In My Lady's Chamber

As soon as Lydia sees Goose Green Farm, she knows something’s wrong. Why would John bring her to a derelict farmhouse miles from anywhere in the middle of the Yorkshire Moors? Refusing her pleas to go home, she can see that something is happening to him. As they enter the house, he seems possessed by a sinister presence that draws him to it and threatens his very existence. A terrified Lydia knows she will have to do whatever she can to rescue him from the clutches of a spirit who is hell-bent on revenge.

“It’ll take every penny just to fix the cracks in the walls.” Lydia drew her coat more closely around her as she surveyed the dilapidated farmhouse. All around her, the wind whipped across the moorland, scattering the few remaining leaves from an old, bent sycamore, sending them swirling into the air. High above them, the lonely cry of a curlew called, and the smell of approaching winter was everywhere.

“Goose Green Farm,” her husband John said slowly, as if trying to remember something. Lydia looked at him and frowned. Something was wrong. She couldn’t understand it. Everything had been fine, until…

“Oh come on,” Lydia said, “if we’re going to look at this place we might as well get on with it. Though why you would want to live in such a godforsaken spot I can’t imagine.”
“I love Yorkshire. I was born here.”

“Then what’s wrong with Leeds? At least people live there. Out here all you’ve got is the odd sheep for company.” Looking around her, she couldn’t even see one of those. There was no getting away from it. This was a seriously deserted farmhouse in the middle of a bleak moor that looked and felt as if it had stepped straight out of the pages of Wuthering Heights. At that moment, Lydia wished it would step right back in there, too.

She went to the front door now, but John hung back. Circling overhead, the curlew gave another plaintive cry. Her husband glanced up as if startled. Charcoal-colored clouds were massing, and a strange apprehension overtook her. This is crazy. It’s just a derelict old house. Get a grip.

“We can turn round and go back home, you know,” Lydia said, hoping he’d agree. “This isn’t for us. You’d have to be really dedicated to take this on. And you’d need to be a hermit, too.”

“Let’s go inside, Lydia. Please. I want to. Just for a minute.” He came up to her and entwined his fingers with hers. Damn him. He knew she could never resist him when he did that while looking at her in that special way, head slightly cocked on one side, a half-smile playing around his mouth.

“Oh, all right, then.” She gave his lips a quick kiss. “But just for a minute. I have a feeling it’s going to be rank in there.”

She guessed that the worm-eaten door had not been opened in months, or maybe years. It protested every attempt to move it with creaks and groans, like an old man who had been sitting in one position for too long. Finally, with his shoulder against it, John managed to open it wide enough for them to slide in.

“Bloody hell!” Lydia tried to take in the sight and stench that met her. Everywhere she looked, decay met her gaze. Piles of dead leaves, probably accumulated over a number of years, were scattered over grime-streaked carpets, and the smell of guano hung in the air.
 “Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse,” she said. “This is hopeless. Let’s go.” She was about to leave when one glance at John stopped her.

Transfixed by the steep staircase in front of him, he began to chant an old nursery rhyme. “Goosey goosey gander, where shall I wander? Upstairs, downstairs, and in my lady’s chamber.”

Lydia stared at him. “John? What is it? Why are you reciting that old thing?” Then, to her horror, he started toward the stairs. She tried to grab his arm, but he shrugged her off. “Where are you going? Don’t be crazy. That staircase isn’t safe!”

He seemed not to hear her as he continued upwards, ignoring the protesting creak of each tread.

“John!” Lydia followed, sure that at any moment her feet would go straight through the wood.

At the top, he turned to look down, his face ashen and his voice now a child-like parody of his usual baritone. “I met a man who wouldn’t say his prayers. So I took him by his left leg and threw him down the stairs.”

'In My Lady's Chamber' is published by Etopia Press and is available from them Etopia Press