Shadows Of Guta 220-239

Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 239) Apologetic

“Ah, I am so sorry Istvan, I had no idea you would still be asleep.” Laszlo says in an apologetic way. “We went to the gatehouse first because I thought you were staying there.” He looks around nervously.

“It’s alright, I slept too long anyhow and yes, I was staying at the gatehouse.” Stephen says as he runs his fingers through his deep brown disheveled hair then looks back at the staircase. “I just came up here last night and decided it was foolish to keep running back and forth between the two locations.”

Strong in his mind at this moment, are the strange dreams he has been having. This is the second odd one he has had since coming here and for a person who does not sleep for more than a few hours at a time, he knows he needs to go back to his old ways. The less sleep he has, the fewer times he will drift off deep enough for a dream to generate, or so he believes. Now a little more alert, he looks at the elderly man and then notices Tamas is grinning ear to ear, which causes Stephen laugh.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 238) Wide Smile

Just as Stephen is about to back away from the window, Tamas steps up, on the other side of the glass, and waves at him. He has a wide smile on his face as he continues with his motions until Stephen lifts his hand in return. Only then does Tamas let out a loud laugh as he steps over to where his grandfather is now patiently waiting.

“Hello. . . Istvan, you in there?” questions the old man in a loud but surprisingly not an angry tone.

Looking up at the clock on the mantel, Stephen realizes it is a little past nine in the morning. He slept a full seven hours to be exact. That is more in one setting than he usually gets over a three-day period. Shaking his head in amazement, he staggers toward the entrance door hoping he becomes a little more alert before having to answer to Laszlo Eszes.

With his hand on the bolt that secures the door and the visions of his dream still clear in his thoughts, he takes in a deep breath. Pushing with the palm of his hand, the bolt slides to one side and Stephen opens the door. The bright light of the morning makes him squint as he lets out a long yawn.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 237) Noise

Coldness, unlike anything Stephen has ever felt before, starts at his neck filling his entire body with chills. Clenching the now frozen handrail, his fingers ache from the severe pain of frostbite as he stands paralyzed by what he fears is lurking next to him. Again, the wicked voice calls him by the Hungarian version of his name, “Istvan!”

Jarring Stephen from his slumber is loud repetitious pounding on the front entrance door. Stephen jumps violently from his sleep as the rapping has become forceful and more deliberate. This sudden jolt causes his heart to pound rapidly as he looks around, lost at first, confused as to where he is, but then he realizes he is in the sitting room of the manor.

Leaning on one arm, he now hears a man yelling but is not able to discern the words. Still half asleep, he staggers to the lightly curtained window near the now cold fireplace. Poking his finger in the crack between the drapes, he pulls one to the side and looks out. To his surprise, the sun is up and Laszlo is the one making all the noise.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 236) Teasing

Inside the walls of stone, the rooms are peaceful and insulated from any sounds of the outside world. The ticking of the old clock has created a rhythmic pulse and neither it nor its hourly chimes stir Stephen as he sleeps. The fire has served him well at keeping the chill out of the room as it continues to burn at a slow and steady pace. Up to this point, he has yet to dream but now little bands of color begin to drift into view as he finds himself looking out over the gurgling waterways of the conservatory. To him, what he is experiencing is real, but in reality, the images are simply playing out in his mind with sounds from his memory.

The grounds below him smell of fresh earth and rain as moisture collects on the glass that encases the large overgrown garden. He finds this odd because the day Zsofia took him there it was well groomed and tended to but now, in his dream, it has nearly escaped its boundaries.

Standing on the metal walkway of the third tier up, he becomes dizzy as he looks down at the overgrown foliage below. Grabbing the thin damp handrail, he steadies himself and not a moment too soon, for from somewhere very near comes a summons once again.

“Issstvaaaan,” Hisses a ghastly voice in his ear in a mocking teasing manner.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 235) Tops The Hill

In the massive marble fireplace, short bursts of sparks pop and crackle as the well-established fire burns evenly. Drooping to the side with his head resting on the arm of the sofa, Stephen is fast asleep and has been so for several hours. It all seems to have finally caught up with him, the jet lag, his typical inability to stay asleep for long periods of time, and the late hours he has been holding have taken their toll. He needs this resting period in order to have strength to tackle all the projects he has taken a mental note of and wishes to complete.

The manor sits quiet atop the hill as a gentle breeze presses its way through the valley below and rattles the leaves of the dense forest. A steady stream of smoke rises out of the chimney at the front of the structure as the lights of the lower level glow brightly out the tall thin windows. Ever so slightly, the entrance lanterns swing back and forth with each passing ripple of wind that spreads from the forest and up the ridge as it tops the hill.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 234) Warmth

Wadding the paper into small loose balls, Stephen places them on the grate. Next to the fireplace is a large metal box filled with thin strips of wood, heavy logs, and tall slender matches. The kindling feels dry and brittle, which should aid in getting the fire started. With the temperature in the house becoming colder, he is anxious to feel a little warmth. After several times of striking a match on the brown grout between the sections of green marble, the match finely takes and he touches it to several different sections of paper before dropping it in the middle of the stack.

Once the flames are established, he adds several larger pieces of wood to the grate then brings the old trunk of photographs and notes into the room. Setting the trunk on the floor next to him, he realizes he feels content. He is on the sofa that faces the entry hall and as he stares out from the room, he begins to think of the many things he needs to do. At the same time, an intense drowsiness comes over him as he lays his head on the back of the sofa. Glancing to his left, he watches the flames as they hop around the wood as if confused about which side to burn first. Before he has a chance to get up and stoke the fire, he falls asleep.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 233) The Flue

“You, old clock, should sit on the mantel of the fireplace.” Stephen says as he crosses the room and lifts the clock up, centering it on the thick piece of marble.

Looking around the room at his surroundings, he realizes he feels very comfortable here, much more than he did at the gatehouse. Pulling the poker from the fireplace stand, he hooks the handle of the flue and pulls it open. A small amount of ash falls from it causing a light dusting to coat the hearth.

“I wonder how long it has been since a fire was built in here?” He mumbles as he tries to look up the chimney and coughs from inhaling the ash. “Ah, come on.” He says in a frustrated way for getting dirty.

He wipes the dust from his sleeve and pulls the flashlight from his pocket and again looks up in the chimney, this time shining the beam of the light up to see inside. He is surprised to find that as far up as he can see, it looks fairly clear and clean. He decides it is safe to build a fire so he brings his duffel bags into the room, opens the largest one, and pulls out a newspaper he purchased at the airport.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 232) Ambiance

Squatting down next to his bags, Stephen unzips the largest one and lifts the old clock up to eye level. The face is dusty as is the complex detail of the carved wood casing. He blows several puffs of breath at it causing dust to fly into the air. Standing up and without moving his head, he looks with his peripheral vision at the two sets of stairs that lead to the second floor. In some way, he feels that if something is there, watching, it will not know if he is looking.

Slowly he turns, hoping with all his might that no one and nothing is there, and he is correct. This lower floor of the manor appears to be quiet and exempt of any other dwellers. The only sounds he hears are of his own rapid breathing and the perfectly timed ticking of the mantel clock he is clutching in his hands.

“Where do you need to go?” he questions aloud as he looks around the large entry hall. “Ah ha, the sitting room.” He says as he walks toward the large double sliding doors opposite the dining room.

Pushing one of the doors into its recessed place in the wall, he enters the large sitting room, which is the very first room he investigated upon his arrival days ago. He pushes the switch on the wall and lamps on either side of the fireplace, as well as several along the walls, light up giving the room a soft and natural ambiance.



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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 231) Finality

With his foot, Stephen nudges the heavy door of the manor and it slams shut rather hard as if he shoved it with anger. Sealed, that is the first word that comes to mind, it shut with such finality, that it feels eternal. A bit shocked at the force of the closure he turns the handle to make sure the door will open again and thankfully, it does. Lightly, he closes it back and slides the bolt through to lock it for the night.

One at a time, he carries the boxes of food to the kitchen and places the items in their appropriate locations. He sets the milk, cheese and meats on the top rack of the refrigerator, canned goods on the shelves, and breads and coffee on the counter. Tossing the empty boxes in one corner of the mudroom, he looks up at the door that leads outside.

“I wonder if there is another exit door that has been left open around here.” He says to himself as he thinks about his theory of a wild animal finding its way inside.

He hears a clock begin to chime and remembers he brought the mantel clock from the gatehouse with him. As he walks through the kitchen and into the dining room, he counts each chime as it plays. Once he steps foot in the entry hall the final one rings out.

“Twelve o’clock. . . midnight.” He says to himself and this sends a sensation of wariness through him.


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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 230) Outrageous

As Stephen approaches the manor, he looks up at the few lights that are on in the upper floors. The thought of having to wander the halls in order to turn them off does not settle well with him so a debate ensues in his head about what to do. Even though he knows he placed his pill bottle in his pocket, he taps his jacket to make sure. The rattling sound of its contents is soothing to him as he reaches for the door handle. Holding firmly to the knob, he presses on the door, which with all the recent activity, now opens easily.

With one final shrieking sound that echoes throughout the large open entry hall like a scream, he pulls the dolly of supplies inside. Dropping the duffel bags from his shoulder to the floor, he looks up at the staircase. The thought of having to travel throughout the structure at this time of night is outrageous to him and he decides right there, with the door still open, that he will simply let the lights burn.


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