Nathaniel Cambridge

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Haunted by terrible nightmares, Nathaniel Cambridge is struggling to figure out the meaning of the riddle they pose to him. Will he manage to make it out sane enough ? A horror Christmas story to suit everyone who doesn't mind getting chills down their spine.

For a few months, Nathaniel Cambridge had escaped his hideous nightmares of disfigured monsters haunting him in his sleep. Indeed, he might never fully understand the cause of these horrific entities seeking to destroy him, but it was all over and he was certainly relieved to know. Nathaniel Cambridge was a forty-five year old citizen of London, having a profession as a banker there. He worked for H&C Clemens, starting in the lower ranks and gradually gaining higher positions, eventually becoming superior to all other employees, except Mr. Clemens himself. He gained a lot of money, which he never misused, since he was a calm man able to hold himself back anytime he felt like spending too much. He had large bank deposits for rehabilitation purposes, trips, with his eight year old son, Wilfred. The family lived in a house in West London, because of the many commodities they were enjoying there. The mansion had two floors, an attic and a basement. They also had a housemaid, Marisa, of Serbian origin.

It was now 20 November 1825 when Nathaniel’s visions started again. He was terrified in the thought that they might sometime return to haunt him, even though they had ceased for a long time. He could not tell anyone about them. Who would believe him? And there were so many at stake. His job, his prestige, his family. They had already taken his wife away from him and he could hardly sustain his family alone. Long stories short, on the night of 20 December, he dreamt the same nightmare again

He is alone, with his business clothes, walking in  the darkness with only a lantern lit. He finds himself in a dark, humid mansion corridor with many doors leading to even more rooms, but none of them can be opened. At the end of the corridor, stands a little girl give or take the same age as his son. He slowly approaches shaking, while calling the girl out, but with no reply. When he is close enough to touch her, she turns around suddenly with threatening, black eyes, empty of feelings other than hate. At that point, the little girl whispers.

“You will learn more and escape, when you lose one of them.” Nathaniel could not understand what she meant, until he lost his wife. Then he wakes up sweating, walks on the first floor and takes some sleeping pills. After that he has no trouble sleeping, until the next day.

It was now clear that Nathaniel needed some sort of help. Either he was being slowly driven insane, or something really evil was after him. But why? Why him? Why now? There were so many questions, striving for an answer and he did not know who could provide him with one. But there was no reason to rest! He had to continue his life and he would come up with a solution for his nightmares later. After all, that is exactly what he was facing. Horrific nightmares.

He put his suit on, wrapped a scarf around his neck, quickly dressed his son, and after breakfast he hailed a carriage for his son and himself. After dropping his son off at school, he gave him a smile and proceeded to the company. In the carriage, he could think of nothing more other than his dream. He was terrified at the thought of facing his demons again. He had to find a solution fast so when he arrived at the company, he proceeded to his boss’s office, sat on the chair and told Mr. Clemens he needed a week off work, and he gladly gave him what he asked. He quickly returned to his mansion and informed Marisa that they would be moving in the countryside for a week, for Christmas vacation he said. Of course, only he knew the truth about their moving. He managed to find a small cottage in a village called Abingdon in Berkshire.

“That will do nicely!” He said. His next move was to pack his bags, as well as his son’s and inform Marisa to pack hers. When his son returned from school, they caught a train and they arrived at the small village by night. They hurried to settle in the cottage, so that they could begin vacationing and hopefully Nathaniel could escape his ghosts. As they walked from the train station to the cottage Nathaniel had rented the same morning, the villagers gave the group strange, inhospitable looks.

“That is one great way to greet newcomers, is it not?” Nathaniel said to Marisa.

“Yes, sir. It most certainly is!” Laughed Marisa back to her master.

They finally reached the cottage and a man standing there greeted them with surprisingly good manners. He introduced himself as Robert, and after some typical actions of respect, he kissed Marisa’s hand, messed Wilfred’s hair and shook hands with Nathaniel, he showed them around the house, and took care of their suitcases. Robert was an old man, capable however of serving the family’s needs and caring for them. He lived in a shack in the same field with the cottage. After putting Wilfred to sleep, Nathaniel unpacked his carefully placed suitcases and said goodnight to his maid, who seemed troubled for some reason. Marisa was young, with short hair and a very beautiful posture.

“So, goodnight Marisa.” Said Nathaniel, obviously tired of all the moving in one day.

“Goodnight sir.” Replied the maid, with an almost shaking voice.

“I reckon there is something out of the ordinary?” asked Nathaniel out of pure interest.

“Sir, why did we come here? I mean why here, why now?” asked Marisa, now crying. Nathaniel tried to comfort her, but to no avail. He claimed to have picked the place at random, but that did not convince Marisa. Finally, Nathaniel had no other solution but to tell everything to his maid, hoping for the best. After explaining the truth, or the truth Nathaniel was experiencing, she actually believed him. Nathaniel hugged his maid, and swept the tears off her face. Then, they all went to sleep. What a horrible night was to follow.

“But I did pick the village randomly! I have never even been here before!” whispered Nathaniel to himself as even he needed to believe the words coming out of his own mouth. As he looked out of the window in his bedroom, he could see the small village. There was a church, a small valley and a few mountains all around. The cottage used to be the governor’s house in the 16th century and that is why it was in such an elevated position, overlooking everything below. Other than the houses the townspeople lived in, there were public places, such as pubs and parks and a post office, next to the train station. The view is really wonderful, he thought. Wonderful, full of wonders! He could not wait to take his son and explore the village inch by inch. But that was not going to happen until morning came. He decided to work on his latest assignment, though he found it quite hard and soon abandoned the project. He fell to sleep, hoping for the best. As soon as he had closed his eyes however, he was sure he heard a strange noise from behind his bedroom door. Then it stopped. He got up silently, and opened his wardrobe. He put on the only clothing he had unpacked, which was his business clothing and as he was leaving the room, his eyes fell on the corner of it. There it was, the lantern from his dreams. He picked it up and examined it for a while. What did he expect to discover anyway?

“I guess all of them look identical. But this is my only light source. Could I have not seen it as I entered the room? Or was it recently placed there? And if so, by who?” wondered Nathaniel, adding  even more unanswered questions to the pile. He decided to follow the noise outside his door. He slowly opened the squeaky door, first getting his hand with the lantern out, then his foot, and then the rest of him followed as well. He noted something bizarre, however. The corridor was not the same anymore. The beautiful paintings had been removed and there was that dark color on the walls around him. Rust governed on the metallic surfaces and mold on the wooden ones. He cannot have been that wrong! This is not the same corridor as the one he walked before! Nevertheless, he decided to continue. As he went down the old, squeaky staircase he overheard a conversation of two people.

“He is here. We all knew he would come back at the age of forty-five, but none of us did something to prevent him! Now we are all in danger!” said the first voice, clearly a female one.

“Take it easy Abigail. Nothing is going to happen. I will take care of him and his family and after a week he will go back to London.” Said the second voice,  who was Robert. The cottage’s caretaker. Nathaniel could not believe his ears! How did they know him? What dangers were they talking about? He had never been to that village before! But the voices seemed to know about him, and how much more do they know that was not revealed? For a moment, he thought it would be wise to follow them. But then again, it would be wiser to play along, pretending not to know. He slowly went up the stairs, and was soon resting in his bed. The things he had heard would not leave his mind, not leave him alone. After some of his notorious sleeping pills, which had now become an addiction, he finally slept.

The next morning found Nathaniel troubled, but for the sake of his son and his sanity he let everything behind and did his best not to show how exhausted he was. After breakfast, Robert entered the dining room and greeted his guests. Nathaniel was surprised and shocked since he now knew who Robert really was. He tried not to show his amazement, he really tried! But how could he? As he was reliving the scenes he encountered the night before, hate started to take him over. He clutched his hand in a fist and stood up. His eyes now completely filled with hate and disgust because of the caretaker’s treachery! But what treachery? It is not like he knew him! He just met him for the very first time! Or did he? Something on the old man seemed so familiar, yet he did not recognize him. He stood up and approached the old man and while on the verge of hitting him, he stopped. He caught his breath for a short while, and kindly requested to see him in private. He smiled back at his son and his maid, and took the caretaker to the next room. The plan of going along was now not an option anymore and confessing seemed the only solution.

“I heard you last night old man. You were talking to some Abigail. Right in the middle of the mansion, on the bottom stair of the staircase leading up to our rooms!” said Nathaniel, calmly at the beginning and gathering momentum for an outburst in his final line.

“And at what time exactly would that be sir?” Robert replied calmly. As if he was not surprised at all.

“It must have been around midnight.” Nathaniel seemed quite unsure.

“In that case then, that is not possible! I was in the kitchen at that time, showing your maid around. I am sure she can vouch for that.” Robert denied his presence at the bottom of the staircase, leaving Nathaniel totally complicated. Then he went for the dining room. But before he left, the old man turned around and consulted his master to stop taking these pills and get a few more hours of sleep. That was it! How on earth could he know all these information! Nathaniel decided it was time to get some answers as soon as possible. The town would give them to him. He was sure about that. He prepared to leave, but he thought about Marisa. She could confirm the caretaker’s statement.

“Marisa, where were you at around midnight, last night?” Nathaniel thought of him as a young detective on his first case at the time. He felt quite excited!

“I was in the kitchen sir. Mr. Robert was showing me around.” Replied the maid.

“Fair enough. I am going to town for some business. I need you to take Wilfred anywhere you like, show him the countryside, just let him have his fun. I am sure you know what to do.” He did not like leaving his son alone, but it was the only option he had. He winked at his son, grabbed his tall hat and exited the building. His first move was to visit the post office to check on him mail, should there have been any. On the way, the townspeople looked strange back at him. Many parents with primitive superstitions locked their kids inside their residences in the sight of the newcomer. It turned out he had no new mails, but as he exited the post office he encountered the mysterious Abigail. Going all out would not be very beneficial so he followed her. The woman moved through the stoned streets with Nathaniel behind her. After a few turns she reached a dead end.

“I mean you no harm. My name is Nathaniel Cambridge and I merely seek some answers. What were you doing at my house last night?”

“You mean at my house. That house will always be mine. She told you to come here, and you did. Yes, you will find the answers you are looking for, but you will only escape when you lose one of them.” Replied the hideous woman, who grew even more familiar to Nathaniel.

“She did not tell me to come here! I picked the village randomly! I just wanted one week free of work with my son! Is that so troublesome?” Nathaniel almost cried. He was like a little boy again.

“Troublesome? Not at all my son! You just fulfill your destiny. On Christmas all will be over anyway, so worry not about it. However, you still must lose someone.” The woman had now softened her voice.

“I do not understand. Who else can I talk to? Who knows what is happening to me?”

“If I were you, I would go back to the house. Honestly, I do not trust Robert alone with your housemaid and son.” Then the woman entered a door next to her. Nathaniel was troubled once again, but now he had revealed some answers to some of his questions. The only thing he could do at the time was to hurry back at the house. He quickly followed the same way back to his temporary residence passing the post office and the church. It was not long before he showed up at the governor’s house, on top of the hill. He opened the heavy door in a hurry and rushed to search the house for his family. Nathaniel kept calling out for them, but received no reply at all. He suspected Robert was behind all of this and he assumed he could be found in his shack just behind the cottage. The atmosphere was heavier and darker already. It seemed as a malicious sign, but there was no other option left. As he was entering the caretaker’s shack, he noticed a gun on the table next to him. He picked it and hid it in his jacket, just in case. The building was empty however he came face to face with something that would shock him. All over the walls hanged pictures of him. The photos ranged from every age of his lineage. There were some from his childhood, others from his teenage years but even more of them were recent. Quite recent, in fact. He recognized all of them. He returned to his room to pack only the necessary, as well as his sons. In a totally empty house, there was no reason of staying anymore. As he was packing Wilfred’s things, he noticed a small object under his bed. He reached out to grab it but could not get it. After a few tries, another hand came out of the bed and gave it to him. He quickly stepped back in horror and was definitely right to do so, since the hand belonged to the little girl from his nightmares. After relaxing, he looked under the bet but there was nothing there. The small object was a toy horse. Similar to the one he had written his initials on, when his was very young.

“It would be really strange if it had my initials inscribed on it!” He thought. Yet, as he gave more thought into it, it seemed even more plausible. He turned it upside down, and there they were. N.C. He could not believe his eyes! He was certain this toy had burnt on the very same fire he lost his baby sister. His eight-year old sister. But that was long ago. It also happened in Cardiff, his father’s home not here in Abingdon, not in his mother’s house! What he realized then shocked him even more than everything before. How could he have forgotten? The governor’s house was his mother’s house! In Abingdon! He had not picked the place at random after all! But is it possible for one to erase so many memories from his mind? Especially when they are so crucial and recurring! After sitting on the corner of his bed, he put all that he knew together. It was now clear Abingdon was his mother’s village, and the governor’s house was his mother’s house. He could clearly remember one night from his childhood. It was midnight when he thought of going down to the living room to open his Christmas presents. It was dark, so he used a lantern he found nearby to light the darkness. He descended the staircase and opened his presents. He found the toy horse and inscribed his initials on it so he would never lose it. He forgot however, to close the lid of the lantern shut. Fire spread from the lantern to the Christmas tree and soon the entire mansion was on fire. His mother run to the kitchen door and escaped, without looking back. Nathaniel was merely twelve at the time. His father did not have time to react and before he could protect his family he was sealed off in his bedroom, where he perished. Nathaniel did try to save his sister, but to no avail. He climbed the stairs quickly and watched her behind her closed door. He could only hear her scream, but did not have the strength to bring the door down. He soon collapsed on the floor, but Robert took him by the hand and carried him to safety. Robert sent Nathaniel to London, for a fresh start and gave him precise instructions to forget everything. At the age of twelve a brain only receives order, and that is exactly what happened. It turned out that Robert was the family’s caretaker a long time now. He was not a stranger to Nathaniel at all. After all those revelations Nathaniel exited his room along with his lantern and his suitcase. The walls had once again turned moldy and rusty. He was not afraid this time. He approached the little girl steadily, with his head held high and was now determined to end it all. He looked at his watch which appeared to be broken. He wondered what could it be, but there was no way of getting an answer. Even the date seemed out of the ordinary. And it was. Even though Nathaniel, Wilfred and Marisa arrived at the house on the night of the 20th December, and on 21st he toured the town, it was clear that he was experiencing those illusions on Christmas day. He could feel it in the air. He did not know how that could be possible, but it was. He kept on walking towards the little girl. Once again in his business clothes, with only a lantern lit.

“You have discovered the truth and that is very good progress, brother. But this will end when  you lose one of them.” Whispered the little girl, now known to be his sister.

“I still do not understand one thing. What is so special about my age? Why did I have to be forty five in order for this to happen?”

“It was not you, it is your son. He had to be eight, just like me when you lost me. You just happened to coincide with this when you are forty five.” Answered his sister.

“I will not let anything happen to him. I am so sorry little sister.” Stated Nathaniel and walked away.

“No! I will not let you! You have to save me, set me free! All it takes is his sacrifice!” Screamed the little girl, her eyes again filled with hatred, empty of any other emotion.

Nathaniel had already descended the staircase when he decided that what was necessary was a sacrifice indeed. His own. He was determined to save his family even though it meant to destroy himself in the process. He opened the lantern and threw in on the Christmas tree. The fire spread once again and quickly consumed everything in its path. The little girl was now on the staircase disappointed but there was nothing she could do.

“I am sorry.” Whispered Nathaniel and collapsed next to the Christmas tree. It was not long before everything collapsed and the village took notice of the calamity. Wilfred and Marisa were playing in the woods next to the house. Soon, everything would be over.

He proceeded to his boss’s office, sat on the chair and as he was about to ask for a week off work, he said nothing. He asked however, for one day off and was gladly given his request. He hurried back to his house, hugged Marisa who was surprised by her master’s happiness and waited for his son to return from school. As soon as he did, they all gathered around a gigantic table and ate their supper. Days passed and it was now Christmas. Only one thought came to Nathaniel’s mind. He sent a letter to Abingdon, inviting Robert over to London to spend the holidays with his new family. The caretaker showed up the next day with tears running down his face.

“I am so sorry Nathaniel. I should not have done any of this! I am so sorry!” Then the caretaker burst into tears.

“It is all settled Robert. None of this was your fault. But I do have one question. Who was this Abigail?” Robert stopped crying and relaxed for a moment before answering. Then, after he had put all his thoughts together he readied a reply.

“Abigail, was your mother Nathaniel.” Nathaniel was shocked once again, even though he was safe now. He always thought his mother had deserted them. But he learnt by his savior, that it was her who informed him of the fire and he rushed out to save Nathaniel all these years ago. Meanwhile, she tried to break the cellar door open and get the fire hose out, but did not make it and was lost in the fire. After all these shocking discoveries, the turkey was ready and all of the newly formed family sat on the table to feast on the lovely foods Marisa had prepared. As they were eating, Robert asked for the foot of the turkey. He was gladly given it by Nathaniel and the old man choked to death soon after devouring it. By the time Nathaniel stood up to approach him, Robert was already long gone. Nathaniel fell to his knees and cried, but under the table he encountered once again, perhaps for the last time, the little girl.

“I told you, you would escape when you lose one of them. And it happened. We are both free now brother. Goodbye.” Whispered the little girl and vanished in thin air. All was over now, and Nathaniel could finally rest.

 

 

“It

 

 

 

 

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Submitted: March 17, 2016

© Copyright 2022 Sotos Ann. All rights reserved.

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