I hate this house at night. Like most old houses, it creaks and groans. The occasional mouse patters behind the wainscot. Constant crashing of waves against the rocks in the cove below disturbs my slumber too. Some nights, I think I hear muffled voices from above.
What was that! A series of thumps from the attic rooms above. What can my guardian be doing up there at this time of night? I pull the coverlet over my head in an attempt to block out the noise.
The next morning, my guardian leaves early on urgent business in town. After a lonely meal of kedgeree, I decide to investigate the attic. To my disappointment, there is no treasure, merely boxes of clutter, a doll‘s house and… Wait! An odd green patch on the floor.
Foolishly, I reach out and touch it. It’s sticky and stings my finger like a nettle sting. What on earth is it? My eyes sweep the floor to detect any further deposits. I find some on the floor near a far wall.
How odd. I idly tap the wall, it sounds hollow. A secret room covered over by panelling, perhaps? I continue my examination of this false wall and find a circular depression near the corner. I press my finger into it.
I jump back in alarm, part of the section of wall nearest to me slides to one side. The space revealed is bathed in a sickly green light. I nearly flee the scene, but damned curiosity drIves me onward.
I take a few steps forward and allow my eyes to adjust to the gloom. The room is sparsely furnished; a chair, a rough wooden table with the congealed remains of yesterday’s supper.
Why has Doctor Frost been eating in the attic? He is a private man, my arrival into his life disrupted his solitude. He seldom takes dinner with me in the dining room. I always thought he ate in his study. Obviously not.
My eyes rove further into the dingy attic where I spot a bed with a blanketed shape on it. I move closer, until the shape moves. I shriek as the covers are pulled down by a green, furry hand.
Once again, all my instincts are to run but I quash them. I want to know who, or what my guardian is hiding.
”Hello…” my voice croaks.
I hear a male voice but not with my ears. The voice is inside my mind, like my internal monologue, that chatters to itself during a boring sermon.
”Get me away from that monster… They hurt me…”
”Who? My guardian?”
They pull down the blanket to reveal a muscular torso covered with green fur and weeping gashes in the skin. It looks like my guardian took samples of the poor creature’s skin.
”Where will you go if I release you?”
”To the caves, my craft is there. I crashed in the sea nearby and Frost rescued me. At first, he was kind, let me live with him as a guest.”
“What changed his behaviour towards you?“
“Your arrival. When you arrived at the house I was banished to this room. He fed me on scraps and subjected to crude butchery.”
”Let me free you so you may escape.”
I run to other room and rummage through the clutter, searching for a blade.
Imagine my alarm when I hear footsteps coming from downstairs. I reseal the door whispering that I will rescue him another time. I continue rummaging through the objects as my guardian enters.
”What are you doing?“
“Just looking around.”
”Well don’t. You are not permitted in the attic. Please follow me.”
In his study I receive a lecture on the need to respect his house and belongings.
How dare he lecture me? His cruelty to that frightened prisoner is far worse than my trespassing.
I wait until it is safe to initiate a second rescue attempt. I have gathered food for my escapee to sustain him on his flight from captivity.
My head feels giddy as I ascend to the attic. To my surprise, the creature is seated in the chair reading. A plate with a slice of pinkish flesh is nearby.
”It is good to see you although, I’m terribly sorry about your guardian.”
”What do you mean?”
I feel the colour drain from my face. I back away only to collide into something behind me.
No, not something, someone. I turn to face Doctor Frost. His fingers reach into his hair, he begins to peel off his face. It is a mask of the face I always thought belonged to my guardian.
“No human, I don’t think you can ever leave. You know our secret…”
Merci pour la lecture!
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