And here we are again with the next submission in the ‘Dark and Stormy Night’ Halloween prompt. In case you missed yesterday’s post, visit back with Jess Fortunato and then huddle close as MR Graham gives us her rendition of the tale.
Make sure to read to the end. There’s a sweepstakes being offered to those of you following the Coven and Coffin Blog Hop.
It was a dark and stormy night. The wind rocked the car, and the rain pelted the windows in deafening cacophony. It was not, on the whole, the best night for ghost hunting. Mitch knew this, but refused to comment, in part because any comment would be lost in the noise, and in part because Millie, via her Weather Channel addiction, had warned him.
Millie had the steering wheel in a white-knuckled death grip, already put off by having to drive on the wrong side of the roads, now fighting desperately to stay on the roads at all. Mitch fiddled with his thermal camera to avoid the occasional “I told you so” glares she threw in his direction.
Avoidance became impossible, though, when the engine clunked even louder than the potholed road, and the car rolled to a stop.
Millie’s forehead hit the steering wheel, setting off the horn.
“OhmyGod,” she growled. “Mitch, you are the living embodiment of Murphy’s Law. Figure out where we are and call a wrecker.”
But it had been an hour since the GPS had lost signal, and if there was a cell tower in the area, it was too busy staying upright to be bothered with transmitting calls.
“No dice!” Mitch called over to the driver’s seat. “I got nothing!”
“I guess we’ll have to wait it out,” Millie called back, giving him a look that said she most emphatically did not intend to wait it out.
Mitch racked his brain. “There was a side road a little ways back. Looked like it might have been a driveway. Should we check it out?”
“You check it out. I’m not getting wet.”
Mitch admitted defeat. He stripped the garbage bag off the equipment in the back seat and wrapped it around his shoulders in a miserable attempt to waterproof himself.
It was no use. He was soaked as soon as he climbed out, and trudged against the whipping wind, back down the road and toward the hills.
It was a driveway, he discovered, at least sort of. The rain blinded him, and when the house loomed up suddenly out of the night, he was startled by its sheer size. It was long and low and sprawling, and he was almost tempted to call it more mansion than house, except that the structure seemed to be making a solid and uncomfortable effort to avoid notice, like the bespectacled nerd in the corner of a school dance. It was pretentious, aware of the fact, and deeply ashamed of it.
There was no button by the heavy double doors, but there was a thick, tarnished brass cable that rose up and away into an alcove beneath the eaves. The doors were flanked by stone eagles, each wearing an exasperated expression.
Glancing around for a candid-camera crew, Mitch gave the rope a pull.
The door creaked open almost at once and Mitch looked up… and up… and up.
There stood before him a slender man in tweed. He had his long, thin finger between the pages of a book and clearly did not appreciate being interrupted. He wore the same expression as the exasperated eagles, peering down through wire-rimmed glasses with polite displeasure.
“Hi?” Mitch tried.
The man raised an aspish eyebrow.
“Yeah, my friend and I got lost and then broke down, so I was wondering whether we could use your phone to call for a wrecker.”
The man stood aside and waved Mitch in. He did not close the door, though; instead, he stayed there for a moment until Millie had appeared out of the rain and then shut them in. The door crashed shut.
“Phone’s this way,” he said, leading the way down a dark hall.
Mitch shuffled after, dripping, and Millie followed him.
“We really appreciate it,” Millie said earnestly. “Really, really. Thank you so much. I’m Millie Taylor, and this is Mitch.”
“Daniel Leland,” the man replied, but he said nothing else. He pointed into a cramped, cluttered study and indicated the phone on the desk. “Telephone directory is in the drawer.”
Mitch skirted past Daniel Leland, who gave him the willies, found the directory, and looked up the closest tow service he could find.
He dialed and held the receiver to his ear, but there was nothing to hear.
“Line’s dead,” he said, putting it back. “Line must be down.”
Millie twisted the damp hem of her sweater between her hands. “Oh, hell,” she said. “There’s nothing else anywhere around here, is there? Would it be okay if we stayed until the storm passes?”
Daniel Leland drew himself up, knuckling his glasses higher on the bridge of his hawkish nose.
They spent the night in the car.
The Books of Lost Knowledge
Truly, there are more things in heaven and earth… For instance, a dark and subtle world of magic, hidden just below the surface of reality.
Lost Knowledge is a series of novels – two complete, many in progress – that centers on the reality of the things mankind has chosen to forget. There is beauty in the mist between the sea and the land, and dark things exist in the dim chasms of memory.
About MR Graham
MR Graham is a native Texan who traces strong cultural roots back to Scotland, Poland, and England. A mild-mannered Latin teacher during the day, Graham transforms at night into a raging Holmesian loremaster and rabid novelist.
Though passionate about all scholarship and academia, Graham’s training and true love lies with anthropology, particularly the archaeological branch.
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