I’ve not been up to much crochet projects recently, since I’ve been busy at work, so I’ve decided to grace you with another story. This one isn’t a script, but a beginning of what could be a good side project, once I’m done with my knitting ones. So far, it’s just a snippet that came to me, as I was watching a movie (I was watching Monster Family – don’t judge me I am still a child at heart). I remember being in love with all those gothic romance novels, where the hero finds an abandoned home, but it’s not quite abandoned, and becomes trapped in that house, because the owner hasn’t had good company in so long, he really just wants someone to talk to. They’re classic Beauty and the Beast stories, but I love them!
So without further ado, here’s…
A World Apart
Thunder cracked overhead. The storm was worsening. Natalie looked up, despite the rain that overwhelmed her view. Deep black clouds roiled in the skies, like a boiling pot. Pulling her hood tighter around her head, she hurried on, hoping the trees would provide enough shelter against the storm. It didn’t and she cursed her luck. Of all the days she could have taken her annual nature hike, it had to be on the worst day possible. There was no helping it, of course, winter was the best time of the year to test her own resolve and strength. Nothing like a good dose of Mother Nature would help build her own character. She had seen what city life did to others, how vapid a bland they’d become; stuck in their own little worlds, dreaming of a place far away from the drudgery of offices and colossal grey buildings, not that she wasn’t one of them.
It had been five years ago, when Natalie had been forced to take some time off, just to eat away her holiday, since it had accumulated over the years. Her boss suggested she go abroad, get some culture in her while she had the chance. It wasn’t a bad idea, but she didn’t have the money to go travelling. As she complained to her colleagues, one of them suggested the countryside. The prices weren’t too high, and there was always something interesting to find in the small hamlets and villages that dotted the vast expanse of land. So, she packed her bags, booked a train ticket and a weekend off in one of the cheaper inns that stood at the edge of town, and became determined to enjoy herself.
Needless to say, it worked, and she found herself enraptured by the mysteries the surrounding woods held. On her first trip to the country, she wasn’t fully prepared, taking only what was necessary, for her weekend off. She hadn’t brought any hiking equipment, which limited her to the nearby pathways that were marked out for tourists and locals alike. From then on, she visited every year. At first, it was simply for leisure, but it soon became a test of courage for her. The more terrible the weather, the more challenging the woods became. It was like a game, and she loved it.
Now, however, she started to question the logic of her plans. Natalie had abandoned the path a while ago, and with the raging storm, any markers on the trees had been washed away. Finding the path was a hopeless cause, she’d meandered so far away, it would be impossible to retrace her steps without help. Her only choice now was to keep moving forward. Heaving a great sigh she forged ahead, careful to step where she knew the ground was stable. It was tedious and more than frustrating at times, but there had to be some form of life somewhere nearby. After all, she hadn’t wandered that far away from town, surely she’d find one of those isolated houses that slept tucked away in these woods.
As she began to contemplate bedding down in a dry patch, she heard an impossible sound. A violin was being played nearby; the crisp, sharp notes of a bow sliding across the strings playing a sombre tune in the desolate forest. Natalie’s heart began to race, as the thought of shelter and warmth began to tempt her forward. Almost frantic now, she ran towards the sound, hoping the bearer of the tune would grant her comfort from the storm.
It didn’t take long for her to find the source of the sound, and she broke through the trees, finding herself in a large field of a garden. At the other end was a manor. Even from a distance it was imposing and gloomy, and the storm didn’t help. In fact, as Natalie gazed upon it, she swore the lightning strike timed itself perfectly as she looked up. Shivering in apprehension, she marched on. As she drew closer to the heavy wooden doors, Natalie pursed her lips together, the words shelter and warmth repeating themselves like a mantra in her head. Taking a deep breath she reached for the heavy brass knocker and with great effort, knocked on the door. Actually, she more or less banged it against the door, since her arms weren’t strong enough to control the heavy thing.
For long agonizing seconds, she waited, the rain still pelting down on her with a vengeance. Eventually the doors slowly opened, revealing a warm, dimly lit foyer. A large set of mahogany stairs greeted her, with heavy red carpet travelling up the monstrosity. On either side of her, hallways to rooms she did not know stretched on, only to turn deeper into the manor. The gentle flickering of candlelight provided her with enough light, she could see that the manor was made almost completely of wood and grey stone. It was indescribable. Natalie almost felt the urge to run, even if she had to brave the cold and rain.
Gulping down her fear, she stepped further in, tiptoeing like a timid mouse, praying her host wasn’t as domineering as his house, “Hello?” she almost whispered. Another crash of lightning startled her, as she looked to the windows that flanked the stairs. Yelping in surprise, she jumped back as a figure suddenly stood at the top of the stairs before the windows. It hadn’t been there a moment ago. Natalie braced the door, in case she needed to run, and tried again, “I…I…I’m sorry for intruding like this, but I got lost, a…a…and was wondering if I could stay until the storm…ended.” Her voice was no more than a squeak by the time she finished speaking.
The figure moved unerringly gracefully towards her, descending the stares as if it glided across them. It stood in the shadows of the candles, just out of reach, and a voice as rich as velvet replied, “You are a brave little creature, venturing out in a storm like this. How did you come by this place?”
Natalie knew she should run, go back into the woods and find that stupid path. Even bedding down in the woods would be much more ideal than dealing with some stranger, who wouldn’t even show his face, even though she barged in on his home like this. Plucking up all the courage she could muster, she forced herself to speak again, “Like I said, I got lost, and this was the nearest place I could find. I’m visiting the nearby village, so I’m not too familiar with the land here, and when the storm hit, I had to keep moving.”
“I see,” the figure said, pacing around the large welcome table that stood in the middle of the foyer. His features became a little clearer, now that he stepped into the light. Long dark hair was held up by a small strap of leather. A heavy deep blue coat hugged the lean frame of a man, and his pale skin finally gleamed in the dim candlelight. Violet pools of caution gazed at her with a piercing clarity, as if the man himself knew who Natalie was, and was judging her with that all-too-knowing gaze.
For a long moment, he simply studied her, as if appraising a piece of artwork. Uncomfortable with his lingering gaze, Natalie shuffled, trying to shake off his scrutiny, “Um, so, would it be ok if I stayed here, for now?”
The man didn’t say anything immediately, opting to continue looking at her. She coughed discreetly and took the time to admire her surroundings. With at least another living body to converse with, Natalie no longer found the house as imposing as she’d initially thought. Stealing another glance at her host, she found him smiling at her, “Welcome, to my humble abode, Miss Parker.”
Natalie’s ease suddenly went cold and she stared at her host with sudden apprehension, “How do you know my name?”
If you can guess, I haven’t proof-read it yet. It was late at night, and I was tired from work, so you’ll have to excuse me for the poor habit, but I do hope you like it. If there were any mistakes, just point them out to me, and I’ll be glad to fix them! Well, as always, it’s your turn now. What do you think of the little story? Can you expand on it? If you do, I’d love to read your take on what happens next! I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with. Well, that’s it for now! See you soon!
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This is Feather, signing out!