Shadows Of Guta 120-139

Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 139) Balcony

“I guess I could set these rooms up as suites and charge a pretty price for them.” Stephen remarks as he thinks about his plans to turn the manor into a grand hotel resort.

Slowly he walks along the hall to the front of the structure where there are four rooms. He remembers counting the balconies of the second and third floors when he was leaving for the evening just hours ago.

“Yeah, I’ve got to see the view from up here.” He says as he opens the second door on his left.

The first thing that catches his eye is the large glass double doors that lead to the balcony. With the curtains split open, he can see early morning sunlight slowly beginning to saturate the landscape outside. He does not pay much attention to the setting of the room or the furniture therein as he walks directly to the glass doors and opens the latch.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 138) Stately

“What time is it?” Stephen questions as he looks at his watch. “Five o’clock. Hopefully the sun will be up soon.”

Walking back into the second floor hall, he pulls the conservatory door shut behind him, which rattles and echoes as it slams shut. Turning to his right, he follows the hall and steps into the terrace that he discovered only moments ago. Just like before, he finds it barren with a few tables and chairs stacked in one corner. It is an average space with no outstanding details that he can see so he proceeds along until he reaches the other side. This brings him to the south hall and a locked door.

“Well whoever took off down the hall didn’t come this way.” Stephen says as he fumbles with the key and unlocks the door.

As with many older homes that back in their day housed stately couples, it was popular to have separate living quarters. The feminine rooms of the north hall stand in stark contrast to what he finds here on the second floor of the south hall. This portion of the manor is strictly masculine with deep tones to the fabrics and dark stained and painted wood throughout. Here too, just like in the opposite hallway, the rooms have doorways to the hall as well as each other. He finds it hard to imagine using this space in the exact manner intended.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 137) Drenching

The glow of the full moon, now directly overhead, shines down through the transparent ceiling drenching the garden in a light blue tint making it easy to see even the tiniest details. Shining the beam of the flashlight upward exposes other walkways that extend into the enclosed garden from the manors upper floors. He had not noticed many of these inner workings when Zsofia brought him here the first time. He stands here in wonder of the architecture and materials it took to construct such an environment.

“This is amazing. No wonder Zsofia always came here and was satisfied to sneak into only the conservatory.” He grins.

A droplet of water drips onto Stephens hand from up above. Looking down, he realizes the moisture in the conservatory has caused water to build up and bead on the surface of the iron walkway. To avoid slipping and possibly falling, he decides to go back into the hallway of the house to continue his walk-through.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 136) Door

Several minutes pass as Stephen attempts to concentrate on easing his nervousness. Opening his eyes, he looks up, and realizes that directly in front of him, is an iron door. On the wall, there is an arch in the design of the stone along the top to match the doorway, and a thin row of small individual windows run across it. Standing up he walks to it and peers out the small panes of glass to a suspended walkway inside the conservatory.

Pushing the door open, it squeaks slightly from lack of use. Stepping from the hall through the doorway, he finds himself on a narrow suspended landing and immediately smells the earthen scent of the conservatory garden. The gurgling of the waterfall and brook is very loud here and he realizes he is standing directly over the source. What amazes him most is that he is on the second floor but the trees of this confined garden still extend upward to possibly the fourth floor of the manor.

“No way,” he says to himself while looking up at the towering height of space.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 135) Floors Above

The internal sound of his heartbeat is all Stephen hears, as he sits still and quiet, in the manor at the top of the hill. Resting on the floor with the wall as support, he keeps his eyes open wide as he glances up and down the hall. In his mind, he runs through the layout of this enormous place, the various staircases and rooms he has passed, and he wonders about the two floors above him that he has yet to investigate.

Most of all, he worries about the strange encounter he had just moments earlier. Who is here with him, lurking and watching and how in the world will he ever be able to find them? For that matter, he is not sure that he wants to cross paths. For all he knows, this person could be a squatter or vagrant who has been sheltered here for many years. A clever person could easily avoid detection due to the size of the massive dwelling.  At this point, Stephen believes anything is possible. Looking down at his hands, he feels his head starting to pound with the beginnings of a headache. He now closes his eyes as he rubs his aching neck and forehead.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 134) Replay

Without thinking, Stephen takes chase after whomever it is that ran from the room. He sprints all the way to the corner where the north and east halls meet. Here he finds a long terrace, much like the one below him on the ground floor, which extends the entire length of this eastern view. Pulling the door open, he quickly flashes his beam toward all corners of this spacious area, but it is obviously void of anyone or anything.

Stepping back and into the stairwell at this corner of the manor, Stephen leans over the railing of the staircase and shines his light down to the ground floor. He then rolls sideways shining the beam of the flashlight up to the third and fourth floors trying to find any evidence that someone took this route of escape. All is quiet and he takes advantage of this moment to gulp down an anxiety pill.

Feeling as if his emotions may spiral out of control at any moment, Stephen begins walking back down the hallway. After only a few steps, he sits on the floor and leans his head back against the cold wall of wooden paneling. Too afraid to close his eyes, his mind begins a replay of the recent events. Whoever or whatever was here, just fled this hallway and is now taking refuge, somewhere in the dark expanses of the old manor.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 133) Feminine

Reaching into the room, Stephen flips the switch on the wall and the room glows in white light. This is a bedroom dressed in pale creams and pastel pink bedding and curtains. The design on the fabric is of lightly colored roses and peonies, and it is obvious this feminine space was decorated under the direction of a woman. A large thick rug spans the entire room and it too carries the same pattern and color scheme.

On the left and right of this delicately fashioned room are open doorways that lead into adjoining living spaces. One is a sitting area and the other a sewing room. This suite is massive and surely belonged to the woman of the manor as her place of retreat.

Suddenly, from the adjoining room, Stephen hears a loud crash followed by very quick yet distinct footsteps. It sounds as if someone is running out the door to the hallway from the sewing room and then continues farther still as the footsteps fade in the direction of the east hall. Swiftly stepping out into the corridor, Stephen shines his light in that direction.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 132) Imagination

Several minutes have now passed and with no other activity, Stephen’s breathing has slowed. The faintness he felt along with the gripping pain of his lungs has subsided as well. Straightening his posture, he stands away from the wall but will not take his eyes off the door. The way it is hanging on the hinge, barely open, is very much like the door he gently pushed open at the age of nine, only to witness a sight that will never leave him.

Quietly Stephen takes a step but then stops to listen, nothing. There are no sounds, no wind, no scurrying of rodents or other animals that may have found a way in and no creaking of floorboards. Pulling his flashlight from his pocket, he steps again before pausing for a mere second and then slow and deliberate, he approaches the door.

With his flashlight on, he shines the light in through the crack and pushes the door open with his left foot. He stands in the hall slowly moving the beam of light back and forth hoping this moment of terror was all his imagination. After all, the doctors have disputed his statements his entire life by proclaiming he has an over active imagination and is simply seeing what his mind is dreaming up.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 131) Stillness

All Stephen can see in his mind is the murderous creature that tortured his grandfather in his last moments of life. The grin on its face with folds of skin pulling upward and the strength in its arms as it bludgeoned the poor man to death are clear and precise. Shaking he leans against the wall and wishes he could melt into it before anyone or anything has a chance to find him.

Something is there. He sees movement low to the ground hiding just beyond the shadows of the open door. Desperately in need of an anxiety pill, he knows without a doubt that his shaking hands would cause the pills to rattle loudly, surely revealing his hiding place. Each breath begins to ache as he tries to control the inward and outward motion of air and his lungs are burning as if in flames. Gasping for air in a quiet manner is also constricting him from remaining calm.

“Hooo!” He lets out a loud breath as his body forces him to expel the air he was holding.

With his head pressed against the wall, Stephen looks in the direction of the door, which has not moved from its most recent position. Staring and hypnotized by the long thin band of blackness that the open door reveals, Stephen watches and waits. He is not sure if he himself, from his fear, is causing this stillness to wash over him, or if something else, possibly something otherworldly, has paused time and taken away his ability to move.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 130) Heaviness

Climbing the stairs, Stephen moves silently as he glides his hand along the railing. Gently placing each foot as he goes up the steps, finally he reaches the second floor. The corridor lamps are glowing in dim light and windows look out at the inner beauty of the conservatory. This makes the second floor much different and far more inviting than the first with its lack of natural light. Moonlight filters in through the second floor windows creating long rectangle splashes of light on the floor and this blocked pattern stays constant all the way down the hallway.

Stephen looks to his right, then his left, waiting to catch a glimpse of the intruder but no one appears to be there. The manor is quiet but due to its size, he knows someone or something might be here with him and is simply remaining one-step ahead of him. Just as he begins to move forward, he hears a noise, as if something has fallen over or dropped from a shelf.

Standing where the north and west corridors meet, he is not sure in which direction the sound came from, that is until he sees the third door down the north wing slowly swing open. Completely unarmed, he looks around for anything he can use as a weapon but comes up empty of any such device. He watches the hall as sweat begins to dampen his palms and his face grows pale. There is a heaviness as he stands completely still, watching and waiting.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 129) Honest

As Stephen staggers out of the last dusty room, the one closest to the west corridor, he is coughing and fanning the air around him with his hand when he hears what sounds like someone running along the hallway above him.

“What the. . .?” he questions. Looking at his watch it is only four o’clock in the wee hours of the morning. “Who on earth would be here at this hour?” he says to himself as he walks over to the spiral staircase that divides the hall and mudroom of the kitchen.

“Who’s there?” he yells, surprising himself with the strength of his voice.

Taking a few steps forward, he looks around the wall into the mudroom and sees the side door has not been disturbed and is still bolted shut. Moving back, he stands on the first step of the staircase and pauses, waiting for a response to his question, but hoping he does not receive one. He knows he bolted the main doors when he came in, but he also knows Zsofia has access as well.

Even though she has stated twice that she only entered the few rooms allowed, he cannot help but wonder if Zsofia has been completely honest with him. After all, they only just met and he is not as familiar with his surroundings as she is.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 128) In The Air

“What am I doing?” Stephen says to himself. “I must be nuts to think I can renovate this place.”

He shakes his head as he rubs the back of his neck and looks down the hall. The first thought in his mind is how long it would take, if he were sprinting, to reach the front door. He glances at the closed doors on the right side of the corridor and begins to count.

“Eight,” he whispers as he glances once again at the staircase near him. “I can’t leave. I need to see what this wing has to offer.” He states as he tries to rationalize what it is he expects to find.

Approaching the first door on the right, he reaches for the knob and even though he is barely touching it, the door slowly opens, but only a crack. Stephen stops for a moment then pushes the door with his foot. This room is much smaller than the rooms across the way in the south wing. As he stops at each of the eight doors and inspects the rooms, he realizes they all have the same decor consisting of a small bed, lamp table, an armoire, and a single window covered in thick dark drapery.

“Service quarters maybe?” He asks himself then begins to cough due to the dust he stirred up that is now freely floating in the air.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 127) Isolated

“So there are stairs at every corner of the building.” Stephen says to himself as he tries to keep everything he has discovered straight in his mind. “This place is huge and I haven’t left the first floor yet.” His breathing is rapid as he continues to stand with his back pressed up against the door he just entered.

He is struggling with keeping his nerves and imagination under control as he thinks about the strange laugh-like sound he heard several minutes ago, as well as the groaning of the trees in the nearby woods. He is reaching a high level of anxiety from being alone in this huge place as well as feeling isolated in life. The latter has always been with him, but grew to an escalated level after the death of his parents.

Here he is, in the middle of a country he knows little about, in a house that seems to go on forever, and he feels surrounded by mysteries about his family that he believes may never reach a resolve. Looking up he closes his eyes as he tries to avoid a full-blown panic attack. Concentrating on his breathing, he tries to count to five while he takes air in, then slowly releases it through his mouth.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 126) Exposed

Walking very slowing, Stephen comes to small thin windows that allow anyone outside to see into the glass garden and the small lawn where the back gate enters. The open spaces are not wide enough for anyone to crawl through nor are they covered in glass. They are simply slits in the stonework that offer a view in or out.

Stepping to the edge of the terrace, he looks down as the floor stops to a long dropped area several feet below. The air is crisp and he feels a slight breeze. With a gentle gust of wind, the branches of two trees rub against each other creating an eerie scrapping sound somewhere out in the woods. This distant noise could easily be mistaken for a deep low moan and the giggle he heard just moments ago in the south hall comes to mind as he pauses. A chill crosses his shoulders and he feels the need to take shelter from this open exposed place.

Quickly he makes his way to the opposite end of the terrace where he finds a locked door. Pulling the key that he uses at the front entrance out of his pocket, he pushes it into the keyhole and thankfully, the lock opens. Stepping inside he finds himself in the north wing and the safety of the amber glow the lights give off. It is a very welcomed sight and the brightness draws his attention to the staircase directly in front of him.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 125) Terrace

Turning back, Stephen proceeds through the next entrance and steps into a dark and dreary room where swiftly, he shines the beam of light into the darkness. This does not appear to be a hallway like the other wings; in fact, the room is about the size of a bathroom and is far more distressed than the other areas he has ventured to. A thick layer of dust and grime covers the wooden floor and two chairs that sit facing each other. As with the other corners of the manor, spiral steps lead up to the next floor.

As he has with the past wings of the manor, he finds the electrical box and pushes the switch to the on position. Flicking light flashes from a single bulb and he realizes there is another door in the room just a few feet to his left. Turning the old discolored lock, the door pops open exposing a long deep terrace that runs the entire length of the east wing.

Black iron furniture consisting of round tables, tall backed chairs, and footstools are sitting around in a haphazard fashion. Large urns of dried soil sit at each stone support pillar as well as at the bottom of a wide-set of steps that lead down to what appears to be a garden. Even with the full moon, it is very hard to see what is out there in the dark early hours.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 124) Wood And Iron

Surprisingly, the wooden door opens rather easy onto a stone walkway that leads from the door Stephen just opened, across grass that has grown tall and turned brown, to another door of the same design and color. The second floor runs across the top causing this little breezeway to have a tunnel effect to it. To the right he sees a tall wooden gate that leads outside the building and it is locked and secure with a large metal pole running across it.

Oddly, the same interwoven pattern of iron threads through the wooden gate. With this repetition of wood and iron, Stephen decides this must be a technique set in place for security reasons. It appears to be on all exit and entry doors so it must have a purpose other than simply for design.

“Oh yeah, this must be the gate Zsofia was talking about. She was able to sneak in here and would play in the conservatory when she was younger.” He mumbles as he walks in the opposite direction of the gate.

Shining his light down the side of the exterior wall, he finds a wide square space of lawn between a tall corner of glass from the conservatory and the southeast wall of the manor. This space is overgrown and in need of a trim so with that mental note in place, he proceeds to shine the light up. This area is open to the sky above and he can see a railing at the very top.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 123) Giggle

Moving along, Stephen passes three more rooms and swiftly peeks inside then keeps going. More than anything, he wants to get to the last breaker and turn that final switch to the on position. Only then will he feel comfortable that all wings and floors of the house have electricity. In no way does he want to find himself in the dark here especially when he is alone.

It is now, when he is closer to the end of the hall, that he realizes it ends with a wooden door instead of being open like the other two hallways.

“Now, why would this be closed off?” he says aloud in his normal tone.

Just as he reaches out to grab the handle, he hears what sounds like a giggle. Startled, he stops immediately. Energy runs up his legs and causes goose bumps to form all over his body and it feels as if his hair is standing on end. Stepping to the side, he presses his back up against the masonry wall and looks left then right for whatever caused this unpleasant sound. Repeating this process of looking back and forth several times, he does not find anything out of the ordinary nor does he hear the sound again. Forcing himself to slow his breathing, he reaches out and slowly turns the handle to the wooden door.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 122) Mission

To the right is another notched panel and to Stephen’s surprise, it is cracked open slightly exposing a spiral staircase that matches perfectly with the one on the other end of the west hall. Clearing his throat, Stephen begins walking along the south corridor. With flashlight in hand and on, even though the hallway lights are working, he shines it around as if the lights were out. Realizing how silly this is he chuckles, then flips it off and sticks it into his pocket just as he comes to the first closed door.

He cannot imagine anyone needing this much space to live in, let alone two elderly people who probably spent most of their time in the kitchen and sitting room. One aspect that he cannot fathom is that he has three more floors of this size to inspect and rummage through. Reaching out, he places his hand on the handle of the closed door.

“Well, let’s see what we have behind door number one.” Stephen murmurs as he turns the handle to the right.

It seems to be stuck so he nudges the door by leaning up against it then slamming his shoulder into it. With a squeak, it pops open and he starts coughing from all the dust that he has managed to stir up. Fanning the air, he reaches for the switch on the wall and turns the light on. To his surprise, he finds himself in an office complete with a desk, books, and chairs for guests or visitors. Without getting involved with the details of the items and decor, he looks around quickly and steps back into the hall to continue on his investigative mission.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 121) Amber Glow

Stephen walks forward and underneath the landing where the two staircases meet. He turns left and pushes the switch on the wall, which lights the hallway just as it did before, and he smiles. Continuing on, he stops where the north hall meets the west and opens the panel exposing the breaker box. He quickly flips the switch to avoid being in the dark for very long. Especially now at this moment, for this long hall is where Zsofia said she felt odd and ended up leaving. With a pop, he pushes the lever and the north wing hall is flooded in muted tones of amber light.

“Nice,” he says with a grin.

Turning around, he walks all the way back down the hall in the opposite direction, passing the threshold to the front door entry and proceeds until he reaches the south hall. This corridor is extremely dark and as he runs his hand along the wooden wall searching for the electrical panel, he feels as if someone is coming.

He keeps glancing into the darkness and does not see anything, yet his senses are strong and on alert. Finally, he finds what he is looking for and swiftly pushes the lever. The south hall brightens in the same amber glow as the other two hallways, which puts him at ease, but only slightly.

“Okay, the east wing is all that’s left.” He says quietly as he stands especially still.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 120) Observing

Approaching the manor, Stephen looks up at the tall thin windows as they appear to be looking down, observing his movements. The large door is shadowed under the entryway with its thick stone columns and steep pitched roof. The entry door looks bleak, like a hole instead of the defined and impressive doorway that he knows it to be. Fumbling around for the key, he finds it buried in his pocket. Switching the flashlight on, he points it at the large old keyhole. Inserting the key, he turns it with pressure as he did before and after a dry click, it opens freely swinging wide as if begging him to enter.

“Creepy,” he says to himself as he shines the light into the room before hesitantly stepping forward. “Let’s see, I left the main breaker on so hopefully the lights here will be active.”

With that said, he pushes the switch and the large chandelier hanging in the middle of the room glows but two bulbs burst immediately and three others flicker as if they too are not able to handle the jolt of electricity.

“Easy now,” he says as he watches the light hoping he will not end up with an electrical fire that burns the place to the ground.

After only a few seconds the dimming of the lights stop and the collection of bulbs burn steady and beautifully. Stephen turns and shuts the door then locks it with a heavy bolt that slips through the double doors and into a metal clasp.

“Maybe I can avoid visitors if I lock things up.” Stephen says to himself as he turns and looks up at the huge round window on the second floor. “Okay, I need to throw the breaker I found earlier.”


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