Introduction: One man’s homecoming is another man’s feast.
The narrow road curved up and around the mountain disappearing in the fog. The cabin of the coach was rocking to and fro in the murky darkness making the inhabitant a little sick and reluctant about traveling at this late hour.
The count leaned out of the window to see the road was just a worn path and he was looking over the very edge of that path. Loosened rocks tumbled down the sheer cliffs but the horses seemed sure-footed and steady. He breathed a prayer that they would make it.
They rounded the last corner finally reaching the top where the castle stood shrouded in mist, large dark and foreboding with no moon. He had grown up playing in this castle all those years ago. Now it was empty with all of his family dead and he was traveling back to make it his own.
He had forgotten how big the place was. Looking up he was surprised to see a light in an upper tower window. Yes, it looked like the light of a candle. Wasn’t that the room…
His thoughts were lost as the carriage jerked to a stop by the front gates.
“I thought this place was empty,” he said as he was helped out of the coach by the caretaker.
“Yes sir, the place is empty, stocked and restored like you requested. Just the two of us here. Why do you ask?”
Stopping in front of the gates the caretaker took the key from his hand, “Allow me, sir.” unlocking and opening the small door set in the castle gates. Handing the keys back he waited, “After you, sir.”
“No need to be so formal man, it’s just you and I. After all, your father worked and lived here his whole life as you have. It’s as much your home as it is mine.”
The count walked into the entranceway of his old home and looked around. The castle had been updated and some electricity was installed but otherwise, it was left like it had been for centuries. Was it his imagination or did the family photographs seem to be frowning down at him?
“It all looks so familiar but it’s been a long time,” he remarked as he walked out into the living quarters. There was a fire in the huge stone fireplace and nearby a group of velvet chairs faced it with a table made out of some huge piece of natural wood and glass. It looked new. He sat down and immediately felt just how tired he was. Drained was more like it.
“Can I show you to your room? Not all the rooms are ready but I put you in the main suite which was done first,” the caretaker smiled for the first time and was missing some teeth.
The count stifled a yawn,“Please do! I’m very tired from the trip it was demanding and I need some rest. Let me sleep in late tomorrow.”
“Is there anything else I can help you with, sir?”
“I think not. Good night then.” The room looked very inviting for its size and the bed looked heavenly.
“If you need anything ring.” And with that, he left.
The count poured some water into the basin and washed up. His mind drifted back to the light in the window. That had been…her room. What could it mean? She had drowned and he had seen her dead body. But who would be in that room when the castle was empty?
There was no way the count was going to sleep until he visited her room for himself. He was going to see what was causing the strange light in the tower window and pulled on a heavy bathrobe lighting a candle chandelier.
Stepping into the hallway he was surprised at how well he remembered the way. Her room was in the tower and he cursed his bare feet on the cold stones as he flew up the steps.
He stood before the door sweating, waiting for what? Sheepishly, he turned the doorknob it was unlocked. The heavy door squeaked on its hinges as it swung open. He stepped into the room holding the candle high. His heart threatened to beat out of his chest! It was dark and he wished electric had been installed in this part of the castle.
On a table by the window, he saw an unlit candle and large crystal ball. He was sure this was window he’d seen the light in. When his candle was near the crystal ball the whole room lit up with beautiful shapes all over the walls.
It was mesmerizing to watch, the lights made him so happy! They were so beautiful! He forgot all about why he was here as he lit the candle next to the crystal ball. A bright light came to life spinning around the room, too bright to be the light he saw earlier, not that he cared at the moment.
All of sudden it got cold, colder than the winter chill, he could see his breath and felt a hand on his shoulder.
He spun around and was dumbfounded when he found himself looking at…her. Her eyes shone and her skin was like velvet and she was just as beautiful as before! She pulled him to her in an embrace as he breathed in her scent that he remembered so well.
The candle stayed lit as the shadows from the crystal ball grew, extinguishing all of the beautiful lights. He felt his head clearing as he gazed at his beloved sister his vision blurring a little. Her body felt different and that was not perfume he was smelling!
She smiled at him, one blue eye popping out of the socket and laying on her cheek, her body swelling and bloating. She looked like a body that had been in the water for a very long time but she was not dead and very strong.
The count was like a deer trapped in headlights as she held him fast, opening her mouth to reveal tiny sharp teeth. She was drooling and it fell to the floor melting the carpet.
Not a word was exchanged between them for the homecoming but you could hear the tearing flesh and screams echo throughout the castle as he died a slow death.
The caretaker kneeled outside the door watching through the keyhole a large grin on his face. When it got quiet he stood up and walked into the room.
© Rebecca Sanchez 2014