The Attic

By: Never Knows Best

Chapter One


It's been over a hundred years since the last of my family left this land, searching for something better across the ocean. I suppose they wanted to leave behind all the terrific events that occurred after I died. There were rumors of witchcraft within the family, and all the people of the small village had turned their backs on them. No one cared that they had just lost their son, their eldest, and their heir. There was only my younger sister, and my parents were to old to have any more children. At the time it would have been absurd for them to even consider giving the estate to my sister. That was just the way things were back then. They just up and left one day, two months after I was gone. I watched them go, from the shadows of the night, and wept for them. I didn't go with them, I'm not sure why. I just felt that it was my place to remain in Scotland, to watch over our home, as would have been my duty if I were still alive. Plus, I felt bonded to that house; I still don't understand it myself. The thought of leaving it, however, was ridiculous.

Since then many families have come to live in my house. Young families looking for a 'fixer-upper' as the term came to be. Or once or twice some wannabe businessman tried to turn it into a bed and breakfast. This insulted me. To turn my home into some impersonal place for swooning honeymooners and old couples! That was not what the Black estate was built for. It was a farm, and a prosperous one at that. Soon the guests at these bed and breakfast things started disappearing, and the Black estate came to be known as cursed. I started to regret taking the action that I did. The large house was lonely, and as I wandered the grounds at night I thought about what it was like having people in the house as there once had been. I even missed the noisy honeymooners and cranky seniors milling about the grounds, questioning the owners about the history of the black estate, something that they knew nothing about. They simply told their guests that the original owners had abandoned it when they moved to America after the death of their son. There was no talk of the suspicious death, the missing body, or witchcraft. Nothing at all that hinted at how I became a part of the undead.

I didn't mind so much, I was a private man, and when people tried to pry into my secret past I made it extremely difficult. Although I often felt gratitude to those who took good care of my family's home, I had no qualms with killing them if they irritated me. It saved me the hassle of hunting down my prey. And no one ever found the deaths odd, no foul play was ever suspected. I was careful to stop myself from breaking their necks, or sucking them dry. The death was always ruled as a stroke or a heart attack or a coronary or any other strange term the doctors had come up with over the last hundred years.

And so, for thirty years the estate remained uninhabited and fell into disarray. I did my best to keep it up, but I am only one man and the Black estate is very large indeed. It wasn't long before I fell into a deep depression. I had no one to talk to for three decades. It can really get to your head. I took to toying with my victims, making them talk to me before I finally seized them and drank the lifeblood from them. There were others like me, of course, they were all over Europe, traveling wherever they pleased, but I rarely spoke with them. Many were young and relishing in their new powers. And Vampires as a species were suspicious of others of their kind. Most were twisted and power-hungry, and would take the very first chance they got to kill you and take you power as their own, leaving you to die. I myself had done it once when I was a young Vampire, still getting used to the idea of sleeping in a coffin in my parents' attic, never seeing the sun again, and drinking blood every day until my strength grew. It's strange how quickly you become addicted to blood. It's like a drug, and even when you're strong enough to only need it once a month, or even less, you find yourself craving for it.

It happened on the first of August, a hot and sticky day when the humidity made the air as thick as soup. I had traveled out to the family graveyard, as I often did, to stare down at my own grave. It was an eerie, thing to see the pace where your body had once lain, dead, or so they thought. Iden Black, it read, 1867-1886 may he rest in peace.

"Only nineteen," I muttered to myself. What would I have done if I had lived past nineteen? Would I have gotten married, had children? I'd thought about it so many times that I had an entire future planned out for myself. I probably would have married have married Janet Greene and had at least four children and ran the ranch until I was old and then given it to my first son, as was tradition. I'd thought up names for them too. The first boy would be Connor, then two girls, Beth and Rose, and another boy, Thomas. I guess that's what you do when you have too much time on your hands. I was thinking about my unrequited future when I heard a low rumble coming down the road. I turned quickly and saw a pair of bright lights coming towards me. I recognized them as the headlights on an automobile, those strange contraptions that people had taken to riding in instead of horses. They were faster and more powerful and less work than maintaining a bunch of horses. Still, I found them odd, and although they'd been around for years, I could never get used to their noise and their smell.

The car turned up into the drive of my estate and for the first time I noticed that the electric lights that had been installed years earlier when electricity became popular, were all on and there were several black forms silhouetted against the window shades. Could it be…? Were there people finally back in the Black estate? How could he have possibly missed them? But then again, he hadn't really been paying attention when he left that evening. Now it seemed impossible to not notice the family of humans inhabiting his home. They were talking loudly and pushing around furniture and yelling orders at each other.

A middle-aged woman got out of the car, carrying several plastic bags of groceries in her arms. She struggled with them, juggling them in her arms while she fished out the keys and opened the door. The others didn't even seem to notice that she was having trouble getting the door open; it was a typical human thing to do. I decided I would go closer and take a look at the new inhabitants to my home.

I had trouble keeping myself from running to upper rooms to watch them, I was so excited at having people to watch and keep me company. I jumped up to the window of one of the bedrooms upstairs and peered down at my feet, through the floor. I was directly above the kitchen, where the woman, a man, and a young boy of about nine or ten were talking. The thing about being a Vampire is that you have several magical powers. I particularly enjoyed the one the allowed me to see through walls and floors, and my extra-sensitive hearing. There were also spells I knew to make things invisible, which was how I kept my coffin hidden in the attic, and I could fly and climb like a bat, not to mention there was the super-human strength. When you think about it, is it any wonder Vampires are arrogant and power-hungry? After all, the more you have, the more you want. 

"Why didn't any of you get the door?" The woman complained, "I was banging on it."

"I didn't hear you…" The man whom I presumed to be her husband said with a blink.

"Oh for heaven's sake!" She rolled her eyes and dropped the groceries on the floor. "Wesley, where is your sister?" She asked. I noticed that they didn't have typical Scottish accents; they sounded more like Americans to me. Well actually, the father did. Perhaps he had found a wife in America and was now taking them back to his homeland?

"She went upstairs," The boy, Wesley, said, "She brought her computer with her."

The woman groaned, "That girl! I told her specifically to help out with moving in."

"You know how she is," Wesley grinned. "She's so lazy…"

"Don't talk about your sister that way." The father sighed. "I'll go get her if you like, Daisy." He offered, turning out of the kitchen. "Aysel! Aysel honey!" He called, moving towards the stairs. It was then that I finally put two and two together. Aysel, the girl, was up here somewhere. I cursed myself for being so careless, and was debating whether to check on her position or simply hide when I heard the doorknob turn behind me. A girl stepped inside and I immediately took her to be Aysel.

She was an attractive girl, no doubt in her final years of being a teenager, with long, sandy blonde hair in a loose ponytail and small, dark blue eyes. I cast a spell over myself to make me invisible just in time to avoid letting her see me. She stepped in and peered around the room, and then looked towards me. I thought for a second that she could see me but then I realized that she was looking at the large bay window behind me. Her mouth twisted up in a crooked smile, "I call this room!" She called down to her father, ignoring his shouts for her to come down and help with the cleaning and unpacking. She sat down on the floor and set down a small notebook computer and plugged it in. I'd seen these things before, but their intended function was still a little hazy to me. I watched over her shoulder as she turned it on and opened up a file called 'diary'. She started to tap the keys on the tiny keyboard in front of her.

She was writing typical things, nothing I didn't expect for a young girl to write in her diary. She talked about how they moved from their home to Scotland. She was outraged, naturally, being taken away from her homeland and all her friends. And although the house was nice and big, she said, it was really creepy at night. I couldn't say I didn't entirely agree, but I am a Vampire, and I had no reason to fear the dark or the solitude of the estate.

I was going to leave her be with her thoughts when I noticed her typing something that caught my interest. I looked into the history of this place, She wrote, Turns out before this place was a farm for some family called 'Black'. But they left for the States when their oldest son, Iden, died. There were all sorts of things about witches and foul play, but his death was ruled as accidental. Weird isn't it? Someone was actually killed in this house! My parents won't believe me, but I know it's true. They say it's cursed, too. Back when this place was a bed and breakfast, people kept dying mysteriously. They say it was cursed. No one's lived here for thirty years. Tell me that isn't weird.

I was impressed. No one had ever gone through the trouble of finding out my history before, and she even knew my name! I was almost blushing. I straightened out suddenly when she jumped. The door had opened and the man came in. "Don't you knock?" Aysel sneered at her father.

"Honey, your mother wants you to help in the kitchen."

"But dad…" She whined.

"No buts, young lady." He said sternly. "Downstairs, now."

Grumbling, Aysel stood up and slapped her computer closed, storming after her father. I watched her, somewhat amused at her antics. I had been the same way with my father. Now I wished that I hadn't been so rude with him. After all, I had to cut off all ties with my family after my human body passed away. At least that's what Francis, the Vampire who turned me, had said. He insisted that if I showed up at my parent's place as a Vampire they would have me killed immediately. He made it sound like he was saving me a lot of heartache. I'm still not sure if that's true or not. I haven't seen Francis in over fifty years now, he just up and disappeared one day without a word to anyone. It was possible that he was dead, but I seriously doubted it. Francis was an extremely powerful vampire, after all.

When they were safely downstairs, I crept back up to the attic and listened to the familiar family chatter and arguing until dawn, when I crawled into my coffin and shut the lid tightly, thinking about what it would be like to have people around again as I was pulled into a restless sleep.

* * *


This is so dumb.

My senior year of high school is ruined. My parents are complete and total morons. No one in Scotland speaks real English, and although I have yet to see a man in a skirt, I have only been here one day so who knows, maybe I will. The mere thought is sending shivers down my spine. Ever since my parents announced that they were planning on starting a horse ranch, I knew my life was over. And then, of all things, they threw a huge curve ball at me and added "And it's going to be in Scotland!" I remember gawking at them for several minutes after that, trying to decide whether they were serious or playing some idiotic joke on me.

Like that time my mom pulled up outside my school and picked me up, screaming about how much trouble I was in. It scared me so much that I spent the entire drive apologizing for every minor and major misdemeanor I'd ever committed in my life…for two days! Yeah, she drove us all the way to Florida, Disney World to be exact, without a single hint, still yelling that we were in some deep shit. I didn't even realize that we were on vacation until we were checking into the hotel. I was convinced she was shipping me off to an all-girls boarding school. Oh how she laughed at me.

The trip sucked by the way, Disney World was designed for three-year-olds and my mom packed my clothes for me so I was stuck wearing a pink halter top and short and my most hideous orange bathing suit for two weeks while trying to avoid being hit on by strange American preps. Not to mention she forgot my special sunscreen; the kind that doesn't irritate my sensitive skin, and then I got my period. The whole thing was a total disaster.

And of course, when we got back, all those misdemeanors I had confessed had to be dealt with…

I was convinced it was something stupid like that, but my attempt to call their bluff was that bested when I was presented with my very own plane ticket to Scotland and an order to pack all my clothes and most-needed possessions. The ticket was coach, aisle seat. The flight was twelve hours along, and I just knew that I was going to die. What a horrible, horrible end to a teenage career. And Scotland? I mean, I know my dad is from there and all, but honestly! Kilts and sheep and golf and strange accents that are impossible to understand. And never once have I seen a hot Scottish guy. When you think Scottish, you think fat and hairy. I don't mean to sound all materialistic and shallow, but if your parents are going to force you to move to a foreign country, you should at least be able to enjoy the scenery.

And speaking of scenery, I would have been boundlessly impressed with the lush green fields and rolling hills and beautiful cliffs and salty air if it weren't for the fact that it looked exactly like Nova Scotia, which is where I'm from. I mean the only reason they called it 'Nova Scotia' in the first place was because it looked like Scotland, and 'Nova Scotia' means 'New Scotland'. Just thought I'd point that out. I'd had enough of rolling hills and green fields and salty air. How about some lakes and mountains, or even a bloody desert! If I see one more ugly, dirty sheep milling about in the middle of the road, I am just going to snap! This place has more sheep than people! It's absurd!

In a desperate attempt to avoid moving to Scotland, I decided to look up everything I could about this 'Black estate' my parents were buying on my trusty laptop and wouldn't you know it? I found out some pretty creepy stuff. As if living in a place called the 'Black estate' isn't scary enough, it was actually the scene of a murder and a few various accusations of witchcraft. The original owners actually fled for America in the late nineteenth century to avoid being stoned to death or burned at the stake or whatever they did with witches back then. Not to mention in its later years, just about anyone who tried to disturb the house died mysteriously and suddenly, or simply disappeared. What were the chances of five healthy men all dying of heart attacks and strokes for no reason? And over twenty bed-and-breakfast guests had disappeared into the woods and were never seen again in the last fifty years!

My parents thought it was cute that I was so terrified. But I had a right to be, didn't I? I was a firm believer in the supernatural, and the last thing I wanted was to live in a Haunted Mansion. The last guys had barely managed to get it set up with electricity before their equipment went haywire and killed most of them. Ghouls and ghosts? No, thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not usually the type to get scared easily. I mean, I won the 'scariest Halloween costume' at my school last year. I was this really realistic-looking undead vampire chick complete with fangs and blood and Gothic clothing. Some little kids actually started to cry when they saw me. And yes, scaring small children does make me feel big, so shut up about whatever you were about to say about me being a cowardly, mean, typical angst-ridden teen. I don't care.

My parents hate my clothes. I usually dress in black. They hate that my favorite T-shirt says 'Orgy' on it. But I can't help what ass-kicking bands name themselves, can I? I've only recently gotten into them and my parents seem to think it's some kind of phase. But I don't think so, or maybe I do and I resent that. If my parents are right and one day at look back at this part of my life and roll my eyes I will die! On the plus side, I've been singing Stitches under my breath for the last two weeks and it's beginning to drive my mother mad.

The first thing I did when we got to this 'Black estate' after the endless plane ride was crowd inside where we admired maze-like hallways and elegant staircase in the lobby and the mouse terds in the kitchen cupboards. Almost immediately we were plunged into cleaning duties, despite being jet-lagged and tired and starving, and feeling weird about living in a new country, panicking over our first day of school next week, and wondering how we were ever going to understand the teachers' lessons and the alien slang of the other kids. I didn't even get to see upstairs until it was nearly midnight, Scotland time, and even then I had to sneak away when my mom went to get us some food from the 24-hour convenience store she'd seen on the way in.

I immediately started searching for a room, carrying my laptop with me. The first one I encountered was a huge, Victorian style bathroom with a rusty tub with paws and a pedestal sink. Neat, I thought absent-mindedly, moving on to the next door. It was obviously the master bedroom, as it was too huge to be anything else and it had it's own little balcony. I decided to leave that one for my parents. On the third try I struck gold. The room was enormous, with an en suite bathroom, in the same style as the large one down the hall, and a huge bay window on the opposite wall with a spectacular view of the grounds, the ocean, the nearby lighthouse and the mysterious forest where so many people had disappeared.

It was strange though, as I stepped through the door I was sure I heard someone move inside, and I even saw someone out of the corner of my eye before it disappeared. But the room was great, so I forced myself to be brave. I puffed out my chest and took a deep breath, deciding to announce my fearlessness to whatever ghost was lurking in the room. "I call this room!" I shouted downstairs, knowing that no one knew which room I meant and doubting if they could even hear me. But I knew that whatever was in the room with me heard me, and that was what was important. I had authority here, that's what I was going for anyway. Was that a quaver in my voice I heard? I certainly hoped not.

I sat down on the floor and plugged in my laptop, trying to keep my back straight even though I was a tad nervous about this ridiculous haunted mansion. A horse ranch indeed! Good luck, parental units, but I'll be long gone before any undead creature can give me a heart attack, thank you very much. I opened up my diary and decided to tell it all about my horrendous plane ride, the stupid fat woman I had to sit next to, and mostly about how uneasy I was about moving into a haunted mansion. I had the utmost respect for the dead, you see, and the last thing I wanted was to upset one of them, especially if it meant paying for it with my life. I kept out the part about thinking there was a ghost in my room, simply because I suspected it was still milling about, and I wanted it to think it was unnoticed, for some reason. But I definitely felt a presence behind me. Of course, it could have been my imagination.

Somewhere downstairs I heard my father calling me. He probably was under order of my mother to get me back to work. Grumbling, I finished up my entry and waited for him to come up and get me. It was the only way he could stop me from pretending I couldn't hear him. Finally, the door creaked over and my father poked his skinny, bony face into the room. Even though I had been expecting him to come up, his sudden entry made me jump. "Don't you knock?" I sneered.

"Honey, your mother wants you to help in the kitchen." He retorted without a blink. I had figured as much. It was so late and my OCD mother still wanted to clean.

"But dad…" I started, knowing he would cut me off.

"No buts, young lady." He said sternly. "Downstairs, now."

I grumbled and stomped my feet in open protest to the slave labor he was forcing me into, but said nothing more as I snapped my laptop closed and followed him back downstairs, leaving the computer there to stake my claim on the room.

"There you are, Aysel!" My mother smiled cheerily as I glared back at her. "Once we've cleaned out the fridge and stocked it up I'll give you your sheet sand you can go to bed."

"I don't have a bed," I replied gloomily.

"All the beds were put down in the basement, Honey." She answered smoothly. Your father and I will go get them while you and your brother work on the fridge." I cast a look of contempt down at my brother but Wes just grinned right back at me, showing off his shiny metal braces. His mess of red-blonde hair hung sloppily in his face and his freckles crinkled together on his nose as he grinned. I just knew he wasn't going to do anything, so I decided I was too tired to argue with him and told him to go play his Game Boy and stay out of my way as I started on the fridge.

I was right about him not helping, by the way. I scrubbed that fridge until my knuckles were raw, and the constant crashing from downstairs was getting on my nerves. I nearly jumped through the roof at every loud noise, which gave Wes reason to laugh endlessly, making me even more annoyed. At one point they dropped the big master bed down the stairs and had to run back down to chase after it. My parents are total idiots.

It was quarter past two by the time I finally fell onto my bed. It was floating in the middle of the room as I didn't want to push it into any certain position in such a state, and the sheets were thrown on sloppily. I pulled my blankets over me in a kind of ball and closed my eyes, ready to fall asleep. But it took me longer than I would have like to get my much-needed rest. Although the presence I had felt in the room earlier was gone, I still had this strange feeling, like someone was watching me…