“You filthy little liar!!” Jane tried to run from the merciless voice. She backed into an ancient globe rocking it back on two carved feat.
The young girl looked around the room, desperate for an exit to appear. Long black curtains shifted on the walls. Sallow colored paintings watch Jane’s dread unfold.
“Don’t you run from me! You horrible sneak!” Her Aunt Sarah commanded. She strode forward, hand raised, ready to strike the young girl down.
“I didn’t mean to, honest Aunt! I didn’t mean for John to get hurt! It was an accident!” Jane backed away from the woman. She tripped over a curling rug and fell heavily onto an over stuff ottoman. It was a game of cat and mouse, except now the cat had won.
Quick as a flash her aunt’s hands found Jane ripping at her white starched pinafore. Fingers raking over her face.
“You insolent little girl! Do not move away from me. Don’t you dare!” Some how Jane managed to dodge back from her aunt’s twisting hands. She fell to the floor and crawled around the back of a flowery couch.
Tears streaked her face as uncontrolled sobs escaped her, “Please no! Stop it!”
“Ashworth! Ashworth, I need you.” She was breathing heavily, her plump body heaving with the effort of finding Jane.
At the name of her Aunt’s butler, Jane choked on a sob. Ashworth was tall, lanky and relentless in his cruelty. It had only been an accident what had happened to John. Really Jane had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and had foot the blame for it all.
If only I’d have stopped myself from going into Uncle’s study. I’d be out in the gardens now, but it wasn’t my fault! If John had only let me read on my own and not stolen my book . . .
Aunt Sarah sat down onto a chair, her breath slowing. “Ashworth! Come get this wretched child. Where is that useless stampcrab?”
Jane could hear her aunt looking around for her. Her breath growing louder each time the woman turned her head. Realizing she might have an avenue of escape Jane began to crawl on hands and knees. Looking around she spotted the sliding doors at the far end of the room sat unlatched and ajar.
Endeavoring to remain silent Jane held her breath as she passed by dusty furniture. She periodically looked up to make sure no thing was in her way. There was a pause in the room as she continued to crawl. She found herself under a table, right next to the sliding doors.
Now if only I can open them without making a sound. Then it’s off to the garden and beyond.
Aunt Sarah shifted in her seat and then spoke to the room. “You do realize if you run it will only make things worse for you. Jane, I know you’re in here, come out now and I promise you will not . . . harmed.”
It was a lie, they both knew it. Jane already knew where she was to end this day. The Red Room.
“Jane. Come out. now.”
With tears streaming down her face and onto the floor, Jane pushed her body across the floor. Closing the gap between her and the double doors. Freedom was a hands breath away.
Light blinded Jane as the doors flew open. The afternoon light reflecting upon dull storm clouds was too much. She closed both eyes, rolling into a fetal position. Unnatural hands forced themselves upon her. Ashworth spoke to his master with a note of triumph. “I have her hear my lady. Looks as if she was making for the hall.”
Aunt Sarah’s voice dripped with sweetness. Her pitch grew higher as she forced warmth into the words. “Ah most excellent Ashworth! Bring her here.”
Jane opened her eyes to see the taught jaw line of her Aunt setting itself. The woman’s dark eyes burned into Jane’s body. Her back went ridged at the sight of the girl. Yet she kept the same silken tone.
“Ah Jane, so good of you to join me here, now. Come let us . . . talk for a moment. Perhaps we can gain and understanding.”
There had been too many nights where this voice had been used. Too many punishments that reinforced the terror of this woman. Jane knew she was in for it now.
She snapped two pudgy fingers together, “Ashworth here. I want her where I can reach her.”
The butler followed his master’s request and deposited Jane at her aunt’s feet. She tensed herself, waiting for the blows to come as they surely would.
“Jane. . . Dear, dear, Jane. I’m afraid your behavior has left me with no choice. This household does not tolerate disobedience, or lying. And you’ve provided me with both.”
She shifted in her seat, her anger turning to excitement. “I do believe you know what that means?”
Jane’s mouth went dry. Fear sliced deep into her heart as she attempted to struggle out of the butler’s hold.
“Oh struggling will only make it worse, dear girl. I believe you’ve earned yourself an entire night’s stay. Wouldn’t you agree Ashworth?”
Jane stiffened in the butler’s arms.
“Undoubtedly, Madam.” Was the butler’s stoic reply. “Shall we?”
“NO! No!! Please you can do this! Not all night!” She screamed. “You can’t leave me there with it! Not for that long! Please don’t do this! I’ll do anything! I’m sorry!”
Aunt Sarah all but jumped from her seat and slapped the girl so hard blood spurting from her mouth.
“You are a wicked, wicked child Jane Erye! It’s only fit that you spawn of the devil should go to the Red Room to commune with your maker. I should have never taken you into my home, I should have let you die!” Spittle flew from her mouth onto Jane’s burning face.
“Enough! Ashworth take her. I’ve had quite enough of this.” The butler turned without a sound. Holding the child to him as he would a heavy tray.
Aunt Sarah took a prim sniff as she looked around the now vacant room. “I do believe some tea is in order, I’ll send for Mary.”
Out in the hallway Jane’s head lolled to one side. Light and dark passed over her body as Ashworth moved down a darkened hallway. Through a labyrinth they passed without sound. All the while a ringing grew in Jane’s ears.
An unseen force pushed itself against Jane as they stepped into a confined foyer. There a plain door sat, awaiting entry of the condemned.
Ashworth stepped to the door, twisted the knob and pushed it open. Without crossing the threshold he laid the child onto the dusty wood floor.
Jane shut her eyes, knowing it would be waiting for her. Knowing He would be waiting. The ringing grew as she closed her eyes tight.
I will not open them, I will not open them. He cannot make me. She thought, shouting it into the emptiness behind her eyelids.
OPEN THEM CHILD. A voice reverberated in her mind. He had found her. He was pleased she had come.
OPEN YOUR EYES JANE ERYE AND LOOK AT ME. I WISH TO SEE YOU.
Resolve crumbling she opened her eyes. Fractured pieces of bone stared back at her, mounted by an evil hand upon a stave in the wall.
WELCOME JANE, I’VE MISSED YOU. The skull smiled with it’s upper jaw. Hollow pits assessed Jane as she sat up, making the world spin. She felt His control upon her, as a spider plucking at its web.
SHALL WE BEGIN?