Monday, 17 November 2008

The Smell of Smoke

This is my output for our most recent english assignment. It was to describe a scenario involving a haunted house. Hope you enjoy it!

"I had always laughed at the idea of the supernatural and of ghosts and spirits. When people asked me what happened after one died I merely shrugged and replied; “You just suddenly become non-existent, I suppose.”, and never gave the matter further thought. But there was this incident on a dark night…….

My friends and I had organized a tour to one of the local hill resorts. This was our first long trip without our parents (“Something nice.” you would say!). It was fifteen minutes past seven in the evening when we finally headed home (Late, due to unforeseen circumstances completely out of our control.). We used a small but rather fast van loaned to us by the parents of one of those among our number. Chatting cheerily about our trip which we had thoroughly enjoyed, we hardly noticed the time passing until the car jolted to a grinding halt. “The fuel tank is empty” informed the driver calmly. I checked the time, 11:30. With a jolt, I realized that we had forgotten to transfer the two full canisters of the precious liquid to the boot of the car. There was nothing for it but to stop over for the night.

Looking around I saw that we had stopped right in front of the gate of a gigantic mansion. There were no lights at all coming from it. Closer inspection revealed that the gate was open. We decided to camp there for the night ignoring the advice of our superstitious driver. He said that a prosperous man and his family had once resided in that building. One day his most trusted servant had betrayed him. While his master was sleeping the servant in question had drenched the bedroom in kerosene and set fire to it. He had then grabbed whatever valuables he could get his hands on and escaped through the back door. As soon as they heard their masters screaming the other servants had rushed to the bedroom only to watch in horror as their masters and their children be burned alive. No one had lived in the house after that incident. “It is said that on the anniversary of their death one can still smell smoke and hear screams. And today is that day.” He added fearfully at the end. We stood there reluctant until one suddenly said “C’mon guys this is all nonsense. Something of the sort might have happened but do you honestly think ghosts exist, do you?” Ashamed of ourselves for momentarily believing this fairy tale (Or so we thought then.), we decided to camp out there any way.

Sitting around a cheery wood fire, we talked and talked. Inevitably the talk turned to the supposedly haunted house. An argument broke out and a dare was called to see who had the courage to go into the house at midnight, which was only ten minutes away. All stood up ready to go except me and one of my best friends. My friend never liked to risk his neck so his reaction was predictable. But every one was surprised at me. Upon their mocking enquiry I said “ Ermm.. Guys, it might seem a bit silly but I’ve got a strange sense of foreboding about this place and I am not going.” As I absolutely refused to come and so they began preparations. All of them carried flashlights and one produced his mobile phone and told me mockingly “You see we’ll capture everything on video and prove to you that all your so called “foreboding” is utter nonsense.” Switching on the useful night vision filter of the camera, they proceeded to the door. I established connection with his phone and connected the phone to my camcorder and used it to project the live stream on to a makeshift screen.

The leader of the group gave the door a slight push. The door didn’t budge. He pulled and the door opened smoothly. A front door that opens outwards? Very suspicious, I thought. Even more suspicious I thought than the fact that the door itself was open. They seemed oblivious of this oddity however. In the torch light they could see that beautiful tapestries and paintings adorned the walls. They stepped in. A sudden and unexplained gust of wind (Protected by trees I didn’t feel very much of the wind.) shut the door with a resounding slam. My heart skipped a beat. The projector display went black. Then the display started working again. My friend had obviously dropped his phone out of fright. “We’re all right!” he shouted to us “Just a gust of wind.” Obviously so, I thought but from where? They decided to worry about the door later and proceeded to this bedroom which according to the driver had the most magnificent door in the ground floor. It was reduced to ashes, however in the fire. As they reached the end of the ground floor corridor however my heart skipped another beat. There the door was apparently untouched exquisitely carved and ornate. Someone must have replaced it I thought to calm myself. But deep down I knew there was something wrong. My admirable friends seemed find nothing wrong with this either. This door however opened inwards. With the light of the many torches they carried I was able to see the bedroom quite well. The luxury the room afforded was stunning. There were two large four-poster beds curtained with a thin fine material of royal blue and delicate pink. The sheets looked as though they had gold sewn into them. Again something struck me. Weren’t all this burned down during the fire? And the walls looked as though they were newly painted. Surely burned walls don’t look this new. Even if someone had painted over it shouldn’t it at least look old if no one had lived in it after the incident? Stranger still who would bother to repair the damage if they never planned to live there?

My friend placed the phone on a bureau at the far end of the room facing the door and the entire room. “You see there is absolutely nothing to fear in here. In fact we could spend the night up here it looks quite comfy.” At that exact moment my watch beeped started beeping but it was not the only noise. The deep clang of a bell echoed across the yard from the house nearly making my companion jump out of his skin. His fear was understandable. The bell sounded twelve times and then the thirteenth came not from the bell but from the door to the bedroom in which my friends were standing which according to the video stream I was receiving had swung shut of its own accord. My admirable and brave friends (But this time I think it was showing bravery to the point of foolishness) still stubbornly attributed this to the wind. But I could see that some of them were on the verge of panicking. Suddenly one of the said in a deadly quiet voice “I’m not sure about all of you but I smell kerosene. Then a corner of the room started smoking.

That had done it! Inside the room pandemonium reigned. All dropped their flashlights in fright and they broke. The room was illuminated only by the glow of the mobile phone on the opposite end of the room. They all scrambled for the tightly shut door banging away at it still shouting boldly that it was all their imagination. Then came the most horrible stench of burning human flesh and screams shook the building. That was the final straw. The straw that broke the camel’s back! (Figuratively speaking.). In the pristine bedroom that once bedded the most prosperous man in the locality all hell broke loose. It was at this point that I saw what I think was the most horrible this I have ever seen in my entire life. Four figures of an extreme grotesqueness emerged from within the exquisite curtains surrounding the bed. They were skeletons presumably of the esteemed man and his family with blackened flesh hanging loosely from their limbs and faces.

I grabbed the camcorder, my mobile phone and my companion who was standing rooted to the spot and ran to our van and the driver who was dozing inside the van. On my request he opened the door. I deposited my friend in the van, and watched with horror as the figures closed in on them. My friends made another more desperate attack at the door, banging away as though their very lives depended upon it (Which of course it did!) and it finally gave way. I gave a sigh of relief. But it was not over yet. They still had the front door to deal with. I threw down the camcorder on an empty seat which now showed a room engulfed in flames and ran for the door by myself (the driver stubbornly remained in the car.) after having armed myself with a crowbar. The front door was still locked shut. I tried to hook it between the huge double doors but there was no a crack between them. In desperation I started whacking at the door with the crowbar when suddenly there was a huge bang from the other side. They must have reached the door! I thought. The door gave another great heave and screamed on its hinges and a crack opened up between the doors. I grabbed my opportunity and wedged the crowbar firmly between the doors. I used a rock to hammer it in and pulled with all my might. Our combined effort was enough. The door swung outwards and snapped cleanly off its hinges. My friends rushed out and scrambled for the car nearly trampling over me in the process. We rushed to the car and every one stuffed themselves into the safety in. I looked back and watched in wonder as the full moon suddenly revealed itself bathing the mansion in silver. It crumbled before our very eyes and within minutes had acquired an old run-down and ancient look.

The video file recorded by the camcorder was corrupted. All it showed was an inky impenetrable blackness. An inspection of the house the very next day did not prove anything either. The door was locked firmly shut and there was not a trace the previous day’s struggle. As to the horrific events that took place that day I don’t think anyone will ever find a satisfactory way to explain the supernatural things that happen in our beautiful yet mysterious world."
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