So I have been working on something new for a little bit now. It’s a Barbara Michael’s esque kind of creepy town feel old fashioned ghost story like thing, based on a few things … but mostly because I have driven by this house countless times over the course of my life and I just wanted to write about it:
The building is actually an Inn and Spa in Picton, Ontario, and it is beyond beautiful. It’s not only the grandness of it, but somehow it has presence – like you look at it and can imagine horse-drawn carriages pulling up and ladies with crazy hats and fur lined boots walking out of those doors. It’s, in a word, magnificent!
Anyways, me being me … I couldn’t write about some happy family living up on this gorgeous house. Or a girl who finds love in the arms of a man who uses that car port. Instead, I decided to have at its center a deathly mystery, a dead aunt, forces unseen that wish to do harm and okay, I will admit, a former bad ass now turned good guy for a hero. Not that my heroine needs herself a hero – but hey, bonus!
Anyways, I have started to build up the atmosphere in this story to a level that I hope makes people shiver slightly, and I thought I would share it with the world! So … yeah, tell me what you think! 🙂
Here’s a brief synopsis:
Gena Kellis is a successful sous-chef in an up-and-coming restaurant in a big city with a bright future that is shadowed by a past she keeps trying to avoid. But when her elderly aunt suddenly dies, Gena is the only available family member to go and wrap up her affairs, and Gena obliges – even though it means returning to Clararidge, her childhood home and the place where she lost her older sister under mysterious circumstances ten years ago.
As Gena begins to settle her aunt’s affairs strange things occur in and around her aunt’s rolling estate that leave Gena wondering just what she’s gotten herself into.
And now for the first bit of the story:
The feeling of foreboding still clung to Gena Kellis as she drove along the highway. It had nothing to do with the overcast sky that seemed to illuminate from the low ceiling of dark clouds, or the way that raindrops hit her windshield with a veracity every few minutes before disappearing altogether. Rather, it had everything to do with where she was going.
Or, at least, a place that she used to think of as home.
A place she hadn’t visited in over ten years.
The turnoff to the sleepy little lakeside town appeared through the gloom at her right, and she had a brief panicked thought of leaving again. She wanted to turn the car around and go back to the city. Or just keep driving along this highway until she reached the next county. Anything but turn into the long laneway that run to the town she used to know so well.
But even as her mind reeled with the opportunity to abandon her pursuit, Geena’s hand flipped her blinker on and veered right, off the highway, as if on automatic pilot.
She swallowed, a rise of panic knotting in her throat as she pointed the car towards the sudden darkness of the road, the street lamps that lined the highway giving way to a barren road covered in a dark grey that seemed painted onto the landscape. She tried to focus on the road that stretched before her, but instead, she found her eyes roaming from one side of the road to the other, as if the furtive glances would yield the world hidden under the obvious one she traversed.
She passed the old barn, where the teenagers in town would camp out to drink and laugh into the night. It was not as she remembered it, the grey paint so eroded that even through the gloom she could see the silvery brown wooden planks that made up the structure. The field itself was run over by grasses and small trees, the land fallow and wild. She imagined the type of teenagers that would still go to sit under the stars, but the memories that threatened to swallow her were too much and her foot pressed onto the accelerator unconsciously.
The road was slippery and dark, the headlights of her small car cutting through the gloom to highlight the weeds on either side of the winding county road. The light made the nature look colourless and macabre, as if photographed with a flash too strong, stealing the soul of the object it wished to capture. Gena tried not to dwell on this as she passed the neon green markers for obscure little roads that disappeared into the darkness as she drove by.
There had been a time that she could have named them all in order from the highway to the town. The thirty kilometers of rural roads that stretched from the well-lit highway to the sleepy little harbour town echoed around her in her present and her past, her memories rattling around her head and knotting her stomach. Deep in the throes of her mind, she knew there was a place that still recited the laneways and the hidden entrances by rote – Hidden Lane, Hemlock Way, Greens Point – and this was the part of her she stamped down on, refusing to acknowledge at all. As if in her refusal to acknowledge it, that part of her would disappear quietly into her past like the previous ten years had.
Seeing the town hospital on her right, Gena automatically slowed down, knowing the town boundary would be in the next five kilometers. As she passed she glanced furtively at the hospital, hoping to see some change, but the old building was much the same. Still that grayness to its stucco walls, and the “Hospital” sign that hung on the second floor still bright and red in the darkness. There were a few trucks out in the narrow parking lot that separated the road from the hospital entryway, but the building lights were low and the whole property had the air of an abandoned post.
Repressing a shiver, she turned her eyes back to the deserted road, passing the vegetable stand on the corner of Main street and Lake Drive where the Mennonites who lived on the surrounding farmlands would hitch their wagons and sell their wears to the more adventurous tourists who had wandered from the nearby wine country.
Gena could almost see the vegetable stand as it would be in the sunshine, with its worn wooden sign advertising the freshness of the produce, and a few young Mennonite children playing nearby as women in dark dresses and hair bobbins would pile the sturdy table high with baskets of locally grown food and delicious smelling pies.
She blinked away the sudden sting of tears as she remembered riding her bike in the long summer days, stopping by the stand to pick up the bag of groceries her Aunt always insisted on, before she raced back to her fun and games.
Everything had changed now.
And as she thought this, the sign for her old town, her hometown, loomed towards her, dull at first, but bigger and brighter as she drove closer.
The Residents of Clararidge Welcome You!
We do hope you’ll stay a while!
So I hope you enjoyed that! Let me know if you’d be interested in hearing more from Clararidge!