WRITING A Night of Horror and Romance - a Gothic Short Story

Discussion in 'SHOWCASING' started by Chat Noir, Mar 27, 2012.

  1. Here is a short story I wrote using some of the elements of Wuthering Heights, and the Mysteries of Udolpho. Please review and tell me what you all think!



    Magnolia glanced around her, her smoky grey eyes searching for any movement. The grounds were huge, stretching out before her towards the lake, but all was silent. She moved quietly and swiftly along the gravel path, staying in the shadows of the great mansion in which she lived.
    Her long hair fell out of its up-do as she stole along the path, billowing around her in a cloud of chocolate brown silk. This she barely noticed, so focused was she on her destination. Her grey eyes darted nervously about the dark grounds, watching for even the slightest sign of motion in the darkness.
    She hurried along the side of the grand hall, and turned the corner. Just a few metres away, was the object of her thoughts – a monumental fountain in the shape of a cherub. It was not flowing, which added to the eerie silence surrounding her. Magnolia shivered, not simply du to the cold of the night, but the disturbing silence of the place. She wasn’t used to being in the grounds at this hour of the night. The only reason she was there, was because of a certain letter she had received that morning.
    Approaching the fountain, Magnolia’s feet made little noise, except for a slight scuffling of her slippers. The slight sound was like a drum in the deathly silence. As she sat on the edge of the fountain, an owl hooted loudly nearby, making her jump with fright. Her heart raced, and her hands twitched nervously in her lap. She was so on edge that the slightest thing made her jump.
    “Why, Magnolia Sheridan. You do look mighty fine tonight.” A Southern voice drawled from behind her, nearly making her fall backwards into the stone fountain. She whirled around and found herself staring upwards into a pair of golden, feline eyes which always captivated and mesmerised her.
    She squealed and flung her arms around his neck. “Charles Delancy, where have you been? I was expecting a letter last month from you, but when it didn’t arrive, I was so worried. You mean the world to me, and I am never ever letting that go.” Stretching up on tiptoe, Magnolia’s soft pink lips pressed against Charles’ chapped pale ones in a sweet kiss.
    The kiss lasted for just a few seconds, before Charles pulled back, urgency in his eyes. “Listen Magnolia love, I can’t stay. I already took a big enough risk coming here tonight. They may have followed me.” He glanced over his shoulder anxiously, before turning back to Magnolia, his eyes burning.
    Her eyes filled with sudden tears, shocked at how distant he was acting. “Who followed you? What’s happening Charles?” Magnolia’s voice shook as she spoke. She couldn’t help it – he wasn’t usually this vague with her.
    Charles grasped her shoulders tightly and stared down at her. “Go back to your room and stay there. I will come for y’all when it is safe again – you’s know it’s me when I throw three pebbles in a row at your window. Do you understand?” His voice was stern, but there was something in it that made her take notice.
    Frightened, Magnolia nodded, and flung her arms around his waist in a tight embrace. “Charles, I am scared. Please tell me what is going on! You’re acting so odd right now –I hardly know what to think or say. What happened to you in America?” She couldn’t believe how different Charles Delancy was now, compared to the warm, friendly, open young man who had sadly left Clodnes six months earlier. Now he had been fighting in a war and it had perceptibly changed him for the worse.
    Sighing, Charles tipped her chin up and gazed into her eyes, the gold meeting the grey. “Magnolia, I swear upon the moon that I will tell you the whole story later, but right now you might be in great danger from some of my enemies. Now you have to promise me one thing – ” He broke off and looked at her for a response. She hurriedly nodded, willing to promise him anything, and he continued in a serious tone, “Promise me that y’all will do anything it takes to save your own life, regardless of whether it kills me. Swear it.”
    Magnolia blanched, and drew back. “But-” she began to protest, but Charles cut her off with a look that could have curdled milk. Meekly she nodded and replied, “I swear upon the moon and the goddess within it, that I will do as you request – but please tell me later.” As she spoke, she hated herself for making that promise.
    Satisfied, Charles released her with a nod. Suddenly a twig snapped nearby,the sound like a gun shot in the silence. His head shot up and he was as alert as a lion when it’s enemies are near. Magnolia was struck with a sudden terror, and she saw her beau as a jungle cat, on it’s toes and ready to pounce. He leaned close, “Go back to your room now – go!” was his urgent whisper in her ear.
    She blinked up at him, tears in her eyes, and mouthed the words “I love you.” Before waiting for an answer, she turned tail and hurried back up the gravel path, trying to appear normal.
    At the corner, she paused and looked back at Charles pleadingly. He stood by the fountain, looking out at the forest which surrounded Clodnes, so he didn’t see her look. He didn’t see until it was too late. A pair of dark figures, dressed all in black, slipped out from the bushes behind him, with the silence of the night itelf, and attacked him with a shovel. He collapsed on the ground, and the strangers began to beat him. From where Magnolia stood, she could only see his legs, which thrashed wildly for a moment or two, then fell motionless to the ground.
    She gasped involuntarily, a slight sound, but one which alerted the figures to her presence. The slightly taller one looked up, and their gaze met Magnolia’s for a long moment. A gust of wind blew through the garden, and whisked the person’s mask off, revealing short sandy-coloured hair and a pair of electric-blue eyes, which were fixed on Magnolia. She was frozen to the spot, one hand resting on the wall. The man gestured in her direction to his accomplice, and they moved away from the limp heap which was Charles, towards her. They moved with a rangy grace which could only be described as lupine.
    She regained some control over her body and mind, and ran for it. Her hair whipped around her, and her dress hem dragged in the mud of the flower beds, but she didn’t care. All she could think about was her pursuers who could potentially kill her, and of course Charles, who had been brutally attacked from behind. As she ran past the rose-beds, her velvet slippers came off her feet, but she ran on barefoot, not caring of her feet at that moment. Even though the gravel stones hurt her feet, her heart hurt more.
    Magnolia could hear the heavy breath of the figures behind her getting louder, as they grew closer to her. Her desperation made her put on an unexpected extra spurt of speed, and she scrambled up the steps to the entrance hall, nearly falling over.
    Clodnes had been her home all her life, and her family’s for decades (ever since the initial building of the house a century before), yet it had never seemed so welcoming before. Magnolia paused to catch her breath at the doors, but was forced to move almost immediately when a dagger slammed itself into the door beside her, only a few inches from her face. “Help!” she yelled, petrified.
    As Magnolia darted rapidly across the hall, the kitchen door opened. “Miss Sheridan, is that you? You missed din-” The stout housekeeper never got to finish her sentence, as a shot rang out through the vast room. The woman collapsed backwards, a look of shock still on her face.
    At the foot of the stairs, Magnolia screamed, a loud, shrill, ghastly sound, and made her escape up the grand staircase. Every step felt like a million, and she despaired that she would never get away from the intruders. Her heart raced, and sweat dripped from her brow.
    Finally though, she thankfully reached her second-floor bedroom. Slamming the door behind her, she stared frantically around her, searching wildly for a place to hide. She knew she had next to no time to find a sanctuary as she could hear the mysterious figures thundering up the stairs to her bedroom. Suddenly her eyes lighted upon the hidden hatch in the ceiling which would be invisible to anyone who didn’t know it was there. Climbing hurriedly onto the bed, Magnolia yanked down the ladder and clambered up it. Once in, she pulled the door closed not a second too soon, because just as she closed the hatch, the door burst open and the two figures rushed in.
    Magnolia huddled in the cramped space, her arms wrapped around her knees. It was merely a small attic with just enough space for Magnolia to lie down, but she didn’t care about her own discomfort. All she could think about was that disturbingly vivid image of Charles lying on the ground, motionless. It played over and over in her mind. Her hands convulsed, and she bit her lip hard to stop any noise betraying her position. A tiny drop of blood oozed out, and yet she still didn’t care. Below her, she could hear the two intruders moving around and ransacking her room. Terrified for her life, Magnolia kept quiet, not uttering a single sound, in fear that they would discover her hiding place. A series of horrible images raced through her mind, depicting herself being subject to various tortures and deaths – being shot in the head while pinned down, raped violently, beaten to a pulp, stabbed to death; all of these images petrified her. Yet she still forced herself to remain silent, even though she felt like screaming.
    The voices of the strangers drifted through the ceiling, and were like the stab of a knife to Magnolia’s ears. They were grown men, but unlike Charles, or her father, these men had harsh, abrasive voices which were tinged with despise, and dripping with malice. “Where is that damn girl?” “She can’t have just disappeared,” was the rough reply. “Keep searching – if she isn’t here, we look outside. She might have climbed out the window.” “Why do we want her again?” “She saw us kill Delancy – we can’t keep her alive after that.” This shocked Magnolia – he was dead?
    Shaking, Magnolia lowered herself silently to the ground, and closed her eyes, suddenly overcome with exhaustion. Sleep washed over her, amidst the heartache and noise.

    “Magnolia!” A cracked, weak voice startled her. She opened her eyes and stared wildly about her, searching for the source of the voice, her sleepiness vanished.
    “Magnolia!” it cried again. It sounded like Charles, but how could it be? Taking a chance, and a deep breath, she opened the hatch, only to scream. There below her, was a monster –its skin was mottled and grey, with grotesque patches of hair growing from his skin in random places, and the ribs stuck out grotesquely. Its lamp-like eyes were wide, and milky, and they bored into Magnolia’s. It was hideous, and terrifying.
    She made as if to retreat back into the hidey-hole, but the monster grabbed her with a snarl, and pulled her down into the bedroom, which had been completely trashed.
    The monster leapt onto the balcony, and then off, into the night, carrying Magnolia Sheridan off to a place where no one would find her.
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