I Got A Job At A Haunted Mansion - Chapter 8
I Got A Job At A Haunted Mansion
2: The Child In The Closet
The room exuded spaciousness, adorned with an array of furnishings: a comfortable bed, a well-organized wardrobe, an elegant table, and a cozy sofa, all hinting at the presence of a previous occupant. As I strolled towards the bookshelf, I gently traced my fingertips across its top, revealing layers of thick dust that spoke of long neglect.
“Is this your friend’s room?”
“Is this where your friend lived?”
“And your friend’s surname is Covozhalden?”
“Um…… I think so,” the child replied hesitantly.
I continued my exploration, and my eyes fell upon a captivating vanity table adorned with intricate craftsmanship, though its contents were haphazardly scattered. Among the items lay a collection of opulent necklaces.
This must’ve been a woman’s room.
I’m unsure if my hunch is correct, but I had stumbled into this place unknowingly, and it seemed prudent to make my exit promptly.
“My friend and I used to play here, but my friend doesn’t play anymore. So, I don’t play here either. But don’t worry; you can play with me, Sister.”
“Having fun is great, but we should play somewhere else…… What are you doing?”
As I turned my gaze towards the child, I froze. The girl had partially crawled into the closet, leaving only her lower body visible, seemingly searching for something. Suddenly, there was a soft thud as an object fell from the closet.
“Sister, take a look at this!”
“What is it?”
I crouched down to inspect the fallen item. It turned out to be a thick notebook.
“My friend used to share captivating stories with me while reading this notebook. But now, I can no longer listen to her.”
Hearing the child’s words, I carefully examined the aged notebook. It had a worn, faded red leather cover, showing signs of age and history.
* * *
The duke had been in a deep slumber, lying so still that it almost seemed as if he were nestled in a coffin in a royal chamber. Perhaps such comparison might not be entirely fitting, but the peacefulness of his rest made the analogy cross my mind. His sleep was so profound that rousing him abruptly seemed a daunting task. Thus, I chose to quietly observe him from across the room, a respectful distance away. Whether he felt my gaze or not, he stirred up, the gentle flutter of his eyelids an indication.
“Are you awake?”
He gradually sat up, rubbing his eyes with both hands, while I walked to the window and gently drew back the curtains. Through the parted fabric, I could see that the sky had turned dusky.
“My sleep was undisturbed. How did you make that possible?” The duke asked.
“There is something I must confess, Your Grace. As I was playing with that child, I unintentionally ended up in your mother’s room.”
But my response to his inquiry wasn’t the answer.
“Whilst I was there, I happened to read the notebook that the child had taken out…… I apologize for my actions.”
With a sense of remorse, I approached him again and extended the notebook with a striking red cover. The duke accepted it with one hand.
“Ah, this? It’s alright. It holds no special significance, and there’s nothing peculiar written within it, correct?”
He then placed the notebook on the table.
“Your Grace, may I know if all the ghosts listed here reside within this mansion?”
I inquired pertaining to the notebook, disregarding his prior remarks. Just a while ago, I stumbled upon a plethora of ghostly entities documented within. Among them, I found information about a young boy with captivating green eyes.
<Theo. Four years old. Fond of cookies but refrains from indulging in them. Occasionally seeks refuge within the closet.>
Though the description was brief, it sufficed to jog my memory of the ghost known as Theo. I delicately continued to peruse the notebook, uncovering records about a young blonde girl as well.
As it turned out, both were apparitions dwelling within this very mansion. Hence, did that imply that every ghost documented within this notebook lives here? Each ghost in this staggering list?
“……No. Mother would occasionally summon these entities and then bid them farewell. These are records of those occurrences.”
“Then, it’s not a case wherein the ghosts, which appear to number over 100, are confined in this mansion, correct? Many ghosts have also been successfully banished, haven’t they?”
The duke’s response was succinct, filling me with relief. However…
“Your Grace, please be honest with me and tell me how many ghosts remain here.”
“Ah…… Then, can I, um, resign?”
“……I’ve already provided you with an advance payment, therefore it’s not possible.”
His reply was rather dry. The advance payment had already been used to settle the inn expenses for my siblings and repair the collapsed roof of our mansion. What a predicament! The mistakes of the past were now coming back to haunt me.
“Alright, I understand……”
I replied, running a hand through my face in frustration. Next month, I must earnestly seek another job or alternative means of income……
“Your Grace, there’s something rather fascinating written on the first page of this notebook.”
“What is it?”
“Your mother mentioned how she would repeatedly bring certain souls in and then send them away……emphasizing the idea that souls clinging to mortal attachments for too long could transform into malevolent spirits. The notebook proposes to help calm these souls, allowing them to ascend and find peace in their journey of reincarnation.”
Throughout my experiences, I’ve encountered numerous apparitions, some of which exhibited malevolence. Despite being aware of their presence, I always chose to avoid acknowledging them, as it brought no good and only instilled fear within me. My understanding of how ghosts could evolve into malevolent spirits was limited, leaving me unsure of the process.
“It seems reminiscent of what my mother used to discuss.”
The duke mused, rising from his seat. Instinctively, I followed suit.
“And……this poses potential dangers. If there are indeed seven lingering ghosts here, and they turn malevolent due to their restless state, it could lead to significant problems.”
My concern stemmed from my awareness of the formidable nature of evil spirits. Unlike souls with potent energy alone, malevolent spirits possessed the ability to greatly influence the mortal realm and could readily cause harm to others.
“Just do your job.”
He instructed, returning to his desk. As if he actually gave me some work.
“Your Grace, we cannot merely overlook this matter……”
I followed him and stood before his desk.
“These are merely tales from my mother’s imaginative mind. Reincarnation, evil spirits… Are such topics even worthy of serious consideration?”
“You can see ghosts, so I assume you believe in them, yes?”
“Your Grace, reincarnation exists. Just as there are ghosts, there are also evil spirits.”
I was born through reincarnation, so how could I not know? Moreover, I vividly recall my past life. Reincarnation is an inherent law of nature granted to everyone.
“Don’t indulge in such baseless talks. Go back to your desk and focus on your work.”
The duke hesitated for a moment before instructing me. No, he had been urging me to work right from the beginning. However, he must assign me a task in order for me to actually do something. His ability to see ghosts naturally evokes fear in him, but even then, why can’t he believe in evil spirits and reincarnation?
I grumbled as I made my way to sit at my expansive desk.
Well, whatever. It matters little to me. In a month’s time, I’ll submit my resignation and leave this mansion. What unfolds here after that holds no concern for me!
Walking over to the bookshelf, I picked up a book on art and philosophy. I sought to alleviate this frustration through the contemplation of philosophical ideas.
* * *
“Laura! Laura! Are you in there?!”
Someone called my name and knocked on the door urgently. I opened the door, still half-asleep and disoriented. Outside, Sonia stood with a bewildered expression.
“What’s going on?”
“Quickly, make your way out. There’s a fire in the madame’s room.”
“Madame? Are you talking about the duke’s mother?”
While I was lost in thought, Sonia grabbed my wrist and pulled me out of my room. Then she rushed down the corridor, and I followed her without much thought.
“It doesn’t seem like a big fire, but just in case, we should be cautious. Let’s stay farthest from the madame’s room.”
“Don’t worry. Just trust me.”
We arrived at a scene of confusion, where maids dressed in nightclothes had gathered. Attempting to inquire about the situation was futile as the head maid promptly lined us up in the corridor. We then started passing buckets of water along the line. Sonia handed me a bucket from my left, and I passed it to another maid on my right. The buckets flowed down the line towards the madame’s room at the end.
Amidst all the chaos, my mind drifted back to the image of the duke’s composed face, seemingly unaffected even in the midst of distress.
If the fire were to completely engulf his mother’s room, wouldn’t he be saddened?
He rarely displayed emotions, and it seemed unlikely that he would shed tears even if every trace of his mother were to be lost in the flames. However, that didn’t mean he wouldn’t feel a profound sense of sadness. Strangely, I found myself sharing that sentiment.
“Laura, if it appears the fire won’t be tamed, we should consider retreating. If we don’t witness any signs of it abating soon, let’s make our escape together,” Sonia whispered, proving her wisdom once again. I enthusiastically nodded in agreement.
However, the main issue we faced was our distant vantage point from the madame’s room, hindering us from closely monitoring the fire’s progress. Hence, it became increasingly challenging to determine the right moment to flee.
“The fire is out!”
Shortly after, a relieving shout spared us from the need to escape discreetly.
“It seems the fire was minor and extinguished quickly.”
“I feared losing my job.”
“Ugh, what a way to wake up.”
The maids whispered among themselves.
“Quiet down, all of you. Go back to your rooms now and rest.”
The head maid reprimanded them.
“Let’s head back and rest. I’m exhausted.”
Sonia turned to me, and we bid goodnight to the others.
The maids returned to their rooms, and I settled into bed. However, despite being exhausted, sleep still eluded me. The duke’s face kept lingering in my thoughts. I was worried. I wonder if he’s okay?