The Manor: A short Story by Mike Cole

The manor was old, long since abandoned by the family that had once called it their home. Generations it had stood, and in a couple it was all but forgotten.

He held the Will in his hands, surprised by what his father had left him. A manor tucked away on the Irish countryside, along the Irish coast. It was a quaint little place, with 20 rooms in total. Coming from America, Ireland was new. He had been looking for a change for a while now and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Some time alone to collect himself and start over, fresh. The manor had a groundskeeper that typically visited a couple times a year to maintain the premise. Other than that, no one had set foot on the property in over a century.

His plane landed in Dublin, from there he would travel North some while and then continue East until he reached his final destination. When he finally arrived, he felt the gentle Ocean breeze greet him as he pulled up the drive. The manor was more beautiful than he could have possibly imagined, being built in the late 1800’s by a wealthy Irishman and his wife; his great-great-great grandfather. Shortly afterwards, his great-great-great grandfather fell ill and the house was passed down to his son. And then his son and so forth. Now here he stood, at the large oak doors with the key in hand. He turned the lock and the doors opened.

Inside, the foyer was massive with two grand staircases leading to the upper level. Between the two staircases stood a massive door and to the left the hall that led to the kitchen. Henry found the fridge, stocked with fresh meat and beer in anticipation for his arrival. The groundskeeper was not there when he arrived but said he would stop by later in the week to check in on him. He checked the pantry, stocked with fresh bread and sugars to the hearts delight. In front of the pantry stood the door to the basement. He opened it and peered down the stairs. Dark. Not a window in sight save for a tiny window in the rightmost corner. The circuit breaker was located in the basement but not much else of interest. He took one step as the stair creaked and decided there was no need to go down just yet. He turned around and headed down the hall, walking past the foyer and into the nursery. Here, there was much work needed. Plants were overgrown and vines crept about, touching the glass of their encasement. He thought this odd as the manor had a groundskeeper but perhaps their work pertained to the garden outback and general upkeep of the structure, not the small, long forgotten nursery.

As he wandered upstairs, he heard a thump that sounded like it had come from the kitchen. He hurried back down and into the kitchen. He checked the table, counter and the surrounding area; all seemed to be in order. When he checked the pantry, he noticed a cookie jar on the ground. This must have been what had fallen. He set the jar back up on the shelf and swept the crumbs off the pantry floor. He felt a breeze and noticed the basement door slightly ajar. “huh, must be a loose lock”, he thought, as he gently closed the door until he heard it click.

As he climbed the stairs and made it to the second floor, he admired the long halls each with their many rooms should company ever find its way to the manor. The Master bed was down the East corridor and located on its own separate wing, facing South towards the drive. The Western corridor housed the staircase to the attic. As he entered the Master bed, he noticed the balcony and stepped outside for a quick smoke. If he looked East, he could see the Ocean and in front of him stood the forest that greeted all travelers on there way up the drive. The wind blew slightly, and to him, it sounded like a gentle hum. He looked out towards the drive. The forest was dense and hard to see from this distance. The leaves rustled and formed the vague outline of a figure. He blinked and noticed it was only the sturdy trunk of a large oak. He headed back inside as the light began to fade.

He had arrived at four and it had taken him three hours to drive to the manor from Dublin. He decided to have a quick dinner before bed and promptly headed towards the kitchen. He found pasta noodles in the pantry and picked some tomatoes from the garden with the last of the light. By the time he reentered the house, it was already dark. He started boiling water on the stovetop and sliced tomatoes on the cutting board while the onions and carrots sautéed in the pan. He ate, found the washroom at the top of the stairs, and then proceeded down the hall to his bed. It was ten and it had been a long day.

He awoke at three to the sound of thumping. He went to turn on the light and heard a click. The power was out. The wind howled outside and the rain poured heavily. The balcony door was ajar and he promptly closed it as flashes of lightning blanketed the sky. He drifted off to sleep and woke at three thirty three to more thumping. He checked the balcony door, “locked tight.” He heard the thumping again, this time louder. It sounded as though it was coming from downstairs. He lit a candle and ventured out of his room. With each step he took, the floor creaked, as if moaning from the many years of quiet slumber now being awoken. The candle flickered as he walked down the long hall, with flashes of lightning followed by distant thunder breaking the silence. The rain pattered and he felt a drop of water. Then another, and then another. He heard creaking from downstairs and when he reached the foyer, he noticed the heavy oak doors wide open, mud everywhere. And that’s when he saw her. A woman standing in the doorway, dripping from the rain.


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