The Island Getaway
Teresa Grabs wrote:
As soon as Liam read the advertisement, he knew the place was for him. Three-story newly renovated home on private island in the middle of Hidden Hollow Lake. Owner motivated to sell.
“I will have it!” He scanned the ad for a contact number and phoned it immediately. To his surprise, the agent said the house was his as soon as she answered the phone. “What do you mean the house is mine? I haven’t even made an offer yet.”
She laughed. “Mr. Owens, I have been instructed to sell the home to the first person who called, and today is your lucky day. I can meet you on the pier in an hour with your keys.”
“Oh… okay… yeah! Today really is my lucky day, isn’t it?”
Liam rushed around his tiny apartment, threw a few items into a backpack, and caught the train to the pier. Halfway expecting this to be a scam, he was gobsmacked when a professional-looking woman approached him, smiling.
“Mr. Owens, I presume?”
“Um, yeah, that’s me.”
“Good. Sign here, please, and I can release your keys to you.”
His hand shook with anticipation as he scratched his name on the form.
“And here are your keys. That man will take you to the island,” she said, pointing to a man in a small row boat. “Thank you for your business.”
He watched as she walked toward the parking lot and disappeared into the crowd. “How’d she know my name?”
“You ready?” the boatman called.
“Oh, yeah. Sorry.” He climbed into the row boat and took in the beautiful scenery before him, forgetting all about the sales agent. “This is really pretty, isn’t it?”
The man didn’t respond.
“Ok.” Liam sat in silence until the island came into view. It looked exactly as it had in the advertisement. He rubbed his eyes and pinched himself, convinced it was a dream.
“Get out here,” the boatman said, sternly as they reached the shore.
“Well, thanks, I guess.” Liam stepped out into knee-deep water and shivered as it soaked his pants. “How do I get back?” he asked as the boatman pushed away from the shore.
“There’s a flare in the house should you need it,” he called back, shaking his head.
Liam turned around and saw …
…first that a lush forest started directly behind the house and traveled the length of the island. Tropical birds were screeching and flying from branch to branch, their feathers glinting red, yellow, and green in the sun’s ample beams.
That’s funny, this isn’t a tropical location. What happens to the birds in when winter comes?
Liam walked the hundred yards from the water’s edge to the front of the house. He had been impressed with it in the photos and as they approached the island, but up close he saw that the home had the appearance of being vacant for a long time. Mildew had settled into the corners of the windows. There were wet leaves layered on the porch that were disintegrating. There were cobwebs covering the front door. Curiously though, there were what looked like large dog footprints that had worn a path around the front of the house and carried on towards the back of the house.
Liam walked up the leaf-sodden steps to the front door and pulled out the keys. Neither of the keys worked in the lock! He decided to walk around back to see if they’d work on the other door. As he got to the back, he noticed right away that a well-worn path led into the forest/jungle. Like the front, large dog-like prints littered the path.
Liam sighed in relief when the back door opened to one of the keys. He stepped into a stately home that must have cost a fortune to build out here on the island back in its day. Each room spared no expense. The kitchen had marble counters and ceramic floors. The dining room had a heavy oak table with 14 heavy chairs and regressed cupboards. The living room was big enough for large parties, where the centerpiece was a massive stone fireplace.
Over the mantelpiece, high on the stones, was a trophy head of a wolf.
I’m no wildlife expert but that wolf head is three times as large as a normal wolf’s head!
The sun was sitting lower in the sky, throwing shadows inside. Liam tried the light switch, but no power.
That’s right, I need to go turn the generator on in the basement.
Using the substantial oak staircase leading to the basement, he needed his flashlight which he pulled from his knapsack. Within minutes the generator was chugging and he flicked the basement light on. Looking around down there he saw a heavy iron door with a substantial lock on it.
I wonder if that’s what this other key is for?
Liam tried the key in the door, and it clicked. Pulling the heavy door took some strength. Looking in, a shiver ran up Liam’s spine. What he saw with his flashlight looked like the entrance to an underground passage of a cave that had been blasted or carved out of the granite. Liam could hear water echoing in the cave. Then he heard another sound. . . .
At first he couldn’t quite make it out, but then as his ear adjusted to the echo of the granite passage it became clear. It was the melodic singing of a woman. It was husky, but somehow hypnotically alluring. Almost involuntarily, he moved towards the voice.
The passage was a bit longer than he had anticipated, and took two unexpected turns making his ability to calculate his position in relation to the island almost impossible. Was he still even “on” the island or was he under the lake? The dripping after the first turn suggested the latter, but he was unsure.
Night had fallen before he reached what could only be describe as a subterranean portico. As he approached the porch-way, his flashlight flitted across what seemed in gloom to be the nude figure of a middle aged woman, but when he focused the beam back on the spot where he had seen the apparition, there was nothing there. Then there was a definite movement which he caught in his peripheral vision. Something large, and dark shot into the forest beyond.
“What the f —,” he said aloud, jumping back against the passageway wall. After steeling himself, he shot his light towards the cave mouth to the trees beyond. Well, at least I’m still on the island, he mused trying to give himself some consolation.
Once he was sure that nothing was going to come in from the outside he began to systematically examine the porch. There was a fair amount of tracked-in dirt on the floor, but it was clear that the surface underneath was tiled. There was a marble bench and a matching marble table – on which there was a framed black and white photo of a young well-to-do looking couple dressed in a style popular just after the Second World War.
His light then fell on a small pile of neatly folded woman’s clothing placed carefully on the corner of the bench. Under the seat was a pair of elegant shoes, which seemed to placed with similar care. He stooped to examine the shoes, and as he did his flashlight illuminated not only small human footprints in the layer of dirt, but more of the huge dog prints almost everywhere in the chamber.
He nearly jumped out of his skin when one of the tropical birds called out in the night. It was then that he saw . . .
Teresa Grabs is the host of Finish The Story. She tagged to write a chapter.
I’m tagging Joanne the Geek to continue/finish the story. I hope she will take up the challenge, as I love her twists in the tale.
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