Monday, December 6, 2010

Grimmer Fairy Tales-- Part the Fourth

Catalena and the other three young women were escorted through the unkempt palace to their rooms by one of the palace guards. She examined her dusty, dark, and damp bedroom, her heart sinking as the guard turned the key in the lock, trapping her inside. The once regal bedding was torn as if some animal used it for a nest. At least she had a place to sleep. A chill swept through the room, freezing her to the bone as the bitter wind crept through every crack and crevice. If she was to survive the night, she must have something to stave off the cold since the guard had seen fit to leave her without even a simple candle. Dust billowed, rising like great plumes of smoke, as she tore down the heavy velvet curtains. Catalena wrapped the musty drapery snugly around her in the creaky bed, favoring preventing frostbite over cleanliness. Shadows danced eerily about the cavernous room, pale moonlight unable to penetrate the crushing darkness. She softly hummed her mother's lullaby, tricking her apprehensive mind into rest even as the odd noises of the castle roared in her ears. "Catalena," a hushed, raspy voice whispered. She jerked up in bed, searching the gloom for the source of the disembodied sound. "Who's there?" she demanded of the darkness. Instead of an answer, a spine tingling cackle slicked through the night, mocking her determination. "Run, Catalena. Leave tonight if you value your life," the rasping ghost warned. In spite of her coverings, Catalena shivered. She summoned all her courage and made a thorough search of the room, finally returning to the bed. She drew up her legs against her chest under the makeshift blankets, protecting herself against the cold and fear. There was no one else in the room with her and she had no idea where the continued groans and unnerving noises emanated from. "Stop it this instant. I am not leaving and I will not allow you to scare me, ghost or no ghost. Go away." Her firm directive was steady in spite of her dread. The ghostly noises did not obey. The shrieks, knocks, and raspy taunts continued ceaselessly until dawn. Catalena spent a sleepless first night in the castle, her sole companions the resident phantoms and her pounding heart.

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