Augustine Manor

FictionIssue TwelveIssue Twelve Fiction

Written by:

Views: 117

by Daniela Abriola

 

Betty Mullan­—Monday, June 28th 2021

I hadn’t known my Great Uncle Douglas, but apparently, he thought I was the one who deserved to inherit Augustine Manor. I had only met Douglas once. From what I remember, he was a rather wealthy old man who was never pleased to have visitors. That never bothered me. There was something about Augustine that called to me, but nothing that was welcoming. Perhaps it was my imagination, but my gut knew better than I did.

A thousand acres of land was big for anyone, but being alone within the walls of Augustine, made it feel even bigger. The manor belonged on the earth that it graced, the stone carried the memory of its creation long ago. It stood tall and proud as if it had been called into existence from some higher being.

Douglas lived alone, only occupying a few of the rooms in the manor, leaving the servants quarters to lay practically untouched for centuries.

On the top floor just before the attic­­, a boarded-up room sat dormant. Curiosity got the best of me. It was like an invisible string was pulling me towards the room. The door handle rattled underneath my grip, refusing to unlock.

A locked room wasn’t unusual in Augustine but standing in front of it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It was so silent you could hear a hairpin drop. A silent scream protested my body as if it was begging me not to go in. Usually, I’d be one to listen­, but the string that pulled me here the same one that called me all those years ago was back. Stronger than ever.

I pushed against the wooden door with as much force as I could. It cracked open, stirring up dust that clouded the room, like sand in a desert storm.

Almost as if the manor wanted me to find it, a diary laid on the floor in the centre of the room, illuminated by a small beam of light streaming through a small gap in the curtain. In the dim light, you could see the dust dancing in the air, performing for an audience of tattered sheets and withered books.

The diary was a steady weight in my hand. The leather was faded on the edges, the colour lost to the test of time. I turned through the pages, some of them sticking to each other. The longer I flipped through, the worse the handwriting became, the perfect writing slowly losing its beauty.

 

Charlotte Weltman—Wednesday, July 9th 1816

Working for Mr Henry is a rather pleasant job. The children are wonderful, though Mr Henry does have reservations about his youngest daughter Eleanor. Mr Henry says that she has no regard for the honour and credit of the Henrys’ good name, that she is nothing but an unfeeling, wretched and strong-headed girl. However, my concerns are not with Miss Eleanor, she is quite a beautiful and intelligent girl, who I need not worry about. She is more handsome than her sisters and will have no trouble finding a distinguished husband when the time comes.

It is not the girls, but the noises that live within the wall of Augustine Manor that call me to reconsider my place as Governess. The whispers in the attic above my quarters that once called to me, are now getting awfully loud. I cannot help but think there is something up there.

Though I dare not look, there is something compelling me to find out what it is. I am sure the girls hear it too. I question whether I should inform Mr Henry about this.

 

Betty Mullan­—Sunday, July 11th 2021

I spent the last two weeks reading through the pages of Miss Charlotte’s diary. It was clear that something about Augustine Manor could draw people in. Working for the Henrys was surely putting stress on the poor girl, so tired and delusional that she thought she was hearing things. She had to be, because what Charlotte was suggesting was ridiculous.

 

Charlotte Weltman—Friday, July 17th 1816­

Mrs Henry arrived back at Augustine today. She too had concerns about Miss Eleanor, but she was rather distracted. Her mood was a tumult of joy this morning. She told of a young man in possession of a good fortune who has taken residence in Pembleton Park. I do not doubt that if Mr Constantine is single, Mrs Henry would want her husband to visit him at once, to convince Mr Constantine to marry any one of her eldest daughters­.

I try to ignore something that calls me. I spend my days teaching the children the refinement of being a polished woman in society, but the words of haunting do not fade. They no longer reside only in the attic, but all over the manor. The echoes surround the halls that I walk. The repeated chanting has no compassion on nerves. The sound vexes me, and only me. I inquired about the loud voices but none of the servants have heard a sound, they insist that the whispers do not exist.

I’m afraid the shadows are aware of my writing. I must try to avoid my quarters, it is where they are the loudest. Perhaps a nap will devoid the noises that startle me.

 

Betty Mullan­—Thursday, July 22nd 2021

I tried to call my mother today; the death of Douglas was harder on her than it was on me. She didn’t answer. The signal in this place is less than ideal. I barely have enough bars to check the weather, let alone talk to my mother… or anyone. I feel like I’m becoming crazy. No… not crazy. Delusional.

That’s my conclusion. I’m sure the lack of human interaction­—being alone in this place­—is causing my delusions… maybe I’m just dehydrated.

I thought Miss Charlotte was just tired, perhaps overworked. But it was clear that the Governess must have gone mad within these walls. Slowly, her perfect cursive writing had become less and less legible.

Knowing how she must have suffered here, within the walls of Augustine Manor, left me with an uneasy feeling in my stomach… at least I hoped that was the reason.

I will try and reach my mother again. Hearing her voice will be enough to pull me back to reality.

 

Charlotte Weltman—Sunday, July 26th 1816

It is no longer just whispers. They talk to me, with pleas and cries for help. I am unable to escape them. They haunt my being. I do not have much time to write.

An apparition appeared on Saturday, and he watches me. It is unnerving. He wants something. I am unaware of what it is; I know he does not like me writing in this journal. I must make haste before he continues on through Augustine. I must warn the Henrys. 

 

Betty Mullan­—Sunday, August 1st 2021

I pitied Charlotte, but now there is something beyond the walls that is pitying me. They whisper to me­, ever so softly. I can’t quite make out what they’re saying.

The people from the telephone company said they’d be here in a couple of days. They said they couldn’t promise anything, but they would at least try to fix the phone line.

Hearing from my family, when I no longer have to keep living in isolation, will be good for me. It is nothing more than a case of homesickness. The voices will stop. I’m sure of it.

 

Charlotte Weltman—Monday, August 4th 1816

The Henrys think I am preposterous. They do not hear what I do.

I no longer sleep comfortably in my bed. I hardly sleep at all. They are no longer whispers, they are loud screams that occupy my head. I can hardly focus on anything else.

What was once a faint apparition, is now a coloured painting. It is as clear as ever. There are more now. They all watch me, with eyes that never leave mine.

I have tried to warn the Henrys once more, yet they refuse to listen. They claim I’ve gone mad. There is no doubt in me, that it is the walls of this beautiful manor that are causing this. They hold a dark, wretched story that I fear is not finished.

I must find a way to leave Augustine. At once.

 

Betty Mullan­—Saturday, August 7th 2021

The voices are back. More certain this time. They are no longer just whispers. Like Charlotte, they beg for help. Unlike the Governess, I know that there is a simple explanation for all this… I just haven’t figured it out yet.

I would be crazy to believe her. I should be locked up for even considering it. It wasn’t me, it was this placeit had to be.

Alone in this manor, the days pass by faster than ever. I can’t help but fear the worst.

 

Charlotte Weltman—Tuesday, August 12th 1816

I must leave this place. I fear it will be the death of me.

 

Betty Mullan­—Friday, August 13th 2021

When the Governess said that there were apparitions, I did not believe her. Maybe I should have… but that would be impossible, and most definitely crazy.

And yet, every second I spend here, her mad scrawling make more and more sense.

What were once illegible squiggles, are now clearer than ever.