Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction
The drive By Maddie Hourigan
Midwinter – a frozen epoch, perched between old and new. The branches? Yes, they changed season-to-season, moulting viridescent vegetation, fungi congregated around the base of discoloured creepers, which bulge like fingers over fallen Alder trees; lying end-to-end they outline the road like hedges.
The Lord and his wife go driving, speeding around the curved pavement in an Austin-A90-Atlantic. An opulent, rather obnoxious item. But the Lady had insisted
The Trompe l’œil hunkered down, crowding the purple car, as it watched the runner weave. The fauna cringe as this plumb bullet breaks their hidden landscape. The Lord, hands covered with soft brown leather, gripped the wheel with a ferocious grip. So much so that, if they had been visible, his knuckles would have been bleached-white.
Brow furrowed, his breast was emblazoned: the axiom, ‘King and Country’, was wrapped luxuriously around the head of a roaring lion, in golden thread. Brown blazer identical to his wife’s, the queer superciliousness that he held was brokered by the frost she, sitting in ridged posture, emitted. They drive on.
The steady purr of the engine was interrupted by a crisp dial tone. Ring-ring, ring-ring. The Lady looked quickly down, polished nails unbuttoning her blazer pocket to retrieve the buzzing phone. Brown hair scraped back under an azure scarf against the wind. The Lady nodded her head to the right as her fingers flew over the screen. Her husband, irritation clouding his black eyes, forcing himself not to jerk the car to a halt, slowed to a stop beside a break in the trees, where on the right laid a pond.
“Could you give me a minute,” she murmured, twang slurring her consonants with lethargy, “Rodger is calling.” She didn’t move.
Cheeks flushing, the Lord’s brown eyes glowered across the car. He spoke. “Excuse me?”
She stared right back, eyes hard. Neck flushing, he swung his lithe form from the car, storming over to the pond just beyond the road.
Peering down, he stopped, stunned. He saw within the pond not his own face, but many faces – bodies also – as if they had been placed there prior to his arrival. Strangers, desnuda, beneath the iced pool. The encompassing poppies, as if simulacra, were now faced out. Gasping, he jerked away. Blood rapidly drained from his face as his legs shot him to a stand. The Lord raised his eyes, which bulged, looking as if a great pressure was being exerted on his head when he saw how the trees’ above had arched. All light was blocked from the clearing, when previously beams had lit the pool.
Breath appeared in front of the Lord’s face, creating a fog. Only - the Lord had not breathed out, as his throat was still closed from terror. The breath had come from the water – the water now rippling from movement beneath the surface. Staring into the darkness, his pallor flashed white over bone, the realisation hitting that he was no alone in the small clearing. And the darkness stared back.
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