This week’s prompt is this
Eyes To The Soul
Millicent Tendency harrumphed. It was becoming an unconscious habit, like adding ‘like’ into her sentences and voting green. This tick was triggered by the front door bell, though ‘bell’ hardly did justice to the enormous cauldron that hung in the rafters and created small fissures in Dennis’ Collection of erotic spittoons. That was the trouble with living in a medieval keep. You didn’t just have a door. You had, variously a drawbridge, a portcullis and something akin to the sort of thing used to shut a nuclear bunker, only made from oak and iron studs. It was a bugger when the parcel man wanted a photo of Millicent with the delivered item by her feet. It wasn’t her fault if the options these companies offered as a safe place to leave your delivery didn’t include ‘in the moat’.
Partly it was Dennis, who was as resistant to change as a foodie larva trying to avoid the pupae phase; partly it was English Effing Heritage who had no idea what living in this sodding mausoleum was really like. All she wanted was a small fish eye camera and microphone to be able to decide if she wanted to open up. Their inspector had been a patronising piece of bureaucratic intransigence. ‘You could climb the tower and use the spy hole. It’s been an acceptable method of visitor filtration for five centuries.’
And that aperture was the reason for today’s visitor.
Millicent bellowed for the caller to wait and begin the laborious process of opening up. She swung the heavy doors open and peered out at the round faced man with a ruddy complexion and gap toothed smile.
‘Mrs Tendency? I’m Pete Bogge. We spoke.’
‘That’s us. And you’ve chosen a good month as we have our…’ he checked his clipboard, ‘July special offers.’
‘Oh. That’s nice.’
‘Between you and me, we have specials every month but this one is a special special. So what can we do for you?’
‘I need windows installed as soon as possible.’
‘Then you’ve come to the right people. Do you want to show me?’
Millicent spun round and headed for the door to the tower.
‘Unusual home, this,’ said Pete peering into the stone work. ‘What sort of windows do you have at the moment?’
‘None? Er, I should have said we don’t create the opening, Mrs Tendency. That’s for a builder. We just fill them.’
‘Oh, we’ve lots of openings, just nothing filling them.’
‘Nothing?’ Pete sounded cautious. ‘Any reason?’
‘A combination of a blue blooded family who refuse to acknowledge how frigging cold it gets and English Bloody Heritage.’
‘No… erm other reasons?’
Millicent stopped on the first landing. ‘What sort of reasons?’
Pete looked up at her, but not before she’d seen a frisson of anxiety scud across his features. ‘I’ve had a few customers, over the years, who’ve preferred to live with the benefits of unrestricted fresh air. Maybe your husband is one such?’
‘Yes, well, I’m the one who is working from home so I’m the one deciding on whether we do or don’t have windows.’ She set off again and stopped as she reached the spy hole. ‘This is the first. Most of the others are like this, though some are wider. Are the round edges going to be an issue?’
Pete wasn’t looking at the opening. He glanced nervously in every direction.
Millicent, whose tether wasn’t of the longest and the complications of the day meant she was approaching the end point coughed. ‘Mr Bogge. I don’t have all day. What is your problem?’
‘I, er, well, the thing is, that is to say…’ he caught Millicent’s percussive pout. ‘Let me show you.’
As Millicent watched, Pete closed the door to the small anteroom and opened his bag. It was surprisingly capacious. He fiddled for a moment before pulling out a double glazed unit and approaching the spy hole.
As he did so, he began to explain. ‘It may look as if the owners prefer the freshest of air, or perhaps,’ he paused while he jiggled the pro forma window in place, ‘they wanted to retain an olde worlde integrity.’
Millicent folded her arms. ‘Knowing my in laws it was a certain reluctance to spend.’
Pete glanced at her and nodded. ‘That too. But actually…’ he stepped away and reversed towards the door, whose handle he gripped tightly, ‘the reason might be somewhat more prosaic.’
‘They didn’t want to go stark staring mad. Ah ha, here we go.’
Millicent had become aware that the room was getting colder. She pulled her knitwear even closer, wondering how that was possible, now there was a window in place. It was only as she contemplated the glazing, pondering the possibility that there may be gaps that had caused an ill directed breeze to be pointed right at her that she saw it. A shimmering woman in what looked like some sort of leather tunic and trousers. She seemed to notice Millicent at the same time. Before Millicent could move the woman screamed, lifted a bloodied scimitar above her head and charged.
Millicent froze, the question of flight or fight rendered moot by off the scale terror. To her surprise a large hand grabbed her elbow and dragged her from the room.
It was Pete, breathing heavily and leaning back against the door while whatever nightmare Millicent had been having remaining on the other side. ‘It’s a portal, see. For spirits. Place like this, lots of pillages and killings and sieges and what have you tends to mean an abundance of post death residents.’
‘Yes, and ghouls and poltergeists and apparitions and disturbed spirits and all sorts. They use the windows to move around. If you go and put glass in, then the see themselves and… you can imagine.’
‘But I thought ghosts couldn’t see themselves in mirrors?’
‘No, that seems to be true. But a reflection in glazing, they do see and it scares the bejeebers out of them. They start all sorts of nonsense.’
‘How come old houses have windows then?’
‘They accept the consequences of haunting. It’s a trade off. I don’t know who that was nor what happened but we could go and have a chat and…’
‘She wanted to take my head off with that thing!’
‘Yes, but she couldn’t actually do that. She was startled by you as much as you by her. She’s probably been floating hither and yon for centuries. Engage her, find out what she needs. It might just be the window is left open on Thursdays or something.’
‘But will that work? Will she agree to having her access blocked?’
‘Mrs Tendency, you’ve already experienced English Heritage. Doing a deal with a few reluctant ancestors of your husband should be a doddle. Now shall we take out that temporary window and go and look at the others so I can get you a quote?’
Millicent nodded. She lead the way back to the courtyard. Dennis had to have known about this. She set her expression to stun. Her father, at her wedding had warned Dennis she was ‘spirited’. Well, he was about to find out just how much.