The Graves Heir (Final Part)

18 Maret 2016 Pojok Cerita   |    Vania Cheryl Antono

Amelia felt herself start to wake up.
"I hope she’s alright."
"How did she even end up in the wardrobe?"
What are they talking about? Amelia’s mind questioned.
"She nearly died, didn’t she?"
Me? I nearly...died. Amelia felt her heart race faster at the thought.

She tried to open her eyes.
"Yes, I heard the fabric sheets in the wardrobe were wound tightly around her neck and limbs when they found her."
"Do you think that explains the marks on her wrist?"
At this, Amelia forced her eyes to open. She groaned as sunlight from the window streamed into the room and shone into her eyes.
"Quiet down everyone! She’s waking up!" A stern voice, one of which Amelia recognized as the Head of Staff, hushed the whispers surrounding the young Ms. Graves.
"W-what happened?" Amelia yawned as she tried to sit up. Searing pain travelled up her back all of a sudden, forcing Amelia to fall back down on the bed.
"Careful, Miss." The old Ms. Henshaw, the designated cook of the Graves family, cautioned in a worried, motherly tone, which soothed Amelia.

A maid, whose name Amelia had yet to know, supplied the information, "We found you in the wardrobe, Miss. You were entangled in sheets and some of them were wound tightly around your neck. Were you, perhaps, trying to suicide-?"
"Good heavens, no! Of course not! I would never." Amelia quickly cut off the maid from speaking such a horrible thought. Amelia might be a lot of things but suicidal was definitely not on the list.
"Oh, sorry, Miss. I didn’t mean to offend anyone." The maid apologized profusely, gaze meekly trained to the floor.
"That’s quite alright." Amelia dismissed the matter, adding, "Um...who exactly found me?"
"I heard Mr. Albert’s voice calling from your room, alerting me that you were in danger, though I suppose he went out of the room seconds before I turned around the corner and entered it. I didn’t find him there but I clearly heard his voice." The Head of Staff explained seriously.
"Mr. Albert?" Amelia’s voice was hesitant and the way she spoke her words were foreign, as if she didn’t recognize it.
"He’s the butler, Miss." Another maid clarified softly.
"Oh." Amelia could only utter. Well that certainly clears things up...She thought to herself.
"Everyone can leave now. I’m alright. Nothing a little shower couldn’t fix." Amelia spoke up politely, hinting that she needed some time alone to process the information.
"Of course, Miss." Old Ms. Henshaw nodded her head and left the room. The other maids and the Head of Staff quickly followed suit after muttering soft goodbyes.

Amelia took her time to freshen herself up, though her mind couldn’t help but replay the nightmare she had experienced before. She felt a chill run down her spine just at the thought.
Amelia hurriedly shook her head to rid herself of such unsettling thoughts as she ran a hand over her hair and stepped out of her confining bed chamber. After her recent bad experiences, Amelia didn’t feel comfortable being alone for long and before she knew it, she was hurrying down the desolate, empty corridors in hopes of meeting or bumping into a familiar face.

The next thing she knew, she reached a dead end.
Great going there, Amelia. Why not get yourself lost or killed while at it? A sarcastic voice inside of her head remarked.
Amelia looked to the wooden floorboard and she could clearly see a small round object laying unattended. It was shiny, if not a little rusty. She took a few steps forward and picked it up.
Amelia then realized what it was, hmm...A doorknob. Why would this thing be lying around here? There’s no door in sight-
She had said that a bit too soon for right in front of her, on the wall that appeared to be a dead end, Amelia could see a small hole on it, a small hole big enough to fit the door knob on her hand right now.
With slightly trembling hands, Amelia raised her hand and made a move to fit the door knob into the hole.
" and never return...Amelia, child..." A rough whisper, carried by a chilling breeze, swept through Amelia.
She froze.

Whatever is behind the door could help me on solving the mystery of what plagues Graves Manor. I need to open it, no matter what...My Grandmother left her abode in my care and I will not abandon it to the darkness...Amelia thought determinedly and steeled herself.
Before she could hesitate on her next actions, Amelia had already pushed the door knob into the hole on the wall and twisted it to the side. With a groan, an outline of a door formed on the wall and it creaked wide open, offering Amelia a chance to step into the darkness and stop these supernatural occurrences.
She could feel her toes curling from nervousness and her fingers felt jittery from her sides. Taking a leap of faith, Amelia gingerly took a step inside the darkness and let it envelop her. The only light came from the corridor behind her but even then, it wasn’t enough.

Amelia bit her bottom lip as she tried to calm her nerves. Once she gathered her wits as she realized that there were no hands about to grab her this time, she blinked a few times so that Amelia’s eyes could adjust to the sea of black around her.
She appeared to be in a storage room of some sort. There were shapes around her that appeared to be broken chairs, an unused table, several boxes and craters. All of a sudden, it didn’t seem so scary.
Sure, it was dusty, and there were probably rats infesting the place, but other than that, nothing out of the ordinary seemed to be happening. This observation helped Amelia to relax her previously rigid stance.
Amelia took a few steps forward to head towards the boxes-which must have been her grandmother’s old, unused stuff cleared up from the Master bedroom-but jumped in surprise when she stepped on something.

Warily, Amelia bent down, picked it up and brought it close to her face. Why, it appeared to be a flashlight! Amelia felt her heart soar at the possibility of having light in a dark room and she quickly flicked the switch on.
Much, much better...Amelia smiled to herself as she felt the darkness recede, the only remnants of it being the shadows that flickered behind various objects as she pointed the flashlight all around the dusty, messy room.

Her curiousity still very much centered on the boxes, Amelia looked at the tall box nearest to her and tugged it closer, only to hear a crash coming from behind it.
Amelia’s shoulders hunched on instinct, eyes darting around in suspicion, before she took cautious steps to go around the tall box and peek at whatever had fallen behind it.
A body! Amelia’s face contorted with horror before she realized that it was just a mannequin. For goodness sake, Amelia! Stop trying to give yourself a heart attack...The young Ms. Graves chided herself, suddenly feeling very foolish, indeed.

However, as she took a closer look with the flashlight bathing the mannequin in warmth and light, Amelia, with startling dread, recognized the fabric covering it.
It was the black gown that the ghost haunting her in the dining hall and the Master Bedroom window had worn. The look isn’t complete without the veil. It must be here somewhere-aha! Sure enough, just a few feet behind the fallen mannequin lay the black, embroidered veil in a tangled heap on the floor.

Amelia pursed her lips together, deep in thought. If the ghost’s outfit were truly here and real, then is there even a ghost to begin with? Was all the haunting she had experienced just a hoax made to trick her into leaving the mansion and her inheritance behind?
Amelia gulped down her quick assumptions and decided to look around some more before coming into a conclusion and deciding her next actions. Instead of suffering from the fear that had crept its way into her stomach like before, the only thing Amelia seemed to be feeling was growing anger for the person who was behind the trick.

Frantically, she grabbed another box from the ground, this time smaller, and forcefully opened it. Nestled inside were a bunch of books, all leather-covered with a thick spine, but there was one that caught Amelia’s attention.
It looked like a journal, with a brown leather cover, that had the initials A. G. The only thing that went into Amelia’s mind as her eyes scanned the initials carved on the cover was Amoira Graves.

Amoira Graves.
Amoira Graves!
That’s her grandmother! Madame Amoira Graves! This was her journal!

Hands shaking, this times from excitement, Amelia snatched the journal and flipped it open. The journal seemed to have a mind of its own as it landed on a bookmarked page.
Amelia saw the date of the journal, which was just a week before her grandmother’s death. She read on:
I’m afraid that I won’t survive much longer. I can feel this sickness inside of me growing day by day. With a heavy heart, I know that my darling daughter Peony is unsuitable to inherit Graves Mansion-

Amelia could feel tears prickling the corners of her eyes. This was her grandmother writing about the days before she took her last breath. And even then, Amelia could practically hear the regret her grandmother had when mentioning her daughter, Amelia’s Aunt Peony, who suffered greatly from an illness of the mind and is currently residing in a mental hospital not far away from the mansion. Amelia continued reading.

And so I have decided on my will that my son’s daughter, Amelia, is to inherit my mansion and care for it as I have done all these years. I have watched Amelia grow to a lovely, independent young woman that I myself am proud of and I have the utmost confidence in her that I would be leaving my abode in good hands. There is one thing I fear most, though. Even as I lay in my death bed, I can sense the betrayal and greed growing from her wretched soul! I still can’t believe that my trustworthy friend had betrayed me!

Amelia felt puzzled. Who was this ‘friend’ person that her grandmother was writing about and blaming? Intrigued by this new turn of events, Amelia’s eyes skimmed over the words...

I hope that with Amelia inheriting my mansion, it would be enough to prevent her from stealing it after I die. It was, after all, that she devil who poisoned the mind of poor Peony! It was a shame that I found out a bit too late. With my lips sewn shut by she herself and with what little strength I have left in my body, I will only write the truth among these words-

Amelia wanted to scream aloud when she realized that the page she was reading from was torn at the bottom. Fervently, she flipped onto the next page, hoping that there was more information in which she could learn from.

The next entry was set onto three days before her grandmother died and this time, her grandmother’s tidy handwriting had changed into a feverish, urgent scrawl that was barely readable.

I know I don’t have much time left in this world. My will is being safely kept by my solicitor as I write these words and I trust that she won’t be able to take that away and prevent dear Amelia from receiving my inheritance. I know it won’t be long now. It has been days since I last ate a decent meal and my frail body can’t handle this much longer. I hear her footsteps now. She’s coming! I know she will force me to write another will but I will refuse! She can’t kill me! Not when I hold the key to the inheritance and lie on my death bed! I will never-

Amelia groaned in frustration when there was an ink blotch that spilled over the rest of the words on that page, preventing her from reading on. Amelia quickly turned to another page, the last page full of words, which was set on the day her grandmother passed away.

At this point, Amelia could only read a few lines of her grandmother’s messy, furious scrawls, which began to look like scratch marks on the page...

It appears I have underestimated her! She is close to finding that will. Just yesterday, I heard whispers of my solicitor’s abrupt death. This can’t be good. Even if Amelia manages to inherit my mansion, I will have no way on telling my granddaughter that she is not to be trusted! But there is nothing I can do now. It is too late. Amelia’s name is already written on the will and along with it, I have signed Amelia’s death. I just hope that it wouldn’t be too late for Amelia to realize all this. Amelia’s a bright girl...too bright for her light to be diminished by the likes of Mrs. Persimmons!

Whatever other words written there were unreadable to Amelia but it wasn’t necessary anymore. Amelia had read enough to know that there hadn’t been a haunting-there wasn’t even a ghost to begin with!

It was all just a part of a grand scheme Mrs. Persimmons, the Head of Staff, had conjured up in that twisted head of hers! Amelia let out a gasp as pieces of the puzzle began to fit together, giving Amelia a glimpse of the horrifying truth.

But then, the door behind her creaked and a voice Amelia recognized with palpable terror cut through the air, "Ms. Graves? What are you doing her all alone? You shouldn’t be wandering by yourself at times like this. You could get hurt!"

Cold dread started to pool into her stomach and slither its way into her mind.

Her heart pounded loudly and sweat beaded her forehead.

It was the person she least wanted to see after reading her grandmother’s journal. Mrs. Persimmons.

Amelia quickly turned around, meeting the Head of Staff’s eyes and pointing an accusing finger at her whilst her other hand held the flashlight, "It was you all along! There was no lady ghost haunting me nor any supernatural occurrences! It was just a trick set up by you in hopes that I’d run away and you’d get the mansion all to yourself!"

Instead of looking at least a bit shameful at the accusation, Mrs. Persimmons gave a snide sneer and clapped her hands together mockingly, "Bravo, Ms. Graves! You finally solved the puzzle! Only, you’s a bit too late now."

Mrs. Persimmons shut the door behind her with gusto and locked it, throwing the key away. The only light now came from the flashlight Amelia was holding.

"You-you were the one dressed up as the black veiled lady in the dining room! No wonder you disappeared as soon as Ms. Henshaw and the butler came to serve the dishes!" Amelia exclaimed before she added coldly, "I didn’t know you spoke French and in a raspy voice, no less..."

"Oh, I didn’t. You see," The Head of Staff pulled out a voice recorder from her pocket and waved it in front of Amelia’s face, "things like these do come in handy when doing a hoax."

Mrs. Persimmons pressed a button and the same, raspy, eerily-chilling voice filled the room, "La mort a marqué votre porte..."

"Death has marked your door..." Amelia murmured to herself the meaning it conveyed.

The Head of Staff heard Amelia and continued on, grinning wolfishly, "I knew you speak fluent French, Ms. Graves, so I thought, why not create a ghost that could communicate in that language. It clearly dismisses any ideas that it could have been a greedy Head of Staff playing a trick to inherit the mansion..."

"What about the red chimney smoke? Was that you too?" Amelia’s eyes flashed with recognition as she recalled the memory.

"I’m afraid so, Ms. Graves. It’s nothing a little red powder can’t do. Although, it does bore similarities to blood, doesn’t it?" Mrs. Persimmons taunted in mock-pity.

"And the crow? Your pet, I suppose?" Amelia pressed on, remembering that encounter too.

"Oh no, not a pet. It was a robot slathered in glue and covered with crow feathers. Didn’t even cost much to buy. The results were very satisfying though. I didn’t even expect that you’d fall into the wardrobe with just a simple trick like that." Mrs. Persimmons explained as if that could justify her actions.

"What about in the wardrobe? Were you the one that baited me to go inside and trapped me? The one that choked me?" Amelia demanded, appalled to know that someone could do such a horrid and morbid thing.

Mrs. Persimmons’ eyes lighted up with malice, "How about I say yes?"

"Why didn’t you just kill me there and then? It would’ve made things easier, wouldn’t it?" Amelia snapped, glaring openly at the woman in front of her who could do cruel things without a hint of regret.

"I wasn’t planning on killing you, Ms. Amelia Graves." Mrs. Persimmons took a step forward.

Amelia backed away nervously.

"The hoax was only supposed to scare you to leave the mansion." The Head of Staff took another dangerous step.

Amelia could feel the fear rising inside of her and threatening to break out.

"But you didn’t. And I was growing ever so impatient. Imagine to my luck that you decided to go all detective and find out the truth...which leaves us right here right now." Mrs. Persimmons met Amelia’s scared eyes.

"You don’t have to d-do this..." Amelia stuttered as she realized what was about to happen.

Mrs. Persimmons shook her head sadly, "Oh, but I must. I’ve gone too far to back down now. Even after I gave you mercy, an easy way out, you still refused. The only thing left to do now, I think, would be to kill you. Goodbye Ms. Graves. Tell your grandmother I said hello."

It was a silent morning at Graves Mansion.

There was no sound of animals, nor the inhabitants of the mansion.

The only thing that broke such silence was a scream.

The waters of the lake nearby rippled before it all became still again.

The deafening silence resumed.

-The End-