Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Spooky Treat!

 The Shadow On The Sill
         By Lyana

“And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!”

Lilly shivered as she closed the hardbound cover of the anthology with a snap.  She couldn’t remember when it became her tradition to while away the hours of All Hallows Eve in Poe’s company, but his bleak, darkly imaginative prose and poetry just seemed to suit the feel of these hours when the walls between the seen and unseen worlds grew thin.  The earlier hours belonged to the neighbourhood children who thronged her door, drawn by her legendary caramel apples.  But after the last yawning sticky-faced princess was led back out into the chilly drizzle by a bemused parent, she had pushed the deadbolt into place, turned off the porch light and drawn the drapes.  

She reached for her snifter of cognac, savouring the cozy warmth of her favourite room.  Evidence of her “book problem” marched in tidily organized shelves, interspersed with treasured reminders of loved people and places.  Nearly every piece of furniture held memory, and the intricately carved mantelpiece had been rescued from her grandmother’s home just before it was torn down.  She loved the dancing flames of a wood fire on the hearth but they and the flicker of the long taper beside her threw macabre shadows on the book-lined walls.  She straightened abruptly – there - by the corner of the window – had one shadow actually taken on more substance for just a moment?  A second, longer glance showed nothing unusual and she shook her head with a wry smile - good thing she hadn’t read “The Tell-Tale Heart” tonight!

Dismissing it as a trick of atmosphere and imagination, she allowed her mind to wander from its usual efficient, practical restraints into the imaginative – what if there was another realm, and what if myths of the dead who walked on this night were true?  She thought of poor Lenore and her maddened lover, and she was very grateful that her only acquaintance with a raven was the one that had flown either just ahead of or parallel with her car for a mile or more through the Petrified National Forest.  The knowing spark in its eye when it turned to look at her through the window had been spooky enough in broad daylight, never mind having it loom in the dark croaking “Nevermore” at unnerving intervals!

But another more pronounced movement caught her eye, and this time, there was no denying the change in the shadow on the sill.  It wavered and sharpened, lengthening ever so slightly with each flicker.  Down the hall, the old clock began to chime the hour – one, two, three, four…  The sound filled the room, shattering the silence.  Five, six, seven, eight…  She could now see a human-like outline, head, arms and legs distinct.  She shrank back in her chair, eyes wide and desperately attempting (and miserably failing) to keep her breathing calm and quiet.  Nine, ten, eleven…  Was it really that late?  Twelve…  As the features formed, she felt a shriek rise but just as quickly subside as she took in the unruly, side-parted hair, broad forehead, drooping mustache, tormented eyes and wildly outdated clothing.  She knew this apparition!  Or at least she thought she recognized him.  But how was he here, and why?
As the shape assumed more solidity, the ghostly visitor began to move as if observing his surroundings and when his gaze moved toward her, she froze in her seat, hardly daring to breathe.   Pondering the possibilities of visitors from another realm was all well and good, but having one show up unannounced in her library was quite another!

He seemed not to notice her, for which she was profoundly grateful, and began to explore the room, hesitantly peering into shadows, carefully pushing aside the drapes; he jumped as a log cracked with a shower of sparks.  He finally turned and began to walk toward her, but just as she was about to attempt a greeting, the silence was broken by a tap-tap-tap.   He whirled toward the sound, and flung his arms over his head, crying, “When shall I have peace once more?”  She stared in horrified fascination as wisps of smoke from the dying fire became wings, then claws, then glimmering jet eyes.  It circled the room lazily before settling atop one of the book cases, its enigmatic gaze focused on the other apparition.  She curled into herself, eyes closed and hands pressed to her ears as her visitor cursed, threatened and pleaded with the creature sitting unconcerned, its only reply a maddening “Nevermore.”  

The hall clock’s chime was a relief – something familiar in the surreal.  And then she realized with a start that all was quiet – she hesitantly opened her eyes and ears to find that she was alone again and daylight peeped around the curtains.  Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she stretched sore muscles and groaned – what a dream that had been!  It wasn’t the first time she wished she had the sense to read in bed – it was so much more comfortable than waking up in a chair.

Lilly picked up her book from where it had fallen to the floor, and crossed the room to return it to its proper place.  But as she reached up to replace it, her hand met something both sharp and soft.  Heart pounding, her hand closed around the object and she drew it out. 

She stood frozen, staring at a single raven feather.   


  1. This is a wonderful story Lyana! It sent chills down my spine. Brrr! Thanks so much for sharing it with us...I love the creativity and talent that is showcased here on TCKT. :)

  2. Oh good - I knew it gave me chills, but wasn't sure it would do that for someone else. :-) You're very welcome - I feel like a gain so much from this little place, I'm glad to have something to offer in return.

  3. Lyana, what a wonderful, thrilling story!

    I had no idea you were a writer; for me, the sign of a good author is when I can picture the story as I read and anxiously anticipate what is coming next. That's exactly what happened as I read this.

    I'm sure you posted it in time for Halloween but I'm happy to have a diversion from the politics. Thank you

  4. I'm glad you liked it, florie! I think of myself as a dabbler, writing when the muse hits. :-) Glad it provided a break from the political craziness. I've pretty much sworn off Facebook until after the election due to the numbers of Paulbots and Obamabots on my friends list - don't have time or inclination to engage them, so I'm going for avoidance...

  5. VERY nice, Lyana. Well-described, nice atmosphere and just creepy enough to read bofore bed on All Hallows Eve.

  6. Thank you, Mr. Typos! That is high praise indeed, coming from you - you write the best creepy stories. :-)

  7. A jewel of a story Lyana. Perfect length for the internet age! I loved the transition into late evening with the advance of the shadows from the fireplace...