Author

Shadows Of Guta 300-319

Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 319) Opinion

Running though Stephen’s mind are the moments where Kate nearly drove him insane and several times, she threatened suicide if she did not get her way. Of course, this caused him to do as she wished to avoid the next outbreak of hateful words and actions. Yes, she probably did have a mental disorder because he felt she used and mistreated him during most of their time together. However, he is not about to give that opinion freely, nor does he want his own mental state brought into this discussion.

“Ah, it looks like young Tamas has an escort home.” States the tall officer with a wide smile, he then turns back to face Stephen and does not say another word.

Walking up the path alone is Zsofia. The pale color of the morning glows around her as the early sunrise begins to lighten the landscape. Her boots make a tapping sound as she places each foot on the stones and gravel under her feet.

“Thank you for your time.” The tall officer states to Stephen as he turns and walks toward Zsofia.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 318) Questioning

“She was found in a small hotel room, it looked as if there was a struggle and several items were broken.” The officer states in a rather peculiar and questioning manner. “A couple staying in the next room heard her yelling and what sounded like things being thrown at the wall. However, as they were about to call the front desk to report it, everything stopped. They watched and waited for someone to leave, but no one did. The room was secure and locked from the inside when we went to investigate.” The man pauses as he looks behind Stephen at the staircase. “We find that to be very odd.”

Stephen is trying to comprehend this strange chain of events and then realizes the officers seem to be implying that he may have had something to do with Kate’s unfortunate demise. He does his best to remain calm and simply answer the questions truthfully but he can tell this will push him to his limits.

“I saw her enter the hotel with a man last night.” Stephen starts as he hopes to have a chance to explain their fight but he is quickly shutdown.

“That was me, I was on patrol in town last night.” The other man states as he looks Stephen in the eyes. “I assure you the desk clerk sent her straight to her room.” He pauses and then continues with, “Do you know if she suffered from mental illness?”

“She is. . . was. . . a very complex person but other than being spoiled, I guess she was, normal.” Stephen replies cautiously.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 317) Conditions

“Did you see her, your ex-girlfriend Kate, after she left? Were you in town?” The officer asks and Stephen knows where this is leading.

“Well, yeah I did. We had a slight confrontation on the street but that is all. I came home immediately after.” Stephen assures the officer.

“I am sorry sir, but she has been found. . . dead.” The officer states rather bluntly.

Shocked by what he just heard, Stephen stands silent for what seems like minutes. He is replaying the events of the night in his head. He knows Kate left the manor while he dozed in the kitchen and the fight they had in town was all a drunken misunderstanding, and what about the man who escorted her into the hotel?

“What. . . I don’t understand, what happened?” Stephen questions still trying to comprehend what he has been told.

“It seems she died from an asthma attack. Did you know of any other health conditions she may have had?” The tall man questions as he holds his pen steady to take notes.

“No, I don’t.” Stephen replies. “I do not recall her having asthma either.”

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 316) Last Night

The taller officer of the duo steps away to make a phone call as Tamas comes up to the door and stands behind Stephen much like a small child would seek shelter behind their parent. Smiling wide, the shorter man greets Tamas and then turns his attention to Stephen.

“We are happy to find Tamas is safe, however he is not the reason for our visit.” States the man as he becomes more serious. “Do you recognize this?” he holds a woman’s wallet out for Stephen to inspect just as the other officer joins them again at the door, his pen at the ready to take notes.

“No, not really, it looks like a woman’s wallet.” Stephen replies a bit baffled at this odd question.

“How about now?” The man asks as he opens it up revealing Kate’s drivers license and a photo of her with Stephen.

“Well, yes. This is my ex-girlfriend’s photo and Identification.” He replies now wondering why this man is in possession of her things.

“When did you see her last?” He questions calmly.

“We split up months ago but out of the blue she showed up here last night, unexpected.” Stephen says as he looks over at Tamas who is patiently listening to the conversation. “I fell asleep and when I woke up, the door was open and she was gone.”

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 315) Two Officers

“Hang on, the bolt is stuck!” Stephen yells so the party on the other side of the door can hear him clearly.

“You are English?” The man standing outside the door asks. Startled that it is not Laszlo or Zsofia on the other side of the intricate barrier, Stephen looks over at Tamas in a questioning manner. He is about to answer when the man knocks harder and says something to another person who is with him.

“Sir!” States the man loudly as he bangs on the door with his fists. This tense moment has pressured Stephen to such a point that he nearly breaks the bolt handle due to the necessary and forceful way he is pulling it. To his surprise, standing on the other side of the door are two men and it is obvious they are police officers.

“I am so sorry, the bolt was stuck.” Stephen says nervously as he holds onto the heavy door. The two individuals introduce themselves as the local authorities and explain they have a few questions for him. The taller of the two pulls out a notepad and writes the date and time on the clean piece of paper.

“Are you Stephen Pap?” The smaller man asks.

“Yes,” replies Stephen and now that he is fully awake, realizes they must be here looking for Tamas. “Oh, I know what this is about.” Stephen says quickly but the expression on the faces of the men give off a hint of suspicion. “You are looking for Tamas aren’t you?” Both men glance at each other and the taller man speaks.

“Tamas Eszes?” He questions. “He is here with you?”

“Umm, yes. Isn’t that why you are here? I found him wandering in the woods last night, but since it was so late I let him sleep here for. . .” Before Stephen can finish his statement of finding Tamas in the woods, the shortest officer interrupts him and in Hungarian, the two officers have a conversation.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 314) Visitor

The clock chimes six and Stephen suddenly becomes aware that he cannot account for all the time that has passed since Tamas fell asleep. He does not feel that he slept, but he does not remember being awake either. Very faint sunlight is causing the tall windows that peek out into the hall of the second floor to glow in pale light.

“The sun is up.” Stephen mumbles to himself. He glances to his left and looks at the cold fireplace and then to Tamas, who is slowly stirring awake. Suddenly, there is a knock at the door.

“I bet that is your grandfather.” Stephen says to Tamas as he quickly runs to the door.

He pulls at the heavy bolt but for some reason it seems to be stuck. The visitor outside knocks again which causes Stephen to jump slightly as he pulls even harder.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 313) The Presence

“You are tired, aren’t you?” Stephen says to Tamas as he grabs the blanket off the back of the sofa. “Lay down, you can sleep here and we will get you home in the morning.”

After covering his friend, Stephen steps back over to the fireplace where he tosses several logs onto the engulfed planks of starter wood. The dry timber pops and crackles as the flames take them over. He then quietly sits on the sofa that faces the entry hall, which is also the only way to enter or exit the room.

“I’m sure I’ll get an earful for this from Laszlo in the morning.” He says under his breath as he slouches back into a relaxed position.

Sitting there in the dark, Stephen listens to the resonance of the manor. As with any structure and dwelling, the place has its own unique blend of sounds and silence that rarely duplicates another location. This building, with its thick walls of stone and wood, stands firmly in its place holding all of its secrets inside. It is now, in this quiet place, that Stephen can almost feel the presence of his ancestors around him.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 312) Friends

“So all three of you have played here, in the house?” Stephen asks in a playful tone as to not upset Tamas. “Did Zsofia know your friend was here?”

Tamas shakes his head no and looks down in a shy manner as if he just did the most horrible thing possible. He bats his eyes quickly to dry away the tears that are forming and Stephen feels terrible for causing this reaction. He steps over to his friend to reassure him that everything is fine.

“Hey Tamas, we are friends, it is okay.” Stephen smiles as Tamas looks up. “You are not in trouble. I just wanted to know more about your friend, you know, to make sure you are safe. Alright?” Stephen says as he extends his hand for a handshake and this gesture changes the tension in the room dramatically.

He is glad to have helped his friend realize everything is fine and Tamas smiles wide as he takes Stephen’s hand. With a quick pat on the back, Stephen knows he must ask one more question.

“So is your friend here, in the house, right now?” Stephen braces himself for the answer.

“No.” Replies Tamas. “He is out na. . . now.”

Just as the statement leaves his breath, Tamas lets out a long yawn and begins to rub his eyes. It is obvious he is very tired and Stephen knows there is no way they are going back out into the night.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 311) He Mumbles

“Do you always play in the woods?” Stephen asks as he digs for more information but Tamas shakes his head no.

“No.” Tamas replies with a frown.

“You never play in the woods?” Stephen repeats as he walks over and sits down on the sofa across from Tamas who is shaking his head no. “Where do you play then?” He quizzes as he leans forward.

Tamas looks up at Stephen with a very solemn expression and does not say anything or react to the question immediately. In fact, he acts as if once he answers he will be in trouble.

“It’s okay, Tamas. I won’t get mad.” Stephen reassures him with a smile.

Again, the reaction from Tamas is a bit unnerving because he seems fearful of sharing this information. Looking down at his hands, he taps his fingertips together in a nervous way before he mumbles something.

“I’m sorry Tamas, but I couldn’t hear you. Where is it that you have played before?”  Stephen repeats the question.

“Here,” Tamas says softly as he points at the floor of the manor. “With Zso. . .fia.”

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 310) Silliest

Sitting on the floor near the fire, Stephen feels paralyzed by this conversation, not only because of his own fear, but also with deep concern for Tamas. Why is it, a person with such an innocent and kind soul is being preyed upon by an evil murderous beast? The bigger question is why now has this ugly thing decided to show itself once again?

“Tamas, has Zsofia ever seen your friend?” Stephen questions.

“No,” he giggles as if that was the silliest question he ever heard.

At first, Stephen finds this answer to be a relief but then again, if Zsofia has not seen it, he wonders how close it has actually been to her at any given time. Until now, he has only been concerned for his own safety but in growing closer to Zsofia and her family, he cannot help but be protective of them as well.

Unfortunately, at this time, he does not know what to do about Tamas. He cannot and will not allow him outside and there will be no walks in the woods until daylight. Then on the other hand, he knows Zsofia and her grandfather will be frantic once they realize Tamas is not at home, but there is no way to contact them. As many times as they have interacted, neither he nor Zsofia have thought to exchange phone numbers.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 309) When Young

“I didn’t mean to scare you.” Stephen says as he walks over to his young friend.

“No,” replies Tamas with a smile. “Not scared.” He says slowly.

“Who. . .” Stephen pauses because he wants to use the term what instead of whom, but he knows that would confuse Tamas. “Who is it that you were playing with?”

Tamas looks up at him then shakes his head no, as he looks down to count his fingers. Stephen listens closely to the sounds around them in the manor, hoping this creature does not find its way in and when he looks back at Tamas he finds him smiling.

“Old fri. . .end.” Tamas says softly still looking down at his hands.

“Do you play a lot?” Stephen questions as he starts working on building a fire in the fireplace as to not appear demanding to Tamas.

“No, not. . . not in. . . years.” Tamas replies.

This statement concerns Stephen for he wonders how long it has been. Does Tamas think of time in the same manner he does or has it truly only been a few weeks or months?

“How many years, Tamas?” Stephen asks as he strikes a match igniting the crumpled paper in the fireplace.

“When. . . young.” Tamas replies slowly.

This answer sends icy ripples down Stephen’s spine for it ties in with something Zsofia said earlier. She shared that on the day Stephen witnessed his grandfather’s death, she and Tamas were playing a game. A game of hide and seek with an imaginary friend that only Tamas could see.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 308) The Grounds

Shaking with fear and pure adrenaline, Stephen pulls the bottle of pills from his jacket pocket dumping several out into his hands but in his nervousness, a few drop to the floor. Tamas bends down and one by one picks them up and hands each one to Stephen individually. Even though he is terribly upset by the strange events that just transpired, the kindness and simple actions of Tamas make him smile.

“Thank you, Tamas.” Stephen says in a calm voice as he lets his friend drop the pills into his hand. “You are very thoughtful.”

This comment causes Tamas to grin and clap his hands for doing such a good job. Checking the bolt on the door one more time, Stephen directs Tamas to the sofa in the sitting room and he himself, walks over to the window. Discretely pulling the curtain back, he looks out at the grounds surrounding the front entrance. He can see that the wind is picking up, even more than before, which is causing far too much movement to be able to deduce if the being is still nearby. Turning back, he looks at Tamas who is gently rocking back and forth on the sofa.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 307) Deep Breath

Up ahead, Stephen can now see the lights of the manor and he knows he and Tamas must be quick to avoid entrapment by the wicked thing that is following. Due to his disability, Tamas moves at a slower rate than Stephen finds comfortable and to make matters worse, the young man keeps turning around waving his hands as if saying hello. Each time Stephen looks back, the figure has not moved. It simply stands in the dark, silent and still, and terrifyingly in control.

The last part of their moment of panic is the constant incline of the stone path that leads them to the front entrance of the manor. It does not appear to be steep but the pain in Stephen’s legs as he pulls his friend along becomes almost unbearable. The brightness of the entryways light causes both Stephen and Tamas to shelter their eyes with their hands as they step up to the door.

Without any hesitation or thought in what to do next, Stephen inserts the key and pushes the door open, pulling Tamas inside by the collar of his shirt. Slamming the door shut with a great amount of force, he cannot bolt it fast enough and once secure, and only then, does he take a deep breath of relief.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 306) Not Playing

“Tamas!” Stephen yells loudly with fear and surprise in his tone. “What in the world?” He states as he looks around for the beast in the woods and then takes a deep breath. “What? Why are you out here at night?” He pants as he bends down placing his hands on his knees much like a runner does after a sprint, which is exactly what Stephen just did.

“Plaaa. . . ing.” Tamas says happily.

“Playing? Playing how?” Stephen asks as he looks around fearfully.

Tamas grins and claps his hands before covering his face as if hysterically laughing. Stephen watches him as this childlike man looks at him and then beyond him. His eyes grow calm and his grin fades but only for a second or two before he lifts his arm and points at something behind Stephen. Slowly turning around and just as he fears, the small creature is standing in the path quite a distance away but too close for Stephen.

“No, not playing.” Stephen says as he takes hold of Tamas’ arm pulling him along as they move forward.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 305) Stumbling

In a frenzied rush, Stephen’s mind is calculating past and present events, the footprints, the sounds, his grandfather fighting, and the old woman who seems to know more about him than he knows about himself. Not to mention the embarrassment of Kate’s display just now out in the open for all to hear.

The wind picks up as it thrashes the tall trees in all directions and he feels as if he has lost his way on the path. Scraping and moaning sounds are coming from high above as pieces of bark fall from the trees due to the branches rubbing together under the pressure of the wind. He turns to glance behind him and upon looking forward, he nearly runs into Tamas who is standing on the path directly in his way. Stumbling to stop himself, Stephen nearly knocks Tamas to the ground but both men gain their footing.

“Steee. . . van.” The young man says in his childlike manner as he smiles.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 304) Unstable Step

Instead of believing this is a child lost, Stephen knows without a doubt the thin bony prints belong to the creature he so greatly fears. Sweat builds on his forehead and his body begins to chill for he knew this at the manor but refused to believe it. He kept telling himself this was not possible for he desperately wanted to think a wild animal had ventured into his home. However, now more than anything, he knows he has been lying to himself.

Standing up, he looks into the deep thickness of the obscure undergrowth to see if this thing is nearby. Stepping backwards in a feeble attempt to continue progressing towards the manor, Stephen glances in all directions in a frantic state. His eyes are quickly searching and scanning the forest around him to see where this horrid thing went. The pressure he feels is beyond anything he can describe and it builds with each unstable step before he decides to run for his life.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 303) Freeze

Ducking down, Stephen huddles on the path to avoid another attack by what he now recognizes as an owl. However, as he looks to his right, he sees what appears to be a figure of some sort. Maybe his eyes are playing tricks on him but as he continues to watch, its features appear to be closer to that of a small child and not a wild animal. This person or animal is standing several feet away but to Stephen, it is clearly and without a doubt, watching him.

The frame is small and thin but he cannot make out features yet he knows whomever or whatever it is, their eyes are upon him, surveying his movements.  Shocked in realizing this, Stephen loses his balance and topples from his hunched position to his side. Trying to focus in on what he is seeing, he realizes the small form has turned and is quickly running deeper into the woods.

As he places his hand on the pebble and dirt path to stand, Stephen notices a track of footprints leading along the edge and then off into the woods, which causes him to freeze in place. The skeletal prints are a close match to the ones he found on the dusty floor of the manor and as he looks in the direction they seem to be going, they veer off on a straight course to where the mysterious figure was just standing.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 302) The Woods

Just before stepping back into the blackness of the forest, Stephen looks at the house hoping to see Zsofia at the window with her delightful friendly smile beaming at him, but this is not the case. Slowly, he steps into the shadows and unlike his departure from the manor with the lack of sounds from the forest; he now hears several birds and the typical activity you would expect from the woods at night.

He has stayed on the path but it is taking so long to get to the other side of the woods that he begins to believe he is lost. With no warning or anticipation, something flies out from the trees and swoops down as if trying to grab his right ear. He puts his hand up to protect himself when from behind he hears what sounds like footsteps along the pebbles of the path approaching him. Fearing he is being followed he immediately stops walking and turns to face his opponent.

Quickly spinning around with arms up ready for a fight, Stephen prepares for a battle. Much to his surprise, he finds himself alone on the path as dappled movement of moonlight streams in from above the canopy of trees. To his left he hears something rustling in the underbrush as once again something dives at him from the branches above.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 301) Late Hour

Leaving the strange woman standing in the road, Stephen immediately turns around and begins to make his way back to the manor defaulting on his attempt at getting a drink at a local eatery or bar. Not only has this old woman eluded that she knows his history, but she acts as if she knows his future as well and this is unsettling to say the least.

Without stopping, he quickens his pace and just as he is about to turn the corner where the town goes out of view, he looks back to find the old woman silently watching. He is chilled to the bone at the thought of her and this presses him to move even faster on his walk back to the secluded dwelling he now calls home.

Following the same steps he took from the manor, Stephen passes in front of Zsofia’s house and sees that all the lights are off except one on the second floor. At this late hour, he is sure the family has gone to bed so he does not even try to conceal himself as he passes by. In a way, he wishes Zsofia would see him and run outside to ask him to stop. He wishes to make sure she understands that he is not with Kate and that she has been out of his life for several months.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 300) Tomorrow

“When you are ready, I will be here.” The elderly woman says to Stephen as she points in the direction of a small shop across the street.

The sign at the top of the door has the name Klara’s written in black iron and lace curtains hang loosely in the window draping across each other in layers. The intricate pattern of iron and wood that he has found throughout the manor also trims this woman’s door as well as the window. This not only fascinates him but it frightens him just the same. In seeing this comparison alone, he knows this woman has ties to the manor in some way.

“Ahh,” says the old woman as she holds her voice steady and grins, “I will see you tomorrow, Istvan.” She giggles and winks as she points up at her forehead. “I will see you tomorrow.” She repeats as if chanting and then she laughs in a most devious and childlike way.

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