In Memory of Mrs Montsaye

Writing Prompt: Your eccentric parents vanished a few months ago, and left you their weird old house. It’s haunted, with lots of traps and hidden passages, and monsters live in the walls. It’s been years, but you forgot how much you loved it. Your spouse? Not so much.

“Save me Matilda!” Evelyn screamed as she was carried deep into the abyss of Montsaye Manor.

Matilda stood there, encased in the lingering dark of an ever stretching hallway, almost entirely alone. But she knew better than to assume. Already the festering shadows had begun to tie themselves together in knotted apparitions of the damned. A single chandelier bore light far and away down the hall, hinting at life beyond the moth-beaten curtain that gave way to the ballroom.

I’m coming. 

Matilda promised she wouldn’t let this damnation of a house take her Evelyn, not in the way it had taken poor Evelyn’s parents. They had disappeared under the most peculiar of circumstances. Lord and Master Jeffrey had found them to missing, or rather hadn’t found them at all.

Mr and Mrs Montsaye, vanished like so much dust in the winds, with only their luggage packed neatly by the door to tell at all of any distress. For why, it was asked, had they packed their bags and left them? The simple answer, they hadn’t.

They were still here.

Missing.

Presumed to be dead.

Matilda crept carefully along the velvet carpet of the hall, using her hands to steady herself against the gentle shrugging and tugging that came underfoot. She hadn’t the faintest idea what lurked beneath her feet, and hadn’t the mind to find out, either.

The hall was scarcely decorated. There were doorways, long ago bricked up to house the howling creatures that slept beyond, and a single painting of the late Montsaye residents. It was the sort of painting with wayward eyes that seemed to be looking, to be following you about the room. Only this painting looked away when it thought you’d been staring too long.

Matilda gave a subtle shiver, ducking the reaching limb of a something foul that nested on the hallway ceiling. The light. That was her purpose. The ballroom. And then on to find Evelyn, to rescue her love.

But the light went out. A soft breeze flitted through the hall and what warmth there had been suddenly vanished in the wake of an all encompassing cold. Then came footsteps, heavy on the carpet, carrying with them a bone curdling crunch that rose from the splattering of that which lurked beneath the feet.

Matilda gazed longingly at where the ballroom had been, at where the curtain should have been waiting. But there was nothing to be seen. The world itself was buried beneath a pitch of black so dark that the shadows had run away.

And still the footsteps came closer.

With each heavy thud and sharp crunching of feet Matilda’s heart drummed ever faster. She turned, to the feet, to the ballroom, to the feet again, and in a dizzying fit stumbled to her knees. Direction had lost all meaning, even the floor itself had seemed to disappear.

There came a sudden click, and then she was falling.

A trap door, it seemed, had opened to swallow up Matilda, dragging her down into the depths of its bowls. A haunting cry of despair echoed out from far above, the longing wail of a beast that dared not follow its prey.

Down below.

Where am I?

Matilda’s eyes struggled against the glowing of the walls, an alien light of greenish-blue. She had early believed that any light would have made for better surroundings than the abyss that came with the dark. She had been sorely mistaken.

What she saw, down below, sent fear creeping into the very heart and soul of her being.

Glass jars comprised a curved wall of the vast room, each preserving the most horrific of perversions. Fetal shaped spectres with fur covered faces, in which hollowed eyes surveyed the world, swam naked in glass prisons, tapping at the glass with webbed paws and hoofed feet. Various savings from the Manors victims were displayed in order to bind them to the grounds; severed hands, pointing fingers, burnt ears, flattened eyes, intestinal trails…

Upon the top most of shelves of the curved wall of horrors there sat a collective of somber heads. Heads, that is, of the previous owners. Each one with a name plate, and coated with an age of dust and grime that disfigured the features.

A projector ran endlessly in the background of the room, playing on a timeless loop the harrowing murders of those victims whose savings claimed their home to be a jar. The flickering imagery of throats cut, stomachs splayed, and eyes gouged would have been enough to sicken most any soul. But when compared to the sounds those recordings made…

“Evelyn?” Matilda called out, her voice a hushed whisper in the concave room of nightmares.

There was a figure, crouched beneath the climbing shelves of glass. A figure that rocked, and shivered, and sputtered and shook.

Set before tables meant for ungodly operations were hospital trolleys, aligned with tools of the trade. Scalpels and drills and too many rusty blades. Matilda set her hands on a fine-tooth hack saw that looked remarkably more suited to matters of decorating than that of anatomy.

Silently she scoured the room, darting from table to trolley, tip-toeing over the ghastly remains of rodents, and much larger husks, that had happened unhappily into this room.

It was the light, the garish greenish-blue, that gave the game away. As Matilda rose up over the cowering figure, saw blade in hand, ready to strike, she noticed her own shadow flung against the shelves in likeness to the madness. A wretched, bent looking frame, with a blunted tool held in hand and air bound, lusting for the bitter sweet taste of fresh blood.

The shelves shook.

A head came tumbling down.

Without the means to think straight Matilda tossed the saw blade and caught the glass jar in mid flight.

As the vile liquids sloshed and cleared, and the face became less of a blur, Matilda’s own face paled and her body felt weak. There was a name plate, as if as much was needed to confirm her suspicions. It read simply;

In Memory of Mrs Montsaye.

Matilda turned to shelve the head, and as she did she saw the crouching figure had risen, standing with its face to the wall. It swayed in a drunken stupor, muttering barely a perceptible word. Matilda put the head aside, and placed a hand upon the figure’s shoulder.

“Are you…”

The figure turned and Matilda nearly fainted.

“Guess who!” Evelyn cried with delight, “Did you miss me?”

Matilda took several deep breaths, settling her nerves, “I hate this god damn house.”

“But you love me?” Evelyn smiled, “And what about mummy?” she gathered the head of Mrs Montsaye from the shelf.

“Of course I love you.” yet Matilda looked with loathing at the head.

“And what about mummy?” Evelyn offered the jar up to Matilda’s lips.

Matilda kissed the coarse, cold glass of the jar, “Yes, mummy too.” she whispered, without any such feeling.

Inside of the jar Mrs Montsaye did shudder as Matilda backed away.

And then the house began to groan.

Copyright © K R Perry 2019

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