Within a Dream, part ten

Fiction By Hannah W. // 8/3/2011

 

"Well,” Molly said as we left the kitchen through the back stairway, “I was thinking we could—”
            She stopped short, and I craned my neck to see why. Sergio stood at the top of the stairs, looking down with disapproval.
            “What do you want now?” Molly snarled.
            “I need to speak with you,” he said, and then his eyes flickered to me. “Alone.”
            She turned back to me. I thought she looked slightly paler now, but her voice conveyed only impatience as she said, “Go on through the other way. I’ll come find you once Sergio’s done scolding me.” She rolled her eyes, but the action seemed weak.
            I felt both pairs of eyes on me as I squeezed past her up the stairs, walked away, turned the corner. I walked all the way to the end of the hall, feeling like they were listening to my footsteps. But I turned around and slunk back. I wasn’t going to simply walk away from a secret conversation. I pressed against the wall as I neared the corner, straining to hear.
            Their voices floated to me, rapid, whispered tones.
            “Not yet,” Molly said. “It’s hardly been three days—”
            “Three days is long enough,” Sergio hissed. “Now that Ellen’s here, it’s time.”
            “Stop doing that, saying her name all the time.”
            “She told it to me, remember?”
            I heard Molly draw a breath.
            Sergio went on, lowering his voice even more. “You know the rules.”
            “Rules,” she scoffed. “Like those even matter. You know who Ellen was talking to today?”
            “I’m not about to get caught up in some inane guessing game.”
            “Charlotte.” She spoke it soft as breath.
            “Charlotte…” he repeated. There was a pause, and I wished I could see their expressions. Was he surprised? Angry? But then he spoke, and his voice was perfectly calm. “There will be consequences, of course.”
            “Not for Ellen.” The force behind Molly’s voice surprised me. “She doesn’t know anything.”
            “Molly, Defender of the Innocent.” He laughed, throaty and low. “Don’t fool yourself. We both know that’s not who you are. Besides,” he added, “maybe she does know things now. Did you hear what they were saying?”
            “No.” She sounded small.
            “Well, then,” he said. “What is coming will come.” He paused. “For them and for you, Molly. You can’t fight it for much longer.”
            “I can,” she said, her voice rising. “I will fight it!”
            “Yes, you will,” he said. “And you will lose.”
 
           
I turned and ran down the hall, landing each footfall as softly as I could, everything I’d just heard rattling around in my head. I kept running until I found myself somewhere vaguely familiar—and when I saw a door slightly ajar, I realized it was Molly’s bedroom. I ducked inside, slammed the door behind me, caught my breath as I leaned against it. The iron gilding was cold against the back of my neck.       
            My mind struggled to process the conversation and its possible meanings, replaying the words over and over in my head in time to the thrum, thrum, thrum that penetrated my thoughts from the background.
            Consequences. For talking to Charlotte? Why was that wrong? And Molly… She’d defended me, I realized with a little pang.
 The other part of the argument I didn’t understand at all, and the harder I tried to, the more confused I became.
“I have to get out of here,” I murmured to myself. I was starting to think I’d be better off wandering through the fog than here, surrounded by strangeness and secrets.
            There was a soft knock at the door; hesitation, and then it came again.
            “Come in,” I said, and it creaked open. Molly stepped inside.
            “Fancy you being here,” she said in a whisper.
            “You don’t have to knock,” I said. “This is your room, after all.” I tried to keep my voice light, skimming the surface of the conversation like I hadn’t just listened to my name being whispered behind my back.
            “I was only trying to be polite.” Her voice sounded weak.
            “Are you… all right?” I ventured.
            “Why wouldn’t I be?” she asked, snappish.
 “I don’t know. You just seem—”
            “Tired,” she said. “That’s all. And it doesn’t help, having Sergio dogging me all the time, ordering me around.” Her lips pinched small.
            “What did he want to talk to you about, anyway?” I asked, just to see what kind of answer she would give.
            A flush of color painted her high cheekbones, but the rest of her face remained obstinately emotionless. “Rules,” she said.
 
           
Molly didn’t linger much longer before going back to work. She wouldn’t tell me anything more about her conversation with Sergio, not that I expected her to, and so I was left to my own devices.
            I didn’t go back down to the front door. Instead, I wandered up and down the halls, looking for the dead end doorway, the one that led to stairs descending into blind darkness. I didn’t know why I wanted to find it, but I searched anyway.
            My wanderings led me to unfamiliar parts of the mansion—although, with the strange alikeness of everything, I might have been going in circles and never known it, if I hadn’t come across something odd.
            It was in the middle of a hallway. The wall was cut out in the shape of a doorway, but there was no door. I stepped into it and realized that I was standing at the bottom of a tall, steep staircase, reaching up so high into shadow that I couldn’t see the top.
            With one glance behind me, I stepped onto the first stair. Cold iron made a dull clang under the sole of my shoe. I reached my arms out to the sides, and my hands brushed the walls. I lowered them, and felt more iron against my fingertips. A railing. I grasped it and made my way carefully, higher and higher. At last I came to a landing, barely lit with one candle, smoke curling off its orange-glowing wick. To my left, there was a door, but when I grasped for it, I realized that there was no knob, only a solid block of iron-gilded wood. I pushed against it, but it was shut tight.
            To my right, though, there was a hall. I stepped out of the darkness of the stairway and blinked in the sudden light of candles. Their flames wavered slightly as I walked beneath them.
            Even this hallway looked the same as the others. Worry needled the back of my mind as I wondered if I’d end up hopelessly lost, stranded up here where not even Sergio would venture.
            You can always find your way back, I thought, but then— Except when you don’t know where you came from.  
            I walked faster, my head down, and almost smacked right into an open door.
            A cold breeze sent strands of my hair across my face. I turned toward the open doorway, looked beyond it into a bedroom. It was much better furnished than Molly’s, yet simpler than the guest bedroom I had seen. The four-poster bed was an iron skeleton without curtains.
            The window didn’t have any either. In fact, it was unlatched, pushed open wide.
            I leaned into the room. “Is someone in there?” I called weakly. No one responded, so I stepped inside, hunching my shoulders, a guilty intruder. “Hello?”
            The bare room was silent but for the quiet creak of the window as the wind brushed against it, a cold gust sweeping through. No personal items, not even a comb, were in sight. Abandonment seemed to filter through the cold air, but I didn’t dwell on it. I strode across the carpet to the window, grasped the cold sill as if to keep myself from falling headfirst as I leaned out into the foggy world. I couldn’t see much of anything, just pale grey and a hint of the ground far below. I wondered how high up I was. Maybe if I could find a room at the top of the house, I could look out over the fog and see… 
            Noise in the hall pulled me back to the present. I spun away from the window like I’d been caught red-handed, but then I realized that the sound was voices, distant, coming from the other end of the hall. I crept to the doorway and shrank against its shadow.
            The voices grew closer, and then my view filled with a parade of colorful figures; women draped in layers of satiny fabrics that rustled as they walked. Pearls looped around their smooth necks, jewelry glittered in the low light. One of them laughed, and I saw her teeth gleam behind dark red lips.
            But her laugh was sour, and her lips curled tight like she could taste it. As she passed the doorway, she glanced in my direction. I had felt sure no one could see me, and yet I felt her eyes on me, eyes shining with flame and meaning. Almost in slow motion, all the others turned their heads, too, the same way she had. I felt each of their glances sting my face even as I shrank even farther back behind the doorframe. Finally, they were gone, disappeared around a bend in the hall.
            I stood still for a moment, the cold air slicing into my chest with each sharp breath I took.
            Thrum, thrum, thrum.
            I took off running, back down the hall to the staircase. My steps resounded on the iron stairs, sounding like a bell tolling out into darkness.

Comments

......

This was incredible.... what else can I say??? I really, really liked the line... "Yes, you will," he said. "And you will lose."  That was an absolutely amazing line... I really feel like I am in the story, there listening to the secret conversation.... Right more, soon!!!!

Elizabeth | Wed, 08/03/2011

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The Holy Spirit is the quiet guest of our soul." -St. Augustine

Wonderful, wonderful. I hope

Wonderful, wonderful. I hope Sergio winds up being all right, because I find him intriguing. I was completely enraptured the entire time! I also agree with Elizabeth-the line "You will, and you will lose." was really awesome. Here, I'll just go ahead and turn the page to the next chapter--oh, wait, it's not there yet! Better hurry!!!

Erin | Wed, 08/03/2011

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

Wonderful, wonderful. I hope

Wonderful, wonderful. I hope Sergio winds up being all right, because I find him intriguing. I was completely enraptured the entire time! I also agree with Elizabeth-the line "You will, and you will lose." was really awesome. Here, I'll just go ahead and turn the page to the next chapter--oh, wait, it's not there yet! Better hurry!!!

Erin | Wed, 08/03/2011

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

 Another really good chapter

 Another really good chapter :) I liked this sentence: I tried to keep my voice light, skimming the surface of the conversation like I hadn’t just listened to my name being whispered behind my back.

Please write more, I'm really interested and intrigued. And to think, this all began with a dream...

Laura Elizabeth | Thu, 08/04/2011

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The best stories are those that are focused, unassuming, and self-confident enough to trust the reader to figure things out. --

http://lauraeandrews.blogspot.com/2014/05/dont-tell-me-hes-smart.html

thrum, thrum...

I love how you end so moany chapters with that.

Now I don't no who I should trust......or as I should saw, who should Ellen trust???? Awesome.

Bernadette | Thu, 08/04/2011

Why do people seem to like

Why do people seem to like Sergio so much?  I can't stand him!!!

Also, this is getting interesting, but you're still not telling us anything!!!  Exasperating creature, you are.

I await the next chapter...

Bridget | Sun, 08/07/2011

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

@Bridget

I think I like Sergio because he seems like a basically good sort of man conflicted between rules and people. He really cares, but doesn't know how to show it, and part of him has given up hope, which is why he clings to the rules all the more.

Of course, I could have that all wrong. Hannah's probably snickering at me.

Anna | Wed, 08/10/2011

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

!!!!!!

Amazing, amazing chapter, Hannah!!!!

I feel like I'm really there, exploring that creepy, fog-shrouded mansion--and it's awesome! I love it! Keep writing more, PLEASE!!!

Mary | Wed, 08/10/2011

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Brother: Your character should drive a motorcycle.
Me: He can't. He's in the wilderness.
Brother: Then make it a four-wheel-drive motorcycle!

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