Every Monday and Thursday brings two more free chapters of my exciting historical paranormal romance novel, Return to Rhonan (that’s four chapters each week). Set mainly in the Scottish Highlands, the reader will find much to enjoy on this mysterious well researched journey.
Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:
Return to Rhonan: Chapters 35 & 36
Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters
All rights reserved
Douglas looked down biting his lip. He’d tried so many ways to overcome this fear. All failed so far. He directed his gaze to jess. ‘I’ve had behaviour therapy, medication, hypnosis, but it hasn’t taken away the fear. It just helps me so that I can go near a lake.’
‘So, it may not be just that particular incident. If it was, it would be an exogenous fear, one brought about by outside influences. But, if as you say nothing has helped so it’s something within you. The accident only helped to bring it to the fore. A phobia really means there is something in your unconscious, buried, deep, too intolerable for you to bear. So, the mind is very clever. It has covered it with a phobia, that way you can cope with life. Whilst you’re worrying about the phobia, your mind is occupied, so the real terror cannot rise to the surface of your mind. ’
‘But you’re supposed to be on vacation.’
‘My work is my life Douglas– without it I’d just dry up and wither away as they say.’
‘So what about you and me?’
Jess lowered her eyes, ’Can we leave it for a while. I can’t go back – I need space now. It seems every man I pick rejects me, one way or another. Sometimes I think I do it deliberately, knowing they’ll leave me. ‘
‘Like your Dad?’
She nodded. ‘I know he died, but a child doesn’t know that, doesn’t accept it. I used to sit on the windowsill when was I about three years old and pretend I had a Dad that he was walking down the street, walking home to me. I thought if I pretended hard enough it would come true. I’d wave, and people would think I was waving at them and wave back. Children do have deep feelings at that age you know. They’re anxious if their parents leave them to go to work, or go out for an evening. So, I should have got over it. But…’
Douglas took her hand, ‘I didn’t mean to hurt you Jessie, when you showed me the locket, first I thought it was another fraudster, then I thought there was a chance you were the heir, and Marnie’s face swam before my eyes – I’m sorry.’
‘We seem to be saying sorry a lot today. ‘
Douglas stroked the pale delicate hand, so small in his. He longed to hold her in his arms, feel her heart beating next to his. He knew then he would never leave her, never leave the child in this woman’s body, the child waiting on that windowsill. If only she would have him back. He knew in that instant that he loved her, a love that came from the depths of his being, an exquisite pain slicing through flesh and mind. They had only just met, been together only a short while but already she was in him, part of him. His love would take them through life into death and beyond. Lovers’ thoughts, lovers’ sorrows. If only – if only he could take it all back. But, ‘if only’ were the two saddest words in the English language.
With the blinds and curtains drawn, the room looked suitably dark and sombre. The only relief came from candlelight flickering over the walls, picking up the golden fleur de Lys in the wallpaper. A faint aroma of lavender and sage wafted from pot pouris scattered on small occasional tables. Jessie was glad the two animals were safely ensconced in the kennels for the night. Any psychic gathering would really upset them; animals were so sensitive to the presence of spirit.
Noticing Lucy’s questioning gaze as Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata flooded the room, Dinah said, ‘The music draws spirit. Mediums encourage sitters to sing nursery songs, or whatever makes sound. Then there’re the scents as well, they cleanse, drawing in spirits from the higher spheres’
Twining her fingers in a lock of pale blond hair Lucy said, ‘I thought we were here to exorcise the woman in the painting – Murial?’
‘Oh no, we’re just going to sit in a circle, and hope Murial comes through. I think she needs help. There’s something terribly sad about her. ‘
Dinah said, ’Jess’s dreamt about her and the dreams don’t bode well.’
Douglas shifted in his seat. He didn’t want to be here, but if it meant being with her, so be it. It wasn’t as if she was asking him to believe. He looked at the Ouija on the table, with scraps of paper with the words of the alphabet placed in a circle around it, and the words ‘yes’ and ‘no’ positioned at each end of the table.
George said, ‘I thought we were just going to sit and hold hands. This is a Ouija board isn’t it? I’ve heard it can attract evil – well it does in films.’
Dinah laughed. ‘No that’s just fantasy. Anyway, this Manor doesn’t have any dark history does it?’
Nat frowned. ‘Well yeah, it does really; Maximillian, Lord Duncan’s younger brother was killed in a duel. Around the same time, Lord Duncan supposedly drowned himself and Father O’Reilly swears blind there’s a darker spirit here.’
Lucy said, ‘It’s been a place of horror. George and I had a day out. We drove over fifty miles to the Clearances Museum. They give lectures and slide shows on the Clearances of 1810 onwards. Thousands of people starved to death here.’
Dinah groaned. ‘Aw Lucy, don’t – can’t bear to hear of it.’
‘They had to bear it, families evicted from their cottages, living in holes in the road, children crying, dying on their feet.’
Jess said. ‘You’re right Lucy, there have been some terrible, heartbreaking things happening here. Maybe we shouldn’t go on with this. It’s too powerful – too dark.’
The Ouija board moved as she spoke. Jess clenched her teeth. ‘No we can’t go on. It’s too dark?’
‘Shut up.’ A deep voice sliced the air and their hearts with terror. ‘Ye cannot leave now. It’s started.’
Douglas tried to stand, but George pushed him back down. ‘Look at Lucy.’
Unconscious, Lucy lay slumped in her seat, her mouth partly open. In shocked silence, they saw a thin wisp of smoke escape through her mouth, thickening, building into a balloon shape drifting over the table. Dinah cried out as a skeletal head emerged from the smoke, the teeth clacking together.
Jess’s heart jumped as a male voice boomed out, ‘Can ye bear the suffering? Can ye bear to see our people dying, crying for food, bones sticky with fever, sucking them dry?’
Dinah tried not to run, as the skull zoomed in front of her, her heart pounding as it snapped its teeth the air in front of her, drawing nearer.
More smoke exuded from Lucy’s mouth. Jess whispered, ‘It’s ectoplasm.’
Douglas felt his heart drumming in his ears. Christ it was true, bloody true, life after death. God, but not this – not this. He crouched as the ectoplasm swirled above them, spiralling into the form of a young woman, her hair, scarlet trails of blood, socketless eyes turning to them. She uncovered a tiny skeleton, long vaporous fingers stroking the yellow baby skull, small toothless jaws clicking as it suckled at her breast. Hovering over them, she disappeared only to appear behind them gliding towards the writing desk. They watched in shocked silence as she began to croon ‘Bye Baby Bunting, Daddy’s gone a huntin….’
No one dared to speak as the room became ice cold, their breath tendrils of smoke. Lucy groaned ejecting a dense cloud of smoke. Another voice, deep, husky sneered, ‘Death comes. She shall be mine. Ye shall never have her.’
Despite his horror Douglas cried out, ‘Whose death, who?’
‘The bitch is dead.’ The dense cloud drifted over to Jess, the livid face of a man stretching forth, the eyes weeping pus, the teeth, yellow dripping slime, a face from the grave. ‘She has always been mine.’
Douglas gave a startled cry as Jess almost disappeared in a cloak of black smoke. He lunged forward, deaf to Dinah’s warning, clutching at Jess trying to pull her to him. ‘Get back to hell you evil bastard.’ As he held her, he felt a viscous slime dripping over both of them, into his eyes, his nostrils, mouth. Choking, fighting to wipe away the mess, he heard Jess coughing, gasping for breath, the slime spilling from her lips, he dug his fingers into her mouth trying to clear it, yet Douglas could not stop the putrid gel from filling her mouth.
To his terror, Murial’s wraith floated before him, the skeletal hands reaching out to Jess, the tiny jaws of the shrunken baby gnashing. His hands shook, as he tried to brush the wasted appendages away from Jess’s face, but in vain. In horror, he watched the bony fingers wriggle inside Jess’s mouth, pulling out streams of slime. He wanted to get up and run, but was rooted to the spot. To his terror and relief, he saw the flow of gel become small globules as Jess vomited out a mass of slime onto the table. Her eyes fluttered open, chest heaving as she began to breathe. Slowly Murial removed the emaciated fingers from Jess’s mouth and turned her head towards Dinah, drifting towards her singing ‘Bye baby Bunting, Daddy’s gone a huntin ….’
Dinah backed away, shouting, ‘Our Father who art in Heaven–’
A dark voice bellowed over Murial’s lullaby, ‘Time to fly … time to die … the piglet is screaming, Prissy is fucking a demon and I am dreaming of drinking your fucking BLOOD.’
A gale shrieked through the room, curtains billowing, ornaments smashing to the floor. The chandelier swung dangerously above them, a teardrop crystal falling as if in slow motion cutting Lucy on the forehead.
Nat ran to her, trying to lift her as the blood streamed over her face into her mouth, He cried, ‘She’s choking – choking on her own blood.’
Dinah shouted at him. ‘Paint the cross on her skin Nat. Do it – do it now.’
Nat trembled as he dipped in his fingers in Lucy’s bright blood spewing from the mouth, spraying his face and clothes. Grimly, he plastered a ragged cross on her forehead. Lifting her, he pleaded,’ Breathe Lucy – breathe.’ She jolted in his arms, the blood now just a dribble.
George ran to the windows, pulling open the curtains, tearing at the blinds, whilst Dinah switched on the lights. The dark mist cleared as George fell to his knees shocked. ‘Christ all Bloody Mighty, what was that?’ Tears streamed from Jess’s eyes as she panted, ‘Hell – George – Hell.’
Nat whipped his cell phone from his pocket. Tapping in the numbers, he said, ‘Father O’Reilly – Father its Nat here. Can you come quickly? Things are bad – bad here … Yeah. I’ll tell you when you get here…. We are in the Mermaid Suite … Yeah Mermaid Suite …. I’ll meet you outside.’
He put down the phone. ‘He’s none too pleased. But, he’s coming.’
Douglas scowled ‘You didn’t need to do that, Christ; we’ve had enough already.’ He stroked Jess’s hair, his fingers brushing away the last spots of gel from her lips. ‘Darling – you okay?’
Jess raised her eyes to his, and nodded her arm curling around his neck.
Dinah almost whispered, ‘Murial – she saved your life Jess. Did you see the baby?’
Jess spoke, her voice low in wonder, ‘Yes – it was awful, but she saved us Di. I felt her bones, her fingers down my throat – can’t believe it Di. My throat is so sore.’’
Nat held Lucy in his arms, tenderly brushing away the matted hair from her bloodied forehead. As he felt her shudder, he gently kissed her murmuring, ‘It’s okay sweetheart – it’s okay – I’ve got you now.’
Douglas looked over to Nat, ‘Thank God – it’s cleared. We don’t need the priest to whip it all up again.’
Holding Lucy tight, Nat said, ‘This place is dammed Doug. We opened the door to Hell, and O’Reilly’s the only one who can close it.’
‘But it’s all quiet – gone.’
‘So you think. But, evil like that just doesn’t go away. It’s bloody playing with us.’
Dinah rose to go to George, shuddering on the settee, when the lullaby floated softly through the room. ‘Bye Baby Bunting Daddy’s gone hunting….’
‘Did you hear that?’ Dinah crouched closer to George. ‘Oh God don’t say it’s happening again. We’ve got to get out of here.’
Hunched over, lighting his pipe, Father O’Reilly clicked off his lighter. Squinting through the smoke he coughed, his voice rasping. ‘Stupid, that’s what ye be, stupid, playing with the Devil.’
Nat said, ‘Father, it was just a small circle−’
Douglas felt needles of anger nicking his spine; he was talking to them as if they were bloody kids. ‘We certainly didn’t invite it; it was only a séance just a Ouija board and bits of paper for Christ’s sake.’
‘Don’t be taking the Lord’s name in vain boy. Sure, ye conjured up demons that’s what ye did. Did ye have no sense?’ He thrust the tobacco bag pouch back into the pocket of his shabby coat.
Jessie stiffened. Boy? Douglas thirty-four. He really was an offensive old man – rude – bad mannered. ‘I just thought−’
‘So it was you was it young lady?’ Taking his pipe from his mouth, he snarled showing stubs of brown stained teeth. ‘So tell me now. What pushed you to peer into Hell?’
Douglas put an arm around her. ‘That’s a bit much. She was only-‘
‘Bit much? Bit much did ye say? Better that, than she loses her soul, than be dragged down into the pit.’ He pushed his pipe squarely into his mouth, puffing.
Dinah tried to quell the rising tension. ‘Murial saved Jess’s life tonight. We think she’s haunting Jess. She’s having dreams – Murial appeared on a canvas Jess is painting.’
‘And would you be telling me who you are?’
‘Dinah – Dinah Shibley, a cousin of Jess.’
The priest’s eyes gleamed. ‘Beautiful enough for the Fey. Ye’ll have to watch they don’t fetch you away.’
Dinah blushed, catching hold of a lock of hair.
He shuffled over to the armchair, lowering his body into the comfort of the cushions. ‘Murial, is a sweet soul, an angel, tis not her that is haunting ye, as ye say she’ll be after protecting ye.’
Douglas sprang to his feet. ‘Protecting? She’s frightening the life out of Jessie.’
‘So tell me now, what is our angel doing?’
‘She’s possessing Jessie in dreams; now she’s appearing on a canvas holding a baby, a skeleton. It makes you shudder to look at it. Jess was painting a scene of the lake and the mausoleum. She left it for a few minutes, covering it up with a cloth. When she came back, Murial was painted standing inside the mausoleum’
‘Ah, poor wee soul, she is searching for something, waiting.’
’That’s why we wanted to help her.’ Dinah said, looking over to Jessie.
Turning to Jess, the priest asked, ‘And why d’you think she would be after helping you?’
Douglas spoke up. ‘I think there’s a connection Father. Jess showed me two scraps of paper the other day, and a locket?’
‘Hah, the locket again. Do ye not get tired of looking at bloody lockets?’
‘No Father, this time I think there is something. Jess could you get the papers and the locket please?’
As Jessie walked over to the desk, the priest’s eyes widened. ‘Is that not the desk from the attic?’
‘Yes Father, we-‘
‘I told ye to burn it. It’s possessed – a devil’s gateway.’
‘But Father I didn’t know it was in here. I specifically told Tom to put it in the barn. But, somehow it appeared here.’
Jessie said, ‘He was going to remove it, but I asked him, to leave it. ‘
The priest sucked on his pipe, ‘Hmm, devil’s work.’ Sitting down he took out a pair of spectacles from his top pocket and examined the scraps of paper. ‘There’s not much to go on here, two birth certificates. Hmm. The initials Mur and Mor? It could be anything. To be sure there’re many names beginning with M.’
Opening the locket, he peered at the painting, ‘Tis like his Lordship and this hair – tis so like−’
Lucy interrupted, ‘Maybe you could get a DNA reading?’
Douglas said, ‘Not if the strands were cut. It has to have a follicle on the end. And even then it may be too old.’
Lucy looked over to Douglas, ‘Might be an idea.’
Dinah jumped up. ‘I have some strands from the painting. I’m sure they’re an apport from Murial.’
The room darkened as a male voice cut the air. ‘Ye shall not have her, the bitch is mine.’
Father O’Reilly plunged his hand into his breast pocket bringing out a phial of liquid. Grunting his way up from the chair, he immediately began sprinkling the room
The voice cackled ‘Get ye hence ye canting priest. Your brain is pickled in drink. Your tongue vomiting flies-’
His face blotched purple with anger, the priest raised his arms as he shouted, ‘Begone all foul things from this-’
‘Maggots squirm in your stomach you piss pot of a priest.’
Taking hold of Lucy, Nat drew her closer to George and the others, whilst the priest rose to his feet.
His quavering voice now strong he roared, ‘Time to send this demon back to Hell.’
No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters
All rights reserved
Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here: