An eerie whisper echoed through the bathroom of Greenwich Palace. The moonlight shone through the one window, etched with scratches. The pattern upon the window created blue-white diamond shapes across the floor and opposite wall. The trees created shadows, that seemed as if black, spiny fingers were briskly caressing the ground.
Beside the window was a basin, and above the basin was a mirror. A mirror covered in grime and scratches, like any other old mirror. However, out of spite, chains reached from corner to corner, fastened by a firm padlock and covering the mirror. Not a single reflection was to be seen upon it; for those who looked into the glass would not be met by their own eyes, but someone else; Lady Mary, as presumed - a formidable nine-day Queen known for her notorious execution of Protestant citizens of England. Many burned at the stake - the lost souls burned away into the embers and furious flames.
Mary the First was to blame. Upon her deathbed, her dry eyes staring icily at the ceiling above, looking weak and pale as a ghost, she couldn't treat the searing pain threading through her body like ribbons of agony, before they reached and invaded her thoughts - she had failed at her reign.
Her eyelids closed. Her hair was discoloured and burnt in some places. Her bluish lips formed a grin, exposing a row of brittle teeth. She knew. Revenge would have been swell.
Her thoughts and pain began to subside. Her eyes remained closed, with blue and purple veins protruding her eyelids. Her heart pounded, once, twice, thrice, before the struggle to stay alive was no more.
If only she had a memoir to encourage others to remember her. A spiteful thought was Mary's last, and it was just the mirror in the bathroom, with the pattern of a lion engraved at each corner.
The mirror still stood, as broken and protected as it could be, with the lions taken off. Perhaps the chant of 'Bloody Mary' was too common for the residents at Greenwich Palace. The wild cats only represented courage. Mary had the heart of a lion, as she had overheard her half-sister declare.
Now, she was trapped behind the reflective panes of the mirror, greeting every face and being that looked upon it; but she couldn't reach out to them. Her name had to be repeated.
She would sometimes whisper her own chant to invigorate the seeker into whispering her sobriquet.
Say it once, you're warned and not caring,
Say it twice, you're suspicious and daring,
Say it thrice, you're ensnared and despairing.
This was the chant that was constantly being echoed around the dark, cold bathroom. The occasional drip, drip of water would accompany the rhyme in a second-rhythm beat, counting down to the victims' death.
Lady Mary lived behind every mirror. Watching, waiting.
A little girl raced up the stairs of Greenwich Palace, increasing her speed in euphoria and exploring the abandoned home of what seemed to be owned by King Henry the Eighth. Portraits of him standing in formal and rich attire seemed to be in every room.
The girl's dress was not like the paintings of his wives and daughters. It was crimson red and satin, and her hair was thrown into an untidy bun with loose, greasy strands of hair dangling across her cheeks. They ricocheted against her young skin as she bounded up the stairs, holding the white, wooden banister with one hand and picking up her dress for free movement with the other.
Her giggles echoes through the empty palace. She was forbidden in this area, for her parents and the authorities had already warned her of the dangers. But as for her youth and misunderstanding, she took the warnings for granted and began to explore the halls of Henry the Eighth's past home.
As she reached the top of the stairs, the carpet beneath her feet was rugged and ripped, revealing the wooden floor, covered in small, silver nails and splinters. Luckily, the youth had remembered her shoes, and this helped her to prevent any injury.
On the walls of the upstairs hallway, there were three paintings. Two of which were of the King, and one of his daughter, Elizabeth. They posed similarly, with pursed lips and glaring eyes. Despite the fact that Elizabeth was a very ignorant, overpowering, ill-favoured woman, artists would paint her as the Queen-to-be, with perfect teeth and complexion. Henry was just the same.
The little girl stared at each of them in awe, like the biased beauty of each piece reached out to her emotionally and drew her in. Her small hands glided across the parchment and oak wood frames, and her eyes beamed; she had found relics, which were not so long ago possessed by beings responsible for hierarchy, the monarchs that brought the Tudor era to rest. Her lips stretched into a smile, revealing uncleaned teeth and a gap in the middle, with only one tooth growing through. She thought of how much power she could have if she were Queen.
Not like the Nine-Day Queen, however. Lady Mary was in no way an idol or inspiration. She brought discord and hatred upon the girl, so she didn't once look into Mary's quarters.
Suddenly, the girl heard the drip, drop of water. Her hands froze and she jumped in fright behind the door of the past King's quarters. Every limb seemed to be made of ice, and was struck with terror, paralysed with fear and anxious of what she had done. Since the girl was independent, or seemed as if so, she bravely stepped out and decided to find the bathroom, tip-toeing towards the tall double-doors.
She avoided every crack, and became weary of her surroundings. She knew that she was not meant to be here. On the contrary, she wanted to be brave, and prove others that she could be independent and make her acquaintances believe her.
As the youth cautiously approached the bathroom, caressing her left hand against the wall for support, she heard the sound of water increase.
She froze once again. Could anyone else be present in this building? No, it couldn't be true - someone would have noticed her joyful giggles and the thundering of her feet when she climbed the staircase.
Her breaths became sharp and shallow, and noticed small clouds of white appear with every exhale she breathed. The temperature was changing rapidly, biting bitterly at her nose and pursed lips, her clenched fists and petite feet. She clenched her teeth as they chattered, and held on to her arms for warmth, briskly caressing her shoulders and elbows.
Drip, drip, drip.
The lanterns stopped working. The girl almost screeched with fear, as the darkness began to swallow her whole. She was enveloped in a pure black abyss of nothingness, and she was sure that she was going to disappear into oblivion.
Then, the bathroom seemed to glow. But not a reassuring glow, no - it was an eerie red, like blood, and a cloud of something - steam or smoke, it seemed - began to spill out onto the floor. It came closer and poured across the girl's feet, and she immediately stepped back when it stung her ankles. It was a blistering heat, and she didn't dare herself to move.
Drip, drip, drip.
The steam stopped appearing, and she crept further, wincing at the loud creaks that emanated from the floor when she took a step. Each step brought on more fear, and it continued constantly, until she reached the bathroom. She wanted - needed - to discover what was behind the monotonous dripping echoing against the walls of the bathroom.
She stepped into the bathroom, averting her gaze around the red room. A bath, covered by a ripped shower curtain, was to her left. It was covered in grime and two spiders scuttled out of the plughole to the base of the bath. The temperature was usual, and she lowered her hands to clutch at her dress.
Drip, drip, drip.
Turning back, the girl decided not to run. All she could see was darkness beyond the glowing bathroom.
Until the door slammed shut.
She shrieked. This was a point of no return, and she struck her fists against the oak wood door and furiously began to pull at the lock. It was no use. It was jammed, and all she could think of was the temperature rising in the room, and the steam drifting upwards to create a formidable fog above her.
Drip, drip, drip.
Suddenly, a thought slithered into her head that she did not want to accrue. The recent folklore that appeared just five years ago was enough to scare her. She daren't look at anything in the bathroom. She squeezed her eyes shut and pressed herself against the door, wanting to melt through and run out to the other side.
That wasn't possible. She opened her eyes and tried kicking the door, but that only made her grunt in pain. So she turned slowly to the mirror a few yards away from her.
Then, the dripping ceased. It's as if her glare towards the mirror had made them stop.
There was something odd about the mirror, she thought. Though it was hard to think of anything - the heat was almost unbearable. Nothing that she had experienced. Beads of sweat rolled down her creased forehead and settled into her frown. She swept the back of her hand across her face and tried to maintain her stance.
The chains holding the mirror rattled vigorously and violently, as if anything contained within the mirror was going to burst and strike out at the frightened youth that watched. The padlock unlocked with ease on its own. The chains fell and broke into tiny splinters of brittle metal that rattled against the floor. The little girl clamped her hands over her mouth to prevent her from screaming - if an entity was present, she didn't want it to know that she was scared.
What if the legend was true? Was her head going to be placed upon the Tower of London, with a solid grimace of a scream stuck upon her face? She shook her head to dismiss these thoughts. That absurdity could be held back for now.
A black cloud began to swirl, like a black hole, inside the mirror. The girl glared into it, wanting some kind of explanation. However, her shaking hands reached behind her back and she nervously fumbled her fingers, fiddling with the tight bow that held up her dress.
Her ears picked up a sound. A whisper, a silent murmur, muttering a rhyme that she knew of. She had heard it at school and at home; through her taunts from friends and her troublesome brother, she was never scared. She knew it wasn't real.
That was what she thought then, but maybe she needed to test it. It might be true, for what she was watching, but she could be in a nightmare. She thought about lucid dreaming, or the unexplainable process of sleep paralysis.
"Bloody Mary," she murmured, and a reply slithered into her ear canal.
"Say it once, you're warned and not caring."
The girl ignored the whisper. "Bloody Mary."
"Say it twice, you're suspicious and daring."
"Bloody Mary!" the girl yelled, and a figure appeared in the mirror before the third verse was heard. A woman, her eyes as black as her soul, pierced into the pupils of the girl. Her hair was tattered and barely even there, and her cheekbones protruded her skinny, pale face. She lifted a hand, spotted with dried blood, and the mirror began to ripple. The hand reached out to the little girl, who couldn't move from her spot. A skinny finger pointed at her, and the long, dagger-like nails glided down the side of her cheek, slicing the skin like a hot knife through butter.
The little girl screeched.