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Holiday

Wanda Matthews and Shelby Jones were the last people to check into the White Raven Inn before it closed its doors for good in 1987. It all started when Wanda made a bet that Shelby couldn’t make it through Halloween Night without running out of the Victorian home-turned-hotel screaming. Although Shelby hated being scared, she was always extremely competitive. It didn’t matter if it involved boys, haunted houses, or dangerous stunts; she hated losing and being seen as weak. It didn’t take long for the college student from Boston to give into the bet. Besides, Wanda would have to do her homework for two weeks if she won, and she wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity like that.

“I can’t believe you’re actually doing this,” Wanda said as she placed her small suitcase into the trunk of her car.

“You know me, Wanda. I can’t say no to a little competition,” Shelby replied after handing her suitcase to Wanda.

“Well, maybe you should.”

“What do you mean?”

“You should think twice before making or accepting a bet.”

“Oh, shut up. You’re going to be doing my homework when we’re done.”

           And with that, the two friends drove out of Boston for a little town known as Ruby Heart. If it weren’t for the horrifying story surrounding a certain house-turned-hotel in the center of Harrison Drive, the town would’ve been completely invisible to the outside world.

           “So, how did the White Raven Inn get its name?” Shelby asked as she took down some notes from a history book.

           “It’s a rather long story,” Wanda replied as she drove down a lonely road surrounded by trees with yellow leaves.

           “It’s also a rather long drive. Please tell me.”

           “Ok, I’ll tell you what I know.”


           Built in 1891, the house that would later be known as the White Raven Inn was owned by a family called Turning. Not much was really known about the family, other than what happened in 1923. By then, the only living members remaining in the house were Edward and his teenaged son Oliver. Before Edward was found dead in his office, it was reported that Oliver had bruises on his arms that he refused to explain. He almost mentioned something known as the “White Raven”, but no one knew what that was. About a week later, he went missing while his father was found dead with holes all over his body.

           “Where did all the holes come from?” Shelby interrupted.

           “The police thought he was shot, but no bullets were found in or near his corpse,” Wanda replied. “The holes were also too circular to have caused by a knife.”

           “Ok, continue.”

           The police ruled out guns and knives as cause of death. What they were able to find were a couple of white feathers in the room and a raven starring at them in the front yard. One of the detectives called to the scene proposed that the victim was pecked to death by birds, but he couldn’t prove how they would’ve made their way into the locked room. They also tried to search for this “White Raven” that Oliver had spoken of, but they found nothing.

           Despite the terrifying news spreading through the small town like wildfire, it wasn’t enough to prevent Thomas and Samantha Bennett from moving into the house. Originally from London, the couple had moved so that Thomas could join his friend’s business in Boston. Although they could’ve moved into the city itself, Samantha wanted a break from city life. Not even an unsolved death could prevent her from enjoying some peace and quiet in that little town.

           About a year or two later, the couple had a daughter named Cornelia, who grew up to be a lovely young woman with a red river of hair that she often tied up into a bun. She would always wear layers of clothes and dress so professionally. She was also talkative and bright, often discussing literature and science with her friends and family. She certainly could’ve gone on to do great things.

           That all came crashing down in 1941 when a young maid named Hattie went outside to water the rose bushes. She heard someone singing from around the corner, and followed it to discover an unrecognizable Cornelia. The girl had untied her bun and let her red river run wild as she danced around barefoot in only her white nightgown. Hattie listened as Cornelia sang:

                                    “I sing to the sky to take me away.

I sing to make the monsters pay.

I sing so I can find a haven.

I sing to my savior, the White Raven.”

           And then the singing turned to horrid screeching and squawking.

           “Why are you screaming, miss?” asked Hattie.

           “I’m not screaming,” Cornelia answered gently. “I’m singing to the White Raven. This is how I must summon her.”

           As the maid ran back inside to report her mistress’s behavior, she noticed a raven circling over the redhead.

 

           “We’re here!” Wanda said as she pulled up by the curb.

           “Aren’t you going to finish the story?” Shelby asked.

           “Let’s check in first.”

           The house itself was quite the spectacular with its white and blue paintjob, three stories, rectangular windows, front porch that took up a whole wall, and tower towards the left back corner. The girls pulled out their suitcases and made their way up the walkway to the door, which surprisingly didn’t have a single leaf on it. They passed a sign that had a raven carved into it with the caption:

                                              

The White Raven Inn

                                  “I sing to the sky to take me away.

I sing to make the monsters pay.

I sing so I can find a haven.

I sing to my savior, the White Raven.”

           

           The girls entered the lobby to find a dazzling chandelier dangling over their heads and a grand staircase that seemed to wrap around half of the room. Right in the middle of both ends of the staircase was a set of doors, which were promptly opened by a middle-aged woman dressed in a shade of yellow so bright that it heavily contrasted the dark-colored wooden doors and stairs. She seemed to have a difficulty to smile.

           “Welcome, ladies,” she said through her forced grin. “My name is Melody. Are you two Wanda and Shelby?”

           “Yes, I was the one who called about the library,” Wanda answered.

           “Oh, I remember. I understand your interest, but I’m afraid I cannot allow you to spend one single night in that room, or the one below it. I can show it to you, but that’s it. If you would let me, I’ll show you to your room first.”

           Although Wanda didn’t get the room she wanted, she and Shelby managed to score the second best room: the Cornelia Suite. Pale pink walls surrounded the ladies as they entered the room located towards the back of the house. A queen-sized canopy bed decorated with pink and white blankets and sheets stood in the middle of the back wall while a white vanity mirror stood by the door. Over by the windows were glass cases filled with antiques such as an old hairbrush with a blue ribbon tied around it, a teddy bear, some books, and an envelope with Cornelia’s name on it.

           “Those items belonged to Miss Cornelia Bennett, who is disappeared forty-six years ago,” Melody pointed out. “Are you two familiar with her story?”

           “Yes,” said Wanda.

           “She mentioned half of the story to me until we reached the hotel,” said Shelby.

           “Well, if you would follow me to the library, I shall tell you the rest,” Melody said, ushering them out the door.

           The tower was just down the hallway from Cornelia’s room. The library was a rather small and circular room with bookshelves covering the walls and a hole in the middle of the floor. If one were to peek over the railing surrounding the hole, a small office could be seen in the room below. It was an interesting addition to the building, but why would Melody refuse to let anyone sleep in there?

           “Some of the most iconic pictures taken in the house were taken either in here or the room below,” Melody said in her role as tour guide. “There is a famous shot we have in the lounge of a young Cornelia lowering a basket with a kitten inside of it into the office through the hole. The kitten was fine with it, but Cornelia’s mother Samantha was not. I think she could tell right away that her daughter was going to be a handful.”

           “But what happened?” Shelby asked. “The last thing I heard was that Cornelia told Hattie that she was singing to the White Raven.”

           “Oh, well, then I shall finish it.”

           Hattie’s boss, the head maid Florence, thought she could restrain Cornelia by grabbing her and pulling her inside the house, but she was proven wrong when she got clawed in the face by the girl and scratched by the raven that had been circling overhead. Thinking that their daughter was a lost cause, the Bennett’s called a doctor from a local mental institute to find a solution. When he arrived, he noticed the black raven perched on the porch. If he had turned away and driven back to the institute, he wouldn’t have been found dead the next morning with Thomas and Samantha.

           Hattie, who lived off of the property and only worked during the day, arrived the next morning to find the three corpses in the house. The doctor was discovered in the front room, and Thomas was found sprawled out in the hallway leading to the office, where Samantha died. All three of them appeared to have been pecked to death given the holes in their corpses and the white feathers found at the scene, but murder by a murder of birds was ruled out. After all, there were no white birds nearby, the only bird they found was a black raven, and there was no way a whole flock could’ve made it into the tower without breaking a window or the door. Someone could’ve let the birds in, but Samantha would have had to lock the library door before jumping down the hole to lock the office door, and every window in there was shut tight.

           As for Cornelia, she was never seen again. Some say that she and Oliver Turning could still be heard singing to the White Raven.

                                     “I sing to the sky to take me away.

I sing to make the monsters pay.

I sing so I can find a haven.

I sing to my savior, the White Raven.”

 

           “What do you think?” asked Melody.

           “I have a question,” said Shelby. “If Oliver sang to the White Raven because he was being abused by his father, why did Cornelia sing?”

           “That envelope in your room was once filled with love letters,” Melody explained. “They were written by Emmett, a young man who was rumored to have hypnotized Cornelia with his crystal blue eyes. Unfortunately, he was German-American, Cornelia’s parents were English, and World War II had broken out by then. They refused to let the two of them be together, and Emmett soon disappeared without a trace. Cornelia said that her father killed him, but no one would listen to her.”

           “Is that why she was singing in the yard?”

           “Yes. It is believed that she summoned the White Raven, a spirit who brings death to the abusive and cruel. The people who summon it are then taken to their own haven, which explains the disappearances of Oliver and Cornelia.”

           “What about the black raven found on the property?”

           “No one knows. Maybe it turned into the spirit when the moment was right. Maybe it appeared as a sign that the spirit was going to strike or had struck.”

           “What is known?” Wanda asked.

           “That you two are not to sleep in either of these rooms tonight.”


           Hotel security was so poor in 1987 that Wanda had managed to steal the keys from Melody later that evening. She and Shelby snuck to the library and unlock it so Wanda could wait for Shelby to unlock the office downstairs. Once Shelby locked the door, she tossed the keys through to hole so Wanda could lock herself in the library.

           “So, what are we going to do?” Shelby asked. “Summon the White Raven?”

           “I’m going to do it,” Wanda replied.

            “Wanda, what’s going on?”

           “I told you that you should think twice before making or accepting a bet. Someone always gets hurt.”

           “Yeah, I’ve gotten hurt and nearly died once, but I’m ok now. I’m careful –”

           “I’m not talking about you getting hurt. I meant me. I won that bet for who could win over Matt fair and square, and you just had to lie to him about my drug addiction in order to get him to change his mind.”

           “I gave you another chance with him, didn’t I?”

           “No, you made another bet when you should’ve just handed him over. You said whoever could stand on a bridge in their underwear the longest could have Matt, and I ended up falling off of it and breaking my leg. I had to stay in the hospital for a week, and I missed my father’s funeral. All because you had to play dirty!”

           “You could’ve turned down the bet and found someone else! Besides, I apologized and brought you meals when you were recovering!”

           “You cheated! You cheated and I paid for it! Now you will pay!”

           “Wanda, please! I’m sorry! I apologized before, and I’ll apologize again!”

           Wanda removed her robe to reveal a short white dress, raised her arms over her head, and began to sing the same song that Cornelia and Oliver sang so many years ago. Shelby immediately started pounding on the door for help. She then gave up and tried to break the window, but some sort of force seemed to be pushing her back. To make matters worse, a black raven started tapping on the window as a form of mockery. She continued to scream as her so-called “friend” carried on with her song.

           Finally, the song ended as a wind blew straight through Shelby. She tried to get a better view of what was going on upstairs, but she couldn’t find a suiting angle. What she could see were two figures dressed in white, although she could barely make out the figure that wasn’t Wanda. Although Shelby couldn’t understand it, he mysterious visitor spoke with a voice that could somehow give one both the sweetest dream and the most horrific nightmare.

           “White Raven, I have performed your song so I can have my revenge. The person who has hurt me the most is in the room below.”

           The figure known as the White Raven lowered herself into the office below, where poor Shelby sat shaking by the door. The legendary spirit was completely white from her hair to her toes. Even her nose that resembled the beak of a raven was as white as snow. The only non-white part on her body was her set of beady black eyes. She reached out her claws towards the would-be victim, but then she stopped and helped the girl up, instead. Then, she immediately flew straight back up to the library. She spoke in a language only Wanda could understand.

           “But she lied and cheated, and I paid for it!” Wanda yelled.

           The White Raven gave a reply that drove Wanda over the edge.

           “I summoned you! You must do your job! What’s the point if you’re not going to kill?”

           Shelby could hear Wanda gasp as if someone were crushing her throat. After that, she could hear nothing but the combined sounds of screaming, squawking, and singing as she stood there in terror. It must’ve lasted for a minute before a single white feather fluttered down through the hole and landed at her feet. Her brief moment of silence was interrupted by someone pounding on the door. Since the keys were left in the room upstairs, both doors had to be broken down.

           Even though she later wish she didn’t return to the library, she just had to see what had happened to her former best friend. She nearly fainted at the sight of Wanda’s corpse, which was practically drilled with holes. Even her eyes had been pecked out, causing blood to ooze out of the sockets and completely cover her face. Clutched in her hand were a couple of strands of white hair, which caused Melody to faint. 

           Wanda wanted the White Raven to kill, and that’s exactly what she got.


           Years have passed, and Shelby’s life had gotten worse. Her husband Clyde had been drinking again, causing Shelby to send her kids over to a friend’s house on Halloween.

           “Don’t think you can protect them from me forever, Shelby,” the cruel man chuckled. “You have no power over me.”

And with that, he slapped her so hard that she fell to the ground.

Once Clyde had finally passed out from all the alcohol, Shelby made her way to the back porch. She closed her eyes and sang:

“I sing to the sky to take me away.

I sing to make the monsters pay.

I sing so I can find a haven.

I sing to my savior, the White Raven.”

           It took her a couple of tries, but she finally managed to transition from her normal voice to the squawking and screeching. If this didn’t work, Clyde would beat her for causing a ruckus. Maybe the song could only work at the now closed White Raven Inn. This was a waste of time.

           Just as she turned around to go back inside, however, a raven landed right next to her. It seemed to be smiling up at her.

           



November 01, 2019 04:51

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