Original post date: 31/10/2013. Updated post date: 22/07/2017
The evening of October 31; the eve of All Saints' Day;All hallows Eve: observed especially by children in costumes who solicit treats, often by threatening minor pranks.
This story is a follow-up of my previous story, Timelock House. Not a sequel, per se, as it merely follows the same format as the other story (which was heavily inspired by the ITV shows Marchlands and Lightfields). Thank you so much to everyone who supported my in Timelock House, including all the beautiful messages on the last chapter which I could not reply to in the story, due to there been no more chapters :')
So grab your popcorn and possibly a cushion, because the story is about to unfold...
Warnings: The story is T for a reason — but I can't go into detail due to spoilers. If you're concerned about any triggers, feel free to PM me. Aside from this, I've tried to retain the historical accuracy in each section, but my knowledge is very basic, so please feel free to point out any inaccuracies!
It had been mid-June when they disappeared.
At that time, the roasting, Summer sun was cooking a purple cat through her classroom window. She'd been placed there at the beginning of the academic year, confined by the teacher's seating plan. She didn't mind it during the frozen Winter, when she could look out of the window and shudder as she gratefully sat in the insulated building. But, on days like today, Blaze the Cat hated sitting in her front-row seat. The clear, blue sky meant that the sun was shining directly onto the table and into her eyes.
She spent the entire lesson trying to sit in a position which didn't involve a part of her body being burnt by the heat.
She'd managed to squirm into a space on the edge of her chair, which didn't clash with the person next to her, allowed her to see the blackboard and stay cool. However, by the time she found it, the bell began to ring.
"Dammit," Blaze muttered under her breath, as she grabbed her rucksack and dashed out of class. At least it was the end of the day and she could head back to Lilliwell.
A sigh escaped her lips as she began to navigate around the crowds of students in the corridor. Her locker wasn't too far away, but between them were about one hundred students, pushing and shoving to break free from the drudge of school.
Finally reaching it, Blaze dumped her bag on the ground and unlocked the locker, before beginning to take out her books for Monday. Her rucksack was crammed full and she knew that she had a long walk home — but she needed to get all her homework done.
"You know, your bag would be lighter if you took out all those goddamn fiction books, Blaze."
She sighed again, slamming the door shut and heaving the bag onto her back, "I need something to do at lunch. I can't run around and play football like you do. I'm a girl. And I hate football; I suck at sports. I'm so glad you're allowed to drop it in the final year: gah, the humiliation of Sports lessons..."
"It's not that bad," Knuckles smirked, swinging his light messenger bag onto his shoulder, "Anyway, enough about school and stuff. Here, let's swap bags. Mine's lighter than yours."
"Okay, what do you need?" She asked, suspiciously — but she still accepted his bag and passed him hers, "You're never usually this nice to me."
"I'm just being nice! You know, I thought — maybe — this weekend, we could hang out...check out a movie showing...seeing as Rouge is back..."
"You're still crushing on her, aren't you?" Blaze laughed, poking him in the ribs as they left the school grounds, "It's been ages!"
"Shut up! You haven't told her, right?"
"My lips are sealed."
Knuckles and Blaze had been good friends over a long course of time. They'd met when Knuckles discovered that Blaze knew Rouge — faintly, from seeing each other at the local bakery — and, having a rather large crush on her, he'd asked Blaze to help him get to know the bat. But the two had grown close and Rouge completed their unlikely trio of friendship.
"So, other than hanging out with me and Rouge..." Knuckles led the way, turning off down the country lane towards Lilliwell. Most of the children at the school lived locally, in the town — however,Knuckles, Blaze and a few other children from the village had to travel a long distance to reach their school. Luckily for the cat and echidna, they were in their last year and, soon, they wouldn't have to make this journey again. The Summer holidays were only three weeks away, "...What else are you doing at the weekend?"
Blaze shrugged, casually, "I don't know. I've got a ton of Chemistry revision, a report for Geography and some English coursework to finish. I'll probably work on that after the movie. What about you?"
Movie night was a tradition in their friendship. The three of them would pile into Rouge's run-down Beatle and drive into the town for a drive-in movie showing. The seats were cramped and the heater was busted, so it only turned to full blast and nothing in-between, but it was in those moments that Blaze felt at peace. She wondered whether Knuckles or Rouge would win over the movie choice: action or horror, "Hm, I should probably get started with History revision, but I can't be bothered with it this weekend."
"You'll fail your exam," Blaze reminded him, smoothing her skirt down as she clambered over a discarded wooden board, which was lying in the middle of the path. The two of them had taken a shortcut, which shortened their journey by about five miles, but it was considerably more rural. In the middle of Summer, in the stuffy countryside, Blaze was starting to resent her long-sleeved white blouse.
"Yeah, I guess."
"We're nearly at the end of school, Knuckles. Try to push through these last exams?"
"Eh. You're right. Three weeks...time to start winding down for Summer."
"You never learn."
"Just 'cause you don't— hey, it's Rouge!"
The red echidna started running ahead, despite Blaze's back-breaking bag. The lavender cat looked up and smirked, when she saw the ivory bat who was strolling down the path.
She looked great, as always. The three of them were nauseatingly stereotypical in their differences: Blaze, the quiet A-grade student; Knuckles, the reckless but lovable jock; Rouge, the fashionable cool girl who was everyone's love interest. But they all fit together, perfectly.
"Knuckie! Blazey!" She called, surprisingly fast as she dashed towards them in white stilettos. Blaze eyed the increasingly-short hem-line of Rouge's black and white cotton dress. Knuckles certainly didn't seem to mind, "I had a hunch you'd take this route!"
"Hey! How come you're here?" Blaze asked, scurrying over to them with a broad grin. Rouge was only five months older than Knuckles (who was two months older than Blaze) — his birthday was in November — but that meant that she was one school-year ahead of them. Rouge was currently on her gap-year, but she was planning to go to college in the Autumn. She had returned from her travels in early June and was full of interesting stories about the areas that she had visited. Knuckles had missed her, sorely, and Blaze had been left to console him. She hadn't admitted that she'd missed the bat just as much.
"I thought I'd meet you on your way home — any excuse to get out of the house and away from my mother. But that's besides the point, I heard some really bad news on the way up here," She puffed, obviously worn-out from having walked from the village. She flicked her hair out of her eyes, before continuing, "You know that kid who you used to baby-sit, sometimes, Blaze? Cream the Rabbit? And the other kid, the fox called Tails?"
"Hm?" Knuckles frowned for a moment, then clicked his fingers, "Tails! I know him! We were close, a couple of years back. We haven't spoken in a while, but now that I think about it, I usually see him in the mornings and today I didn't."
Rouge nodded, frantically, "Figures."
A frown found its way onto Blaze's face, "Why?"
"Because he's disappeared. Both of them have. They've vanished."
The silence emitted by Shadow was ominous and Sonic didn't like it one bit. The Blue Blur found himself fidgeting in his seat, making the ebony hedgehog glare at him even more.
"What is it?" Shadow asked, gripping his hand on the steering wheel and shooting a small scowl at his companion.
Sonic shook his head, staring out of the window and pretending to be absent-minded, "Nothing."
"I said no."
"I said tell me."
"I'm just worried!" Sonic snapped, clenching and unclenching his fists in anxiety. Shadow briefly looked across at him, with a blank expression, but his eyes softened in vague concern.
Shadow took one hand from the steering wheel and placed it on the gear-stick, slotting it into fourth gear and speeding the car up, "About what?"
"What do you think?" The blue hedgehog leant forward, snapping open the glove compartment. He rooted around in the draw, digging through spare keys, tissue packets, a quill comb, a bottle of water, all of which belonged to the ebony hedgehog. Finally, Sonic held a beige letter into the air, clasping it in his hand.
"Read it aloud," Shadow muttered quietly, as he kept his eyes fixed on the road.
Sonic lowered his head, toying with the edges of the letter. The country road was quiet, other than the low hum of Shadow's Jeep. The green hedges were whizzing past the windows, creating a protective barrier between the road and the woods. The tree branches stretched up and over, stopping the damp drizzle of rain from dripping onto the car. The valley which they were travelling through was long and expansive, with plenty of wide, open spaces. Shadow was forced to concentrate on the curly road, but he kept glancing at Sonic.
"I know you're worried about them, Sonic, but we need to keep a clear head. Read it aloud. I need to hear it again. It just sounds so...implausible, that I can't quite grasp it."
"Okay," With a small sigh, which he hoped Shadow hadn't heard, Sonic unfolded the letter and scanned through his brother's scrawled handwriting, before reading aloud:
"To my older bro, Sonic,
I wish I was writing under better circumstances. I kinda wish I wasn't writing at all — jeez, when was the last time anyone wrote a letter? I'd like to phone you, or maybe text (I told you that I got one of those new mobiles, right?) but the phone lines have been down for days. No one can get hold of anyone.
I need your help. I'm okay, don't worry, and Sonia is too, but I'm worried that something might happen to us. It's a long and unbelievable story, so I won't go into it here, but something is killing the townspeople in Lilliwell. Bartleby says it isn't a serial killer — he's done everything to increase the defence: CCTV, patrols, you name it. But people are still dying and the only thing linking them is that they saw a 'ghost', two days before they died.
It sounds crazy, I know, but everyone's freaked. Sonia has gone to Mum's place, with the kids, in fear of them seeing the ghost. I don't know what to do and I could really use your help, right now, just to get some answers. You've mentioned your friend, who spent some time working as a government agent, maybe bring him here too? He seems like a safe bet, if he can get some answers out of people.
Please come to Lilliwell, as quickly as you can. I've arranged for you to stay at the inn, free of charge. I'll meet you at the town hall on the 31st at 5 PM. Apparently, the ghost will appear that evening, so we'll need some time to go through everything, beforehand. I'm sorry about this. I wouldn't ask if it wasn't important.
Your younger bro,
"Are you sure he isn't playing a joke on you?" Shadow asked, winding down his window to let some air flow through the car. The grass outside was rippling in the wind, almost bowing to the passerby.
"I thought about that," Sonic replied, firmly holding onto the letter sent by his brother, "But Manic wouldn't joke about something like that. Sure, he's rung me at three in the morning to tell me that his house is on fire, but this is different."
"Manic never writes letters. He wouldn't go to so much trouble to prank me. Besides, I thought I would have had a call from Sonia by now — she likes to be updated on how I'm doing — so that matches up with Manic saying that the phone lines are down."
"So you're forcing me to take you down to this village, all on a hunch and a lack of a phone call?"
"He's my brother, Shadow. If anything happened to him or my sister, I couldn't..."
"Alright," Shadow muttered, stiffly, before turning down a side road and picking up speed, causing the hedgehogs' ears and quills to blow in the wind, "Fine. But I would like to know what you've told your brother about me, your friend who apparently harasses people."
"I never said that!" Sonic protested, "I just said that you're a bit grumpy and are good at getting answers out of people. Which is true."
"Yes, that's much better," Shadow was starting to lose the will to challenge Sonic over this, "Who is this 'Bartleby' your brother mentioned?"
"Lord Bartleby is the owner of the Bartleby estate, which is at the top of the village. He practically owns all of the land and all the houses which were built there; he sells them out to residents. He's such an entitled know-it-all. I can't stand him."
"How do you know this?"
"He's my brother-in-law."
"He's Sonia's husband."
"So, you're sort-of related?"
"What part of 'brother-in-law' don't you understand?"
"Ha," The driver replied, sourly. The village was less than a mile away and the smooth, country path was turning into a pothole-filled, bumpy nightmare, "A know-it-all who people can't stand? I'm surprised that Bartleby isn't your brother, rather than Manic."
Sonic snickered, dryly, and found himself happy to have Shadow there, with him. At least the trip would be interesting, to say the least.
Clickety clack. Clickety clack. Clickety clack.
"Day 2 of my investigation. Inspector Big is meant to be meeting me, at the other end of the train line, and I can't say I'm completely calm. This news story could put me on the map as a journalist and bump me up from a junior reporter. The disappearances of these people are interesting, to say the least, so I'm ready and prepared to give it my full attention. I still can't believe that my boss thought I was the one for the job, reporting events on this detective case. I just need to stay on this over-night train until I reach the town of Gupton and I'll be"
"Excuse me, Miss? Is anyone sitting here?"
Amy Rose glanced up, pen in the air, and locked eyes with the person in front of her. She looked down at her journal before capping her pen. Her lips parted, vaguely surprised that someone was making conversation with her. Well, not exactly conversation — he was just asking a question, after all.
"Oh!" Amy grabbed her coat, which was lying on the opposite seat, "No. I'm really sorry. I'm a bit all over the place today! Feel free to sit there. Sorry!"
"That's quite alright," The golden-eyed hedgehog gingerly sat down, firmly grasping his messenger bag, "I just didn't want to presume that the seat was free."
"Oh, right," Amy found herself blushing. She wasn't a shy person: being a journalist meant that one had to be confident and a little bit sneaky. However, when she wasn't working, the pink hedgehog found herself becoming flustered whenever strangers approached. Even if this hedgehog seemed pleasant enough.
As the carriage rocked, Amy took the opportunity to sneak a quick glance at her fellow traveller. The grey hedgehog in front of her looked like he was in his mid-twenties. He had bright golden eyes, which glowed with curiosity, and a strange array of quills stretching down to his back. It was different, yet cool.
Around his wrists were oddly glowing bracelets, which joined onto the hem of his pristine, white gloves. His boots had the same strange pattern, stretching down from his thigh to his toe.
The hedgehog looked up for a second, taking his attention away from the folder in his hands, catching Amy staring at him. She blushed, brightly, before quickly flinching away and scowling out of the window. A smile appeared on the grey hedgehog's lips, before he looked back at his papers.
"Any reason why you're staring at me?" He asked, not even looking up. Amy turned towards him, ignoring the scenery which whizzed by, outside the glass pane. She glanced at him, wondering who he was exactly. A journalist never leaves a stone unturned. Her own experiences had taught her that.
"No," Amy casually replied, "I was just wondering why you chose to sit here. There are plenty of other empty seats on this carriage. You could've sat there, but you didn't. How come?"
"Are you a detective as well as a journalist, Amy?" He asked, curiously, making Amy's eyes widen. He looked just as calm as when he'd sat down; Amy's reaction didn't seem to faze him in the slightest.
The pink hedgehog's eyebrows raised, "You've done your research."
"Not really. There's no need to research somebody if you know where to look."
"Have we met?" Amy asked, folding her arms and crossing her legs. Her brown duffle coat was snugly pulled over her purple business dress and her black high heels were strapped against her feet. Jade eyes hardened, trying to intimidate the other hedgehog, "You seem...familiar."
His own golden orbs brightened, as if he were amused, "I do? That's nice to know. I guess I don't go around completely unnoticed, then. I'm a photographer from another newspaper. You were at the unveiling of that new military ship, this year, weren't you? I was doing a shoot for that story and I heard someone talking about you. You're the talk of the press. Once I heard about you, I never seemed to stop hearing things."
She nodded, understandingly. Her memory was coming back to her — she did remember walking past this guy, on her way to the public toilets, at the unveiling. She could remember noticing that he was rather good looking. Which was still true, "Good things, I hope?"
He laughed, good-naturedly, "Of course! My reason for coming over here, admittedly, is because I wanted to speak with you. I'm here for another photo shoot which is in a town not far from Gupton and I wanted to get to know you."
"What would you like to know about me?"
He seemed vaguely surprised by that question, "Oh, um...well, what brings you on the Valiant Express?"
"I think you already know what I'm doing here. You've already mentioned it. How did you know that I'm going to Gupton? Or are you a stalker as well as a photographer?" Her tone came out a little harsher than she expected, so she smiled, to show that she was half-joking.
He blinked and frantically shook his head, "No! Not at all! I-It's just that your handwriting is very easy to read upside-down and your book looked interesting. And I've heard about the disappearances at my office. I figured that you'd be on the case, because it's so strange."
"Ah," Amy leant back into her seat, starting to feel calmer around him, "What do you think of the disappearances?"
"Oh..." Silver lowered his head, shyly smiling, "I'm a simple photographer. I'm no journalist and I'm certainly no detective. My best guess is that there must be a link. Maybe they've travelled somewhere. But I have no idea. Isn't that what you're meant to find out?"
"Not really. You may have heard of me, but I'm also a simple journalist. I'm just going there to report the investigation for the public. I wouldn't know the first thing about being a detective!"
"So you're not a fan of Sherlock Holmes, then?"
She laughed, "Well, no, I haven't actually read many of those stories. I love a mystery, but I prefer modern fiction. Are you a fan?"
"I dabble. I find it interesting. Sometimes, I wonder if being a photographer would help someone who wanted to be a detective."
The pink hedgehog tilted her head to one side, curiously, "Why would the fact that they're a photographer make a difference?"
He shrugged, cutely, "It's just a theory. Being a photographer means that you notice the small details. Changes in the light. Shadows. Minute details which most people don't usually notice."
"I'll take your word for it," Amy smiled, warmly. He was nice. Interesting. Definitely cute. She certainly wouldn't turn down a drink with this guy, "So, what station are you getting off at?"
"A town called Lyphenthorpe, apparently. It's nothing major — just a little photo shoot of the place. They've used some money to spruce the place up a bit and it's in the running for one of the prettiest towns in the country."
"That sounds like a nice little break."
"True. It's certainly different to photographing models or military ships."
The two of them laughed, companionably. A thought suddenly popped into Amy's head, which she voiced aloud, "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't ask you for your name."
"Oh, really? I'm sorry," He smiled, lighting up the carriage, "My name is Silver. Silver the Hedgehog."
"It's nice to finally meet you, Silver."
"And you, Miss Rose."