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El Gofre
March 26th, 2008, 05:33 AM
Hi all, I just found this piece at the back of my computer, and remembered how much I like it. I wrote this piece for the creative writing segment of GCSE english. I wrote this 3 years ago, while I was 13, so don't expect too much, but I thought it was pretty good, seeing as it got an A*
So yeah, its the opening chapter to a gothic novel, let me know what you think :)

13 Chains
Chapter 1

As I surged through the gate, I staggered to a halt at the sight of the graveyard before me. A dank mist settled and rippled over the dew-laden grass, which was riddled with gravestones. Old, dilapidated graves, which reeked of stagnant moss. After a few moments I came to my senses and continued with the task at hand. I ran through the alley of graves, not pausing for breath nor energy, until I tripped, and I seemed suspended, almost weightless, until I finally hit the ground, grazing my arms on the coarse weeds and a discarded rose. I stood and looked for what had hindered my progress, and as I looked upon it fear choked me. It was a decomposing foot, bruised and scarred, with the flesh sloughed off a single toe. And, like an omen of death, a sickening fact entered my mind: this foot did not sprout from a grave, but from the centre of the path.

All courage and hope left me as I abandoned my objective and ran back towards the exit, only to slowly realise that I had come to far. I was lost. I carried on though, desperately trying to find a way out but I stopped suddenly, frozen by the sight ahead. A cabal of men were heading towards a grave, carrying an ornate coffin. They were attired in deep greys, browns and blacks, their heads and shoulders stooped under the dead weight of the coffin. They all had grim expressions upon their harsh faces. I brought myself to advance as they started to lower the coffin into the empty grave below. As the rest of the men proceeded to bury the coffin, one of them noticed me, and gasped, “My God are you his brother? I swear you look just like him, just without the hole in the chest.” And he departed with a sadistic chuckle, enveloped into the mist.

What did he mean? I have a 17-year-old brother, and I’m 28. Who could possibly look like me? Curiosity got the better of me and I slowly moved forward to read the gravestone. As the priest muttered something about dust, I pushed past the group of macabre men, who whispered and gasped as I waded towards the stone.

It was obviously new, but it was still shabbily made and I struggled to read the faint engraving. But I stopped reading, stopped moving, almost stopped breathing, fixated on one line. I read it over and over again, until what it said finally sank in: “Here lies Joseph Carter, loved son and brother. 1904- 1932. Rest in peace.” This wasn’t my brother’s grave.

It was mine.


3 weeks earlier…

I was abruptly awoken by my maid, Silvia, who had brought me my crumpets, as usual. I fumbled for my spectacles, which lay upon my cabinet next to the bed, so I could see where my food had been placed. As I looked up, I saw Silvia still standing there, with a forbidding look upon her face. “What is wrong dear?” I asked her, worry encroaching over my brow.
“I have some news for you sir” she said in her London accent. “Something happened while you were away. There’s been some murders sir, terrible ones they were. The police are sayin’ that someone just broke into a house in town and killed a whole family, six of ‘em, even the dog, before vanishin’ without a trace. I think it’s sick, and at Christmas as well. The police chief says he needs to talk to you about it.”
“Well, what does any of this have to do with me?” I enquired, “I quit that dreadful occupation last month, I’m planning to go back into the carpentry business.”
“That’s just it sir,” Silvia explained, her voice getting even more tense. “The police chief came round just yesterday, about an hour before you arrived. He says he can’t find a thing. He reckons that you’re the only man who’s smart enough to solve this from ‘ere up to Manchester. He also says you must come round for a brandy one night.” And with that she took her leave, leaving me alone in my chamber.

Why me? The last murder I solved got… No, don’t think about it. What’s done is done and I won’t let it, make it happen again. I’ll go and tell the Police Chief later.

I roused myself out of bed to look out of my window. It was still quite dark, the clouds imposing over the town with an unfelt malice. The rain pattered pitifully upon the pane and a dense fog lay on the road. I began to turn away when something caught my eye. Someone was standing in the middle of the road, staring at me. He was tall and lean and bald, yet he was relatively young. He was garbed in rather formal attire, his bowler hat in his hand by his side. His mottled face was peppered with stubble, and he had a small chunk of flesh missing from his left ear. He noticed me staring back and the corner of his mouth crept up into a sadistic smile. He placed his hat upon his head and bowed, as if bidding me farewell, and departed into the mist.

I sat down and mused over the sight I had just seen. Questions I wanted answered flooded my mind as I watched the dancing embers in the ancient fireplace. Who was he? Why was he watching me? Still, best not to burden one’s-self with such queries, I thought. So I got dressed and departed for the lounge. I descended the ornate spiral staircase and picked up my newspaper. There was an article on the front page about the murder, so I decided to read about what I have been asked to solve.

“The murder is still surrounded in mystery as the police are not willing to release any information about last week’s events. All we know is that 1 or more members of the Dawson family have been murdered, but how and why is still unknown.”

I continued to read on when something struck me- The police were not telling anyone anything, yet Silvia knew how many people were dead. I discarded the paper and ran to the kitchen to catch her, to find she had gone, left for the market as she does every morning.

It would be pointless going after her- she would be an hour away. Instead I chose to leave for town myself, to talk to the Police Chief about the demise of the Dawson family, to see if I needed to carry out my own investigation upon Silvia.

I left through the grand oaken doors and passed the twin statues of the Gargoyles, silent sentinels, almost standing guard over my country manor. I turned for my groundskeeper’s outhouse when there he was. He just stood there on a hill, just behind the fence circling me grounds, in his suit and bowler hat, just staring at me with his malevolent smirk, and once again he bowed his head politely and left.

Finally my inquisitiveness got the better of me and I ran to discover the man who had been usurping my privacy. But as I surged through the gates and towards his previous location, I saw he had left, disappeared into the fog.

“Is something wrong sir?” William, my groundskeeper asked, startling me. “I saw you run up here and you looked quite distressed.”
“I’m fine,” I said, “ but I saw a man standing up here. Did you see him?”
“Sir, I’ve been gardening just over by the gate for the past 20 minutes and there hasn’t been anyone there since Silvia left.” He said, lowering his brow, “Are you alright Sir? You look a bit, well, not your best.”
I didn’t answer; I was too deep in thought. No one there? But I saw him, I saw him out my window too. Didn’t I? “Get the carriage ready,” I muttered, “take me to Church. I need to think.”

This was the first time I had been to Church since, since the incident. I was never a religious man, but it was quite settling for me, it seemed to remind me it was over. It calmed me. And that day was no exception. I sat and listened to the priest, but didn’t pay any attention to him. I just sat there, almost numbed, feeling content and that it was over it, but as I stepped outside the door, I realised I wasn’t. The sight of all those families, walking and laughing, made me realise what I had lost. So I decided to go and visit the Police Chief to deny the task he had set for me.

As I arrived at the house of my old friend Police Chief Terrence Banfield, a smile greeted my face something that had not happened in a long time. I rang the lion-head knocker and waited for a few seconds before being greeted by a short, rotund individual with a red velvet waistcoat, a glass of sherry in his left hand and a monocle nestled on his right eye.
“Joseph my boy! How are you? How was Paris?”
“I, and France are very good thankyou very much,” I replied, “My maid said there was something you wanted to see me about?”
“Ah yes, that.” He mumbled, his smile leaving him. “Well, let’s get it over with.” He downed his Sherry and invited me in.

The house was as homely as the man who owned it. Candles lined the walls, which were dotted with portraits of Terrence or his ancestors. In the lounge we entered there were three luxurious sofas, which surrounded an ornate coffee table, with a large drinks cabinet in the corner. Yet all this was drowned out by the harrowing reason we were here. We sat ourselves opposite each other and he began explain.

“I’m going to keep this quick, Joseph, as the matter scares me. There has been a mass murder, all six members of the Dawson family. There is no evidence, no signs of forced entry, exit, nothing. In fact, the only things he left were the holes in the bodies. It frightens me to think anyone could be so precise.”
“I know, it sounds horrific.” I said. “Tell me something. Who knew how many people were dead?”
“No one except me. I was called to investigate when a neighbour said he heard was a scream.”

I paused to think about it. There was no way Silvia could have known who was dead so she must be involved. But if I decided to solve the crime, it might cause it to happen again. But the poor people, and the killer could strike again. I must solve it.

And there he was again. Just standing there, in the street outside, with his hat in his hand again. But this time something was different. He had lost his wicked grin, and was now looking at me with a cold scowl, as if I had deeply offended him. I rose out of my seat when he left once again. Now I was sure, and I felt if I could solve the murder, I would find my stalker.

“I’ll do it.” I said. “I’ll come back in the morning and you can show me the, the deceased.”
“Very good.” He replied. “But you better hurry. The bodies are to prepared for burial at 3 o’clock.”
“In that case I shall leave, and see you in the morning.” And with that I took my leave and departed home to confront Silvia.

As soon as the carriage arrived at my front door I leapt out and ran for the house, desperate to interrogate my maid. I opened the door and headed for the kitchen, then the drawing room, then the study until I had searched the whole of the downstairs of the house. Without stopping I surged up the stairs and burst into her chamber to see her in bed, her eyes shut. I thought she was asleep until I looked down and saw two things.

A knife in her chest and a grey bowler hat.