The Devil of Moravia: Dark deeds crave no audience

Candle flame

Image: Pixabay

A week or so ago, I posted Murder and Mischief: Aunty Gloria tells a story, where the heavy-smoking reprobate Aunt tells her neice, Fiona, the terrifying history of the family’s grandfather clock. Here, Lord Edmund Spencer – gambler, bankrupt and original owner of The Clock, takes up the story. 


He swallowed the last dregs of the wine. And as he reached for his pistol, there came a mighty hammering at the front door …

The night was filthy, rain pelting the casement hard as thrown pebbles.

My bloodstream burned with cheap claret and the flintlock hung heavy in my fist. Anger flashed, a lightning bolt firing in my chest.

‘Can a man not put an end to his life in peace?’ I bellowed.

A mighty clap of thunder crashed so close – so loud – the stopper rattled in the decanter as if a ghostly hand was reaching to drink. I thought to call for Meadows, but remembered we had rowed over money and he’d stormed into the night, cursing my blood, swearing never to return.

I was alone.

The hammering came again, so loud it was like a second thunderbolt. I thought to ignore it, to continue the wretched task I had set myself. But dark deeds crave no audience and I knew the visitor must be repelled before I could finish.

Pistol in hand, I snatched the candlestick from the table and staggered for the door.

I had grown up in Moorfield Manor, lived every happy day of my childhood there, but it seemed to my crazed mind that the shadows were thicker than I had ever seen them, that every board creaked and groaned as if they were the timbers of a barque torn and tossed on the cruel waves of some distant ocean. I fancied that in the soughing of the wind through the house, I heard the crew crying to God to save them, weeping for their mothers as water filled their boots and they were dragged down, down to dance amid the seaweed.

It was the rough wine, my disordered state that caused me to hear such dreadful things. But even being close to death as I felt myself to be, I was almost grateful to reach the door, to have the company of a fellow man.

The hall was cold, the wind crept through every gap in door and windowframe, so that when I placed the candle on the floor, the flame stretched and shrunk my shadow, contorting my dark half to a giant, then a dwarf, until I doubted my true size.

Sweat turned cold beneath my wig, making my skin creep as if flee-ridden.

I was afraid. Afraid of my own house. Of what lay beyond the veil for a man dying at his own hand. And suddenly, dreadfully afraid of what lay in the night.

Cursing myself for a coward, I turned the key and flung wide the door.

Rain and wind and cold, wet leaves pelted my face, stinging my eyes. I stood like a fool, spitting and coughing.

Then above the howl of the wind, a voice. It sounded neither male nor female, young nor old, but in it I heard those killing waves, the sound of feasting crows.

‘Lord Edmund Spencer,’ said the creature. ‘I have something for you.’

 


Written for W4W, a thread celebrating words, was started by the lovely Kat.

Today’s W4W has been brought to you by the word BARQUE. The name comes from the 15th C Middle French barque meaning small ship. Before the 18th century the term was used for any three-masted vessel with no definite category, but after that came to mean a square-rigged vessel with three to five masts and became one of the most common cargo carrying vessels of the 19th century – the container ship of its day.

Solar barques or barges were used in Ancient Egypt to transport the spirit of the Pharoah through the afterlife. One such wonderful survivor is the Khufu ship which may have transported the Pharoah along the Nile before being buried in a pit, ready for its ongoing voyage.

 

 

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28 thoughts on “The Devil of Moravia: Dark deeds crave no audience

  1. What fabulous spooky ambiance! Such wonderful imagery, such tense emotion — this is exactly what I’m struggling to do with my haunted house story, and you make it look so easy. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Joy, what a lovely thing to say (though wrong on many levels, of course, as what I’ve read of your story is super!) I’m glad it had some tension, though – a bit of a cliched ‘dark and stormy night’ but that was intentional, so that’s okay right? Thanks again

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! Love all that Gothic, creepy stuff. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill is good for that – 19th c set ghost story written only a few decades back. Really creepy, sleepless night stuff. I like the Edwardian ghost stories of M R James too – ‘Oh, whistle and I’ll come to you, my lad’ is his best I think. https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/j/james/mr/antiquary/chapter7.html.
        And The Signalman by Charles Dickens http://commapress.co.uk/resources/online-short-stories/the-signalman-charles-dickens .
        Ooh, you’ve sent me off now – love a ghost story 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ooh, Woman in Black’s good -and short, which is also good. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is short too and very unnerving, though dated of course with a very open ending – haunting or madness? I do enjoy a ghost story, can you tell? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. See now if you were my Goodreads friend, you’d know that I recently read “The Turn of the Screw” and reviewed it. 😉 Also, “This House is Haunted” and “The Haunting of Hill House”. Trying to get a better sense of those Gothic haunted house stories!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Ooh, what’s the Haunting of Hill House like? Always been tempted to red it but saw the film years ago and assumed the book would be TOO terrifying! Shirley Jackson is supposed to be terrific at scaring the pants off people! Yes, you’re right about Goodreads- I am on there (get discussion threads to my email I never read) Someone told me it was good for making connections but it feels like just another social media I don’t have time for. Do you find it helpful? How do you use it? x

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Well, go see my review on Goodreads. 😉 Like you, I’ve heard that Goodreads is good for making connections, but I mostly just post reviews and read my friends’ reviews. So far I haven’t found it super helpful, but it’s fun enough.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I will go on – promise 🙂 A YA blogger told me she thought it was good to connect with readers. But a lot of what I’ve seen on the YA forums are ‘The person below me’ type threads and blatant promotion, which would put me right off. It’s another place I think I’d need to spend time on to make it work. I will look at your reviews, though, Joy 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Oh, Joy! Really? What a huge compliment. I loved your story idea and love how you have so many ideas and layers in the same story, with the ghost story underlying it all. Lovely stuff 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You make this seem so effortless… Perfect language and setting, very gothic! It’s clear that you read a wide and diverse range of genres and writing styles and you are skilled enough to turn your hand to many of them very successfully.

    I am intrigued to know more, but I really do want Aunty Glo to return!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thank you so much! You are lovely. Yes, read a fair few Gothic novels – still drawn to dark mansions and spooky goings on, even though they’re a bit of a cliche. I was sad to leave Gloria behind – I’m sure I shall return to her, though. Fond of her already. Thanks for reading, pet 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Dany for you kind comment. I think taking part in a lot of flash fiction challenges helps the words flow and I do way too many really so have scribbled a lot. All the vert best with your stories 🙂

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    1. Thank you very much, Chris. I’m a bit of a sucker for the Gothic – cliched though it might be. Dark and stormy nights and candlelight – half your work’s doen for you 🙂 Thanks for reading

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ooh er, you’re certainly giving poor old Edward a tough time. I don’t know – maybe he deserves it, but I feel sorry for him. Maybe he should have ignored the bloke who was knocking at the door, and got the terrible deed over with.
    I hope you’re going to carry on with this side of the tale, as well as the story of the clock and Aunty Gloria. I want to know what the guy at the door wants with Ed.
    You may live to regret starting this. There’ll be no end to it 🙂
    That’s what comes of writing so exquisitely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, bless you Jane. Yes, I do wonder whether it was wise to start something like this – the pressure to continue and risk people just getting plain bored with reading a serial or leaving the story and feeling disappointed with myself. What a numpty I am! Never mind. I want to find out what happens to Edward too, so plough on I shall 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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