A Wonderful Nightmare

What was her name? It had been so long that she had carried on in this world apart from the one she'd known for so long that she seemed to be losing herself, the one thing Mr. Andrews told her to never do, lest she be lost in the annex of her mind forever. Though, as she examined her journal she had come to wonder why anyone should ever want to awaken from such a wonderful nightmare?

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1. Carrie: The simple Outcast

   I was never what you'd call a lady, well... not by the snobbish standards of society anyways. I may have been a daughter to a decently living family but, I tended to act more like a boy than a girl to be honest; dresses? I would rather not have to wear them, especially because of those uncomfortable corsets I was doomed to always have to put up with. A simple long length short dress or skirt, as some called them was fine for me if I couldn't find a decent pair of trousers that is. At the age of sixteen I was, in again, society's eyes, in need of a husband to call my own; bollocks, I don't believe that a girl must have a man to depend on in her life to be successful, but, in a man's world, what are you to do?

   "Carrie, are you decent?" came the cool voice of the man that had been calling me her step daughter for the past month and a half; yep, recently my mother got betrothed to, and married to a well to do man from a family of nobles from the countryside and yet, as honored I supposed I should have been to be in high society... I had a certain... distaste for this man, and the society he stood for.

   "One moment," I answered as I slung myself out of bed and draped a bath robe over my night gown. "Alright, enter," and as I finished he opened the door and a smile was plastered upon his face. "Well, what's gone and made act all goofy?"

   "The court hearing is settled; I won," he smiled cheerfully. The court hearing he was referring to was as to who would be inheriting the family manor of his that set way aback in the countryside. Three years of bickering with his snobbish brother who, as it turned out, didn't like the idea of a noble family entwining themselves with those of, as he put it, a polished commoner.

   "So the estate is yours then? Well, I suppose that's all well and fine," I pretended to be interested; I knew where this conversation was going and I didn't really want to leave London, but, being a women, what could I do? "I take it that you want to move right on in there then?"

   "Ofcourse," he answered without missing a beat, "Personally, I never cared for London; too much noise and sickening odors abound here." Huh, odors... Yeah I suppose that, at times, certain portions of London occasionally took on a rather pungent odor that was reminiscent of sulfur like that fired out of a large naval gun.

   "Very well, when shall we head out?" I answered, the interest I had been feigning now clearly gone from my voice. He looked at me with a weary smile as he approached a bit closer, still taking care to keep far enough away so I couldn't strike him down with any part of me (as if I'd waste time on him). 

   "Well, actually, your mother has elected to stay behind and oversee the move," he began, that weary smile still showing on his face, "However, she made it clear that you and Ely are to accompany me to the manor in preparation for the arrival of our belongings." That perturbed me but, I knew without a doubt that, he was with holding something; I could take a guess at what though.

   "Oh Christ, do I have to wear one of those damn frilly dresses again!?"

   "I'd be appreciative if you first, kept your voice down, and second, yes, I'm requesting that indeed you wear a decent dress for the transit and initial arrival to the estate," his face grew firm but still retained some of the soft natured stance it usually held firm to. Walking towards the exit to my chambers he said one final thing, "We leave in an hour and I'm sending in Hannah to help you dress, I don't want lip, I just want this done, so, please, do as I say." As he left I was more than tempted to throw my bottle of ink at his fat head but, as ink was expensive, I decided against it as Hannah entered with a beautiful dress of mid tone reds and blues; I must say, it was a lovely dress atleast.

********************

   "Young lord, tis time you awaken," there it was again, his voice; smooth as velvet but in its reassurance dripped poison. Opening my eyes I beheld the normality that was my bedroom. The walls were a muted pinkish purple with faint hints of a robin's egg blue.

   "Alister," I whispered, my normally soft voice came out as a pathetic whisper as I had just awoken from a rather dull dream. "What hour is this?"

   "Quarter past seven, my young master," my caretaker answered without missing a beat; click went his gold rimmed pocket watch as he closed it and replaced it gently into his left breast pocket. Alister Chambers was my caretaker, my butler, my.... Suddenly my thoughts were disturbed as a violent quake shook me from my bed.

   "Alister! What's happening!? I'm scared!" I wailed out as I squeezed my eyes shut and balled myself up. My heart was racing to the point of giving out until I felt the cold grip of him around me;Alister. My pounding heart soothed as he picked me up and held me in his arms much like a newborn.

   "Young master, there is nothing to fear," he soothed as he ran his lengthy and slender fingers through a part of my hair. "As long as you are in my care, nothing bad shall ever befall you, on that, I swear."

   "Please stay by my side, promise you won't ever abandon me! Not like she did... not like that damned girl who haunts my dreams did long ago..." I was conflicted inside, I was burning with hatred but also sadness of a most terrible greatness. Laying me onto the bed briefly he retrieved for me my attire for the day; crisp white undershirt with a lovely arrangement of ivory buttons, this was to be covered by a forest green vest underneath with, unfortunately a rather hideous assortment of black buttons and a nice big satin bow-tie with ribbons around my neck. The final piece was my favorite mid tone reddish-purple coat that I wore on almost anything. Midnight colored satin pants that always wore and felt stiff and my short cut earthen brown boots that only I seemed able to fit into (I curse my feminine legs and feet). 

   "I am your eternal companion," he answered, "I shall never leave your side, even in death, I shall be with you, my young lord." Finished with dressing me I stood up and moved to the mirror in the corner of my room. The reflection that answered my presence was what I had been privy to for all my years that I lived and could account for; those eyes, a piercing faded blue, reminiscent of rain water stared into me and seemed to be begging one question to which I could never answer.

   "Who are you really...?"

********************

   The manor was huge, a sizable property that was surrounded by a thick and dark forest. Guarded by an enormous fence of wrought iron with carvings of Gothic architecture all along it. Moving through the enormous and, rather foreboding gateway, we traveled up the long road to the roundabout in the front of the manor where it became evident as to how long the property had been without a master; yellowed had the stone that was once a faded ivory, thick moss of a dark and moldy green clung to some of the low lying windows and base of the house. Long vines of intermingling greens, blacks and reds clung and twisted up the walls like fingers attempting to claw their way inside. The fountain in the center of the stone roundabout had ceased its once glorious flow and hung open empty, aside from the small collections of dead and  decaying leaves that had gathered inside, the fountains once ornate beauty was now tarnished and weathered by several years of neglect and abandon.

   "So, this is Crawford Manor?" I asked with a minor tinge of wonder in my voice. I kind of liked the despairity that the place gave off, it reminded me of all those chilling locations I had been reading about in my books. "Looks like not a soul's lived here in ages..."

   "It's only been about seven years since my brother disappeared though," he answered as his body instinctively trodded forward to the the large pair of doors that appeared to be made of ravenoak (I need not say why they call it that). 

   "You know the rumor about the place don't ya?" it was Ely who had crept up behind me and was whispering over my shoulder, "They say old Mr. Crawford lost his mind and gave his son to the darkness in exchange for immortality but he soon was driven to grief by his actions, and one fog filled winter's night he stole away into the woods never to be seen again."

   "Oh really, and let me guess, they think the ghost of the son and father haunt the residence, is that it?" I scoffed slightly as I moved away from the urchin and followed my step father inside the manor as Hannah took the carriage around back to the stables. I smirked upon hearing the little urchin huff in apparent annoyed defeat at his poor attempt to frighten me. Moving inside the main doors I beheld a beautiful sight, a large open atrium that would easily have been big enough to hold a ball in with an elaborate staircase on the opposite side of the room that originated as one center walk but then diverged and split into two elegantly curved branches that connected to two massive balcony styled walks that ran almost a complete circle above us. Moving inwards the true beauty came to light with two massive gold and crystal chandeliers and many standing candelabras dotting the room with detailed tri-pronged mantles along the wall. The faded carpet that led from the doors to the stairs chilled me a bit as, in the dim light, resembled a clean cut river of spilled crimson which seemed to have an eerie glow off the marble floor that was an opaque pearl color, almost milky white. 

   "This way, Carrie," called my step father as I watched him turn up the left separation of the staircase, lit candle in hand. "Hurry up now, don't dawdle." 

   "Wow, this place is amazing!" I whispered in whimsy as I maneuvered down the long hall of what was apparently the East Wing of the house.This carpet was a lovely forest green, the pale illumination of the frost and glazed windows made it almost appear as though it were a fine grass, hidden by shadows of mystery and intrigue. The walls were a deep brown that was reminiscent of an oak forest, with those ornate tri-pronged mantles decorating the wall every so many feet or so. There were paintings that were covered by stasis cloth to preserve them as, now that I think about it, it is a bit damp feeling in here. My curiosity got the better of me and I peeked under the cloth; it was a young boy, somewhere around my age with short hair that was fairly well kept. His eyes were lively looking despite the notion that he was trying to act serious in this portrait. Black pants, white button down and a petticoat. The underlying engraving read as, 'Mason Crawford, Age; fifteen.'

   "Nice looking boy, isn't he miss?" came a smooth and quiet voice. Startled, I spun around in fear but, to my fright, there was no one around. I hastily covered the portrait and scurried down the hall to the open study where my step father was waiting, but, out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a man in a strange suit that had...wings? I must be losing my mind...

   "Carrie, are you coming in?" 

   "Coming, Vincent," I answered as I moved into the study as I tried to put the strange specter out of my mind. This manor was not alright in the world, if only I knew then, just how wrong it was....

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