Death Dances in the Shadows: Wyndwrayth excerpt Chapter 9

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Karen stopped as she reached the huge and imposing carved wooden doorway. It had an enormous latched entrance with a suitably impressive knocker, which appeared to be a huge breaching whale, made of brass. By the look of it, this piece of ‘fools’ gold’ hadn’t been used for many years, for it had a number of apparently mature pieces of Ivy, running through and around it. It only took Matt a couple of seconds and he joined her, looking up at this almost monumental entranceway.

“Can you imagine, having this thing built as your front door?” Karen postulated. “It must have cost a fortune.” Matt was looking at the strange lettering which adorned the stone arch. He wondered if it was runic. It was difficult to decipher covered in lichens, it was almost as if it was attempting to blend in with its surroundings.

“Speak, friend and enter,” he uttered and spread his arms out in front of him, almost in a gesture of adoration.

“O.K, so now what,” Karen asked, as she smiled and stood looking up at the latch, which was about eight inches out of her reach. “Got any more lessons from Middle Earth that might, at least, be of some practical use?”

“Leave it to me,” Matt said slowly, in a fake ‘deeeeep’ voice. He set his feet slightly apart, for better balance, suspecting that the doorway would be rusted shut, or at least stiff through lack of use. He braced himself for the impending strain and with a grunt, he reached up and at full extension, turned the old clasp. “Fucking hell,” he exclaimed in surprise as it swung open easily and he almost fell on his face. “Jesus,” he groaned, regaining his composure. “A small child could have opened it!” He took a few opportune deep breaths, then stood up straight.

“Strange, look how high off the ground it is……” They both just stood there in a state of confusion, as the door swung back and almost closed. Karen reached up and gently touched the unlatched door with her finger tips, which swiftly swung back open. Despite her bravado, underneath she felt alarmed.

“I barely touched it,” she whispered defensively and with a touch of abject astonishment in her voice. “I thought it’d be harder than that, to get into this place,” Karen muttered to herself, as she boldly took the first step inside. She slowly walked up the hallway, with her head turning from side, to side in an attempt to take in every detail. Matt, still on the threshold, watched her carefully and peered into the shadows on either side, looking for signs of danger. Then, Karen suddenly stopped. Before he could ask why, she called back to him,

“You really should come and take a squint at this place, it’s fucking amazing.” To hear her swear like that was quite unusual and in his state of heightened awareness, Matt could almost hear his heart beating in his chest.

“You swear beautifully,” he inappropriately offered, as his part in this curiously disjointed conversation. Matt, not wishing to lose her in this slowly decaying edifice, strode on through the open door and instantly looked for Kaz. “Christ, that’s bright,” he said, holding up his hand as a temporary shield against the shattered sunlight, which streamed into the dusty hallway, painting countless pin pricks of almost florescent light on all the surrounding surfaces.

Through those splintered slivers of luminescence, he could see her, standing some twenty yards in front of him. She was looking up a flight of pristine, white stone steps, leading gracefully to the floor above.

“Are you O.K?” he called out to Karen, with a tone which insinuated concern. When she didn’t answer, he continued clumsily, “You’ve been motionless, for what seems like ages…. I was getting worried you were hurt, or something…..” Just then, the front door swung closed behind him, with a resonating thud. Matt swung round quickly but there was no one there. Just a gust of wind, which swirled into a pile of dead leaves by the door, making a skittering sound.

“What?!” She suddenly blurted out, as if she had just been woken from a dream. Matt noticed the tone of her voice, this time had something close to an edge of wonder within it and ever more intrigued, he increased his pace towards her.

“I know this is going to sound really stupid but I can’t get away from the feeling that someone, or something, is watching every move I make in this place,” said Karen quietly. “It started the moment I walked in here. It just hit me like a wave of emotion and for a few seconds, I felt slightly disoriented.” Then, almost without taking a breath, she continued with the same train of thought but in a slightly higher register. “I’ve got this fucking weird feeling …..,”

He knew instinctively, what she was talking about.

“It’s this place,” he said but nothing else followed. He could sense that Karen had more thoughts to reveal but he wasn’t going to push her, so he waited for her to speak again.

“It seemed like the door closing, sealing us inside, brought this old place back to life. Like sealing us in, was just what it wanted,” she explained. “I feel like there are millions of pairs of unblinking dead eyes, just staring at me.” He moved towards her, intending to bring reassurance but as he moved closer, her disquiet grew. “It’s just fucking freaky in here!” Karen hissed and her eyes burned with fear.

Matt realised this was no hoax and the way Karen was talking, actually disturbed him. “Believe me, Matthew, it’s plain old fucking weird in here and I mean weird, to the max!” Then, instead of waiting for reassurance from him, or heading back to the doorway, she inexplicably began to ascend the stairs.

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