside were two books, both looking weathered and aged. One appeared to be bound in some sort of hide or leather which had been decorated in blue/black ink with a number of symbols, some of which I recognized throughout the graffiti in the house and also in the dream/encounter I'd had the other night. I was however familiar with the inverted pentagram which was the biggest and most central symbol on the front of the book. The other book was much more worse for wear, it was your basic run of the mill school textbook which was fat with the addition of glued-in news paper clippings and articles. I continued to sift through the drawer rather than reading through the contents of the books which I sat beside the mattress on the floor.
In addition to the books in the drawer was a medium sized leather satchel. Inside the satchel was a generously sized hunting knife, secured neatly in its own compartment. Deep in the bottom of the satchel hid an envelope sealed with red wax that had been stamped with what looked like a family crest, the name of which I was unsure of. As I turned the envelope face up I discovered that it's contents was meant for someone in particular - that person, was me. Written in fine ink calligraphy was my name - Sam James. I snapped open the was seal and removed the page from Inside. It was a brief note:





Sam,

You're either with us or you're not
don't fight it if it feels right
live like us, live free
live like a king
we make the rules, the world is truly ours
Make the sacrifice

-Dad





Why would my Father leave me a note? he'd never really even acknowledged my existence before. No letters, no birthday cards, not even the occasional visit. He was as dead to me when his cold heart was still beating as the day It had finally stopped. So why now? why from the grave has he decided to make contact? Why did he leave this house in my name? I didn't even give him the satisfaction of attending his funeral - we were worlds apart, we were strangers. So why leave this house to me? was did I have a legacy to fulfill or was this his way of kicking sand in my face one last time? was this his final curse upon my already ruined life?
Footsteps could be heard thundering up the steps from the foyer to the second floor, I expected them to stop when they got to the room in which Maria was supposedly sleeping but instead they came to a halt in the doorway of my room. It was the native man, he entered the room and stood over me. "I need your assistance downstairs", It was an order rather than a request, It wasn't like I had the option of refusing. I swept the books and the letter into the satchel and locked it back inside the drawer. The native man watched with curiosity, but didn't push for information in regards to what or why I was locking anything away in a drawer.
He lead me down the hall on the second floor, which in comparison seemed different in some way than it did before, wider and there were paintings and portraits along the flaky and graffitied walls that I hadn't noticed before. Perhaps it was the absence of adequate lighting that hid them away from my attention. The floor also seemed sturdier than it had been that morning, it failed to creak and groan in the same way that It had before. It felt as though its supports and beams were much more solid. I followed the native man down the stairs and back into the foyer where he took me through a door into yet another hallway. It was much like the rest of the house - once a picture of elegance, now telling a story of abuse and neglect. The hall was dark due to the absence of light. A tarnished chandelier repeatedly squeaked as it swayed from the ceiling on a abnormal angle, the thick cobwebs that hung from its broken bulbs suggested that it had been like that for many years.
The debris littering the floor was as atrocious as ever - liquor bottles, cigarette packets, used condoms, hypodermic needles amongst other noxious wastes that had been accumulated over the years and left to simmer in their own putrid juices. I was surprised that not once had I seen a rat or roach scuttle past, I expected the house to be a haven for all sorts of pests but apparently this place is too fucked for even them to want to live here.
There were a number of large wooden doors to yet more rooms that ran down the length of the hall, the end of which trailed off into a pitch black darkness. The native man removed a lighter from his pocket and lit it. The flame offered very little light other than a small glow within a very small radius of the native mans hand. The darkness engulfed the light like a thick black oil, the dominant of the two contrasts taking on a life of its own. It was then that I became aware of the familiar sounds of the house, the constant inhale - exhale. "hey" I whispered out to the native man, "do you hear that?". He stopped in his tracks and looked as best as he could in the confined area of light, his eyes wide as the panned over the walls and ceilings. "You did say it was just you living here?" he asked, appearing just as puzzled by the sounds as I was growing to be. He shrugged his shoulders and turned, taking a few more steps before once again, coming to a halt. He turned to one of the large wooden doors and turned its handle as he gave the door a shove with an open palm. The door opened easily aside from a small groan from its hinges. Light from the room flooded out into the hallway making the darkness retract like the tentacles of a sea anemone. I could have sworn I heard a deflated sigh as the darkness faded. The native man helped himself through the open door, leaving it open while I took my time to study the hall in closer detail now that the light had made things more apparent. We weren't that far from the end of the hall as it turned out, the darkness had been deceiving in the way that It had made the hall look longer than what it actually was. There were various paintings and wall hangings lining the walls of the hall in between each door. Portraits of people, previous owners perhaps along with tapestries that had long lost the colour and appeal of what they would have originally had. Along with the portraits and tapestries along were the occasional paintings, most of which depicted acts of violence and torture, executions and murders all of which also containing images of inhuman beings whom appeared to be enjoying the barbaric activities taking place in each scene.

The paintings reminded me of Willard's story and how he described such a hallway, the recollection encouraged me to confirm for myself of what was at the end of the hall. A large rusted metal door with a large circular crank at its centre just as he'd described. He really had been here - the details of his story were too accurate to pass off as being a good guess. The debris along the hallway crunched underfoot as I approached the steel door. Large rusted streaks ran from top to bottom, a result of years of condensation left to run and rust and bubble away at the paintwork which was flaking on to the damp rotten floor of the hall. Turning the crank was useless, Its mechanics had ceased tightly with corrosion so getting it open in a hurry would be out of the question.
The native man called for me to join him in the room that he had entered. The room appeared to be somewhat of a library, lined from floor to ceiling on all four of its walls with row upon row of hard covered book, all of which were in relatively mint condition if you were to excuse the dust and age spots. I was surprised to the cleanliness to the room in comparison to the other rooms I had seen so far in the house. The room looked as though It had been untouched as if the door had been sealed shut up until now, left the way the last official owners had intended. It was litter free, graffiti free and although the air smelt stale it was a nice change from the offensive smells the other rooms gave off.
I found the native man standing in front of of a bookshelf that lined one of the far walls, he was rubbing his chin with his thumb and forefinger. "What do you make of this?" he asked, pointing to a dark stains that streaked across the room and finished at the bookshelf. I knelt down to inspect the stains closer, dipping a fingertip in and studying its colour and consistency. It was dark red, and sticky. I looked up at the native man, "It's blood, not exactly fresh blood but I wouldn't say entirely too old either". The native man nodded in agreement, "Yes that's the conclusion that I also came to, but if you look closer, the blood - its cut off by the bookshelf". There was no denying it, that's exactly how it looked. As cliche as it sounded, the library in what was beginning to feel like a haunted house, looked as though it had a secret room behind one of its bookshelves.
The native man began removing books from the shelf in bulk and discarding them on the floor. "There must be a secret switch......a latch of some sort to get this shelf to move". There was frustration on his voice as if even he knew that the thought of having a secret switch was a little far fetched.
"Why are you so determined to find out what's on the other side of that wall?" I asked, "By the looks of things I'm not even sure I want to know, at least not until we contact the authorities or something".
The native man flashed me an angry glance and pulled a bloodied silver cross from his shirt pocket, it looked similar, if not the same as the one I'd seen Maria kiss earlier. "You see this, this crucifix is unique, sterling silver......only twelve were ever made, and I know each and every person who owns one. The plan was for each of those people to be here right now, those are the people Maria and I have been waiting for - but now, when I find one amongst blood stains on the floor in this house I find myself pretty fucking convinced that at least one of those people are asleep on the second floor of this house, one is standing right in front of you and one.........one is behind that fucking wall". The native mans chest heaved as he got more and more worked up with his own words, "And no one, is gonna call the authority....you hear me? now help me move this fucking wall".
I'd now seen a different side to the otherwise calm man that he had been up until now. I did as requested and helped him remove the books, starting from the top shelf down and eventually working our way to the bottom. With every book removed from the shelf we were no closer to finding an opening to the other side. The native man kicked at the shelving in frustration, "how does it open!" he yelled. He punched and kicked yet again but the wall did not move an inch. He turned to me and pointed a finger, "you told me you live here, why don't you know!". He advanced toward me with his shotgun in hand, it was only natural for me to take a few steps back and in doing so I felt the floor give way slightly underneath me, my foot sinking no more than half an inch into the rug that lay on the wooden floor. I'd found the switch.

The shelving made the mechanical clanking sound, the sound cogs and gears make when they grind together. The shelving sank beneath the ground exposing a small looking room which was covered in plain white tiles, from floor to wall to ceiling and yet another closed steel door on the back wall, not unlike the one in the hallway except smaller and in better condition and a fluorescent light that buzzed and flickered in a caged fixture in the ceiling. It would have otherwise looked as sterile as a hospital room had it not have been for the blood that was caked thickly in splatters against the wall and the vomit inducing sight that hung from the ceiling.

A human body gently swung from chains that hung by the feet from a winch on the ceiling of the room. The body had been hung up and skinned like a piece of meat, exposing muscle and sinew. Thick semi coagulated blood slowly dripped down into a small drain in the middle of the floor. The body structure looked to be that of a male, but it was hard to tell considering the genitals appeared to have been removed and the body had been sliced down the center all the way down to the chest cavity which had been opened and pinned back and the ribs, heart and most of the other internal organs had been removed. It was crass of me to think but It was clear that whoever had done this was far from being an experienced butcher.
The native man gasped and drew a cross from head to chest and from shoulder to shoulder. He approached the body with a look of shock and sorrow in his eyes. "O'neil, my brother.......", were the only words he seemed to be able to muster. He got down on one knee and placed the silver cross around the neck of the body as best as he could. He gave a moment of silence while he knelt, his head bowed like he was in prayer.
"We came here.......to this house, it was meant to be abandoned, it was meant to be a safe haven a place for the 12 of us to meet and regroup and dividing up the money before taking off together, crossing the border and starting new lives. It looks as though our safe haven, isn't as safe as we were led to believe. We've left one horror and fallen right into the hands of another.
I entered the tiled room and stood beside the native man, "You do know I had nothing to do with this don't you?" I apprehensively asked.
He nodded, "Yes, I am aware, although I didn't count on you being here, I do know more about this house that you may think. I know the stories, I just chose not to believe them". He got to his feet and made his way over to the steel door at the back wall. "My guess is that who ever did this escaped through here". He spun the crank clockwise with a single thrust which left the wheel spinning on its own accord.
The desired effect would have been for the door to open but stayed closed, not even budging a little, however to say that spinning the crank had no effect at all would have been a lie, it did something alright - it triggered the wall we'd passed through to rise up from the ground.
Trapping us in - the two of us and a hanging cadaver, left in a confined space with no known means of escape.

To be continued........

Next Issue: Necrophobia

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