‘All through the night shall an inner voice seek life when laid out seeking slumber. In still moments when dark and yearning, I shall come from shadows to taunt thee.’ The Demon (Samuel Flyte)
It seemed a time long ago, maybe not that long really.
It was a manor house, old school house, lots of rooms, dark rooms.
Things went on in that house, dark things.
It was a home, a home for the lost and lonely.
Not a home to house lost children.
It was down a long and panelled hallway with creaky wooden floors. The sort that alerts the silence, and dead things displayed on tables and in the faces of portraits. You are here when you shouldn’t be here. For orders are, no one allowed to disturb him when he’d invited his favourites, and also, when the not so favourites summoned to his private quarters.
But regardless of one or the other, whichever they fall into, most days the boys constantly threatened, from one another, especially that gang, of which Jove, the ringleader, and worse for imposing his rules over others emotional state. It might also likely come from that handful of guardians, hardly serving mercy but serve a more darker and sinister idol of worship. As is the case of not gathering quickly enough in the old assembly hall, to hear a speech from Sir. A speech to inform, but given like an order, or blasted as a warning. Here they are again standing and listening to a droning tone reading a list of boys names. The not so favourites.
And so the excuse, the story to stick to…
“Moved to another home.
“Let that be an end to it.
“Not to mention them if anybody might ask…
After saying what intended, Sir, gathered up the papers and looked back over the ensemble. He was on borrowed time, knew it, preoccupied with an inner world considering when and how. He muttered something, got down from the dais, then sloped off, dawdling down the centre line of boys either side. Heads bowed, eyes fixed down, none wanting to catch sight of an old vulture’s eyes searching for one of them tonight.
This monster knew he’d head this establishment. There’s a price to pay of course, but wouldn’t have known at the time when he’d fallen into favour. Worked his way along a path paved with bad intentions, to rise within the ranks and now trusted by the elite to take care of matters. Matters they like to indulge in, so even more appropriate that this manor house permanently in shadow of sun and moon.
The master’s study and quarters entered through the one door. They took in the upper wing of the house around the back of the building. A part of the grounds not overlooked, appropriately, they face north.
When entertaining in his quarters the new boys were instructed to call him Uncle and only when attending his rooms. Outside he was to be called, Sir. No one dare say any different. But then he couldn’t really hear what they called him in thought.
Claimed he killed tigers in India, had all sorts of animal skins and their heads mounted on wooden shields around the study walls. He impressed them with such tales. His desk was huge, full of things, rolled up maps, small wooden craved boxes, spyglasses, many strange things from his travels. They were the sort of objects boys would like and get excited when touching them. He even had a shrunken head, a real human one, the size of a goose egg. He kept that back, revealing it at the end the story. Told them he knew the recipe, told them he knew how to shrink a young boy’s head if they didn’t behave and fulfil what asked of them when in his rooms. He watched their fresh faces turn grey, then laugh signalling a joke.
There was a roaring fire shooting up the chimney, the room looked manly, the room of an explorer, the room of someone in control.
There was nobody in the room for the moment. Go through another door and down a carpeted hallway, pass the bedrooms and then turn right, step through into a room. A smaller one and wood panelled. The door in here locked from the other side.
It was a bathroom, boasted a separate shower, big enough for two even three to get under. As well as the pull chain lavatory and pedestal basin, there was a deep, roll top slipper bath.
Young William, a favourite, lay in the bath motionless. The cast iron radiators rattled throwing heat into the room. It wasn’t cold. The bath water had warmed up a little as well. He was submerged up to his neck. At the other end of the bath was Uncle.
He had wondered about this moment. What it’ll be like looking through those small piggy eyes, looking at the knife, seeing it glint, that’s twice now, knowing the sharpness of the blade, how deep it cuts…twice it’s bitten.
He’d better have a shower.
William stood up and looked down at the bathwater, its colour, blood red.