Friday, 19 June 2015

The Cottage in Melody Lane

Captain Damnation and other strange Tales | Fiction: Short stories
by Harry Riley


...We scoured the ‘houses for sale’ market, and spotted a glorious bargain in the village of Lower Crutchley, a period cottage, set in an acre of garden with unspoilt views over open countryside, plenty of room for Jimmy to play in safety.

The purchase went through like a dream and I asked the estate agent “how come it is so cheap?” He replied that the previous owner had died; the new owners had no wish to keep it, and wanted a quick sale.
Our new dwelling was really old, having been originally built two centuries earlier.
It was all ancient twisted beams and quaint doorways with an ingle-nook fireplace, the sort of cottage we’d dreamed about, but never expected to own.
After the excitement of moving in, we settled down to explore the house and garden properly and to plan the changes we would make.
We’d been living there for about three weeks and I had just returned home after a gruelling session at the studios. I was whacked and had taken the train home in a rush to be back with my family, without bothering to change out of my television character clothes, I was dressed as a vicar, complete with dog collar and black frock cloak.
I never gave this garb a second thought, as it was normal for me to spend many hours of my working day dressed in character. (See my earlier comment about being too lazy to change out of my working attire.)
As I sauntered up the drive, gleefully anticipating my welcome home, I felt a strangeness in the air. Something I’d never noticed before.
However I shrugged it off, I was tired, and of course my welcome was just as expected, nothing was wrong.
I made Jane laugh as I explained how my churchman’s gear had created quite a bit of interest in the village, as I alighted from the train. Several people had doffed their hats to me, and I returned their compliments with my interpretation of a blessing as I passed them by.
That night it all started. We had gone to bed early and were enjoying the noisy silence, which you only hear in the country. The house was settling down and the ancient timbers were creaking madly as the heat of the day departed.
We had drifted off to sleep and been in bed for about an hour when we both awoke suddenly and sat bolt upright. The room lights, which had been switched off, were back on again, all by themselves! We looked at one another, and as we did so, the lights again went out.
We hardly spoke it was so strange. Then Jane said,” Did you hear that?”
A muffled thumping sound was coming from the wall behind the bed, as if someone or something was trying to force their way into the room.
It was a solid outer wall of the building.
Then Jane sat up and complained of a hand that was pushing into her back, through the pillows…