By Anita Marie Moscoso
THESE STORIES WERE WRITTEN FOR THE RIVERSLEIGH PROJECT BETWEEN JANUARY 2006 AND MARCH 2006
TO SEE HOW I CREATED MY “RIVERSLEIGH”
MIDNIGHT CONVERSATION IN RIVERSLEIGH
There’s something buried in the Gardener’s Shed and why would someone bury something that wasn’t dead yet?
The thing in the shed isn’t buried very deep, so if you were to crawl over the dead fall in front of the door and were able to push your way through he matted cobwebs and you didn’t mind the smell of rotting leaves and small unburied creatures you’d see there under the window a slightly raised mound of earth.
Were you to look at the raised mound long enough and the light somehow managed to find it’s way through the little panes of glass covered with dust and dirt you’d think someone was lying there on their side with one arm cradling their cheek and the other laying comfortably on their side.
If you brought a flashlight and the beam was bright you might think you could see something wrong with the entire left side of the sleeping figure’s face. You might think that maybe that the face was gone, smashed in by something like that shovel in the corner.
Isn’t that right?
They might wonder what you were doing back there in a rotting shed behind the Manor House in the dead of Night, they might see you take the shovel and try to smooth and pound that little raised mound of Earth flat.
That’s what they’d see wouldn’t they?
So I must ask you again, why would you bury something that is not dead yet? Go ahead you can tell me. Just keep your hands were I can see them.
MADNESS AT RIVERSLEIGH MANOR HOUSE
Do you know what’s buried under Riversleigh Manor? Do you know why it gets so dark there at night even when the lights are on and blazing?All you have to do is follow the shadows.
At nightfall the shadows break away from the corners and come from under the beds and out of the closets and they creep and crawl and hiss along the cold hardwood floors. They pass over sleeping faces and pull at hands and feet silly enough to stray from under heavy blankets and quilts sewn by women dead for over a hundred years.
They search the attics and basements and linger over places like the front hall where Mrs. Undercroft was found dead and cold with small purple flowers clutched in one hand and more of them falling from her lips.
They pass quietly over the desk where Mr Undercroft took the life of his daughter Elizabeth. He crushed the back of her skull with a small stone gargoyle carved from marble and he held it against her wound as it fed.
Then the shadows move to the attics where Mrs. Undercroft’s daughter Bedelia was kept. The darkness liked Bedelia Undercroft and spent hours with her as she gave reading and math and music lessons to children born from Bedelia’s insane and unstable mind.
There were no children with Bedelia in that room.
That’s what the residents of Riversleigh would say; there were no children up there with Bedelia.
They’d cover their ears and chant over and over “ there are no children up there, there are no children up there”. They said that louder when they heard the laughing and chuckling and small voices dutifully repeating Bedelia’s lessons.
Bedelia gave art lessons to her Phantom school children and their dark and twisted images of screaming faces and twisted bodies with to many or not enough limbs were tacked to the walls under little green tiles decorated with the alphabet and ducks.
But the darkness knew those little students that attended Bedelia’s classes, and it was the darkness that took the students away when their lessons were done. Even the Manor’s soon to be gardener Mr Erasmus Undercroft (at the time he was simply known as Uncle Erasmus) would stop by and watch Bedelia teach her little pupils about bones and hearts and curses and poisons and fear.
Mr Erasmus Undercroft who took lives and souls for the pure pleasure of the act (and he knew several dark acts) was stunned and humbled by the wealth of knowledge Miss Bedelia had at her fingertips.
And then one day after giving a long and difficult lesson in something Bedelia called
Sin Eating the carpet under her feet began to buckle and twist and she was pulled down through floors and then the ceilings over and over again until she reached the foundation of Riversleigh.
“ Bedelia, Bedelia teach me what you know,” something said into her ear.
Bedelia couldn’t really answer because her mouth was full of sour dark earth. But she opened her mouth and from the back of her throat she hissed, “ yesss… I’d love too.”
And she taught Riversleigh everything she knew.
She hasn’t stopped teaching Riversleigh and she never will.
So now you know what’s buried under Riversleigh and that’s why it’s so dark there no matter how many lights are blazing.
Aren’t you glad you asked?
TEA TIME AT RIVERSLEIGH
Riversleigh Manor isn’t just a house and it isn’t named for the River that runs below it that dried up and died years ago.
It was named for a family called Riversleigh.
The person who know this story best is named Acantha Deverell
and she takes her tea at Riversleigh Manor by Moonlight. If you’re really curious about Riversleigh and most of the guests here are you could join her and ask her about the Riversleigh Family.
Acantha is always dressed in black and she sits alone in the library
every night as she sips her hot poisonous drink and nibbles on her deadly dessert and admires the little fine bone china cup crafted by her own hand at her Father’s request.
The request came one dark winter many years ago on the night Mr Riversleigh rode out to Deverell Hall and demanded to see Mr Albido Deverell.
Mr Riversleigh stood in the Great Hall and called out over and over again until Albido appeared right behind him where he was warming his hands over a cold dark fire in the massive marble fireplace.
“ Mr Riversleigh what on earth would bring you out on night like this? What am I saying? What on Earth could get you to leave the Manor at all?”
Faxon Riversleigh could barely speak, “ you know why I’m here and I want you to do something about it. That new Sheriff from that town down the river in Duwamish Bay, she’s the reason I’m here. She knows about us and she’s coming for us all.”
Albido Deverell smiled, and Faxon backed up and away from those jagged pointed teeth “ she’s from the Sawajinn Family and my friend there is no getting away from them. Not for people like us. “
“ I don’t care what family she’s from, get rid of her.”
“ And why should I bring the Law and the Warden of Sawajinn into my house Riversleigh when you’re the one with the bodies. My heavens man they’re in the walls and below the floorboards and the River…how on Earth did you manage to kill that?”
“ I did it for you Deverell, I fed you and this nest of creatures you have as a family. “
“ And in return Riversleigh…oh the things you’ve received in return have you forgotten them? You handed me flesh and bone and in return
I handed you gold and jewels and art and immortality Riversleigh. Don’t forget that my friend… the immortality. Nothing can kill you, you and yours will never die.”
“ Oh thank you so much for that, my insane children, my wife has
turned into a living corpse that spends her time in the catacombs
below my home thanks you so much for that. “
“ You’re welcome. I’ve always liked Elizabeth.”
Riversleigh would have liked to twist Deverell’s head right off of his shoulders and he would have if he thought it would have made a difference.
“ The Warden only comes for things that bring attention to Duwamish Bay. She’s ready to take us all to Sawajinn and I have to say, I’m not anxious to go back there. So I’ve made a deal of sorts with her” Deverell sounded very pleased with himself.
“ With the Warden?”
Deverell wasn’t smiling now “ a most unpleasant creature to deal with. She was no sport at all. We’ve come to an arrangement.”
“ What’s going to happen to us? “
“ She wants assurance that you and your family never leave Riversleigh. If I can keep my end of the bargain she won’t take me back to Sawajinn. That foul beast assured me she would take me back piece by piece and to prove her point she killed my wives and staff right in front of me.” Deverell actually choked up and cried out in agony “Do you have any idea Riversleigh how hard it is to find good help now days? “
Riversleigh knew it was pointless to yell or run or beg so he just asked, “ are you going to kill us Deverell?”
“ The deal Riversleigh is to keep you in your house and I think I’ve found a way to do that, in fact I’ve started already.”
There was a mound of ash at least four feet high in the massive stone fireplace and Riversleigh saw scattered around the fireplace lttle gold and silver buttons and small bits of bone.
“ My daughter Acantha is a talented artist Riversleigh and she’s been away learning a new craft. I must say I found it a bit unappetizing but we do what we can to support those we love. Don’t we? She’s learned to make something called Bone China. Have you heard of it?”
Riversleigh shook his head and the floor dropped from beneath his feet.
“Go down to the basement where she works Riversleigh I think you’re going to be amazed at what you can create from a little ash and sand.”
Three months later Acantha brought a set of beautiful bone china teacups and a lovely teapot to Riversleigh Manor. Mrs. Clark, the housekeeper, allowed Acantha into the Manor and she watched as the young woman carefully set the table for tea.
“ It’s a shame Mrs. Riversleigh isn’t here to see this lovely setting. I don’t know where the family is. You know how they are Miss. The Riversleighs have always said they’d never leave this place.”
The delicate cups sat in a ring around the teapot and Mrs. Clark saw that there was one for each member of the family. They were painted with small purple flowers and little raised bumps that looked like eyes rimmed the saucers.
They were strange little things but all the same the Housekeeper felt her hands twitch and she was about to reach for one of the cups when she thought she heard Mrs. Riversleigh calling out to her. Or could it have been one of the girls? How faint and at the same time how close their voices sounded!
Then the sounds were gone.
Acantha brought one of the little cups to her cheek and smiled “ They’re closer then you think Mrs. Clark. Would you care to join us for tea? “