Chapter 1 Scene 2 Casey’s Story
I felt literally sick with excitement when Simon said ‘haunted’. Lee hadn’t told me much about this little venture, only that he was doing Simon a favour and that I would love it, sleeping in a massive old derelict mansion for a week or two. Too right I would love it. I think ‘love it’ is an understatement.
I have always been fascinated by the abandoned, tumbling down and forgotten. Even more so, the paranormal. You know ghosts, spirits and everything supernatural. Maybe it’s how I feel about myself. Being an only child I have always felt unloved and misunderstood, as if I should be something majestic and strong like a house is for people, but I can’t be because my foundations are all cracked and likely to snap if walked over. Lee says that’s why I seem aloof. It’s self -protection. Maybe I am also protecting other people from falling through my floor and lying broken and left for dead in the depths of my cold interior.
I still live with my parents in a remote hamlet in the middle of nowhere. There’s really only me and Chester, my Labrador for company most of the time as Mum and Dad are never home. Dad is the only Doctor for miles around and Mum feels obliged, as a model ‘wifey’, to trail along behind him like a lost puppy working in his surgery and generally wiping his ass for him. Lee says they are great parents, but he only sees them at their best, when he’s home for holidays and they run around like headless chickens trying to make everything right for us. If only they knew. They have no idea that we are together and I think it’s safe to say, would have triple aneurysms each if they found out that Lee sleeps up in my attic room bed with me most nights he’s back in Lincolnshire. I’m 18 for crying out loud.
The worst thing about all this is that they have got it into their dumb ass heads that Lee is with Annabelle. Yes. My best bud, Stella, thinks it’s the best way, but I think it’s horrendous. At least it gets them off my back I suppose. That started because Lee brought her to his house one Christmas because she had problems and couldn’t stay home. She stuck to him like a river leach and it made me want to hurl in her face and box her ears. Not in that order. But of course I didn’t because I needed to prove to Lee that I’m as mature as his friends and that I can take it. To be honest I don’t think he even realised how she was behaving or that I was freaking out. And what do you know, he hasn’t got the faintest notion that Annabelle is acutely and obsessively in love with him. I can see it all and that’s why I’ve still got this sinking feeling in my gut right now. I had it this morning when Annabelle was packing her SUV with all our sleeping bags and food supplies. It was the way she scowled at me and hurled my stuff into the back. It was the way she carefully placed Lee’s bags. Lovingly.
We approached the big thick wooden door of Crowbray School for Girls. Simon couldn’t get the locks open for ages and was cursing it out, but Lee managed to do it somehow. We then trudged back to the car and took all our things into the old place. It took several trips but Lee insisted that he carry all the heavy gear. Simon didn’t bother to get anything, he just waltzed in with the torch and disappeared leaving us in near pitch dark outside to grope around blindly. Lee’s torch was in one of the bags but we couldn’t see to get it out! Annabelle shouted him back but he mumbled something about leaving his stuff for him to bring in because he had all his filming equipment as well. Lee brought it all in though, which left me standing inside the grand entrance, trying to focus, bumping into things to get round to where Annabelle and Simon’s voices were coming from. I couldn’t see much, just breathed in the aroma of derelict that I had grown to like, the earthy mouldy stench that hangs in the air, reminding you that Nature is coming to slowly engulf the bricks and mortar and ease it to the ground. When I reached the room they were standing in the centre surrounded by dull grey light. As I crept inside, it just opened out before me like a giant majestic flower. Simon was running his torch across the walls and up at the ceiling, saying ‘Wow’ over and over again. Annabelle was standing there, hands on hips, black clothes almost camouflaging her completely. I could hear her bracelets clanking when she moved her hands to point to something, telling Simon to point the torch up there and over here.
The walls were at least twenty foot high, with what looked to be shiny silver wallpaper that was hanging off like limp skin in various places around the room. Simon pointed the torch to the front to show me the windows. It was fully dark outside but I could make out the faint shine on the glass and the bright torch light reflecting back in and as I looked up I realised the window were ceiling to floor, with thick, lush velvet curtains cascading down and spilling across the carpet. Some were tied back, but some had been forgotten, standing as still as time. There was a soft hint of a lavender smell which seemed vaguely familiar to me somehow. As I approached the others, it wafted away as Annabelle’s scent hit me. A heady combination of cigarette smoke, Patchouli oil and honey. I hate Patchouli.
Lee came up behind me and scared the crap out of me, grabbing my waist and lifting me slightly. He is way taller than me so he can do these annoying things easily. I yelped like a moron, but he squeezed me from behind, his long arms wrapped around me and kissed my head. He can also rest his chin on my head, which he does a lot. Annabelle turned away and Simon carried on with his torch, shining it around and then directly into our faces. I laughed.
‘Si, is there electricity?’ Lee asked, snuggling into me. I felt warmer and instantly safe. I hated being on my own with Annabelle and Simon because I didn’t know them. I always feel awkward when I meet new people, but with Lee’s friends it’s triple weird. It’s too much pressure to be liked.
‘Well, there are renovations being done at the side of the building, so the owner said there’ll be electric in the kitchen. The construction guys have to use the kettle and stuff. But I don’t think the rest of this place has been hooked up to the grid for about 20 years or so. Why, are you freeeeeeeeeaked?’
Simon put the torch under his chin and pulled a long face. I could see veins and bones I’m sure. He smiled for the first time ever. I hadn’t really looked at Simon’s face much as his black hair was always swept over his eyes, but I saw now that he was really good looking. He had lovely deep green eyes and full lips, with a ring through the bottom one and a stud just shining out below the lip. What I liked most was that he was wearing a little bit of black eye liner. Lee wouldn’t be able to pull that shit off in a million years, even though he had offered plenty to experiment for me. Lee had no piercings, no tattoos, nothing. I wondered where Simon’s tats were, cos he was sure to have some.
Lee laughed, which snapped me back into reality. That’s when we noticed what was illuminated above Simon. I just saw the outline of it and grabbed his arm, directing the torch so it shone right up the middle of it. It was an ornate, beautiful crystal chandelier, but not your average over –the- top- one. This was three tiered with hundreds of black spirals and cream crystals cascading down like a fountain. It was falling from a height so tall that the torch light just faded out before it reached the ceiling.
”Can I fit that in my bag?” Annabelle joked. Simon laughed and I couldn’t help but feel the wrath. What was found in abandoned places, stayed in abandoned places. That was the first rule of URBEX: “take only pictures, leave only footprints…”
”That’s really disrespectful of the URBEX culture.” I stated. Simon looked at me, puzzled. Annabelle looked down at me and shrugged her shoulders.
”Of the what culture?” she mocked, smiling slyly as if to say, you are talking shit girl.
”URBEX. Urban Exploration.” I explained, standing my ground. ”There are thousands of communities all over the world. It’s about respecting old places, you know. These things belong in history and belonged to someone once. That’s all. Rant over.”
I had just wanted to make a point. Get one over on her.
Annabelle sighed and turned away.
‘Where’s Jo, anyway’? She suddenly asked, staring intently at Lee, puzzled, totally negating my conversation.
‘I have no idea. Maybe he’s gone to check the kitchen out. He had some boxes of beers the last time I saw him and I told him where it was.’ Lee said, grabbing my hand. ‘Come on let’s go check the place out and get our things sorted.’