Miranda Smith, All Rights Reserved
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
I own the places, names and situations contained within these works. Anybody found copying, duplicating or storing in a retrieval system will be dealt with through a court of law.
The first thing I learned about Porthole, was that the weather was perpetually cold and miserable. It was July yet it reminded me of a cold winters day back in England, and that was saying something. I remembered complaining that England was always cold and miserable, but now, living in the small fishing village on the outskirts of Minnesota.
I scowled, I hated Porthole. Porthole with its cold weather and its strange inhabitants, the village was set in their ways and frustratingly old-fashioned. The locals liked to stare at me, the strange British girl with the "Posh" accent.
I never did understand the appeal of this place, sure it was beautiful, with its rolling hills, beautiful countryside and sparkling lakes. But it was freezing! Even is Summer, the temperature rarely went over twenty degrees, in Winter, the temperature went ten below. Or so I heard.
My new school was quite small, with a grand total of 170 students, fifteen teachers, one cranky old janitor and the overly cheerful receptionist. When I arrived, in a uniform that was two sizes too big for me, I was immediately an object of fascination, like an animal in a zoo.
People gawked at me and whispered behind their hands about the, and I quote "Girl with the awesome accent."
I was assaulted with questions about what England was like, where in England did I live and my favourite, did I know the queen. In all honesty, I took it all in my stride, answering their curious questions with as much friendliness as I could muster.
It wasn't that bad, I guess. I mean I had Harper, who was everything I could ask for in a friend and more, she lived down the same street as I did and every day, we would head to school and chatter about Harper's long time crush since fifth grade, Adrian Thomas.
Adrian Thomas was the subject of every girls crush in Porthole High, with his floppy brown hair that fell into his captivating blue eyes and the cheeky grin that always seemed to be present. Not only that, but he was in AP classes for both electives and the core subjects, he was head of the debate team and I heard that he volunteered at the homeless shelter in his spare time, yep, Adrian Thomas was perfect.
To me, I didn't understand the appeal, sure he was good looking and smart and kind but he was cocky with it. He was popular and he knew it. Not that I didn't like him, I just didn't fancy him. As an eleventh grader, Adrian was a whole two years older than us mere Freshmen.
The grades system in America had taken a while to get used to but now I was proud to say that I understand the American Education System. Jeez, I need to get out more! That was the whole reason I had ended up walking along this deserted road, cracked and worn from misuse. Harper had complained that she was bored, so stupidly, I suggested Truth or Dare. Nobody could ever accuse me of being boring.
Which is how I ended up freezing my arse off, walking down this creepy road with the overwhelming feeling that someone was watching me.
The country road was lined with trees, the long branches crisscrossing each other to form a canopy of leaves that allowed a limited amount of sunshine to pass through, casting a dappled green light upon everything beneath the canopy.
Birds chirped and the leaves rustled as I stumbled along the small footpath, cursing my stupidity at accepting this stupid dare in the first place. When I first moved to the sleepy fishing village of Porthole, I had thought it would be incredibly boring, and I wasn't right.
The locals were weird, nobody talked to anybody and the only shopping mall was thirty miles away, the nearest bus stop being seven. Branches tugged at my clothes and I batted at them impatiently. I silently cursed Harper for daring me to do this stupid dare in the first place.
The old cottage wasn't a cottage at all, but rather a large stone building that was falling into a serious sense of disarray. It had been built in the early 1200's, closing down in the late 1300's after the bubonic plague, wiped out more than half of the population of Porthole, including the entire orphanage.
It stayed deserted for another hundred years until a family bought it out in the late 1500's, they remained there for another hundred years, generation after generation of the same family passing through the doors. Then rumour has it, something happened in that house, the entire family were found dead and it's remained abandoned ever since.
I never had been a superstitious person, but looking up at the old, stone building with its dusty windows and cracked brickworks, I felt a trickle of unease go through me. In the year I'd been there, in the year that I had been there, any local talking about this place, talked about it with the same tone of fear and revulsion.
With no caretaker to maintain the place, it had fallen into a great sense of disarray, which was a shame because it could have been such a beautiful place to live. The mountains stood in the backgrounds, serving as a beautiful backdrop, with a large, crystalline lake in front of it, sitting just alongside the road.
Brambles took up most of the spacious front garden, tangled together to create a thick, green wall of foliage. Weeds crept their way up the cracked garden path, the only visible parts, cracked and shiny with age. I gulped as I stepped through the large, creaky iron gate and looked up at the windows.
I won't lie and say the air gave off an oppressed air or that it seemed to leer down at me like some sort of evil beast. I won't say the air felt thick and evil. It felt just normal, I never understood why people were scared of this house. What I did feel, was an overwhelming sense of sadness, so thick it was almost choking.
I hesitated as I stood before the tall, wooden front door. It felt as if I shouldn't be here, it was like I was snooping in somebody else's underwear drawer. I was snooping on uncharted territory and it unnerved me.
But pride pushed me to reach out and finger the rusty door knocker. It may have once been a serpent but now it was nothing more than a hunk of twisted and rusty metal, years of fierce weather and misuse wearing it down from its previous splendour.
Taking a deep gulp of air and swallowing my reservations about breaking into what was once somebody's home, I reached out and wrapped my hand around the cold metal of the door handle. It struck me that the house would be locked up, but to my great surprise and chagrin, the door swung open with a bit of tugging.
A cloud of dust hit me, thick and choking. I coughed and flapped my hands in front of my face as I waited for the dust to settle. I nearly gasped out loud as I took in the sight before me. A large, spacious hall stretched out before me, darkness wrapping around the corners like some sort of blanket.
I blinked as my eyes adjusted to the darkness and the room came into sharper focus. A sweeping flight of stairs lead up to a wooden balcony which housed the upper floors, the bannister twisting around and out of sight into the darkness. A window at the end of the hall allowed a little of the dim light to stream into the room, highlighting the dust that swirled in a strangely mesmerizing pattern.
A cold breeze bit at my back and I shivered. I turned back to the front door and eased it shut, sighing in relief as the majority of the cold was shut out. I turned back to the hall and crossed my arms over my chest, turning back to the gloomy hall. My fingers fumbled on the walls, feeling for a light switch until I remembered that this place had been abandoned for hundreds of years and held no electricity.
Cursing myself for my stupidity, I peered into the gloom to see what I could find to take back to Harper. It was then that my eyes caught a large and rather ornate looking fireplace. Taller than me, it took up half of the wall opposite the window, two ratty armchairs were sat in front of it, a table turned on its side, scattered its contents across the floor, contents being a silver plate and the remnants of what once must have been a wine glass.
A large pile of wood sat by the fireplace, cascading down to the dusty floor and scattered around the two chairs. It was almost as if the people who had sat here, had abandoned what they were doing and left in a hurry. I shook that thought from my head as I approached the mantle, running my fingers along the dusty surface.
Upon closer inspection, the fireplace was wooden, a deep mahogany colour that set off the tone off the grand looking house rather well. It was quite easy to imagine a fire crackling merrily in the hearth, casting warmth upon the inhabitants of the room.
I could just make out an indentation, a picture of some sort with my fingers in the fireplace but in the limited light, it was impossible to say. I was beginning to get more and more uncomfortable with the darkness as the minutes ticked by, so I turned to the pile of wood; a plan already forming in my mind.
I fumbled in my pockets, silently cursing myself for wearing the impossibly tight jeans as I struggled to fish the box of matches from my pocket. My hands stumbled and they fell to the floor with a loud clatter that echoed through the empty hall.
I cringed and bent to pick up the matches, growling slightly in frustration when I saw that they had rolled all around the floor, pretty much lost in the impenetrable darkness that cocooned me. I dropped to my knees, cringing at the feel of the dirt beneath my fingers as I felt blindly for a match.
My hands brushed over the box and I breathed a sigh of relief. Perhaps some would be inside. It was then that I heard it, it was so swift that I thought I could have imagined. It sent shivers down my spine and caused my stomach to drop somewhere vaguely between my knees and ankles.
It was a whisper, quick and cold. I didn't make out what it said but it sent a shiver of unease right through me. I whirled around, peering through the stretching blackness, heart beating wildly as I tried to spot what made the noise.
Dismissing it as a rodent of some sort, I turned back to the pile of wood, picking up several pieces and throwing it in the cold grate. Now, how do I do this? I thought to myself. Coming up blank, I decided to just improvise.
To my great surprise, as soon as the match hit the woodpile, it erupted into flames, sending warmth over me and casting dancing shadows along the room as it was thrown into sharp relief. The once purple wallpaper, was grey with age and peeling from the walls, showing the stark brickwork beneath it.
There was nothing else in the hall but the chairs, two doors that sat either side of the staircase and the window at the far end of the hall. Biting my lip, I headed for the first door, ignoring the sense of foreboding that washed over me as I headed towards the first door.
My instincts were now screaming at me to stay away from that door, to just leave and not come back to this house! But of course, I ignored it. Heart fluttering in something I mildly associated with excitement, I reached out and pushed the door open.
The loud creak seemed to echo through the whole house. I winced at the jarring sound and stood in the doorway, eyes trying to adjust to the gloom. I blinked and stepped further into the room, shivering as an icy cold washed over me. There must be a window open somewhere.
Perhaps it had been used as a drug den or another silly dare.
As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw that it was a living room, twice the size as my entire downstairs back at home in England. My eyes widened slightly at the sheer size and grandeur of the room.
Ceiling to floor windows sat to the left, boarded up with liberal amounts of cardboard, allowing a small sliver of silver moonlight to filter through the gap. I frowned, perhaps my assumptions about the open window were wrong then.
Shrugging to myself, I turned back to the room, taking it in, in more detail. The ceilings were high and probably would have been grand in their day. Another fireplace sat in the room, taking up most of the wall in front of me. There were still remnants of ash left in the fireplace and I frowned, I thought this place had been uninhabited for 100 years.
Dust carpeted the floors, so thick that not one inch of it could be seen. My footsteps were muffled as I stepped into the room. In the middle of the room, sat a sofa, two wingback chairs and a cracked leather loveseat all surrounded a rather grand looking coffee table.
Upon the table, sat a dusty looking decanter with an amber liquid still contained within. Broken glass littered the table and I swallowed, trepidation creeping to the forefront of my mind. I swallowed my unease and stepped into the room, spine tingling.
Glass crunched under my foot and I crouched down, feeling in the dark for what I'd stepped on. My fingers brushed something cold and hard and I immediately enclosed my fingers around it, curiosity getting the better of me.
I held it up, making out the vague outline of a locket on a chain, it was egg-shaped but that was all I could make out in the gloom that surrounded me. This would be a perfect souvenir to take back home to Harper. She had wanted proof after all.
I turned around, only to be faced with a wall of impenetrable darkness. In the time that it had taken to enter the room and pick up the locket, the fire in the other room had gone out, putting a stop to the small amount of light that had filtered into the room beforehand.
Swallowing my burgeoning panic, I fumbled around in the dark for the door frame, letting out an audible sigh of relief as my hands found the cold frame. Before I could step any further, a wave of vertigo, so strong that my vision failed completely hit me and I fell to the floor, the room spinning wildly.
A cold so deep that my very bones seemed to freeze washed over me and my eyes closed as I descended into darkness.