Canterbury Hall was a ghastly place.
Tall and gaunt, it stood in the middle of a sea of mist above an island of thick black mud.
Its doors and windows were dirty and left uncleaned. The cold bricks were grey with slime. The red slates of the roof were disordered and thrown about by the wailing wind.
As if that wasn't bad enough, there were rumours. The rumours of the ghosts of Canterbury Hall.
Holly cautiously opened the door, torch in hand. The inside of the Hall was dusty and dark; spider's webs hang from the ceiling.
She flashed her torch through the darkness.
One sweep of the empty hall revealed nothing.
A second, just the same.
A third, and she could swear she saw something move by the window.
She tentatively tiptoed towards it.
The window was open. A light gust blew in, disturbing the long, draped curtains that brushed against the floor.
She relaxed. It was that she had seen; nothing more.
She made her way along the corridor, shining her torch ahead of her. The floorboards creaked under her every step, but still... nothing.
The door at the end of the corridor beckoned. It was ajar. She made her way towards it.
She pushed it open with trembling fingers. It creaked as it swung on its hinges.
There was a crash of thunder.
For a moment she thought she could see a figure; tall and thin and standing by the window, looking out into the darkness beyond...
Shadows danced before her eyes. Her breath caught in her throat.
The door slammed shut. She wheeled around. A pale hand reached out to touch her.
A slight breeze tickled the hairs on the back of her neck.
She was on the floor. Her torch lay beside her. Her arms were wrapped around her quivering knees.
She breathed in deeply. She was overreacting.
The scream hit her ears as she stood.
She looked towards the window. There it was; a pale figure, standing tall and with a horrific grin splayed out across its face...
She screamed. She ran. The door was gone.
The torch had left her hands long before.
She found herself in a room. It was different to the others; larger. The window was shut. She sighed.
A second scream. Shrill, it hit her ears and she winced.
It came from behind her.
She swivelled. There it was; a child, barely human.
A toothy grin was painted across its face.
Its body seemed to glow with unearthly light. She backed away, but it seemed to follow.
Her back brushed against the cold stone of the wall.
She shook her head, and looked back.
She shook her head again, and looked back.
She shook her head a third time, but still it was there; tucked up against the wall. It was pale and ghostly, but it was definitely there. She reached out a hand to touch it.
It was chained to the wall. Not a ghost, not a ghost at all... a child. She brushed its cheek. Its flesh was cold.
A third scream. This time it came from right in front of her.
The child was gone. Empty chains rattled as they fell.
Her legs carried her away as fast as the wind.
She looked back at Canterbury Hall. A scream followed her as she ran.
Every shadow was a face. The mud squelched between her toes as she shot through the mist.
It was dark. The sky was black and there were no stars.
She wheeled around. She was lost.
Then she saw it.
Sitting on the ground. Its smile shone through the darkness.
It stood. Its chains fell to the ground.
It reached out a hand.
She was lost.
She reached out.
Its flesh was cold.
She was sinking. The mud reached her neck.
But she was happy. A grin was painted on her face.
The last thing she remembered was its face. The grin of the Smiling Child of Canterbury Hall.
© Copyright 2017 Jegory. All rights reserved.
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