Post 111. Written by Ben Kesp
The latest edition to the Reading Room is the weekly serial called P.I. Carson with Part 1 now available to read. The following is the opening from Part I. Click on the link that follows to read Part 1.
The silence of the night is broken by the oncoming beating hooves of two horses galloping under the forceful hand of their driver. Dusk slowly envelopes what is left of the fading day, casting its shadowy reach onto the brown carriage as it swerves sharply onto a dark tree-line avenue of pebble stone. The wheels race over the stones continuing to disturb the silence of the on-coming night sending an owl into the sky away from the din.
Placing her head outside the window she urges the driver, her coachman to go faster as she clasps her hands together in silent prayer. Exiting the heavy tree lined avenue, Edenwood Manor, her home appears in view and Charlotte’s eyes are drawn immediately to the plume of smoke rising upwards from behind the building of grey stone. The carriage stops abruptly outside the front door of the house and she alights.
“Is the house on fire?” she shouts, facing Michael Walsh as he jumps onto the pebbled driveway.
“It’s not the house but it’s comin’ from the rear of it,” is his reply.
“Fetch the water hose and follow around back,” she instructs, lifting her skirts and racing towards the rear of the house. Passing through the narrow passage at the gable end of the manor, she enters the back garden, with its plants and ornaments still visible in the falling of the night. Smoke billows upwards behind the apple orchard and instantly Charlotte knows it is the loft, an outbuilding that was once used as a barn now converted to a storeroom. Fear takes over as she exits the garden under an arch of roses to the back yard where the stables and sheds are situated. Charlotte spies her brother and she pauses, her chest heaving from the exertion.
“Frederick, what are you doing?” she inhales moving closer to him as he stands, staring on as the flames engulf the small barn.
“If urns! If urns!” he mumbles through his twisted lips, his deformed face turning into a smile.
Grabbing him by the arms she faces him. “Did you do this!? Tell me, Frederick, did you do this?”
“Nof. Nof. If urns.”
Moving towards the barn the heat from the flames warm her cheeks and she pulls back.
“Stand back Ms. Summers,” came Michael’s voice from behind her as he turns on the hose in attempts to put out the flames. “We will not be able to save it but I can stop the flames from spreading.”
Charlotte moves her gaze onto the blackened walls of the building now fighting against the enraged flames. She nods in agreement knowing there is nothing else she can do. Ignoring her brother’s giddy responses with the fire, she moves towards the garden and faces the back door of Edenwood Manor. She finds it strange that the fire has not brought her mother to the door or perhaps she is standing by the upstairs window. In the failing light, Charlotte has little visibility.
Entering the house, she steps into the hallway to be greeted by darkness. The hall of Edenwood runs the width of the house leading to the front door with an ornate wooden staircase situated halfway between both doors. Lighting an oil lamp she pauses and listens. The house is silent, blocking out all the external happenings.
Moving to step towards the stairs, Charlotte’s eyes fall onto a pair of legs suspending in front of her situated halfway along the hall. Fear roots her to the floor momentarily until she pushes her feet forward fighting the urge to run out of the house. Her trembling hand holds the oil lamp. Closing her eyes, Charlotte places her back against the wall and moves past the legs. Lifting her eyes upward they fall onto her mother’s distorted face, staring down on her. The moment overwhelms and her legs buckle, dropping to the floor, she emits a short low scream. The horror of the moment hits her knowing that darkness will soon overtake her physically and spiritually.
Read Part 1: P.I. Carson
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