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.Shadows Of Guta 1-19

Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 19) Insomnia

Stephen wonders if perhaps after that horrible night of his grandfather’s death, his grandmother could not bear to stay here in this area of Hungary alone. To Stephen that does not seem to be out of the ordinary, in fact he is asking himself that very question now. He wonders if he will be able to stay here even for just one night.

A resting sleep is not an option and he knows this. Unfortunately, it is not a result of travel or being in a new place, or in this case, a place that produced the most frightening moment of his life. Insomnia is something he has suffered with for years and nothing helps him relax or slow his mind from racing though images and words that come at him constantly.

Stephen walks back through the kitchen and unlocks the door that leads outside. The air is cold and biting and as the door swings shut with a squeak, he looks out at his surroundings. The bottom of his shoes make a tapping sound as he steps down onto the cold hard stones of the path that leads to the top of the hill.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 18) Introverted

Carefully folding the pages exactly as they were, Stephen stuffs the document back in the pocket of his jacket and walks over to the fireplace. On the mantel is an old wedding picture of his grandparents. It is brown and white and has aged well over the years in fact it looks exactly as he remembers it from fifteen years ago. He pulls it down and stares at the youthful faces recognizing his father’s features in both young adults.

It occurs to him that he cannot recall what happened to his grandmother, he does not remember a funeral or even an announcement that she passed. He cannot imagine that she would still be alive or that it would even be a possibility. She was very different from his grandfather, quiet, stern, not at all playful or loving.

Her persona did not resemble anything close to what one believes a grandmother to be. She seemed to keep to herself and not join in many conversations or appear to enjoy listening to others. He snickers at himself for this description sounds very much like his own silent and introverted self.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 17) Unaware

The main structure on the property is enormous with numerous bedrooms, a full library, and a massive glass conservatory large enough to place the small apartment building he has lived in for the past six years inside it. He is reading the details and measurements of his new possession but until daybreak, he is completely unaware of how magnificent the place truly is.

This building, where he is now, is what his father referred to as the gatehouse. It is significantly smaller in comparison to the large manor. It served as the core living structure for his aging grandparents because it is all on one level. Upkeep of the larger home would have been nearly impossible for two elderly people and they chose to retain what they owned by locking it up.

According to what he has learned of his deceased great-uncle, the man never set foot in the large house except to check for leaks or broken pipes and general maintenance. He hopes it is as sturdy and sound as the document says or he will have far more work cut out for him in the coming months. One thing he knows for sure is that he will not live here, in this particular dwelling known as the gatehouse, for his memories will not allow it.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 16) Warm

It is moments much like this when Stephen wishes he had his parents to guide him. Together and shortly after his eighteenth birthday, they were killed in an automobile accident. Due to what he witnessed in losing his grandfather as a child, he spent many hours in therapy and the demise of his parents in such a sudden manner only increased his torment.

Losing them demolished his sense of trust and love and took away the only people he felt close too. Most of all his mind wanderings imagined a far worse fate than what actually happened to them. In the darkness of his thoughts, he often wonders if accidents are just that, or if evilness played a role much like what took place here in this house so many years ago.

Walking back to the sitting room where the fireplace is warm and bright, Stephen pulls a folded document from the inner pocket of his jacket. It is the deed to the house and property, which includes forty-two acres of land and several out buildings.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 15) Emptiness

Quickly popping one of the small round pills in his mouth, Stephen swallows it dry. Stepping back, he glances down the hall to see that the candle has now burned out as the last puff of smoke flows upward and dissipates into the air.

The group of visitors tonight brought trays and bowls of food as is the usual protocol with most funerals. They did a good job of wrapping and storing the leftovers in the kitchen but several empty glasses and napkins are still sitting on the tables and mantel of the fireplace of the sitting area.

Finally moving from the spot in the room where his great-aunt left him, Stephen gathers the items and takes them to the kitchen. There is an intense quietness in the house, stillness, a surreal feeling of emptiness and it chills the damp air around him.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 14) He Fumbles

Holding his eyes closed tight, Stephen huddled down on the floor with his head buried in his arms as he tried to block this horrific event out. His grandmother began screaming and the laughter of the creature simply became too much as he yelled out in an attempt to overpower the volume. That was the last thing he remembered before blacking out.

Standing there now, in the same house where his grandfather died in a most disturbing way, Stephen’s anxiety level is at an extreme high. The rooms are dark and the dwelling quiet as he fumbles around in the pocket of his jacket.

Nervously, he pulls a small plastic bottle out of his pocket and due to his shaking hands, the pills are rattling around in the container. A quick chill creeps up his spine for this sound is very reminiscent of the gurgling breath emitted by the beast responsible for his grandfather’s demise.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 13) Quietly Seated

Stephen’s grandfather was gasping and screaming out in pain as this thing continued to attack without any concern to the group that has now gathered in the room. It was hopping around on the bed as if this were a child’s game. Stephens grandmother stood horrified with her hand covering her mouth as she looked from her husband to Stephen and back again.

Suddenly, after one final blow, his grandfather fell back on the bed, lifeless, no longer yelling out, no longer in pain, and no longer alive. As Stephen watched in horror, his father began CPR on the older man and the beast, now quietly seated on the bed, turned and looked Stephen in the eye. The most hideous evil smile Stephen had ever seen came across the monster’s bony distorted face.

Wrinkles and lines cut deep into its leathery skin and around its dark lifeless deep-set eyes. Its deformed arms and legs, bent up around its thin almost skeletal torso as it wiggled each finger on its oversized hands. The grin turned into a giggle and then laughter so loud Stephen had to cover his ears.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 12) Stood Witness

“No!” Stephen screamed as this creature continued to bludgeon the old man repeatedly with each blow harder than the last.

It jumped up in a standing position on the bed and laughed hysterically as it hammered down again on his grandfather’s now frail body. This thing was grinning and giggling with glee as it forced its hands downward.

Stephen’s father ran into the room practically jumping onto the evil beast but that is when young Stephen realized his father did not see it. He was not pulling the monster away or blocking its punches as it kept hitting the same spot on his grandfather’s chest over and over again.

Stephen recalls crying and pointing as he tried to explain what it is that he could see but as family members began congregating about the bed, it was clear that only he stood witness to what was truly happening.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 11) Chuckled

“Grandfather?” The young Stephen questioned as he stood in the doorway.

The elderly man stirred from the sound of his grandson’s voice and opened his eyes. He then turned and looked at Stephen with a loving smile. The creature on the bed chuckled as if finding this exchange to be funny as it pointed a long thin finger at the elder man.

The beast then glanced in Stephen’s direction as if looking to see if the young boy was laughing as well. What happened next is the most appalling part for the monster eased both of its arms high above its head, holding this position for several seconds as if waiting for a cue to move.

Suddenly, with great power, it thrusts its fists down on the old man with such force it jolted him nearly to a sitting position. A look of shock and terror crossed his grandfather’s face as the second blow from this beast hit him.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 10) This Thing

Stephen adored his grandfather dearly and he eagerly ran down the hallway but remembering what his father told him, he made sure he stopped just short of the door. He knew he should avoid frightening the man by bursting into the room so he hesitated before continuing.

As he slowly pushed the door open, he was stunned at what he saw. There on the bed, sitting hunched over and crooked next to his sleeping grandfather sat an old woman, or was it a man? Stephen could not tell and the longer he watched this creature the more he questioned if it was even human.

With its reddish tinted skin pulled tight around its pointy bones, this thing, whatever it was, did not seem to be bothered by Stephen’s watchful eye. It sat very still, almost statue like with arms crossed.  Gradually it bent over breathing in his grandfather’s face as it made a wheezing sound that started with a gurgle deep in its throat as if it were full of water.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 9) For A Rest

Just two days before their scheduled trip for home, Stephen’s grandfather suffered a massive heart attack. The family extended their stay until he was safely back at home and feeling better, but that very last night at his grandfather’s house was when it all went awry. Everyone had been there, just like tonight, attending a family and friends type of meeting to send Stephen and his parents off on a good note. They were also there to show Stephen’s grandfather support for a swift recovery from his recent bout of ill-health.

It was a nice evening of conversing and eating but very tiring as well. Stephen’s grandfather stood up from his chair near the fireplace, asked everyone to excuse him, and then made his way down the hall to the bedroom for a rest. The elderly man had been away from the others for almost two hours when the time had come for Stephen and his parents to say their goodbyes.

“It is about time for us to leave for the airport.” Stephen recalls his father saying. “Quietly, go down the hall and wake your grandfather so we can tell him goodbye. We will join you in a minute.”

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 8) Small Lamp

Gradually, Stephen turns and looks down the shadowy corridor at the dim light of the candle that is still burning and permeating the air with the scent of roses. He remembers his grandfather, who he felt such a connection to, lying there in the bed with only a small lamp lighting the room.

His grandfather seemed relaxed and calm that day as his health was on the mend. Even though there was much improvement, he did not want to overdo it and decided to lie down for a few minutes and rest. Stephen wonders, is this how his great-uncle passed? Was it in the same manner as his grandfather? These questions keep running through his mind repeatedly, as if this thought is a wheel stuck in a groove.

Stephen, with his father and mother, had come here for a visit several days prior. He recalls it was a thrilling week of sightseeing, visiting, and of devouring the most wonderfully delicious meal’s he ever tasted in his life. This is one of the vague memories Stephen has of his grandmother, that she was a fantastic cook. He recalls her being a very quite person, always off to the side watching, and she did not interact with the family much. In fact, his memories of her are almost nonexistent.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 7) One Moment

“I appreciate the offer to stay with you,” replies Stephen as he gives his great-aunt a hug. “I’ll give it a try here though, and if I can’t get the furnace going or the fire in the fireplace goes out, I may come running in your direction.” He grins.

His comment makes her laugh and with one last nod of understanding, she taps his cheek with her fingers. Stephen opens the door and the kind woman leaves him alone in the quiet house.

As the door swings shut, it is as if the house seals itself. A deafening silence pounds in Stephen’s ears as he continues to stand in the same spot without moving and almost without breathing. He thinks about the people who were just here, strangers to him, yet family on his father’s side.

He grew up in the United States and until today, had only been here in Hungary once and that one time changed his life forever. That one moment, in that dark room down the hall, in this very house, made his life hell.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 6) Remaining Heir

“Your great-uncle was a good man, you know that?” States the elderly woman, as she looks Stephen in the eye. “He had a good heart, just not a very strong one.” She looks down as she makes this reference to the heart attack that finally killed him. “He was a troubled man these past few weeks and endured much pain with his illness. It came on so fast, much like your grandfather’s illness, but we are getting older you know and when the time comes, it just comes.” She smiles but Stephen cannot get past what his great-aunt just said, “It came on so fast, much like your grandfather’s illness.”

“You are the only remaining heir. I found my way into the family by marriage, so I have no connection to it. Let’s not mention I am also too old to take on something new as well.” She grins as she looks up at the ceiling and walls. “It will take a lot of work to do what you hope to do with the manor and this gatehouse, but I believe you will get there.” She smiles as she holds firmly to his hand. “The open offer stands if you change your mind and decide this place is to dark for your enjoyment.” She gently kisses him on the cheek.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 5) Thankful

“I do not believe a bed is made up for you to even sleep here.” Waiting for his response, Stephen’s great-aunt pulls brown gloves out of her hard-shelled purse and slips them onto her wrinkled hands.

“I should be fine here and sleep is not a problem; I took a nap shortly before the funeral and with the time difference, I will probably be up most of the night.” Stephen states as he takes her gloved hand in his. He is thankful for all she has done to make him feel comfortable in this unfamiliar place.

What she does not realize is that Stephen rarely sleeps, not all night anyway. He has been like this most of his life and even more so after his ninth year. The day of his grandfathers passing and the funeral that followed are the clearest memories Stephen has of his childhood. In fact, no matter how hard he tries he cannot shake them from his mind.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 4) Like Spotlights

Stephen nods in understanding then squints his eyes as he looks around at the brightness of the lamps that to him are glaring like spotlights. One after another, the men and women in the room shake his hand and give him hugs as they state how very sorry they are for the loss of his great-uncle. After their goodbyes, they go out the main door into the cold air of night. His great-aunt is the last to approach him.

“Are you sure you won’t come and stay the night at my house? I am only an hour away and it has been many years since you were here last. I know you must be tired from your long trip.” The elderly woman looks up at him lovingly.

She is smartly dressed in a long light blue coat with a matching scarf, which she has wrapped around her head and neck for warmth. It reminds him of attire worn sixty years in the past and being unsure of her age, he wonders if she purchased it new. Looking at her features, he feels she must be well over eighty if not even a few years over ninety.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 3) She Pushes

“Istvan!” Stephen’s great-aunt yells from the other end of the hall.

Her voice is shrill yet somehow pleasant as she uses his name of origin. This sudden announcement of his name startles Stephen and he knows she must have seen him jump, much like a little child would if caught doing something they were not suppose to. He hears her heading in his direction as he begins to turn around.

“Istvan,” she repeats again as she reaches out in a soft manner rubbing her hand up and down on his arm in a motherly way. “Oh no,” she says shaking her head back and forth. “Stephen, I must get used to calling you Stephen.” She grins.

“Why don’t you come back to the room, there is nothing down here for you.” With her right hand, she pushes him slightly on his back and they walk down the hall toward the group of people who are now putting on their coats and gloves. “Everyone is getting ready to go home and they want to say goodbye.” She mutters as she leaves him standing alone near the front door.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 2) Dare Not Look

Glancing around at the individuals assembled here, Stephen looks at the many faces he has never known and slowly steps away from the loud conversations. He finds himself alone in the long dark hall and his eyes fixed on the burning flame of the candle. Taking long deliberate steps, he gradually approaches the deep stained wooden table where the candle sits.

The heavy fragrance of roses fill the space around him invoking his memory once again as he dare not look into the room on the right. The gloom from its shadowy doorway seems to grow even darker the more he attempts to avoid turning in that direction. His hands begin to tremble as he stares at his reflection in the tainted glass and his spine becomes stiff as the adrenaline in his body begins to spike.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 1) Should Not Be

It should not be a happy occasion; death usually brings about the most heartbreaking feelings in people. Yet today, there is laughter and a sense of relief to the friends and family members gathered here. After what Stephen’s great-uncle had been through, everyone was overjoyed in hearing of his passing.

The walls of this small house look dreary compared to their once warm and inviting color. The single candle at the end of the hall is burning bright as its unwavering light reflects in the dusty tattered mirror. The discoloration of age on the glass gives it an eerie appearance as if someone had once tried to scrub the reflection from it.

Stephen Pap has only been to this small town in Hungary once before and under the same circumstances but at that time, he was a boy of only nine years of age. Fifteen years have now passed but to him, the memories of that visit still haunt his thoughts and nightmares.

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