February 18, 2010

Chapter One

The summer storm battered Templeton House, set on Butcher Harbor Peninsula. It was the only house that stood on the peninsula of this tiny North Eastern town. Rain pelted the old glass windows and the weather worn roof as a gale shook the very foundation of the old beach house. Inside, sixty year old Elizabeth Templeton stood in the living room in a crazed state, a carving knife in her trembling hand. Her striped house dress hung loosely on her tiny frame. She had a haunted look in her eyes. She waved the carving knife around as if to hold off some attacker. There was no one in the room with her, at least no one living that is.
“I asked you to stop this ruckas for just a while- STOP! Is that too much to ask?” Distress wrinkled her face. Tears streamed down her cheeks unchecked.
Voices of the unseen filled the room. Some were fearful for the old woman, others egged her on. They wanted her to kill herself. Then she would join them in their tortured world, being trapped in this house of the damned. Each one of the hundreds of souls trapped in the house needed her in one way or another to help dispell the torment and anguish of their lives. Dead or alive she listened to them. She heard the stories of their lives, and by this they were somehow able to stay alive, stay in the world of the living.
“Do it,” a haggard old woman’s voice coaxed.
“No, wait!” cried the soft pitch of a young boy. “Don’t listen to her," he pleaded. The boy needed the old woman. She took up for him and protected him against the angry mob of ghosts that occupied Templeton House. Elizabeth listened. She was like a mother to him. He couldn't stand to loose her too.
“Haven’t I been here for you? All of you?” Elizabeth pleaded, her eyes wild with fear and pain. On any other day Elizabeth would have delighted in listening to the ghosts desperate stories. They had become her friends, her family. They were all she had left in her world with her husband passed on and her daughter who had moved away, fled the house of ghosts. But tonight, with the storm raging and she needed a break. She was getting too old for the constant demand of her attention. They required too much from her these days. She just needed a little rest, a break to recharge her frail old body and mind.
The storm wasn't helping either. Each time the old house was slammed by the insistant wind she was afraid it would crumble. While she knew she need not worry about the house, it was strong as ever, it was old like her, she was afraid that it too could not take the pounding of the storm. She was afraid that it too might be weary on this trecherous night.
“Yes, join us,” cried many voices from all around the room, indeed from every room in the house, the voices even coming from the very walls of the house itself.
“Can’t you be still for just one night and give me a little peace?” Elizabeth cried out moving the carving knife from side to side as if it could keep the voices at bay.
“No,” the room shuddered with the cry of many voices in many languages as yet another blast of the gale outside battered the house.
Tears streamed down her face. She was tired. Her mind was weary and she needed rest. They were not about to give it to her. They were so needy- all of them. They were sucking the life out of her. Exhausted, Elizabeth held the carving knife to her throat in one last attempt to quiet the voices for just one night.
“I’ll do it. I swear I will,” she threatened.
“Yes,” hissed the haggard old woman’s voice again, “Do it you weak old bag of bones.”
“No please,” the little boy pleaded, “I’ll be quiet. I promise.”
“Do it!” the old woman hissed yet again. “Do it you filthy whore. Useless bitch.”
Elizabeth took a deep breath. The voices grew louder, fighting to be heard over one another.
“I can’t take this anymore.” She fell to her knees between the sofa and the coffee table. She sobbed into her trembling hands, still clutching the carving knife. The voices wouldn’t stop. She knew they couldn’t.
“Join us,” they whispered.
A shrill cry pierced the room as Elizabeth Templeton lost what little was left of her mind.
“STOP!” she screamed. Then she slit first her left wrist, and then her right. Tears mixed with the blood as it fell into her lap, discoloring her striped house dress. Cheers of joy and cries of anguish echoed around the room simultaneously. The house had won and lost its battle with the living.
Outside the endless waves beat upon the shore, while rain pelted the rugged exterior of the house, drowning out the voices inside. Only the flickering of the lights betrayed the secret the beach house held within its walls.