Monday, the 2nd of October, 1922. I sit by the fire, warming my feet. My long black hair pulled back from my face in a loose braid. A letter arrived in the post. San jose, California.
It is a strange envelope. Covered in black lace and a blood red wax to close. I don't find a return address. How odd.
Cautiously, I open the envelope to find a letter written in black ink on red paper. It smelled of roses.
"Dear Evelyn..." The letter began, "I write to inform you of the passing of your great grandmother, Sarah Winchester. I understand that due to circumstances, you never knew her.
But, I have some matters I would like to discuss with you about her affairs. Please meet me on the 31st of October in San Jose. I have arranged a room for you at the Rose Garden Inn.
I hope to make your acquaintance soon. Best regards, Jonathan Lindley."
My great grandmother? I paced the room, trying to make sense of the letter in front of me. You see, I was adopted by a loving couple at an early age.
My grandparents had disapproved of my parents marriage; rejecting them after I was born out of wedlock. Then when I was 4, my parents died during the yellow fever epidemic.
I was adopted by a wonderful couple in Oregon. They had wanted a child for many years. But, it just wasn't in the cards for them. So they sought out to adopt an orphan.
When my adopters learned about the tragic circumstances that led me to my orphanage, they immediately sent a carriage.
My new loving parents, George and Bessie, have granted me with a rich but humble life. George, a man who stands tall with a long face and dark hair, owns a watch repair shop.
He has quite the talent in fixing time pieces and is well known throughout Oregon state.
Bessie, a thin, blonde woman with a kind and gentle heart, loves spending her time at the stables with her horse, Lucky.
I suddenly hear a reverberate voice, "GO!" I turn to find nothing but the shadow from the fire dancing across the walls.
As I return my focus to the letter, I notice a small parchment on the floor. An unearthly chill runs through my spine just as my fingers grasp the paper.
I read the words written in blood red ink: "You must listen. For the voices will not stop."
Monday, October 30th, 1922. I arrive in San Jose by mid morning. The Rose Garden Inn -- located in the center of town -- is encompassed by Roses.
Once my room is established, I decide to take a stroll through the town square. After a while, I spot a beautiful tea house. "Rose Tea Emporium" says the sign on the door.
I notice my dry mouth and decide to take a short break. The bell above the door jingles as I enter.
An elderly gentleman escorts me to a table in the center of the room. Natural light illuminates the strategically placed roses on the table.
"Good morning miss." Comes a voice from my left. I turn to see a young man; blonde, tall and a bit sheepish.
"May I offer you some tea, miss?." He asks while holding a tea pot painted with roses. I scoff, of course...more roses.
"Yes, please." I look around the room; roses cover the walls and the ceiling. I turn to the young man, whose name tag reads "Charles",
"What exactly is the fascination with the roses, may I ask?" He lowers his head as he returns the tea pot back to the trolley, "To cover up the smell of death, miss."
I furrow my brow, "I'm sorry? I don't quite understand."
I watch as the color drains from the young man's face,
"The house at the top of the hill, miss. It smells of death. The old crone who owned it, just passed away. The smell has been rather persistent since her passing."
He paused to offer me a danish from the cart, "She was an odd woman; always working on new building plans for that house." Refusing the pastry I ask, "What was the woman's name, Charles?"
I sip my tea and choke as he answers, "Sarah Winchester, miss."
Tuesday, October 31st, 1922. I find Mr. Lindley awaiting with a carriage, "Evelyn, I presume?" He asks as he opens the door and assists me on the small step.
"Yes, sir. You must be Mr. Lindley." I respond as I take my seat. "May I ask, how did you find me?"
He closes the door behind him and sits opposite me, "Your great grandmother talked about your family often.
She never got to meet you, but wanted to make sure you were taken care of when she passed on."
Mr. Lindley opens his briefcase and pulls out the last will and testament of Sarah Winchester,
"To my great granddaughter, Evelyn," he reads as the carriage lurches forward, "I leave my estate and my fortune. I wish for you to pick up where I've left off with the building plans.
Once you are inside you will know what to do."
Inside? A look of bewilderment crosses my face. Does she mean the house?
Next, he retrieves a letter from his pocket. He reads as the carriage bounces along the cobblestone road,
"Dear Evelyn, I am sorry that we never got the chance to meet. But, I would like for you to continue in my place. They will tell you what to do. You must listen.
Please, don't ignore them or run. You must stay."
The familiar words ring in my ears. I can see the parchment clear in my mind, "You must listen. For the voices will not stop."
Suddenly, the carriage stops in front of a large, misshapen house. Mr. Lindley hands me a beautiful and intricate brass skeleton key, "I am not allowed inside miss Evelyn. Only you."
He slides a trade card out of his pocket and hands it to me before closing the carriage door, "If there is anything you need, please don't hesitate to contact me at any time."
I stare at the large house as the sound of horse hooves pull the carriage away.
In the foyer, I find a vase of dead roses atop a small glass table. A large red brief case sits adjacent. I approach the table and open it-- my stomach in knots.
I find the contents of the case haunting. Blueprints to rooms that either no longer exist, or ones that Sarah was planning on building. A little black book lists dates and names of workmen.
Oddly, all workers were terminated before they completed a month of labor.
I thoroughly examine the blueprints. Why did she build staircases to...
nowhere? Why did the inside walls have windows? She built doors to the exterior of the house on the upper levels -- but, you would fall to your death if you were not careful.
More so, doors that open to nothing but a brick wall. In essence, it became a maze the more she altered the plans. I stood in the foyer, trying to figure out what I was doing there.
That's when I heard it -- and I finally understood.
It was like a scream from across the room, but a faint whisper in my ear simultaneously. I shudder as it speaks. I reactively turn, trying to find where it is coming from.
A voice that I can only imagine was the disembodied one of my great grandmother. I can feel my body quiver as fear engulfs me. Everything is clear now.
"Build... or they will come for you."
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