Submitted into Contest #127 in response to: Begin your story with a character having a gut feeling they cannot explain.... view prompt


Black Mystery Suspense


The villa had been built about ten years earlier. So it was in a modern, if not postmodern style,  although perhaps someone might prefer to speak of the eclectic style of the early 2000s . So it was all corners and edges….oh, but the great villa had also chimneys in a shape of a three sided prism.

To access the  large entrance door, of stained glass  and enameled metal, you had to go up a  long and very steep staircase of white marble.  The villa did not have a harmonious appearance at all, at least for its exterior. Looking at it was anything but pleasant. It was rather unsettling. ( rather it agitated). The garden, almost a park, that surrounded the eccentric building, was instead enchanting . There were flowers which bloomed in all seasons, a very riot, a feast of colors. And there were the trees, the firs and the cedars, the lemon trees, with their lush green. There  was also a vine that made bunches of grapes with big, full, lush grains, which, when the grapes were ripe, was really a temptation. If looking at that villa was anything but relaxing, looking at the garden delighted the sight and even the smell ( the sense of smell).

She , Wilma, had always liked to stop , remaining in contemplation of the garden, when she passed in front of it. Until one day____it was late afternoon, it had rained, the air was still wet_____when she had stopped, as usual, to admire that garden, she had that sensation, but very strong, as if it were something that she perceived with the senses, of a black, muddy sewer . Oh, but not to be believed! How was it possible that such a wonderful , colorful and even fragrant garden made her think, indeed made her feel, perceive a muddy and smelly sewer? It was when, very sorry, almost disturbed , she moved to leave, that Wilma seemed to see, but it was as if she really saw with her eyes, A BLACK FIGURE coming out of the sewer she had perceived in that wonderful garden. That great, high black figure wasn’t quite without thickness like a silhouette , but it did not even have the thickness or consistency of a body. It looked more like a shadow, but it wasn’t a shadow either. It was less ethereal than a shadow, and it had more defined contours than a shadow. That black figure , coming out of the muddy sewer, was little more than a shadow. The figure, entirely black____even its face, flat, without thickness, without features was black____pointed , with a stentorian gesture of the long arm , that very eccentric building which was the villa, then the black figure, moving the long arm in a slow motion, pointed the index finger of its entirely black hand towards Wilma. She ran away terrified, since it was as if that black figure , and the sewer too, from which it was coming out, existed in reality for her.

Wilma was so much impressed and disturbed too, by that vision, springing from her intuition, that  for a few days she decided not to pass in front of the villa, or rather in front of its wonderful garden  which , from delightful as she had always found it, now frightened her, upset her. And she continued to not know how to explain  that feeling which she would never have expected, that had assaulted her by betrayal.

Wilma knew little about people who lived in that villa. Sometimes, passing by in front of it, she had happened to glimpse three very young, and very blonde girls in the garden. She had heard that they were the granddaughters  of the owners of the villa, husband and wife, both architects. She had also heard that the three girls were the only heirs of the owners of the villa, but they did not live ( in the villa) with their grandparents. The three girls only came from time to time to visit their grandparents. They, the elderly owners of the villa, Wilma had never seen them, and it seemed that no one in the village had ever seen them. Driven by curiosity   Wilma had sought information, news about the  two architects Marion and Alexander Byron, who were quite famous, consulting architecture magazines and looking for their publications. She had found photos of them, but only photos of them when they were ( had been) ) young. In those photos Marion and Alexander Byron were both dark haired, strange that they had such blonde granddaughters ( grandchildren), she had come to observe. Then she had learned that the three blonde girls she had glimpsed in the wonderful garden, they were not related to the Byron, as  they were daughters of their adopted daughter. Ah, then she, the girls’ mother must be blonde, Wilma had said. But how she was the adopted daughter of the Byron, who was also their only child, no one was able to tell. No one had ever seen her, and there seemed to be even no photos of her. Wilma had learned these news about the Byron, about their grandchildren and about their daughter before to have that insight vision of the black figure coming out of the sewer, which she had had quite spontaneously and unexpectedly in front of their wonderful garden. Back then, when she had heard or read these news about them, she hadn’t found anything strange, and much less disturbing in them. But after her vision of the figure in black( coming out of the sewer) she had begun to brood over them. Why had no one ever seen the Byron adoptive daughter even in a photograph? Wilma wondered. And that adopted daughter of theirs, who was the mother of the three very blonde girls, was she alive or dead? Well, Wilma hadn’t even gotten to know the name of that woman, either if she was dead or alive.  Then Wilma knew that there were rumors  that there had never been a daughter of the Byron,  not even an adopted daughter. Those rumors claimed that the three very young girls who from time to time came to visit them and spent a few days in the eccentric villa with them , they were not at all their granddaughters . There were those who claimed they were girls the Byron  had even bought. Not only that, it was also rumored that those three very blonde girls had been kidnapped by those who had killed their parents. Well, the Byron, thanks to their vast, international acquaintances, would have bought the three girls, when they were still children, from those who had killed their parents. She, Wilma, didn’t really know what to think of those rumors. Maybe they were all fairy tales or slanders. Come on, she couldn’t believe that the Byron could really have bought three little girls from those who had made them orphans, killing their parents. And yet those rumors, whether they were invented from scratch , or not, some doubts ended up insinuating in her too.

It had been almost a year since Wilma, one evening, stopping to admire the enchanting garden of the Byron’s mansion,  had perceived ( sensed), like seeing ( and it had been as if she saw) THAT BLACK FIGURE coming out of a sewer. She had had that sensation, or intuition once, only that evening. After that Wilma had passed more times again in front of that magnificent garden. And every time she had stopped to admire it, she had felt her heart tremble for fear of….seeing that black figure again come out of the sewer, point its finger towards the extravagant villa, then, after moving the long black arm slowly, point that same black finger of its black hand towards her. But it never had happened again. One night Wilma dreamed….A BLACK FIGURE coming out of the sewer there, in the beautiful garden surrounding the Byron’s villa. But in her dream the figure all  in black was not flat and without thickness like the one she had sensed  in front of t the Byron’s garden that evening.. In her dream the black figure was a woman entirely dressed in black, even with a black veil on her head. It was only when that woman all in black pointed her finger at her, and Wilma could see her face , and the veil on her head and around her face, not only in passing, that she ( Wilma) realized that that woman was a nun. She was a young nun, with a beautiful face, with  sweet, even delicate features, yet with a severe air stamped on it ( on her face). Just as the gesture of her finger pointed ( pointing) first at the villa, then at her( at Wilma) was peremptory. Wilma woke with her heart pounding in her throat. She felt that her dream informed her of something incredible, and even dark, of which she was completely unaware. Just as it had been for THE BLACK FIGURE she has sensed , but it was as she saw it, coming out of the sewer , which too Wilma had sensed, but that it had to be there, in the wonderful garden surrounding the Byron’s villa. A few days after Wilma had dreamed the young nun in the garden of the Byron’s villa, they, Marion and Alexander Byron, were killed , while they were traveling through Europe. It was said that it had been a double crime for purpose of robbery, but the culprit, or the culprits, was not found. There was also someone who whispered (murmured) that the Byron had been killed for a settlement of accounts (scores).Of course this hypothesis was considered defamatory, above all from televisions and newspapers. How could it be insinuated that very respectable people such as the two famous architects undoubtedly were, had to do with criminal circles?

The Byron’s villa remained uninhabited for a long time. Every time Wilma passed in front of it, she hoped in vain to see someone in the still beautiful garden. It was said that the granddaughters, or presumed granddaughters , of the Byron  had sold the villa to a rich Russian collector, who would have made of the eccentric building the seat of a museum for works of the avant-garde of the first decades of the 900.

Then, one day as she stopped in front of the garden, Wilma saw a woman, all dressed in black, with a black veil covering her head, who was walking among the flowerbeds and who was holding a watering can in her hands. That woman all in black was at a certain distance from Wilma, and she, walking in the garden, now appeared and now disappeared. Wilma remembered, with a dip in  her heart, THE FIGURE IN BLACK she had sensed some time ago in that wonderful garden____it had been coming out of a sewer____and also the nun who had appeared in her dream. While Wilma was wondering who that woman all dressed in black, whose face she could not see clearly, could be , another woman entirely dressed in black appeared in the garden. This one was at a shorter distance from her and Wilma could see that it ( she) was a nun.  She, Wilma, forgot all prudence and convenience and began to shout: “ Sister! Sister! Come here, please!” The nun, who was a middle aged woman, moved towards her, coming near her, but  neither did she come out of the garden, nor she invited Wilma to enter the garden. Wilma thus learned from the nun that the granddaughters of the Byron, who had inherited the eccentric villa, had become nuns. The villa was now  the property of the convent where they had entered.

January 07, 2022 22:23

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Fawn Marshall
15:13 Jan 12, 2022

This was a great read - I really enjoyed the tone. It reminds me of a classic gothic novel - or even a modern gothic horror like the one by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.


Mara Masolini
21:20 Jan 12, 2022



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