#BookReview – Twice Upon an Apocalypse

Twice upon an Apocalypse

Dark Fairytales in a Lovecraftian Landscape

I’m a big fan of Crystal Lake Publishing’s short story anthologies, so I jumped at the chance to receive a launch copy of Twice Upon An Apocalypse. These are all the well known favourite fairytales tossed into a hellish world.

Fairytales in their essence are quite horrific,  not all love and happy endings.

I loved the way each story was reworked into a unique tale, but still carried the same original story mingled with a unique flavour of Lovecraft. I find it hard to pick my favourites as they are so many good stories! But the twists on Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella were excellent with their strong female characters! I also loved the Bluebeard and the Little Mermaid stories. The Little Mermaid has always struck a chord with me, as does the evil tale of Bluebeard.

The joy of a short story collection like this is being able to dip in for a complete story  in a short period of time.

Even though I never stopped at just one story,  because I kept wanting to see which fairytale would come next! I’m already dying to read the next Crystal Lake anthology.

To purchase the anthology  click here.

To find out more about Crystal Lake Publishing click here.

 

The Third Twin by Darren Seegle: Book Review

The Third Twin from Darren Speegle is another original horror novel from Crystal Lake Publishing and I was lucky enough to receive a launch day free copy.

Best Read: While planning an Alaskan or Brazilian adventure!!

The Third Twin

The Third Twin is clever, dark and scary. Not things go bump in the night scary, but scary like someone hurting all your nearest and dearest. There are some truly horrible moments in the book, but all are portrayed beautifully. Like all the other Crystal Lake Publishing books I’ve read, this is original and edgy.

The travel scenes are unbelievable – I want to visit Spider festival in Brazil and the Vampire Ball in Germany! I could see and smell each unique landscape in my head. The cover art is also beautiful and evocative.

A trip to the Spider Festival in Brazil for Barry and his daughter Kristin,  a couple of years after Kristin’s twin’s death,  sparks a horrific and surreal nightmare for the entire family. This is thrilling and mysterious book, with twists and turns throughout.

My only criticism is that the end was maybe a bit too clever? I had re-read the last chapter a few times to try and understand it. Eloquent and well paced, I will definitely be reading more from this author.

To purchase the book: click here.

To find out more about the book click here: click here.

Two New Horror Gems on Netflix UK

There are two new horror gems on Netflix UK this month – Viral and The Neon Demon.

Viral

Viral is a story of two teenage sisters struggling to survive a deadly virus outbreak. This genre is a bit overdone, but this is a fresh take on it. The acting is realistic and not overly dramatic, while the gore is bloody and  beautifully disgusting! My favourite element of this was the dynamic between the two sisters – the horror genre’s Anna and Elsa. I loved this.

The Neon Demon

I’d been waiting for this movie to make it to Neflix for ages! So I was delighted when one of my Best of Netflix Horror buddies informed me​ that it was one of the new additions this month!

This is absolutely stunning movie. Florescent, throbbing colours and lots of slow disturbing scenes. This shows horror of a different kind -the horror of the human species and vanity. Fresh-faced 16 year old Jesse arrives in LA to try to make it as a model. What follows is a disastrous kaleidoscope ​of events. This is weird and beautiful and utterly disturbing. I loved it and it’s nothing like any other film I’ve seen.

 

Netflix, you did not disappoint with these two beauties!

What did you think of these movies? Are you looking forward to anything on Netflix this month?

 

The Easter Bunny – A Creepy Tail

Easter Bunny

There is something extremely disturbing about the Easter Bunny.

Maybe it’s the fact that the Easter Bunny doesn’t speak or maybe it’s the weird eyes? Or is it the outfit? It could be anyone inside there! Give me Santa Claus any day, over this creepy character!

Easter Bunny

My irrational fear of the Easter Bunny led me to write the disturbing tale/ tail below.

Judy Graham was collected at 5.30 am on Holy Monday by a limousine. She  wheeled her suitcase out the front door and pulled the door of her cramped semi-detatched house behind her. She didn’t say goodbye. There was nobody to say goodbye to since her parents had tragically died last year.

The driver took her suitcase from her and wordlessly motioned her towards the back seat of the giant car. She thanked him and he simply nodded. She had never travelled by limousine before, so she assumed it was chauffeur etiquette. If the driver was this posh, imagine how posh the family who had hired her would be.

Judy was going to Addington House, in the Cotswolds, to play the Easter Bunny for the next week. She had played many children’s characters in the past year, including Elsa, a North Pole elf, a witch and a pirate. Judy loved being a freelance children’s entertainer. It meant she was able to travel to lots of different places to work and bring laughter and fun to so many children. Seeing their tiny faces light up with wonder and excitement was the highlight of her working day.

Judy  had never been an Easter Bunny before, but it seemed like fate. Her Mother had named her Judy, inspired by the actress Judy Garland’s role in the film ‘Easter Parade’. Her Mother would go around the kitchen every Easter Sunday, singing the Easter Bonnet song as she made lunch. That was one of her nicest memories of her.

She had been headhunted by the Addington family. Judy was ecstatic that her hard work and love of the job was finally paying off. The Addington Easter Bunny was iconic, children all over the surrounding areas came to Addington Manor to meet the Easter Bunny. On Easter Sunday, there would be the exclusive Easter Egg Hunt for the children of the sprawling Addington family.

Judy had visited the Cotswolds many times as a child with her parents and had wonderful memories of stone thatched cottages, rolling green hills and ice-cream from quaint little shops. She thought going back there might make her feel closer to them. She would be staying in one of the thatched cottages on the grounds of the manor for the week. Her duties would end early Sunday morning, once the eggs had all been hidden for the giant Easter egg hunt. Nobody saw the Easter Bunny after Saturday, that was the tradition.

She sat in happy silence, admiring the view, as they drove through the different counties of the beautiful Cotswolds. The closest town to the Manor was Blockley. The town looked serene and peaceful and golden Cotswold cottages punctuated the rolling hills. They arrived at the manor at exactly 8 am. The chauffeur opened the door for her and motioned silently for her to walk into the giant stone house. Lord Addington stood waiting in the hallway with an amused look on his long horsey face.

“Miss Graham, if you’d care to follow me into the drawing room and we can go through some of the finer details.” He said, his voice echoed with the high ceilings. She smiled and said “Of course, Lord Addington” and followed him into a stuffy, dusty looking sitting room. He handed her a timetable. Each morning, breakfast would be brought to the cottage at 7.45 am. At 8.30, she would be guided to the children’s play area in her Easter Bunny outfit.  She would do greetings and photographs for two hours. She would be guided back to the cottage for a powder room break and a small lunch. At 1 pm she would return for greetings for a further three hours. Dinner would be brought to her cottage each evening at 6 pm.

She nodded as he went through the itinerary with her. She thought it all seemed very military but he was her employer and he was paying her well. She would do exactly as asked. He told her that it was most important that the uniform must be worn every time she left the cottage during the day. The illusion must be maintained, he explained. The uniform was vintage, it had been worn by every Addington Easter Bunny in the last twenty years. She thought that was gross, but kept quiet.

Easter Bunny

There was no small talk and he led her out to the door where the chauffeur stood waiting by the car. She sat in and was brought to the most charming thatched cottage she had ever seen. A stern looking woman stood waiting by the door. She quickly went through the lighting and heating and left immediately, these people did not like small chat. A giant box with a bow was waiting in her bedroom. She opened it and saw the Easter Bunny outfit. The black eyes of the head stared at her and sent shivers down her spine. The teeth in the mouth protruded over a black mouth. Vintage Easter bunny outfits were really creepy. But the material was soft and fluffy, despite being vintage and smelled of fresh cut grass.

When she tried on the uniform, a queasy feeling came over, she thought she might vomit. She took it off and immediately felt better. The stern woman knocked on the door with a small lunch. She ate every morsel and went for a stroll around the magnificent grounds, they went on for miles. Today was her only day off, as she would be on a schedule from tomorrow.

The next morning she put the suit on and as soon as the suit touched her skin, she got a funny turn again and felt queasy. She ignored the feeling, put on the head and started at herself in the mirror. The outfit was terrifying!

She could see out of the eyes, but there was no trace of the real Judy to be seen. She was brought to the greeting area by the stern woman and she was surprised that the children weren’t afraid of her. They hopped on her lap for pictures and wrapped their small arms around her. Maybe this vintage outfit wasn’t so bad.

Only the babies and small toddlers screamed their heads off when she held them for the photos, the poor mites. All day long, Judy felt strange. Shivers ran down her neck and back. She was freezing, then roasting. Judy hoped she wasn’t coming down with anything. Her eyes were stinging too. She put that down to the heaviness and stuffiness from wearing the head. She was exhausted that night and went straight to bed after her supper.

The next morning, she felt some bit better so she went on with her day as per schedule. As she sat for the greetings, new symptoms emerged. Her fromt teeth were sensitive and sore and her hands were pained and felt swollen.

She returned to the cottage and took the outfit off for a break. She looked in the mirror and sore red-rimmed eyes stared back at her. She spotted something sprouting from her ears, something white and bushy. She yanked it out with a squeal, it was a tuft of white hair! What was going on with her body! She had no further time to investigate as the knock came for the afternoon shift. She would have to ask the stern woman if there was a doctor nearby when she brought her supper.

She got through the rest of the afternoon and was delighted when she was able to return to the cottage and get the horrible Easter Bunny suit off her. Had she caught something from the suit?! It was twenty years old, after all. At 6 pm, she stood by the door, ready to talk to Mrs. Stern. She threw the door open when she heard the knock and the woman jumped back. “Oh, Miss Graham! You look under the weather this evening” she said, her voice surprisingly warm this time. Judy told her she was feeling ill, she needed a doctor. “Sorry to hear that, Miss Graham. There’s no doctor available in the evening in these parts. I can try to arrange a visit for tomorrow and bring you something medicinal?” she said. Judy thanked her, that would have to do for now.

The woman returned with a bottle of syrupy medicine and told her to take two spoons before bed. Judy took the medicine and went straight to bed, she didn’t touch her supper. When she woke the next morning, her eyes were bloodshot and the red rims had grown. It was then she spotted two white whisker growing from her cheeks! She grabbed a tweezer and plucked them out! More tufts had sprouted from her ears, and despite the pain, she pulled them out. Her teeth had never been perfectly straight, but now they were protruding slightly over her lip! There was something happening to Judy, there was something very wrong.

The day passed in a blur as children were passed into her swollen hands. Her legs and feet were aching. When she returned the cottage for lunch, she avoided the mirror, afraid of what she might see. She looked down at her belly and saw that it too was swollen. She’d also put on a huge amount of weight on her lower body in only a couple of days. She’d always been a pear shape, but this was ridiculous.

That evening, her thoughts were foggy and scattered. The only thing she could focus on was the Easter egg hunt and the children. She had to keep going for their sake. She heard a knock on the door, but didn’t open it until a few minutes later. She clumsily carried the tray in, ate her supper and left the tray outside. She drank two sups of the medicine and went to bed for the evening. She tossed and turned.  She woke from a bad dream in the middle of the night and to her horror, she felt something growing on her backside! Something large and hairy! It was a bushy small tail!

She squealed. Her mouth felt funny too. When she looked in the mirror, her mouth had morphed into a grotesque shape and four long whiskers now grew from each cheek. Tufts of white hair sprouted from every orifice. Words tried to form in her head, but when she opened her mouth, she couldn’t speak. Her hands and feet were even more swollen and covered in fine hair. She touched her face, not believing what was happening to her.

She put on the bunny head to cover her monstrous face and squeezed herself into the now very snug bunny outfit. As she did the morning greetings, she though about running away. But she had no car, no way out. And what would people think of  her transformation anyway, even if she escaped?

Was this all her imagination? Was Judy imagining that she was a real-life Easter Bunny??

Her thoughts became even more blurred. When she looked in the mirror Good Friday, she could only think of the children and their little faces. The Addington Easter Egg hunt would be unbelievable this year, she would make sure if it. She put on her uniform and bounced out the door after Mrs Stern. On Holy Saturday, she looked in the mirror and realised that she didn’t need the uniform any more. She WAS the Easter Bunny and tomorrow was the most exciting day of the year!

By early Easter Sunday, all of Judy’s memories had faded. Her only task was to get the hunt ready for the children. She spent hours hiding the eggs, even though it was difficult with her furry swollen hands. She heard the excited shrinks and laughter from children in the distance. She bounded away out of sight, feeling satisfied. But the shouts followed her, even though she was going in the opposite direction to the Easter Egg hunt.

“My first hunt, Arthur! I hope I catch it” a girlie voice shouted. “No one catches one on their first hunt, you idiot. You need to learn how they move and how to track them” a boy’s voice said.

Them? It? She bounced away as fast as she could with her giant furry feet.  Someone left out a high pitched scream. “This way! The hunt is on.” The Judy bunny realised that the hunt was for her, not for Easter eggs.

The Judy bunny tried to get away from the children. It had no memory of its former life as Judy. All it wanted now was to escape. A misplaced hop landed the Judy bunny in a giant animal trap. It lay on the grass, it’s broken mangled foot caught in the vice. It struggled and whimpered.

A tiny girl, no more than six years of age stood above it and shouted to the other approaching children.  “I won the hunt! I won the hunt! The head is mine!”

The Lord of the Manor appeared above the Judy bunny. “Oh, Cordelia, Grandfather is so very proud of you. You caught the Addington Easter Bunny.” The Judy bunny stared up  at him. One chocolate tear streamed out of her glassy black eye as Lord Addington chopped it’s head off with a sharp axe. He held up with a cheer, to the delight of the children. The Addington Easter Hunt was over for another year.

The Tracks- A Creepypasta with thousands of hits

This evening, I’m sharing something different on the blog, “The Tracks”, a Creepypasta written by Banshee Irish Horror blog co-admin (and my little brother) James the Jester.

James’s Creepypasta “The Tracks” (link here) was picked up and narrated as part of a Youtube compilation, which has over 92K hits (and counting).  “The Tracks” is the first tale of the compilation. It is a post apocalyptic story of survival. With gory detail, the Creepypasta engages the listener from start to finish and has the reader rooting for the survivor and his unlikely companion.

For more deliciously creepy tales by James The Jester click here.

 

Creepypasta are online horror stories, memes or pictures, copied and pasted around the internet. Their main purpose is to scare the living crap out of people!

Creepypasta hit the mainstream media in 2014 with the so-called “Slenderman” stabbings.  Two twelve year old girls lured another girl into the woods and stabbed her. They claimed to do this to impress the fictional Slenderman, a Creepypasta character. Truth is more horrific than fiction in this case.

 

The Final Reconciliation by Todd Keisling: Novella Review

 

The Final Reconciliation is a hard metal symphony of terror.


Final reconciliationWritten in an album format, The Final Reconciliation is a tale of the occult, a gypsy who is more than she seems and a hard metal band striving to hit the big time. When The Yellow Kings have the performance of their lives, there is only one survivor.

I was delighted to receive an ARC of The Final Reconciliation from Crystal Lake Publishing (link to the Crystal Lake website). This is the third book I’ve read from Crystal Lake Publishing, including Gutted Beautiful Horror Stories.  Gutted was the most memorable, brutal and beautiful collection of stories from last year.

The pace and length of this novella were perfect for the tale, narrated 30 years after the tragic concert, by a journalist interviewing aging rock star Aidan Cross. The Yellow Kings are struggling to make their dreams come true when Camilla, a seductive gypsy character appears on the scene. Her introduction to them is the start of their nightmarish fate.

Friendship is key to the story, as were the changing dynamics of the group. The scenes where the band are pouring their souls into their final album are described in gory and grotesque detail.

There is dark beautiful imagery during the visions of Carcosa. The ending was both disturbing and mesmerising.  The album reaches its’ crescendo with a horrifying climax.

The Final Reconciliation is a horrifying tale, which will appeal to lovers of heavy metal and horror alike.

 Here are the links to purchase this book:

Amazon: http://getbook.at/TheYellowKing

http://www.crystallakepub.com/the-final-reconciliation/

Neverlasting by Johnny Daggers: A book review

Neverlasting

To my shame as a horror fan, I’d never come across Johnny Daggers until our Twitter paths met! Johnny is an interesting creative character  and I jumped at the chance to review an audio version of his book Neverlasting. I couldn’t wait to listen to my very first audio book!

About the Book

Choosing where you wed is just as important as who you wed. Ultimately, the wrong choice can lead to certain death. Sadly, this was the case for Nora and Ned, a young couple who wanted nothing more than to build a life together, but when they said their vows in the old Herring Grove, “’til death do us part,” took on an entirely new meaning.

As their vows of sanctity echoed through the hollow, they awoke a century old curse which vowed to never let love enter its hills again. Now forced to confront both their inner demons and ghosts from the past, Nora and Ned must fight to uproot the seeds of lost love and despair and bring new life to the plagued, barren land.

My Thoughts on the Book

Neverlasting was dark and hauntingly beautiful. This Corpse Bride found it mesmerizing from the first word! I’m sure that fans of Tim Burton and Edgar Allen Poe will also love this –  dark curses, stricken haunted graveyards, creepy mansions and neverlasting love. The book starts with the sad tale of Barron Victor Von Herring and the untimely death of his one true love, his wife Eva LaMoure. Driven to madness by the loss of his love the Barron puts a terrible curse on the land.

When love’s young dream Ned and Nora decide to wed at Herring Grove, spooky dramatic scenes unfold. The early scenes with Nora and Ned were intimate and lovely despite their love for the spookier side of life. The entwining of their souls and the descriptions of their graveyard wedding was delightful. The macabre romance spoke to my own dreadfully romantic side. The later scenes are action packed and wonderfully grim.

The reading of the book was poetic and downright beautiful. The accompanying sounds and evocative reading played through my phone like a wonderful melody. I could see all the scenes so vividly in my head. The tale reached its climatic and slightly dreadful ending, surprising me and leaving me slightly melancholy.

I adored Neverlasting. The only downside for me was that it ended too soon. I can’t wait to re-listen to this!! It introduced me to the joys of the audio book which has changed car journeys to work for me for nevermore!

Purchase Links

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Neverlasting-Johnny-Daggers/dp/0997773014

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Neverlasting-Johnny-Daggers/0997773014

About the Author

Neverlasting

Johnny Daggers was born October 7th, 1974, to John P. Ellenberger and Georgeann Graff, in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, a small rural town located approximately 40 miles east of Pittsburgh. He became obsessed with the macabre at a very early age. At the young age of 4, Johnny recalls his mother finding him alone, crying on the kitchen floor. When she asked “what is wrong?”, Johnny sullenly replied, “I only have 70 years of life left to live”. Yes, by the age of 4, Johnny had already begun questioning his own mortality. This fascination with death only continued to grow the older Johnny got. He frequently and openly discusses his personal experiences with ghosts. By the age of 12, Johnny began to log his encounters in notebooks, and it was around this time that he began to undertake writing as a passion. Much of his early writings still exist in these personal notebooks that somehow managed to survive the past thirty some years. Perhaps we will see a collection of past and present work as an official anthology in the future? You can find out more on Johnny by clicking here.

 

 

Book Review: Hannah by Shaun Horton

Hannah

I was so excited when I received an email from the author asking if I’d like to review Hannah! I’d come across Shaun on online media and his horror books really appealed to me. I have two of his books Class 5 and Path’s waiting for me on my Kindle.

As soon as I downloaded the book and noticed the cover, I felt a bit uneasy. As you can see from the awesome cover art this book is based around man’s best friend, the loyal dog. Dogs are my second biggest fear after birds! But I pushed my unease aside and persevered, and I’m glad I did.

Eli and his family return from camping to a house that’s not the same as they left it, appliances malfunction, doors with no locks refuse to open, and strange whispers float through the halls and rooms. The family dog, Hannah, is acting strange as well, chasing the wild rabbits with more ferocity than usual. The only question is whether her watchful eye, strange barks, and quiet growls are a warning… or a threat…

The book opens giving the reader an insight into the family’s life, of which family poodle Hannah plays a huge part. She is loved by the parents, Eli and Naomi and even more so by their two children, Abigail and Peter. I love the idea of something benign and normal turning into something to be feared.

Early in the book, the reader is made aware that Eli and Naomi’s relationship is by no means without its’ troubles. The problems in Eli and Naomi’s relationship starts tension building in the story.

As the dog’s strange and predatory behaviour increases, weird incidents also begin in the house, experienced differently by each character. I loved the creepy occurrences in the book. The paranormal scenes made me feel the fear of all the members of the family.

Towards the middle and end of the book there are some vicious and grisly scenes. One particular scene in the middle of the book really made me uncomfortable. I think the scene might have been a step too far to scare and shock the reader. In saying that, it’s the one scene I can’t get out of my head, so it was definitely effective.

Another tense and horrific scene was so realistic that I was wincing while reading it. The author had me hearing and seeing every bloody detail in my head. I already have a fear of dogs and bites in particular, so this book probably affected me more than it would other readers.

Hannah was a scary and gore-filled read. There were some really grisly scenes in the book that kept popping back into my head while trying to sleep. I really enjoyed the creepy haunted house type scenes in the book and I’d recommend this to other lovers of horror. I look forward to reading more of Shaun’s work (preferably without any canine characters!)

 

To purchase Hannah on Amazon US click here

To purchase Hannah on Amazon UK click here

Hannah, Shaun Horton

Shaun Horton writes from home in the pacific northwest in the company of two cats, one that ignores him and another that constantly pesters him. In addition to Amazon, he can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. He has a blog that he posts on generally once a week – (see Shaun’s blog here).

 

The Visitor – Part II

http://loftushall.ie/
http://loftushall.ie/

Today I bring you, in preparation for Halloween, the second and final part of a very special post inspired by the wonderfully creepy Loftus Hall in Wexford. Read The Visitor Part I here.

Loftus Hall is famed as the most haunted building in Ireland, you can find their website here. This year Loftus Hall celebrates it’s 666 year anniversary. Paranormal Lockdown tours have been running all year, the next three tours are already sold out! People enter the house at 8.30 and with a group of paranormal investigators and partake in an investigation until 3.30 in the morning. I’m dying to do one of these tours!

http://loftushall.ie/
http://loftushall.ie/

After visiting Loftus Hall a couple of years for a Halloween tour, I whole-heartedly agree that it’s one of the creepiest places I’ve ever been. The building is eerie (even in daylight_, even from outside, coated in darkness and set against the stark, exposed Wexford coastline. I have to add that the staff there are passionate, helpful and I would highly recommend it as a tourist destination.

loftus-3

Various special Hall’oween Tours are running through October. For adults there is the Loftus Hall Hall’oween Adult Night Tour which I highly recommend. General tours can also be taken of the house and it’s magnificent walled gardens. Special Loftus Family tours also run for Halloween –one suitable Over 5’s and one for Over 12’s. To book a tour click here.

Pull up a chair, grab a cuppa and relax for a while with the final installment of “The Visitor.” Happy Halloween!

The Visitor

We turned our heads towards the underside of the table now visible without the cloth and at the bottom of the seat where Natas was sitting, where his shoes should be, were a pair of cleft hooves. Suddenly he began to cackle as we looked up towards him in terror the noise like something infernal and demonic his face twisted into a menacing scowl satisfied by our fear.

He arched his head upwards towards the ceiling now squealing like some ungodly thing the noise burned my ears like white hot needles and I had to cover them to stop the pain. In a shadowy blur like the things in my dreams he shot upwards and through the ceiling shattering it, causing debris and fiery embers to fall on the floor around us lighting some of the carpet on fire and breaking the table in two. We all screamed in terror now at the site and ran to the corner of the room huddling together shaking violently, Anne began wailing tears rolling down her face. The demonic laughter still shook the house and could be heard from all around along with the clop of hooves along the floor above us stamping wickedly until suddenly, all went silent apart from the sound of the fireplace beside us and the fire within.

The Visitor

When we finally believed that whatever had just occurred was finished and that the creature was gone or was at the very least somewhere else in the house we all ran to my master bedroom, darting through the pitch black halls of the house slamming into things as we did so, I had fallen at one point and bumped my head of one of the grandfather clocks against the wall, leaving a large mark on the corner of my temple. We ran as if that infernal creature was giving chase and I pulled Anne by her hand heeding no attention to the fact I may have been hurting her. As we entered the room, I slammed the door shut and bolted the lock while Fintan pushed the dresser across the room and in front of it as to bar the door. I grabbed the crucifix from the drawer in the dresser and we all made our way away from the door and towards the dimly lit fireplace in the centre of the room. None of us slept that night; we barely spoke to one another as the shock of what had happened still shook us to our core.

The playful mood which resonated in the house only hours beforehand was replaced by a fear I cannot truly describe in words. Anne began to whisper and mutter under her breathe and any attempt at speaking to her failed. Her eyes stared off into the distance at apparently nothing, glassed over like someone in a daze. As I stared out into the storm in the early hours of the night I could have sworn I saw a figure in the flashes of lightning, walking into the distance and away from Loftus Hall.

The days after were spent trying to piece together the events of the night. We could have all claimed some delirium had come about in us all if it were not for the evidence. The hole lay burned into our ceiling above the card table and Natas was nowhere to be found.

We should have told someone but we could not for the publicity would destroy both our family names and the Loftus family who had not played a part in the events but for welcoming us into their home. We had called for workmen to fix the hole in the ceiling and claimed it had occurred when a box of ammunition for the many hunting rifles Charles had kept caught fire and burned a hole downwards from the floor above. They certainly did not believe us but never questioned our claims and finished the work on the same day.

 

Anne slowly became worse, her whispers becoming more frantic and more often. She would not respond to any of us and walked about the house constantly calling for Mr Natas, I had even awoke one night the sudden urge to open my eyes and found her standing at the bottom of our bed whispering and staring at the headboard above us. I took care not to startle her and slowly made my way out of the bed whispering her name and walked towards her. Suddenly she twisted her head towards me and with a face like someone in pain began to howl, waking my wife, who also began to scream in fright. She darted out of the room and into the blackness of the halls, I ran after her in a state of undress pleading for her to stop. I followed the howls through the house until they stopped just ahead of me, inside of the card room. I crept towards the doorway and peered in to see Anne sitting in the chair beside the new card table her back towards me. Her head and body jerked as if in some form of fit and her mutters became louder and menacing I could hear threats beneath them.

http://loftushall.ie/
http://loftushall.ie/

I had never felt afraid of her but on that night somehow I felt I had been in some form of danger. I did not make my way towards her to begin with but simply called her name from the doorway. Her jerking stopped and so did the mutters replaced by whimpering, she began calling out for me and I rushed in to soothe her. As I knelt down beside her to try so, her head jerked upwards to the now repaired hole in the ceiling and her wails became deafening burning my ears. I shook her now shouting in anger for her to stop, but she continued ignoring my pleas her head angled upwards. My wife then entered the room and as she did so Anne fell silent again apart from her whisper. Her eyes refocused in front of her to where our guest had been seated just over a week before.

It is with great shame and guilt that I wrote of our decision to place Anne in a locked room in the house for both our sake and hers. Jane and I had feared that she would either do harm to herself or to us in our sleep one night while caught in her madness. The idea of getting her treatment was pushed aside as our family name would be tarnished forever and my place in politics and business would be lost, although I love my daughter how was I to tend for her if I had no income to do so. We had both decided to place her in the Tapestry room in belief that perhaps the paintings would calm her in some way. The room is located on the third story of the house meaning that if guests were to visit they would not come across it or think to question us about it, her whispers and mutters would also not be heard from there. We had decided to tell guests who came to Loftus Hall the story of how Anne was away in France and would not be returning for a number of weeks as we believed this to be the most rational of excuses.

As hard as I tried to care for her and spend time with Anne I slowly grew tired of her disorder and began to spend less and less around her. Jane had become ashamed of her as much as she tries to convince herself otherwise , she began to ignore the whole situation and act as if nothing had ever happened, never mentioning our daughter as if she did not exist. Fintan became her carer and would enter the room in the mornings to feed her, this had become extremely difficult as she refused food and would claw at his face if he attempted to open her mouth and due to this her frame became thin and frail, she was but a husk of her former self and in some ways it disgusted me to look upon her at times. She spent her days sitting on the small chair in the room, her knees pulled in towards her staring out the window sometimes calling for Mr. Natas as if waiting for him to return.

Although her door was locked and bolted shut during the night I awoke many times to find my bedroom door open and faintly hearing her whispers from outside. Whenever I would investigate I would find the Tapestry room door locked and after opening it would find her seated in her usual place as if she had never moved staring through the window into the darkness of the night.

One morning as I sat in the library reading I was startled by cries of my name from my wife somewhere in the house. I jumped from my seat and ran towards them; her cries became screams as I rushed up the main stairs and towards the third floor. As I reached the top of the stairs I saw Fintan holding my wife, she squirmed and struggled in his grip screaming like some banshee in the night. I roared at him in confusion questioning what was happening but before he had a chance to reply Jane screamed for me to look at Anne. My heart sank like an anchor into the depths as I heard the words and I forced my way past both of them almost knocking them off balance and ran into the tapestry room.

Music played softly on the small music box we had brought up to the room in an attempt to rouse Anne from her sickness, she sat in her usual place staring out the window her back turned to me. I made my way towards her almost expecting her to turn or scream like she had the weeks before but she remained silent. I called her name softly as I made my way across the room and placed my hand on her shoulder. She stayed motionless and beneath her dress her skin was icy cold and it seemed to radiate from her freezing my very being as I held her. I moved to her side trying to see her face and as I did so it became clear what my wife had seen. Her skin was pale and lifeless yet she still stared glassily into the distance her face one of anguish and still as some statue. I began to wail in pain and terror pulling myself away from her along the floor at the realisation that she was dead.

The days after are a blur of horror and pain. My life took on a dark bleakness like nothing I had ever felt and it destroyed me from the inside out like wood lice burrowed into a tree feeding on its guts. The true horror of it all was that in an attempt to prepare our poor Anne’s body for burial, the mortician could not free her from her state of rigor mortis, he had told me how he had attempted all of the practices which worked on every body he had prepared and none had worked on hers. In my complete anguish I had pleaded he breaks her bones to do so but he assured me it would only end with the bones piercing her skin and protruding from her body.

http://loftushall.ie/
http://loftushall.ie/

 So with shame we buried her in the position she died her knees pulled up to her chest like some doll or child’s play thing her face like a frozen marionette still waiting for Natas to return.

My wife could not bear to see this and collapsed in the mortuary having to return home and stay there for the funeral proceedings. As I watched the dirt being placed on the grave I swore I had heard her pleading for me to let her out. I pushed the men burying her aside and began clawing the dirt with my hands shouting that I could still hear her that she was still alive and wanted me to get her out. Fintan grabbed me from around my neck hauling me away reasoning with me to see she was gone, finally I gave in and stopped. Caked in soil we made our way to the carriage and into its compartment. I began to sob uncontrollably as we ordered the driver to move down the path and away from the plot. Before we came on the road to return back to Loftus House I looked from the carriage window one final time. Beside her grave stood a figure in black barely visible from a distance and I could have sworn I could hear the cackling laughter we had heard that horrible night months before.

 

I regret that this may be my final entry into my diary as writing of the events which have occurred has me once again contemplating suicide. I would do so in a second for not for the fear that doing so would bring me to the realm of that creature we had welcomed into our home. We prepared to leave for our own homestead and to leave this place behind forever but word has come to us of a fire in the home and we have been informed it is uninhabitable for the coming months until repairs are finished I fear this was all a plan by that monstrous thing. My wife has withdrawn to the east wing of the house and I see her only occasionally since the burial, coming down from the tapestry room where she sobs for hours on end. I have seen things in the night recently shadow lurking about the house and I fear that he has returned to Loftus Hall. The sound of cleft hooves walking along the floorboards wakes me at night sometimes I hear them in my room along with bestial breathing and panting in the darkness. I feel the events which have unfolded were only the beginning.

The Visitor

Happy Halloween everyone! I’d love you to share some of your own scary stories with me and my brother!

The Visitor – Part I

http://loftushall.ie/
http://loftushall.ie/

 

 

Today I have, in preparation for Halloween, the first part of a very special post inspired by the wonderfully creepy Loftus Hall in Wexford. Loftus Hall is famed as the most haunted building in Ireland, find their website here. This year Loftus Hall celebrates it’s 666 year anniversary. Paranormal Lockdown tours have been running all year, the next three tours are already sold out! People enter the house at 8.30 and with a group of paranormal investigators and partake in an investigation until 3.30 in the morning. I’m dying to do one of these tours!

http://loftushall.ie/
http://loftushall.ie/

After visiting Loftus Hall a couple of years for a Halloween tour, I whole heartly agree that it’s one of the creepiest places I’ve ever been. The building is eerie (even in daylight_, even from outside, coated in darkness and set against the stark, exposed Wexford coastline. I have to add that the staff there are passionate, helpful and I would highly recommend it a tourist destination.

loftus-3

Various special Hall’oween Tours are running through October. For adults there is the Loftus Hall Hall’oween Adult Night Tour which I highly recommend. General tours can also be taken of the house and it’s magnificent walled gardens. Special Loftus Family tours also run for Halloween –one suitable Over 5’s and one for Over 12’s. To book a tour click here.

 

Pull up a chair, grab a cuppa and relax for a while with the first installment of “The Visitor.”

As I write this, I find myself reminiscing on the terrible events over the past months; the pain, sorrow and bewilderment it has brought myself and my family. Yet it feels like some dream in my mind, one of which I cannot leave, which consumes my every waking minute and confuses all reality, draining me like some fiend, thirsty for my being. The things I find myself thinking of are something not of this world. Those I have spoken to of it either proclaim me as a mad man or pity me as someone distraught by the events which have passed. I question if they are right? Perhaps I have gone mad? I have pondered the idea of entering a sanatorium to be treated for this apparent delirium but deep down in my soul I know these things are true and I curse he who is responsible for it.

I have always been close to the Loftus family, through ties from marriage and business. Charles or The Baron Loftus as he is formally known has been a companion of mine since my youth. We frequented much of the country on together during our younger days and share in our adoration of hunting and angling, through this we had bonded and were in contact regularly throughout the past years. When Charles had requested over dinner one evening that I care for Loftus Hall while he and his family left for Europe I instantly agreed; it would be a break away from our own home and beneficial for my wife Jane and daughter Anne. The girls were ecstatic upon hearing the plans when I returned home and on August the 1st we arrived at Loftus Hall.

http://loftushall.ie/
http://loftushall.ie/

Loftus hall is an immense building; the three stories are filled with beautifully furnished rooms. The library on the first floor is true beauty to behold; containing unending amounts of books, some of which are ancient, the volumes being some of the only found in these aisles. The room which the girls seemed to frequent most often was the Card room in the western wing of the house with its high ceiling and comfortable chairs. Many nights were spent within it playing bridge and its walls echoed with our laughter as the fire in the far edge of the room burnt bright. This was until the night of the storm and the arrival of our guest.

On the night of August 25th I had been near the coast in Fethard at a town hall meeting, not far from Loftus hall. As a representative of the area I chaired the meeting and gave the locals news decisions and changes which would affect them.  The town’s rural inhabitants were mild mannered descendants of protestant settlers who came here during the plantations from Britain. The hours after the meeting were spent in the local pub “The Boatman” with the mayor and wealthy land lords from the surrounding area. The pub was a large thatched building usually housing forty or fifty at a time with a large stove in the centre which burned bright for many a night. We discussed business and pleasure and although a storm had begun to brew outside, we enjoyed the night wholeheartedly.

It was midnight when I prepared to return to Loftus Hall and the storm was at its worst. A forceful gale shook the rafters of the establishment. O’Toole my carriage driver nodded to the publican for a final shot of whiskey and I stood up from our table and grabbed my coat from. The door of the pub swung open violently and a gush of wind and rain poured in, blowing out the lanterns near the door and filling the pub with the cries of the storm outside. In strode a tall figure hooded in a finely woven ebony coat. He stood first motionless in the doorway as water began pooling around his feet. The pub went deathly silent in anticipation as the man withdrew his hood and smiled roguishly, his features somewhat hidden in the shadows of the extinguished lanterns.

Looking back now, I am bewildered at the fact I had not noticed how the mood in the pub suddenly changed and the glassy look in the eyes of all those around me including myself like rabbits transfixed by the moon. I watched as the man walked across the pub, still deathly silent and removed his coat. I should have left then but something held me there as if trapped in some miasma with no control over myself.

The noise began again in the pub as people began to speak again, the sound was different to before the man had entered. People spoke louder and laughter could be heard bellowing across from tables; a stark contrast to the hushed and somber mood from moments before. Someone played the fiddle in the corner of the bar – a quick mad tune being struck along its cords. I glanced across to O’Toole and saw he had ordered a large bottle of whiskey from the publican when only minutes before he was preparing to leave. I found myself sitting on a stool next to a small table, the idea of leaving fading away and an urge to stay now filling my mind and watched as the stranger walked between the other tables the drunken men sat on their stools laughing and shouting in their new found joy. He moved as if gliding, never touching or bumping against anyone and sat across from me placing a large glass of brandy before me. How in God’s name did he know what I was drinking? These and many other questions I should have asked but somehow had never entered my mind as if not present and being distracted somehow by the man.

The Visitor

He smiled at me as he outstretched his hands something about it comforting yet chilling at the same time, his dark eyes stared purposely into my own holding my stare, he was young and no older than thirty with a slightly dark complexion as if Mediterranean in descent. He wore his long jet black hair in a ponytail like some of the Argentinian nobles I had met in business and introduced himself as a Mr. Fulicer Natas. I shook his hand and returned the smile and felt myself relax as if I were sitting across from an old friend.

 I forgot the time and began to relish in the man’s company, laughing and joking more than I had in many years and felt transfixed by what he had to say. He told me of how his ship had to dock in the harbour nearby due to the storm as it was nearly run aground near the cliffs of the peninsula, how his crew had decided to watch the boat while he sought shelter for himself. He asked me if I knew of any such establishment nearby. I found myself eagerly offering him a room at Loftus Hall and insisting he stay with us.

He smiled somewhat slyly as the mood in the pub suddenly became somber once more the noise dying down, the fiddle now silent and perhaps it was my imagination but the light in the pub became dim.

We decided to leave and both stood up from our tables and along with O’Toole left “The Boatman” and accompanied the man to the carriage the storm still raging around us and began to make our way back to Loftus Hall.

I struggle to remember the journey back as it seemed I had fallen into a drunken stupor which was unusual for the amount of brandy I had drank on the night. I recall arriving at the entrance, the house illuminated in the flashes of lightning about us and the mad dash to reach the door as to get out of the dreadful storm rampaging around us. I hammered down the large oak door while Mr Natas stood motionless in the rain. I heard the noise of the locks being withdrawn from the door as it opened. Our butler Fintan hurried us in and showed our guest to his sleeping quarters for the night. I staggered my way through the dimly lit halls and towards my bedroom, stumbling a number of times and ending up against the walls or peering into the faces of the paintings covering them. I did my best not to wake Jane on entering our room stepping lightly along the wooden floor. I slipped cautiously into bed and into a deep sleep.

I awoke to Fintan’s voice, commenting on how late I had slept as my eyes fluttered open struggling to focus. I watched as he placed a platter with breakfast on my lap – toast and bacon along with a small bowl of oats. He then turned and left the room as quick as he entered. My head throbbed with pain and I found it hard to come back to reality after the strange events during the night, still confused by how it had all come to pass, but slowly my alertness returned. After finishing breakfast, I could hear the sound of joyful laughter from outside and upon dressing made my way into the house and towards wherever it seemed to

http://loftushall.ie/
http://loftushall.ie/

originate from.

As I arrived in the dining room I found Anne and Margret in conversation with our guest Mr. Natas smiling and joking playfully. Upon seeing me he stood from his chair smiling and opening his arms and welcomed me in. Immediately like the night before I felt myself relax and the pain in my head was replaced with delight at the site of the man as if we had known one another for years. His English was exemplary and now without the noise of the bar around me I could hear the slight accent he spoke with. He told us of how his business involved dealing with persons who had made wrong decisions in their lives and those who worked for him in some way or another that he performed some type of judgement upon them. I am surprised to this day as to why I did not question him more but it seemed as if he swayed and controlled the conversation like an angler reeling his catch towards him one way and then another, not allowing it time to question what is happening.

The storm was relentless for many nights and we found ourselves delighted in the company of our guest. We partook in drinking, dancing and singing, he had even showed us his skills on a fiddle which were remarkable to say the least. We danced jigs and reels to the music, perspiring profusely. Hours were spent conversing in all manner of things and we found ourselves retiring to bed in the early hours of the morning exhausted from our escapades. An air of excitement and tension lay about the house as we all struggled to rest caught up in the madness of it all.

It felt as if I had entered some trance in which I could not leave and rather than fight, allowed myself to be carried along by it like a boat on the river Slaney.

 Anne in particular took to Mr. Natas and the two became inseparable over the passing days. They would walk about the house talking and joking among one another or playing games within the card room. The way she stared at him as he spoke I remember being struck at how infatuated she seemed to be; perhaps I was the same in some way or another. I had begun to believe they were having liaisons in the night as I would awake to the creaking of floorboards in the halls outside my room, as if someone was skulking along them or would hear hushed whispers in the night. My dreams became disturbed, I dreamed of the house in flames and dark figures swooping around me whispering in some ungodly language before I would awake in a sweat and grab for my wife Jane to ensure she was beside me.

One evening as the wind bellowed outside and rain crashed against the windows of the house I made my way towards the library in search of Mr. Natas to request he join us for a game of bridge in the Card Room. I found him sitting near the fire his dark apparel contrasting against the white silk of the upholstery he sat upon. He sat reading a large tome which turned out to be Dante’s Inferno, he commended me on having one of the first volumes and talked of how the book had always amazed him, how he wondered how a man can write and draw such things in such reality as if he had somehow seen them for himself. I had assured him I did not know but that it was indeed amazing and frightening in some senses. He laughed and inquired what I had come for, I told him of the game of bridge we were about to play and he accepted smiling slyly as we made our way out of the library and towards the card room. He had told me how gambling was something he had always enjoyed partaking in it as regularly as he could in his own homeland.

As we entered the card room we were welcomed by Fintan firstly and then the girls. Mr. Natas held Anne’s hand kissing it softly and staring into her eyes before sitting down around the table. Her eyes never seemed to leave him once during the whole game. Fintan poured drinks for each of us and presented me with the deck of cards we normally play with, before I could remove them from their packet our guest requested if he deal the cards for the game. I accepted and handed him the deck. Never in all my life have I seen a man handle cards the way he did. The way his hands moved as he shuffled them in ways I had never seen at any table the cards bouncing from one hand to the other as if with a life of their own. We all sat infatuated by the sight as he dealt us our hands and we began to play. The mood changed once more and we all rejoiced in the fun we were partaking in laughing uncontrollably at the very slightest of things seemingly unable to stop. It seemed to have no effect on our guest who appeared more collected than us all focused on the game at hand and never truly losing composure.

Upon winning the second game in a row Mr. Natas dealt yet another round of cards. They fluttered along from his hands towards the table in front of us, landing perfectly as if carried by some unseen force.

I received my three cards and peered around the table only to see Anne had but two in front of her the apparent third sliding off the table and onto the floor beneath her. Natas stared at her smiling toothily almost menacingly as she bent down to pick it up. Fintan made his way towards her to help when suddenly Anne began screaming from beneath the table and fell backwards pulling the table cloth with her and crashing against the ground in apparent fright. Fintan rushed towards her and my wife and I jumped from our seats in shock and bent down to question her actions. As we did she began to shout “his feet…”, “his feet…” “Look at his feet”.

The Visitor

You can read Part II right now by clicking here!