The Mansion in The Mountains
Story and Photo by Stella Brians
From the pocket of his jeans, he withdrew a small bundle of sage and a book of matches. Leon lit the sage, and let it smolder and smoke while he raised it and began to smudge himself with it as an act of purification. Eloise and Vincent followed behind him at a distance while he let the smoke cleanse every room in the house. He climbed up the stairs with both care and bravery, fully aware of the dangers when they reached the top.
“What does this do?” Vincent whispered to Eloise, but it was Leon who answered.
“This purifies the house of all evil, negativity, anxiety, and sadness. Not only ill intended human activity, but spirit as well.”
Although Vincent did not fully understand, he decided to give it this theory the benefit of the doubt.
“You have a very beautiful house, and classically furnished.” Leon told him as they passed through one of the drawing rooms and went up yet another floor.
The rest of the way up was complete silence amongst the three of them. For Leon, it was about staying composed and brave for the other two who were terrified. It had occurred to him that whoever was up there could shoot or stab them, and in his back pocket he carried a gun of his own. Eloise had been surprised at first, she would never imagine him having a gun. What he had explained to her was, “I found you finally, and it is a gift to just be with you. I don’t want to chance anything.”
He found himself staring up the ladder, into the hole in the wall that housed the whole bizarre thing. Leon smelled the bodies of the children, could see the red walls. They all heard voices, and Leon knew that it was best not to surprise them as it could invite violence.
“We would like to speak with whoever is in the attic.” He stated simply.
The voices whispered now, talking together and thinking about what they were going to say. One person was hushing another, and there were men’s voices, no women.
“Please, if we could speak to you.”
“Get out!!” the voice sounded inhuman and seemed to rumble the entire mansion.
“You have trespassed into my home, my property, my life. I’m going up there myself!” Vincent declared, his thin arms grabbing either side of the ladder.
“We have to go with him.” Eloise whispered to Leon.
The three of them climbed into the attic to find no one but the bodies of the dead, and an open window which sunlight poured through. The ugly makeshift cathedral remained with its mismatched chairs and stained glass, as did the stolen preacher’s podium. The murals had begun to peel from the walls with age, and when the three friends looked back the bodies on the floor were only skeletons.
Vincent’s eyes widened with confusion, but it was Leon who put a hand on his shoulder.
“I think that in some way, the three of us have ventured into times that have crossed paths. What I mean is, that we have traveled between different time periods unbeknownst to us, however seamlessly. I worked in the past it would seem, for I worked at the health food store owned by the cult that practiced in your attic. All of that happened before you moved in, which was why you never heard the telephone ringing or the voices up here before. All three of us have been involved in a time and space accident, nothing more. I cannot say why it has occurred, but what I will tell you is that we are offering to take you with us so you do not have to live here alone anymore.” explained Leon.
To Vincent, Leon’s face exhibited pure kindness, void of personal motivation or deceit, an expression he had only seen in one other person–Eloise.
Leon watched out the window beyond Vincent while he felt what his new friend had felt for some time while living here; a bittersweet happiness and fascination with living on his own away from his oppressive showbiz parents. Vincent wanted peace and meaning, far away from consumerism and personal rot that was becoming the American dream. He feared having his freedom taken away and having to live by someone else’s agenda, he was afraid but…
“How do you know about the telephone, how is it that you know and understand everything when I haven’t had time to tell anyone?” Vincent asked quietly.
“I have an ability, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but you are quite clear to me. I see and feel what you have.” Leon answered, watching the sway of the trees outside.
“Think about it Vincent, don’t tell us now but in a few days’ time.” Eloise said gently, hugging her friend ready to depart. Leon watched them, glad that the two had forged such a strong friendship, and deeply appreciative for the care Vincent had shown her. He was only sorry that Vincent had fallen in love with her, because Leon would always belong to Eloise. Still, he wanted to be friends with Vincent as Eloise was and to take him back to the retreat where he would be happy, but he had to come on his own accord.