Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Love beyond Time, a Christmas story

   It is extremely cold and I ask myself why I gave in to my own hideous plan to explore the house in the middle of the forest.

   Of course I am dressed properly: a thick warm coat, warm boots with thermo-socks, gloves, a comfortable hood to keep my ears from freezing and even my photo bag is protected against the icy cold. Hopefully my camera isn't going to freeze. I know from experience that an empty abandoned villa is colder inside than the temperature outside indicates.
   I often thought about this phenomenon and the only answer I can think of, is that there is not only no heating but also the souls of the former inhabitants are gone. Even if there are warm memories, you can't feel it any more.
   This is my first visit to the house, I discovered it accidentally and are still surprised nobody ever mentioned it, nor have I ever seen photo's taken by fellow explorers. I am, to say the least, very curious.

  The first time I saw the house, the weather was more friendly, no snow. But I did not have the time to go inside after I discovered a door from the the stables to a hall. I hope the door from the hall to the house is unlocked, we'll see.
   At some places the snow is thick and comes above my boots but I continue my way to the villa. Meanwhile I admire the beautiful surroundings. Nothing is as quiet as a snowy forest absorbing every sound. Only occasionally you hear the quick flutter of a bird but most are gone to warmer areas. There is no wind to clear the heavy branches, sometimes you hear a soft cracking noise as if the weight of the snow is too much for the trees. But apart from that and my breathing causing little clouds, there is silence.

   Sooner then expected the house appears from between the trees, it's roof hardly visible under the weight of the snow. I do not dare to think what is going to happen when the temperatures rise, the roof must leak.
There are no footprints; I know I am on my own and for the first time since I started the expedition, I wonder if this is safe. Too late; I have to be careful and cross my fingers.
I walk to the back, enter the stables that once housed horses and carriages but now the old decaying hay and straw are the only witnesses of a more glorious time.
   The door to the hallway is still unlocked as is the door to the house. It makes a squeaking noise and in a reflex I stand still to listen. There are no other sounds, it is even too cold for the mice and rats.
I push the door further open and enter a large country style kitchen, covered in dust and cob webs but still fully equipped. Actually it looks like if the cook is going to return any moment, complaining the fires are not burning and dinner will not be ready in time. I imagine to smell the pies and cakes.
   Standing still makes me aware of this strange cold and I wrap my arms around my body. Before I am going to take photo's, I first want to explore the house. Everything will still be the same on my way back. And if the whole house is like the kitchen, I am ready for a few surprises, I can't wait.

   From the kitchen I enter a long, long hallway with many doors and I hesitate for a moment choosing one. I open the third at my right and enter a beautiful drawing room with high ceilings and large windows. The ingenious ornaments of the ceiling let go their paint although obviously reluctant to do so but the damp wins its nasty game. The grand curtains which must have cost a fortune, still wait to be closed to keep the cold out but there are no hands any more to do so. Cob webs hang down from the corners, catching flies although they too left the house.
   I walk slowly through the majestic room; the little clouds of my warm breath follow me as if they are reluctant to solve in the cold air.
The furniture is impressive and the dust can not hide the colours of the expensive upholstery and the once lovingly polished wood. The thick carpets muffle the sound of my footsteps. Despite all the glamour and beauty, the room does not look like it was used too often. At least not for cosy family gatherings.
   The enormous fireplace is black and in between the old ash from previous fires and the dirt let go by the large chimney now blocked by crow nests, there are still large logs. I feel tempted to lit them but know I will most likely set the house on fire.

In the panelling I notice a door that looks so small but is actually of a very normal size. I find it difficult to resist doors and walk towards it. The brass handle moves smoothly when I press it and the door swings open like it had been oiled yesterday. I enter a much smaller room and what I see takes my breath.

   Nothing here is dusty, I don't smell decay. On the contrary, I smell roses and a perfume that has not lost its strength. Strangely I am not frightened, it feels like coming home and although I do not understand this completely unexpected feeling, I give in to it and relax.
   The fireplace in this room is much smaller and the chimney looks very clean. I can't resist the feeling that I have been here before. Or that I belong here but decide not to think about this. The logs for the fire are stacked in a very large basket and in a reflex I put some in the hearth and light them with the matches on a small table next to a very comfortable sofa. I don't ask myself if I am doing the wrong thing or if someone outside will see the smoke coming from the chimney, there is something in this room that will protect me, I can feel this very clearly.
   It does not take long before the cold disappears, much sooner than expected it feels comfortable and warm. I take off my coat and hood and settle on the sofa, snuggled up between soft cushions that release the same scent of roses I smelled entering the room. I smile, a broad happy smile and think: “Why did it take me so long to come home?”
   I watch the flames dancing and spreading their welcoming heat and I feel my cheeks turning red. My whole body begins to glow; I take off my warm sweater; my blouse lighted by the flames. The atmosphere makes me sleepy and I doze off.

   When I open my eyes (I must have slept for only a few minutes because the fire is still burning as it did) I notice the little Christmas lights on top of the stone mantle. I am surprised but do not ask any questions. Instead I watch their soft glow in between the needles of the fresh branches of a pine-tree.
   The smell of pine is getting stronger and competes with that of the roses. I turn my head and see a beautiful very large Victorian style decorated Christmas tree which reflection in the large mirror above the mantle, had escaped my attention. Or wasn't it there before? I don't know. Everything in this room is not as I expected and I refuse to question my observations.
   Instead I give in to the wonderful feelings that overwhelm me. Feelings of being wanted, coming home, being loved beyond physical attraction. Never in my live have I felt so comfortable as today.
Photo: Helen Varras
   While sitting on the sofa, feeling the heat of the fire, I watch every detail of the room and everything in here is so familiar. I know the titles of all the books, I know the date of the whiskey in the crystal bottle. I know the feel of the soft materials of the cushions and curtains as if I had chosen them myself from a large variate of beautiful samples. I know how they feel against my cheek. I even know the name of the roses that spread their eternal smell and close my eyes again.

   Then I hear that beautiful voice I have been waiting for all my life; deep and warm, surrounding me, touching every nerve in my body, making me tremble. I feel the strong hands that hold me, their warmth reaches my skin through my clothes. I smell the masculine scent that matches so perfectly with that of my favourite roses.
   While I hide in the loving arms that surround me, I kiss the lips that tell me how much I am loved, that smile when they say: “What took you so long my love?”.
I smile too but do not answer, I do not need to; you read my feelings as you have always done over the past centuries. I am home, not only for Christmas but forever.


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Château Noisy (or Miranda) follow up

   A few weeks ago I published the story 'Château Noisy (or Miranda), her personal feelings'.

   A story not only close to my heart but also to a large amount of dedicated Urbexers (Urban Explorers). I received emotional feedbacks and viewed ever since, more photo's on Instagram in which Noisy is remembered.

   One of these Urbexers, my Instagram friend Sean, has a wonderful collection of photo's of this former beautiful Belgium Castle and he asked me if he could read my story in a YouTube production with his photo's.
I loved the idea from the first moment on. I am a frequent visitor of Sean's YouTube Channel and was also very, very curious how the story would be read out loud by a pure Brit.

   Every writer knows that the words he/she writes, also sound in his/her head. You write the intonation, the accents at the right place, etc. Never before have I heard one of my own stories read by someone and Sean is definitely the one I trusted to do it.

When he sent me the try-out two weeks ago, I was deeply touched. The whole (film, music and reading) was beautiful and complete. I even had a few tiny tears in my eyes (could also be my age of course ;-).

   On a serious note, I viewed his production a few times before he told me he deleted it again until it was ready for the definite upload. And this is today: Saturday December 16, 2017.

The link:Château Miranda Noisy Castle, THE STORY

   Please visit Sean's YouTube Channel, subscribe, like and leave comments. I am so proud of what he established! Can I adopt you as my grandson Sean?

   Sean also has an Instagram account: 'sean_explore' and 'exploressean'

Dear loyal, lovely readers have a wonderful and peaceful Christmas!


Thursday, December 07, 2017

The Escape

   When they heard it on the news, they did not worry. It happened more than 100 miles from where they lived but the escape was countrywide news.

   They were not easily scared, otherwise they never had bought this house in the middle of nowhere. They fell in love with it as soon as they saw the photo in the window of the estate agency. It was not the romantic cottage they always had in mind. It was a mid sixties bungalow with at the time of the build fashionable glass cubes next to the black metal front door. The bungalow was plastered and painted white which meant maintenance surrounded by so many trees but not an obstacle for them. They wanted the house.

   They decorated it to their own taste and modern standards and felt very much at home. Both had a job in town and commuted; every day they looked forward going home.
   Within 6 years, they were blesses with two children; a boy John and a girl Susan. The children loved the big garden where they had so many toys to play with. Like their parents, they were always outdoors. They all adapted the country life and looked healthy and happy. So happy and careless that they never worried about the news of the escape two weeks ago.

   The most dreadful day of their lives started as usual. The mother was up early to cook breakfast, to wash, dress and feed the children. The father waited till the bathroom was empty and got ready for a new day at the office.
   Like all 5 days of the week, everyone was in a hurry by the time they had to drive to the village and to town. Leaving John at school and taking Susan to Kindergarten was the mother's job; she started an hour later at her office than the father.
   A lot of calling and 'hurry up's', running up and down the stairs for forgotten dolls, handbags and clothes. A normal tumultuous young household which all parents will recognize. Therefore non of the members of this happy family saw the man running through the woods and the garden, hiding behind every tree before he moved on. A man who wasn't from this neighbourhood and who did not want to be seen...

   Hiding in the closet under the slope attic, the parents did their very best to keep the children as quiet as possible. Fortunately they were tired after their playful day at school but soon, the parents knew from experience, they were hungry and asking for food. How on earth could they keep them quiet?
It would not take long before this so called Hide and Seek game was getting boring for them. But for now they leaned in the arms of their parents and tried hard to play the game the best they could.
   Above their heads, the parents looked each other in the eyes, just visible by the little light that shone through the small hole in the wall, and saw pure anxiety; they feared for the lives of their children and their own.
The father took the hand of his wife, very carefully not to alarm the man in the house. He noticed that her hand also shook and her fingers were cold as ice.
She squeezed his' softly to encourage him but both knew that courage was not their strongest emotion right now.

   It was amazing how their eyes got used to the little light and how well they could hear in the darkness. All their senses were sharpened. The stillness in the house was louder than their own heartbeat or the breathing of the children.
They knew he was there, the occasional shuffle they heard, told them he was still downstairs and they prayed he did not go upstairs but left the house instead.
   Suddenly there was a loud bang and all four of them were instantly very alert. John whispered: “Are they going to find us Mummy?” but Mummy pressed her fingers against his lips and said: “ssshhhh”. John obeyed.

   The silence after the loud bang was even worse than before; it told the parents he was indeed still in the house. And their car was parked in the driveway so they did not have the illusion the man thought there was nobody at home.
They wished they had gone outside instead of sneaking upstairs. But it was the fear of being seen by the man who stood there, staring at the house.
And for the very first time since they moved here, they wished they had locked the doors behind them.
   It took a while before they heard a soft shuffle and the recognisable noise of the door to the hall; they never came round to oil the hinges. Half way the noise stopped as if the man listened for a reaction somewhere from the house. Then the door was pushed open and footsteps moved to the kitchen.

   Holding their breath they hoped the man was going to leave the house through the kitchen door and they almost forgot to breath to listen his footsteps. But again there was only silence. A cold threatening silence that slowly walked down their spine and back to nest in their brains. To take over every other emotion and only leaving pure anxiety.
   They did not know that the fear tightened their muscles until Susan moved in her mothers arms, complaining that Mummy hurt her. And then that she was hungry and when the game ended. And who was the person in the house searching for them?
   The mother whispered it was someone with very good ears who loved games so they needed to be extremely quiet! John still thought it was exiting and smiled with his eyes wide open which. But in the spares light from the hole his eyes looked very big and scary. She only saw what could happen if the man found them in their hiding place. If he only left the house but he knew, she felt that so clearly, that there was a family and that he could smell their fear. She new by instinct that he was going to wait as long as needed. At the moment John said he needed to go to the loo they heard the sound of the tap; the man filled the water kettle. Never had they thought that this so familiar and homely sound was so extremely frightening!
   The parents looked at each other, knowing an escape was impossible; the man made himself at home. Where they were so very afraid, he sat there smiling with a cup of tea. Waiting.... as a lion for his prey........

Photo: @wpunkt_epunkt (Instagram)
   When you ever visit their house in the middle of no where, you will see that the once so white facade is now green and grimy. The driveway is overgrown with shrubs and the tracks of many police cars are buried under thick layers of brown leaves as if the trees wanted to cover the gruesome things that happened here years before.

   The black door is wide open and the wind and rain turned the hallway into a muddy place. There are no witnesses any more. No footsteps of the family that lived here, nor those of the serial killer. They and the car have never been seen again.

   Only the hasty left personal belongings like an open bag, a torn apart doll, shoes and a coat, might give a clue to what happened and why the house became unsellable. Why nobody wants to live amongst the horror of the past.

Word of thanks: the photo of @wpunkt_epunkt (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Walburga!

Links: please visit the Instagram account of @wpunt_epunkt to view the beautiful photo's!

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!