Written by Nick Nugent
An award winning short story
(Michael David Phinney Award - 1998)
Once upon a time there was a…no, no, no that’s not how this story goes, this story my friend is up to you to decide fact or fiction? It all started with a death. We open up in an attorney’s office. Inside we can see the attorney and another more melancholy individual. She is a brunette, a tall person with a slim figure in a more morose mood, for you see her name is Sara Victors and she has just inherited an estate from her great, great, great Grandmother who has just recently passed away.
This property is nestled in the small town of Nomed, Montana. I know what you’re thinking but let me explain. Montana has many a small town, and Nomed happens to be one of those, which doesn’t appear on the greater, flashier tourists maps. This property was not built upon an Indian burial ground, but rather a forest that existed in 1331.
The address is located at 7734 Slive St. As we return to the story, Sarah though grief stricken decided to view the property with her own eyes, properly named “Natas Estate”. When she arrived to the secluded location, she came to discover that she had hit the jackpot; Natas Estate was in short, a dream location. It had been designed to function as both a house as well as a mansion. The property had everything a mortal could ever wish for, from a hedge maze, to sparkling fountains, tennis courts, elegant architecture, everything that was awe inspiring and simply breathtaking could be found within its confines.
She didn’t have even so much as a second thought about moving in right away, so she quickly called up her friends for a “moving in” party. After a couple hours the party guests soon began to arrive. The first to arrive was Dave Strongarm, a former football player. Soon after arrived Diane Faulter, a lawyer as well as John Hartly and finally Kelly Christiano, a wife of the local pastor as well as myself, Christian Waters.
It was a breezy night on December 31st of 1997, New Years Eve. We all gathered into the living room for a toast to the new house. All of us found a seat upon the luxurious carpeting, near the fireplace with a glass in each hand, filled with the finest wine, smiles drawn upon all our faces gazing to the astounding layout of the Mansion. Its architectural design seemed to draw you into its dazzling arrays of carpentry, drapery, and other such fine aspects speckled throughout its many corridors and rooms.
As we were about to raise our glasses into a toast to the new house, there was a loud crash that came from the kitchen. Sarah dropped her glass and it shattered as it hit the floor. A shard of glass flew up and violently pricked her finger. I stayed to attend to her wound as the others swarmed from the room to investigate the source of the loud noise. After Sarah was taken care of, I too went into the kitchen. As I entered, a pile dishes came crashing to the floor, a black shadow darted out from behind the dishes. It was a black cat. Though startled we all breathed a sigh of relief and went back into the living room as the cat darted out the back door. The house was really cold and dusty, despite its alluring design it was clear that such an enticing establishment had been left uninhabited for quite some time.
John and I decided to go down to the basement and turn on the furnace. As we approached the basement I saw a faint glow coming from the inside of the spare bedroom (well being a mansion there were about one hundred spare bedrooms). I decided to check it out later. John and I soon found the furnace and lit it up. While I waited for him to finish I saw what appeared to be a rectangular separation within the floor. My curiosity got the best of me and I looked closer. It was very dusty so I wiped the dust away with my hand gingerly discovering it was a wooden trap door with a small plus shaped hole in a block of iron
There was also an inscription, but it was too dark to read and appeared to be inscribed backwards. I pulled the door but as I suspected it was locked. I asked John what he thought of the plus shaped hole was and he said, “It’s probably a lock, maybe it has a key or something.”
This aroused my interest. John was leaving the room and I had to follow, you see I don’t like being alone ever since I was trapped in a house during a raging fire and almost burnt alive. John and I joined the others and despite the lit furnace, the house was still cold. Sarah handed me her keys and asked me to go outside and retrieve her coat out of her car for her, I noticed that one of the keys was very old and had a cross-shaped cut in it. “Was this the key to the door?” I thought silently, “Better not tell anyone else about this.”
I asked Sarah where she received the key, she said, “It was given to me by my great, great, great, Grandmother, I have no idea what it is for.” I exited the house and headed for the car. As I descended the steps a bird flew by and scratched me across my face with its claws. I felt my face…blood. I looked into the car mirror and strangely enough saw nothing on my face, I felt my cheek once again, then looked at my fingers this time…nothing, not a scratch.
“Maybe I imagined it”, I thought to myself. I hurried back into the house and handed Sarah her coat, I took the ancient key off her key ring before handing her back her keys. Perhaps it was the wrong thing to do, taking her key without her knowledge, but I figured I could just as easily place it back when I was finished with it. Later when everyone was resting to stay up for New Year’s Eve, I crept down the stairs and headed for the basement. For some strange reason I wasn’t scared to be alone this time. I took the flashlight and shined it on the wooden trap door, then inserted the key into the lock. As I turned the key, the door erupted open with a burst of cold air, the furnace roared to life…then silence, dead silence.
I peered into the now open door…nothing but darkness. Suddenly I heard footsteps; I closed the door and threw the key under the furnace. It was only Dave, he asked, “What’cha doin down here?” I said to him in a faux calm voice, “Nothing, let’s go play some cards.” It was now 10:00 pm. Everyone was up and about. For the first time it was warm in the house, John said he needed to get something out of his car. Let me tell you what I now know happened to him that we could not see. John exited the house and headed for his car. A storm suddenly rolled in and lightning struck a tree sending a thick tree limb crashing down on our cars (they were all parked in a straight row, along side each other). He saw what happened and decided to head back to the house…as he was about two feet away from the door, a bolt of lightning struck him down. We opened the door and Diane and Kelly rushed to help him, “I yelled no! Don’t touch him!”
Knowing that an electrocuted person could pass on the current, I grabbed some rubber gloves and attended to him. He had no pulse and was fried to a crisp. I proceeded to perform CPR on him, but it was no use, 10,000 volts had abruptly claimed his life. I ran back into the house and headed for the phone, just as things couldn’t get any worse the phone was dead. Finally I said, “Were getting out of here.” Not realizing that the massive tree limb had just crushed our cars. The door blew shut and I couldn’t open it. I knew deep down in the pit of my stomach the cause of these tragic events unfolding…
I knew the awful truth that my curiosity had caused John his life. I needed to get that key and reseal the door otherwise it may cause someone else’s death. I asked Diane to follow me to the basement, after awhile she agreed. As we entered, the lights popped on, I wanted to run, but I knew I had to stay. I shined the flashlight over the wooden door again just out of reach of the lights above it.
Noticing once more that the inscription was written backwards, I asked Diane for her compact mirror and reflected over the text. It finally read, “Do not open this chamber door, for it is the key to your misery and he who breaks the sacred seal to this cell, must face all the powers of Hell.”
Gasping, I told Diane, “We need to get out of this mansion now!” The furnace roared to life, flames burst out of the iron-gate and burned my shirt, I batted them out and grabbed Diane’s hand then we ran down the hallway. As we ran, the windows slammed shut one after the other, in sync with our steps as we passed each room, dashing to get back to the others. I explained the whole truth to the remaining members of our party group and we decided to figure out a plan, just then the door flew open. Diane went into a panic and ran towards the door, I yelled, “No Diane it’s a trick!” It was too late…she was outside.
Feeling overconfident she yelled into the darkness of the night, “I beat you! What are you going to do about it?” Slowly we could only watch in horror as Diane’s feet slowly sank into the wet mud, like quicksand. I ran to save her but the door slammed shut again. Sadly we could only hear Diane’s screams for help go unanswered and then silence…dead silence. Kelly burst into tears, stood up and yelled, “Leave us alone you sick sonuvabitch!” A gust of wind picked her up off of her feet and threw her out the front window.
The time was now 11:50 pm. With only Dave, Sarah, and myself remaining we decided on a plan of escape. We headed up to the attic with a thick rope we found in one of the spare rooms. I knew that there were no windows in the attic, so there was nothing to keep us from escaping. We tied the rope to the inside of the attic and descended out a hole in the middle of the area, where a window intended to be placed was never completed. With a deep breath, looking to the dizzying heights below, Dave flung out the rope and it dangled down…our lifeline to freedom set before us as we each began to climb out the hole, and down towards the liberation below our feet.
I was about three feet from the middle of the rope with Sarah one foot from me and Dave six feet above me when I noticed a brilliant orange glow burst from where the basement was located, like a fiery serpent, a streak of flame from the furnace was coming up the stairs heading for the attic!
The flaming streak ripped through the hole in the attic wall and incinerated the rope. I fell and injured my leg, Sarah fell and broke her arm, and Dave…Dave fell from six feet and landed on his neck, killing him instantly. I looked at my watch, which read one minute to 12. Suddenly inside the mansion and from the ground a brilliant display of red, green, and blue light pierced the night sky.
The whole property started to move, then sucked itself into oblivion actually appearing to fold in on itself. There was a loud crash; a gnashing of wood, glass, and steel then suddenly a burst of light, then everything was gone at the very stroke of midnight. Not questioning what just happened, Sarah and I ran to the Police station. Of course they didn’t believe us. Well Sarah is in a maximum-security prison for manslaughter, and I am in a mental institution awaiting my “shock” therapy. They have said I am insane, that I’m really just denying the truth, but I know, I know the real truth behind Natas Estate, they claim it was never there, but not even shock therapy will purge what I know, and to see to it, I have written my accounts of the actions in that mansion on this bed sheet before me, so that you too will understand, you all will believe…
I discovered soon
after that the whole thing, the address, the date, and the mansion; rather
the whole town had a meaning (you figure it out). My last words to you
since it’s too late for me, are if you see something that is too good to
be true or irresistible to touch, think twice. Some things in life are
better left undisturbed.
Did you catch all
the subtle hints? If not read the story again and you will see the big
I will give you a hint: Why the dates 1331 to 1997?
Why New Year’s Eve?
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