My Undead Maid
“You know you could always change your mind.”
Those were the last words Lysander Culfre’s mother had said to him when he was trying to say goodbye. The train ride from her house where he had been crashing for a year had only been an hour but to him it felt like a year.
Yes. Lysander had been trying to make it as a novelist and failing horrible. Though his first novel had done pretty well, the second book was not well received and his publisher had cut him loose from his contract before the third was even a quarter done. That was humiliating.
If it was not for his mother’s ardent belief I his talents and willingness to open up his old basement room again (after moving out all the boxes that had been put in there of course), he would have been on the street until he could land some sort of job.
“Don’t worry,” she had told Lysander after he showed up on her doorstep soaked from the thunderstorm that had been raging that day. His wet cat impression had added to the whole visual of his failure. “You’ll find your groove again!”
Find his groove. Lysander had not found his groove that entire time.
‘You could change your mind.’
The words came to him as Lysander was jolted by the taxi taking him to his destination. The concern in his mother’s voice. The abject fury of his father when he had heard that Grandfather had willed him the Whispering Pines Estate. His father, a successful executive for a financial institution had demanded Lysander immediately apply for one of the many entry level positions at his firm. Henry Culfre had been determined to keep his son from going.
Here he was.
“Just a few more minutes,” the taxi driver called out mistaking Lysander’s stare out the front window at the roving road buried between a forest of trees as impatience.
The young man did not answer. What was there to say? The tubby driver with a strong accent did not believe him the first few times he was told where Lysander wanted to go.
“Why the hell would you go there? No one goes there.”
“Come on, man. There are better places to go. There’s stories there that would scare the crap out of you.”
“Just take me.”
Stories? He had no idea what type of stories the man was talking about. Morgan Culfre, his grandfather , was pretty well known in the small city that his estate sat on the outskirts of. Lysander had actually visited a few times over his childhood before his father refused to see his own again.
Pulling the well worn envelope out of his jacket pocket, Lysander pulled out the letter from his grandfather again hoping this time out of the hundreds of other times he read it, things would actually make sense.
“Dear Grandson. I know this letter is going to come as a surprise since I’m dead. Beatrice is pretty slowly sometimes getting my mail out but she’s a good woman and tries her best.
Anyway, you’re probably wondering why, after all these years, that I have written you. It is because I am giving you Whispering Pines Estate.”
Lysander stopped reading for a second as the taxi made another turn hitting a few of the potholes that could have easily been missed. An entire estate to the grand child he did not see out of the others that visited him regularly. He continued to read.
“I know this is going to sound like a shock to you or some final joke. It’s not. My lawyer will be contacting you in a few days to get the deeds all signed. Don’t worry about the cost. Everything has been paid for in advance. I am also setting up a generous monthly allowance to help you out with this property but it does have some stipulations.
1. You must agree to live on the property for one year.
2. You must do your best to take care of the land and my tenants.
3. Listen to Charlotte. She is very important to me.
4. Always be kind.
Everything is paid for, taxes, salaries, you name it so that you can live there and pursue your dream of writing. It’s the least I can do to support you now that I am gone.
All I ask, no matter what, is that you be kind and understanding with what you find there. Nothing is ever as it seems. Your Grandfather…”
The bottom of the paper was signed with a fountain pen in a royal flurry that only a rich person would have ever done. Lysander knew that his grandfather was very rich and he dotted on his children. Why his own father refused it made know since to him.
“Alright, here you go.”
The taxi came to a screeching halt in front of what could only be described as a gash in the treeline. A blacktop road that seemed to have experienced better days weaved into the gloomy darkness.
“That way,” the taxi driver said pointing up the road. “You gotta walk the rest of the way to Whispering Pines. I’m not going anywhere near it.”
Lysander did not even try to argue with the man. The taxi driver never left the vehicle forcing the young man to pull out his own two bags and drag them to the side of the road. As soon as he was clear, the faded yellow cab screeched out and vanished around a turn.
‘Well, that’s great,’ Lysander thought to himself pushing his brown hair out of his eyes to see if he could even see the house.
The wind shifted sending a chill through him that seemed out of place. Lysander was not used to the mountains so the fact that the air felt like it was still going to snow in spring was a struggle to comprehend. He had thought that the jean jacket he wore was enough but the icy breeze cut through it with little resistance. A few specks of rain bounced and slid down his glasses.
Lysander must have looked like an idiot as he dragged his suitcases up the small road. The amount of times he had tripped over it made him had to be entertaining for anyone watching. The rain had started to fall in a misty shower fogging up his glasses and just making life miserable. When young Culfre had finally made it to the wrought iron gate mounted between to massive stone pillars, he almost ran into it.
The road continued a short ways towards a roundabout that also reached the steps of the house’s door. Only the glow of the orange lamps on each side of the oak door cut through the gray gloom of the clouds and the incoming storm.
Lysander looked down the left where the stone wall went and vanished in the woods and then down the otherside that was the same. It was the gray box mounted by the gate that finally gave the author some hope.
He pressed it.
Lysander debated if he should push it again when the box squawked loudly causing him to take a step back.
The echo voice that came out of it was a woman but it sounded colder than the rain he was standing in.
“Uh...I’m Lysander Culfre. My grandfather Henry Culfre said you’d be expecting me.”
The only sound that proved that the woman heard him was the click of the speaker turning off. The young man debated if he should try to climb the fence or just go back to the road and hope to hitchhike but before he could make his decision, a new, brighter light joined the two that beckoned to him.
In the darkening, gray sky, the light seemed to be floating towards him!