Wednesday, 13 November 2019

The Casebook of Sheraton Howell: Part XII The First Case V

For three evenings we sat in a cold, draughty summerhouse, watching whilst absolutely nothing happened. The clear, moonlight nights we were experiencing (somewhat rare given the normal cloud and smog) made the nights even colder than normal. We almost determined against a fourth night, but found ourselves huddled in blankets once more, straining out eyes across the manicured lawn and well-kept borders even as we fought sleep. My eyes heavy, I was jostled awake by Howell who was pointing towards something moving across the lawn by the house. I looked to Howell and silently mouthed the words ‘the daughter’. Howell nodded. Attired in naught but a nightdress, the young girl flitted across the grass, eyes wide open yet her body moving as if asleep. Perhaps this was the somnambulism I had read about? I moved to stand up, intent on approaching the girl to cover her modesty (and there was a frightful chill in the air), but Howell grasped my arm, nodding to the rear of the garden.

In the moonlight stood a woman. She was barefooted, dressed in a tattered dress with long, unkempt hair. I had neither heard not seen her entering the garden. Something appalled me about the woman and I felt a chill deeper than could be accounted for by the night alone. As she walked towards the young girl she gestured, beckoning her forward with her long fingers. There was at once a sense of beauty and of horror, for the woman exuded a sense of savagery I had rarely encountered in my time with Howell, and never in a woman. I was transfixed.

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