Morton Hall

Peter Gray

There was a certain foreboding that evening, a foretokening chill to the autumn wind which streamed across the empty plains. A large tree loomed over me, its golden leaves waxed and faded away with nothing but a few droplets of rain weighing it down. There was a stillness to the air to, a quiet desolation which struck me to the core.

Still, he said that he would come.

The sky once blue had turned a stormy grey, shadowy and temper driven as it steadily eclipsed the last of the sun’s ray; in this tumultuous weather I found myself standing in the middle of Gothrow moors. It is a little less than a mile from the brooding mansion, which has been my place of captivity for many years. It was there that I met Avery, a handsome stable boy with light almond coloured eyes and a warm smile only for me. We are lovers. This of course is absolute secrecy, for I am ten years his senior, although in truth, that is the least of my worries.

Light specks of rain descended from the heaven, although it is wrong for me to consider such a place. You see, I have fallen. There were many others before Avery. There was the master of the house Calum Bryly, a most anxious man that wished to forget his wife, Elizabeth. Now my master is old and withered, wasted away, it is enough for me to forget those handsome features that enticed me for a time. There was his son too, Brendan, a tall, strapping sort of man with a large muscular build. They could never know my secret, or that Brendan’s sexual desires where very much like his father’s. They do say that blood is thicker than water. How very true in this case, and fortunately for both men they happily discovered that I am barren.

The cold gale flapped my outer garments outwards, sending my old withered coat to the sides of me. My hand not as soft and youthful as before, pushed down my bonnet. I could only pray that Avery will come soon. You see, there is a myth about this place, like so many other. Across the border, yes, upon the Highlands there is a myth about a large - a gigantic wolf that stalks the expansive lands belonging to these highlanders, and if alone you can easily become its prey. We have no such superstitions here, though I would argue that our fears are much darker.

The Bryly’s have always lived an unhappy life. Some might say there is a curse upon the land. I can very well believe it. Here in this isolated part of England, this expansive moorland with nothing but large grimy grey bricks hovering over it, lies my master’s house: Morton Hall.

The chill of the wind suddenly arrested my attention, as did the pursuing fog. I held my breath, and ignore that worrisome feeling at the bottom of my stomach. The pale moon struck itself across the darkened sky, illuminating my figure and casting a long shadow against the dry honey brown grass behind me. I could hear a sound- faint and ever perceptible. My gaze abruptly shifts to the direction of Morton Hall, a place that can only be seen in my mind’s eye. Through the fog there is a dim silhouette- a figure. I knew it was a man by the broad shoulders and slow moving gait. I stepped forward with some hesitation, wondering if it was my lover, Avery. I raise up a hand in welcome, and then waved it frantically to capture this man’s attention. To my horror, the tall, shadowy figure did not respond to my friendly wave, but continued to press forward at an alarming rate. It was only at that moment that I truly feared the sight of this tall, darkly figure.

My mind had suddenly reached a certain calamity; terror gripped me, for in the moonlight I could see a silver-sheen blade dimly reflecting against the heavy fog which surrounded this stranger- an unknown man that was bent on pursuing me.

“Avery?” I called out, hoping against hope that it was him. Had he found out the truth? The fact that there were other men before him, and even now I had not been entirely faithful. Or that despite my promises that were uttered in vain, I could never bear him a child? Is it possible that Avery finally realized I never had any intention of ever leaving this place, because a mere servant girl such as myself feared the consequences of running away from those two accursed men that lived and breathed in the depths of Morton Hall?

I screamed out Avery’s name into the impenetrable fog, before vainly stretching out a hand in good faith that it was truly him. “Is that you?”

The man’s steps quickened, hastening towards me. The low, heavy drone that sounded behind him alarmed me the most, a low grating noise which cut against the bitterly high grass at every step, separating it with such fluid motion that I knew it would soon perform the same action against me.

I was a fool, of course. Neither man nor woman can escape the grasp of the Bryly’s men, try as they might; it is known that anyone that steps across the large threshold of Morton Hall is inevitably fated to die upon their lands.

The silver blade lifted into the air, flickering in a matter of seconds until the axe was gripped heavily in front of the person’s chest. I shuddered at the sight of it, and found my feet moving backwards in utter fear. “Brendan?” I cried out. It could only be him, since Brendan was the most possessive of all three of my lovers. He had made it quite clear that he would never let me go. “Please,” I begged, only to stumble on a high patch of grass and fall backwards. In this lowly position I sighted blood, thickly oozing off the tip of the blade. “Please!” I screamed in absolute horror, as this man took his final steps with a great heaving axe at hand.

In the clear moonlight I recognized the slouchy grey cap and heavy overcoat at once, and knew the long black collar pointed upwards could only belong to my master.

“C-Calum? I asked with some distress, as my mind raked and raved with how a sickly old man could ever come out of his invalid fated bed.

The figure stopped. The large form hovered over me, and with their present advantage of stature and the brightness of the moon they could see all the world’s terror etched upon my face.

“Your master is dead,” replied the lone figure with a voice thickly riddled with something of hysterics, but I knew that aging voice all too well, for it belonged to none other but the mistress of Morton Hall.