By on Sep 4, 2023 in Featured, Fiction

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Stained glass window on dark brick wall

As I drew nearer the house, my carriage rolling slowly under a clear sky, not a single sound to mar the late afternoon, a sense of dread pervaded my soul.

Still several miles away, I could see the ancient structure atop the hill, regal and prominent, like the residence of a Lord or a King residing in sunlight and majesty. The house had occupied that spot since ancient times, and from its birth it has been occupied by the family Van Cordt. Such a large and beautiful house it was: Of its size one could wander along its hallways and easily get lost in transit from one room to another; Of its beauty it was the envy of anyone who has ever known the family Van Cordt, or even seen the house from a distance. Generations beyond counting of the great family had resided within those walls, within the depths of that gargantuan but elegant castle. And the legend was that the family line would stretch out to eternity till the horns of judgement sounded.

But that prophesy came under serious judgement in a terrible instant when, with the passing of his sister and two brothers in the span of just two months, my good friend Patrick became the last descendent of the sovereign line of blood. And with no intent on marrying or raising any heirs, the demise of a great tradition seemed inevitable. As for the incidents of so many deaths in such a short period, it was not any maleficent cause that might raise the suspicion of conspiracy; instead it was ruled natural causes in each case by a renowned and respected physician, and therefore, any further investigation was averted. It was mere selection that had played a tragic hand. Had I learned of the tragedy sooner, I would have rushed to Patrick’s side immediately. As it was, the news reached me a mere twelve hours after the last of these tragic demises, yet not prior to my decision to travel across the state to pay homage to my estranged friend.  I had simply decided that the time had grown late, but not too late, and I immediately began preparations for a trip that would turn out to threaten my very soul.


My earliest recollections of childhood were dominated by my dear friend and my acquaintance with every member of his extensive family. Patrick and I had met in grade school, and after a very brief period, we became inseparable. By the perceptions of others, the two of us were tightly-knit friends who spent every moment together and shared every secret. By our own notion, we were sworn companions, friends for eternity, tied together by a bond weaved from the care and concern, but also connected by a thread of jealousy that cemented that bond. Patrick was envious of my academic success as well as my prowess in almost any sport at which I tried a hand; while I was covetous of his family’s wealth and influence. I reveled in the applause and admiration of my own achievements, but my collection of trophies and medals were dull and substandard next to the riches of Patrick’s very name. And I was not less jealous of the non-material possessions, the closeness of the family, the love so strong between each and every member that it seemed to generate a warmth when two or more were in the same vicinity. There seemed not a thread of discord, so obedient was son to father, and so humble and just was father to son that there almost seemed to be a spark of the divine. But the jealousy between Patrick and me was calm and quiet, and never effectuated any true insult or injury. Our friendship transcended any such vulgar feelings of guilt or anger.

But sometime in our early adult years, something suddenly intruded, some inexplicable force severed our bond as severely as a sword strike. I cannot fathom if it were a series of offenses, or a single incident that created this chasm. And now, after such a long absence, I was unsure of my place in my friend’s life, unknowing if Patrick’s bitterness toward me might be unquenchable. But I was determined to make the attempt, and in great haste I packed my suitcase enough for three days away from home. I put by business affairs into other hands, and I secured a watch for my own apartment—and all this prior to any notice of the aforementioned deaths. Just as I was exiting my building, my departure was interrupted by a stern-looking messenger who addressed me by name as if acquainted with me. He handed me an envelope with no addressee or any postal mark, and then made a swift exit as if unable to endure my reaction to the news. I tore into the note and immediately recognized the familiar scrawl, though it took me several minutes to comprehend the message. It was less an invitation from Patrick than it was a plea for a visitation. The note contained no preliminary greeting, barely any decorum at all, just his recommendation that I avail myself and head straightaway to be at his side. This entreaty was an odd coincidence, I thought, as its origin obviously predated my own sudden desire for a visit, but fully supported my intention; yet its very urgency suddenly gave me pause, rather than strengthening my resolve. Why had my friend suddenly administered this decree upon me? What trouble had visited itself upon him that he should have no recourse but to infringe on my good nature? I quickly overcame my hesitation with the force of my commitment, and within a minute I was on the road, my reluctance trailing behind me.


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Kevin Lenihan is currently a technology teacher in North Brunswick, NJ. He has always been interested in horror and science-fiction movies, as long as he can remember. He got interested in writing when he was 17, when he read "Firestarter" by Stephen King. He read everything he wrote for a long time. Now he writes books faster than Kevin can read them. Another author He became obsessed with was Robert R. McCammon. The first book he read by him was "Mystery Walk," and he was hooked. Then he read "They Thirst" and was blown away, as it took the vampire story to a whole new level, such a grand, epic scale. And, of course, Kevin loves Edgar Allan Poe. "Ligeia" was the first story he read by him, and it set the standard for all short stories after that. He loves his poems, as well, and he has memorized several of them, including “The Raven”, “The Conqueror Worm” and “Lenore."