Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Creative Challenge #208 - The Place where

Villa Feldbrunnen

After a long healing time in the sanatorium I at last found a small village in the country with a house to rent. Nothing expensive, but just what I needed to get away from the memories that were still haunting me. I was sure, and so were the doctors, that a new environment, peace and quiet and no stress would be the answer to my problems.

I was getting things straight in my house when there was a knock at the door.

"Morning Miss, I heard that the cottage had been let again and thought I would bring a little welcome present from me and the wife. Alfred Smith is the name, but everyone calls me Alf."

And there was Alf, my nearest neighbour, who lived just across the stream in front of my house, holding a fruit cake, garnished with cherries. I did not like fruit cake and was actually allergic to cherries, but put a brave face on and thanked him, asking him to come in for a cup of tea.

"Don't want to disturb Miss, and I have to get back to the cow shed, it's milking time."

Alfred was dressed in one of those blue overalls that farmers always seem to wear, and his feet were encased in wellington boots, so I was now convinced, yes I was in the country and it was farming land.

After my small "getting to know you" interval with Alf, I decided to take a walk through the area. What really attracted my attention was the large house which was visible from all corners of the village. No matter where you went, that house was looking at you. I had my camera with me, as always, and decided to take a few photos of the village, but discovered that the village was just a couple of farms, a church and the manor house. It probably was not a manor house, but gave the impression.

I always had my camera with me. It used to be my job, before the accident. Before I got too near the politician that was assassinated. Too near to avoid a stray bullet that entered my lung. A result of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Forget it all, you are now on the way to a new life.

In the evening I had a look at the photos on my computer. The church was typical village church. A small graveyard, a tower and the usual stained windows. Then I came to the house. It looked so empty, no cars outside, no sign of life, the windows looking like empty eyes, seeing all, but seeing nothing.

After a week of solitude I decided to visit Alf and his wife to thank them for the cake (which I actually threw into the garbage) and to ask a few questions about the area. OK, I wanted to know about the house.

"Morning Miss, nice to see you again."

Now nice was one of those words that said nothing and something.

"I just wanted to thank you again for the welcome present and thought I would say hello to your wife."

"That's nice of you Miss" (another nice), but the Missus is out in town to get some shopping. How are you settling in? It's only a small place, but some nice countryside. If you need any help, just ask Alf."

"There is something I would like to know. Who does the large house belong to up on the hill? It is quite majestic."

"Oh, the house. Belongs to some rich gent I believe. Never really see anyone there. Probably too busy with his business affairs."

Alf seemed to be a bit on the nervous side and I noticed he wanted to get rid of me, so I said my goodbyes. There was just something about this house.

That evening I had another look at the photos of the house on my computer and suddenly I saw a light burning in one of the rooms on the top floor. I was almost sure it was not there before, so I cropped it on the computer for a closer look. Yes, there was light in the room. I looked out of my window to see if there really was a light burning in that room and saw it was in darkness.

I decided to examine my photos of the house closer on the computer. Could I see someone standing at one of the windows on the ground floor. No, it must be the shadows playing tricks.

The next morning I walked up to the house as close as I could get and the light was burning again in the room on the top floor.

After living with this house opposite for a month it was beginning to frighten me. I reassured myself that my nerves were still recovering from the shock I had. I also noticed that the garden always looked so perfect. The trees were well looked after, no weeds anywhere, but I had never seen a gardner.

One day I made a decision and found myself standing in front of the massive oak door pressing the bell. I heard no sound from the inside of the house, so knocked with my hand and the door opened under the pressure.

"Hello, anyone there" I called. Nothing, no sound.

I was confronted with a large wide staircase and decided if no-one was there and the door was open, then probably no-one lived here any more. I walked up the stairs and mapped the direction in my mind to the room with the light.

I opened the door.

"Well hello, I have been waiting for you."

I recognised the voice and the face, but the last time he had a gun in his hand and had killed a man and wounded me. He was my partner, but in the confusion I got a bullet as well. One of the risks involved when you were paid to kill a politician that someone did not want. My job was to make sure  victim was in the right place at the right time.

And Alf? He was just another person that kept quiet about things. He did not miss me. I think the cake he gave me was the last one his wife had made before she disappeared and I do not think he missed her either.

Just the place where things can happen.

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