The Harrowing Estrangement Part VI (Novella)

September 1853
Redlaw Mansion
It was early winters, and the days began to become colder. William was vigorously working on The Harrowing Estrangement, on the part of the story that he had lost because of Brownlow. Lucas had lost hope from finding clues about Patricia, and Martha devoted herself to her master. Her daughter Greet had passed away, and now the Redlaw Mansion was her sole purpose to live. She had grown weak past few days. She looked worried, like she hidden many secrets, and to carry them in her heart had drained all her strength. She would often go to her old house for a day or two, to spend time remembering her daughter. William felt her pain, as he had been through the same once, losing the only family—forever.
William was almost done with the story, he was reaching the consequence, when he decided to take a short break, and indulge in something else. He wanted to read the newspaper. He was looking for it in his study table, under all the unmanaged books and papers scattered on his table, when he saw something on the nib of the white quill. He almost neglected, but then it struck him, that he saw something, which looked like ‘Thou’. He left the jumble of books and papers, and hurriedly picked the quill in his hands. He adjusted his reading glasses, and tried hard to look at the silvery letters that almost were invisible. It read, “Thou shalt live your destiny”. He wondered what it meant; he thought he had come across this somewhere.
Suddenly, he heard someone knocking on a wooden plank, a weak knock, sounded as if it was coming from a distance. He heard the sound, and his heart pounced to think that he had heard that before, but had failed to find what caused it. There was another knock, a rather slow, but stronger one. William was afraid; he slowly walked toward the closet. He held the brass handles with both hands, and slowly opened the doors. There was nothing again. He turned around to leave, when he heard the knock, yet again. William froze where he stood, and slowly turned his head toward the closet. He saw the wooden box, where he had kept the torn pages of the notebook, raising in air. He got scared, and screamed. He hastily moved backwards, and fell on the ground losing his conscious. He could not move, and lay still on the ground for hours. There was silence in the room.
The clock struck twelve, and William started to regain his conscious. He slowly opened his eyes, being clueless of what had happened. He looked around him, but failed to see anything, as his room was as dark as a carbon. He realised that it was nightfall. He remembered where Martha kept the candles and the matchbox; hence, trusting his senses, he tried to find them. 
He lit a candle, and lifted it in his hands. He felt someone else being in the room. He turned his head towards the closet, and found a strange shadow lingering around. He tried to come closer, and the shadow moved swiftly, and disappeared. William was not sure what he saw, but he was afraid. He was sweating like a fish in the middle of a cold night. He tried to look around his room, and heard a blow from his closet. When he turned toward the closet, he saw the small box was open, and the pages were missing from it. He leaped to see where they had gone, when he heard something which resembled of papers flying in the air. He looked at the ceiling, and the papers fell down on the floor, slowly, like snow. William picked them up, and was in horror to find them all neat and perfect. He recognised his daughter’s handwriting. He tried to read them, when he saw few sentences glowing like they had fire in them.
‘They hid in a cave, to escape them, the cave which was to take them to their destiny. They were relieved to have lost the chasing bandits, but their joy did not last long, as a wild beast pranced at him. He attacked him with his beastly hands, and cut his throat deep.’
William was struck; he could not read any further. He was shocked, and his heart leaped to his throat. And then, he heard a thump on the floor. He turned to look around, and saw that the notebook had fallen on the floor, and then the inkpot falls on the pages. The black ink stained the pages. He crawled to save his work, and saw something taking shape mysteriously in one of the pages. The ink flowed down at the bottom of the page, and took a shape of letters.
                                 ‘Thou Shalt Live Our Destiny’
William threw the notebook away; he crept toward a corner of his room, and wept hard. He was scared, and he remembered God in his heart. The notebook kept staring him for a while. William did not know what to do for a while; he wanted to kill whoever casted a spell on him, making him witness the conjuring.
He leaped towards his dressing table, where he had a closet where he kept his gun. He looked for the weapon, when he found images forming on the mirror. He saw his father, he saw Martha’s husband, Christopher, he saw Greet, and then Patricia. He stared at the mirror with surprise and fear. He saw Patricia smiling at him, trying to say something. But the images faded away, and he saw Martha’s reflection. William turned his head, and was relieved to find Martha standing behind him, for real.
He ran toward her, and caught by her hand, “Martha”, he said, exasperated, “we need to leave now. There is a ghost in our house. He will kill us. He killed our Patricia too!”
Martha had a cold disposition; she jerked her arm to get off William. She stepped back and smiled.
“No sir, not me, but you, they will kill you!”
William was shocked to hear that, “What are you talking about? Who are they, what do they want?”
“They want to do just you had done with them, kill them with the quill, bury them in your notebook. They want to put through the same”.
William did not understand anything, he was clueless, and was mumbling. He was afraid, that he is going to die.
“Why are you doing this, why did you do this? What have I done to you, except for providing for all your need? I took care of you when your husband left you, helpless, with little Greet! Have you forgotten everything?”
“No, Sir! I have not forgotten anything….anything that your father had done to my husband…to my daughter…to my entire family! He was an evil……he murdered my entire family, and hence, I took revenge from him, by destroying his family…..his children, from Victoria, Patricia, and now you!”
“Hold your tongue, you witch! And tell me what you hide; I will spare your life!” William pointed the gun toward her. Martha laughed at his gesture; William was bewildered.
“Well, then listen! Your father had started visiting the lodges at night, to meet his friends, secretly. He learned that they studied witchcraft too, and wanted to learn few of them himself. He used my husband, and my daughter, to quench his thirst of black magic!”
William listened to her quietly, and was shocked to hear what she had said. For an instance he thought she was lying.
“How…how did he do this? How he killed your family?”
Martha smiled a devil smile, and walked toward his table. She picked the quill in her hand, and said, without looking at William, “This quill, this is what had poisoned my life, had killed my daughter, and husband. This beautiful thing…is cursed!”
William’s eyes widened to hear this. He was taken aback to know that all the time, he was with what had killed his daughter, and now is going to kill him. He could not believe that Martha could turn out to be such a malicious woman.
“Your father learnt to spell the cast of eternal fulfilment. He achieved all his success with the help of this quill, by writing about everything he ever wanted. But when things started to slip out of his hands…he gave this quill to my husband…without telling the powers that it possessed. My husband received it as a blessing…and wrote all his stories with it. Whatever he had written had come true…but it never occurred to him that there could be any mystery behind it. One day, he wrote about a small girl, who lost her legs in a small age, and Greet was born, my child…who never could know the pleasure of standing on her own…feet. She was…crippled, from her birth. Christopher went to your father, to seek help. I followed him that night…to this mansion, where I saw Christopher weeping, and your father telling him the reason behind all the misery. He couldn’t take this, and he…he ran away. I tried to stop him…call his name out…but he disappeared in the dark, and never returned”.
William was shocked; he could not believe that his father had done any of these. Martha walked toward him, and explained the rest of her story. Tears filled her eyes, as she recalled, “You were a young man, when these had happened. Your father did not know that I was aware of his deeds. I swore to avenge my daughter…and my husband. I started to mix slow poison in his tea, which killed him in a month, failing his lungs. And when you married Victoria, who already was bearing your child…I did the same to her. But I could not do kill your daughter…I was weak to do anything to her. Hence, I gave her the quill, to draw upon what her grandfather had done to my child. As she grew up, I fed her mind with stories of pain…misery…death…and hoped that she would write about them. But she never wrote anything, but fairy tales of living happily ever after. But I was tired…tired of being patient…tired of waiting. But one day….told me that she is going to write a love story…I leaped for my chance…when she asked me the saddest thing that could happen to two lovers…Have a wild guess, Mr Redlaw, what could have been my answer?”
William was enraged; he was shocked, heartbroken and bewildered to know the truth, the truth that Martha had hidden for so many years. He trusted her so much, and she had backstabbed him, and his entire family. He could not control his temper; he screamed, and pulled the trigger of his gun. ‘Boom’, and a bullet hit Martha right into her gut. Martha looked at her stomach, that the bullet had made a hole, a hole you could look through, and see the wall behind her!
William was surprised, there was no pain on Martha’s face, there was no blood splurging out of her body. He shot another bullet, which hit her shoulder, but nothing happened. Martha smiles, and disappeared in the air.
William was alone in his room. He was scared and shocked. He was about to die, he knew it. He wanted to run away, run out of the house. He started screaming his servant’s names, “Peter, Maria, Roger; where did you all go!” There was no one to answer, the entire house as empty. He tried to climb down the stairs hastily; he slipped and fell tumbling from the stairs. When he reached the end of the staircase, he felt weak, and helpless. He could not open his eyes well. There was silence and darkness all around him. Then suddenly, a circle of flames emerges around him, out of the floor. William was too weak to understand what had happened; he could not move. He saw Martha at a distance, standing, and watching him die.
“Please Martha’, he pleaded, “please don’t do this to me, please!”
But the flames rose higher, and blocked his sight. He screamed, and screamed, and no one heard him, no one came to help him. The house burnt in silence, and killed the last Redlaw in it. The neighbourhood slept in peace, without knowing what had happened.
Next morning, Mr Tetterby saw the mansion from his window early morning. He saw people and police gathered all around the house, which stood still after fire. He rushed to see what had happened.
He reached the garden, where Officer Lucas was standing with few of his detectives, and was questioning the neighbours. No one had heard or seen anything unusual last night. Mr Tetterby was bewildered to know from Lucas that William was there inside the house, when the fire occurred, and had succumbed to his wounds. Mr Tetterby wept hard, he wept like a child, to know that his friend was dead.
He walked inside the house, where everything was burned and destroyed. A team of detectives and doctors were trying to look for clues. Mr Tetterby climbed the broken staircase, and went inside William’s room. He saw everything shattered, half burnt, half destroyed. He could not believe that he would see this room in such a miserable condition.  He walked past the armchair, and could see William sitting and smoking his pipe, he saw the books spread on the floor, and imagined how they were neatly kept once, he looked at the broken mirror, and remembered how Patricia would fix the tie around her father’s neck; he remembered everything so well, so precise. He looked at the heap of burnt books and pages, and found the leather notebook lying under them, undestroyed. He kneeled down, and lifted the notebook, and found the white quill right under it, all in a well condition. Mr Tetterby kept them with himself, and slowly left the room.

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