All Hallow’s Eve: Part Three
Once up on the third story Holly crossed the halls to the room where she had heard the sounds. She found the door open halfway. She slowly pushed the door open all the way and looked in. The windows were all shut and the room seemed to be empty. She entered the room and scanned the shadows with her candle. Everything seemed normal. She was turning to leave when she noticed that a shadow in the far corner that didn't abate when her light shone on it.
Fear gripped her; something terrible was in the room with her. Her blood turned to ice and her flight instinct kicked in. She slowly backed towards the door, never taking her eyes from the dark shadow in the corner. Slowly, it began to rise, its hulking form becoming clear. Blood red eyes turned on her, looking into her own and, against her will, she froze.
They stood there, looking at each other, for what felt like an eternity. Then it started moving, unnaturally fast. At the last moment, Holly managed to pull her gaze away from the creature's eyes and throw herself to the side. The creature shot past her and out of the room. She could hear it running down the hall.
Holly's first instinct was to hide and hope it didn't come back, but she remembered Douglas was sleeping on the floor below. She had to get back downstairs and lock that door to keep the creature away from her brother. In spite of her fear and trembling limbs, she jumped up and raced down the hall. She reached the top of the stairs and saw the creature was at the far end of the hall. It saw her and came sprinting after her.
She ran down the stairs, threw the door shut, and locked it just as the creature's body thudded against it. The door buckled, but held. The creature did not try again and Holly sighed with relief. Her legs gave out and she dropped to the floor. The shock of the experience took hold of her; she began to cry and fainted.
"Holly! Holly, wake up!" the voice sounded desperate.
Holly opened her eyes and found Jasper cradling her. She was still in the hall at the bottom of the stairs; the door was still shut and locked.
"Are you all right?" Jasper asked.
For a moment she was confused, then the memory of what had happened washed over her. She clung to him and cried. She was too distraught at first to speak. He just stroked her hair while he waited for her to calm. Finally she managed to tell him what happened. His face went completely white as she told her story.
"Thank goodness you weren't harmed, Holly," Jasper gasped.
"What are we going to do? There is a monster loose up there!" Holly cried.
"I am going to take you back to your room and you are going to go to bed. You've had a bad shock and need to rest. Then I am going upstairs to search for the creature. Don't interrupt, I won't go unarmed and things in the Haunted Woods are rarely half as strong during the day. I'll find it; assess what kind of a danger level it is, and then go into town to get the proper help dealing with it. I'll send Douglas on some errand that will take a while; so he will be safely out of the house," Jasper said.
Holly reluctantly agreed. When he left her in her room, she heard him lock her door and then knock on her brother's door.
A minute later Douglas' voice came through her keyhole, "Holly, Jasper has asked me to do something for him. I'll be back later, old mum. I hope your headache is lessened by then."
"All right, Douglas. Stay safe!" Holly called back.
She could see the drive from her window and a minute later she saw Douglas running down it. There was a tap on her door.
"I'm going up, Holly. Don't worry yourself too much, I won't take any risks," Jasper announced.
Holly wanted to respond, but her throat tightened and she couldn't. She heard him move away from the door. She closed her eyes and tried not to think about the creature. Half an hour later, her door opened and Jasper came in, looking relieved.
"There was no sign of the creature, but I did find an open window. The lock seems to have been broken for a while now. The creature seems to have left on its own. I put a block in the window to keep it from being opened until the lock is fixed. You don't need to worry, Holly. I don't see any reason why it would come back," Jasper told her.
Holly sighed with relief. "I'm just glad it didn't get downstairs to harm you or Douglas."
"I'm glad it didn't harm you. You were in far greater danger than Douglas or I," Jasper said seriously. "From now on, if you hear a noise in the night you will lock your door and tell me about it in the morning and I'll investigate it. Do you understand?"
"Now who sounds like my father?" Holly teased.
Jasper laughed and Holly was glad to find that she could join him.
The next week was calm and there were no more signs of the creature. Holly managed to put the terrible experience out of her mind. However, she took to locking the door to the third story before bed, just to be safe.
Holly was sitting up at midnight reading when she heard a creak on floorboards above her. Something was moving around in the third story again. At first she tried to tell herself that it was just Jasper, but she had seen him go to his room and she hadn't heard him leave it and go up there. As a Cybunny she had very good hearing and was certain she would have heard him as her room wasn't that far from his.
However, she couldn't escape the knowledge that whatever was moving around up there was too heavy to be Jasper. She got up and went across the hall to her brother's room. She locked his door, then went to check the door to the third story. It was still locked.
Fear almost made her sick. She hurried back to her room and locked herself in. The night was a sleepless one for her, as she paced her floor and cringed in terror every time she heard a sound that seemed to come from above. At dawn she heard Jasper leave his room, she rushed out of hers to meet him.
"Good morning, Holly. Did you sleep well?" Jasper asked cheerily.
"No, there was something prowling around upstairs again." Holly barely managed to hold back the sob that tried to escape.
Jasper looked grim. He took hold of her wrist and led her to the door to the third story. He unlocked it and started to go up.
"Wait, what are you doing?" Holly gasped, pulling against him.
"We're going to go look for it. Don't worry, Holly. I won't let anything happen to you," Jasper answered.
Reluctantly, Holly went with him. They combed the floor, looking for any sign of the creature, checking under beds and in closets and wardrobes, but there was no sign of it. There weren't any open windows this time either.
"What about the attic?" Holly asked.
Jasper looked up the flight of stairs that led to it and shook his head. "It has got one of the strongest doors and locks in the house. The door is still intact."
"Why does an attic have such a strong door?" Holly asked.
"My great-grandfather went insane, but my great-grandmother and her children refused to send him off to the asylum. Instead they made the attic into a comfortable abode for him. He had violent spells so they had to make sure the doors and windows were strong enough to hold him. The spells were pretty unpredictable. That was about when my family started getting the reputation of being a little off," Jasper explained.
"Oh, and what exactly do you do up there?" Holly asked.
"I keep my collections of things, plants mostly," Jasper said.
"All right, we've searched the entire floor and no sign of it. What's going on here, Jasper?" Holly sighed.
"Well, I know there was something up here the first time. That window was proof enough. This time, I think you imagined it. Don't interrupt; I'm not accusing you of being insane. You've had quite the experience; I think it is post-traumatic stress. You heard something and your mind started playing tricks on you because of that experience," Jasper explained his theory.
"That does make sense. I'm so sorry, Jasper," Holly apologized.
"No harm done, Holly," Jasper replied cheerily.
Holly smiled and went downstairs to make breakfast. The day passed uneventfully and Holly went shopping in the village. No one there was talking about a monster having been sighted. Holly was pretty certain that whatever had gotten into the house had left and gone back into the woods.
That night Holly was awoken from sleep by the sounds of something prowling above. She covered her head with pillows and tried to sleep; telling herself in was only in her head. Every night for the next week she heard those sounds above her. She felt like the terror would drive her mad.
A week from the day she and Jasper searched the house, she snapped. She dropped the pan she was washing from breakfast and hurried to the library. Jasper was sitting there, writing something in the worn leather bound book she had seen him reading almost two months ago at her house. He looked up in surprise at her.
"I can't take it, Jasper! I'm not insane or suffering from stress. There is something lurking this house. I can't pretend there isn't any longer. I have to leave!" the words poured out of Holly in a torrent.
"Holly, everything is fine, please calm down," Jasper said in as soothing a voice as he could.
"Don't tell me to calm down, Jasper! I'm not overacting or being silly, stop treating me like I am!" Holly shouted.
Jasper jumped up and crossed the room. The look on his face was almost desperate. He shut the door to the library, something Holly was glad for. She didn't want Douglas to overhear. He came over to her and placed his hands on her shoulders.
"Holly, it's alright. There is nothing to be worried about," Jasper attempted to console her.
"I don't believe that, I can't believe that. I have to take my brother away from here. I can't wait around for that thing to finally decide that it is bored with the third story. I can't let that thing near my brother. I should have left last week, I shouldn't have let it get as near to him as it is already!" Holly sobbed.
"Holly, it'll be fine, I promise. Please, don't leave me like this!" Jasper's voice had gone from coaxing to desperate.
As much as she wanted to get out of Feradean Manor she realized that if she left Jasper would be left alone. If something happened, there would be no one to help him.
"I won't let anything happen to you or Douglas," he insisted.
"All right, I'll stay." Holly gave in.
To be continued...