Title: The Music
Characters: Mostly George, Leota, and an original character, but other characters pop up.
Setting: The wonderfully grim Haunted Mansion.
Summary: A ballet dancer comes to stay at the mansion and in advertently disrupts Leota's work. Leota takes drastic steps to get back at her.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Haunted Mansion or anything affiliated with it, but oh if I did…
Before we start, I'd like to give a brief shout out to my wonderful BETA Gabby. You rock! Ok, now on with the show...er, story! Enjoy!
George Gracey sat at his desk tinkering with an old music box. The box had belonged to his aunt, Victoria, when she was a young girl, but over the years, it had broken. George had hoped that he could fix it in time for his aunt's birthday next week; however, the years of wear were a difficult adversary. Rust and stripped screws had populated the innards of the box. It had taken George weeks to fix the mechanics. He set down his screwdriver and opened the lid.
Music from Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty poured from the box, while a tiny figure of a ballerina pirouetted in the centre. Every detail of the box was perfect, from the expression of joy on the red headed dancer's face to the gold painted flowers that adorned the outside of the white ceramic box. Gently, George shut the lid and set the box in one of his large desk drawers. He then turned his attention to his work.
His client had many files and George knew that there would be many a sleepless night of going over these documents. It wasn't as if anyone would miss him, except perhaps Victoria. He sighed as his thoughts wandered from the paperwork to his late wives.
Lily – the love of his life and Emily – so young. He missed them both, although Emily wasn't with him for long. He felt cursed in love; doomed to be alone. Slowly, his mind wandered back to his case and stayed there for hours.
At five o' clock, Victoria burst into the room to find George bent over his work, scribbling furiously on a legal pad. His hair was somewhat disheveled from running his hands through it, and he'd thrown off his suit jacket and rolled up his sleeves. His tie was loose and askew, but still around his neck.
He looked up and pushed his dark hair out of his tired eyes.
"You look like a mess. Get up, dear."
He looked at her blankly for a moment.
"George, get up! And be quick about it."
Victoria was bustling around gathering his suit jacket, straitening his tie, and combing his hair back with her fingers. She chattered on as she hurried around him.
"You should wash your hands; you have pencil marks all over them. And why won't this hair lay flat."
She began an attempt to flatten his hair, but George foiled her attempt by brushing her had away. Undaunted, she began unrolling his sleeves and trying to remove the graphite.
"Victoria, what is going on?" He loosened his tie a bit; he'd never liked tight things around his neck.
Victoria brushed off his jacket and put it on him as she answered.
"Miss Irvine, the dancer, is coming in a few minutes! Don't tell me you forgot! Really, George. Come on she'll be here any minute."
She pulled him out of the room, practically dragging him down the dark, shadowy halls in her enthusiasm. Undisturbed by the darkness, she still prattled on.
"George, we must have a gala for her! Not tonight, of course. Tonight is the party for Marc and Kim. Oh, how happy they look together! I've heard quite a bit about this young lady. She's said to be one of the best dancers anywhere, and quite lovely too."
They finally reached the foyer, but that did not end Victoria's fussing.
"Stand up straight, George. What's that on your cheek?" She rubbed his cheek until the mark disappeared and his cheek turned a bright red. "Looked like pencil."
She shrugged and went back to brushing off his jacket, straightening his tie again, and other tasks. The sound of a motor and a car pulling up into the drive reached their ears.
"Here she is!" Victoria could barely contain her excitement.
There was a soft knock on the door. George walked to the door slowly and masterfully. Mustering his demeanor that consisted of a dramatic flair and a touch of airs, he slowly opened the door. The sight of a young woman greeted him. She couldn't have been much older than twenty-one, and she wore a white suit that contrasted with her brunette hair. In her hand, she carried a simple suitcase, and she looked up at him through thick eyelashes.
"Miss Irvine, I presume?"
"You presume correctly. I then presume that you are the illustrious Master Gracey, are you not?"
She had a slight impish look in her eyes, as if she was in on some private joke. George almost smiled in spite of himself.
"Won't you come in, Miss Irvine?"
"Thank you, I'd be delighted."
As she stepped over the threshold of the manor, her eyes flickered to the portrait above the fireplace and back to George. He pretended not to notice her slightly appreciative gaze and instead introduced her to Victoria.
"Oh, it's lovely to meet you, Miss Irvine."
"Please, call me Julia."
"Very well then, Julia. You must come and see the ballroom. I do hope you will dance for us." Victoria began to lead her down the hall. Julia looked surprised, at both the enthusiasm and the strength of the woman. Her talking grew fainter as they walked into the bowels of the manor. George stuck his hands casually into his trouser pockets and watched the two ladies disappear from sight. As they walked away some of the words jumped out at him, to be specific 'gala on Friday'. Something in the back of his mind warned him of that date.
After shaking his head to clear it he looked back up at his portrait. It had been awhile since he'd looked at it. The picture had been painted before the Depression for his eighteenth birthday. He stared into his eyes, if that was possible, and found the bright blue unnerved him. His eyes had grown slightly darker over the years and weren't the intense blue they once were, but the rest of his features stayed true to the painting. Suddenly, the eyes blinked at him, or so he thought. Now a little more than unnerved, he walked quickly down the hall to the study. What he didn't know is that the eyes followed him down the hall and watched as he walked out of sight. The pair of eyes blinked again and turned a bright, poisonous, green before disappearing completely.
He walked into the conservatory. This was his favourite place just to come and think. As September began to grow cool and leaves began to fall, the exotic plants flourished. At the centre of the greenhouse was an object to satisfy some of George's macabre sense of humour. An intricately carved coffin sat there with a funeral wreath propped up on an easel.
Gracey had been told that the coffin had belonged to a European who was made to believe, by his enemies, that he was a descendant of Vlad the Impaler and a vampire. He was put in his coffin by day and the lid was nailed down every night by his enemies. Every night he tried to get out, but to no avail. Finally, he died of suffocation.
But what really had attracted George was the legend that at night his body still tries to escape its prison. With his mechanical expertise, he had rigged the lid to lift and placed the skeleton's hands as if he was trying to lift it. Whenever guests would come to tour the room, he would pull his little prank.
His ears caught the sound of heels clicking echoing through the empty halls. Never had he resisted the chance to scare people. He watched as Julia walked into the room. Standing stock still, only his eyes followed her as she examined the plants scattered about the room. She liked the silence and the solitude of the room. Unfortunately, George could hold in his eagerness no longer. In a deep, silky, dramatic voice, he addressed her.
"Good evening, Miss Irvine."
Julia jumped slightly and whirled around. There was an amused gleam in his eyes. She looked back at him with an equal gleam in her eyes.
"Good evening, to you too, Master Gracey." She walked over to stand across from him." Do you always hang around with Venus flytraps and…" She glanced at the casket. "…coffins?"
"From time to time, but this coffin has a story."
"Most coffins do."
"Well, yes, but this is a truly chilling tale resulting in the death of a would-be vampire."
She looked at him with a mixture of curiosity and disbelief.
The gleam in George's eyes grew brighter.
"With pleasure. I bought this coffin from a man named Vincent Toombs."
"Toombs? That was his name?"
"Yes, quite ironic isn't it? Anyway, he told me an interesting story of the original owner. The man who is enclosed in here," he patted the top of the coffin, "was tricked into thinking he was…"
From behind him, a raven cawed loudly. They both turned to find the bird perched on the funeral wreath and a figure emerging from the shadows. A woman stepped into what light there was. She was tall with jet-black curly hair and bright green eyes. She moved with grace and dignity. If Disney's Sleeping Beauty had been released in 1940 then this woman could be compared with Maleficent. She held out her hand and the raven hopped on.
"Now, now my pet, don't interrupt the Master's story." She looked at the pair. "Are you still telling that story, Master Gracey?"
A pink blush could be seen developing underneath his collar. "Hello, Leota. This is Miss Julia Irvine, a dancer."
"Charmed, I'm sure." She took Julia's hand in a firm shake as her eyes flickered between the two. Julia cringed faintly at Leota's firm grip and ice-cold hand.
"So what have you been up to Leota?" Gracey's tone sounded a bit anxious. "Have you found her yet?"
"Just the usual: summoning spirits, reading tea leaves and tarot cards. I haven't found her, but she will show herself in time."
"Will you be joining us for…?"
"No, I have no intention of leaving my readings tonight. It's almost the thirteenth, and since my last attempt was foiled in October, I suggest you keep things quiet."
"Yes…I-I'll tell Victoria."
"Thank you. By the way you haven't seen my daughter around, have you?" It seemed that she put an emphasis on the word daughter.
"N-no, should I have?" George glanced around a bit nervously as he answered.
Leota just stared at him in silence for a moment instead of answering. Then she turned and walked out of the room just as silently.
"Who was that?" asked Julia after they had watched the gypsy disappear into the shadows.
"My live-in psychic."
Julia just looked into the shadows confused about the conversation she had just witnessed.
"What sort of a man," she thought, "keeps a live-in psychic and a coffin in his conservatory?"
Quiet fell over the mansion. The shadowed corridors became darker and the house itself settled into an eerie state. No one was up and about, save for two people. Behind a door marked Leota's Boudoir came the sound of chanting.
The inside of the room was filled with curious objects. Tapestries and charts adorned the walls. In the centre of the room was a round table covered in red fabric. Two dark wood chairs padded with dark fabric sat at the table. The only light in the room came from candles of all varieties and the green glow of the crystal ball in the centre of the table.
Leota sat over her crystal ball, peering into the green smoke that filled the ball. Across from her sat Master Gracey. He was eagerly awaiting her verdict.
Spirits from the
grave, ghouls beneath!
Show us the one shredded by a reptile's teeth!
"Do you have to put it like that?"
Leota silenced him with a look.
Ghoulies pick up
Show us the girl, show us her face!
Suddenly the candles blew out and the small circular room was enveloped in darkness except for the glow from the crystal ball.
You have showed us
Now finish the job by your own design!
George peered into the green mist hoping against hope that he would see her. For a split second a face of a beautiful young woman with her brown hair in ringlets and her eyes bright with amusement appeared. The picture disappeared along with the smoke, encasing the room in total darkness.
"That was her!" George's voice was full of happiness and he looked as if he was about to jump around the séance room. Leota lit the candles beside her and answered with an air of indifference.
"Yes, I suppose it was."
Her raven cawed loudly from its perch above Leota's head.
"Yes, well, very successful. Now, master, if you don't mind, I would like to rest. This has taken away much energy."
"Of course. Until tomorrow night then."
Leota nodded at him and he opened the door and descended the stairs. He was so happy he felt like he could fly. Quietly down the hall he did a Dick Van Dyke-like dance, clicking his heels all the way.
Leota closed the door and let out a soft malicious laugh.
"Well, my pet, he certainly is gullible, isn't he?"
The raven only cawed in reply.
"The poor fool doesn't even know that I've got her trapped in these walls never to be seen, heard, or freed."
The raven looked her with its beady red eyes.
"And in a days time I'll have the means to have him and his fortune. He doesn't have a clue! It's all so delicious!"
She started laughing again and she slumped into her chair.
"Oh, on the stroke of twelve on Friday night I will have the power to do anything."
The clock in her room struck one and the raven cawed along with it.
"Off to bed, my pet. We have a big night coming up."
That was Chapter One. I hope you liked it and hopefully it will be updated again next Friday. Please Review.