Summary: Most houses are built for people to live in, but some are built to hide dangerous secrets. Swan Manor holds those types of secrets. Once Bella begins to unravel the intense underground world lurking just below her feet, she must decide if she is prepared to risk everything to set a certain someone free.
Rated M for language, violence, and some sweet loving. B/E, AU. Supernatural, Vampires, and a crazy fun ride.
Alternate Universe Warning - These are not your typical Twilight vampires. I took some liberties and changed things a bit. Please understand that if certain aspects are not described accurately according to SM's Twilight Universe, I am completely aware and have done so intentionally. Thanks for understanding.
A/N: A special thanks to CoppertopJ for your pre-reading, editing, and all around awesomeness.
Disclaimer: Clearly I'm not Stephenie Meyer. Twilight and all its characters are hers. I just borrow them to play for a while. No copyright infringement was intended.
Chapter 1 – A Lulling in the Dark
For as long as I could remember, I heard the humming. It lulled me to sleep every night, and comforted me through the thunderous raging storms. It was in one of my earliest memories. As a scared little girl during my first night in the large spooky manor, it was the humming that drowned out the creaks and thumps. It was the only thing that got me through the darkness.
"Are there ghosts here, daddy?" I vaguely recalled asking my father one morning.
"Of course not, silly," he dismissed. "This is just an old creaky house. The pipes sing when the water runs through them. Nothing more," he had told me with a reassuring smile and a playful wink.
One of my later memories was of me asking my father again about the strange but soothing hum that would carry into my room at night, but like before, my father would always have an excuse. "It's an old house, love bug. Go back to sleep."
But the manor was a chilling place. It was more than the drafts and the seemingly random wisps of moist crispness to air, there was an all around eeriness that followed me around the massive dark halls. Low thuds and muffled rumbles that could not be so simply explained. My father, however, seemed oblivious.
"There! Did you hear it?" I had asked once during dinner. It was so loud that the very ground below my feet even vibrated, and the water in my glass rippled.
"Hear what, honey?" Dad asked me.
I could only come to three conclusions – either my dad was messing with my mind on purpose, he was going deaf, or I was going stark raving mad. They all seemed wrong on so many levels, so I decided to keep my thoughts and concerns about the noises to myself from then on.
Swan Manor had been in our family for more than ten generations. Ever since The Great Revolution, a Swan had resided within its walls. It was an exquisite building with its twenty seven rooms, three floors, and the most beautiful gardens I had ever seen. It was a dream home for most, and such an amazing place to grow up - if only it wasn't for the creepy nights. Of course, there were those who envied the nights there as well...
"I can't believe you actually get to live in a haunted house," my friend Jessica had said during her first self-invited sleepover. It was the summer when I was twelve, and despite having a bunch of friends, that was the first time I ever had anyone at the house. I never wanted anyone there. It was as if I knew somehow, someway, it just wasn't safe. But that summer Jessica developed a fascination with ghosts after watching some scary movie, and she would not be stopped.
"It's not haunted," I rebuffed, trying to convince myself just as much as her. "It's just old and creaky."
"I'm sorry, I'm not convinced. How can an old place like this not be haunted? Why don't you give me a tour," she suggested eagerly.
I huffed. "Can we not? There's really nothing exciting about it. I promise."
"Oh please, Bella," she whined. "I bet you'll never let me sleep over here again. This could be my only chance to see a real ghost."
"There aren't any ghosts," I said frustrated.
"Well, maybe there are in the far side of the house," she said with wiggling brows.
"Ugh, fine," I relented. "But I hope you're not afraid of the dark."
It was such a huge place, and due to the fact that we weren't exactly rich, my dad could only afford to keep electricity running to half of it. So I grabbed some flashlights, and reluctantly led Jessica to the dark side of the manor.
"So this is the west wing," I told her as we clicked on our flashlights. "We rarely come over here."
"You don't have a cleaning staff?" Jess questioned while waving a cob web away from her face.
"No, but we do hire a cleaning crew to come in before Christmas. My dad turns on the electricity when we have our big annual family reunion during Christmas break. Extended family comes from all over the world, so it's nice having the extra space. But there is a groundskeeper who lives in a smaller house on the property somewhere. He only works on the outside though."
"Gosh, you would think owning a place like this you could afford to keep the electricity running all the time."
I shrugged. "Well, we're far from rich. This place has been in our family for a long time, it's not like we bought it."
"To tell you the truth, I kind of like it all dusty and full of webs. Makes it more fun to look around. You should really throw a big Halloween party here. It would be totally awesome. I bet there are rooms in this place you've never even been in, huh?" she said with astonishment while we continued down the dark hall.
"I actually have been in all of these rooms." I told her as we stopped in front of another door. I opened it, and pointed my light inside the room so she could see.
"Wow, each room is decorated like an old doll house," she commented. "Freaky. Your mom must have really been into lace."
I shrugged. "She left when I was four, so I don't remember her too well. But I don't think she decorated any of these rooms. They were here long before she was."
"Where did your mom go anyway?" Jess asked curiously. "There are so many different rumors around town."
I laughed once. "What kind of rumors?"
"Oh, you know."
"No, I really don't," I denied.
"The rumors that your dad actually killed her," she said, taking me aback. When I raised my brows in surprise and confusion, she hesitantly continued. "Well, there's talk that your dad chopped her up and buried her in the basement here. I mean, I heard he use to be the police chief a few towns over, but when you guys moved in here, he quit his job, and your mom disappeared not long after." She raised her shoulder. "Your dad is a little antisocial. People only see him out and about when he's taking you places."
"So, because he's a little shy, people make up stories about him? Wow. It's a wonder that your parents even let you spend the night here if they seriously think my dad is a murderer."
"Oh, no one really thinks that, Bella. It's just one of those fun spooky stories the kids tell. You know, passed down from older siblings and such. My older brother is the one who told me. He remembers when your mom left. It was the talk of the town."
"It's nice to know that the pain of my mom's abandonment is so entertaining for everyone," I grumbled.
"Bella, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings."
"It's fine. Let's just get this tour over with so we can go back to the kitchen to make popcorn and s'mores."
We exited the room, and finished the creaky walk to the end of the long hall. We did the same on the other two floors as well, but when we reached the very end of the last hall, Jessica wasn't quite ready for the tour to be finished.
"What's in that door?" she asked of the only one I didn't open for her.
"It's just a storage closet."
"Can we see inside?"
I crinkled my brows. "Why?"
"Because it's a creepy door at the end of a creepy hall."
"There is literally just brooms and cleaning supplies in there."
"Please," Jess practically begged.
I rolled my eyes. "Fine, whatever." I opened the door and pointed my flashlight inside the musty closet. "See? Nothing cool."
Jessica smiled with wide eyes, and then she took a step into the closet. "Feel that? It's colder in here. There must be a ghost."
"It's cold everywhere in this house," I disagreed."
"Yeah, but it's colder in here." Then she oddly stomped her foot. "The ground is hollow. Hear it? What's below us?"
"Nothing. We're on the bottom floor."
"No, listen." She stomped again.
"It's probably just a crawl space or something. There's no basement here."
"Maybe that's where your dad keeps his victims' dead bodies," she said way too excitedly.
"Your mom isn't the only person who has gone missing in this area. That's all I'm saying."
"Whatever. Let's just go back to the kitchen now," I suggested, suddenly feeling anxious.
"Hey, look at this," Jessica called after me as I tried to lead her away. "There's like a little door down here. Come help me open it."
"Jessica, no. Let's just go back…"
"Are you scared?" she teased me. "Come on? How bad could it be?"
I would never admit it, but suddenly I was scared, and I had no idea why. Of course, my twelve year old brain only used that fear as a challenge.
"Okay. Let's just open it and look inside. That's it."
Jess agreed, but it took both of us pulling on the handle with all our strength to get the door to finally screech open.
"Whoa," Jessica said as we aimed our lights down the hole. "Can you even see the bottom?"
"No," I whispered. An icy chill hit us from below, and I reflexively slammed the door shut.
"Oh, come on. We have to go down there," Jessica said eagerly.
I shook my head. "I think I need to talk to my dad."
I didn't wait until Jessica was convinced, nor did I pause at her protests. I just hurried away, and hoped she was following me.
For the rest of our sleepover, Jess bugged me to go back, but I refused and wouldn't budge. The minute her mom picked her up, I planned to go talk to my dad about the freaky hatch, however I lost my nerve.
My father was my only family, my best friend, my hero, and I wasn't ready to allow any skeletons in the closet to get in the way of that. Of course, that didn't stop my fearful curiosity.
It wasn't even two nights later that I was lying awake at night in my bed, and once again, heard the odd hum. It had always made me feel safe, however now that comforting sound made me nervous and scared. What if it wasn't in my imagination? What if the sounds were real, and coming from that dark mysterious hole?
I held my breath and quieted my mind, hoping to find a source of the sound. After a few deafeningly loud beats of near silence, my eyes reflexively followed my straining ears, and finally I pinpointed that the faint sound was coming from the vent in the floor next to my bathroom.
I wasn't sure if I was relieved, or even more terrified. Perhaps the hum was nothing more than the air purring through the old ductwork, but when I found myself practically lying over the vent to try to hear it better, I became almost positive there was an actual melody to the hum. The cadence of highs and lows couldn't have been random or organic. Someone, or something, was making the soft rhythmic murmurs vocally, and now I was absolutely petrified.
I couldn't sleep that night. I just laid there for hours, staring at the ceiling, listening to the hum. When the sun finally came up, the sound stopped. So I waited. I went to school that morning, but my mind never left my bedroom, and when I was finally finished, I couldn't get home fast enough, and I continued to wait.
That night I was unsurprised to hear the humming again. I wanted to keep listening, but I ended up falling asleep right there on the floor, with my ear pressed against the vent.
I awoke the next morning angry with myself that I had succumbed to sleep, however I soon decided it was probably for the best. Spooky things always happened at night, so the safest thing to do was fake being sick to get out of school, and do my investigation during the day. In my twelve year old brain, this made perfect sense. So, as soon as my father left for the store, I grabbed my flashlight, went back to that storage closet, and opened the hatch.
"This is so dumb," I said to myself as I clinched the flashlight in my teeth, and grabbed ahold the ladder so I could descend.
Step down after step down, the hole seemed to go on forever, until finally the ladder ran out of steps. I looked down below my feet, and noticed there was about a five foot drop off before the ground. I knew I could get down without a problem, but would I be able to pull myself back up?
My head bobbed up and down between the ground and the room above where I had come from. Should I go back up, or had I come too far to give up at that point? In the end, my stubbornness persevered over my fear, and I jumped down.
It was pitch black, except for the beam of light shooting out of my flashlight, which made the cold damp musty location that much more eerie. I could only assume it was some undocumented basement, however when I flashed my light on the cracked stone walls, I was shocked to see they were surrounding rusted barred cells. It could have easily been a medieval dungeon scene from some movie, but it wasn't a movie, it was a part of my home; I had been sleeping above it for the past eight years. That realization left a frigid chill running up my spine.
"Weird," I mumbled.
The word came out of my mouth softer than a whisper, but it echoed off the walls and bounced around the room. When it reverberated back to me, the sound was followed by a faint "Bella," and I immediately jumped.
"Who's there?" I demanded. My entire body was shaking, but I couldn't run. I was absolutely paralyzed with fear.
When I heard my name again, as soft as a breeze caressing your ears on a cool fall evening, I darted my light straight to one of the barred cells.
There, staring back at me through the beam of light, was a glowing eye.
I screamed louder than I had ever screamed in my life, and I dropped the light, making everything go black…
***A/N: Anyone interested?
Right now I'm planning for Friday updates. As the story picks up, I'll probably up it to twice a week, and when it gets closer to the end, I've been known to update every other day ;-)
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