It had been twenty-four years since she’d last seen it, but the place looked exactly the same, even though shed only been six at the time. The image of the four tall turrets with a full moon above them and a sky full of stars had stayed in her memory all these years. She’d often dreamed of Dranoon Castle but never thought one day it would be hers. Now with all her relatives dead it was up to Sheila to make something of this dilapidated building.
As she turned the last corner in her new Mercedes, she stopped the car, switched off the engine and stepped onto the narrow lane. It took only a couple of steps, and the magnificent building came into view. She’d chosen to come back this night of the Scorpio Full Moon and had prayed for a clear sky so that she could get some good photographs for advertising purposes.
Sheila lifted the boot of the car, took out the tripod and her camera, set it all up and waited.
Dranoon Castle looked mysterious, lit by the full moon behind it. She waited for some eery-looking clouds to pass over head and then snapped away with her camera. A few bats obliged and made the images look even more spooky. She couldn’t wait to get inside, on her computer, and build her new website.
Haunted Weekends at Dranoon Castle
Mary and Jim, the resident housekeeper and gardener stood at the top of the stone steps as Sheila approached through the long, sweeping drive.
“It’s lovely to see you at last, Miss Sheila.” Said Mary as she walked forward with outstretched hand.
“Pleased to meet you both as well.”
“I’ll get your luggage.” Said Jim as he reached inside the boot of the car.
Sheila stepped into the big hallway and stood in awe of the tall ceiling and giant chandelier; paintings of her ancestors hung on the four walls.
“Can we have a meeting in about half an hour, please? I want to explain to you both what I am going to do with this place.
Mary and Jim looked at each other and then nodded at Sheila. Jim carried the baggage up the winding, oak staircase.
“Do come in and sit down,” said Sheila as she beckoned Mary
and Jim over to the marble fireplace with its pile of red-glowing logs in the grate.
“I’ve got to make a living from this place, as I’m sure you must realise.”
Mary and Jim nodded but looked puzzled.
“I’ve decided to do haunted weekends and ghost hunts. Now, I know this place isn’t haunted but that is the least of my worries.”
Jim put his hand to his mouth to cover a cough while Mary nudged him in the ribs with her elbow.
“I’ve got some really good ideas for a website and I need to know which rooms are the best for letting out for a weekend at a time. We can begin with one or two rooms as we get all the others re-decorated. Mary, to begin with we will have to do the food and all the hard work ourselves until I can afford to employ more staff. Jim you will have to do your best to keep the approach to the house spic and span and any maintenance work that needs doing. Any questions?
Mary and Jim both looked pale and shook their heads.
“Now I’m going to get on with developing my website tonight so that we can get some bookings. Mary you can show me around the house tomorrow and would you mind bringing a nice supper to my room in about an hour’s time.”
Mary nodded and then followed Jim out of the study.
Sheila began climbing the stairs to her room but was startled by someone calling her name. She turned around, thinking it was Mary but there was no one there. She went back down again and into the kitchen.
“Did you call me Mary?”
“Ah, it must be a mistake. I thought I heard you call my name.”
“No Miss, it’s probably the wind outside you can hear.”
“Yes, I’m sure you’re right,” said Sheila as she exited the kitchen and began her climb up the stairs once more.
Back in her bedroom, Sheila quickly set up her computer and laptop and began typing away.
There it was again, a voice calling her name. Sheila went over to the large bay window and looked out. Yes, the pine trees were blowing in the wind and she could see the moon through the giant Oak tree by the side of the drive. She shrugged her shoulders and went back to work.
Sheila was deeply engrossed in building her new website when a knock on her bedroom door made her jump.
“Come in Mary.” She said.
The door opened about six inches.
“Come in. Have you brough my supper Mary?”
The door opened a little wider. Sheila got up from her computer and went over to the door. There was no-one there. Then she heard footsteps on the stairs and saw Mary coming up with a tray of food.
“Ah, Mary. Did you forget something?”
“Forget something? Not sure what you mean Miss.”
“You came with my supper and opened the door and went away again.”
“No Miss, I’ve only just got your supper done and brought it up this minute.”
“Well, the door opened for some reason.”
“Ah, probably the wind, as I said earlier.”
“Yes, you must be right. I’ve looked outside and it is rather windy out there.”
“Yes, Miss. That’ll be what it is. The wind. Will that be all Miss?”
“Yes, thank you Mary. I’ll see you in the morning and we can go over the rooms together. Good night Mary.”
Sheila sat at the small table in the bay window and ate her supper. When her plate was empty, she drank the cup of tea and went back to her computer but was feeling rather drowsy and so decided to call it a day and get ready for bed.
As Sheila lay in bed, she thought she saw the curtains moving and as she could hear the wind whistling through the window frames, she thought nothing of it. She turned out the bedside lamp, rolled over onto her side and tried to sleep.
Creaking noises startled her, and she sat up. By now the full Moon had moved across the sky and was clearly visible through the bay window. Sheila watched the clouds floating by it and admired the stars, then lay her head back on her pillow.
More creaking noises filled the room and the wind howled louder through the gaps in the old windowpanes.
Sheila found it hard to sleep in this strange room. She kept thinking of her own small room back in her mother’s house. The cosy duvet and her belongings piled high on the chest of drawers.
Suddenly the bedroom door burst open. Sheila sat bolt upright.
“Is that you Mary? I’ve finished my supper. You can take the tray away.”
Sheila heard a rustling sound. It reminded her of those Henry VIII films where the ladies wore voluminous skirts that swished as they walked the long corridors of the castles. She slid out of the four-poster bed and went to peep around the open bedroom door.
Sheila thought she saw a shadow at the end of the long landing. A sudden flash of white light attracted her attention. There was a movement in the shadows near the large, oak cupboard at the end of the landing. Next there was a faint musty smell where a small staircase led to what used to be the servants’ quarters. She hesitated for a moment, ran back and grabbed her dressing gown and was just putting one arm in the sleave when she heard a scream that appeared to come from the small staircase. Softly she crept along the landing, holding her breath as she went. There was no-one there. Only the sound of the rain beating heavily upon her bedroom windows echoed around the huge landing.
“Who is it?” Sheila said as she looked up the narrow winding staircase. There was no reply. Then another swishing sound came from behind her and in the shadows at the far end of the landing near her bedroom door she thought she saw the shape of a woman in a long gown.
The shape floated slowly toward her. She held her breath once more as he eyes grew wide with excitement.
“Yes,” she thought. “Ghosts, hundreds of them. That’s what I want. Bring it on,” she said aloud.
Suddenly there were flashes of lightening, the feeling of a strong wind blowing down the landing. Curtains that draped the antique paintings moved and the whole area became icy cold.
Sheila heard a loud smashing sound coming from the entrance hall below. She looked over the banister and saw a glass vase had fallen off the small table and smashed on the chequered marble floor.
“Wow,” said Sheila, I have ghosts,” and that was all that mattered.